Roberto German 00:00
Welcome to our classroom. In this space, we talk about education, which is inclusive of, but not limited to what happens in schools. Education is taking place whenever and wherever we are willing to learn. I am your host, Roberto German. And our classroom is officially in session. In this episode of our classroom, we're gonna be talking about literary device mixed tapes with Abby Ramos Stanutz. A middle school language arts teacher with 16 years of experience in Title I schools across Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. She's focused on inspiring students and teachers with engaging and inclusive lessons that bring out the natural gifts of each student in the classroom. With us today, Abby Ramos Stanutz. Welcome back to our classroom. We got a great episode today. We're gonna be talking about literary device mix tapes. That's right y'all. Bringing you back to the 90s. I'm here with Abby Ramos Stanutz, and she's doing some amazing work. I follow her content on TikTok. And I have appreciated what she is offering us, what she's offering educators, what she's offering the world with the content that she creates, which is certainly resourceful. If you're in the classroom, you're looking for support, you're looking for different ways to engage, particularly the ELA classroom. But she offers some best practices for classrooms in general then you should definitely follow her on TikTok. And later on she'll let us know where else we could follow her. But I'm excited to learn from you today, Abby. So thank you for coming into our classroom.
Abby Ramos Stanutz 01:59
Hi. Thanks for having me.
Roberto German 02:01
My pleasure. My pleasure. Why don't we get started by you sharing a little bit about who you are and what you do so the audience could familiarize themselves with you?
Abby Ramos Stanutz 02:12
Yeah. Kinda like you mentioned. So I am Abby Ramos Stanutz. And I am teaching currently in San Antonio. I've been teaching language arts of all levels, reading language and literature, advanced placement, you know, everything for about 16 years in Houston, Dallas, and now San Antonio. I've always worked in a language arts classroom and always in a Title I school my entire career. And so I'm just, you know, out there putting TikTok's together, trying to help other teachers. You know, I feel like we all really need a network out there. So I just share my best practices, some activities that I do, and really just try to make it like, you know, a nationwide classroom. Like, the more we share the better off we all are and the better off our kids are. So that's just a little bit about me.
Roberto German 02:59
Yeah. I love it. And I'm definitely part of your nationwide classroom as is Lorena. And so let's get into it. What are literary device mixtapes and what inspired this approach?
Abby Ramos Stanutz 03:09
Yeah, so I have always been just an avid music lover. I'm like the kind of person that has music in the shower. I've got a playlist for the drive to work. Got a playlist for the workout, you know, all of that. So I was always, you know, I burned CDs back in the day. I don't know if you did.
Roberto German 03:24
Yes, of course.
Abby Ramos Stanutz 03:25
Oh yeah. I like installed my CD burner and all that. So when I started teaching, I knew I wanted to use song lyrics, you know, to explicate as poetry and to like mimic literary devices. But I found that when I chose the poem, you know, it only reached a certain amount of kids, right? It's what I like. It's what I love, you know. I was the one telling them what I thought the song was about. And as you know, like we really want the thinking in the kids' hands, and obviously we wanna make it a little more accessible. And at first, you know, when I was young, I thought like, oh, I know what the cool stuff is. You know, I know what the kids like. But it turns out, I did not know. And so the mixtape was where I decided, you know what, they need to choose literary devices from their own music. That would be so much more powerful because it's really powerful to me when I hear songs that I like, you know, or even if I'm dancing and I hear something and I, you know, that registers with me the lesson or something. And so I put together this assignment where students have to choose different songs that show examples of all these literary devices that I've taught them. And then, you know, explain the lyrics and the effect on the reader, and then at the end decide what tone that mixtape creates. Because as you know, if you ever got a mixtape, like the tone was where it's at. You know, was this a romantic mixtape? Was this like a BFF mixtape or, you know, pumping us up for the big game? And so kids really don't have that. That whole concept, I have to kinda go through it and it makes me feel like a dinosaur. But I have to say, "You know, back in the day we used to do this." And the closest they've ever come to is a playlist, which is similar. But they really like this experience because they've never actually thought of doing it, like making a playlist for a person or for a purpose. And so I feel like we get a lot of benefits in the ELA classroom, and it's just a lot of fun. Like the kids love it. You know, I love it. I learn a lot about music and kinda stay on top of things that way, so.
