Book Talk: Do It Yourself Literacy by Kate and Maggie Roberts



I love to watch HGTV!  I love to see all the fun home improvements that the casts of the different shows create.  I can sit for hours watching Property Brothers, Fixer Upper and Love it or List it, and think “I would LOVE to do that to my house!”

That is the same feeling that I got when I read DIY Literacy by Kate and Maggie Roberts.  “I would LOVE to do that in a classroom!”  In this book, Kate and Maggie give you tools to help you solve some of the problems that we all face in our ELA classes!  They give simple, common-sense ways to problem solve.  And unlike those HGTV shows, these are fixes that anyone could actually accomplish without contractors!

One of my favorite chapters in the book is what they call a Bonus Chapter.  In it, the authors recognize that we all have problems that our students face and validate that we have the smarts to fix them ourselves!  By working together with other teachers, reading great books like this one and searching through online resources, we can come up with strategies for the trouble spots all our students face.  Students not writing in complete sentences?  We can fix that!  Are they unable to discern a theme?  We can handle that!

In addition to this new book, Kate and Maggie also have a blog called Indent.  On this blog, they have created a video series that walk you through specific strategies you can use to help students with a myriad of problems.  These strategies include Demonstration Notebook (my personal favorite), Anchor Charts, Personal Bookmarks and Micro-Progressions.    To date, they have all 8 videos posted!  See below for a summary of the problem/solutions they discuss.

Episode 1
Problem:  3rd Grade students aren’t using punctuation when they write.
Solution:  Use a demonstration notebook!
Episode 2
Problem:  6th – 8th Grade students are reverting to summary writing in their Reader’s Notebook instead of choosing higher level topics.  
Solution:  Create an anchor chart!
Episode 3
Problem:  6th Grade readers are good at finding evidence in the text, but they struggle with analyzing the evidence to say why it is important!
Solution:  Create a “pathway” for students that gives them concrete steps to try! (Think Writing/Reading Pathways books!)
Episode 4
Problem:  8th Graders are struggling with “showing” in their writing.  Instead they are “telling” what happened.  They want to describe their characters rather than showing through action what their characters are like.
Solution:  Demonstration notebook
Episode 5
Problem:  How do you confer with higher level readers?  
Solution:  A Student-Led Bookmark
Episode 6
Problem:  6th Graders are struggling with MOTIVATION!  How do we get them to work independently?
Solution:  Create a micro-progression (pathway) for students to self-assess their independent work each day.
Episode 7
Problem:  Students are not using mentor texts independently.
Solution:  Anchor Charts
Episode 8
Problem: 7th and 8th grade teachers want students to get away from writing cliche themes.
Solution:  Demonstration Notebook



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