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.


  1. I love your thoughts on how we, as educators, should begin changing our mindsets! We can help all students reach higher by using these tools.

    1. Kristi, I agree! Changing our mindsets as teachers is a huge step in the right direction.

  2. I love the quote you have included from Ignacio Estrada. Teaching the way THEY learn! How powerful!

  3. Rachel,
    You said, "A demonstration notebook helps students see the how, not just the what," as you shared the challenge we face in helping students to learn how to use these strategies in their literacy processes. The demonstration notebook does seem a good way to help them begin to understand the how in this work. I'm envisioning using a digital notebook with key points from co-creating charts and examples of student work from our community that helps to show how this might look. I could even see including short video explanations from peers. This notebook would be useful in small group work and conferring. I'm looking forward to giving this a try.