DIY Literacy: A Review & Giveaway

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

(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.)


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.