Friday, July 15, 2016

Becoming Strategic: DIY Literacy #cyberPD Ch 3-4

We've all been there.   That moment when we feel like our teaching just isn't working for our students.  Such was the moment when Evan looked at me as he was reading his new book, pointed to the word, and said, "What's that word?  I don't remember."  As a reading support teacher, it isn't uncommon to realize that I need to adjust my teaching.  I equate phrases like "I don't remember" to "I need to sound it out" (another phrase I never say, but somehow pops into student response).  Those are the lines that make me pause and take the deepest of breaths.  These are both important phrases because as Katie & Maggie remind us in DIY Literacy, it really means students don't know what to do and that I need to find a way to support their next steps.

Becoming Strategic and Developing Automaticity
In chapters 3-4 there is much talk about remembering and rigor.  I often find when students "don't remember" something it is more likely they don't have the strategies to work through what I'm asking them to do.  When students don't appear to be working at the edge of their learning, I often find I need to help show them what is next.  Both remembering and vigorous work come from understanding, strategic action, and authentic learning opportunities.

These two chapters show us how to use micro progressions (as well as charts, demonstration notebooks and bookmarks) to make teaching more explicit and help students discover the next steps in their learning.  Katie and Maggie remind us (p. 62), "We encounter trouble when we teach too much to hold onto, too much to remember."  They share the way tools can help students prioritize, choose essential skills, and be accountable for new learning.  As we read we are reminded that adjusting our language, working together, differentiating instruction, making goals explicit, and providing authentic learning opportunities can help students work toward independence.  Through these opportunities we can say to students, I "hope that you will fold some of [these] lessons into your reading forever, that some of these strategies will become a part of you (p. 58)."  It's the side by side time with our community, in daily conferring, in small groups, that help us to listen and adjust our teaching.

DIY Literacy
I've been trying to think through how this might look for our students in communities of inquiry.  I used Lucid Charts to try to show the way tools might fit into a cycle of learning.  (It's a work in progress, but I think it begins to show the way tools might fit into a unit of study and support student learning.)

This post is part of the #cyberPD book talk taking place this July.  Stop by the community to read more reflections of participants.  


  1. "Sound it out" is often said by my reading students too! I think parents might encourage it, as many are unsure of what other prompts to give. Even my husband was saying it and we had a conversation about what that actually means and how inefficient it really is! I was trained as a reading recovery advocate and use that training daily with all my students grades K-6.

  2. Great visual especially for teachers who haven't read the book. Thanks for creating it.

  3. Cathy, your flowchart is fantastic! I think you have really captured the interactions of every piece involved! Aside from the teacher planning at the beginning, the balance between the teacher and the student is evident. This is important because students should have that investment in their learning. I think your flowchart shows that balance so well. I also love how you depict the way the tools can build upon one another and work together to bring everyone to new understandings!