Life. Literacy. Learn. Lead.

Life. Literacy. Learn. Lead.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

2016 #cyberPD - DIY Literacy Ch. 1,2, bonus (Reflection #1-week of July 5th)

This summer, I've joined #cyberPD, an online study group, with a wonderful community of educators! We are reading and discussing DIY Literacy Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts. A big thank you goes out to Michelle Nero (@litlearningzone), Laura Komos (@LauraKomos), and Cathy Mere (@cathymere) for organizing this group. Information about this #cyberPD group can be found here

2016 #cyber PD REFLECTION #1, Week 1: Bringing Goal Setting and Clarity to Our Teaching

I love so many parts of this book, but what struck me the most came on page 19 close to the bottom of the page:
"Research also shows that people who write down their goals and share them with others are 33 percent more successful in accomplishing these goals." 

Over the last school year, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the idea of goal setting. Jennifer Serravallo's The Reading Strategies Book certainly helped me work on this as I sat side-by-side with teachers.  I saw the work we did with students this year dramatically change for the better. Goal setting with students helps them understand why we are meeting around the table-something that we need to be explicit with. It invites them to work in a much different way than putting OUR [the teacher's]  lesson plan front and center. Talking about goals with students, having students set their own goal(s), coaching students with the strategy and then watching students practice their goal(s) has been a game changer for me in teaching. So, when I first picked up DIY Literacy I thought it was a gold mine for helping me continue my work with goal setting. For me, this book helps put all the wonderful strategy work we do in a "home." We have a place to "rest" our strategy work and Kate and Maggie suggest we do it with four tools: demo notebooks, teaching charts, micro-progressions, and bookmarks.

On this same page (p5), Kate and Maggie also reference David Allen and how he "...argues that our brains can only hold so much without some organized assistance." Yes, yes and yes!! DIY literacy gives educators four solid ways in which to help students organize their work, their thinking, and their own progress. In thinking about Executive Function skills, our students continually need help and lots of modeling when it comes to organizing.

I love how each and every one of these tools help us to make our teaching clearer. Kate and Maggie talk more about this on page 5. Reading and writing can be abstract. Our teaching needs to be clear and focused on the how in order to demystify the reading and writing work we ask kids to do.

Speaking of the how, the Bonus Chapter after Ch.2 is a wonderful reminder to us educator-folk that we should:
1. Never teach alone. (Perhaps my most favorite reminder EVER. Seriously.) 
2. Hit the books. (It's all about professional text and perhaps why  my shelves overflow.)
3. Go online. (Twitter has been an amazing PD resource for me.)

And, finally, I love how Kate and Maggie remind us on page 28 that we, too, are capable of writing our own strategies. Over the years, I'm sure we all have a strategy that we actually designed in that 30 seconds where a student is just not picking up what you are laying down...and BAM!! We reach behind us, grab some random, blank sticky-note and (somehow) manage to have scribbled something visual that brought an A-HA moment for a child with some strategy we didn't even know existed 1 minute ago!! Now, Kate and Maggie obviously go on listing a much better, thought-induced way to produce a solid strategy. But, the point is, sometimes we forget that we really do great work within the four walls of our classrooms and I love how these authors acknowledge that.

I'm looking forward to reading more of everyone else's reflections in this #cyberPD community and can't wait to keep on reading and reflecting as the month of July progresses. Thanks for reading!!


  1. You've made many great points! Your last one about teachers having the power and believing that they can do prescriptive and meaningful work with students speaks to me. I love how Maggie and Kate advocate for authentic processing of text and strategies to scaffold meaningful learning for students.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Amy. You are so right about Kate and Maggie advocating :)

  2. My favorite line from your post: "But, the point is, sometimes we forget that we really do great work within the four walls of our classrooms and I love how these authors acknowledge that." I love that this resonated with you. This was a huge part of this book project - really wanting space to acknowledge the beautiful, explicit work of teaching happening inside classrooms every day and naming a system to capture and replicate that work of strategy building. Thank you for your thinking about this! - Maggie Beattie Roberts

    1. Thanks so much! Your feedback means a lot. I'm happy I was able to "pick up" what you both intended!! That's a sign of great authorship on your behalf ;)