District Student Achievement Team

February 2019

Kindness is Contagious!

This time of year we often think of Valentine’s Day as the day of love. But there is another holiday, often overlooked but equally important. It is the Random Acts of Kindness Day (February 17th). Both of these holidays are opportune times to celebrate, show your appreciation for those around you, and simply show kindness to others.

Regardless of how you show kindness it is the spontaneity and thoughtfulness of the act, with no strings attached that is significant. Whether you bring a colleague a coffee, write a thank you note, or help someone by listening, all of these acts are small gestures but have a big impact.

In fact, proponents of the benefits that result from being kind or experiencing acts of kindness, have used the results of a number of studies (e.g. a survey by Harvard Business School and a study in Clinical Psychological Science) to suggest that some of these benefits might include:

  • Happiness – making other people happy boosts our own sense of happiness;
  • Greater self-confidence: – giving makes us feel better as people;
  • Energy – doing one good thing will make us want to do more;
  • Longer life – giving to others slows the ageing process;

I urge you to take a moment to thank your colleagues and parents who make your work fun and who help you get things done. When you are kind to one another, you are building up your compassion muscle. Everything you do for others comes back to you. There are positive effects of kindness that you experience in your brain and everyone who witnesses the act of kindness. It improves your mood and makes it significantly more likely that you or the person you are kind to will “pay it forward.” Our world needs the kindness movement more than ever.

District Updates

English Language Learners Update

We are excited to share that over Spring Break we will be hosting a camp intended for our elementary students, focusing primarily on supporting our English Language Learners (ELL) and students in third through fifth grades. Listed below is a HR posting for any interested staff in teaching at the camp.

In order to meet the diverse needs of our ELL we've been researching different resources. As part of this process, we intend to explore National Geographic's In the US & McGraw Hill's Language for Learning resources for consideration for possible adoption this coming fall.

We are continuing to progress monitor our ELL students through the use of classroom performance and the NWEA assessment. This information, along with WIDA results, will help our team plan accordingly for the coming year and any changes needed within our system to meet our growing ELL needs.


Instructional Technology Team

Due to a rather light agenda and the upcoming MACUL conference in Detroit in mid-March, our District Instructional Technology Team meeting was rescheduled from February 5 to March 26. We're fortunate to be able to send a few teachers to the MACUL conference in Detroit this year. This change will allow those team members that attend the MACUL conference to bring the learning back and share it with the team.

Microsoft Office 365 Learning Opportunity

As a joint effort between Curriculum and Technology, we were able to offer a couple of Microsoft Office 365 learning opportunities for our staff using the Microsoft learning consultant resource that is available to our district free of charge. Shavonne Smith, the learning consultant and former teacher, came out on Tuesday, January 22 and shared with our teachers in attendance some insight on Office 365, student applications for Office 365, and some tools that can be used for struggling readers, just as an example. Shavonne will continue to be available at no charge to us for anyone that is interested in learning more about Office 365, ways it can be used in the classroom, with students, or even day-to-day activities with non-instructional staff.

If there is a particular Office 365 topic, tool, or just the basics that you or your team would like to learn more about, you can feel free to leverage this resource. While we will continue to find ways to offer these learning opportunities as a coordinated effort, Shavonne wanted us to share that it often works better if the teacher, principal, secretary, support staff, etc. reach out to her to coordinate one-on-one, small group, or even building wide opportunities. This makes the opportunity much more personalized and convenient for the staff in attendance.

Shavonne Smith, MIcrosoft Learning Consultant

Email: shavonne.smith@usmie.com

Microsoft Office 365 Insight

We've learned about a couple new and exciting Microsoft applications/enhancements that are available. These could be very useful to our learning community so we wanted to share them with the team. Check out the very short video clips below (they're all less than 2 minutes each).

Immersive Reader/Office Lens

You Can use Office Lens with Immersive Reader

You Can Improve Reading Skills with Microsoft Learning Tools

Seeing AI

You Can narrate the world with Seeing AI


You Can break the language barrier with Microsoft Translator

Performance Matters

As many of you know, we're transitioning from Data Director to Performance Matters. The new program is intended to provide teachers and administrators with easier access to students' data. With this change, teachers will be able to access the data warehouse from their PowerSchool account. The program allows teachers more time to act on the data and respond to the needs of the students within their class by providing pre-built and dynamic reports. This transition hasn't been without a few challenges but we're grateful to have an excellent group of teachers willing to jump in, use the program, and provide feedback. We will continue to work with the ISD to resolve any issues and to help support our staff throughout the transition.

Assessment Update

2017-18 School Accountability Reports

Embargoed 2017-18 school accountability reports and accountability student data files for the Michigan School Index System are now available for preview to authorized users of MI School Data (www.mischooldata.org). We have been provided a two-week window, closing Friday, February 22, 2019, to preview our accountability results and submit perceived issues.

Accountability results will be publicly released on MI School Data shortly after the preview window closes. Accountability results are embargoed and not to be shared with unauthorized individuals until results are available publicly on MI School Data.


We've extended the Winter NWEA testing window through Friday, February 22nd due to the days off for inclement weather. Typically the elementary schools are the only level to host NWEA training in the winter. However, NWEA winter testing may be used at the secondary level for progress monitoring efforts.


Michigan has updated the way it provides transparency about its public schools and how well they are performing. The online Parent Dashboard shows the performance of every public school in Michigan, including public school academies, also known as charter schools.

