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More Grammar Review Using “Jabberwocky” Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #: AELP-GRM0001
Submitted by: Kim Wilson
Email: kcwst9@imap.pitt.edu
School/University/Affiliation: University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
Endorsed by: Mr. Poole, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Date: January 28, 2000

Grade Level(s): 9, 10, 11, 12


  • Language Arts/Grammar

Duration: 50 minutes Description: This lesson provides students with a grammar review exercise using Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll.


  • To provide an opportunity for students to review essential grammar conventions while gaining experience, confidence, and stimulating cognitive growth.
  • To provide the teacher with an opportunity to identify where the students are with their grammar at the beginning of the school year. From there, the teacher can choose to emphasize the various areas of grammar that need to be strengthened.
  • To reinforce learning through the use of technology.
  • Objectives:   Students will be able to:

  • locate the nonsense words from the poem.
  • summarize the action of the poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll.
  • identify and label the various parts of speech including nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and articles found in the lines of the poem.
  • effectively search for the definitions of the parts of speech.
  • Materials:

    • computers with Internet access
    • pencils

    Procedure: Reading of the Poem

    The teacher will distribute copies of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky to each student. The teacher will read the poem out loud from the web site
    http://www.jabberwocky.com/carroll/jabber/jabberwocky.html while the students follow along on their computers. After the poem is read, the teacher will tell the students that Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll, is generally considered to be the greatest of all nonsense poems in English. In the paragraph following the poem, Alice of Wonderland puts her finger on the secret of the poem’s charm:

    It seems to fill my head with ideas — only I don’t know exactly what they are.

    Although the strange words have no precise meaning, they seem to carry subtle overtones. In other words, Lewis Carroll used a lot of nonsense words, but you can still understand the story.

    Interpretation of the Poem

    The students will be asked to orally interpret the meaning of the poem by raising their hands. The interpretation should be something such as, It is about a brave boy who slays the fierce Jabberwock. The teacher will ask, How do you know that is what’s happening? The answer is that, although the words are nonsense, from taking the real words in the poem and associating the nonsense words with them, one can get the gist of the poem. The main actions are there, but the supplementary nouns, adjectives, and verbs are nonsense. The teacher and students will discuss several of the nonsense words, in context, as examples.

    Example: He took his vorpal sword in hand

    We know that a sword is a weapon, and weapons are dangerous. So, vorpal must be an adjective because it modifies or describes the word sword. It tells what kind of sword it is; a vorpal sword.

    The Parts of Speech

    The teacher will tell the students that for homework, they are going to choose one stanza of the poem and label each word with its appropriate part of speech. The teacher will review the parts of speech with the students using a handout. See Review of Parts of Speech.

    Labeling the Parts of Speech

    The teacher will use a copy of the first stanza of the poem to give an example of what is to be done for homework (The teacher might want to show this on an overhead projector). The teacher will explain that, by using the words that they already know the meanings of and substituting new words for the nonsense ones, they should be able to figure out what part of speech each word is. They should refer back to the handout on the parts of speech for help.

    Example: ‘Twas brilling and the slithy toves

    We know that ’twas means it was, and is a conjunction, and the’ is an article. We can tell that brillig, which refers back to ‘it is a reflexive pronoun. We also know toves is a noun because it is plural and because if a noun is put behind the it makes sense. Also, slithy must be an adjective because it is describing the word toves.


    The teacher will summarize what has been done in class today, touching on the review of the parts of speech and the group work. The students may get into their previous groups and begin the homework assignment together. The teacher will continue to circulate the room, offering assistance, answering questions, and keeping the students on task.


    Each student must choose one stanza of the poem and label each word with its correct part of speech.

    Students with Disabilities:

    The lesson plan may be adapted for a disabled student using the input of guidance counselors or the student’s special education teacher according to his/her specific abilities and achievements. A student with a disability should do well in the group activities when paired with a non-disabled student. A copy of the handout on the parts of speech may be given to the student’s parents or special education teacher previous to this lesson so that he/she will have already reviewed and will be familiar with the parts of speech. A copy of the lesson plan may also be included to better aid the student’s parents or teacher.


    A. Progress Toward Objectives:

    The teacher will review the homework assignments checking the labeling of the parts of speech to evaluate student understanding and implementation. If students have effectively identified and labeled the parts of speech, the current objectives have been met. If they have not, the parts of speech must be explained and re-evaluated as soon as possible.

    B. Self Evaluation:

    The teacher will review the class period, asking:
    Did I give clear directions?
    How was my classroom management?

    Useful Internet Resources:
    * The Jabberwocky

    * The Ultimate Jabberwocky Page

    Review of Parts of Speech
    · the, a , or an

    · a word that names something, such as a person, place, thing, quality, or idea

    Common Noun
    · a word that names just any member of a group or class
    man, city, school, relative

    Proper Noun
    · a word that refers to a particular individual in a group or class
    Albert Lawson, Toledo, Central Cambria High School, Aunt Theresa

    Noun = Name
    The word that answers the question What? after an article is a noun.

    · a word that substitutes for a noun

    Personal Pronouns
    · substitute for definite persons or things
    I, you, he, she, it, we, they

    Demonstrative Pronouns
    · substitute for things being pointed out
    this, that, these, those

    Indefinite Pronouns
    · substitute for unknown or unspecified things
    each, either, neither, one, anyone, somebody, everything, all, few, many, and so on.

    Possessive Pronouns
    · substitute for things that are possessed
    mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirs

    Intensive Pronoun
    · used to add emphasis
    You yourself made the decision.

    Reflexive Pronoun
    · names the receiver of an action when the doer is the same as the receiver; renames the doer
    The boy fell and hurt himself.

    · a word that expresses action, existence, or occurrence by combining with a subject to make a statement, to ask a question, or to give a command
    Let’s paint the car.

    Any word that will function in this position to complete the command is a verb. Only works with the present form of the verb. Let’s painted the car would not work.

    Let’s ____________.
    (action word)

    · a word that describes or limits a noun
    The small child left. The child is small. Mary looked unhappy. The hostess, calm and serene, entered the hall.

    · a word that modifies anything except a noun or a pronoun
    Manner: John performed well.
    Time: I must leave now.
    Frequency: We often go on picnics.
    Place: There he sat, alone and quiet.
    Direction: The police officer turned away.
    Degree: I could barely hear the speaker.

    Answers the questions: How? When? Where?