I posted this on the TTT Facebook page on Saturday, but I think it also makes for a good mini-lesson, so here goes:
I went to a session by Kelly Gallagher at #IRC2016. He shared ideas from his book Deeper Reading, combining ideas he’s using with his students now. I was reminded of his thinking around thinking from a text: What does the text say? and What does the text not say?
Gallagher shared a few images from the news, a fact statement, an ad for a truck, and he modeled how he asks his students these two questions as ways to get them thinking about their reading.
I’d heard these same ideas before, but they resonated with me again. Critical thinking matters. We cannot get thoughtful writing, if we are not helping our students to think thoughtfully through texts.
Objective: Read a visual text, make observations and inferences that push critical thinking about a text. Draw conclusions and write your thinking.
Lesson: Tell students that critical readers don’t just pay attention to what a text says, we also must pay attention to what a text does not say. This ties into the idea that everything is an argument — sometimes overt, sometimes covert. Bias also comes into play. So to get into some critical thinking today, we’re going to watch a short video about the refugee crisis.
Draw a T-chart. Label one column with “What does it say? and the other column “What does it not say?” As you watch the video make lists that answer these two questions.
Watch the video “Your phone is now a refugee’s phone.”
After students have time to do their own thinking and writing their lists (and maybe watch the video again), have them talk in pairs or small groups about the things they noted.
Hold a short whole class discussion about what it does for our thinking when we consider what the author, or in this case, the video creator, intentionally leaves out of a text.
Follow up: Ask students to find their own text and apply this same thinking. Tell them they can find an advertisement, a chart or graph, an info graphic, another video — any text that they can answer the following questions:
What does the text say?
What does it not say?
Why does it matter?
Continue to ask students to consider these questions with a variety of texts throughout the year. This may also serve as a good exercise to help students find writing topics. Bonus!
Do you have any videos, ads, or short text suggestions that you use in similar ways to get students thinking critically? Please share them in the comments.