Friday, July 10, 2020

ROAS by any other name

    I'm reading The Writer's Practice by John Warner, a book that incidentally confirmed for me what I had long suspected: Educators, as a general rule and even to a fault, embrace acronyms as well as initialisms.
    This conclusion sparked for me as Warner shared his own mnemonic concoction, one that he admits leaves him not yet fully satisfied. "I'm recommending," he writes, "the previously mentioned practice I'd one day like to develop a handier acronym for but that for the time being goes by ROAS." (92) If that's not an invitation to talk back to the author, I don't what is.
    ROAS, for the record, is a four-step heuristic that coaches writers to React, Observe, Analyze, Synthesize in response to a selected text. Of the two writing experiences in Warner's book that I sampled today, one focuses on a commercial while the other looks at a work of humor through (ahem) ROAS-colored glasses.
    The acronym alternative that occurred to me, which may or may not prove "handier," is NOSE. Yeah, as in 👃.
  • N = Notice - Gather first impressions of text and our initial responses to it.
  • O = Observe (unchanged from Warner's original) - Look a second time, whether up-close at our most interesting noticings or at elements we missed before.
  • S = Speculate - Derive new meaning or ideas from prior two steps; what I refer to as "So what?" theories because they reveal potential transferable significance. 'S' could also stand for Surface as this step's purpose focuses on making subtexts more explicit.
  • E = Elucidate - Distill wonderings (what Warner on page 86 calls "raw material") so far into a cohesive discovery, perhaps more than one. I had other candidates for 'E' -- Evoke, Emerge, Editorialize -- and I eventually settled on Elucidate because I like how the root lucidus, meaning bright or clear, dovetails with Warner's emphasis on writing as thinking. "Think of it as a process of discovery in which what you have to say is revealed as you say it." (93)
I work with middle-school students, so I'm hopeful NOSE might hook that demographic through scatological appeal. Plus, I imagine low-hanging kinesthetic fruit -- picture one's finger tapping one's proboscis -- that might make this memory aide even more cognitively sticky. As someone who also revels in homophones and word play, I also appreciate how the acronym subliminally suggests that encountering and reflecting with care on a text can change what a reader knows.