About Us

The Telemachos

Our Mission

To show teachers of all humanities how to transform their classrooms into intellectual practice fields.

Our Team

Michael Degen, Ph.D

Michael Degen, Ph.D., has been teaching AP English for over thirty years, primarily at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas. He has served as a College Board consultant and workshop presenter nationally and throughout Texas, where he has provided instructional guidance for over 5o school districts.    He is the author of Crafting Expository Argument, Prospero’s Magic, and Virginia Woolf: A Contribution to the Essay Form.  His most recent book is co-authored with his former student and colleague Ian Berry– The Instructional Coach’s Playbook:  Classroom Strategies Informed by Neuroscience, Athletics, and Psychology.

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Ian Berry, M.A.

Ian Berry has been an English teacher at Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas for the past decade.  He has studied literature at the University of Texas and the Sorbonne.  He first practiced “the game” in English as a student in Degen’s AP Literature course, and has been playing it ever since.  When he is not thinking about the classroom, he enjoys long-distance running, page-turner detective stories, and French poetry. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

How can your strategies help my students avoid plot summary?

Once you teach students what the “L2 Play” means, they can quickly discern between plot and an interpretive idea.  When giving feedback to students who are merely re-telling the details of the story, you’ll just say, “I haven’t heard any L2–increase the quantity.”

Since all levels of students can learn the basic L1 and L2 plays, a classroom of mixed ability with each play works well.  Arranging groups with a student just learning the L1 play with a more advanced student can be of benefit to both–the weaker seeing a more skilled execution of the play and the stronger being forced to explain why the play is successful builds both sets of memory networks. 

The effectiveness of the “Plays” is their simplicity and clarity.  They turn what seems for some a mysterious power of interpretation into an intellectual movement that is concrete and observable. 

Yes– the interpretive strategies work with all texts – no need to change a system when approaching a poem or a cartoon or a nonfiction text.

Our primary graphic organizer the Evidence-Association Chart visualizes for students the basic movements of reading and provides the data for piecing together sentences, paragraphs, and whole essays.  The Paragraph Chart focuses more precisely on four concrete plays that develop unity and coherence inside the paragraph.   Our math/science students particular enjoy the structured data collection and alignment the organizers provide. 

Clarity. Model. Repetition. Feedback

  1. Isolate 2-3 “Plays” that are important for your students’ success; make sure that the procedure for implementing the play is clear.
  2. Provide a model for students to imitate.
  3. Create single lessons to practice a “Play” and provide immediate feedback as students attempt to execute it.