The Roundup

A gathering space for educators


In the Instructional Services department at Van Buren Intermediate School District, supporting teachers and administrators with instruction is the heart of our work. It is our hope that this monthly newsletter will help capture upcoming events and important information to support your work in your districts, schools, and classrooms.

As we begin the deep work of instruction in our classrooms during this season, it is important to take a breath and be sure that you are maintaining your focus on what is important to your instruction and leadership. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our department should you need help with this work.

MTSS Connections

Fall is the season for Universal Screening. It's the "quick check" to determine if all of our students have basic reading and math skills in place. Usually, universal screens are assessments such as NWEA, Dibels, Aimsweb, Delta Math, and others. These assessments aren't used to drive instruction in the classroom or even Tier 2 Interventions, but rather give us a quick snapshot of those students we may be more concerned with.

What drives our Tier 2 interventions are students' progress on the Essential Standards. We will be learning more about Essential Standards in the weeks to come: How to create them, how to assess them, and how to monitor them. For a sneak peak, check out the video below regarding Essential Standards.

MTSS Facilitator for VBISD

Cheryl-Marie A. Manson - 269-330-2668


The focus of our work this Fall has been in the area of small group instruction as part of the Tier 1 Reading Block. It's important to remember that instruction occurs in small groups. This Nell Duke Video Clip gives an explanation of what instruction could look like in a small group.

For information on different ways to group, please check out this information on things to consider when creating small groups. Compatible with this video clip, is an article by Fountas and Pinnell on how levels should be used as tools for teachers, and not labels for students.

This work connects to the following Essential Practices in Early Literacy as outlined by GELN. Further learning can be accessed by clicking the logo below:

  • Essential Practice #1-Deliberate, research-informed efforts to foster literacy motivation and engagement within and across lessons
  • Essential Practice #3-Small group and individual instruction, using a variety of grouping strategies, most often with flextible groups formed and instruction targeted to children's observed and assessed needs in specific aspects of literacy development
  • Essential Practice #9-Ongoing observation and assessment of children's language and literacy development that informs their education

VBISD's Early Literacy Coach/Consultants

Geanice Miller - 269-271-9813

Melissa Wierenga - 269-599-7259


On the horizon...

I'd like to recommend a book for use in your next PLC meeting. "Principles to Action: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All" may be a familiar title, but with the work being done by the Math Task Force in the General Education Leadership Network, there's bound to be some renewed energy around teaching and learning in mathematics. Some very exciting work is being done around the state to bring to light some essential practices in mathematics education. This book would be a great study for a team of teacher/learners looking to improve their craft!

Curriculum Coordinator

Ben Tomlinson - 269-330-1347



From the October 11th Spotlight:

"The Science Field Test District Summary Report displays aggregated raw score data – points earned out of points possible – based on the field test items, excluding constructed response items. This report is available at the district level only."

"This data is not intended to provide proficiency information in relation to the Michigan K-12 Science Standards or domains. Decisions about school improvement goals, curriculum, or other instructional decisions should be based on locally developed science assessments that measure student achievement based on the Michigan K-12 Science Standards."

Curriculum Coordinator

Ben Tomlinson - 269-330-1347


Social Studies

From MDE's Memo on September 27, 2018

MDE is in the process of creating a Social Studies Taskforce. This group will be comprised of six subcommittees: K-4 standards, 5th/8th/ High School United States History & Geography, 6th/7th/High School World History & Geography, Economics, Civics/Core Values, and a Bias Review team. Each subcommittee will be chaired by two of the original social studies authors to maintain continuity in the process.

The goal of the Taskforce is to update the Michigan Social Studies Standards with the end that the proposed standards are “fewer, clearer, and higher.” The resulting standards, when approved, will provide improved guidance for Michigan teachers and administrators.

If you are curious about the proposed changes, please review the document with 2007 to 2018 Side-by-Side Comparison.


Student Engagement

As you're screening student skills this fall, here is another one to consider: the ability to stay in engaged during instruction. Most students have learned this skill through class-wide expectations and natural development of learner behaviors, but some students need extra supports in order to engage with instruction.

Have a student whose engagement skills you would like to examine? The Statewide Autism Resources and Training (START) Project out of Grand Valley State University developed an individual student data tracking sheet around engagement. Data collected via this tool can be used to improve student participation and increase the amount of time spent in the general education classroom for instruction. To support the use of this tool, START has embedded instructions for completion and a data-analysis flow chart directly into the tool. They also have an example engagement data form, example definitions of engagement, and video instructions for completing the data sheet available on their website.

Questions about this tool? Contact Jennifer Korinek, VBISD Behavior Consultant, at