K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

Learn more

Related pages

  • Writing and English as a Second Language: Strategies for helping English Language Learners throughout the writing process.
  • Setting and Symbolism in A Doll's House: This lesson is designed as a follow-up to the reading and discussion of the play A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen. An understanding of the two literary terms setting and symbolism, and their impact on a work of literature, are essential to students' success in following the guidelines outlined in the North Carolina English Language Arts Standard Course of Study. This lesson has been modified for English Language Learners at the intermediate high proficiency level, but would also be adaptable for learners at the novice or advanced levels.
  • Poetry through music: "Smooth": This lesson draws students into a study of poetry, using Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas' "Smooth" as an entry point.

Related topics


Please read our disclaimer for lesson plans.


The text of this page is copyright ©2008. See terms of use. Images and other media may be licensed separately; see captions for more information and read the fine print.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • discriminate between the 3 types of irony: verbal, situational and dramatic.
  • determine the purpose of the irony: humor, fear, suspense, etc.
  • identify the situational irony in the selection and the purpose.
  • write a summary of the reading selection and discuss the use of situational irony in the selection in at least 2 paragraphs.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

3 hours


  • Copies of the Irony Definitions Chart for each student and an overhead transparency
  • “Ironic” by Alanis Morisette from CD Jagged Little Pill
  • Copy of lyrics to “Ironic” (either from CD cover or from a Google search for the lyrics). Caution: this song contains one word that may be considered objectionable. As with any outside media, teacher should familiarize himself/herself with the song to determine appropriateness for individual groups of students.
  • 3 to 5 teacher-selected short stories containing irony (See Supplemental section). These can be from school adopted text or other sources.
  • Red, green and blue pens/colored pencils for each student.
  • Copies of Short Story Irony Record for each group or student.
  • Oral Presentation Rubric.

Technology resources

  • Overhead Projector
  • CD Player


  1. Begin by defining irony for the students. Use the overhead and transparency of the the Irony Definitions Chart. Use red marker for verbal irony, blue marker for situational irony, and green marker for dramatic irony to differentiate between types of irony. Have students do the same on their copy of the chart. In the example section, try to use examples from TV or movies that students will be familiar with. (20 minutes)
  2. Distribute copies of “Ironic” lyrics. Play song for students, having them follow along. They should underline, highlight or otherwise mark instances of situational irony in song. (10 minutes) Optional: have students follow along as teacher reads lyrics aloud.
  3. Have students do a Think/Pair/Share. They should think about their own personal example of situational irony, pair with a neighbor and share with neighbor orally their example (5 minutes).
  4. Discuss, as a class, situational irony examples from song and Think/Pair/Share. (15 minutes)
  5. Divide students into groups of 4. Assign each group a particular story to read (see list of suggested short stories in the Supplemental Information).
  6. Have students read the story, answering reading comprehension questions, and discussing the situational irony in the story. Have them document the instance(s) of situational irony and the purpose of the irony on the Short Story Irony Record handout. (30-45 minutes)
  7. Working in their groups, have students begin to create a two-paragraph essay that summarizes the story and discusses the use of situational irony in their story. The teacher can collect one essay from each student or each group. (30 minutes)
  8. Each group should elect two spokespersons to present to the class a brief summary of the story and the use of situational irony in the story. Groups should then take turns presenting this information to the class. (30-45 minutes)
  9. If time remains, assign whole class a longer, slightly more difficult short story that has situational irony to read silently (“The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant or “The Monkey’s Paw” by WW Jacobs, for example).


Teacher may use any or all of the following:

  • Irony Definitions Chart in student’s notebook (or collected).
  • Observation of Think/Pair/Share.
  • Reading comprehension questions for stories selected from individual or from group. (If teacher selects one set of answers from each group, all students must write their own answers, and choose the best work. The group must staple all answer sheets together with best work on top.)
  • Short Story Irony Record from group or individuals.
  • Two-paragraph essay on group’s story.
  • Oral Presentation Rubric for group presentation. (For full participation, it is recommended that the teacher averages the grades of the two spokespersons together and give that grade to ALL students in the group.)

