The Roundup

A gathering space for educators

November 2018

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.

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MTSS Connections

What do we mean by Essential Standards?

When we talk about getting insanely clear about what students should learn and do in your classroom, we are asking PLC Question #1: What do we want all students to know and do?. This seems like a simple question, but is it really?

Unfortunately, at face value, this seems like a simple task, but as our MTSS schools work to create their Essential Standard Charts, they might find this task complex. Here are some points to consider when choosing your department or grade level essential standards:

1. Endurance: Will this standard provide students with knowledge that are valuable beyond a single test date?

2. Leverage: Will it provide knowledge and skills that are valuable in multiple disciplines?

3. Readiness: Will it provide knowledge and skills essential for success in the next grade level or unit of instruction?

Lastly, (and maybe even more importantly?) here are some examples of Essential Standards created by teachers to get you started:

1. Examples from Solution Tree

2. Calloway County School

3. Allegan Public Schools

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How are Essential Standards different from UBD, Power Standards or other Curriculum Work?

When working with schools I hear this question weekly...and with good reason! As teachers, we have been doing a great deal of work around standards, moving from state standards to common core standards, unpacking them and writing them in kid-friendly language.

Let me explain how ESSENTIAL STANDARDS for MTSS differ.

As you can see in the picture above, essential standards are a very small subset (8-10!) that your department or grade level agree are essential. These essential standards are the ONLY standards that students will use Tier 2 instruction for. As Mike Mattos is often quoted as saying, "When everything is important, nothing is important".

MTSS & High Impact Leadership Facilitator

Cheryl-Marie A Manson - 269-330-2668


What are the Best Ways to Use Leveled Text?

Using leveled text is a hot topic in reading instruction. Do we use it? Do we stop? What if this is how I teach? Last month we shared what Fountas and Pinnell had to say about using leveled text and this continues to be a question we are receiving as literacy consultants as we dig deeper into the work of small group instruction.

Jennifer Gonzalez of Cult of Pedagogy addresses this by interviewing Jennifer Serravallo, a literacy expert. In this interview, you can gain ideas on how to design your classroom library, instruct in small groups, and how to utilize leveled text in your classroom. You can click here to access the podcast.

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Resources for Whole Group and Small Group Instruction

These resources will support your work in the following Essential Instructional Practices:

  • Essential #1: Deliberate, research-informed efforts to foster literacy motivation and engagement within and across lessons.

  • Essential #3: Small group and individual instruction, using a variety of grouping strategies, most often with flexible groups formed and instruction targeted to children's observed and assessed needs in specific aspects of literacy development.

  • Essential #8: Abundant reading material and reading opportunities in the classroom.

Learning Opportunity: Responsive Teaching Institute

Explore how teachers across content areas can engage in culturally relevant pedagogy. In this institute, participants will specifically examine the role of culturally responsive pedagogy in literacy, mathematics, science, There will also be a Leaders' Institute embedded into the conference, with Dr. Richard Milner from the University of Pittsburgh.

Session topics include:

  • Decentering Whiteness- Selecting Complex and Compelling Texts for your Classroom- Dr. Laura Jimenez
  • Engaging Students in Responsive Science Instruction - Dr. Felicia Mensah - Columbia University
  • What is Responsive Literacy Instruction? - Dr. Ernest Morrell - University of Norte Dame
  • Mathequity - Dr. Aris Winger - Georgia Gwinnett College
  • Achieving the Goal of Leading for Equity - Dr. Richard Milner - University of Pittsburgh

When: November 14th

Cost: $35 for out of Washtenaw County

Where: Eastern Michigan University

Click here for registration.

KRA Registration is Open!

Register for Kindergarten Readiness Assessment Training!

This is a ONE DAY CLASS for attendees to become trainers so please sign up for only one of the dates listed below. You do not need to attend both days. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Each school district will need to have a data manager for this assessment. Please use the link below to register for this half day training.

When: August 5th or August 6th, 2019

Cost: FREE

Where: VBISD

Click here and scroll way down to select the date.

