Lesson Plan

Little Did They Know

Citing Textual Evidence to Support Literary Analyses of Dramatic Irony
Media specialist/librarian
Golden Valley High School
Merced, CA
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My Grades 10
My Subjects English Language Arts
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In this Lesson Flow, student learn the concept of dramatic irony, apply that knowledge to reading texts, then write literary analyses in which they cite textual evidence to support claims. 

  • Students will be able to identify instances of dramatic irony in a variety of texts (both visual and written). 
  • Students will be able to support analyses of text with strong textual evidence and warrants.  


English Language Arts
text analysis
using supporting evidence
Grades 9 - 10
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

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I use Google Forms to ask students to complete a quickwrite that serves two main purposes:  prime their brains for the content and practice a targeted writing skill.  

Because dramatic irony is about the audience knowing more than a character, I want to repeat that concept in a variety of ways for my students.  I might ask them to write for the following prompt so they are introduced with the idea that dramatic irony means that the audience knows a little secret:    

  • Think about a time when you knew a secret about someone else?  How did you feel?  Did you tell anyone?  Why or why not?  Use a semicolon in at some point in your response.  (This last part could be a request for parallel structure or a certain type of transition word.  Whatever I request here, must be something previously taught so students can just review the skill while making that personal connection to the concept being taught.)

Because I use Google Forms, the students contributions populate a spreadsheet.  I require that Google collects student usernames so that I know who writes which posts, but I can hide the column with that information so that I can just project student work.  The student work is essentially anonymous to the students.  I can provide feedback on the targeted skill or I can call on other students at random to provide feedback on the targeted skill.  I can also ask students to elaborate on the ideas presented.

2 Direct Instruction

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This lesson features concept and skill development.  I need to teach the concept of dramatic irony. Then I revisit the skill of supporting claims with specific textual evidence.  

I try to use images and videos as I teach the concepts.  

Ted Ed has a wonderful video that I use to explain dramatic irony to students.  Teachers can also customize the lesson on TED Ed to ask their own questions.  EdPuzzle is another option for customizing the video with questions.  

In a Google Slides presentation, I create scenarios of dramatic irony using Google Draw and Notability in order to instruct on key concepts.  I cover the definition, the fact that dramatic irony is also when the audience understands the significance of an even while a character cannot, how choice of POV affects dramatic irony, and even non-examples.  Making the examples visual at this point is very helpful for most students.  

Part of my direct instruction is also modeling how to write about dramatic irony.  My students know from previous lessons that our year-long writing focus is using textual evidence to support our claims and analyses.  Previously, I taught claims, evidence, and warrants.  Students have written various arguments complete with claims, evidence, and warrants.  I just need to show them that a literary analysis is essentially an argument.  

What my students generally need to know is that they need to use the definition for their warrants when arguing that a portion of a text qualifies as dramatic irony.  I highlight this quite literally using my color labels that I introduced in previous lessons.  In my classroom, we highlight claims in yellow, evidence in green, and warrants in blue.  My models are highlighted for students in Google Docs.  Because I use Google Docs I can publish to the web, embed into a webpage, or even use Google Classroom to distribute copies to all of my enrolled students.  


3 Guided Practice

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Guided Practice requires that students identify instances of irony and explain them in writing citing evidence from the text.  I enjoy using videos for this part of the lesson.  I try to find clips from the MOVIECLIPS channel on Youtube to use in the classroom.  

Superhero movies tend to be good sources of dramatic irony for the initial guided practice.  Most kids are familiar with Spiderman, Superman, and Batman.  They catch on quickly to the dramatic irony associated with the alter egos.  A clip from one of those movies tends to help students feel confident in writing about dramatic irony.  For the first practice, we do a think-pair-share leading to a class discussion.  

I also believe that clips from She’s the Man (a remix of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night) can be excellent.  I usually show the kids the movie poster which quickly establishes the fact that Sebastian is really Viola dressed as a boy. Then I show them a two-minute clip that features enough action to provide the textual evidence needed to write.  I ask students to identify the dramatic irony and explain the tension that is created in the audience.  For the second practice, we do a think-pair-share followed by writing into a Google Form.  

Using Google Forms, I can collect responses, hide the identifying information, and project student work to coach students on how to improve the quality of their responses before it is time for Independent Practice.  


4 Independent Practice

Activity: Assessing

For independent practice, I take the technology out of the hands of the students.  I do not want students tempted to Google a response.  I want to see what they can do with the knowledge in their heads, their text, and a pencil and paper.  I will give students a page range for a focus.  For example, I would ask students to identify an instance of dramatic irony in Chapter 6 of Lord of the Flies and explain how it created tension in the reader. (Note:  I ensure that students previously read the section for the plot.) Requirements include two pieces of textual evidence (seems fair considering one piece of textual evidence is connected to what a character knows and the other piece of textual evidence is connected to what the audience knows) and warrants to explain them.  

5 Wrap-Up

Activity: Creating

Closure to this Lesson Flow can take many forms, but I like closures to be focused on the thinking process rather than just reviewing the concept.  

I might ask students to do one of the following: 

  • sketch out how to identify dramatic irony.
  • explain how to identify dramatic irony so that a five-year-old can do it
  • write a step-by-step process for determing whether an event is an example of dramatic irony