Toward Meaningful Reform
In the collaborating classrooms from which these guidelines and strategies were derived, students are given room to work through their ideas in a variety of contexts (whole-class discussion, alone, small groups) and in a variety of activities (reading, writing, and speaking). Developing envisionments, exploring them, talking about them, and refining understandings underlay the very fabric of how the class works.
Although codified interpretations and particular points of view are discussed and considered, they are usually introduced and analyzed only after the students have had an opportunity to explore their own interpretations. Such analysis involves confronting, reexploring and possibly interweaving, refining, or changing their own interpretations. Thus, students are able to react to others' ideas (including established interpretations) through the lens of their own considered understandings as well as the understandings of others — reaching interpretations that continue to be treated conditionally, always subject to further development.
In instructional contexts of this sort, that treat all students as thinkers and provide them with the environment as well as the help to do this, even the most "at-risk" students can engage in thoughtful discussions about literature, develop rich and deep understandings, and enjoy it too.