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A Conversation with Kelly Gallagher

By Dave Stuart Jr.

Post Image- Gallagher InterviewRemember that post I wrote a few weeks ago about how long I spend grading articles of the week? In today's post, I'm sharing the entire conversation between Kelly Gallagher and me.

A couple of months ago when I was working on Teaching with Articles, I emailed some folks who I believed could greatly help me in understanding what matters most in our instruction around shorter complex texts. Since many of you who read my blog initially find it when you search for “articles of the week,” you won't be surprised that one of the people I was most eager to speak with was AoW-creator and literacy guru, Mr. Kelly Gallagher. (I've written extensively on my journey with Gallagher's article of the week assignment.)

Some highlights to entice you into listening (in case you needed any):

  • My awkwardness. (Throughout) Henceforth, let it be known that interviewing people I respect in an awkward fashion is my thing.
  • Kelly's thoughts on how to retain our passion even when the hardest things happen. (5:50) In which Kelly treats, among other things, “compassion fatigue.”
  • Kelly's most recent ‘Aha' moment. (9:08) Kids are changing.
  • “You have to know stuff to read stuff.” (12:25) The origin story of articles of the week.
  • “Some of these articles you're going to be interested in; some of these articles you're not going to be interested in.” (15:00) How Kelly is honest with his kids.
  • How long Kelly spends grading articles of the week. (18:20) “This may come as a surprise or a shock or a disappointment…”
  • At what point are our kids reading enough? (28:00) Kate from Iowa asks about volume and quantity.
  • The book Kelly is working on right now with Penny Kittle. (32:45) Sounds fascinating.
  • A few more reader questions. (34:17-End) Prior to this interview, I asked some of my readers what they'd like me to ask. I had a chance to pose some of these questions to Kelly, and the ones that I didn't get to ask, I attempt to address in the last portion of the interview.

The interview

I'm too much of a noob (and, frankly, too swamped with teaching right now) to set this up as a podcast on iTunes or XYZ platform — please just use the embedded player below to listen to the mp3 interview. If it's not working, you can find the mp3 here — download it, etc. Enjoy!


Here are some articles mentioned in the interview:

Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Kelly's most recent books, from newest to oldest:

Of course, thank you to Kelly Gallagher, not just for this interview, but for the fact that he drove to his house when we encountered technical issues at the start of our first call attempt. Thanks also to John Lee Dumas, whose resources helped me think through how to organize and facilitate an interview over Skype.

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7 Responses to A Conversation with Kelly Gallagher

  1. midwesternheartindixie April 16, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

    This. is. fantastic. I am currently in the process of encouraging colleagues to join me for your articles PD workshop, so I sent them a link to this post as a teaser. I know I AM EXCITED! I loved hearing both of you talk through this and I loved having my quick grading of AoW validated by the man (KG), himself! Woot! Thanks so much for always bringing your readers solid, excellent, and honest content.

  2. Leigh Anne April 16, 2016 at 4:52 pm #

    Hi Dave,
    I have been using AoW’s in my 6th grade classroom ever since I heard Kelly at a conference. Grading has been my biggest issue. I liked your idea of having a certain number of “late passes” for turning them in and was wondering if any of your readers had additional ideas to share on late work. Another question I had was if teachers use them with standard work, such as finding the central idea, or do they just stick to reflective writing. This was a wonderful interview, and I thank you for sharing it with us. Look forward to extending the conversation about a wonderful teaching tool.

  3. Justin April 17, 2016 at 11:54 am #

    I. Am. Blown. Astoundingly. Away!

    I am (hopefully) attending the International Literacy Association’s annual conference in Boston and one of the major reasons I’m going is to meet Kelly and attend two of his sessions. His magnum opus entitled “Deeper Reading” made me a better educator and saved my pedagogy mojo when it needed immense resurrection. Therefore, when my favorite blogger/mentor has Kelly on a guest, I exploded in elation and ecstasy!

    Some major take-aways:
    •my students read two articles a week, answer comprehension questions, and write a summary for each article. When Kelly justified that the emphasis isn’t on grading, I let out a mini-yelp of amelioration! I reveled in his “volume” manifesto and that’s the belief I’ve held all year–if my students are reading and writing, I know they are becoming college and career ready AND subscribing to their own long-term flourishing!

    •I teach disenfranchised, yet gifted students who have grown up in an area of dilapidation and strife. Yet, I see their souls every day and their will to succeed! They are like packaged, little stars and I have the privilege of honing their effectiveness so that when they blaze and explode, they will be oh so bright and oh so magnificent! That “privilege” of teaching is what makes Dave and Kelly so magnificent! The cadence in their voices when they speak of valuable and voluminous reading and writing experiences signify an honor in our profession. And I read any experience and wisdom I get from these two masters as a symbol for a changing tide in our country!

    •I must go into church now, but to hear and witness best practices from Dave and Kelly is a treat that I say we beseech in the future! The magnanimous gifts they impart are the gold in this vast land of education that can become negative if one don’t surround himself/herself with knowledgable, sagacious minds like Dave’s and Kelly’s (yes! I used my class’s apostrophe rule this weekend for homework!). I am beyond appreciative of this post, Dave!

    Thanks for always leading the way for the movement to change the world with valuable and voluminous reading and writing experiences EVERY DAY!

  4. Julesburg April 17, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

    I loved this. Great questions. Great dialogue. Perfect way to spend this Sunday afternoon as I think about the week ahead.

  5. Erin April 20, 2016 at 7:37 am #

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who absolutely HATES grading. I focus on my instruction and my goal for my students–to be critically-thinking, productive citizens of society–and traditional grading structures just don’t fit into that. My administration wants everything to be black and white and easily provable to stakeholders. But that doesn’t work for me. Like Dave and Kelly, I spend all of 4 seconds grading their articles of the week. I don’t use a rubric for everything. My students do so much reading and writing–but its not all “grade-able.” And like Dave and Kelly discussed… a student does a task multiple times, improving from an F to an A… why should that F bring them down when they’ve demonstrated they mastered the task?

    I’d love to hear from others about how they work within required grading structures.

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