This is the second week of #cyberpd, a virtual book talk, that I am participating in this summer. Those in the #cyberpd community are reading and discussing DIY Literacy: Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts. This week our focus is chapters three and four.
As I was reading chapters three and four of DIY Literacy I felt as if the authors, Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts, must have been in my classroom alongside me at some point. They described challenges in teaching and learning that are all too familiar. Their description of a teacher reading student work that doesn’t show any evidence of the new strategies she taught or students finishing a task that should have taken much longer are all too real to me. Reading these descriptions made me think the authors just took a page from my day-in-the-life-of-a-literacy-teacher story. This speaks to how relevant this book is for me. As I was reading there where parts, such as when I read this, “Your students can be more thoughtful about what strategies they use in their reading and writing, and they can hold onto your teaching as time goes on” (p. 39) that I was thinking, Please, tell me HOW! Of course, Kate and Maggie do not disappoint. They have provided some insightful ideas to work through the instructional challenges that I’m sure all teachers must face.
This chapter focused on an obstacle in our teaching: students’ abilities to remember. The teaching chart, a tool created with students that list steps or strategies students are learning, was highlighted. These are the big takeaways for me:
- With all the teaching students are exposed to on a daily basis, they have a lot to remember and charts can help them remember and develop automaticity with the strategies they are learning.
- When students have charts to refer to they can be thoughtful about the use of strategies and make independent decisions about strategy use.
- Teachers and students need to live the chart. Tips to make frequent references to the chart, add strategies to the chart during follow-up lessons, and give students the opportunity to reflect with a partner about their use of strategies help to make the chart a useful tool as opposed to a poster that hangs on the wall.
- Charts and other tools are scaffolds and should be temporary. Students can be involved in the process of removing the charts with practices, such as polling them to see which ones they think can be “retired” and challenging them not to use the chart.
Chapter FourRigor, another common obstacle in instruction was the focus of this chapter. Micro-progressions, examples of different levels of work that is expected of students, were presented as a tool to motivate students to work hard. These are the big takeaways from the chapter:
- Rigor isn’t only about the complexity of the task, but also about the work and effort that students put forth when engaged in a task.
- Rigor may be lacking because students aren’t clear on expectations for the task they are being asked to do.
- Micro-progressions are a tool used to show students the expectations so they know what to do to work hard at a task.
- Rigor is linked to motivation. Students will work hard when they are challenged, curious, given control, engaged in collaborative work, and recognized for their hard work.