Cookies improve junior high reading skills

By ALICIA WEIKUM
Special to Leader-Press

What do Oreos and reading have in common? Some Copperas Cove junior high students hypothesized that the cookies represent the covers of a book and the cream represents the content pages. Students got a chance to come up with all kinds of answers in an especially delicious lesson. 
Students were given an Oreo and asked to quickly eat it. Once finished, students gave a quick description of what they had eaten.  They gave simple answers including “cookie,” “Oreo cake,” “Oreo,” and “chocolate Oreo.” This is what teacher Rita Alaniz called the students’ first “first read.”
The students were then given a second Oreo. Instead of eating it quickly, they were asked to closely examine it, gathering as much information as possible. They were asked to look at the cookie carefully, smell the cookie, think about the texture of the cookie, and eat the cookie slowly, thinking about every bite they took.
After the students finished analyzing and eating their second cookie, Alaniz wrote seven categories on a flow chart: texture, ingredients, favorite part, feeling, smell, look, and unique. The students were asked to think of words that described the cookie under each category.  After some time, students shared their descriptive words with their classmates. Students came up with a myriad of answers including “sandwich,” “tiny designs,” “crunchy,” “creamy,” “sandpaper,” and “delectable.”
Alaniz said she used this activity to stress the significance of taking a second look at any material they are given and to highlight that key details can be overlooked when just skimming the readings. 
“We did this activity to have students understand the importance of reading through a text carefully and more than once,” Alaniz said.
Students including Detrick Moore and Savannah Goss found that eating the first Oreo quickly and then thoroughly analyzing the second Oreo before eating it emphasized that important information may be overlooked during a “first read.” 
“It made me understand I need to read more slowly. Then I can actually understand the details,” Goss said.
The students said that the activity incorporated an enjoyable twist to understanding the importance of close reading. 
“It was fun,” Moore said.  “I got to learn about Oreos and reading. The main idea was to read a book twice.” 

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