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!).
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?
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!