Tuesday, July 19, 2016

DIY Literacy Ch. 5-6: Breakout-Independence!

So this past week I got a chance to go with some great friends to a "Breakout Room" in Cincinnati. If you have not heard of these, you need to check into some in your area! Basically, you get one hour to escape from a room using pieces of evidence you analyze and  use to lead you from task to task closer and closer to your goal as the time ticks away. We went in super confident we would break out. We thought ourselves intelligent, innovative and logical, but what we found was that the task proved far too difficult for us-we did not break out in our one-hour time frame. Sure, our picture says we were "so close" to breaking out, but we were at least 20 minutes from breaking out of this 1-hour task. We used 3 "extra" clues given over a loud-speaker along the way as needed, and still, we did not meet our goal. We all felt we must try this again (we even begged to buy a little more time to no avail.) I share this because it reminds  me a lot of my students. Students are excited to "break out" in our classroom as high achievers as our year begins. They work hard, use our tips, and still fail to meet their goals. If they are motivated and energized in their learning, they too will look forward to the next chance to work towards that goal. (They may even beg for a little or a lot more time to work.) That always makes us smile, too. If we show them learning is a journey, and guide them on their own path, then they will be willing to spend the year taking steps toward the final destination.

What I learned in Ch. 5 and 6 of this book is the importance of the teacher as a facilitator of learning.  By coaching, observing, guiding and giving more and more clues over the loud-speaker to each of our students when they need them, I can help them meet their goals, help them to celebrate their learning along the way even when it includes failures, and help them to go even further than they imagined. When my students are taught something in a whole group mini-lesson,  it is the beginning of the journey to make that learning sticky. My job is to simply keep sharing the tools and keep showing my students all of the different pathways to achieve their goal over time as needed. If I want learners who are driven, independent, engaged, and excited about learning, I need to show them what that looks like and help guide them to achieve that desire to love learning and always grow one step at a time.

My Sketchnoting of Chapter 5 and 6
Chapter 5 Big Ideas:

  • The tools in this book can provide the support and inspiration our students need to succeed.
  • Representing ideas in drawings, shapes, icons, and words help solidify understanding.
  • Demonstration notebooks can extend a lesson for a small group ready for the next level of understanding.
  • If....then..charts help students to solve their own learning quandaries. 
  • "The Best of the Best" charts keep strategies available for choice and differentiation in units.
  • Bookmarks allow students to show and use what works for them and also to challenge themselves to try a more difficult strategy as they read/write. 

Chapter 6 Big Ideas:

  • Keep the spark lit for students: use pop culture, metaphors for life, sports, and humor to engage these tweens (and keep learning relevant, creative and fun!)
  • Get pop culture ideas from students themselves! They will love to share what is "in"...and "out". 
  • Build my classroom with and for my students and their needs.
  • Use tools that are effective and engaging for the unit and teach students to help create and use them.
  • Less is more with teaching tools... don't be wordy....keep tools fresh and student friendly! 
Quote from pg. 106, "We can place things in front of our students to lift them up and help them believe they can extend their reach, all the way to their dreams." 

I look forward to implementing these tools/ideas/strategies with my students this fall! 


  1. I absolutely love the analogy you made to the breakout room in regards to the students' learning journeys. Very powerful imagery! And now I want to visit a breakout room and try it for myself! :-)

  2. Yes, there are always the kids who are the "breakout" kids, but this book helped me remember that there is another group that needs a few extra clues, and then there's the group who couldn't care less and needs a tempting invitation into the work. The microprogressions are perfect for all three groups!

  3. Connecting the use of tools to "breakout" is perfect! Our goal is for students to become independent thinkers and problem solvers. To do that, we do give them clues and support so they can "figure things out" on their own! Another important piece: even though you were not successful in breaking out, you had a memorable experience. I think too many kids are programmed into thinking that they have to win or get all of the answers right, but it should really be about the experience!