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Analyzing Satire Unit Lesson

By Niefva Apr 28, 2015 3087 Words
Unit Plan - Analyzing Satire
Tara Seale - AP Language and Composition
 
Introduction:
According to Wyatt Mason in an online article published in the ​ New York Times Magazine
titled “​
My Satirical Self​
,” readers in the 21st century have “taken shelter in the ridiculous.” He provides an excerpt from ​
The Onion​
, a satirical online news source referenced as “America’s Finest News Source,” as an example of an escape from the inescapable ridiculousness of society, politics, and other vice and follies. New literacies have helped grow the genre of satire in not only ​

The Onion​
but ​
The Colbert Report ​
and Jon Stewart’s ​
The Daily Show​
. As Americans
turn to this genre as a favorite entertainment and even news source, students need to understand the core elements that create satire. This unit’s lessons will introduce students to the language and moves associated with satire and challenge students to not only analyze the effectiveness of satirical pieces but also to create their own.  

Common Core Standards:
RL.11-12.6 ​
Analyze a case in which grasping point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).
RI.11-12.1 ​
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

RI.11-12.5 ​
Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.
RI.11-12.6 ​
Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness, or beauty of the text.

W.11-2.2​
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
SL.11-12.4 ​
Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks. L.11-12.4 ​

Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 11–12 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies. 
Day 1 - Lesson 1
Working Definitions:
Students will work with the teacher to create working definitions for the following terms: satire, sarcasm, sardonic, parody, mocking, ridicule, lampoon, caricature, epigram, farce, facetious, self-deprecating, tongue-in-cheek, urbane, irony, paradox, understatement,

hyperbole
 
Activity:​
 ​
After creating a working vocabulary document, students will read the article “​
Girl Moved to Tears by ‘Of Mice and Men Cliffs Notes​
’” by the satirical online news
organization ​
The Onion​
. Students will mark up the article looking for the methods the author utilizes to create the satirical piece. Students will work in small groups to create their annotations, and then small groups will share with the class as a whole. Questions groups will consider:

1. What does the author assume about the attitudes of the audience in the piece? 2. What aspect of society is the author satirizing?
3. What is the goal or purpose of the satire?
4. What methods/techniques does the author employ to create the satire? 5. How effective are the author’s methods?
Possible methods students will notice:​
The author provided realistic details (i.e.,

names of real universities, a picture of what could be a student), created pseudo-situations (seemingly real, but actually fictitious), hyperbole, understatement, dialogue, irony, and caricatures of a student and professor. Students should be encouraged to include vocabulary from the working definitions document.

 
Differentiation:​
Working in small groups will help struggling students realize and ​
understand more subtle moves that they may not have noticed. Providing more advanced terminology (i.e., self-deprecating, urbane, lampoon) will also challenge the more advanced students to use an elevated vocabulary to discuss the elements of satire.  

Days 2 - 3 - Lesson 1
Activity: ​
The teacher will place students into​
small groups and assume the persona of an

editor of a new website called​
The Onion Teen​
that will focus on satirizing issues that would be
entertaining to a teenage audience. Students will create a draft article in Google docs (collaboratively shared between all members in the small group and the teacher) on a satirical subject for the new website. Although it will be in draft form, students will target a specific issue and provide examples of satirical elements from the previous lesson as a model. Student groups will have two class periods to prepare, and small groups will present on Day 4 of the lesson using the Promethean Board to pitch their idea for an article.  

Differentiation:​
 ​
This lesson will be set up as a collaborative group writing workshop. Because student groups are using Google docs, all members of the small groups (3 to 4 students) will be able to edit the same document. The teacher will be able to visit small groups and encourage students who may be hesitant to participate to edit the document by simply bullet pointing their ideas, emphasizing it is a draft and not a final document. The history revision feature in Google docs will provide formative feedback to the teacher, so the teacher can assess which students made which edits in the document. This will let the teacher know which students are struggling to understand how to apply the elements of satire to their own writing. The teacher can also direct the more advanced students to consider making

more technical moves to the piece such as adding an image or hyperlink.  
Day 4/5 - Lesson 1
Follow-up:​
 ​
Small groups will present their ideas for articles to the class followed by a whole class discussion of what worked well and what was not as effective in each presentation. The teacher will ask students to explain how they analyzed the effectiveness of the satirical articles presented by the small groups and to explain how they decided if it achieved its purpose and reached its audience. The teacher will ask the small groups to discuss their explanation and present their ideas to the class as a whole.  

Day 5 (2nd half of class) Lesson 2
Activity: ​
The teacher will show students how to create a precis (an analytical summary - see the ​
online worksheet here​
), by first passing out a worksheet chart to help students
understand the elements of a precis. The teacher will refer back to the first article from ​ The
Onion​
“​
Girl Moved to Tears by ‘Of Mice and Men Cliffs Notes​
’” and work with the whole class
to create a model precis. The teacher will use some of the ideas about how to analyze satire discussed by small groups to help students understand how to write the precis. The class will save this precis as a model example to help them create their own analytical precis.  

