That Show How Literacy Design Collaborative Tools Transform Teaching and Learning

Blog post

Originally published in The Impatient Optimist

There’s something about the Literacy Design Collaborative that brings out teachers’ imaginative sides.

Teachers have likened the LDC to suspenders, teacher candy and a fixation as addictive as reality TV. But teachers don’t just channel their creativity when describing LDC—they also create the tools themselves. All of the LDC tools are designed and reviewed by educators, and thousands of teachers in all 50 states are using them to help their students meet college- and career-readiness standards. As LDC goes viral, the tools are transforming how students learn and how teachers approach their practice.

Here’s what five teachers told the Southern Regional Education Board about what their teaching was like before and after they started using LDC tools in their classrooms.

1.  ”This liberates me.”

“I used to approach a new unit with an idea of what students will write at the end. With LDC, the major writing assignment is designed first through the Teaching Task. This liberates me to be the facilitator in my classroom. It allows me to sort out what must be in my instructional plan and what does not need to be there.”  — Sheri Blankenship, instructional coach, Rankin County School District, Brandon, Mississippi

2. “Students were invested.”

“Before LDC, I saw that some students were removed from class discussions — or if they were participating, they were really just going through the motions.

With LDC, the level of engagement in the text and in mini tasks increased; students were genuinely interested. They became enthusiastic during group work. That really stood out for me. Students were invested.” — Quinton A. Granville, seventh-grade social studies and reading teacher, Atlanta Public Schools, Georgia

3. “Working with a sense of purpose”

“In the past, it seemed like no matter what I did, the boys were disengaged in reading and were not interested in developing their writing skills. Now, I am amazed to see some of my male students, who were normally off-task, enthused and working with a sense of purpose as they read through articles looking for information to support their claims. During the LDC module, the boys demonstrated the same level of excitement about developing a quality argumentative essay as they do on the day of a school football or basketball game, or the day a new video game comes out. — Kathleen Brotherton, English language arts teacher at Riverchase Middle School, Pelham, Alabama

4. “The essential question sparks students.”

“I never really understood scaffolding or building on students’ prior knowledge. But I understand now that the essential question is what sparks students to think about the topic and answer the question in their own words.” — Atoniea Boykins, career management and Microsoft IT Academy teacher at East Rutherford High School, Bostic, North Carolina

5. “That’s the beauty of LDC.”

“I knew about backwards planning, the importance of authentic writing assignments with opportunities for multiple drafts, peer review and self-evaluation, scaffolding, collaboration, and the implementation of literacy strategies throughout units of study. I knew about all of these methods for years. I just never saw it all work together.

That’s the beauty of LDC, which is why I feel it was designed with people like me in mind. Since using LDC, I have had my students write public service announcements, appellate briefs, book and movie reviews, and English 111 (college-level) essays along with mock mini-epics, stories, poetry, essays, research papers and responses to literary criticism. The writing in my class is more challenging; however, students are more successful with their writing than ever because of the purposeful scaffolding throughout each unit (or module) of study.” — Robin Gore, English teacher at Columbus Career and College Academy, Whiteville, North Carolina