Thanks to Cathy Mere, Laura Komos and Michelle Nero for this great PD opportunity!
Reflections on DIY Literacy Chapters 5-6
Chapter 5 Big Idea: Differentiation
This chapter is all about differentiation, and the authors are right when they say that teachers need a sustainable way to do this. It is one of things teachers struggle with the most – and rightly so! It is very hard to meet the needs of all learners in your classroom. However, the tools described in these chapters could be a sustainable way for teachers to move in this direction.
Anchor Charts: Anchor charts can be a great way for you to give students the steps they can take to accomplish their task; it can outline strategies students can use; it can give students next steps to take. Anchor charts can be used to support readers and writers at all levels!
Bookmarks: Bookmarks differentiate naturally as students create their own based on the goals they have set for themselves! Choice is powerful, and allowing students to set their own goals makes those goals more meaningful and helps ensure that students will work on them independently.
Micro-Progressions: I think this quote sums it up: “Micro-progressions help differentiate the work of a unit because no matter where a child is on the micro-progression of that skill, they can find themselves within the range of levels and take their next step.” (p.83)
Another important part of this chapter talked about assessment, and how to know when your students need tools like this to help them. The authors suggest a number of things, polling your class to ask them, looking for growth in work, and looking for moments of struggle. But I think one of the most powerful suggestions is to look for engagement. We don’t always think of this. If students aren’t reading or writing when they are supposed to, why is that? What about the work is causing the student to struggle? To space out? To disrupt? Is it too hard? Too easy? Is it the subject matter? Do students not know how to begin? Or do they not know next steps? The tools described above can help students achieve, and because of that, it will naturally help the management of our workshop as well.
Chapter 6 Big Idea: Keeping Tools Engaging
Tools are only as effective as students use them. If they just take up wall space, they will not help us help our students. Kate and Maggie give suggestions on how to get kids to use the tools we create.
- Use pop culture to your advantage: The book quoted a statistic that an average 6th grader spent more than 7.5 hours PER DAY consuming media – songs, games, shows, social platforms. That’s a lot of time. Needless to say, if they are spending that much time with it, they must be interested in it! Staying on top of social trends can be difficult because things change all the time. But talking to our students can give us a wealth of information on what they are interested in! Use that! The book describes how one teacher hung a picture of Harry Styles from One Direction next to a chart with a dialogue bubble that said,”Harry says…” Another teacher created a chart that compared revision to gaming. (See picture below) Those kinds of charts can be meaningful to kids and can help ensure students will use the tools they need.
- Watch out for clutter!: When we first moved to a workshop approach, teachers often complained about the need for more wall space. They felt that there were too many charts and that things were getting cluttered. Kate and Maggie had suggestions on how to help
- Cluster the same subject charts together – This helps kids know where to look for help
- Keep current unit’s charts up – make other charts accessible in other ways (small copies in folders, table charts, etc)
- Quiz your kids on the layout – Ask students “Where would you look for a tool to help with writing? Reading” “What tool can help you figure out what to do when you are done?” If kids can’t answer these, we need to re-think our organization system!
- Allow your inner Picasso to come out!: Tools should be visually engaging so that students will use them. Just like your library has to showcase books, your chart has to draw the eyes of your students. But you don’t have to be an artist to do this. Neat handwriting, use of color and icons can help. If you can’t draw the icons, print them out and attach them to charts later! But don’t let your lack of artistic talent stop you! It’s the information on the charts that is the most important.
This was a perfect book choice for summer reading! Thanks so much #CyberPD for choosing it!