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Blogging as Gallagher's "meaningful collaboration"

Reading and commenting on people's blogs last night inspired me to go back and re-read and think more about the early chapters in our book. When I read again the following lines, I was struck by the connection between my own blogging experience and Gallagher's method:

The richer the text, the harder it is for any single reader to uncover it all on a first reading. Beacuse of this, it is important that students be given time to discuss what they discovered while reading ...the act of collaboration itself raises the reading comprehension of every student in our classes; thus, it's important for us teachers to build in meaningful collaboration time for our students. (17)
Reading and writing on this blog has given me a chance to share what I'm discovering and learn from the discoveries of others (even those who are reading different books, since what we are talking about is so connected). In college-- and I assume at all levels-- the pressure to cover a maximum of material in a minimum of time often means we short change meaningful collaboration (both in reading and writing).

And, as someone who coaches faculty on how to integrate writing into their courses, I find his assertions about our responsibility to teach students how to read effectively (particularly those that remind teachers about their self-interest) very helpful:

If we simply assign writing instead of teaching students how to write, we'll get poor writing. If we simply assign reading instead of teaching students how to read, we'll get poor reading. (7)
At first I was troubled (as I think you were, Kim) by his comment "As their teacher, I am the determining factor when it comes to how deeply my students will comprehend," but now I'm seeing that more as a polemic to keep us from "passing the buck" or acting like we can't do anything when it comes to our students' reading comprehension.


This meaningful collaboration, to me, means having a healthy discussion about the text and through the discussion establishing relevancy. I'm reading When Kids Can't Read and I was happy to see the list of strategies and comforted in knowing that I do many of them. I work hard to create relevancy for my students and began to wonder if the creation of relevancy could be its own strategy. If the strategy is relevancy, then the skill would have to be application of the text in new or similar situations portrayed in the text. Any thoughts? Am I making a connection here or just engaging in edubabble?

I plan to actually introduce the term meaningful collaboration and its guidelines to my students this Fall so that any discussions they have will have the focus and boundaries necessary for a valued exchange. Presently my students call meaningful collaboration debates and have mistaken opinion for fact and lather themselves to convince instead of to open minds and discussion.

Good point. I think there is a ton we can do to enrich students'comprehension, but is it right that a teacher feel the total responsibility of that comprehension? Some students simply do not, will not or cannot read the books we assign. I feel like I can only help, coax, encourage so much. That said, I Gallagher is giving me a host of ideas to try in the classroom.

Hoping Kendrick is not engaging (we are not engaging) in edubabble (great word choice), Gallagher's (Sheridan Blau) third, and last, key question to ask students is: What does it matter? This would spur a discussion about relevancy.

I like your quote from page 7. It's so true. I teach writing, but I assign reading. I'm going to begin a log of quotes for me to read during the school year in an effort to keep the focus.