Roberto German 05:16
Yeah. Why don't you just keep building upon what the students enjoy about this lesson and why should teachers consider trying this lesson on?
Abby Ramos Stanutz 05:26
Yeah. I mean, I knew that it would be fun. It was fun to me. But then the very first time I rolled it out to the kids and I said, no, you get to listen with your earbuds or your headphones or whatever to the songs you actually like. They just were like floored. Like, what? You're letting me bring a device in this room, number one. Number two, you're letting me listen to music that I actually like.? We're not listening to kid Bobs or whatever. And, you know, I'll talk more about that later. But they just really love the choice, right? They have, you know, free access to music in other languages. They just have to translate it for me. I've gotten a lot of Spanish and in Korean, you know, pretty much any language you know that I've ever had a student and they've chosen some music from that genre. And I mean, they just really love the choice of it all. And what's been amazing are these aha moments that they have about deciding that someone is a good or a bad writer, right? So, I mean, I don't wanna put anybody on blast, but there are some artists out there that they think that they love and they'll just be looking through the lyrics and say, "Man, this person doesn't really have anything to say." Like, they're not really saying anything, which I feel like is a powerful message for students to learn anyway. And then other times they end up with even more respect, like, "Man, like Cardi B actually is like pretty good at writing." And I'm like, yeah, you know, she is. So, you know, they build respect for writers in a way that actually like rings home to them. And I actually had some students over the years, 'cause I've been doing this for like over a decade now who will send me an email and be like, "I was at the club and I heard a song and I knew it was Assonance and you've just ruined me, Ms. Ramos. You've ruined me for life. I can't go to the club without thinking of literary devices." And I feel like that's a win. That's a win, so.
Roberto German 07:11
That is definitely a win.
Abby Ramos Stanutz 07:13]
Roberto German 07:14
Oh, that's awesome. Can you just build on why teachers should consider trying this lesson on?
Abby Ramos Stanutz 07:22
Yes. Okay. Well, number one, it's really easy. There's very little prep work to it. Well, you teach the literary devices anyway that you normally would, right? And we all have our own different ways of doing that. And so then you basically just create a list and you can differentiate that for different, you know, students say, okay, my honors class is gonna get into like assonance and illusion and you know, like some of the harder types of literary devices, and then I'm gonna keep it more simple or, you know, that kind of thing. And then you just give the kids time and you walk around and you conference and you learn so much about the students. It is so useful to them. You're looking at author's purpose, you're looking at author's style, you know, the tone. All of these things that we're trying to get the kids to see work together, they work together in a way that hits home for them. Plus, I mean, you're giving them choice. You're, you know, validating their own personal choices. Like, yes, the music you love is great. I'm not judging it in any way. Like, you know, your life and the things that you bring to our classroom are just as valuable as any piece of literature that I'm gonna put in front of you all here. And I think that's really important, especially when you want everyone to feel represented in the classroom.
Roberto German 08:34
That's right. That's good. That's good. So how might a teacher in a state that has passed new laws to censor them approach this lesson?
Abby Ramos Stanutz 08:46
Yeah, so that's a really good question. I did learn right away that there's a lot of cuss words in song lyrics. And, you know, there are a lot of metaphors out there that aren't especially classroom friendly. 50 cent. Okay, that's all I'm gonna say about that, you know. What I would say to those teachers is to just give parameters and boundaries that you're comfortable with, right? So when kids write them down, I say, you know, there may be cuss words in your songs, but I want you to really think about if they're included in the literary devices, right? And they probably aren't. And if they absolutely must be included, then we put a first letter and some asterisks afterwards. And I need for you to write me a justification for what this means. And, you know, 99 times out of a 100, any kid who has come to me and said like, "I don't know, I think this song--" they've actually kind of talked themselves out of it. Because what they learn is when you rely on a lot of those types of words, you're not actually doing a lot of, you know, fruitful writing. And so they say, "Oh, it's just kind of lazy. Like they just have cuss word after cuss word, and they're not actually saying anything." And I'm like, yeah. But the kids have come across that themselves as opposed to being like, no, you're not allowed to do this. So if you give some boundaries around, like, you know, no, you know, we're not gonna use cuss words in our language, or they need to be clean in this way. You know, they have to justify what they've chosen for you. And I always say, with all my assignments, I think this is a good practice for all teachers to say whatever you're allowed to listen to, and say it like five times and put it on the document there so that they can't go home and say, "Ms. Ramos said I could listen to this. That's nice." So, you know, the more documentation you have on that document, the better, so.
