Mark Twain Epigrams Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

With this lesson plan, your students will be introduced to Mark Twain's characteristic epigrams. They will practice analyzing these and consider how written satire can translate to a non-textual format.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to do the following:

  • Define the concept and use of an epigram
  • Analyze Mark Twain's use of language and satire
  • Demonstrate the connection between written or verbal satire and image-based satire

Length

30-45 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.9-10.5

Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.1

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Materials

Instructions

  • Ask students who Mark Twain was. What do they know about Mark Twain?
  • Hand out printed copies of Mark Twain Epigrams: Analysis & Meaning.
  • Select three volunteers to read aloud the section 'An Epi-What?' and discuss as a class:
    • What is an epigram?
    • Are there any famous epigrams you can think of off the tops of your heads?
  • Break class into groups. Ask members of each group to take turns reading aloud the epigrams of Mark Twain in the following format:
    • Read aloud the epigram, but not the explanation beneath it.
    • Discuss as a group: What is Mark Twain really saying in this epigram?
    • Read the explanation of the epigram. Was your analysis correct? Did you get the joke?
  • After groups have read all the epigrams and the lesson summary, you may test student understanding with the lesson quiz.

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