I had the chance to observe a 5th grade class today. The teacher was showing the class Naval Adm. William H. McRaven's commencement remarks to the 2014 graduating class at the University of Texas. The speech delivered by Admiral McRaven was used as a mentor text for students to assess figurative and literal language. At various times during the remarks (see below), the class stopped to talk about the speech and the language choices made by Admiral McRaven. Furthermore, the class discussed the overall message and how a small moment can serve as a metaphor or a touchstone for a more philosophical statement about life. Students openly debated technical aspects of the speech and also engaged one another in exchanges about how one individual possesses the power to make a positive difference in the world.
I'm looking forward to see what happens next. The teacher shared how the commencement address could serve as a springboard into students mirroring the Admiral's approach to storytelling by coming up with their own phrases/stories about changing the world. The thought was also shared that students could be challenged to write their own commencement speeches.