Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Summer #CyberPD Week One

This summer I am participating in my first #CyberPD session. This virtual book club is organized and facilitated by educators, Cathy Mere, Laura Komos and Michelle Nero.  This group started in 2011 and has grown every year. This summer, we are reading and discussing DIY Literacy: Tools for Differentiation, Rigor and Independence
I was fortunate to participate in a mini online book club using this book in late spring. However, I am excited to read it a second time when I am not so busy with school and I have more mental energy to process it. 
The focus of DIY Literacy is on how tools can be created and used with students in the classroom allowing them to access, remember and extend their learning. This week we read chapters 1, 2 and the "Bonus chapter". 

These first chapters are very exciting. They lay the foundation of how, when and why to use four "tools" in the classroom. Using repertoire/process charts, demonstration notebooks, micro-progressions and bookmarks can help solve a variety of problems teachers face in the classroom. 

I enjoyed the section on page 5 about making our teaching clear and the fact that, oftentimes, we teach too many strategies completely made sense to me. I feel like I need to narrow things down for my students and help them to really learn and use fewer strategies more effectively. 

The Tools
Is it too geeky that the tools look super-fun to make? Even though it is summer, I wanted to grab a rainbow of sharpies, colored stickies and start going to town with drafts in my notebook. 

Kate and Maggie present the tools in such a way that makes me think, "Yeah, I could do that!" I was familiar with charts and demo notebooks to some degree, but using micro progressions and bookmarks to help students monitor, remember and extend learning were new strategies for me. 

The whole time I was reading chapters 1 and 2, I was thinking about where I might find strategies for the tools. Then came the "bonus" chapter. I like the ideas for places to go to find strategies (books, colleagues, online). I also added too many new professional texts to my TBR list after looking at the appendix. 

My Big BIG Aha
I reread the section on "Making Learning Stick" several times. This is one of the most difficult things for me personally. I teach fourth grade and they need repetition, repetition, repetition and then even more. I feel that these tools can help me to give them something visual and concrete to use if they forget a strategy or concept and give them a better chance of actually owning the skill. 

Little "Nuggets" I want to post around my school.
"True learning happens when students get the instruction that fits their needs, have the agency and motivation to work hard, and remember and recycle what they've learned." DIY Literacy pg. 2

"...often we get trapped in the hamster wheel of breadth--of being sure we have gotten to everything--rather than centering our work on depth." DIY Literacy pg. 3

"One key to joy is working hard and seeing that hard work pay off." DIY Literacy pg. 9

"We want to tether our skills and strategies to a strong sense of purpose. This helps students (and ourselves) buy into the work, know when to do the work, and see the bigger meaning of the work." DIY Literacy pg. 32

Now I Wonder...
~Will I really have time to make all the tools I want/need to make? 
~How can I make sure students will use the tools? 
~Will I be able to find strategies to help with particular problems?
~Is there a place where others are posting examples of tools they have developed? 


  1. I love your nuggets, Gigi - they stood out for me, too. My sixth graders need repetition, too - it helps their learning stick. It's always so hard to relinquish the need for "my" pace and focus on my students' pace instead.

  2. Gigi...LOVE the nuggets! And I'm with you on the creating...I actually did grab my sketch pens and start... too irresistible! But then that is what is going to make this great for our students. I'm a big fan of the process of creating sometimes being more valuable than the product created. I have found that learning sticks better with my 4th graders when they create something. The final product (in this case the tool) isn't what they take away and remember the most.

    Place for examples... great idea! Maybe we should have a #cyberPD padlet or something similar just for show and tell?!

  3. Dear Gigi,
    Thank you so much for this reflection. You asked the same questions I was wondering about! I think if we all pooled our knowledge we would have so many very concrete strategies to model for our students. That is what I love about DIY- the strategies highlighted are so concrete: if you see these words, ask yourself these questions, etc. In my classroom we use separate chart tablets for different types of demo lessons and the kids can go back to the chart for review if they have a question about a strategy. A sketch book makes so much sense! Glad to connect with you here @kategeorgebrp

  4. I'm thinking of how to do it all digitally. Pic-collage? Google slides? Not sure yet! Have you checked out The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Saravello? 300 strategies to use.

  5. Love the plan to post your "nuggets" around your school.

  6. I felt the same way about the micro progressions and bookmarks. It's a great visual and reminder to the kids and is a great teaching tool. On page 24 the authors talk about for some struggling readers skills seem to be like magic tricks. Creating teacher charts takes the magic out and teaches the Ss the skills.

  7. I also found pg5 and the part about clarity super important! I also like how you ended with "Now I wonder..." because it helps think about next steps and how we will all apply these great tools! It won't be easy per se but having a community like this will make it fun! Thanks for sharing your reflection.

  8. I love the idea of posting the little nuggets around the building. On your big A-ha, I think that the students are more involved with the process in the tools Kate and Maggie have shared. I think involving them more will help the learning stick...hopefully, right?