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A Simple Tool for Understanding Text: How to Make Text Analysis Easy

Teaching high school textual analysis can seem a bit confusing and unwieldy, but it doesn’t have to be. Understanding textual structures and writing techniques used to make meaning is at the very heart of what we do as English teachers. Having a good plan and simple tools to use for teaching textual analysis and comprehension makes life easier and makes textual analysis clearer for both you and your secondary students.

One of the best things you can do is use a simple and memorable formula for textual analysis, such as PAMM. This stands for:

  • PURPOSE: Why the text was written,

  • AUDIENCE: Who the text was written for,

  • MESSAGE: What idea or contention the text communicates, and

  • METHOD: How the text works through the use of language structures and techniques.

This is such a simple tool you can use to help students with step-by-step comprehension of any text, and you can use it to do a quick and easy text analysis on a weekly or fortnightly basis, or use it as a starting place and extend and deepen their analysis from there.

I use PAMM in my classroom as a way to gain an overview of the text, from Year 10 English right through to Year 12 English and Year 13 English. Students can quickly work out what purpose the texts are written for, discuss features of text types, and assess target audience. Then we can delve into the English language techniques, reinforcing ELA language terms and language techniques knowledge in small snippets throughout the school year.

Sometimes we just do the PAMM worksheet as a quick learning task when I have found a funny commercial, interesting Facebook post or even a pop song that has annoyed me (haha) – and we have a quick look at the PAMM graphic organiser to assess the ideas in them before moving on with other work. This helps me stay relevant to the kids, puts a range of text types in front of them over time, and serves as a great reminder to the kids that they need to keep developing their knowledge of literary terms as well as their ability to understand a range of texts.

I also use PAMM before I launch into a deeper close analysis text study. They are familiar and comfortable with that, and it allows me to get them comfortable with the text before I expect higher order thinking skills and a deeper analysis. My kids know the drill, and whenever we quietly read a new text, they make a little acronym in the margins and start noting down what they notice without being asked.

You’re welcome to try this text analysis strategy for yourself – I have a free Quick Guide to Text Analysis Poster in my store and all you need to do to grab the PAMM Graphic Organiser is submit your email address to follow my store and you'll receive an email with a link for an instant download. Enjoy those, and I hope they make life a tiny bit easier for you in your busy classroom.

You'll find a 'follow me' submission form at the bottom of every page of my website! Just go to the Home page or the About Me page and scroll down!

X Anna from Tea4Teacher.



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