Tuesday, 9/30/14

Happy Tuesday!  Today you’ll view/read some more comedy texts (that you selected via your post comments, you little comedy wizards!) and then you will choose a model text to analyze and reflect on in tomorrow’s post.

1. Let’s start with a video, because it’s been a while since we’ve had a nice little viewing party and discussion in this class.  Follow along on the transcript as you watch comedian Aamer Rahman talking about “reverse racism” in his comedy special called Fear of a Brown Planet:

What point is he making?  How might his message have been different if delivered without humor (in a serious tone)?

2. Read through the comics about Native Americans with a partner (new friends!) and discuss what the messages are and how they might be received differently because they are conveyed humorously.  Remember they are all also on our Humor Unit Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/paperwithpencil/humor-unit/

3. Watch Louis CK  talk about why he hates cell phones on Conan O’Brien’s show and follow along with the transcript.  Be ready to discuss what his message is and how it might be received differently because he is using humor to convey it.  Underline important points.

What point is he making?  How might his message have been different if delivered without humor (in a serious tone)?

4. Brainstorm all the comedy we’ve watched/read so far this trimester and the issues addressed by each.

5. Choose one example that will serve as your model text. You will produce a text in this genre for your final assessment.

6. Homework: Complete the planning sheet for Post 5.  See below for information about your post requirements.

Post #5 Tomorrow: Now that we have viewed/read multiple examples of humor, you must choose a model text, in the genre of your choice, that you will analyze and reflect on in tomorrow’s post.  (We’ll be in the library computer lab.)  In your post, you’ll answer those old familiar questions from the summer homework:

  • What are the topics addressed by this text or collection of texts?
  • How does this text or collection of texts use humor to address these topics?
  • Which part did you find funniest and why?

In addition, you will be identifying which theory of humor you believe applies to your chosen text.  Just as I wrote before you published your fourth post, please know that some or all of your posts may be shared with the whole class, so keep that in mind and make sure that your finished product represents your best possible work.

Humor Unit Culminating Project: The next big assignment will be creating your own comedic product, so in choosing your model text, think about whether you would like to:

  • create and film a stand-up comedy bit (like Aamer Rahman’s piece today, or Steve Byrnes’ bit about girls growing up, or any of the other bits we watched)
  • create a character representative of a group you are interested in discussing and film a Q+A session (like Azie Dungey’s character Lizzie Mae in Ask a Slave)
  • create and film a humorous news segment about a current topic of your choice (like Jon Stewart’s coverage of Ferguson events on The Daily Show)
  • write a list (like the ones we looked at from McSweeneys)
  • write an open letter (like the ones we looked at from McSweeneys)
  • write a comic (like the ones we looked at today on immigration)

In order to earn a 4 on this assignment, you will need to either choose one of the first three bullets, or two from the last three bullets.


Monday, 9/29/14

First things first: Check out Ms. Silk (7th grade Humanities teacher) with Tig Notaro’s autograph on her arm from last night’s Tig Notaro show at Columbus Theater!


If you look all the way to the left of the picture, that’s Tig Notaro in the white t-shirt!  (Tig Notaro is a well known comedian and cancer survivor.)  If YOU want to go see a comedy show at Columbus Theater too, consider taking on the honors assignment of going to see the Daily Show writers on Saturday, October 11th.

As for today, it’s jigsaw time.


At separate stations, you will read or view one text or collection of texts.  Your group will decide what the main points are and what makes it funny.  You will each be responsible for sharing out about your text when we switch groups, so make sure you all have your own individual notes for this.

The texts selected are chosen from your feedback, both from the website comments you did for homework last week and from the Pinterest board selections you wrote on the back of your “Reviewing Your Classmates’ Work” sheet.