Differentiation:​
Providing a model example created by the class helps advanced and struggling students. Advanced students provide insight into creating a good model example and struggling students have a model to rely on for future assignments.  

Day 6 - Lesson 2
Activity:​
 ​
The teacher will provide another article from ​
The Onion​
from the ​
2005 AP
Language and Composition Exam - Question 2​
titled: “​
Revolutionary New Insoles Combine
Five Forms of Pseudoscience​
” The teacher will place students in groups of three to create a small group analytical precis using the model precis and the chart from the previous lesson. The teacher will place each small group’s precis under the document camera and ask the class to evaluate each precis using the ​

precis rubric​
. ​
The class will work as a whole to correct each
precis so that it meets the requirements of the rubric. The teacher will explain to students that a precis serves as an introduction to an analytical essay. The four elements of a precis (author’s exigence, methods, purpose, and audience appeals) provide the basis for an effective introduction.

 
Differentiation:​
 ​
 ​
Creating another precis in small groups to serve as an additional example challenges more advanced students to apply the ideas learned in the previous lesson to create their own original precis. For struggling students, working in small groups provides additional support as well as another model for future lessons. Additionally, beginning with a structured precis provides scaffolding for students struggling with writing an introduction for an analytical essay. More advanced students can use sentence combining to create a less formulaic introduction, but struggling students can rely on the precis chart to create their introduction.

 
Day 7 - Lesson 3
Activity:​
 ​
The teacher will introduce how to find and evaluate evidence to create an analytical essay. The teacher will use an ​
analytical chart​
and ​

associative word list​
. The teacher
will explain how to find two pieces of evidence to place in the first column, first two rows of the chart. Then the teacher will go over the model to demonstrate how to evaluate the evidence (see the chart). The teacher will demonstrate how to use the associative word list to find associations between the pieces of evidence. The teacher will use the next column to find patterns between the evidence, and finally, the teacher will write an associative statement connecting the items in the chart into an analytical statement. The teacher will ask students to work in small groups to use the teacher model to examine evidence from ​ The

Onion​
article “​
Revolutionary New Insoles Combine Five Forms of Pseudoscience​ ” and fill in
the chart. Students will use Google docs to create a collaborative group chart. The teacher will display each groups chart and discuss the evidence and associations each group made in their analysis. The chart will serve as a model for future assignments. The teacher will explain that the chart will help students find evidence for the body paragraphs of their analytical essays.

 
Differentiation:​
 ​
Continuing to work in small groups and to provide models for future assignments, helps students at all levels to succeed.   
 
Day 8 - Lesson 4
Activity:​
 ​
The teacher will ask students to read the prompt from the ​ 2005 AP Language and
Composition Exam - Question 2​
on ​
The Onion​
article titled “​
Revolutionary New Insoles
Combine Five Forms of Pseudoscience​
.” Students will use what they have learned so far in
class (the precis introduction and the analytical chart) to write an analytical essay. The essay will serve as a pre-test and provide evidence of the current ability level for both the student and teacher. The pre-writing should take most of the class period.  

Differentiation: ​
It is important to use formative assessments that are not graded to ​
provide evidence of students’ capabilities. This evidence allows the teacher to make more informed decisions about how to proceed for each individual student. The formative assessment also helps students to understand where they need help and what questions to ask.

 
Day 9 - Lesson 4
Activity: ​
Students will use the ​
AP scoring guidelines​
to assess the writing they complete the
day before. Students will also read and evaluate the ​
student sample responses​
to understand
how to use the scoring guidelines. Students will read the ​ scoring commentary​
to see how the
AP readers scored the student sample responses. Students will then use the scoring guidelines to score their own writing from the previous day. Students will evaluate and discuss what makes an effective analytical essay.

Differentiation:​
 ​
Assessing writing samples helps all students improve their own writing. Having model essays allows students to compare their own writing to the models which improves students at all levels of writing.

 
Day 10 - Lesson 5 - Putting it all together
Activity:​
 ​
Students will practice what they have learned by reading and analyzing a short satirical ​
letter written by Native American leader Canassatego​
. The teacher will ask students
to consider several questions in small groups before they begin working on the assignment. Questions to Consider:
1. What can we infer about the intended audience, and what assumptions does Canassatego make about his audience?
2. The explicit purpose of the letter is to reject the offer, but what is the implied purpose? 3. How does Canassatego craft his tone to achieve his purpose? 4. How does Canassatego’s style help him to achieve his purpose? 5. What elements make this letter satirical and how are those elements different from ​ The

Onion​
articles?
Once students have worked through the questions in small groups, students will create an individual rhetorical precis. If they do not finish in class, they will work on it for homework. Students will be paired to peer review their precis before the teacher assesses their writing with the ​

precis rubric​
. Students will be able to correct errors before turning in their precis.  Differentiation:​
 ​
Using a short text to assess the skills students have learned creates a less intimidating assignment for struggling students while still challenging advanced students. Answering questions in small groups challenges advanced students to understand the text while also assisting struggling students in comprehending the text. Additionally, peer reviews help students collaborate and assist one another to create better writing. This part of the assignment helps students who are struggling to improve their writing and also helps students that are more capable to hone their craft by acting as editors.    

