Sunday, August 30, 2009

Isn't it ironic? - Post #44

Since we're on a skills focus roll (two activities with tone), the next fun skills analysis was for irony. That's another tricky one. I'll break this down into the two ways I've taught this. The first I present today is a more basic hunt & find approach to irony. With my standard classes, students still needed to practice identifying what irony looked like and differentiate between the three types.

Objective: Students will differentiate between the different types of irony and be able to identify them in text or other media.
Materials: Mrs. Doubtfire, Napoleon Dynamite, episode of The Office ("Women's Appreciation"), "Circle of Friends" by Phil Ochs, irony powerpoint notes, irony viewing & listening charts

I used two videos for this; use your judgment as to whether you do both or just one or maybe a different video entirely (and if you do, share with us your idea!).

Day 1
1. Review the 3 types of irony (my powerpoint is here) for clarity
2. Prepare the Napoleon Dynamite clip and handout the "Irony Viewing Guide" (#1) - it's from the end of the movie, where Napoleon performs a dance for his friend Pedro's campaign. Give the brief background on the character of Napoleon (school outcast, etc.).
3. Pause and the end of his performance and ask how do we EXPECT students to react? (write responses on guide). Hit play, watch students' reaction, and make note.
3. Prepare The Office clip. Warning: this episode might be too risque for your teens - you know your kids & your school, so do what's right for you. It starts with one character getting flashed in the parking lot, and Michael takes it to ridiculous extremes (of course), wanting to have girl talk & discuss "women's issues." There is some discussion of sex, but you can edit/fastforward as necessary...or find another episode. It IS a show on prime-time national television, so if your school is okay with that, there's your safety net.
4. Watch the appropriate clips for dramatic irony (Dwight & the sketch; Michael's phone call & Jan) and situational irony (mall lunch "girl talk" with Michael). Complete the appropriate boxes on the Irony Viewing Guide and discuss.
5. Listen to the song "Circle of Friends." Have students flip over their "Viewing Guide" to the back, where you have made copies of the lyrics.
6. Talk about the verbal irony the students chose to circle and discuss the final question: why would the musician say the opposite of what he means?

Day 2
The second video activity would be a second day. Honestly, this probably isn't necessary on top of the first day of video clips, but I was determined that those kids were going to KNOW irony! Plus it was a fun little break.

1. Handout Irony Viewing Guide #2. This is slightly less guided. Students will be expected to find examples on their own as they watch. Reinforce that you will not be pointing it out for them.
2. Watch the first 30-40 minutes of Mrs. Doubtfire (skip over the intro segment with Robin Williams at the studio. Long & not necessary for our purposes). The movie is rated PG but there are 2 instances (off the top of my head) of language. Other than that, though, fairly unobjectionable. I'm pretty sure that within the first 40 minutes (post-studio scene), there is at least 1 example of each irony.
3. Discuss after the showing what students chose to put in the boxes & whether or not they are good examples of irony.

1. Powerpoint Irony Notes
2. Irony Viewing Guide (Day 1)
3. Irony Viewing Chart (Day 2)
*my server allows one download per 24 hours so if it rejects you, try again tomorrow :) Sorry for the inconvenience!

source: my own creations. "Circle of Friends" was an idea I believe I got from another website but can't remember where...correct me if you know!

Friday, August 28, 2009

YA-Lit Challenge

*updated September 17*
I stumbled across a wonderful book blog (J.Kaye's Book Blog) that is currently running a YA-Lit Book Challenge! I figured this was somewhat related to my previous own Recommend-Me-This contest, so I thought it would be fun to join his crew of readers. You can join, too :)

I'll post my reads & reviews (via Goodreads links) here. Since I love YA Lit anyway, it won't take long to get this list past 12 books. Even if it's the "2009" challenge, I'm assuming I can't just list all the YA Lit I've read since Jan 2009. I'll start with my most recent conquests:

1. Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
2. Marked - P.C. Cast
3. The View from Saturday - E.L. Konigsburg
4. The Mysterious Benedict Society - Trenton Lee Stewart
5. Blizzard: The Storm That Changed America - Jim Murphy
6. Peace Like A River - Leif Enger
7. Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher
8. Inkheart - Cornelia Funke
9. Betrayed - P.C. & Kristin Cast
10. The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey - Trenton Lee Stewart
11. Artemis Fowl - Eoin Colfer
12. The Face on the Milk Carton - Caroline B. Cooney

as of Sept 17, challenge officially "met"...but there's still plenty more to come!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It's a hit! - #43

Now here's something that's fun for the whole family - er, classroom (repeat after me: my classroom is NOT my home. my school is NOT my family).

