Days Four and Five

I am really enjoying my classes. It’s funny because I already feel as if I’m behind. But, we’re okay. See, since I’m really focusing on being standards based, I felt like the kids really needed to understand the standards, at least the major ones, that they’re being graded on. I chose five to use, for now. I may add others. But, those are the biggies. I think my heart’s in the right place, but I think I could have just boiled the standards down into kid friendly language and moved on. Which, I think I will do next time, incidentally. I feel like I just spent too long breaking the standards down with them. For example:

Reading 1.3: “Discern the meaning of analogies encountered analyzing specific comparisons as well as the relationships and inferences.”

We first looked at the standard as written. I want them to learn to decipher academic language. So, we talk about what discern means, and what it means to analyze. What specific looks like and what inferences are. Then, we rewrite the standard thusly:

“Find and identify the meaning of analogies we find in written text while reading, explaining the specific comparisons as well as the relationships between the two things in the comparison and the meanings we can get from them being compared to each other.”

It’s a dense standard. What can I say?

So, were I to boil that down, I guess I would say, “Okay, kids, you have to be able to identify an analogy when you read it, explain exactly what is being compared and then how those two things are related and what the comparison tells you.”

Is that better? Probably. Now, I could have just done that in the beginning and moved on. But, then they wouldn’t learn to figure out what standards mean on their own. Then again, that’s not one of the standards. So, that’s why I’m thinking maybe I’m wasting time going that deeply.

Anyway, tomorrow, we will be reading through the text and beginning to analyze it. On Friday we had a good time because we looked at commercials and tried to identify the rhetorical devices being used. The unit is focussing on Aristotle’s ideas of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. I showed the commercials on the screen and the kids all had little signs to hold up that said one of the three devices on them. When they thought they knew which device was dominant, they would hold up the sign. It was a little formative assessment for me. It worked. They enjoyed themselves, got practice identifying rhetoric, and I got to see that about half of the class gets it pretty good.

We also got to talk about how you have to explain the device and how it’s being used. The standard says that the student has to be able identify the rhetorical device being used and how the author uses it. So, they can’t just say that the author is using pathos. They have to say how the pathos is achieved and what effect it should be having on the audience, or at least what the author seems to have intended.

So, that was cool.

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