So today in the middle of O. Henry's "A Retrieved Reformation," right when we get to the part where Jimmy gets engaged, the kids start to talk to the story like some people talk to characters in a horror movie: "Oh no!" "She's a banker's daughter and he is a thief but she doesn't know it!" "Don't do it!" It is perfect because I am teaching them about different types of irony. Clearly they are grasping dramatic irony--when the readers know something the characters don't.
...and then they collectively gasp when little Agatha gets locked in the safe and Jimmy's fiancee asks if he can help--situational drama. (One girl makes fists and shakes her arms back and forth the same way hungry newborns do.) And after the last line is read, about five kids applaud, ten exhale audibly, and all 32 have smiles wreathing their faces.
And then they got EXCITED about their assignment: draw cartoons depicting the three types of ironies, either alone or in pairs. Oh, the buzz! They couldn't wait to get started, they couldn't wait to differentiate between the types of ironies, and they couldn't wait to show me some of their ideas: A love-struck girl is unaware of the big knife in her lover's hand; a plastic surgery seeker becomes the guest speaker at the national "Love Yourself the Way You Are" convention; a homeless man checks his homepage on Facebook, only to get an "Error 404" sign; a man calls an exterminator, unaware that the exterminator is himself a giant cockroach...
(One of my favorite moments was revealing the irony of the character's name--"Jimmy" means to pry something open--juxtapose that with "Valentine"???)