Juliana – a Truly Great Dane

article by Mina , photo by Alamy

Learning Intention:

I am learning to experiment with figurative language so that I can use it in creative effective and humorous ways.

Success Criteria:

  • I can understand the purpose of figurative language.
  • I can take information from a text and use it to brainstorm figurative language.
  • I can use this to create catchy headlines and test their effectiveness with my peers.

Essential knowledge:

The English Syllabus A to Z Glossary can be used to ensure students are familiar with the use of figurative language, particularly idioms, alliteration and assonance. Explain that consonance follows the same rule as assonance, but using the consonant sounds (e.g. tick tock, she sells seashells).

Understanding text:

After reading the text, ask students to identify the points that make the story interesting. Answers should include:

  • The bomb that dropped through Juliana’s roof but didn’t explode
  • Juliana urinated on the bomb and deactivated it
  • Juliana was awarded a Blue Cross Medal for her bravery
  • Juliana warned her owner about a fire three years later and received another medal.

Discuss the fact that Juliana’s actions were considered so heroic that the newspapers of the time wrote about it. Explain to the students that in order to get people to read such articles, a catchy headline is important to grab the readers’ attention. Inform them that often figurative language and humour that focuses on the main point of the story is used to do this.

Display the following articles:

  1. Fundraising funnyman pulls a UNO card after penalty at charity game
  2. Video of giant bull riding shotgun in the family car goes viral
  3. Dashing dachshunds, elephant doing yoga and otters shooting hoops are all making news

Skim through each article with the class to gain an understanding of the content, then identify the figurative language and humour used in each headline. For example:

  • Alliteration - fundraising funnyman
  • Humour - a player pulling a UNO reverse card to avoid a penalty.
  • Idiom - riding shotgun (meaning to ride in the front passenger seat)
  • Humour – a bull riding in the front passenger seat!
  • Alliteration, assonance and consonance – dashing dachshunds
  • Idiom – shooting hoops (meaning to play basketball)
  • Humour – imagery of elephants doing yoga and otters playing basketball.

Creating text:

Inform students that their job is to come up with a headline for the newspaper articles that were written about Juliana’s heroic acts when they happened. Divide the class into small groups and explain that they should work together to find opportunities for figurative language. To do this they should take the three main subjects from the article (the bomb, Juliana and urinating) and create a mind map of words for each one. For example, words for Juliana may include dog, great dane, canine, pooch. Once they have created their group of words for each one, they should look for possible combinations that may create alliteration, assonance, consonance or other figurative language they are familiar with. Next, they should collaborate on a way to include humour in the headline.

Tell students they should experiment in writing out their combinations and testing headline ideas by reading them out loud to each other to assess how catchy they are. Encourage them to be fun and creative and write as many headlines as they can think of.

Assessment for/as learning:

If possible, create a display wall or board for their headlines and facilitate a class discussion that allows them to assess the effectiveness of the devices used in the different headlines that were created.

Provide class with post it notes, where peers can highlight examples of figurative language such as idiom, alliteration, humour, assonance and consonance in the examples on display. Students can record positive statements such as “ I like the use of idiom in this headline because……” or “ This is a great example of humour because…….”. This type assessment allows for peer review and confirmation of understanding of the concepts explored in the lesson.