If you happened past my classroom at Generic Middle School around 2:30 a couple Fridays back, you would have heard me concluding a lesson on “signal words”—you know, verbiage like, "on the other hand," "first," or "finally," which serve as structural tip-offs about, say, the comparative or sequential nature of a given text.
“So,” I said, by way of a lesson wrap-up, “who knows a signal word that might come in handy the next time you encounter an unfamiliar passage?”
A hand shot up at the back of the room. I was pleased to see that it belonged to a student who wasn’t a typical responder and I took his enthusiastic spirit of volunteerism as a sign that I was on my “A” game.
At least until he sincerely and confidently offered his three-letter response: “SOS.”