Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Get the Joke!

Carole Bennett
Sumter County Schools


Middle schoolers love jokes! Capitalize on this by using jokes to help them understand how word context and inference are used in everyday language to create humor.


The student extends previously learned knowledge and skills of the seventh grade with increasingly complex reading selections and assignments and tasks (for example, using context and word structure, making inferences and generalizations, using graphic organizers and note-making, comparing and contrasting).


-A copy of Reader’s Digest for each student or pair of students. They do not need to all have the same copy.
-Overhead, or board for teacher modeling of graphic organizer.
-A copy of the T-chart (optional-see associated file)


1. Collect enough copies of Reader’s Digest for class. They don’t all need to be the same.
2. Make copies of T-chart. (Optional)


NOTE: This lesson only deals with context and inference.

1. Begin the lesson by telling or reading a joke to the class, then question, “Why was that funny?” Through discussion, guide the students to realize that word context and knowledge of multiple meanings of words can affect “getting the joke.-

2. The listener needs to have some prior knowledge of the subject to infer meaning to a joke. Model example of something that would not be funny because we don't have enough knowledge of specialized vocabulary or subject to understand it.

3. Question: “Have you ever heard a young child tell a joke?” Discuss the need for inference or word play to create humor. Young children are very literal and have not yet learned enough of the subtleties of language to understand inference.

4. Write the word Inference on the board.

5. Assess orally any prior knowledge of the meaning of “to infer,- or “inference.” Example: When the teacher says -All eyes up here, please,- you understand that she wants you to look at the board.

6. Draw the T-chart on the board and label. Have the students copy the chart into their folders and copy the teacher's model. See attached file.

7. Using the joke previously told, the teacher models how to fill in the chart. The students should be encouraged to give input. Example: What words made you laugh? Why was it funny? Did you understand what the joke was really saying?- At this point, informally assess student understanding by the accurateness of the input given.

8. Assignment: The students will read and select a joke to do independently. This becomes a part of the reading folder to be checked by the teacher. If being done with a partner, both students will need to keep their own copy.

9. Observe students while they share jokes.

10. Discuss the assignment as a review after the students have finished sharing jokes.


This is a formative lesson used to help students understand the concept and importance of inference and word context in literature. As part of the lesson the students will complete a T-chart to be kept as part of their reading folders. Teacher assessment of chart will be used to determine if the student has achieved understanding of word context and inference. Also, teacher observation during the modeling part of the lesson will help the teacher assess where the students are. The T-chart should demonstrate an understanding that word meaning depends on context and inference must be used as part of determining meaning. If a student cannot successfully find examples of inference in a joke, reteaching and more modeling is necessary.

Note: Other skills contained in GLE are taught as separate lessons.


Students can write their own jokes or anecdotes using inference.

Attached Files

A T-chart to be used as a graphic organizer.     File Extension: pdf

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