April 4, 2013

Teaching Irony

Today, as we were reviewing for next week's test, I realized (thanks to one of or sample test questions) that I failed to teach my students about irony. Oops! Not sure how that fell off my radar!

It's a good thing I'm so highly trained in formative assessment because I realized immediately that my students needed a mini-lesson.

So, we defined it, I gave examples, my students chimed in with their own examples (my favorite: It's ironic that my scores are better when I don't study for a test!), and then we played a little game I like to call Is It Ironic or Just Bad Luck? 

Like anyone out of diapers in the 90's, I can't hear the word irony without thinking of Alanis Morisette, and I thought my students needed a proper introduction.

We watched the video twice. Once so they could see what life was like back when MTV played music videos, and once so they could read the lyrics and vote. With each scenario she suggests in the song, my students gave me a thumbs up for, "That's ironic!" and a thumbs down for, "That's just bad luck!"

It was fun to see them singing along to a song that is so vividly connected to my own adolescence. They had some fierce debates about some of the scenarios, but for the most part, they agree with the masses: the most ironic thing about the song is the lack of irony!


  1. That's a great idea! Now, no one does irony better than O. Henry. We always read The Gift of the Magi at Christmas, but for the first time, we read The Ransom of Chief a few weeks ago. The kids loved it! Here's a link to an Internet activity: The Ransom of Red Chief

    Surviving Sixth Grade

  2. I love this idea! Whenever I bring up irony, my students will mention this song, and we'll have a talk about how, actually many of those situations are not ironic. I think next time I will play the video and do the game with them as well. Thanks for the idea!

    English With Mrs. L.