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DIY Literacy: Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence

DIY Literacy: Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence


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"We have never seen teachers work harder than we do now. These tools inspire kids to work as hard as we are."
-Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts

What's DIY Literacy? It's making your own visual teaching tools instead of buying them. It's using your teaching smarts to get the most from those tools. And it's helping kids think strategically so they can be DIY learners.

"Teaching tools create an impact on students' learning," write Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts. "They help students hold onto our teaching and become changed by the work in the classroom." Of course, you and your students need the right tools for the job, so first Kate and Maggie share four simple, visual tools that you can make. Then they show how to maximize your instructional know-how with suggestions for using the tools to:

  • make your reading and writing strategies stick
  • motivate students to reach for their next learning goal
  • differentiate instruction simply and quickly.

Kate and Maggie are like a friendly, handy neighbor. They offer experience-honed advice for using the four tools for assessment, small-group instruction, conferring, setting learning goals, and, most important, helping students learn to apply strategies and make progress without prompting from you. In other words, to do it themselves.

"It is our greatest hope," write Kate and Maggie, "that the tools we offer here will help your students to work hard, to hold onto what they know, and to see themselves in the curriculum you teach." Try DIY Literacy and help your readers and writers take learning into their own hands.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780325078168
Publisher: Heinemann
Publication date: 04/28/2016
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 313,775
Product dimensions: 7.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.28(d)
Age Range: 8 - 13 Years

About the Author

KATE ROBERTS is a national literacy consultant, top-selling author, and popular keynote speaker. She taught reading and writing in Brooklyn, NY and worked as a literacy coach before joining the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in 2005, where she worked as a Lead Staff Developer for 11 years. Kate's latest book, A Novel Approach, asks how we can teach whole class novels while still holding onto student centered practices like readers workshop. She is also the co-author of Falling in Love with Close Reading (with Christopher Lehman), DIY Literacy (with Maggie Beattie Roberts), and she co-wrote two Units of Study books on Literary Essay. Her work with students across the country has led to her belief that all kids can be insightful, academic thinkers when the work is demystified, broken down and made engaging. To this end, Kate has worked nationally and internationally to help teachers, schools, and districts develop and implement strong teaching practices and curriculum. Follow Kate online. Twitter: @TeachKate Pinterest: /IndentBlog Blog:

Maggie Beattie Roberts began her teaching career in the heart of Chicago and then pursued graduate studies as a Literacy Specialist at Teachers College, Columbia University. She worked as a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project for nearly ten years where she led research and development in digital and media literacy, as well as differentiated methods of teaching and content area literacy. Maggie is currently a national literacy consultant, guest teacher, author, and frequent presenter at national conferences. She is committed to helping teachers tap into the power of their own deep engagement in reading and writing, and leads school-wide staff development around the country. She is happiest teaching alongside teachers in their classrooms. She is co-author of the popular book, DIY Literacy: Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence (with Kate Roberts), and authored several Heinemann Unit of Study books on the teaching of writing. Her latest article, Thinking While Reading: The Beautiful Mess of Helping Adolescents Learn and Celebrate How Their Minds Work (co-authored with Kristen Robbins Warren), is featured in the December 2016 issue of NCTE's middle school journal, Voices from the Middle. You can learn more about Maggie's work, as well as access videos and other resources, at Follow Maggie on Twitter: @MaggieBRoberts

Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Acknowledgement xi

Chapter 1 Extending Our Reach 1

The Right Tool for the Job 2

How Teaching Tools Help 3

We Use Teaching Tools to Make Teaching Clear 5

We Use Teaching Tools to Bring Big Ideas and Goals to Life 6

We Use Teaching Tools to Help Learning Stick 7

Reaching Our Goals, Reaching Our Dreams 8

Chapter 2 An Introduction to Teaching Tools 11

Types of Teaching Tools 11

Teaching Charts: Teaching into Repertoire and Process 12

How to Make a Teaching Chart 13

Demonstration Notebooks: Showing Students the How 14

How to Make a Demonstration Notebook 16

Micro-progressions of Skills: Supporting and Clarifying Growth 17

How to Make a Micro-progression 18

Bookmarks: Creating Personalized Action Plans 19

How to Make a Bookmark 20

So Now What? 21

Bonus Chapter: How Do I Find (and Write) Strategies for Teaching Tools? 23

We Need Strategies 24

Bring in Backup: Three Ways to Find Help When You Need It 25

Do It Yourself: Mining Your Own Work for Strategies 28

How to Write Strategies 28

Guided Practice: Crafting a Reading Strategy 32

Fine-Tuning Your Strategies 34

In Closing 35

Chapter 3 Remember This: Helping Students Recall Teaching 37

How Can I Help Students Remember and Use What I Have Already Taught? 37

Charts Help Students Remember What You Have Taught Them 39

How to Assess Whether Students Remembered (and Whether the Teaching Tools Worked) 43

Other Tools to Help Students Remember What You Have Taught 45

Knowing the Way: When Will They Be Ready to Give Up the Teaching Tool? 49

In Closing 51

Chapter 4 You Can Do It: Motivating Students to Work Hard 53

How Can I Support Rigor in My Classroom? 53

Micro-progressions Help Students See How to Work Harder 56

How to Assess Whether Students Are Working Hard 61

Fostering a Culture of Rigor: Five Ways to Cultivate intrinsic Motivation 61

Other Tools to Help Students Work Harder 62

Knowing the Way: When Will They Be Ready to Give Up the Teaching Tool? 67

In Closing 69

Chapter 5 Just For You: Tailoring Teaching to Meet Students' Needs 71

How Can I Help All of My Students Learn What They Need to Learn? 71

Demonstration Notebooks Help Tailer Teaching During Individual Conferences and Small-Group Work 73

How to Assess Whether Your Teaching Matches Your Students 78

Other Tools to Help Match Teaching to Your Students 79

Knowing the Way: When Will They Be Ready to Give Up the Teaching Tools 86

In Closing 86

Chapter 6 Nuts and Bolts: Tips for Making Teaching Tools Effective and Engaging 87

It's All in the Details: How to Make and Use Teaching Tools Effectively 87

Problem: My Students Are Not Responding (Anymore) to the Teaching Tools Around Them 88

Use Pop Culture and Metaphors 88

Use Kid-Friendly Language 91

Mix It Up: Variety Is the Spice of Life 92

Incorporate Student Voice into the Teaching Tools 93

Problem: I Can't Organize All These Teaching Tools 94

Set Up Rooms to Be Teaching Tool-Friendly 94

Plan Times to Make Teaching Tools (Especially with Multiple Classes) 96

Edit Teaching Tools across Units and the Year 97

Problem: I'm Not an Artist, at All 98

How to Focus on the Design Elements That Matter Most When Making Teaching Tools 98

How to Handle a Case of Sloppy Handwriting and Other Imperfections 101

How (and Why) to Draw Effective Icons 102

In Closing 104

Afterword 105

Appendix: Our Favorite-Professional Texts Used When Finding and Writing Strategies for Teaching Tools 107

References 113

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