Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Topic: Engaging Students in Writing Humor

10-second review: Some funny writing situations

Title: “Comic Relief: Engaging students Through Humor Writing.” BA Goebel. English Journal (July 2009), 38-43. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).


Definitions: Try writing definitions for made-up words like the following: pod snob, word of mouse, beepilepsy, jargonaut, for example.

Association brainstorms: “…students are given a character in terms of profession---firefighter, police officer, dog-catcher, gardener—and then asked to brainstorm as many verbs as they can that might metaphorically describe a physical or psychological condition. For example, in describing how a firefighter might feel, coming home from work, one might list burned up, torched, fired up, steaming and not too hot.” p. 39.

Fractured clichés: “If at first you don’t succeed, quit.” W.C. Fields. “If all the world’s a stage, it’s time to change the director.” Russell Goebel.

Rule of three: “he was my dream date, tall, dark and dumb.”

Lists: “Top ten signs you’re watching a bad monster movie.” David Letterman.

Rewrite funny passages: Identify the funniest passage. Explain why it is funny. Write a brief description of how to write a passage like this. Write a brief emulation that captures the form and style of the chosen passage while using content of your choosing.

Students look for things that make them laugh, then share with the rest of the class.

Comment: I bet they’ll have a heckuva time explaining why it’s funny. Why not a unit on humor? I know. Don’t bother to answer that question. It won’t help improve students’ scores on high stakes tests. RayS.

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