#cyberpd: DIY Literacy – Week 3

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Chapters 5 and 6 were just what I needed to answer two questions that the first four chapters had posed: how to create and use teaching tools for individual student use, and how to make teaching tools that actually work for kids (i.e. tools my kids will want to reach for and use).

Chapter 5:

Teaching tools help us see the learning possibilities for all types of students.  They meet kids where they are, guiding them to greater heights.  Not only can tools give students something tangible to hold on to as they navigate their way through the curriculum, but they also give kids personalized learning footholds to find their next step along the way. (pg. 73)

I loved the way Kate and Maggie explained how to create these “personalized learning footholds” through the use of the demonstration notebooks, micro progressions, charts, and bookmarks.  As always, it is useful to hear and see what work like this looks like before attempting to it with students. I loved the way this kind of teaching honors the work our kids are doing, and nudges them forward to attempt deeper and more layered efforts.  I found the guide to “ways you can assess in real time whether or not your teaching tools are hitting the mark” on page 79 to be so helpful, too.  After all, I want to make sure that I am being both effective as well as responsive in suggesting specific teaching tools for the specific needs of my students.

The “Quick Tip for Going Digital” was a great feature.  We use Google Classroom in our school, and I have already begun planning for ways in which my kids can access their teaching tools through a digital system.

Chapter 6: 

I am so grateful that this nuts and bolts chapter was included!  Students need to find these teaching tools both informative as well as relatable, so it was helpful to learn about how to incorporate kid friendly language and pop culture references.  I loved this reminder:

To do this work yourself, take a step back from literacy and think a bit about what you are trying to teach your students.  Literacy skills are often life skills, after all.  (pg. 90)

And I loved this message to bring my students into the process of creating the learning tools they need:

Teaching tools that are created or co-created by students are almost always more accessible, engaging, and memorable than any you present fully formed.  As your students decide what to put on the teaching tool, they engage with the material on a much deeper level than if they were simply listening or watching. (pg. 93)

Each of the suggestions Kate and Maggie provided are elements that I need to figure out and practice a bit before launching this work in September.


As a prelude to this book, Kate and Maggie had created a video series demonstrating these teaching ideas in action.  I followed each of them, taking copious notes and doing my best to imagine what all of this would look like next year, after I’d spent the summer reading the book.  But, the tangled issue of figuring out the themes of our book club books forced my hand.  Here’s a link to Episode 8, and here’s what that learning looked like in my class:


Learning from Kate & Maggie before school begins.


Trying this work out in our mini lesson time.


Students working in their books groups.

Our work was a bit raw, and definitely needs fine tuning in the new school year.  Now that I’ve had the chance to read (and reread!) DIY Literacy, I can spend the next few weeks of summer practicing creating a few teaching tools, and  creating the first few I am sure to need when the year begins.



4 thoughts on “#cyberpd: DIY Literacy – Week 3

  1. Whomever says teachers don’t work hard should read your weekly posts…and working during the summer months, no less! Admirable work ethic…but don’t you also need some “down time” to restore and refresh?

  2. I haven’t finished the book yet, and I’m wondering if it would better to wait the few short weeks until I have my students so that I can apply the tools effectively. Did you see the CyberPD padlet with everyone’s charts? I hope I’ve saved it. It’s great to see what others are thinking and doing around this work.

  3. Wow! You got a head start last year. Thanks for sharing the charts and the videos. I know I will be referring back to the book as we start out with students. I want to get some charts made for the demonstration notebook, but the real work will happen when I have kids in front of me.

  4. I loved reading your post. It emphasized different parts of these two chapters than what I took away. It’s great that you had a bit of a head start last year and can now go back with new learning to help you approach these tools. I am so looking forward to giving this a go in the fall.

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