Day 11 - Lesson 5
Activity:​
 ​
Students will peer review their individual precis before turning in their work for a grade evaluated by the teacher with the ​
precis rubric​
. Students will continue to work on
analyzing the ​
letter written by Native American leader Canassatego​
by completing an
analytical chart​
using the ​

associative word list​
. Students will complete individual associative
analytical charts that are also peer reviews like the precis. Students will turn in their associative analytical charts on Day 12 after they have peer reviewed another student’s chart and corrected their own chart.

 
Differentiation:​
Allowing students multiple chances to peer review and edit assists all ​
students in creating their best work that is not hampered by too much teacher assistance. Students must learn how to accept advice and adapt it to assist them in enhancing their own writing which assists all students, both advanced and struggling.  

Day 12 - Lesson 6

Activity:​
 ​
Students will read “​
A Modest Proposal​
” by Jonathan Swift written in 1729. The
teacher will introduce the term sardonic (previously defined in the working definitions). The teacher will revisit connotation (discussed in previous lessons) and ask students to consider the connotative difference between sarcasm and sardonic. Students will discuss in small groups the satirical elements that are different in ​

The Onion​
articles, ​
letter written by Native
American leader Canassatego​
, and “​
A Modest Proposal​
.” The teacher will introduce AP
multiple choice on Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” as students consider the differences between the different styles of satire. AP multiple choice questions will come from the book ​ Are You
Serious About Getting a 5?: AP English Language and Composition​ .
 
Differentiation: ​
Continuing to support students with repetition of text and analytical strategies will assist students in developing strategies that not only work for writing analysis but also in developing multiple choice analytical test taking skills.  

Day 13 - Lesson 7
Activity:​
The teacher will lead students in a follow-up discussion about the different ​
elements of satire. Then students will use “​
A Modest Proposal​
” by Jonathan Swift as a model
to create their own sardonic satirical piece. Students will evaluate the effectiveness of the Huffington Post’s satirical Modest Proposal titled “​
A Modest Proposal: Furloughing the
Furloughers​
” written by Dr. Charles G. Cogan and decide as a class if the author effectively used the satirical elements applied by Swift to create an effective sardonic satire that alludes to his 18th century writing. Students will work in small groups to apply satirical elements presented in “​

A Modest Proposal​
” to create an effective, yet sardonic piece.
 
Differentiation:​
 ​
Asking students to consider different tones and elements which work to create a piece in that genre, but with its own original elements challenges advanced students to create something original while also working to make struggling students aware of original differences.

 
Day 14 - Lesson 7 Follow-up
Activity: ​
 ​
Students will present their “modest proposal” to the class followed by a class discussion evaluating the effectiveness of each group’s modest proposal.  
Differentiation:​
 ​

Students best understand how to analyze a genre when they can use the elements of that genre to create their own. Creating their own modest proposal helps students at all levels understand the elements of satire present in Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.”

 
Day 15 - Lesson 8
Activity:​
 ​
Students will complete the​
AP Language and Composition Exam 2006 Question 1
prompt​
, which asks students to analyze a text that has subtle satire. Students will be scored using the​
AP scoring guide​

for the prompt.


Prompt:​
 ​
The passage below is an excerpt from Jennifer Price’s recent essay “The Plastic Pink Flamingo: A Natural History.” The essay examines the popularity of the plastic pink flamingo in the 1950s. Read the passage carefully. Then write an essay in which you analyze how Price crafts the text to reveal her view of United States culture.  

Extension Activities:
 
Additional writing practice for struggling students:
Activity:​
 ​
Students will complete the AP Language and Composition Exam 1998 Question 3 prompt, which asks students to analyze a satirical letter.
Prompt:​
 ​
The following letters constitute the complete correspondence between an executive of the Coca-Cola company and a representative of Grove Press. Read the letters carefully. Then write an essay analyzing the rhetorical strategies each writer uses to achieve his purpose and explaining which letter offers the more persuasive case.  

Blog Post Prompt for Advanced students:
Activity:​
Students will read the online article in the New York Times by Wyatt Mason titled ​
“​
My Satirical Self​
.” Students will create a blog post response that challenges, defends, or qualifies the claims from Mason’s article. Students will post their response on their blog and link it to the New York Times article.

 
Videos - Student Responses
Activity​
: ​
Students will watch the some of the videos chosen by the teacher and write an analysis or blog post response. This activity will provide additional support in analyzing satire for both the struggling and advanced student.

Caricature: ​
We met at Starbucks
Caricature:​
SNL Palin

Caricature​
:​
Flutter
Parody: ​
Not Another Teen Movie
Parody​
:​
Too Late to Apologize: A Declaration
Parody​
:​
Megachurch makes fun of their modern church service
Making fun of language​
:​
And is better - 2013 Ford Focus commercial
Making fun of language​
:​
Joey’s adoption letter - Friends episode
The Gettysburg Address PowerPoint ​
http://www.norvig.com/Gettysburg/index.htm
 
 
 

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