Thursday, March 5, 2015
Serving up a tiny taste, Lori

Instead of feeding them everything all at once,
give students a small--yet rich--bite
to chew on for a while.
I'm not at all a foodie, but I do watch just enough of the Food Network to be dangerous. Today's title is inspired by the French term for a tiny appetizer, usually served a single bite and just enough to give you a taste of what's to come. 

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the 2015 Abydos conference here in Dallas, and I walked away with tons of ideas. The one featured today comes to us from Rebecca Singley in Spring Branch ISD. Rebecca, a Silver-level trainer, presented her re-certification work based on the idea of what she refers to as "Rhetorical Chews." Her AP III students are used to this process which works to help them analyze devices or "tools" across all genres. Although geared toward AP III, my teacher brain was in over-drive thinking about how this strategy would work in on-level and maybe even remediation classes. 

Before we begin this main course, let me back up and tell you about a conversation that I had with some of my colleagues the other day. In my district, we place a heavy emphasis on active reading and annotating the text. However, students run into problems when the annotations are like a shot-gun blast. Anything and everything is supposed to be marked and considered. How are struggling students supposed to wade through the mass and make a single and focused connection? 

Thanks, Rebecca Singley! I think your strategy is just what we needed! Here's how it works:

1. Students are given an article and provided with a reading purpose. She gave us a copy of Leonard Pitts' article, "Social Media Can Be Deadly." We were told to read and answer the question: What is Pitts saying about the use of social media in today's society?

  • Instructionally, I would use this time for comprehension just to make sure kids get it. I would probably even break the text into manageable chunks and use a reading strategy like paragraph for paragraph or even paired reading

2. After reading, she gave us the literary device that we needed to focus on, and this is the process that we used. It spells TEETH, which is adorable. 

  • Tool--What is the device and its function in the piece?
  • Evidence--Provide at least one example from the text that contains the tool.
  • Effect--How does that support the author's purpose? What is its effect on the reader?
  • Thesis--Refer back to your thesis (the answer to the reading purpose). How does the use of this tool support the author's purpose overall?
  • Instructionally, I would have students fold their paper into quarters and work on these TEETH sections. In an on-level class, I definitely would structure it so that for the first day we are living with comprehension/identification. What is the device? What is its function, and where do you see it?
  • The following day, we could work on effect and its connection to our thesis (our opinion of what the author is doing).
3. After students have finished chewing with their TEETH, they can select portions of the TEETH and write a nice little paragraph (or even an SAQ).
*I will disclaim this by saying that STAAR SAQs do not ask for analysis of devices. However, multiple choice questions absolutely do.

This is a great way to do focused analysis of one device. It's a great way to build depth to the visual dictionary. And, most of all, it is a perfect model for my favorite thing ever--targeted and explicit instruction. 

Try this strategy and give your kids a taste of some genuine and in-depth analysis!

A very special thanks goes out to Rebecca Singley from Spring Branch ISD. Thank you for your commitment to your students, to the process, and to the professional development of your colleagues. 

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