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Satire Lesson for AP Lang & Comp

One year the AP Lang & Comp rhetorical analysis essay was a piece of satire. I gave this prompt to my students as a practice in-class and they all took it at face value. The satire went right over their head. To fix this, I spent a few class periods reviewing satire, just in case it ever reared its ugly head on the exam ever again. In general, though, kids need to be able to sniff out satire because it sharpens their bullshit radar. I know that this not the exact Common Core wording, but I'm sure that idea is in there somewhere.

Day 1


  • Students will be able to identify a piece of satire.

  • Students will be able to analyze a piece of satire.

I started with lecturing & notes just to set up a framework of what to look for.

For homework, I had students read and annotate "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift.

Day 2

On the second day, I spent a few minutes informally discussing Swift with the students and seeing what they thought of the piece.

We spent the bulk of the period looking at the AP Lang & Comp exam prompt that required kids to understand satire.

Once everyone had a copy of the prompt, I asked kids to read and annotate it as if they were going to write a rhetorical analysis essay.

Next I reviewed the ways in which they could structure their response by reviewing different compare/contrast structures.

After going over the different structures, I put students into pairs and asked them to outline as if they were going to write the essay. I made them a graphic organizer to use, but they did not HAVE TO use my handout if they wanted to use a different format.

After about 15 minutes, I stopped everyone's work and asked them to share out their thesis statements on a class Google doc so that we could workshop them and make sure everyone was on the right track. I repeated this process about 30 minutes later with their assertions.

From there, I had kids finish the outlines and submit, but you could stop and workshop every part of the essay depending on how much support your kids need.

You could also have them finish the outline and then use the outline to write an in-class essay independent from their partner.

I hope these materials are helpful to you!

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Amanda Gleicher
Amanda Gleicher

Thanks for sharing! First time teaching Lang--excited to try this with my kids next week.

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