Phase II of the Dashboard, released January 2019, offer families and others a more complete picture of how schools are providing services to students.

It includes:

  • Updated data, from the most recent school year
  • New metrics (measures) for students and staff
  • School Services and Offerings—describing some of a school’s unique “Points of Pride”
  • Enhanced school search and mapping functions
  • Ability to view the schools included in peer average calculations for each metric (measure) by distance or characteristic

What’s the Dashboard all about?

After the passage of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act in December 2015, every state got the opportunity to revise their accountability systems to improve their schools and ensure students are prepared with all the learning and skills they need for their future. In Michigan, literally thousands of stakeholders called for information that was easier to understand and that relied on more than just state test scores. That’s why in 2017, Michigan’s State Board of Education called for a parent-friendly dashboard that can show a more complete picture of how students and schools are doing. While it’s not part of Michigan’s formal Accountability plan under ESSA, the parent dashboard complements other state and federal reporting to give parents and communities clear answers about measures that matter to them.

Bond Update

Since our last update in January we've awarded an additional round of contracts to bidders to complete the following work for next summer:

  • Westwood Secure Entryway
  • Westwood Classroom Doors/Hardware
  • Westwood Select Classroom Carpet

  • Briarwood Cafeteria Flooring
  • Briarwood Classroom Carpet

  • WWMS Entrance Canopy
  • WWMS Secure Entryway

  • WWT Exterior Masonry Reconstruction
  • WWT 2nd Floor Sprinkler Head Replacement
  • WWT Classroom Renovations
  • WWT Generator

  • EHS Classroom Carpet
  • EHS Exterior Doors
  • EHS Counseling Office Renovation

We are also in the process of making a recommendation to the Board of Education to award a contract to replace all of the HVAC controls in the district.

Federal and State Funding - Grants Update

Parent and Family Engagement

Within the federal grant January amendments, we were able to build in additional opportunities to partner with our elementary parents. Because of this funding, we're planning on two Science on the Go! Nights through Cranbrook. We will also sponsor one evening of Cranbrook's Acheson Mobile Planetarium. Participants will enter Cranbrook's portable, digital planetarium and journey through the night sky discovering distant stars, planets, constellations, and more. Additionally, we're working to host an evening with a local author. We're excited about the upcoming opportunities to integrate literacy throughout all subject areas.

We are also excited to host the first STEM Elementary Advisory Council meeting on February 28th at Briarwood elementary. Please see below for additional information about this event.

Title II: Professional Development Opportunities


As part of our Title II budget amendments, we're able to send four teachers and one administrator to the MACUL conference this March in Detroit. This enables us to have representation from all levels, as well as different buildings attend. It is our expectation that participants will bring the learning back to share at our Instructional Technology team, as well as their PLC & building teams. Listed below is a link for further information about the conference.


Project Lead the Way Lead Training

Also through the use of Title II funds, we're able to send both of our elementary STEM teachers to the LEAD Launch training through Project Lead the Way this summer. This will allow us the ability to provide professional development to our teachers within the district for PLTW.

Reading Recovery National Conference in Columbus, Ohio

I am so proud to share that we were able to send a team of five district representatives to this year's National Reading Recovery & K-6 Literacy Conference. It is hosted annually in Columbus, Ohio. We had two Reading Recovery Literacy Support teachers from Briarwood attend, as well as Leo Kondziolka, Richelle Barkley and myself. As a team, we're excited to share all that we learned and eager to get started on some new ideas. The conference provided powerful, research-based professional development sessions. It was led by literacy experts and authors, including Lucy Calkins, and sessions that focused on best instructional practices. Topics included reading, writing, literacy coaching, oral language, comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, word study, phonemic awareness, differentiated instruction, strategies for struggling readers, assessment, diverse learners, literacy leadership, literacy teams, Reading Recovery, and much more. We're so appreciative of our Board of Education's support of this learning opportunity.

Second Semester of Support from Dr. Michal Taylor

This coming spring we're also planning a 1-2 day professional learning opportunity for our classroom teachers that have joined our elementary team since we began implementation of the Reading and Writing workshop training several years back. Approximately seven teachers will join a small cohort of learns for customized training with Dr. Michal Taylor. Dr. Taylor has been working with all K-5 general education teachers to help support our guided reading instruction. This additional training will be an additional layer to this support intended for our newer staff.

Elementary Math Consulting Services

Warren Woods Public Schools strives to provide our teachers with additional opportunities to discuss the meaning behind math concepts, ways to address the expectations of our math curriculum’s objectives, as well as, provide strategies to help meet the needs of all our students. We want our teachers to feel confident in their lesson planning and use resources that match the skills, content, and rigor required with the CCSS. As a result, our proposal is to have two cohorts consisting of eight teachers per group. These sessions would start this Winter/Spring and another session in Spring/Summer.

Listed below are some goals for this professional development plan:

  • Be able to identify gaps within our current math instruction based on classroom, district, and state data.
  • Provide teachers with a foundational understanding of the CCSS math standards, as well as how to use resources to address students’ needs.
  • Support our teachers in the use of manipulatives, ensuring that student are not just following a procedure that gives them the correct answer.
  • Support our teachers in their planning and implementation of research based strategies to help students become critical thinkers and lifelong problem solvers.
  • Help our teachers incorporate real-life problems that students may encounter at home, at school, or in our community.

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