Roberto German 10:27
That's right. That's right. Gotta get ahead of them. A lot of proactive communication.
Abby Ramos Stanutz 10:32
Roberto German 10:32
And being as clear as possible. But I love the fact that you're empowering the students, that you're allowing them to tap into what they love, what they enjoy, what they listen to, to tap into their voices, and giving them freedom that sometimes they don't necessarily experience in the school setting.
Abby Ramos Stanutz 10:52
Yes, exactly. A lot of times we tell them what to do and what to think. We don't give them a whole lot of choice to explore and, you know, come across these realizations on their own. Much less see all the devices work together. So it really is a beautiful thing.
Roberto German 11:08
So what's on your mixtape playlist, and can you give us a breakdown of some of the literary devices you identified?
Abby Ramos Stanutz 11:18
Oh, man. Well, yes. I normally give a kid, excuse me, the kids a list are about 25 literary devices. So, I mean, I could make like the longest playlist of all time and I've gotten pretty good at it. One of my favorites situational irony, right? Situational irony is very difficult for the kids to find. And I had this one example brought to me years ago, and I just thought it was one of the best examples I've ever seen, but it's the story-- the song is called Does He Love You? And it's by a band called Rilo Kiley, which is like an alternative band that I hadn't even heard of when I was teaching. I was like, who are these people? And you start reading the lyrics and it's like a conversation between these two friends. And one of the friends is saying, you know, that her husband is cheating on her and, you know, all this stuff and how sad it is, and the woman's pregnant. It's like this whole narrative poetry thing. And then at the end, the best friend who has been there, like patting on the back the whole time, says, "Don't worry, he's never gonna leave you for me." And it's just like this, ah. And so then we'll bring it up to the kids. I'll still use that as an example. And they're like, you wouldn't expect that, right? That's the opposite of what you'd expect. And I'm like, yeah, that's as close as we're gonna get to probably a situational irony in a song. And they love like the narrative aspect of it. So that would definitely be on my list. I have so many metaphor examples. I have this not to get too crazy, speaking of 90s though, there's this playlist I follow on Spotify called 90s Rump Shakers. And there's, I don't know if you remember the song, but the 'All I wanna do is zoom-a-zoom.'
Roberto German 12:46
Abby Ramos Stanutz 12:47
You know, that one? I would definitely use that one for--
Roberto German 12:50
I think that was Teddy Riley. Black-- was it Blackstreet?
Abby Ramos Stanutz 12:56
Oh. I mean, I actually-- I need to look it up on my playlist.
Roberto German 12:58
I'm like 99.9% sure that Teddy Riley was definite-- whether it was Blackstreet or not, Teddy Riley was involved.
Abby Ramos Stanutz 13:08
Oh, yeah. So like, that's got, like, assonance in it and alliteration. I mean, just one of those songs on that playlist I can go through and just pick all kinds of stuff, so. Plus, I mean, my Queen Beyonce. I mean, I could take that Lemonade album and do the whole mixtape out of that. So, I mean, I just love it. The tone and, you know, well, more alliteration extended metaphor. And then there's a really old, I say old, but you know, Paula Abdul song, like Cold-Hearted Snake. I use this one all the time to explain it to the kids. But you know, the world's a candy store and he's been trick-or-treating. And the girls just are like, "Man, he's getting around." I'm like, exactly. He's the, you know, the candy store, the ladies. And you know, he's the trick or treater. So just a few of my examples. And Drake. I use a lot of Drake in my examples because he's very, you know, universally loved by the kids. He's kind of old school for them, but, you know.
Roberto German 14:06
Which is not saying a lot for us.
Abby Ramos Stanutz 14:08
Exactly. Exactly. I'm like, that youngster Drake. But you know, for them he's like old school. That would definitely be on mine. And then Jay Cole. I have a new found respect for Jay Cole. I always liked him, but the more I see him on mix tapes, I'm like, he is a truly talented writer.
Roberto German 14:27
Oh my goodness. J Cole is amazing.
