Subject:
English Language Arts, Reading Literature
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Level:
High School
Grade:
12
Provider:
Pearson
Tags:
Grade 12 ELA, Satire
License:
Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
Language:
English

Grammatical Principles

Grammatical Principles

Overview

In this lesson, students will study some grammatical principles about how Swift crafted “A Modest Proposal.”

Preparation

  • Read the lesson and student content.
  • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.

Grammar

  • Give students 3 minutes to complete their Quick Write before discussing their responses.
    • ELL: Since many ELLs experience this issue themselves, be sure that they fully explain their ideas and encourage them to share their responses with others. It is important that ELLs get time to fully explain their thoughts and to share them freely.

Opening

Complete a Quick Write.

  • How can grammar interfere with or enhance communication? Explain.

Open Notebook

Reactions to the Opening Paragraph

  • The challenge with “A Modest Proposal” is the same as it was when it was initially published. Many readers misunderstood the satire, thinking Swift was being straightforward because his style reflected a serious approach to the issue of overpopulation and starvation in Ireland. Even in this opening paragraph, however, Swift begins to subtly reveal the satire. To grasp this, and the entire essay, students must focus on the writer’s purpose—satire—and how he achieves that through word choice, syntax, tone, and his audience. Note that as they continue reading this essay, identifying Swift’s target of the satire, the upper ruling class, not the middle or lower classes, is essential.
  • Most readers see the initial paragraphs as establishing a sympathetic response in the reader, and certainly on one level it does that. Within this opening, however, it is necessary that the reader catch some of the irony and hyperbole so that the subsequent satire is not overlooked by the extreme solutions Swift proposes.
  • Circulate through the room, assisting and encouraging students in their work.
  • Monitor students’ progress to see if they will need more time than this period.
  • If students finish the grammar section early, have them look at the materials on Swift in More to Explore.

Work Time

For the rest of the period, you will focus on grammar in “A Modest Proposal.”

Submit your responses to your teacher.

  • Reread the opening paragraph of Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” aloud.
  • In a Quick Write, describe your reactions to these sentences. Refer to the specific words or phrases that affected your reactions.
  • When you have finished, share your writing with a partner or small group and discuss your reactions.

Open Notebook

You Have a Choice
You may work individually, with a partner, or with a small group to complete today’s grammar activities.

Vocabulary in the Opening Paragraph

  • Circulate through the room, assisting and encouraging students in their work.
    • SWD: Be sure that all students with disabilities are engaging in the activity successfully. If you find that some students need support, consider grouping those that need extra help and work with them as a way of supporting them.
  • Monitor students’ progress to see if they will need more time than this period.
    • ELL: Consider allowing ELLs to use their bilingual dictionaries to help with understanding of the concepts, or when possible, to discuss with other ELLs who share the same primary language in that language.

Work Time

Continue to focus on the opening paragraph of “A Modest Proposal.”

  • Highlight any vocabulary you are unfamiliar with or are uncertain about.
  • Pay particular attention to melancholy, importuning, alms, and sustenance. Jot down some ideas about possible meanings based on what the paragraph tells you.
  • Share with a partner or small group. When you have finished sharing, look up the meaning of these new words and discuss how the definitions are similar to your own ideas.

Author's Attitude and Intended Audience

  • Circulate through the room, assisting and encouraging students in their work.
  • Monitor students’ progress to see if they will need more time than this period.

Work Time

Based on your initial reading of the opening paragraph, respond to the following questions.

  • What do you think the author feels about this situation?
  • What words or phrases reveal the author’s attitude toward his topic?
  • Who do you think is his intended audience?
  • Could there be more than one audience he is writing for?

Open Notebook

Swift's Attitude and Irony

  • Circulate through the room, assisting and encouraging students in their work.
  • Monitor students’ progress to see if they will need more time than this period.

Work Time

Look again at the first sentence of the opening paragraph and answer the following questions.

  • “It” is the subject, but what is the “melancholy object” that “It” is?
  • Whom are “those” referring to? How does the reader know they are different from the melancholy objects that they see?
  • What in this sentence provides evidence of Swift’s attitude toward both “those who walk through this great town” and the “objects” they see? Particularly note:
    • How “great town” fits with what the reader sees.
    • Why Swift uses the word object to describe the beggars .
    • Other word choices Swift makes.
  • What kinds of irony can you find here, and does Swift’s use of irony suggest anything about his attitude?

