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Teaching Irony to Students with Special Needs

written by: goldwriter • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 8/2/2012

Irony can be challenging to teach, but a visual lesson and a demonstration can students understand this abstract concept.

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    Use Pictures and Demonstrations

    The concept of irony can be challenging to teach, but here is how it can be taught in the high school special education classroom. Use pictures and a demonstration to help students understand irony. Most students may have used irony or sarcasm, but they may not know the terms or understand the different types of irony.

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    That's Ironic

    Make a PowerPoint presentation made up mostly of pictures and label each picture with the word irony. Each picture should represent something that is ironic. Be careful not to use pictures that are offensive or break copyright laws.

    Show the PowerPoint presentation in class and explain why the pictures are ironic. If you can’t create a PowerPoint presentation, you can cut comics from the newspaper, discuss each comic and explain why the comics are ironic. Using comics with simple irony will help students to understand. Next, group students, and ask them what is funny or ironic about the comics. The concept of what makes the comic funny could be parlayed into a discussion on irony.

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    Make a Movie

    It’s fun to demonstrate dramatic irony in class. In my class, students acted out a horror movie scene in which the audience (the class) knows what will happen next, but the actors (other students) don’t know. In our horror movie, the teens were spending the weekend at a beach home in Miami. The students split up to explore the beautiful home, and one by one they are confronted by the attacker, just like in a typical horror movie. When one teen is attacked, the other teen goes alone to investigate the situation. Because most of our students have seen such movies, they quickly understood dramatic irony.

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    Summarize the Lesson

    To summarize this lesson, students can be placed into groups and given the task of classifying the different types of irony, using pictures, or even videos of ironic scenes. For a culminating assessment, students may be asked to create a video, using a digital camera, demonstrating irony. The student could be charged with writing the dialogue, selecting actors, a camera person, an editor, and presenting the taped scene to the class.