The final chapters of Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts DIY Literacy‘s address the nitty-gritty issues facing every teacher: getting the right tools to the right kids at the right time.
A unit starts and the first few lessons go wonderfully. You get to lesson four, or maybe eight and the kids are all at different places.The whole group lesson gets difficult to determine. When this happens, I have had these exact thoughts:
For a moment, you imagine writing three lessons each day and teaching each one to the right group of students, but the thought of all that work feels, well, unsustainable at best, especially knowing that any given lesson might miss the mark.
It’s crazy and unsustainable, but the situation is inevitable. Chapters 5 and 6 give me hope for the coming year.
Chapter 5: Just for You provides clear ways to get students to use tools.
The Demonstration Notebook is the small group tool. I love the systematic way this process exposes students to multiple ways to accomplish a goal, allowing for demonstration, practice and in the end choice. And beyond the actual lesson, the notebook is accessible: a simple idea that had not crossed my mind.
Micro-progressions are the great goal setting tool. I love the cognition this tool requires. A student needs to find their skill level and set a goal for their next step. And, if they hit a bump along the way to that goal, the if-then chart can keep them going: if things get confusing, then they can continue working in a comfortable zone.
The bookmark is the nudge, “the gentle pressure” that gets students to acknowledge what’s working and what they want to work towards. Accountable, reflective practice. A culmination of all the other tools.
Polling kids as to what is working is an assessment of our teaching and their learning. I plan to do this. Simple, straight forward questions.
Did this week’s lesson push you ? Did you try or learn anything new this week? Were there times you couldn’t do the work that was asked of you?
.Chapter 6: Nuts and Bolts is the how to make these tools work for kids.
Three things hit me.
One: Make tools simple and bold. I’m not Krisi Mraz or Marjorie Martinelli of Smarter Charts, but there are some icons I can master. They will take me a long way to making my charts clearer. Straightforward icons, consistent colors, large print (upper case slows readers down to process), and using white space help users process meaning.
Two: Make tools accessible and attractive. I’m thinking about how charts and demonstration notebooks should be positioned to be advantageous for students in my classroom. Students should know where the tools are and use them. If you’re not sure if they are using charts, ask them.
Look for a tool that could help you to come up with ideas for your writing.
Where would you go to push your nonfiction reading?
You worked hard and now you feel done, but there are twenty minutes left of independent work tim. Which tools could help you stay productive?
When I set up my books, I think bookstore. When I set up my charts, I’m thinking to advertise that connect to our emotions. Our metaphors and examples need to tap into kid language and culture.
Three: Make tools about kids. The more the tools incorporate student voice and work, the more useful they will be. Co-develop a tool as a whole class in the beginning. Have student groups create tools as they become more familiar with the tool. Recruit students to create and teach as they master the tools.
As my culminating activity, I made a bookmark in my notebook of goals and reminders to start out the year.