The texts will be printed out, but they are also hyperlinked below:

  1. Why It’s Incredibly Important to Learn to Laugh at Yourself. Huffington Post, 11/14/13.
  2. Punch Lines, Commentaries and Rants. NY Times, 7/29/14.
  3. What’s So Funny? Chronicle of Higher Education, 7/14/14.
  4. The Connection Between Laughter and Mental Health. Truehope Nutritional Support.
  5. 10 Reasons Why Humor Is a Key to Success at Work. Forbes, 5/3/13.
  6. The Science-Backed Reason You Should Watch Standup Comedy Before a Meeting. Business Insider, 5/22/14.

Once you and your group have had sufficient time to read, discuss, and take notes on your text, one person from each group will form a new group.  In your new group, each person will have 2-3 minutes to explain the main points of his or her text to the rest of the group, who will take notes.  Your notes are due at the end of class!


Catch up on things you have missed!  Mainly, most of you still need to comment on Thursday and Friday’s posts.

Friday, 9/26/14

Students!  Please read these posts all the way through– always, but especially when I can’t be in class with you.  In keeping with today’s theme, which is lists, please read the list below of things to do today, and then do all of them!


  1. Take your phone out. (For five minutes! If it’s ok with the teacher! Read below for instructions!)
  2. Look through the packet of Lists from McSweeney’s and read them by yourself, with a partner, or as a whole group.
  3. Choose four lists and respond to the questions on the double sided, two-page organizer.
  4. Turn in your packets.
  5. Do your homework. (Read below for instructions!)


Check with the substitute teacher first to make sure it’s ok, and if s/he says yes, please take your phones out to leave a comment on yesterday’s post with a link to an Open Letter that you like from this collection.  (Don’t forget- red words are hyperlinked, so you can click on “yesterday’s post” to get there.)  That was your homework last night.  This means you should have your phone out for no more than five minutes— again, as long as the teacher says it’s ok.  Make sure you do that again at the end of class for tonight’s homework.


The packets of Lists from McSweeney’s should be on Mr. Woodward’s desk; I left them there on Wednesday.  Read them by yourself, with a  partner, or as a whole group.  Remember, you can find all of the pieces we read on the Pinterest board:


Choose four lists and respond to the questions on the double sided, two-page organizer.


Check out other Lists on the McSweeney’s site and choose one you like, and then paste the link into a comment on today’s post.


Thursday, 9/25/14

More open letters!


Today you’ll go through that handy dandy packet of Open Letters to People or Entities (you know how to pronounce that) Unlikely to Respond that you got yesterday.  Diamond, I was keeping a packet for you because you weren’t here yesterday but I forgot to leave it in the classroom; I’m sorry!  You’ll have to look on with someone nice!

You may choose to read these letters in pairs or independently– or as a whole group, if Ms. Cardi wants to do that!

Using the double sided, two-page organizer, choose THREE more open letters and answer the questions about them.  Make sure you finish the questions for the first one that we read yesterday too.  You will need to turn this work in at the end of the period.

Tomorrow you’ll have a packet of Lists to go through, and you’ll do the same thing: Choose 4 and fill in the questions for each.

All of the selections you will be given can also be found on the Humor Unit Pinterest board:


Check out other Open Letters on the McSweeney’s site and choose one you like, and then paste the link into a comment on today’s post.


Wednesday, 9/24/14

Today we are taking a little break from social issues to look at satire.  Where might we look for satire?  McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, my friends.


On this website, there are many published pieces of humor, most of which employ satire.  What is satire?

the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

Today we’ll go over satire and begin looking at Open Letters to People or Entities Unlikely to Respond.

Tomorrow (when I’m not here because of a RIDE ELL Directors’ meeting) you’ll continue to look at Open Letters to People or Entities Unlikely to Respond.

On Friday (when I will also not be here– try to hold back your tears), you’ll look at Lists.

You may be interested in looking at other miscellaneous samplings from McSweeney’s.

All of the selections you will be given can also be found on the Humor Unit Pinterest board.

Pop question: What does it mean that the above phrases are in red?  (A: They’re hyperlinks!  Click on them!)

On both days, you’ll receive a packet of examples, and then you will select four to read and comment on.

