ALARM Connotative Interpretive Matrix

This is the third in a series of posts about ALARM, A Learning and Responding Matrix. The posts so far include: What is ALARM and why should you use it? and ALARM Logical Interpretive Matrix.

I will start this with a disclaimer. I am a Science teacher. I have a logical brain. Mood, tone and feeling are not concepts we talk about often in Science, in fact we discourage it in writing. So the Connotative matrix is way out of my comfort zone and not something I know a lot about teaching. I encourage you to correct my misconceptions and critically evaluate my misunderstandings so I can learn from you. If you would like to know about this matrix from the expert (Max Woods) then watch the Connotative Interpretative Subjects video on the Freshwater High School YouTube.

Where the Logical Interpretive matrix takes students from content to concept, the Connotative Interpretive matrix takes students from the literal to the figurative in English and CAPA subjects.  The major difference between the two is an extra heading for the matrix, Interpret Meaning.

Students still name and define the component or parts, they describe the techniques used, explain the function or purpose of the technique and analyse how or why the techniques has its effect. Like the Logical Interpretive, this can all be rote learned. From this point we move from the literal meaning to the figurative or to what the writer/reader/listener/observer thinks or feels.

The interpret meaning  heading is not part of the logical matrix and is focused on interpreting the work being analysed through connotation.  What does the character or the writer learn from each experience? What is the meaning or theme of the piece? Critically Analyse is the advantages and disadvantages of using the technique to convey meaning and Evaluate is the effectiveness of the technique.

Up until this point students are evaluating each of the techniques or parts.  From this point on they are looking at the piece as a whole.  In Critically Evaluate students make a judgement of the effectiveness of the piece. This may also involve how each of the techniques play a role in relation to one another.  Conceptualise is the essential meaning of the piece and Appreciate  is the importance of the concept for life.

Here is a blank matrix: alarm-blank-connotative-matrix

To see how to use a Connotative Matrix you should watch Max Woods deliver ALARM in Practice – A Year 10 Lesson Part 1 and ALARM in Practice – A Year 10 Lesson Part 2.

My take away from these videos is the questioning. The 5 whys. This is what make ALARM successful.  The questioning of students that takes them on the journey of higher order thinking. Its not just the teacher questioning but the structure of the matrix that does this. The matrix scaffolds this thinking.

Next: Using ALARM in the Classroom


8 thoughts on “ALARM Connotative Interpretive Matrix

  1. […] Next: Connotative Interpretive ALARM Matrix […]

  2. tinakmeyer March 26, 2015 at 10:30 am Reply

    We have just started looking at applying ALARM. You make the Connotative Matrix sound so easy lol. I am going to watch those videos. Thanks Jen – timely posts for Tina.

    • jenglish2013 March 26, 2015 at 11:01 am Reply

      Glad I could help. More posts to come. So many ideas so little time!

  3. […] These include: What is ALARM and why should you use it?, ALARM Logical Interpretive Matrix, ALARM Connotative Interpretive Matrix and Doing what you’ve always done better using […]

  4. […] posts include: What is ALARM and why should you use it?, ALARM Logical Interpretive Matrix, ALARM Connotative Interpretive Matrix, Doing what you’ve always done better using ALARM, and Analysing the question, ALARM and the […]

  5. Bernadette June 1, 2015 at 12:27 am Reply

    This looks amazing! Thanks Jen!

  6. Luanne Mitchelmore June 23, 2016 at 10:51 pm Reply

    Hi Jenny, thank you for your very informative posts. I am a parent with a son using alarm at his high school for Year 11 Advanced English and other subjects. Unfortunately the model has confused him. I have read as much as I have been able to find and I have watched most of the video links. They have all helped my understanding so that I can now explain some of this to my son.

    I think it is an excellent model. It is designed to create insight and deeper understanding. My understanding of it so far is that the ALARM matrix is still content driven. Without knowledge of content the model fails because the concepts grow out of a knowledge and understanding of the content. That is still the starting point for research in responding to an essay question. I am hoping that this aspect can be more explicitly stressed to teachers adopting the model with the students. The answer lies in the content: the novel, the play, the poem etc. The matrix helps to locate information, analyse, make judgements, appreciate, and so to answer the question, to learn and respond. For all subjects it also requires an understanding of the sentence structure of the question, subject, verb, predicate. First of all, what work is the verb asking you to do?

    Please let me know if I have misinterpreted any of the information you have provided. My first concern is to help my son’s understanding. I want to get it right.
    I have also gathered that the teachers explicitly teach and model the steps in the matrix templates to the students both in learning and responding in essays.

    Thank you for making the matrixes available. I will share them with my son.
    (Should the heading on the download of the connotative model say connotative, not logical? Sorry to be pedantic but its confused me).

    Kind Regards, Luanne

    • jenglish2013 June 23, 2016 at 11:00 pm Reply

      Hi Luanne
      You are spot on in your summation.

      I apologise for the confusion with the matrix. Yes it should say connotative. I thought I had changed it but it appears to have reverted to the old file. I will fix this again.
      I’m glad I could help you to help your son.

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