English Language Arts, Reading Literature
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Grade 12 ELA
  • Presentation
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Centuries Of Satirical Strategies

    Centuries Of Satirical Strategies


    In this lesson, students begin a project that lets them enjoy satire that targets a specific topic or group. Students will be reading and viewing satires that span centuries, and identifying the satirical strategies used in the different works.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.

    Targets of Satire Project

    • A great volume of material has been covered at this point in this unit. This might be a good check-in point to see that students have everything they need and have been organized.
    • This assignment will grow progressively harder. Students will begin with the most contemporary and therefore relatable topics and then move backwards and to more distant satires. Their comprehension of the contemporary satire should help energize their work with older satire.
    • You can push students to some of the questions raised as you walk around the room. You can also ask them what examples they might use for their presentations.
    • You can also remind students that they’ve studied some of the satirical topics already; for instance, Juvenal satirized parenting. They should use these in their presentations too.
    • You can also take time to begin brainstorming ideas with students for their own satire choices. You might prod them towards some other genres, such as cartoons or songs.
    • In this task, students are getting a baseline understanding. They’ll move from here to making connections and comparing and contrasting.


    In this episode, you’ll study a target of satire through the ages and present your findings.

    • Read the description of the Targets of Satire Project. Review it with your classmates, take notes, and ask questions.

    Targets of Satire Comparison

    • In the next two lessons, different groups may choose to operate in different ways, and that’s fine. Your best bet is to circulate and work most with groups when they are discussing some of the questions.
    • SWD: As they work in groups, monitor to be sure that all students are able to contribute and participate productively.
    • Check for understanding where you can. When a group has finished a text or movie clip, listen to their discussion on what was satirized, and redirect them if they’re off base.
    • You can also look at their notes. That will give you a sense of both how quickly they’re working and also whether their interpretations are strong.
    • In this task, students are building on their understanding of the texts and making comparisons. This level of thinking, synthesis, is difficult, and they’ll need encouragement.
    • If students choose their own target group, they may work independently or with others who chose to come up with their own target group.

    Work Time

    As you move through your texts and videos, you’ll want to think about information you are gathering on how this target group has been dealt with through the years. Take notes and discuss with your group as you work.

    • How do the various satires compare with one another? What, in particular, is commonly satirized about your topic? Are there universal qualities?
    • Where on the satirical tone scale would you put each—more Horatian or Juvenalian? Can you make any generalizations about the level of harshness of satire for your target?
    • What are lines from the texts or videos that you can excerpt for your presentation?

    Open Notebook

    Satirical Strategies

    • Finally, the students here are moving to closer examinations of text.
    • You can direct them to specific strategies if they don’t detect them on their own. For example, Romeo and Juliet uses rhyming couplets in its parody of love poetry; The Misanthrope also uses rhyming couplets to establish rhythm and a sharper tone; and all The Canterbury Tales selections use stock characters.

    Work Time

    Work with your group to study the satirical strategies that are used in each of your works.

    • What strategies can you find? And which are most important? Identify just two or three per work, and be sure you have text support for each.
    • How do they contribute to tone?

    Open Notebook


    • Since students working in groups can sometimes mask what they know in attempt to keep up with their peers, this will give you a good chance to assess independent comprehension.
      • ELL: Since summarizing one’s learning entails such a high level of understanding of the topic and command of the language, allow ELLs additional time to come up with the summary, and encourage them to work in pairs if necessary. Dictionaries should be allowed throughout the class, but especially in this section.


    Complete a Quick Write and submit it to your teacher.

    • How would you summarize what you’ve found so far about how your target group has been satirized through time? What questions do you want to answer in the next lesson?

    Open Notebook


    • Remind students that what they use must be school-appropriate.


    Research your topic on your own.

    • Find other examples of movies, poetry, essays, or short stories that satirize your topic.
    • Share your findings for your group to review.