Thanks to an amazing teacher that I work with, I was connected to another group of amazing, motivated educators. These teachers and I are participating in a summer #CyberPD, in which we are reading DIY Literacy by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts. Each week we will look closely at a certain portion of the book and share our thinking. Make sure to stop in each week to learn a little more about the book. It may be the next book you need to add to your professional reading list!
This week, we looked closely at Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and the Bonus Chapter. Of course, I waited until the last minute to order the book. So when it arrived on Tuesday, I immediately took it to the pool (my happy place) and started reading!
Immediately, I knew that this would be an “easy” book for me to read. The authors have written it in such a way that makes it flow and easy to keep reading through the material.
Chapter 1 focused on the purpose behind what we do as teachers. Our purpose is to provide learning experiences in which new material is learned in a clear way and in which is stays with the student to be transferred at a later time. The authors suggest in Chapter 2, that we do this through four main teaching tools: Repertoire and Process Charts, Demonstration Notebooks, Micro-Progressions of Skills, and Bookmarks.
As I read, I reflected on this information, I thought about how I was currently using these tools and how I could change my teaching in order to better use these tools to meet the needs of my students.
· Repertoire and Process Charts- As suggested in the text, I have ALWAYS known that charts are best when they are made WITH and in front of the students. HOWEVER, please tell me I’m not the only one, the TYPE A me, steps in and realizes that I can’t write neatly or design a chart that is as cute, when I am doing it on the spot. So, what happens is that I either design a chart ahead of time, with spots to fill in with the students, I create it entirely by myself, or I make it with the students and then re-write it later! I love that the authors said, “They help students get to work and keep working with greater independence”. They do NOT say that the chart has to be Pinterest worthy or super cute. It has to provide students with a resource to enhance their learning. As I step back into the classroom this fall, I am going to work on removing my personal desires for the perfect charts, and remember that the purpose in creating those charts in the first place!
· Demonstration Notebooks- These are something totally new to me. I have used readers, writers, and math notebooks for years. However, I have never used a demonstration notebook and I loved reading about these. This is “ a notebook full of the lessons and strategies that you know your students need. Each page identifies a need you’ve seen in your students, offers a clear solution or strategy, an creates space to demonstrate and work with the strategy in real time with kids”. WOW! What an amazing tool this would be to have in guided reading. Think about how often you have one reading group working on a certain skill only to have another group need the exact lesson a few weeks or months later. This is definitely on my BTS to do list for this year. If anyone in the group already does these, I would LOVE to hear more from you!!
· Micro-Progression of Skills- This is a demonstration or modeling of how students can achieve higher level of skills. I have used some of this with our writing this year and looking at the If/Then resources from Lucy Calkins. My team created one last year for reading responses. We noticed that students wrote quality response only when prompted. We were trying to get students to realize that they needed to put more effort into these. We implemented it at the end of the year and I am hoping to spend more time on them this school year.
· Bookmarks-The authors suggest that students create bookmarks to create “grocery lists” or resources or strategies that they know will help them in their learning. I struggle with this tool. Often times, I will create bookmarks for students with strategies that I know I want them to have at their fingertips. I do this to ensure everyone has access to the same resources and that they are accurately written down, etc. I LOVE the idea though, that students are identifying what they need to become better readers and writers and then moving forward to help themselves. I would love to move toward this, as I know it will help to lead my students to becoming more independent.
What I loved most about all that I read, was the reference to The Wizard of Oz! “You’ve always had the power, my dear. You had to learn it for yourself”. While, we as educators need to realize how much we are doing and can do for our students and empower ourselves, we also need to see that they too, will have to learn it for themselves. The more we empower our students to be self-starters and engaged in their own learning, the closer we will have gotten to accomplishing our goals, as well.