Chapter Five - Just For You - Tailoring Teaching to Meet Students' Needs
This chapter emphasizes how the teaching tools can differentiate our teaching and the supports we offer students as they move toward independence. I think it is so important to know your students well so you can differentiate to provide them with exactly what they need. I loved the yoga analogy in the way that the yoga instructor provided each participant in the class with what they needed to be successful. That often seems like an insurmountable task in the classroom, but Kate and Maggie show us how these tools can provide students with tools they can use independently. As the teacher, we anticipate what they will need and set them up for success with the tools that will scaffold their learning.
This quote represents what the book's essential message is. "Not only can tools give students something tangible to hold onto as they navigate their way through the curriculum, but they also give kids personalized learning footholds to find their next step along the way." I love the notion of "personalized learning footholds" as we consider students moving toward independence.
Kate and Maggie stress the importance of sending students off with personal goals that focus their independent work. They also remind us how important it is to anticipate what students will need as learning moves forward. Knowing the curriculum and the skills they will need to develop helps us determine what will be coming next. Knowing our students well helps us think about who needs what in their literacy journey.
This chapter also stresses the importance of assessing in real time. Kate and Maggie provide great suggestions for determining if our teaching tools are providing the support students need.
I really like the bookmarks as a way to help students focus on goals. And the micro progressions put students right where they need to be - in the zone of proximal development.
Kate and Maggie tell us "It helps to have an extension of ourselves that can support students when we can't be in all places at one time." I can recall so many times when I felt like I couldn't support every student in the class. Teaching tools help us establish an alternative by providing students with guidance even when we can't be there with them.
Chapter Six - Nuts and Bolts - Tips for Making Teaching Tools Effective and Engaging
Kate and Maggie offer great suggestions for engaging students with the teaching tools:
pop culture, metaphors, and kid friendly language. They offer advice on how to maintain the energy of space in the classroom and to keep the tools fresh.
I appreciate the suggestions on how to create an organizational system for the tools and helping kids access them. As a principal, I often felt like the charts became invisible or even promoted sensory overload in the classroom. It's important to know when a chart is no longer helpful and should be retired. My hope is that teachers in this community will continue to share their own ideas for organizing teaching tools.
I love the inside covers of this book. They give us colorful evidence of the teaching tools. I am thankful that Kate and Maggie produced their videos because watching them gave voice to the words in the book.