VBISD's Early Literacy Coach/Consultants

Geanice Miller - 269-271-9813

Melissa Wierenga - 269-599-7259


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Excerpt from "Principles to Action: Ensuring Mathematics Success for All"

From the table on page 10...

Mathematics Teaching Practices

1) Establish mathematics goals to focus learning. Effective teaching of mathematics establishes clear goals for the mathematics that students are learning, situates goals within learning progressions, and uses the goals to guide instructional decisions.

2) Implement tasks that promote reasoning and problem solving. Effective teaching of mathematics engages students in solving and discussing tasks that promote mathematics reasoning and problem solving and allow multiple entry points and varied solution strategies.

3) Use and connect mathematics representations. Effective teaching of mathematics engages students in making connections among mathematical representations to deepen understanding of mathematics concepts and procedures and as tools for problem solving.

4) Facilitate meaningful mathematical representations. Effective teaching of mathematics facilitates discourse among students to build shared understanding of mathematical ideas by analyzing and comparing student approaches and arguments.

5) Pose purposeful questions. Effective teaching of mathematics uses purposeful questions to assess and advance students' reasoning and sense making about important mathematical ideas and relationships.

6) Build procedural fluency from conceptual understanding. Effective teaching of mathematics builds fluency with procedures on a foundation of conceptual understanding so that students, over time, become skillful in using procedures flexibly as they solve contextual and mathematical problems.

7) Support productive struggle in learning mathematics. Effective teaching of mathematics consistently provides students, individually and collectively, with opportunities and supports to engage in productive struggle as they grapple with mathematical ideas and relationships.

8) Elicit and use evidence of student thinking. Effective teaching of mathematics uses evidence of student thinking to assess progress toward mathematical understanding and to adjust instruction continually in ways that support and extend learning.

Link to the book on Amazon.

If you would you like to learn more or have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out!

Curriculum Coordinator

Ben Tomlinson - 269-330-1347


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NGSx training revived!

Thanks to a region-wide effort, we are planning at least one cohort of NGSx in Jan/Feb/Mar 2019!

Who should attend?

ALL Elementary teachers should attend NGSx training in order to understand some of the key shifts in science teaching from the recently adopted Michigan Science Standards. Secondary teachers of science should also attend.

Save the dates (subject to change)

Monday, January 28th

Tuesday, January 29th

Wednesday, January 30th

Monday, February 11th

Tuesday, February 12th

Location: Southwestern Michigan College, Dowagiac, MI

Registration to follow...

Please email Ben Tomlinson if you or a colleague are interested.

Curriculum Coordinator

Ben Tomlinson - 269-330-1347

Tech Tip

Click this link to see the VBISD Technology tips and tricks! Thanks, Damian Koob for supporting our work efficiency!

Support for English Learners

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Struggling with how to address a student’s behavior concerns? Can’t seem to target those academic concerns until you get your student’s behavior under control? Rather than looking at academics and behaviors as independent silos of one another approach concerns with an integrated model mindset. Consider that an MTSS model in it's purest form is a cohesive approach for addressing all students' academic and behavior needs. We can be much effective in our outcomes and more efficient with our interventions when we strategically align academics and behavioral approaches. (Goodman, 2015) When school leadership teams view academics and behavior instruction as integrated or seamless schools can leverage resources to increase both the academic and social-emotional growth of their students.

Not sure where to start? Begin by ensuring your school has a positive behavior intervention support (PBIS) matrix that identifies your school's essential behavior expectations or standards. A PBIS matrix will explicitly define what positive, successful behavior looks like and sounds like across all settings of the school environment. Implementation of such a framework leads to quality academic engagement, increased instructional time and enhanced academic outcomes for all students. Need the evidence? Check out this Article and these sites: - Positive Behavior Intervention Supports OSEP Technical Assistance Center - Resource site for all things behavior tier one, two and three - Florida’s Positive Behavior Intervention & Supports Project

Is your team headed to Day 2 of the MTSS Cohort work? Get ready! We will explore how behavior standards can hold endurance, leverage and readiness which directly impact our student’s success.