Gallagher Saves The Day!

One of my favorite teaching resources.

One of the ironies of teaching– where there’s a plethora of great teaching strategies (and acronyms to match)– is that we fall into ruts.  We go to conferences, read trade books, subscribe to journals, and we receive so many effective tips that it’s almost too much of a good thing. For me, I get excited about everything and I want to use it all RIGHT NOW.  Enthusiasm is great, but practice is another.  I often feel overloaded and overwhelmed and uncertain how to implement all of the strategies I want, so often times I fall back to my comfort zone, feeling like the failure the media and society makes teachers out to be.

This is why I value teacher Kelly Gallagher and his book Deeper Reading: Comprehending Challenging Texts, 4-12.  This is my go-to book for when I get into my ruts.  He provides clear explanations as to why it’s important for students to go through first and second draft reading of texts and how to get them to discover the texts meaning on their own by making their own connections.  He has tips for guiding and assessing comprehension and how to encourage kids to get through those trouble zones where they want to give up reading.  His strength is how to direct students into delving beyond the surface of the text.  He shows how metaphorical thinking allows students to better understand character motivation and themes.  His section on taking his students from what a text says, to what it means, to why it matters is particularly helpful.  There are strategies for students to apply themes to their own lives and world, and collaborative group work ideas that make sense.

I could go on and on about the virtues of Gallagher’s book, and you could easily see how one might be over-whelmed.  But this is what I like the most about this book, all of his suggestions are low-prep and can easily be added to the curriculum.  I don’t have to re-invent the wheel or overhaul my lesson plans.  He provides many of his own examples of student work, so I know what it’s supposed to look like.  Plus, the majority of his strategies are fun (a benefit to student and teacher).  Since I have tried some of them in my  classroom, I know that they challenge the students to think without intimidating them.  On the flip side, the book challenges me to be a better teacher without intimidating me.

Educators, which books have the top spot on your teaching bookshelf?

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3 thoughts on “Gallagher Saves The Day!

  1. Well, you know I am a fan of Gallagher myself. He is also my go-to guy when I need help. I also find that some of the AVID curriculum focused books can have really great easy stuff, but they often need a bit of tweaking. The last thing I go to is my list of SADIE strategies. This list often gives me an interactive approach to supplement guided practice. When all else fails, I have them do casual debates or socratics. So, I guess, to end this pointless post, off the top of my head, just Gallagher 🙂

  2. My teacher shelf took a radical shift when I left the public schools for the modern version of the one-room schoolhouse. Having to have some skill in every subject, (and adeptness in knowing when to hand a student off to someone who can handle a particular subject better!) has been a great challenge. Now I’m relying a lot more on an understanding of the individual student and how to present the material that way, as that’s more apropos to my situation. So, my primary helpers at the moment are: “Wired That Way” by Marita & Florence Littauer, and “Discover Your Child’s Learning Style” by Willis and Hodson. Since we cover a lot of literature and reading in our summer quarter, I am going to pick up a copy of the Gallagher book. Thanks for the recommendation.

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