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Exploring Satire with The Simpsons
|Grades||9 – 12|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Three 50-minute sessions|
Charleston, South Carolina
Students are introduced to the idea of The Simpsons as satire by comparing what they did on a typical day to the things the Simpsons do in the opening segment of the show. They use the character profiles on the The Simpsons Website to analyze six characters, identifying satirical details that reveal the comment or criticism of society that the cartoon is making through the character. Finally, students use a graphic organizer to record and analyze specific examples of satire as they watch a full episode of The Simpsons. A list of other modern shows that provide examples of satire is included in the lesson.
Analyzing Characters from The Simpsons character list: This handout provides instructions and character choices for an analysis of characters on The Simpsons.
Analyzing Characters from The Simpsons blank chart: Students can use this chart as they analyze the satirical role of various characters on The Simpsons.
Analyzing an Episode of The Simpsons: Students can use this graphic organizer as they analyze an episode of The Simpsons.
Popular culture, in the form of the episodes from The Simpsons, provide an introduction to and extended exploration of the literary techniques that are commonly used in satire. This pairing of popular culture with traditional literary instruction provides what Meg Callahan and Bronwen E. Low call "a meeting place where students and teachers can share their expertise" (52). Through their extensive research with secondary students, Callahan and Low concluded that "many students identified the use of popular culture in the classroom as a catalyst for complex thinking" (57). Callahan and Low identify popular culture as "a site where students can experience competence at the same time that the teachers provide appropriate challenges through careful support, reframing, and questioning" (57).
Callahan, Meg, and Bronwen E. Low. "At the Crossroads of Expertise: The Risky Business of Teaching Popular Culture." English Journal 93.3 (January 2004): 52-57.