Thursday, May 12, 2016


I'm a bit of a reality TV show junky, yet I'm  selective about what I watch.  My favorites are mostly related to improving homes and house hunting.  I love, Property Brothers, Fixer Upper, Flip or Flop and Beachfront Bargain Hunt.  I was heartbroken when the old show Trading Spaces was voted off the island, I mean the network!  I enjoy watching the transformation of dismal looking homes into palaces.  I love to see the results of DIY (Do It Yourself) projects...which gets me to the real reason for this post...A NEW BOOK!
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DIY Literacy~Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor and Independence by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beatty Roberts was just released in April! Woop!  Woop!  This is a great new resource for all literacy teachers. It's truly about creating a DIY  "toolkit" for you and your students. I'm a big fan of the authors. I've had the pleasure of attending several sessions of Kate's at Teacher's College in recent years.  She is not only an excellent teacher, but an entertaining, "normal" person.  Kate gets teaching, teachers and most importantly kids. Here's a link to Kate and Maggie's website, Indent. They are helping teachers work smarter, not harder.  Yeah, Kate and Maggie!  There is even a new video series where they demonstrate tools covered in the book.

In the book, Kate and Maggie, break down their teaching "tools" into four major categories. Here they are with a brief summary of each.

Teaching Charts
These are helpful when students need a reminder of what points have been taught, and/or a list of what to do.  Charts have the most meaning for students when they've been created collaboratively with students during lessons, in the moment.  Kate and Maggie refer to the wonderful work of Kristi Mraz and Marjorie Martinelli when describing two basic types of charts.  Repetoire Charts: Charts that record strategies that can be used for skill acquisition.  Process Charts:  Charts that break down a  skill into the steps it will take to achieve that skill.  Here are two of Kristi and Marjorie's books!

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Demonstration Notebooks  
These are teacher created notebooks that contain lessons to use in individual student conferences or with small groups.  It's a notebook filled with strategies your students need, then and there.  These notebooks are often created within sketch pads so there is space for three main components.
1.  A need your students have shown~what is it they need to learn, see, practice.  What is your mini teaching point?
2.  A clear strategy or solution to meet that need.
3.  Blank space, for sticky notes that you can use to demonstrate and work with the strategy during conferences and small group meetings.

This idea was totally new to me and I love it!  A micro-progression is like zooming in on one particular part of a learning progression and showing students the exact qualities that make up each level of work.  The goal is to demonstrate to students the specific differences in performance such as from a Level 1 to Level 3 through explicit evidence for each level. Micro-progressions provide students with details to improve their writng, while at the same time reinforce the ideas of self-assessment.

Bookmarks are created by students to help them keep track of the strategies they need to use when reading and writing.  They are personalized by students and include the stratgies that will help the individual achieve goals.  Kate and Maggie refer to bookmarks like a list of groceries we need, or errands we need to complete.  A bookmark is like a checklist that helps us remember what we need, or how we will tackle the task or work.

So, those are the big four ideas, but the book has so much more to offer!  There are tips on how to create these tools, assessment, effective instruction, fostering a culture of rigor, organization, etc. You name it, they've covered it, in 106 easy to read pages!  The book is now available to borrow in your nearest PD office! 

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