What's the Word?

Literacy Team Newsletter, Volume I, Issue 4 May 2015

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Hot Off the Press! 2015-16 Professional Learning Offerings

Greetings! We hope the end of the school year is going smoothly for you. This special edition of the newsletter highlights professional learning offerings for next year. To see all the Team's offerings, visit OUR WEBSITE. But before you do, check out the highlights below.

Thanks for reading and we look forward to seeing you beginning in August!

- The OS Literacy Team

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Enbrighten: Scaffolding Student Thinking

Description: How might we move tasks into meaningful conversations and thinking? Please join us for a unique opportunity to develop student engagement, critical thinking, listening and speaking skills in a collaborative culture of thinking. As featured in Ron Ritchhart’s latest book, Creating Cultures of Thinking, Enbrighten is a framework for scaffolding student interaction and dialogue in any classroom environment. This 4-part series is designed so that participants learn about and practice using the Enbrighten scaffolding tools together, return to school and try them with students, and then come back together as a group to reflect on, share and innovate their own implementation.


Erika Lusky, Speech-language Pathologist, and Julie Rains, Special Education Teacher


Literacy Academy: Conventional Literacy for Significant Disabilities (Series)

Description: In this week- long intensive course on literacy instruction for 2nd grade – post high school learners, participants will learn a framework for literacy instruction and how to bridge research into practice for individuals with significant intellectual disabilities and complex communication needs. This year’s course focus is on instruction for Conventional literacy learners – students who know most of their letter names and sounds most of the time. Appropriate for teachers of students with IEPs taking the MI Alternate Assessment.

Presenter(s): Dr. Karen Erickson and Dr. David Koppenhaver


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Description: AARI is an accelerated expository reading initiative focused on academic literacy and critical thinking. It is designed as a short term intervention to drastically improve academic outcomes in students in grades 3-12. Please join us for the Summer Institute, which will begin on August 10.

Need a refresher?

If you are an educator that attended AARI training prior to 2013, please join us for the AARI Booster. This is more than a refresher. It's an opportunity to continue your learning and understanding of the initiative to push students' thinking for success.

Facilitator: Dalyce Beegle, Special Education Consultant


Qualitative Reading Inventory (QRI) Training

Description: Qualitative Reading Inventory (QRI) provides an in depth picture of a student’s reading ability from decoding to comprehension. This tool is used as the pre and post assessment for Oakland Schools’ AARI. Many AARI educators need assistance to assess students throughout the year. This opportunity is for district employees to learn how to administer the QRI to students in order to assist the AARI program in schools.

Facilitator: Dalyce Beegle, Special Education Consultant


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Readers Workshop

Description: This series will highlight the development of children as readers, as well as the development of teachers as instructors and coaches in reading. Teachers should bring their own copy of “The Art of Teaching Reading” by Lucy Calkins. This series will help teachers understand the structures of Readers Workshop. It will focus on preparing teachers to teach and coach young learners in the reading skills and strategies necessary to promote lifelong reading.

Presenters: Michele Farah Ph.D. , Literacy Consultant, Oakland Schools and Shawna Hackstock, Independent Consultant


Writing Pathways Assessment

Description: This two-day series introduces teachers to Lucy Calkins’ book,Writing Pathways, Grades K-8 Performance Assessments and Learning Progressions. “Designed as an instructional tool, Writing Pathways will help you provide your students with continuous assessment, timely feedback, and clear goals. Organized around a K-8 continuum of learning progressions for opinion/argument, information, and narrative writing, this practical guide includes performance assessments, student checklists, rubrics, and leveled writing exemplars that help you (and your students) evaluate their work and establish where they are at in their writing development.” (Heineman Website)

The book, Writing Pathways, Grades K-8 Performance Assessments and Learning Progressions is required for this course.

Presenters: Michele Farah, PhD, Literacy Consultant, Oakland Schools and Sandra Biondo, PhD, Independent Contractor


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Assessing Writing Workshop: Using Learning Progressions to Guide Formative Feedback (4-Day Event)

Description: This series introduces teachers to multiple learning progression models focused on growing writer’s knowledge and use of rhetorical moves to narrate, inform, and argue. In addition, the series will share strategies and resources for building effective peer to peer feedback and revision practices.

The series will be an in-depth study designed to increase teacher’s pedagogical and rhetorical content knowledge key to enacting effectively focused formative assessment. This offering will help you be prepared to incorporate the Common Core Standards into your English Language Arts course and assess for students’ writing growth.