Abby Ramos Stanutz 14:28
Fantastic. You know, so.
Roberto German 14:31
Yeah, J Cole's gifted with the pen. And he also just does amazing things as a human being. Last week, I don't know if you're aware of this, last week, he, you know, it came out on social media that he was looking for inspiration And so he typed in YouTube 'J Cole type beat' because a lot of producers were trying to attract, you know, different folks to their sound. They'll make beats that are similar to what a J Cole would write, or a Kendrick or, you know, so on and so forth. Put their name on it. And so he looked up something and he came across this beat that this dude produced. I forgot the name of the dude, but it was a J Cole type beat. J Cole wrote to the instrumental and then contacted the dude and like, "Hey man, you know, I'm feeling this beat. Thanks for creating this. I wrote a song to it. Here, you could use it for your platform, do whatever you want with it." And I haven't followed, you know, in terms of the stats or whatnot, but I'm sure off the strength of J Cole offering that to this dude, I'm sure it has attracted so many people. So many subscribers to that guy's website. There's a popular YouTube channel that breaks down, they analyze rap lyrics and whatnot, and they did an analysis of that song. So that producer is now coming up on these different pages, his name is buzzing and whatnot. So shout out to J Cole from just doing dope things.
Abby Ramos Stanutz 16:12
Yeah. Seriously blessing people all over the place. And just sharing that with us. Sharing his heart with us.
Roberto German 16:18
Yes. Yes. And Rump Shaker it was Wreckx-N-Effect.
Abby Ramos Stanutz 16:22
Roberto German 16:23
Teddy Riley did produce it.
Abby Ramos Stanutz 16:26
Okay. You know, I was listening to it this afternoon actually in my planning period, so that's why it popped in my head. Yeah.
Roberto German 16:33
Yeah, yeah. Catch you one. So, alright. If you had an opportunity to have lunch with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Abby Ramos Stanutz 16:46
Wow, this is a really hard one for me. I grew up like in a really eclectic musical family. And I just, I don't know which way to go here with this one. But, you know, God, that's so hard. You know, it's like, do I go with Beyonce? Do I go like a, you know, Stevie Nicks, like. But, you know, I know who it is.
Roberto German 17:06
Oh, the rains. That's serious rain right there.
Abby Ramos Stanutz 17:09
Yes. I think I have to go with Dolly Parton.
Roberto German 17:13
Dolly Par-- I wasn't ready.
Abby Ramos Stanutz 17:15
Yes. I think I have to go with Dolly Parton.
Roberto German 17:17
I wasn't ready. Although I did, you know, I did follow Dolly back in the day.
Abby Ramos Stanutz 17:21
Yeah. I mean, well, 'cause I just think she's like a very gifted songwriter, number one of course. And then just as a person and as a humanitarian. I don't know if you know all about her book lady stuff that she does.
Roberto German 17:32
I do not.
Abby Ramos Stanutz 17:33
Oh. So she like pays for like this whole town to go to college. Like if they graduate high school, she pays for their college. And then she also started a whole program where she gives out books. And so people just know her as the book lady where she like, gives books to kids in public schools and like through all of like Tennessee, I forget what area it is. Like outside of Nashville. I just think she's fantastic. Like, she knows exactly what she's doing and everything about her persona is on purpose. You know, like the wigs that she wears and the, you know, who she is. She has such a sense of humor. And I see her in these interviews and she is just sharp as a tack. And I think she would be so fun and just have so much wisdom to share. Like talk about somebody who's like, proud of being themselves and just confident in their own abilities so much to the fact where they are just, you know, ready to, you know, go out and bless other people and, you know, make the world a better place. Which is, I mean, really, like, kinda what I would aspire to do in my dream world is like make the world better, right? And so, you know, as a musician, yes, I love her so much. But then also just as a person, I think I would really appreciate her, so.
Roberto German 18:41
She was not on like my radar at all. But that's awesome. No, that's great. That's great. Now you got me thinking I gotta go look up some old Dolly Parton songs.
Abby Ramos Stanutz 18:54
Yes, you do. Yes. I love that Hard Candy Christmas. That's my favorite one.
Roberto German 18:59
Okay. I'll check that out afterwards. So for those that are listening, what is the message of encouragement you want to offer them?