Supplemental information

Suggested Short Stories

  • “The Sniper” by Liam O’Flaherty. Short/easy
  • “The Open Window” by Saki. Short/moderately easy.
  • “The Interlopers” by Saki. Medium length/intermediate.
  • “The Gift of The Magi” by O’Henry. Medium length/intermediate.
  • “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin. Short/easy.

Other story titles available at Ted Nellen’s Cyber English pages, Stories with an Ironic Twists.


Related websites

Other story titles available at Ted Nellen’s Cyber English pages, Stories with an Ironic Twists.


  • Pair ELL student with high-level native speaker in the class.
  • Assign ELL student to group reading easiest story.
  • Provide student with a ELL Modified Chart for irony. This modified chart could be given to student at the time of note-taking, or at the end of class after he/she has attempted to take his/her own notes.
  • Provide student with a copy of the ELL Modified Assignment, which is a paragraph template for writing assignment. ELL should copy his work from the template to a clean sheet of paper, and self-edit while copying. Provide extended time if the ELL requires it.
  • ELL may use native language-English dictionary.
  • Modify critical vocabulary using visuals (1 to 3 frame cartoons with few words), picture flash cards, synonyms, antonyms and/or by acting out vocabulary meaning.

Alternative assessments

The alternative assessment for the ELL is the final copy of the two-paragraph assignment, after the ELL has had the opportunity to copy it from the template, and self-edit.

Critical vocabulary

Irony, Story, Summarize, Discuss, advice, death row pardon, play it safe, sneaking up, traffic jam


This lesson plan was developed during the English Language Development Standard Course of Study lesson planning institutes hosted by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and LEARN NC, June and July, 2004. It includes specific strategies, instructional modifications, and alternative assessments which make this lesson accessible to limited English proficient students. Please note that this lesson has been aligned with the goals and objectives of the N.C. English Language Development standards.

Please modify this lesson in any way so that it better fits the specific students that you teach!

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Language

        • Grade 8
          • 8.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings. 8.L.5.1 Interpret figures of speech (e.g. verbal irony, puns) in context. 8.L.5.2 Use the relationship between particular words to better understand each...
        • Reading: Literature

          • 8.RL.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 9

  • Goal 5: The learner will demonstrate understanding of various literary genres, concepts, elements, and terms.
    • Objective 5.01: Read and analyze various literary works by:
      • using effective reading strategies for preparation, engagement, reflection.
      • recognizing and analyzing the characteristics of literary genres, including fiction (e.g., myths, legends, short stories, novels), non-fiction (e.g., essays, biographies, autobiographies, historical documents), poetry (e.g., epics, sonnets, lyric poetry, ballads) and drama (e.g., tragedy, comedy).
      • interpreting literary devices such as allusion, symbolism, figurative language, flashback, dramatic irony, dialogue, diction, and imagery.
      • understanding the importance of tone, mood, diction, and style.
      • explaining and interpreting archetypal characters, themes, settings.
      • explaining how point of view is developed and its effect on literary texts.
      • determining a character's traits from his/her actions, speech, appearance, or what others say about him or her.
      • explaining how the writer creates character, setting, motif, theme, and other elements.
      • making thematic connections among literary texts and media and contemporary issues.
      • understanding the importance of cultural and historical impact on literary texts.
      • producing creative responses that follow the conventions of a specific genre and using appropriate literary devices for that genre.

English Language Development (2005)

Grade 9–12

  • Goal 0:
    • Objective 0.02: Develop vocabulary based on non-academic and academic topics.
    • Objective 0.02: Develop strategies for guided note-taking.
    • Objective 0.06: Edit and correct basic grammatical conventions.
    • Objective 0.09: Respond with difficulty when participating in group discourse by adapting language and communication behaviors to the situation to accomplish a specific purpose.
    • Objective 0.09: Identify main idea and basic literary elements in simple short texts.
    • Objective 0.10: Begin to actively participate in social conversations and classroom discussions with peers and adults on familiar topics by asking/answering questions and soliciting information.