Collaborating to Produce a Weekly Reading Response

       I assigned collaborative reading responses early in the syllabus because previous 221 classes said they wanted more time to practice collaborative work before diving into it at the end of the semester.  Feel free to call me for help, but here are some ways to get going.

        First call one or two people in class and ask them if they have yet found a collaborative partner, and if you are called, try to be open to the process.  It's sort of like intellectual dating, but without the messy stuff.  Once you've established what kind of collaborative process you think you're up for (see below), just read and talk and write (and talk) and post the results, and you're done.  It might take a little longer than reading and writing on your own, but it will produce a more highly developed level of thinking and a more thorough engagement with the readings.

             To set up a collaborative response, you have several organizational choices that I'm aware of, and others you might invent:
1)  Everybody reads everything and you pool your notes before writing individual responses on your own, easiest if you are close geographically, though possible if you type the most important notes and share by email.  Just make sure your individual responses take advantage of and refer to what your partners' notes have told you.  You also can do a "round robin" response, where one person starts it with one paragraph on one source which is emailed to the next person; the next comments on the first paragraph and adds a second on another source before emailing it to the next person or back to the first one (if it's a 2-person group), and so on until it goes back to the first writer for a closing comment on some line of thinking that seems important.  That round-robin version also works for type 2, below.
2)  Each person reads one article and writes a response to it, and you fuse your responses together and comment briefly on each other's responses before turning them in.  On the first assigned collaborative response, two people could split up the harder readings  This works best if everybody gets a chance to revise her/his part of the final document one time, so each section can refer to the others when your thinking collides or overlaps.  You don't have to make it completely coherent--just break it into subtopic sections at the splits and refer forward or backward as needed.  You also don't have to resolve all differences of opinion.  The formula "See X for another view of this issue" works for me.
3)  Hard-core collaboration would entail everybody reading everything, meeting, and hammering out a consensus document, with some means of capturing important moments of dissent/difference by individuals.  The dissent mechanism can be done with parentheses or endnotes or even splitting the text into double or triple columns.  This one is hard to do at the last minute if everyone hasn't really cleared other work out of the way so other deadlines don't drive you nuts.  If you discover you differ pro/con on almost every issue, you could just split it into two halves and publish it together as "both sides of..." something or other.
If none of these works for you and you despair, just write a regular old response and we'll try again next time.  For some background on doing collaborative research, including how to write major papers in collaboration with others, click here.