Friday, July 8, 2016

DIY Literacy: Chapters 1, 2, & the Bonus Chapter

This is my first experience participating in #cyberPD. I accidentally came across a post a few months ago advertising the book selection and the corresponding schedule for the book club. I am finding this type of PD profoundly enlightening and supportive. I live and work in a rural school district. We have limited access to PD because we are geographically isolated: 2 hours from PDX, 1 hour from state capitol and nothing in between but forest land. I often feel isolated as a reading specialist because we don’t have very many in my district.  We are separated by 40-60 miles of coast highway and each school’s reading specialist has a different grade band (k-2, 3-6, k-6, k-8). This is why I am so thrilled that I have found a PLN.

Here are my reflections for Chapters 1, 2 & the Bonus Chapter

Chapter 1: Tools
Tools are used to “help students work harder, smarter and on their own” (2). They can be used to solve 3 problems that occur in the classroom:

  1. Memory: We use tools to help student enhance their memory and be able to do more on their own.
  2. Rigor: We use tools to help students get all they can from their learning. 
  3. Differentiation: We all learn in different ways. We use tools to help students be “inspired, pushed or helped the way  they need and deserve” (2)
Tools help us do more than we can on our own. In the classroom we use tools to:
  • Make teaching clear by organizing a sequence of steps
  • Bring big ideas and goals to life by making the abstract more concrete 
  •  Help learning stick by helping students hold on to the teaching through the use of visuals, encouraging repeated practice and by breaking a big idea into smaller manageable pieces.

Chapter 2: Types of tools
The analogy at the beginning of this chapter really spoke to me. “Depending on who you are and the way your mind works, your map takes on different forms.” (11) It might be a GPS, a paper map or handwritten directions on a piece of scrap paper. Each tool helps you reach your destination, however each tool matches a specific learner.  I personally struggle with GPS because I never seem to be able to tell which way is north. Kate and Maggie tell us the types of tools we choose to use in the classroom are important and we need to remember that not every student learns the same way. There are 3 different types of tools:

  1. Teaching charts: These charts record lists of strategies needed to work towards a bigger skill or breaks down a big skill into smaller steps
  2. Demonstration Notebook: This is a collection of interactive charts created in a notebook for the purpose of re-using them as students need them. 
  3. Micro-progressions: This type of tool helps clarify how students can clearly improve upon their own work. 
  4.  Bookmarks: This type of tool is used for students to create their own action plan. They can decide for themselves which teaching tool they need to be self-directed learners and record them on their own personalized bookmarks.

All of these teaching tools sound like they would be very successful in the classroom. I was having a difficult time picturing how I would use the Demonstration Notebook with students in K-2. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Bonus Chapter: Finding the strategies to teach
I think this is an important chapter. Too often I am finding teachers pulling items from TpT or Pinterest that look flashy, but doesn’t really address a specific strategy that student should be working on or they don’t break a strategy down into a sequence of steps needed to be successful with that strategy. Having resources available so teachers know how to teach strategies is critical. They suggest: 

  • Never teach alone: seek out a trusted community so you have people to turn to when it gets difficult
  • Hit the books: I personally have The Reading Strategies Book, Mosaic of Thoughts, and Strategies that Work books on my bookshelf. 
  •  Go online: You can find just about everything online (including the kitchen sink!. Locate some reputable sources as your go-to sites.

I am not sure what I got myself into as I actively participate in this book club. I have two other book clubs I am participating in and a list of home improvements that NEED to get completed before August rolls around. I am expecting lots of learning!


  1. Thanks for sharing your post and connecting with us! Having a great PLN such as this can be so inspiring. I've been thinking about how to use a demo notebook with a primary grade level band too. I think it really comes down to the needs of the readers...I'm still thinking about what this might look like...and want to read more on the demo notebook chapter.

    Enjoy all of the learning from your book studies and hope you can fit it in...I sort of had a mini freak out when I looked at the calendar today...4 more weeks left. Ahhhhh!!

  2. We are thrilled you found cyberPD too! I was joke about how I feel like I am on "an island"... you take that to a new level! If you haven't had a chance to check out the videos on Kate & Maggie's Indent Blog, I recommend it. It might help give you some inspiration for a demo notebook for K-2.

  3. Hi Jennifer, Isn't it nice to find others who share your love of learning? I always get so much from others' thinking when I participate in groups like cyberPD. You don't ever have to teach alone with groups like this around. :)

  4. Hi Jennifer,

    I enjoyed your post! Greetings from Ohio! I love Oregon...I visited a few summers ago and fell in love! I can see where living in a such a rural location can make you feel isolated, but have no fear! We are here digitally!

    I am excited and curious about demonstration notebooks too. What I really love is that they appear to be "reusable"! I'm thinking about starting with a simple composition notebook, and probably will have one for reading and one for writing. If I really love it, I may make one for math too.

    I think I would use mine during conferencing at first, but would love to recycle the same tools in small group. I could even see building some from a need I see whole group, even after building a chart together, then revisiting down the line to those who need more practice. There's great potential to align strategies be creating representations of them through all 4 tools offered in the book.

    I taught 2nd for 4 years and next year am moving to reading intervention (1-2nd) and Kindergarten. I'm looking forward to the rest of the book too! See you around cyberPD!

  5. Hi Jennifer,
    This is a great post as it summarizes these first three chapters beautifully! I'm glad you discovered #CyberPD16 as we learn so much more when reading books, especially professional books, than when we read and never discuss what we've read with anyone. At least, I find that is true for me.