Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sometimes Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine!

I was sitting recently listening to a little girl sing an original, improvised song with real passion and sincerity:

There was a girl out in the yard
She liked to sing and dance
And then she went in the house...

Suddenly the boy next to her took advantage of the improv-induced half second pause to finish the verse...


Now, what followed was not so funny, but children - to me - are an endless source of amusement.   Who doesn't like to laugh? Scowls break apart, shoulders relax a bit and here is the best part--minds are engaged! I've used units on humor to engage my students. Here are a few ideas for how you might use it as well:

1) Use humor to teach the concept of genres and audience.  We study about a dozen different comedy genres and how to analyze and categorize comedy into sub genres.  We also look at audience and why different jokes are funny to different audiences.  We poll the class to see what they find funny and graph the results.

2) Use cartoons to teach visual literacy, exageration, symbolism, political science, etc. 

3) Teach them to analyze language.  I also must caution you here.  While I have seen comedy units engage my most disengaged students, I've also seen struggling readers require a lot of scaffolding to analyze and make the necessary inferences to comprehend some jokes.  That being said, having students analyze (and maybe even draw) puns is an excellent way to engage them in the idea of double meanings.

Good luck!

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