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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Brief Writing for Thoughtful Righting & Complex Thinking

Brief and Multiple Perspective/Complex Writing/Thinking
Brief writing following instruction has been known to take an instructional methodology of modest impact, such as KWL - Know, Want to know, Learned - and to convert it into a robust method with the simple addition of a PLUS requiring some form of post-reading processing, such as mapping or summary writing (Carr &Ogle, 1987). Accordingly, we have identified several forms of brief, annotative writing, called REAP (Manzo, Manzo, Albee, 2002). It is a simple classroom based form of teaching multiple means of responding to text, lecture and media experiences, that also is comfortable on the Internet. This multiple perspective form of teaching and responding offers the empirically supported potential for taking ordinary classroom writing to another level that implicitly teaches “complex thinking,” one of the primary objectives of a quality education.
REAP: Background and Backbone
REAP primarily is a cognitive enrichment approach that teaches students to think more precisely and deeply about what they read, by following the four-step strategy symbolized by its title:
READ to get the writer's basic message;
ENCODE the message into your own words while reading;
ANNOTATE your analysis of the message by writing responses from several perspectives, and;
PONDER what you have read and written – first by reviewing it yourself, then by sharing and discussing it with others, and finally by reading the responses of others.
At the heart of the approach is a set of annotation types that range roughly in hierarchical order from a simple summary of the author’s basic message to various perspectives for higher-order critical and creative analysis. The first few REAP annotation types require “reconstructive” thinking – understanding and perceiving the essence of the author’s meaning. The remaining ones require “constructive” thinking – going beyond the author’s intended meaning to form the personal schema connections, applications, and variations that permit the learner to transfer information and ideas from one context to another. This hierarchy aids assessment and gives guidance to students in reaching “up” to higher levels or “down” to more basic ones that may not yet have been mastered. Descriptions and examples of some of the basic annotation types are provided in Figure 1. Other types can be customized and created. For example, several teachers have had rewarding results using a “Humorous” annotation (also in Figure 1).See Figure: iREAP for
Figure 1
Examples of REAP Annotation Types

“Travelers and the Plane-Tree”
Two Travelers were walking along a bare and dusty road in the heat of a mid-summer’s day. Coming upon a large shade tree, they happily stopped to shelter themselves from the burning sun in the shade of its spreading branches. While they rested, looking up into the tree, one of them said to his companion, “What a useless tree this is! It makes no flowers and bears no fruit. Of what use is it to anyone?” The tree itself replied indignantly, “You ungrateful people! You take shelter under me from the scorching sun, and then, in the very act of enjoying the cool shade of my leaves, you abuse me and call me good for nothing!”

Reconstructive Annotations
Summary: states the basic message in brief form
Travelers take shelter from the sun under a large tree. They criticize the tree for not making flowers or fruit. The tree speaks, and tells them that they are ungrateful people for taking shelter under her leaves and then criticizing her.

Telegram: briefly states the author's basic theme with all unnecessary words removed -- a crisp, telegram-like message
Travelers stop for rest and shade under big tree. Travelers say tree is useless. Tree tells them off.

Heuristic: restates an attention-getting portion of the selection that makes the reader want to respond
In this story, a tree (remove “that”) talks back to people. The tree says, "You ungrateful people! You come and take shelter under me...and then ...abuse me and call me good for nothing!”

Question: turns the main point into an organization question that the selection answers
What if the things we use could talk back?

Constructive Annotations
Personal view: answers the question, "how do your views and feelings compare with what the author says?"
We use resources like coal without thinking. Then we criticize it for damaging our lungs and dirtying our air.
I guess kids sometimes use their parents the way the travelers used the tree, and then criticize them without thinking about their feelings.

Humorous: can vary from bringing a slight smile, usually by flirting with a naughty suggestion, to using jest to bring enlightenment.
I can just see that poor tree thinking “I hope they’re about to stop here to seek shelter and not relief.”

Critical: begins by stating the author's main point, then states whether the reader agrees, disagrees, or agrees in part with the author, and then briefly explains why
Not every word spoken in criticism is meant that way. The travelers were just grumpy from the trip. The tree is too sensitive.

Contrary: states a logical alternative position, even though it may not be the one the student supports
The travelers could be right, a better tree could produce something and also give shade.

Intention: states and briefly explains what the reader thinks was the author's intention, plan, and purpose for writing the selection
The author wants us to be more sensitive to the people and things we depend on -- especially those we see and use often.

Motivation: states what may have caused the author to have written the selection -- the author's personal agenda
It sounds like the author may have felt used, after having a bad experience with friends or family.

Discovery: states one or more practical questions that need to be answered before the selection can be judged for accuracy or worth
I wonder how many of us know when we are being "users." We could take an anonymous poll to see how many class members secretly feel that they have been used and how many see themselves as users.

Creative: suggests different and perhaps better solutions or views and/or connections and applications to prior learning and experiences
_ This fable made me think that teachers are sometimes used unfairly. They give us so much, and then we put them down if they make a little mistakes. They’re only human.
_ We should put this fable on the bulletin board where it will remind us not to be ungrateful “users.”
_ [How would you re-title this fable if you were writing it?] I’d call it “Travelers in the Dark,” to show that we go through life without knowing how many small “gifts” come to us along our way .

In: Instructional Ingredients: Educational Chefs Share Tricks of the Trade
Anthony Manzo & Ula Manzo
California State University-Fullerton
Avmanzo@aol.com & Umanzo@fullerton.edu
Thinking Classrooms (Russian Languag(Journal of the International Reading Association),5,3(July, 2004) pp34-40
And:Content Area Literacy: A Framework for Reading-Based Instruction (5th edition) Wiley (2009)

1 comment:

  1. These approaches to annotation affirm what I have been doing in my English classes. I tell my students that analyzing literature/ poetry is akin to peeling an onion, layer by layer. Level 1 is the prediction; level 2 is the summary; level 3 is the hunt for stylistic devices; level 4 is an attempt to extract a deeper meaning/connotation. I love the other approaches outlined here such as the question, the critical, or the contrary. By presenting these options for annotating,students get an instant lesson on various text structures as well.