DIY Literacy: A Review & Giveaway

Wow, this sounds perfect. Thanks for recommending the book.DIY LiteracyIf you have been anywhere near Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, your email, or the internet in general lately, you have probably heard about one of Heinemann’s latest publications, DIY Literacy: Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts.  If you are anything like me, you pre-ordered yourself a copy before it was released because, well, Kate and Maggie Beattie Roberts.

DIY Literacy did not disappoint.

As Franki Sibberson wrote in the foreword to the book, “Maggie and Kate trust that teachers have the key structures in place for literacy growth” (p. x). In this way, I felt like DIY Literacy was a perfect match for the readers of Two Writing Teachers.  It is not a primer on the workshop model or a beginner’s guide to teaching writing.  Rather, it will push your thinking about instruction and differentiation within an already existing workshop model.

DIY Literacy begins with an introduction to four types of teaching tools: teaching charts, demonstration notebooks, micro-progressions, and bookmarks.  First, Kate and Maggie outline how to create each one of these tools.  The remainder of the book is dedicated to showing us exactly how to use these tools to address some of the main problems we have as teachers of writing:

  • our students don’t remember what we have taught
  • we feel like our student are not working hard enough
  • we are not meeting the needs of all the students in our class

(Do Maggie and Kate have cameras set up in my school?  They really nailed it by addressing these three issues.)

Each of these four tools apply directly to the teaching of writing.  Are you students having a hard time remembering the important qualities of memoir writing?  Make a bookmark!  Are your students not doing their best work in your unit on short stories?  Create a micro-progression!  Are you trying to reach that one student who still struggles with adding dialogue?  Use a demonstration notebook!

After reading DIY Literacy, I felt like I had been given a superhero cape.  I felt armed and ready to teach writing.  I knew I could use my newly created demonstration notebook or a micro-progression or a chart to help me teach my students.  Really, I felt empowered.

As much as I love the DIY tools I now know how to create, I think my favorite part of the book is the Bonus Chapter, nestled right between Chapters Two and Three.  In this chapter, titled How Do I Find (and Write) Strategies for Teaching Tools?, Kate and Maggie grab us by the hand and coach us right through the process of strategy development.  This chapter will help teachers who feel unsure about creating teaching points to move kids forward in their writing.  This chapter is a confidence booster and a bonus indeed.

In short, I recommend putting DIY Literacy at the very top of your summer PD pile.  You, too, will feel like you have been given a superhero cape. You will be ready to grab some Sharpies and make your first DIY literacy teaching tool.  I know I can’t wait to make mine.

(Also, in case you missed it, you can catch Kate and Maggie’s DIY Literacy Video Series on their blog, Indent.)


  • This giveaway is for a copy of DIY Literacy: Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence.  Many thanks to Heinemann for donating a copy for one reader.
  • For a chance to win this copy of DIY Literacy, please leave a comment about this post by Saturday, June 18th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose names I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Monday, June 20th.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.  From there, my contact at Heinemann will ship your book out to you.  (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
  • If you are the winner of the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – DIY LITERACY. Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.

Comments are now closed. Thank you to everyone who left a comment on this post. Sue P.’s commenter number was chosen using a random number generator so she’ll receive a copy of DIY LiteracyHere’s what she wrote:

Wow, this sounds perfect. Thanks for recommending the book.