Parody, Satire, and Modern Adaptation

By Jonathan Ayer and Rebecca Ray

Find this Common Core aligned resource and more like it in our Middle School ELA and High School ELA Categories!

Have you ever been online and run into a video or meme about something you've taught? It probably made you laugh out loud, and you probably learned something from it as well. Maybe it was a funny exaggeration of a theme or a character, or maybe it was done to make a particular point. Either way, there was value in the comedic relief it provided. This is one of the major reasons I am an advocate for having students create modern day adaptations - parodies, rewrites, modern language - of works in my classroom.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!
The Raven - A Modern Adaptation (Beginning)
Create your own at Storyboard That Image Attributions: The War of the Worlds ( - Marxchivist - License: Attribution ( Detective Comics #431 ( - Marxchivist - License: Attribution ( Flash Comics #78 ( - Marxchivist - License: Attribution ( Once upon a night so stormy, while I wandered with my homies, With a pile of hero comics, from ages now long yore, I felt a tiredness quite sapping, and went home, to start my napping. When out of nowhere, came a scratching, scratching at my bedroom door. I told myself, "It's just a rat", scratching at my bedroom door; just a rodent, nothing more. Quickly then I did remember, Uncle Pete in last December, who had ignored the noisome scratching, that came at his basement door. I took up my Maglite, fading, its batteries, they need replacing, and forced myself up to the door... scratch, scratch, scratch scratch, scratch, scratch scratch, scratch, scratch


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Writing Parodies and More

Writing in literary forms like parody and satire is a strong tool to use in the classroom. The nature of these forms requires students to utilize higher order thinking skills. Whether you adhere to Bloom’s Taxonomy, or Webb’s Domains of Knowledge, these activities direct students to the highest forms of skills and knowledge such as analyzing, evaluating, and creating.

Take, for instance, a junior or senior English Language Arts class that has just finished reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and has been asked to create parodies from it. In the example below, Hamlet is summed up and imitated by capturing integral moments of the play. It hits on the significant (yet absurd in retrospect) plot points of Hamlet’s conflict, exaggerates the characters’ struggles and traits, and even lightly mocks the play. Students had to analyze important plot points, character traits, scenes of the drama, and central themes to the tragedy. Next, they deciphered and evaluated which pieces to combine for a mocking look at the tale. They finished by creating a storyboard that imitates the basic moments of the play, making the profound absurd.

Hamlet in a Short Parody
Create your own at Storyboard That A spooky ghost king! Is there a method to the madness? The play's the thing! To kill or not to kill? Hamlet kills Polonius and drives Ophelia to suicide. Laertes won't like this! (Almost) everyone dies.