Teaching Lens Theory

3rd January 2016

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After the first semester, my honors sophomores have a pretty good grasp on the four types of essay writing I concentrate on in my class the most: narrative, analysis, argument, and synthesis.

After winter break, I begin to focus them more on how to put a “spin” on each of these essay types to ensure greatest success in developing a thesis and overall originality while staying on prompt: two key traits needed for their path in AP Language and Composition. For analysis, I teach them an overview of Critical Lens Theory. I divide up the following lenses to each of my eight learning teams:

  1. Cultural

  2. Historical

  3. Psychological

  4. Economic

  5. Feminist

  6. Rhetorical

  7. Race

  8. Biographical

I go over this Prezi with them and have them take notes on each of the lenses, paying specific attention to their table’s assigned lens. After the Prezi, I have the students mix up to different tables so there is a different lens present at each table. They then play Apples to Apples appealing to not their friend anymore, but their friend the feminist (insert lens accordingly). It is a fun activity and it gets them thinking about wearing a different “hat” or perspective than normal.

Lens Theory Prezi

Once they know which lens they are assigned for their analysis of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, I send them into the lab for a day to research 2-3 articles online that will help them to analyze the novel through their lens and to help them familiarize themselves with their lens a bit more.

The students must type up an annotated bibliography of their lens research and turn it into www.turnitin.com (this is homework the three days after the lab day).

It is good to note, that I provide my students with their Lens Analysis Essay assignment prior to them beginning their reading of the novel. Armed with their research, notes, and the assignment itself, students are then ready to begin their reading of the novel.

I have them complete a Lens Dialectical Journal as they read the novel in order to ensure they are thinking through their lens as they read and not just through their “student” lens. I tell them as they walk into class each day to remember to put on their “lens hat” for the hour.

This unit usually takes about three weeks to complete as I do other activities with the novel that doesn’t require the lenses along the way.

I believe it is good to expose them to these perspectives and how these perspectives effect an understanding of any text they read and hey, it might come in handy one day on a college essay.

Hope your 2016 is off to a great start!

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