DIY Literacy ch. 3 & 4


Since I actually read this book back in June, I have been going back and re-reading each section. Before I re-read chapters 3 and 4, needed to experiment to really process my thinking about the tools. First I started to play with the demonstration notebook. I was envisioning my notebook to be a tool where I stored lessons that I would need to perhaps “re-teach” to students who needed the reinforcement. It occurred to me that some of my “lessons” involved mini-lessons I taught before or that I would need small full text selections. That is when I started moving towards more of a “binder” than a notebook.

Since I am tutoring several students this summer in writing (soon to be 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 7th graders), I explored a lesson that I knew I would need to review with select students in the fall: how to analyze a character (using text based evidence in a paragraph).  I tested it on the 5th and 6th grade students and captured the “results” in a video:

Then I started thinking about how the tools work together (or can work together!) That lead me to examining the same skill with each tool: The digital versions of my tools will be so helpful later!

I did start working on tools for “asking/answering questions”. Here’s my “micro progression”: Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 6.01.42 PM

Since I am currently also reading and doing an online book study on Nonfiction Reading, I have some charts for the questioning stances in mind (I would want to create these with students):

Continuing on with my “demonstration binder” plan, here’s the mini-lesson I will add: Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 8.59.14 PM

Now on to chapters 3 and 4! After re-reading, I took to sketchnoting. I find it helps me process my thinking and the challenge of synthesizing my thinking to fit all on one page helps me focus on determining what is most important (I’ll credit Tanny McGregor with turning me on to doing this!) When I look back in my sketch notebook (I use a 9” x 12” sketchbook), my “artifacts” are amazing visual reminders of the learning and thinking I’ve done. I can remember so much from a single visual image!

So chapter 3 was about “memory” or how each tool works to help students recall learning. The goal is for skills or strategies to become automatic or “habit” and thus we can use the tools to help students “hold onto” teaching. For instance, charts can be “kept alive” by simply reminding students to CHECK them. The process of repetition helps make learning automatic and tools are ways we can help our students leave “progress footprints”. Charts become artifacts for students and we should be encouraging them to refer to these charts. One way we can do this is through assessment. I personally would leave charts visible because if a student uses a chart on an assessment, it tells me they know where to access support when they need it. I think that is key in today’s world… we don’t need to remember everything, but we do need to know where to find info when we need it. Micro progressions should be used for prioritizing those most essential skills students need to hold on to. Keeping them simple is key and for goodness sake, we do not need a micro progression for everything! (This is something I need to remember!) Demonstration notebooks help with memory because they offer opportunities for a lesson/strategy to be taught again if needed. I am now viewing a demonstration notebook (or in my case binder) as a collection of mini-lessons for re-teaching and reinforcing; for those students that need more support and repetition. Finally for memory, bookmarks created by students serve as personal lists; highly customizable for students to only add those items that they need help holding on to. No one-size-fits-all here!

Chapter 4 was about how the four tools promote rigor and work to instill internal motivation in our students (which we can observe in example behaviors such as “working overtime”, “self-reflection on growth”, and “serving others” or giving back as I like to call it). We can create this culture of WORKING HARD by (1) giving CHALLENGES that are within reach but require investment, (2) piquing CURIOSITY, (3) ensuring our learners feel in CONTROL, (4) COOPERATION and COMPETITION to show students they are not alone, and (5) giving RECOGNITION or some sort of public celebration of progress/achievement. Each tool can help students not only by pushing them to work harder but by showing them what hard work, or rigor, looks like. Through micro progressions we can help students work at levels they are capable, not the “easiest” level because micro progressions can help students celebrate growth and offer a ‘personal testimony’. Charts act as powerful reminders of the steps students can use to work harder, thus increasing rigor. With demonstration notebooks, we can assist students in learning necessary steps to work harder. Finally with bookmarks we can push rigor by having students set goals; their personal bookmarks then serve as reminders and/or motivators to work hard to achieve a goal they set.

Clearly the four tools help teachers solve problems. Memory and rigor can be addressed in different ways with each tool. I love how the tools can be used individually or in combinations and am eager to continue experimenting with the tools as well as seeing how others adapt, customize, and interpret the tools for their own classrooms and learning environments.

(As a side note, I’ve been researching sketchnoting for a long time now. My students and I did some “action research” on it and I have an article about it coming out in the Ohio Journal of English Language Arts soon. To see our “results”, check out )

9 thoughts on “DIY Literacy ch. 3 & 4

  1. You really did a great job compiling your reflections for this post. I think your students will benefit greatly from the tools you have created. Questioning the text before, during, and after will help them become better critical thinkers. I applaud your action research efforts.

    • Thanks! We had a blast sketching as we worked through the texts! The children discussed as they sketched so it was a fantastic strategy that engaged multiple modes.

      I try to really push higher thinking levels in my classroom so my kids pick up on the language of “below the surface” quickly.

  2. Loved how you dug in and processed this work on many levels and with other texts you are reading. I think DIY Literacy’s tools support across the curriculum.

    • Absolutely! I have made so many connections this summer! For instance, I read Flip Your Writing Workshop and I’m taking what I learned there to combine with demonstration notebook principles.

  3. Thanks for sharing your example of a micro-progression. Your example reminds me that there are many things that we ask students to do, such as asking/answering questions, that may seem simple to us at teachers, but students really do need explicit examples of the expectations.

    • Be sure you check the “edited” version! I found errors in the first draft! This one was easier for me because it is something I stress to my gifted 3/4 students often.

    • That I could do! I’ve been playing with making videos for at least 5 years now. My first ones are laughable! The more you experiment and explore, the better they get! The biggest hurdle is just getting over recording yourself; beyond the “do I really sound like that?”

      My first attempts were me in front of my iPad camera. From there it has been a huge learning curve… students appreciate teachers doing them personally so much. Biggest tip I can give…keep them short! My goal now is 3-5 minutes.

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