So last post I mentioned a fun activity to teach tone with three songs. I promised you another lesson with technology, right? And thus I deliver: teaching tone with movie trailers. In my pursuit for fun/interesting tone activities, I followed Google here and here. And I'm so glad I did! Both suggest students viewing a movie trailer with a list of tone words in front of them, and select words that describe the tone. Then you play a second trailer - a "Recut" version of the original. These are apparently gaining in popularity; it means that someone has edited a new "trailer" for the video that appears to give it a new spin - like Mary Poppins as a horror film. So fun! We used Mary Poppins but I also procured copies of Sleepless in Seattle. If you find any other good movie trailers & recuts, do share. I found a list of tone words online that I liked and gave them copies to keep.

And if you're worried about getting YouTube access at school, I have more good news: there are methods to download videos! Yes! (ok, so if you already knew, why didn't you tell me!) I went to and Both are very easy. Just follow their steps, save to a disk, and take it to class. Another colleague shared Tubesock with me - apparently that you need to purchase & download, but it looks like it is more advanced, so if you plan to do a lot of gleaning from YouTube, you might find it worth the investment.

We had a lot of fun with this today. After we finished looking at the videos (very quick), I then took the idea of skits from this blog. In addition to the four tones she suggested (sarcastic, concerned, skeptical, and curious), I added dismay, enraged, and critical. They always want to be funny with their skits so sometimes they branched into sarcastic when they had critical but overall they got it and definitely had fun. Gotta love those days.

source: JustRead! blog, Teaching Tone AC article, BrightHub,photo by monicaandjoe

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Persnickety Tone - #42

Note: TONE, not mood. Do you have difficulty teaching this? I've never really talked about it at length before (I know, for shame), so I can't tell if I have difficulty teaching it. I anticipate a challenge, though, simply because it's a more subtle literary device.

The first obstacle I've encountered, though, has been just finding a lesson plan that focuses on tone and NOT mood. There are many lesson plans that use the terms interchangeably! I find this surprising since these are English teachers who probably have the same background as I do (English major, English Praxis, etc.). Still, there are English teachers with poor grammar, so I suppose it's possible that tone & mood can throw even the professionals for a loop.

In my hunt for some tone help, I stumbled across 2 fun lessons that I am eager to try! What's even better is that both incorporate technology, so they're a great little boost for your repertoire. The first involves the analysis of three songs: Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out for a Hero," Chad Kroeger's "Hero," and Mariah Carey's "Hero."

Curious? Go here to see what "sb" does with them!

I love that she was able to find 3 songs with a similar subject/topic but 3 different tones. Do you have any other songs that you think you could do this with? Hm...

Who can beat me in this game? Go! Find me three songs with 3 different tones but similar subjects! I'm off to peruse my ITunes library to see if I can fulfill my own challenge.

source: "sb" from TX

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Reading as fast as I can! ....#41

In case you were wondering, I have procured most of the recommended books! Those that I don't actually have in my possession at the moment are on hold at the library. In fact, one just came in this afternoon, so I'll be picking that up this week. So far, I've read 3. I'm going to have a hard time picking my favorite! You can see my Goodreads reviews for the three thus far...

Uglies - Scott Westerfeld

Marked - P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

The View from Saturday - E.L. Konigsburg

...stay tuned!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

and the winner is...

First contest submission entries are closed and now time to announce the winner!

Good gosh, y'all! You sure do love recommending some books, don'tcha?

Now, I am taking at least one suggestion from each person - probably just the first you mention, to speed up the process. I'll let ya know what I think of 'em and when I'm done, I'll have another contest to give away a copy of my favorite out of the books YOU suggested! Fun, huh?

Since y'all were so gracious in recommending some of your favorite books to me, my first giveaway is one of my favorite YA books from my recent reads. So now onto the winner!

Using a random number generator to select from comments #1-5, our first winner is...
#4, Cupcake!! Congrats, cupcake! :)

cupcake, choose one of the following books as your prize. Then email me ( with your choice & address. I'll get it into the mail to you ASAP!

Your choices are...
Book of 1000 Days by Shannon Hale

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman


Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

Thanks for playing, everyone! Make sure you check back in for my 2nd giveaway!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Suggestions 5...4...

After a little consultation with myself, I'm adding another giveaway - I'll giveaway a book BEFORE I read your suggestions and one book AFTER I read. In order to enter this "contest," you have to make ONE book suggestion for my list. Confused? Scroll back one post

I will close suggestions at 12pm PST Sunday.

So, make those suggestions and enter yourself for my FREE book giveaway - to be announced tomorrow at the conclusion. But remember, only those who have participated (i.e. left a comment with a book suggestion!) will be eligible for the giveaway. So, lay it on me!

And hey, feel free to pass this along as good news to any friends who might want a book ;)