Open Notebook

These Mothers

  • Circulate through the room, assisting and encouraging students in their work.
  • Monitor students’ progress to see if they will need more time than this period.

Work Time

Now focus on the beginning of the second sentence of the opening paragraph and answer the following questions.

  • Why do you think “these mothers” cannot work for an “honest livelihood”?
  • In what ways could “these mothers” be “forced to employ all their time” this way?
  • Look at Swift’s word choices in this clause and decide if the word strolling suggests or implies anything beyond the main idea. Could that word suggest something about Swift’s audience and how they might view the situation with the poor?

Open Notebook

Helpless Infants

  • Circulate through the room, assisting and encouraging students in their work.
  • Monitor students’ progress to see if they will need more time than this period.

Work Time

Then focus on the rest of the second sentence of the opening paragraph and answer the following questions.

  • Swift indicates only two choices for these “helpless infants,” although one of the choices has two parts. What are these choices? Given the time period and historical situation in Ireland, can you think of any other choices they might have? What reason would Swift have for limiting the choices to the ones he mentions?
  • Why does Swift use the phrase their “dear native country”? “Their” refers to whom? Do you think they feel their native country is “dear”? Why? How does this reveal more of Swift’s attitude about the issue, or about his own readers?

Open Notebook

Brief Research

  • Circulate through the room, assisting and encouraging students in their work.
  • Monitor students’ progress to see if they will need more time than this period.
  • Refer students to “How to Tell if You Are Looking at a Great Web Site” if they need help assessing the websites they use for research.

Work Time

Continue to focus on the rest of the second sentence of the opening paragraph and answer the following questions.

  • If you need more background information about the Pretender in Spain, where could you find it? Do some brief research on this reference and discuss how this might relate to the issue of poor, starving families in Ireland.
  • Do you need more information on the reference to selling “themselves to the Barbadoes”? Remember the historical period of this essay and discuss your reaction to this solution for these “helpless infants.”

Open Notebook

Hyperbole and Sentence Structure

  • Circulate through the room, assisting and encouraging students in their work.
  • Monitor students’ progress to see if they will need more time than this period.

Work Time

Answer the following questions.

  • Does Swift use any hyperbole in these opening sentences? Why would he use hyperbole when the situation in Ireland is as grim as he suggests? How might that affect the reaction of his audience?
  • Does the long sentence structure suggest anything? Think about the issue Swift identifies, the powerful image of starving children, and why he might start with two rather long and complex sentences.

Open Notebook

Target Audiences

  • Circulate through the room, assisting and encouraging students in their work.
  • Monitor students’ progress to see if they will need more time than this period.

Work Time

This satirical essay was published in London in 1729. The complete title is “A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick.”

  • Keeping in mind the purpose of satire, who are the possible audiences for Swift’s essay?
  • How might Swift be targeting separate types of audiences, and how might each target audience react differently to reading these first two sentences?

Open Notebook

Imitation of Swift's Style

  • Circulate through the room, assisting and encouraging students in their work.
    • ELL: Be aware of how difficult it can be to emulate others’ style in a foreign language. Support your ELLs during this activity if necessary.
  • Monitor students’ progress to see if they will need more time than this period.
  • The writing response can be assigned as classwork or homework depending on needs and time issues.

Work Time

Work individually to write in Swift’s style.

  • In one or two more paragraphs, continue Swift’s essay with your own ideas, explaining or describing a solution to the problem Swift has identified. Try imitating Swift’s style, maintaining his tone with similar word choices, sentence structures, irony, and hyperbole where appropriate.
  • Next write another paragraph or two, again in Swift’s style, where you propose a satirical or humorous solution to the problem.
  • Share your paragraphs with a partner or small group and discuss the different approaches you each took. Referring to the opening sentences, identify why you made the choices that you did in words, syntax, and so on.

Open Notebook

Grammar Check-In

  • Determine whether students should finish the assignment as homework or whether you will allow them to continue working on it during Lesson 13.

Closing

  • Let your teacher know where you are in the grammar assignment.

Why Grammar Is Worth Studying

  • Ask students to imagine what our writing would look like if we didn’t have a common set of grammatical principles and rules.

Homework

Write a response to the following.

  • In a paragraph, explain why grammar is worth studying. How does it influence your writing?

Open Notebook