09 May It’s Monday! DIY Literacy – We Have the Power
DIY Literacy: Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor and Independence by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts
We first heard about demonstration notebooks when we attended Kate and Maggie’s session at #NCTE2015. As soon as they showed how a demonstration notebook could be repeatedly used as an interactive instructional tool during small group and individual instruction, we turned to each other and whispered, “Now that is brilliant!” It is a teaching tool that is responsive to students’ needs, helps you collect authentic formative data as you teach, and is always at your fingertips – WOW!
So you will not be surprised when we tell you that yes, we love Kate and Maggie’s DIY video series. And yes, we preordered our copies of DIY Literacy so the books would arrive on our doorsteps the day it was published. And yes, we put this book right on the top of our TBR piles as soon as it arrived.
DIY Literacy focuses on teaching tools we can co-create with students to help them remember what they learned and to work harder to achieve their goals. As students work with these tools they become independent learners who reflect on their learning, set goals, and create their own action plans. These are the actions that help students engage in learning and find their voice in the assessment process. Thank you Kate and Maggie!
This book empowers all of us to draw on our own expertise and collaborate with colleagues to create these teaching tools. They even quote Glinda, the Good Witch, from the Wizard of Oz, to hit this point home,
“You’ve always had the power, my dear. You had to learn it for yourself.”
Here are just a few of the teaching tools Kate and Maggie describe to help students remember what they are learning and to help them work harder to meet their goals.
“A demonstration notebook is a collection of interactive lessons the teacher can use to demonstrate repeatedly with kids, whether individually in conferences or in small groups across a day, unit, and year (14).”
It is a notebook that contains lessons on those strategies and skills that students have the most difficulty learning. Each lesson in the demonstration notebook contains the following:
- Examples of work before teaching – a sample that needs improvement
- Strategies or prompts for students to use or try
- Examples of work after teaching
- A place for students to try the strategy (15).
Here is a video from the Kate and Maggie’s DIY video series showing how to create a demonstration notebook.
Micro-progression of Skills
“Micro-progressions show the way toward a higher level of work (17).” It is a series of student work examples written from simple to complex to help students reflect on their current understanding and to help them know how to improve their work.
Each micro-progression contains the following:
- A model at each level made by the teacher and/or students.
- Clear criteria naming each level of the skill.
- A focus skill for the micro-progression.
- A form of leveling. (17)
In this video from the Teachers College Reading and Project, Nekia uses a micro-progression to improve student understanding of how to infer the theme in a text.
And here is Kate and Maggie explaining the nuts and bolts of how to create a micro-progression.
Bookmarks: Creating Personalized Action Plans
The bookmarks Kate and Maggie write about are a bit different from the more traditional bookmarks. “Students use these bookmarks to write down the strategies they want or need to remember – book marks can act as a helpful “grocery list” of tips (19).”
- Bookmarks are small enough for students to carry and use while they work.
- Student bookmarks can include icons or drawing of each of them.
In this video Kate and Maggie explain to how create student bookmarks to promote independence.
If you are like us and are continually looking for ways to refine your teaching, you will love reading DIY Literacy. This book introduced us to some new tools to use in the classroom, helped us continually refine our practices, and taught us new ways to support students as they travel down the “yellow brick road” towards becoming independent thinkers and problem solvers.