Humor in the Classroom
from NCTE INBOX 3-20-12
Bruce A. Goebel, author of Humor Writing: Activities for the English Classroom (M-S), says that incorporating humor writing into the classroom not only reduces student anxiety but also provides students with an opportunity to study and practice the careful and effective use of language. Perhaps most important, these activities offer students the rare opportunity to express their creative, divergent-thinking sides in an increasingly serious classroom space. As we approach April Fool's Day, see how else humor can be incorporated in the classroom with these resources from ReadWriteThink.org and NCTE.
The ReadWriteThink.org podcast episode Tickle Your Funny Bone (E) shares an interview with kids' humorist Mike Artell and explores three books which get kids reading, speaking, and laughing out loud.
In exploring examples of parody and writing their own short parodies in "Parody: An Introduction through Poetry" (M-S) students are drawn into a close examination of writers' form, language, and style.
The themed issue of English Journal (M-S) titled "For the Fun of It!" shares numerous ways to incorporate humor into the classroom. The article "Comic Relief: Engaging Students through Humor Writing" shares 10 engrossing and enriching humor-writing activities for students.
Exploring Satire with The Simpsons (S), a lesson plan from ReadWriteThink.org, uses an example from popular culture, The Simpsons, as a means to explore the literary technique of satire and to analyze a satirical work. Similarly, the movie Shrek introduces the satirical techniques of exaggeration, incongruity, reversal, and parody. Students brainstorm fairy tale characteristics, identify satirical techniques, then create their own satirical versions of fairy tales in Exploring Satire with Shrek.
Use Dr. Seuss's The Butter Battle Book as an accessible introduction to satire. Reading, discussing, and researching this picture book paves the way for a deeper understanding of Gulliver's Travels as explained in the ReadWriteThink.org lesson plan From Dr. Seuss to Jonathan Swift: Exploring the History behind the Satire (S).
The use of humorous texts in the writing class can help students improve skills in effective writing while encouraging critical thinking and an increased range in expression as described in the Teaching English in the Two Year College article “Not Just a Humorous Text: Humor as Text in the Writing Class” (C). In addition, because of the accessible nature of humor and the focus on purpose and audience that is necessary when writing it, students show a natural inclination toward peer review and recursive writing, with an enthusiasm that is often lacking when working with traditional texts in the writing class.
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