Facilitator: Susan Wilson-Golab, Oakland Writing Project Director and Oakland Schools Secondary Literacy Consultant and guest Writing Project Teacher Consultants

Guest Speaker: Dr. Jeff Grabill, MSU Writing in Digital Environments (WIDE) Research Senior Fellow


Foundations of Teaching Argument

Audience: 6-12 teacher in all content areas

Format: 4 one-hour self-paced online modules

Description: These modules are designed to introduce key ideas, terms, and habits of mind that are essential to understanding how arguments work, as well as how constructing and analyzing arguments can benefit your students' learning.

In the course's four modules you will

  • watch presentations,
  • read texts,
  • take short quizzes,
  • analyze and discuss example arguments, and
  • adapt activities and materials for your own students.

Consultant Contact: Delia DeCourcy, secondary literacy consultant


Literacy & Technology Design Studio

Description: During each three-hour session, educators will spend the first hour learning about integrating technology into a specific area of literacy-focused instruction (see specifics below). The final two hours of the session are an opportunity for educators to explore tools and plan their own literacy-focused projects and lessons with the support of Oakland Schools consultants and teacher leaders. These projects and lessons may or may not connect to the workshop’s instructional focus for that day. The goal of the Design Studio is to support literacy educators in the tech-related teaching and learning they want to do.

Who Should Attend?: Teachers from grades 3-12 in ELA, Social Studies and Science

Topics, Dates & Time:

  • You may register for one, some, or all of the sessions.
  • All sessions are 1:00pm – 4:15 pm

Session 1 (Tuesday, October 6): Formative Assessment Tools for Literacy Instruction

Session 2 (Tuesday, December 1): Digital Writing Workshop

Session 3 (Tuesday, February 2): Digital Reading Practices & Tools

Session 4 (Tuesday, March 29) : Online Student Inquiry & Production

Facilitator: Delia DeCourcy, secondary literacy consultant, and teacher leaders from Oakland County


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Approaches to Content Area Literacy

Audience: 6-12th grade teachers of ELA, science and social studies

Format: 6 one-hour self-paced modules

Description: These modules are designed to introduce key ideas, terms, and habits of mind that are essential to understanding how metacognition works, as well as how to help your students with apprenticeship--the practice of increasing their comprehension and engaging in discourse about important readings in your discipline.

Our goal is for you to complete the course feeling inspired and energized to make greater use of metacognition and discourse as you assign and discuss readings with your students in your classroom. Our hope is that you will move from these modules to enhanced daily practice where you see you and your students directly benefit from powerful ways to make better meaning of the texts you assign.

Consultant Contact: Delia DeCourcy, Oakland Schools Secondary Literacy Consultant


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Description: Connect and collaborate with other K-16 educators about the teaching of writing in virtual spaces. Sponsored by the University of Michigan Schools of Education, Oakland Schools and four Michigan Writing Project sites, the 4T Virtual Conference on Digital Writing will focus on the research, pedagogy, and tools of teaching digital writing in the K-12 classroom. FREE REGISTRATION & SCECHs.

Format: 15 interactive webinars over 4 days

Keynotes: Troy Hicks, Professor at Central Michigan University & Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, Executive Director of the National Writing Project

Consultant Contact: delia.decourcy@oakland.k12.mi.us


Preview: 2015-16 Literacy Webinar Series

Revision - the Heart of Writing

Revision is the heart of writing. And just as our hearts can be difficult to know and understand, so too is revision--especially for student writers. Even if we persuade student writers of the importance of revision, they often struggle to know where to start or how to delve deeply into the process. This 8 webinar series will tackle questions including:

  • How do we create a culture of revision in the classroom?
  • How and when do we approach revision during the workshop process?
  • What does revision look like with digital and multimedia texts?
  • How do we confer with students in ways that facilitate revision?
  • How do we help students artfully revise sentences?
  • How do we revise our own writing tasks to support greater student success?

Each webinar will feature a published expert. We recommend participants read his or her corresponding book before the virtual session to deepen learning and offer greater opportunity for conversation in the second hour of the webinar.


Dalyce Beegle,Special Education Consultant

Delia DeCourcy, Secondary Literacy Consultant

Michele Farah, Elementary Literacy Consultant

Susan Golab, Secondary Literacy Consultant

Les Howard, Elementary Literacy Consultant

Diane Katakowski, Speech and Language Consultant

Colleen Meszler, Special Education Consultant

Deb O'Neill, Special Education Supervisor

Darin Stockdill, Content Literacy Consultant

Oakland Schools

Kimberly Adragna

2111 Pontiac Lake Road

Waterford, MI 48328

(248) 209.2195