Are You Being Serious? A Look at Satire

Contributor: Kristen Gardiner. Lesson ID: 11860

Have you heard the saying"Truth is stranger than fiction"? What can be stranger than truth? Satire! Most comedy is based on it, it can make people think and change, and you're going to write a piece!



learning style
personality style
Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Take a moment to consider the image below:

What does the image mean? Is it funny or amusing at all? Why?

One of the main reasons why this image is so amusing is because it exemplifies the meaning of the word "procrastination," something that most likely everyone has done at some point or another when faced with a task that was less than thrilling.

This sign is using irony to mock, or make fun of, those who procrastinate. It is poking fun at society's perceived laziness and the idea that someone reading the sign is in fact a procrastinator, and will find it humorous (or perhaps motivational). This type of humor is called "satire," and it uses humor and exaggeration to comment on social and political issues.

Before you continue, there are a few terms you need to understand in order to gain a deep enough understanding of satire to analyze — and eventually write — a satirical piece of your own.

Use the Merriam-Webster online dictionary to define the list of terms on the first page of your Satirical Writing Packet, located in Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar.

Once you have completed defining the terms, read the following piece, Girl Moved to Tears by 'Of Mice and Men' Cliffs Notes, courtesy of the online satirical news group, The Onion (which you are free to browse for more examples of fictional, satirical pieces).

It may be helpful to print a copy of this article so that you can annotate (make notes in the margins) any uses of the literary terms you just learned while completing the vocabulary section. After you have finished reading the piece, answer the questions in your Satirical Writing Packet that relate to the article.

Once you have answered all of the questions, and realized that the piece was indeed a work of fiction satirizing the laziness of many modern college students, you will create a precis. A precis is a short outline or summary of a piece of writing, completely in your own words. You will find a basic structure of a precis in your Satirical Writing Packet.

When you have finished, your precis should look something like this:

Sentence one: (WHAT?)

Onion staff writer in the article, Girl Moved to Tears by 'Of Mice and Men' Cliffs Notes, explains that a Charlottesville, VA, college student was touched to the core after reading the Cliffs Notes for Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.

Sentence two: (How?)

The author supports his or her assertion by describing the firsthand account of the student's very emotional reaction.

Sentence three: (Why?)

The author's purpose is to suggest to young adults that if the Cliff's Notes versions is so impactful, imagine how Steinbeck's own words may have impacted the young woman, and therefore, it is important to not take shortcuts.

Sentence four: (To Whom?) (So What?)

The author entertains his audience of young people by relating to the ethos of today and creating a sense of irony.

  • Did this example help you understand the structure and reason of a satirical piece of writing?
  • Do you enjoy satire so far, or do you find it offensive?

In the Got It? section, you will analyze this piece further to find specific elements that make up a satirical piece of writing.

Elephango's Philosophy

We help prepare learners for a future that cannot yet be defined. They must be ready for change, willing to learn and able to think critically. Elephango is designed to create lifelong learners who are ready for that rapidly changing future.