Early Collaboration Strategies: The Importance of Peers

Even at this stage it is not too early to begin collaborating and conversing with peers to strengthen and enlarge your response. In fact, you could begin even before you have made your first entry into your journal. Instead, you could read the text in a small group, stopping ever few paragraphs to record together what has happened so far and to predict where the text is going.

Try Collaborative Prediction as a group strategy. With this approach, the group reads a text for the first time together. A member reads two paragraphs aloud and then stops. Members of the group summarize aloud what has happened in the text and discuss what the group predicts will happen next. Then the group reads a full page, stops and predicts again. Do this a third time, reading another full page and summarizing in one sentence what has happened and predicting the next step. Now the group stops and writes a forecast for the whole essay. The group then reads through to the end to see how close they've come to anticipating the text's direction.

Once your initial journal entry is complete, try doing a Collaborative Annotation of the text. First, each member records (probably before class) his or her response in the margins of the individual's text; then each member of the group reads (one paragraph at a time) his or her response aloud and the group collaborates to choose the best of the responses. The group then records a consensus response (selecting best responses as you go along) in the margins of a common copy of the text.

Alternatively, your group could debate the strengths and weaknesses of the text.

No matter how or when you do a collaboration or conversation, however, make sure to record your personal reflections on the collaborative subject. What new responses did you hear in the discussion? How has the conversation affected your initial response? Where might you revise your reactions? How will your focus be altered by exposure to these other responses?

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