I spent the majority of October recuperating from surgery. I wish I could say I read lots of novels, but I was in too much pain to focus on books. Instead, I binge-watched “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and viewed too many hours of “House Hunters” episodes. In an effort to get my appetite back, I switched to the Food Network. I watched some of my favorite Foot Network Stars (e.g., Giada De Laurentiis and Ina Garten), as well as some shows I don’t typically watch (e.g., “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives“). Believe it or not, I found myself thinking about the teaching of writing more than eating while watching “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” also known as Triple D.
As I watched Guy Fieri, the star of Triple D, describe food he was tasting, I noticed his unique culinary vocabulary, which is different than other chefs on Food Network. The more episodes of Triple-D I watched, the more I noticed Fieri is a genius when it comes to describing restaurants and food.
Once I was well enough to sit at my computer, I researched Fieri. I discovered three things we can use his show for when teaching students.
DETAIL: Whether it’s information about where a restaurant is located, who the chef is, or the ingredients of the food, Fieri describes everything with precision. Every part of each Triple-D segment (He’s recorded over 800 segments!) helps you understand the appeal of the eating establishment, its chef, and the food that’s being served.
Note: Carl Anderson (2013 packet from the TCRWP Writing Institute) defines detail as:
- Details are the particulars (or specifics) of a piece of writing.
- Every detail plays a role in helping a writer develop what he’s trying to say about his topic.
- Writers use a range of detail to develop meaning.
- In their details, writers use specific words that describe exactly what happens in a narrative, or that describes exactly the subject of a non-narrative.
VOICE: Fieri describes the food he tastes after just one bite because of his one-of-a-kind Guyisms. Whether you like his on-screen persona or not, Fieri’s presence can launch an eating establishment’s clout within hours of its appearance on Triple-D.
Note: Anderson’s definitions of voice (Ibid.):
- Voice is the writer’s presence on the page. It’s the sense that there is a person behind the words.
- Writers use voice to enhance their meaning.
- Writers create voice in the way they write sentences.
- Writers create voice in the way they use punctuation.
- Writers create voice through their choice of details.
WRITING PROCESS: “How Guy Fieri Writes His Standups” shows us Fieri’s methods for creating Triple-D segments. His process is similar to writers. For instance, he tapes his lead-in after he shoots the segment. Fieri states it takes him five to ten takes to get his wording right. Sometimes he does another take because he’s too wordy or doesn’t make sense. Other times he has to do another take since he mispronounced a word. These are valuable lessons we can teach students about writing process.
Note: In How Writers Work: Finding a Process That Works for You, Ralph Fletcher says this about writing process:
Certain people talk about the “writing process” as if there is one, and only one, process for writing. Wrong! In one fifth grade class I visited, the students all brainstormed on Monday, rough drafted on Tuesday, revised on Wednesday, edited on Thursday, published on Friday. Writing doesn’t work that way. Some people need less time to prewrite, more time to rough draft. I belief that the idea of a one-size-fits-all writing process has turned off some talented young writers (2000, 3).
Detail. Voice. Writing Process. These are three areas where you can tap into the power of technology and use media clips to enhance a minilesson. I created a Guy Fieri Digital Text Bin (below). You’ll find articles and videos you can share with your students when you’re teaching about detail, voice, and/or writing process.
- ARTICLE: An Attempt to Translate the 6 Most Common Guy Fieri Sayings
- ARTICLE: Diners Declassified: Behind the Scenes with Guy Fieri
- VIDEO: Blackened Barbeque Bison Ribs (Note: Beer is an ingredient in this restaurant’s recipe. You might substitute another video if the mention of beer will distract your students.)
- VIDEO: Cheesy ‘Mac Attack’ Burger
- VIDEO: How Guy Fieri Writes His Standups
- VIDEO: How Guy Says, ‘That’s Good’
- VIDEO: One Righteous Chili Dog
Triple D does not promote healthy eating. In fact, most of the dishes that are featured, if consumed regularly, would clog a person’s arteries! Therefore, I think it’s worthy to mention that studying Fieri as writers is not the same as endorsing the unhealthy food that is featured on Triple D.
How do you use digital texts in your minilessons? Would you be willing to share links to ones you use and explain how you use them? If so, please leave a comment below.
I am a literacy consultant who has spent the past dozen years working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grades K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).