By Sarah Cen ‘18
Using different teaching methods is significant in helping students understand certain topics. This was demonstrated in Mr. James Felder and Ms. Maria Moccia’s AP English Language and Composition classes, as students learned the topic of satire through a creative project.
According to Mr. Felder, one of the required units for AP Language, mandated by the College Board, is satire. Since students often have trouble with identifying satire, he came up with this idea to present the topic in an engaging way.
“I decided to show students video clips from the Onion News Network, SNL, and other satirical videos, along with traditional satirical essays and speeches,” said Mr. Felder. “The idea for students to come up with their own satirical news show was born from my belief that students learn best when they engage in hands-on activities that result in the creation and production of an authentic product.”
Students had to pick a modern issue and make a satirical situation, in which they point out a human folly. The task involved students working together in groups of four or five to choose an aspect of society that angers them or one they want to see change in.
“The project allowed us to make fun of or mock a certain topic, like gender roles or stereotypes,” Christina Ng ‘18 said. “Our group did our project on the movie Beauty and the Beast and how religious people were against the movie, due to a controversial scene.”
A wide variety of topics were available for selection, including teen problems, employment, women’s rights, and environmental and political issues. The project was split into two parts: the first was a creative satirical response to the problem expressed as a fake newscast or talk show, and the second was the presentation of it. Alternatively, students could have filmed a video of the news report and played that on the smartboard, instead of presenting it in front of the class. Overall, the students enjoyed the project because it celebrated their creativity and taught them satire in an engaging way.
“This project was a lot of fun because my group got to satirize an issue that I was passionate about and it felt good to bring awareness to it while making other people laugh,” said Fern Bromley ‘18. “By watching other groups’ presentations, I got to learn about other problems in society and how to check myself and my privilege.”
Mr. Felder also added that the satire unit, and the AP Language course in general, helps to make students more aware of the world around them.
“This project allowed us to delve deeper into satirical devices so we could create a situation that poked fun at the issue,” said Shanjida Kamal ‘18. “Overall, it was a great learning experience that helped me learn more about devices that could be used in satirical texts and statements.”
Aside from the students learning from the project, the teachers also took something out of this experience.
“From this project, I learned more about modern portrayals of stereotypes and what students viewed as follies and evils,” said Ms. Moccia.
Rather than teaching the conventional way, Mr. Felder and Ms. Moccia engaged students through assigning this project and effectively connecting satire with the modern age, while encouraging the use of media to teach this unit instead.
“In science labs, students are able to apply concepts learned in class to hands-on activities,” said Mr. Felder. “With the satire project, and other tasks in the AP Language program, we are trying to bring more of that type of hands-on learning into the English classroom.”