Some of my strongest Deaf and hard-of-hearing high school students perk up and invest in a writing task if there is some snarky element involved.
Many years ago The Washington Post had some sort of competition where they asked readers (in honor of Valentine’s Day) to submit rhyming pairs of sentences, the first very romantic and the other emphatically unromantic. For example: “I see your face when I am dreaming. // That’s why I wake up screaming.
I made a note of the idea.
Over the years, whenever I challenged such very bright students to come up with such sentences, I watched in awe as these students became animated, discussed synonyms for the rhyming (they even used a dictionary!), and only turned to me for help when they were truly stuck.
As a veteran teacher, I can truly understand why some of my Deaf and hard-of-hearing teenage students dislike all things “rose-colored” and what they perceive as “goody goody”. This is particularly true for those very smart students with a hearing loss who “ping pong” between two worlds, that of their classmates with “normal hearing” and the one where you don’t have to use your voice to speak…
As much as I want to give the students space to express themselves, I also want to stress the need to “sheath their claws”, use their wit wisely, and avoid insulting other students, directly or indirectly.
That’s where “backhanded compliments” come in. Insults thinly disguised as compliments, such as: “That’s a beautiful photo of you. I didn’t recognize you at first”.
I created the activity in this downloadable worksheet hoping to make the students more aware of the barbs that can hide in supposedly innocent compliments, and how to respond when such “compliments” are directed at them.
In addition, naturally, the students are reading, writing, and using vocabulary in context.
I hope you find this activity useful for your students as well! Let me know in the comments.
Click on the title below: