Thursday, July 21, 2016

#CyberPD Chapters 5 & 6 DIY Literacy

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Chapter 5: Just for You
"We struggle to meet the needs of our all our students, and we sense that there are groups of kids who are not being inspired, pushed, or helped the way they need and deserve," (pg. 2).

I have always struggled with differentiation. What does this really mean? What is the expectation? How can I possibly do it? Then comes chapter 5 of DIY Literacy. I really felt the tone of this chapter took the weight off the teacher's shoulders and placed some responsibility on the student. I have never thought of it this way. I always took full responsibility as the one leading the differentiation in the classroom. It was up to ME to inspire, push or help this students. Maggie and Kate took some of that pressure off by showing how tools can allow students to take ownership and become engaged in the type of learning they need and deserve. 
  • Demonstration notebook: Even though the demonstration notebook is lead by the teacher, it is left for the students to investigate if they need reminders of the lesson. "...a sticky note with their names as a tab on the page so they can refer back to the lesson easily," (p. 76).
  • Charts:The chart on page 80 can be very useful for those students who may need extra assistance from the teacher, but will not have a conference that day.
  • Bookmarks: The bookmarks "empower students with a sense of agency, an opportunity to take stock of all they were learning and then design their own mini learning plan," (p. 83).
  • Micro-Progression: The micro-progression is a way for students to see "which level of work they might be able to reach that day," (p. 84).
Chapter 6: Nuts and Bolts
I was alarmed at this statistic on page 88, "In 2010, an average sixth-grader spent more than 7 1/2 hours a day consuming media." By accepting this version of our current students, I can tap into their consumption of songs, games, shows, cultural events and social platforms to build engagement and more relevance in my teaching. I appreciate the way Teacher's College supports pop culture. I have heard this mentioned by many staffers and it really helps bring a connection to our students. 
I really liked #3 on page 96: Quiz your kids on the layout. I thought this was a great way of reminding students to use the tools by questioning them on which ones they could use for both pushing their thinking & staying productive.
Also, Whew! You don't have to have the most creative eye to build meaningful anchor charts! Use white space, write big & keep colors consistent.

Monday, July 11, 2016

#CyberPD Chapters 3 & 4 DIY Literacy

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Chapters 3 & 4 focus on two of the problems we face in education: memory & rigor.

Chapter 3
Our students' work gives us feedback and evidence of our teaching. However, our students are faced with a barrage of new learning every day. This new learning may happen every 42 minutes! Our goal here is to help students remember what they have been taught; as long as it is not something they could look up in a book. We are not necessarily teaching rote memorization, we are teaching our students ways to hold on to learning that will help them enjoy the work they do now, transfer into other areas of their coursework, and become part of themselves.
I like how Maggie and Kate explained how each tool could benefit students in different ways with regard to memory.

  • A chart is a quick way to list strategies they could try.
  • A bookmark makes it more personable.
  • A micro-progression can help students see which skills are the most essential in each unit to remember.
  • A demonstration notebook helps students see the how, not just the what. 
Many times I feel that the last bullet is where students break down. They know the what, but don't understand the how. This is where small-group work with demonstration notebooks would be very powerful.
Remember, as many highly regarded educators have said before us, "If we had really taught it, then the kids would be able to do it. They would have learned." (p. 51)

Image result for If we had really taught it, then the kids would be able to do it. They would have learned.
Chapter 4

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Rigor, not rigormortis, is such a hot topic in education. I appreciate the stance Maggie and Kate chose to focus on, which is "a description of a behavior rather than a task," (p. 54).  We must change our mindset about kids when they do not do the work. This does not make them lazy or unmotivated. It could possibly mean they might not be ready to perform the work we taught, they might not know exactly what is being asked of them, or they may not know the steps to take to get them there. I see this way too often in our middle school classrooms. Staff can be quick to say the students are lazy when after a given mini-lesson, work is not done as rigorously as expected. Here is where we, as educators, need to keep an open mind and pull those few students together to more explicitly explain, or demonstrate again, our expectations for the task. 
  • Micro-progressions can explicitly show the depth of work we expect of our students.
  • Demonstration notebooks can be used to push students farther who are ready for that challenge.
  • Charts can be a shorthand method of explaining clear steps,once they are aware of what rigorous work is.
  • Bookmarks can help with goal setting, as "rigor comes in all sorts of paces-some slower, some faster," (p. 66)
I am really enjoying close reading this book again. I am finding new ways to share with staff and am excited to share my learning more with the educators I work with.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

#cyberpd Week 1 DIY Literacy

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I preordered the book this spring and promptly read the whole thing the day I received it. Then came the weekly videos and I found myself rereading certain sections to deepen my understanding. Maggie and Kate did such a fantastic job rolling out this book. It was so powerful to see the tools (visual), hear them explained (clarity), and see them repeated (practiced) throughout the weeks. This is exactly how to make things "stick", see pages 7-8 numbers 1-3. 

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Chapter 1: One of the hardest things, I think, teachers grapple with is to take ownership when our students are not engaged. "When our kids aren't engaged, or learning, or growing, there  is something they are not getting from us that they need," (p. 2).  We have to find the right tool that tackles the problems of memory, rigor and differentiation. So many times I hear teachers say, "Did that teacher teach them anything last year?" or "I just taught them that last week!" I think the key term here is "taught". We can teach them all kinds of things, but if it is not rigorous enough, at their level or in a way to "stick", they will not learn. We can get too focused on the "hamster wheel" of breadth, and lose our center on depth.

Chapter 2: It seems too simple that they include only 4 teaching tools in this book, but they are so powerful and this chapter does a great job of explaining why you would use each one, touching on the three problems students face in memory, rigor and differentiation. I have tons of experience with charts and bookmarks, but the demonstration notebook and micro-progression tools were knew to me. I still am wrapping my head around the demonstration notebook and still will, as I don't have a class of my own (I am a reading specialist and instructional coach). I LOVE the micro-progression and it can be a quick tool for formative assessment and self-reporting of progress by the students.

Bonus:Page 32 really spelled it out for me by putting together The What + The How + The Why. I anticipate using this with teachers as we work together to define strategies and how to put them into clear, concise language for students. We have to know WHY this is important.

I have a very strong group of educators I am tickled to call my PLC. Through this network, I encounter many new professional and middle grade texts to read and then share with fellow educators (& students) I work with. I met with a group of teachers from my school last week do begin our book study on The Reading Strategies book. With it, I brought along 3 other books I am currently studying based on information I have gotten from fellow educators. The majority of these recommendations were from my Twitter PLC. If you are not on Twitter, stop reading this and go now to sign up and begin your new professional development journey :)