What is the purpose of the ANI chart, especially as I move on past the early lessons?

This is a great question and it's an important one. As its emphasis in the beginning of the program might suggest, the ANI chart is a key tool in LTW and one which must be properly understood if you're going to teach the program effectively. The ANI chart is the central tool in the topic of Invention and all the other Invention tools are formed around it. That is, definition, comparison, relationship, circumstance, and authority (known to some as testimony) should enable your student to add more information to his ANI chart. 

Sometimes teachers use the ANI chart at the beginning of the essay-writing process, as the first step in Invention - since that's how it's presented and taught in the first lesson - and then proceed on to the topics. But we recommend that you not think of that chart as worksheet that is to be completed before your student completes his work on the topics. Rather, the topics provide questions that enable him to add more information to his ANI chart, that help strengthen and guide his thinking. So first the student should ask himself the questions that the topics provide, then should use his answers to those questions to add information to his ANI chart. 

Consider this example: 

Imagine that your student is writing an essay that answers the question "whether American should drink soda". Now he might initially have all kinds of thoughts about this topic, many of which can easily and quickly be added to his his ANI chart. He might say that soda tastes good. He can add that that to the "A" column. But he might also identify right away that soda has lots of sugar in it and so he might add that to his "N" column. But eventually he'll begin to run out of things to add to those columns, and that's where the ANI chart and the topics come in. So on the the one hand these great tools guide his thinking but they're also just practical, useful tools for helping him move forward. 

So once he runs out of things to add to the ANI chart he should go to the topic of Definition (assuming, of course, that you have taught him how to use it) and he should begin to define his terms. He might define the terms "should", "Americans", "drink", "soda". and maybe even a few more, some of which might seem to be pretty obvious, but they very activity of defining them anyway strengthens his thinking patterns and helps him practice using the topic of Definition in a way that prepares him for more complicated definitions. Thus, in defining, for example, "soda", he might discover that most sodas have lots of high fructose corn syrup, a fact about which most adults are likely aware but he may not be. So there's a negative. 

He might also discover that studies show that soda can diminish bone density - another negative. But then he might discover that the soda industry leads to millions of dollars and millions of jobs. That's a positive. 

You can see how, as he begins to think through the definitions of the terms, the complications and subtleties inherent to the issue begin to come up, thereby forcing him to think more deeply about the issue. 

The ANI chart is a wonderful tools on its own, but it's most useful when employed within the context fo the powerful topics of Invention. 

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