Abby Ramos Stanutz 19:09
I'm really glad you asked me that. I feel like a lot of educators are just people who believe in public education and helping kids need some encouragement right now. And what I would say is something that we kinda talked about earlier is, you can do it. You are making a difference. I know that so many of us got into this profession and are working with kids and working in schools because we really do want to change the world that we live in, our in initial community, our country, our global community. And I know it can feel like we are just this tiny speck, but I promise you that the longer you stay in it, and with that right intentions, you are making so much change. Even if it doesn't feel like it on a day-to-day basis. Even if like the copy machine was jammed. And, you know, T test didn't go well. And that kid cussed you out or whatever, those are the ones that come back later and tell you like how much that you know you meant to them. And so it's a really hard time to be an educator and I think it's hard to see that right now. But just know for those of you that are new or those of you that are, you know, have been in the game for a while, like, I know that we're changing things because we're changing one person at a time, and then it's just infinitely, you know, bettering our world. So don't give up and ask for help. So, you know, comment on the TikTok, send emails, like reach out, beg, borrow, steal from any teacher that you can find. We have to do it together because no one understands how hard it is who's not in this job. I mean, wouldn't you agree?
Roberto German 20:40
Facts. Facts. Folks don't know. They don't know. It's easy to talk about educators and talk about schools and talk about how it's like this or it's like that or it's so terrible or whatever the case may be. But a lot of the folks who are talking never, never been in the classroom, don't know what it's like, don't know the highs and the lows, don't know the challenges. They also don't know the triumphs. And so that's a good word right there. That's good message. And I hope folks receive that and certainly I hope that they follow you. And so for folks who wanna learn more about your work, what it is you offer content that you're creating that might be resourceful to them, where can they follow you?
Abby Ramos Stanutz 21:33
Well, TikTok is probably the fastest way to find me. You can see the videos where I walk through my lessons, my classroom practices, just my daily, you know, everything. I really do kind of treat TikTok as like a professional development community. And so when I'm speaking to, you know, to my camera or whatever, I'm talking to hopefully to other teachers like hoping that they reach out. So that's @Abby Ramos Stanutz. Just check out my TikTok. I'm also on Twitter where I share a lot of like more written responses. I share the books that I'm reading and book recommendations that I have. 'Cause I do read about 60 books a year and most of them young adults. So I can tell you, hey, this is great for this reader, that kind of thing. And then I'm on Instagram @Mrs. Ramosstanutz.com or @Mrs.Ramosstantuz where I posted my different books and just, you know, like encouraging things to kinda keep us going. So I learned a long time ago that, you know, in order to reach the students everywhere and reach the audience, social media is a great way to go. So I'm trying to use it for that reason. And then I'm always available via email. I am always open to helping teachers. I will share with you a resource or just be a sounding board. I think that our professional development community has to be bigger than the people that are on our own hallway. It just has to be because this job is just too hard, you know? So anyway, reach me in any way. I'll list all of those later.
Roberto German 22:55
Thank you. Thank you, Abby. Oh, this is so great. Well, folks, there you have it. Literary mix tape devices. All right. Check it out. Literary device mix tapes, check it out. Go to, besides listening to this interview, go to Abby's page. And I don't know, you'll have to scroll 'cause she has a lot of videos. But how I learned about this was she created the video talking about literary device mix tapes. And it was fabulous. You might have done two. Don't quite remember. But that's how I came across this content. And so extremely engaging. Go ahead, check it out for yourself if you want to see more of a breakdown and some visuals in terms of her walking you through this particular lesson. And go to Abby's page on TikTok and make sure you follow her and like her content and share it with others. Abby, I appreciate you. And I'm glad you mentioned that you read 60 young adult books a year. 'Cause I'm gonna have to send you my new young adult poetry book. Not out yet, but it's coming soon. We're putting the final touches on it. So gonna have to send that to you. And you know, see what you think and see if you share with everybody.
Abby Ramos Stanutz 24:17
I can't wait to read it. Thank you so much for having me.
Roberto German 24:20
Oh, my pleasure. My pleasure. Thank you. As always, your engagement in our classroom is greatly appreciated. Be sure to subscribe, rate the show and write a review. Finally, for resources to help you understand the intersection of race bias, education, and society, go to multicultural classroom.com. Peace and love from your host, Roberto German.