Your homework for both days is to find a selection from that category on McSweeneys that you wish to add to our list.  You will do this by commenting on that day’s post with a link to the selection you’ve chosen.

Tuesday, 9/23/14



Today you will be working in stations to complete the following things:

  • Review 3 posts by classmates on gender and humor and reflect on them, using the sheets provided
  • Look through a Pinterest board about humor communications and select ONE thing you’re interested in learning more about
  • Take a pre-survey about your technology digital literacy skills and knowledge

Student Posts:

Students’ sites are private, so I will have to sign in on each laptop, but the ones we will be looking at today are by:

Pinterest Board:

Look through this Pinterest board and choose ONE thing you’re interested in learning more about.  Click on the actual board below to look at it.  (Note: Scroll through– there are about 250 things on this board, so don’t just look at the first three before you pick one!)


Click here to take the pre-survey about your technology digital literacy skills and knowledge.



As of right now, only 8 students have commented on yesterday’s post with a social issue and a link to a picture, video or article that deals with that social issue through humor.  If you are not one of those 8, get with the program!  (Note: No points awarded for commenting on today’s post with this information.  Click on yesterday’s post and comment there.)

I’m collecting your sources on a Pinterest board if you want to check out what’s been submitted already.


Read the McSweeneys pieces given to you and come to class prepared to discuss them.

Monday, 9/22/14

Post #4!  It’s here!


After reading through your planning sheets, I’m very excited about these posts.  You have a lot of interesting, intelligent things to say about gender and humor.  This will be the first post that may be shown to other students in the class, so you may want to keep that in mind as you work today– in other words, make sure it’s primo quality, cuz.

I also read through the Thoughtful Responses on classroom environment that you turned in, and I’m happy to report that we all generally have the same ideas about what makes an ideal learning environment where all students have the opportunity to learn, grow, question and create.  Now we just need to work together to make sure that this class matches those qualities.

Follow the directions below to create your post.

  1. Go to your WordPress website.
  2. Choose “New Post.”
  3. Title your new post, “Examining Gender and Humor.”
  4. In the box below the title, copy and paste the following headings, and below them, type the sentences that you have written on your planning sheet.  You may need to make additions or changes based on my notes.
    Gender Discussion
    In class on Wednesday, we talked about gender.  Some of the messages we receive are that

    TED Talk Connection
    In the TED Talk “Comedy is Translation,” Chris Bliss says,

    Selected Clip
    I chose [“Women are the greatest threat to women,” by Louis CK OR “When girls grow up,” by Steve Byrne OR Salon’s “Louis CK or Tina Fey”] because

    Main Points
    The main points the comedian/author is making are

    Why I Chose This
    I chose this clip because

    What the Author/Comedian Is Trying to Accomplish

    Theory of Humor

    The Part I Found Funniest

    Honors: Text-to-Text, Text-to-Self, or Text-to-World Connection

  5. If you’d like to review our class notes from the gender discussion last Wednesday to find specific examples, see below. The image has also been added to that post.
  6. Choose an image to accompany your post.  You may use one of the three below if you’d like, or you may choose your own.
    Louis threat steve byrne salon
  7. Click on “Add Media.”
  8. Click on “Upload files.”
  9. Choose your picture(s).
  10. Click on “Insert into post.”
  11. Click on “Preview” to check out how awesome it all looks.
  12. Make any changes you may want to make.
  13. Click “Publish.”
  14. If you finish early, you can always feel free to help out a neighbor, and/or you can take care of your homework, which is posted below.


Since Friday was an early release day, class ended before we really had a chance to go over your homework assignment, so I’m re-assigning it for tonight.  This time, respond by adding a comment to this post.

  • Decide on one topic that is interesting and important to you, and that you would like to do a comedy unit on.  (So far we have examined race and gender through humor.)
  • Find at least one video or article that uses humor to address the topic.  Use your head and don’t choose something that might be considered too objectionable.  Include the link in your comment.