Monday, July 4, 2016

Week One - #cyberPD - DIY Literacy

It's the first week of #cyberPD and I am looking forward to so many conversations with others in this community. If you want more information or wish to participate in #cyberPD here's the link:

The book that was selected for #cyberPD 2016 is
DIY Literacy:Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor and Independence by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts. (Heinemann). I have watched the video series before I even began to read the book. Kate and Maggie are so willing to share their expertise. Since I already watched the videos, their voices ring out in this book. You can start watching the video series with  Episode #1 here:

There is a message beneath every word and every page of this book.
Kate and Maggie ~
   respect children and what they bring to learning
   value the ideas teachers have and believe in the potential to teach wisely
   and support collaboration and thoughtful planning and teaching.

Chapter 1
Kate and Maggie talk about facing three problems in our teaching: Memory, Rigor and Differentiation. Reading this chapter reminded me of how important it is to know students so well that we understand exactly what they need at any given time. This comes from close observation and reflection. Then we can begin to think about what tools we need to support students in their unique learning journeys. I think about how important this is to developing reader identity. These tools we create are what will help students know themselves as readers.

"We believe that one of our jobs as teacher is to demystify the very abstract world of what it means to be a reader or a writer." p. 5

The scaffolds we offer students should demystify what successful learners do. Often we just need to "name it" or "tag it" to help children remember what works for them in their reading and writing. The Process Charts, Demonstration Notebook and Micro-Progressions do just that. The bookmarks put active learning within reach of our students where they can think about what they need to practice and monitor their own growth.

Chapter 2
My favorite sentence in this chapter:
"Teaching tools help teach students the way, so that someday they will know the way on their own, like the road home." p. 11

We do what we do in the classroom so students can take control of their own learning, monitor their progress and become independent readers and writers. Throughout the book, Kate and Maggie consistently remind us that we are giving students tools so they can use them in ways that help them be more successful on their own. The tools we give students help them be less passive and more active in their own learning.

I think the Demonstration Notebook can be a powerful tool for teachers as they confer with individuals or work with small groups. They represent the best in active learning as students self-asses, visualize a skill and set goals for their learning.

I love the idea of Bookmarks because they put students in charge. Students identify what they need to be working on and hold themselves accountable. Once again, the students have a strong voice in their learning. I love that!  I am a list maker so for me the bookmarks make all the sense in the world. I create lists so I know what I need to do, check on my progress, and celebrate when things get done.

Kate and Maggie remind us
"When students take inventory of things they've learned and write down goals and to-do's, they send themselves down a path of their own learning and are more likely to be successful." p. 20

Bonus Chapter
In this chapter, Kate and Maggie provide sound advice for resources and support. As a teacher, I am fortunate to say that I always had a network of colleagues to rely on for support. When teaching was the hardest, I could call up a close friend and colleague and share my successes and challenges. As a principal, I hoped that I could create opportunities for teachers to develop communities of practice because "only by working together can we get better." p. 25

I loved the questions on p. 27 to think about as we navigate online for research and instructional ideas. As always, there are good things and bad things out there. These questions help us sift through the mass of information online.  I think I would add one more. While we read professional books, attend conferences, search online or talk with colleagues one important question to ask ourselves is:

     Does what I find/hear align with what I believe about learning and teaching?

It's important for us to know our beliefs about learning and teaching and use those beliefs as yardsticks to measure what counts and what is right for our students.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of this smart book written by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts. And I am eagerly reading what others are posting in #cyberPD.

Happy reading! Happy learning!