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Lesson plan to accompany the August 2001 Newsletter

To see the text used in the plan

To see the visuals used in the lesson plan

For a Word version

Sign on the fence

Preliminary information

Level: Upper intermediate/advanced

Time: 90 minutes?

To give extensive & intensive reading practice
To review the language of present deduction
To give freer speaking practice

That most of the vocabulary will be known & that they shouldn't have problems with the reading tasks. They will probably be interested in the theme of the article.

Anticipated problems:
Some vocab items in the e-mail reading might not be known - depending on the group.
eg.wrought-iron fence, stuffed tiger, a Monty Python skit, to make a stand for something, padlocked, henchmen.

Materials & aids:
Photographs - download & print off
Tasks: comprehension tasks & discussion points
Just Another Lock on the Fence by Joanna Glasner. For the original text go to;,1284,44935,00.html

Fridge door on the fence


Stage 1: Lead in to raise interest & vocabulary - pre-teaching for the reading stage

tch< > stds, 10 mins

1.Show the photographs to the stds & ask them to predict what the newspaper article might be about. Put language of deduction on the board for them to use
It could/might/may/must/can't be about.
Handout the sign last as this might give the story away straightaway.
2. Feedback - when feeding back introduce 'wrought iron fence'.

Stage 2: Reading & discussion

tch< > stds, mins, 25 mins

1. Quick read for gist. Set the task: 'What's it all about?' & give 2 minutes to read.
2. Stds check in pairs.
. Feedback - here you could talk about British humour & eccentrics..
4. Set comprehension check - hand out questions:

Comprehension questions

1. Who is the Fencemaster? Why does he call himself this?
2. What does is wife think of his project?
3. How many different things has he attached to the fence? What are they?
4. What ideas has he got now for putting on the fence?
5. Which of these future ideas has already been put on the fence?
6. Do we know who owns the fence?
7. What effect is the Webmaster having on the owners of the fence & in the world at large?
7. Is the project costing him much money? How much?
8. What does the reader from Scotland suggest?

When you've finished the questions, talk about the following points:

9. What do you think of the Fencemaster & his crusade?
10. Can you think of anything he could attach to the fence?
11. Can you think of any similar protests in your own area?

5. Stds compare in pairs - & then discuss the 9, 10, & 11 discussion points.
6. Feedback on the questions & then on to the response to the text - the discussion points - think about these & how you could extend them & involve everyone.

Stage 3: Language focus
The text doesn't really lend itself to a great deal but here are a few suggestions:
- compounds; print-patterned, full-sized, fence-owning etc.
- could be a springboard into other public notices & the use of the passive voice - see the two notices in the text.
- tense work - lots of present perfect/past simple.
- ...particularly given the fact that ....
- Thus/So far, in addition to ......In a stroke of luck, he even....

Stage 4: Follow up
A few ideas:
- get over to the Fencemaster's web site & use some of his newsletters to get a more complete picture of him. You could do a jigsaw reading activity - give each std a paragraph from one of the newsletters & they read & then explain the bits to each other, at the same time as filling in a 'profile sheet'.
- a roleplay between the Fencemaster & his wife, who is thoroughly fed up with this fence business - it's the marriage or the fence!
- write letters of support to the Fencemaster - & suggestions as to what to put on the fence. If you do contact him, tell him where you found out about the story - at Developing, of course!.
- debate the issue of the right to attach a bike to the fence.
- write a charter for cyclist's rights.
- discuss the problems for cyclists in the stds' home area & possible solutions to the problems.

Frying pan on the fence

Just Another Lock on the Fence
By Joanna Glasner

A man in London reported recently that he can no longer mention the word "fence" without his wife telling him to shut up. He suspects her antipathy toward the word began shortly after he padlocked a print-patterned ironing board to the wrought iron fence near his workplace in the center of the city. It may have intensified when he photographed the board, wrote a synopsis of his activities and published the whole thing on his website,

And without a doubt, things got worse after the ironing board was taken down. In its place, the man -- who has taken to calling himself "the Fencemaster" (he refuses to reveal his real name for fear of retribution from the owners of the aforementioned fence) -- attached, in order, a stuffed tiger, a teapot and a full-sized green refrigerator door. Each was photographed and recorded on his website in detail.

Now, as he turns to the Web for suggestions of what to add next, the Fencemaster reports that his wife has not been an enthusiastic font of ideas.

"Whenever I say anything to her she cuts me off before I can get a word out," he complains. "She then gives me a minute or two to worry, and comes back with: 'This isn't about the fence, is it?'"

It is.

For his neighbors in central London -- and now the world, via the Internet -- the Fencemaster has created quite a spectacle of late with his obsessive crusade against the injustices of a fence-owning landlord and his "no bicycles" sign.

With a protest scheme that seems straight out of a Monty Python skit, he's combining the publicity-raising power of an intricate website and a bizarre array of outdoor props to make a stand for city bicyclists.

And until his goal is accomplished, it seems neither he nor his wife will be entirely free of his infatuation.

"I want the insensitive actions of this ridiculously wealthy landowner (and my peaceful protest) to help bring cycling into the public eye," he said.

The genesis of the obsession began in February, when the Fencemaster -- who at the time bicycled to work every day -- arrived at the fence to which he normally padlocked his bike. There, on the very same day that city transit workers were on strike, the management of the Howard De Walden Estates posted the following notice:

"Bicycles found parked against or chained to these railings will be removed without further notice."

The Fencemaster's initial reaction was disbelief and anger, particularly given the fact that he was the only bicyclist who regularly used the fence.

After the rage cooled, he had an inspiration:

"Fine, I thought. I no longer lock my bike to the fence. I lock other things to it instead."

And so, the brigade of fence-attachings began.

Thus far, in addition to the previously mentioned items, the Fencemaster has padlocked a frying pan, a kettle, a copper lion and some cutlery to the fence. In a stroke of luck, he even once captured a snapshot of one of the landlord's henchmen removing the utensils (a ladle, spoon and spatula) from the fence.

His initial burst of creativity spent, the Fencemaster is now finding some support from the online public, which has responded en masse to his call for fence decoration suggestions.

In the past two weeks, he has received 1,000 e-mails from supporters, and on an average day, the site gets 70,000 hits a day. "All on a 6 pound ($8.50) per month budget," the Fencemaster said.

A few ideas he's seriously considering include a lawn mower, a tricycle, a kitchen sink and perhaps even another fence.

As a final coup, he's also looking into the feasibility of a suggestion sent by a reader in Scotland, who proposed the following attachment:

"A notice stating that any fences parked or chained to the notice will be removed."

Tiger on the fence

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