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513a How Do YOU Respond to a Work?

513a How Do YOU Respond to a Work?

Author: Brandi Redick
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Lit Theory: How To Teach A Text

We as educators are taught we are to prepare kids for life...not just for a test or two.   We want our students to think on a higher level not just recall facts.   We do not want to assume the expert role or authoritative figure in the class.   If you are doing these things (and you are a teacher) you are GREAT!  However if you are the teacher that...

Time To Change the Way We Teach The World

"Critical lenes provide students with a way of reading THEIR world; the lenses provide a way of "seeing" differently and analytically that can help them read the culture of school as well as popular culture."  (Appleman, 2009)  


No two people see the world the same.  However, it is important for us to:  1. notice there are differences and 2. acknowledge those differences.


Source: Appleman, D. (2000). Critical encounters in high school English: Teaching literary theory to adolescents. New York: Teachers College Press. Chapters 1 and 2 (pp. 1-27)

What Are the Different Ways To Understand the World or a Text?

You ask a student to respond to a text and you usually get a....



"ahhhh it was okay", "It was great", "It sucked" or my FAVORITE "I didn't understand it."  


The next question you may ask is WHY?

Explain to me why you thought it was bad or great or didn't understand it.  

What skills can we educators place in a student's mental toolbox to articulate their feelings? Or even perhaps while they are reading we could provide them with diverse ways of viewing the text?

The ANSWER ....Liteary Theory! Yes!!  And YES, during a student's secondary education.  





Analyze the Text with your Tools and Make a Connection

Feminism/Gender Theory:

Feminism criticism is concerned with less obvious forms of marginalization such as the exclusion of women writers from the traditional literary canon and every domain where patriarchy reigns, woman is other.   She is on the outside looking in from the margins of society. 

Marxist Theory:

Marxists looks at the socioeconomic and political issue pertaining the text.  Not to sound cliche, but it's all about that all mighty dollar...or those who are lacking that all mighty dollar.


Historical/Biographical Theory: 

Looking at it from the work's time period and analyzing the author's life and possible reason for creating the book.  It's THEIR STORY!


Reader Response:

​We all bring something to the text because we are products of our environment.  Adolescents are not always keen observers of how their culture, household and/or community influences their decisions. Characteristics of the text and the student's emotional response to the text are not always so obvious to the reader.  For example, You may get responses such as the main character is Black and I too am Black.  In order to get past the obvious connections with the work the reader response theory forces a reader to   scrutinize the text in relation to the text's meaning and put it in context with oneself.   

Source: Appleman, D. (2000). Critical encounters in high school English: Teaching literary theory to adolescents. New York: Teachers College Press. Chapters 1 and 2 (pp. 1-27)

Analyze, Evaluate, and Apply...NOT JUST RECALL

So you know ALL of these formulas...




​Yippe for you, but do you UNDERSTAND THEM? 

​I am not talking about math, but the idea of understanding anything is important. Not only recalling information because we remember we don't want this...


We want our students to not be robots who repeat and recall information.  We want them to be at the top of  Bloom's Taxonomy Pyramid. 


In order for educators  to ensure their students  will become critical thinkers and  thinking at the top of the pyramid we have to create lesson plans and use literary theory.  


Why is Understanding better than knowing? 


If you know how something works and the reason behind its existent you will be able to apply it in other situations with easy and comfort.  Knowing something simply means you know what IT is and that is it.  To know does not mean you understand.  "Understandings are the constructivists results of attempts by the student to make sense of the work and lessons, using inquiry, performance, and reflection." (  Wiggins and McTighe, 2005).


To know a book is simple thinking, but to evaluate, analyze and apply that work to the real world one must use multiple theories.  Not just one. 



Source: Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (Eds.). (2001). Chapter 2: The structure, specificity, and problems of objectives & Chapter 3: The taxonomy table. A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of educational objectiv