What's the Word?

The Literacy Team Newsletter, Volume I, Issue I

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Welcome to What's the Word?

We'll publish "What's the Word" several times a year to share information about ELA, Special Education, and content-area literacy topics and events. If you have any questions or topics you would like addressed, get in touch!


New Grades 3-5 Reading Units of Study: These units are hot off the press and available on Atlas Rubicon. For quick links, visit the Common Core Resources page of our website and click on the grade level of interest.

Reading & Writing in Digital Spaces Webinar Series: Oakland Schools Literacy and The Oakland Writing Project are kicking off a new literacy webinar series beginning Thursday, Oct. 16. Each webinar lasts one hour and will be followed by an optional hour of discussion. Register for one or many of the webinars. All sessions are FREE. SCECHs are available for Michigan educators who attend two or more of the two-hour sessions.


Small Bites: Research in the K-5 Classroom

Facilitator: Professor Kristin Fontichiaro

Date: October 16, 7-8 PM (one hour optional follow up discussion)

Format: Webinar

Using a Formative Assessment Action Plan to Impact More Successful Teaching & Learning

Facilitator: Doug Fisher

Date: October 29, 8:30 AM - 3:45 PM

Format: 1 day workshop

Supporting Low Level Readers in the Content Area Classroom

Facilitators : Dalyce Beegle and Darin Stockdill, PhD


  • Fall cohort begins November 6
  • Winter cohort begins February 3

Format: 2-day series

Universal Design for Learning Foundations

Facilitator: Katie Novak

Date: November 6, 8:30AM - 3:30PM

Format: 1-day workshop

Small Bites: Research in the 6-12 Classroom

Facilitator: Delia DeCourcy

Date: November 19, 7-8 PM (one hour optional follow up discussion)

Format: Webinar




The Detroit Pistons made these literacy-focused videos for Oakland County students. They examine two concepts through basketball: how to defend a claim and point of view. These short videos can be great initial hooks in teaching these ELA skills.
Detroit Piston's Reggie Jackson unveils Literacy Lounge at Fischer Academy.



Featured Tech Tools

    • Explain Everything: This app will knock your socks off! It allows teachers and students to create presentations and screencasts to explain concepts and create tutorials. It can easily be integrated with your Google Drive and is available for Apple and Android devices.

    • Subtext: Looking for an app to help your students be more active and close readers of online texts? Subtext is where it’s at. You can formatively assess their annotating progress, respond to comments, and allow students to have on-screen conversations about texts through their annotations.

Universal Design for Learning Twitter Chat

Katie Novak, the UDL guru, is on Twitter every first and third Wednesday from 9:00 PM - 9:30 PM. Join the discussion using the hashtag #UDLchat. This is a great opportunity to connect with educators across the country.

Classroom Connect

Looking for another classroom to connect with to give your students collaborators or an authentic audience? Post your interest on Connected Classrooms Workshop, a Google Community created to empower educators to collaborate with one another, share resources, develop best practices, and bring their big ideas to life through technology.


Michigan Teachers as Researchers Collaborative (MiTRC)

This Sept. 6th marked the launch of year two for the Michigan Teachers as Researchers Collaborative (MiTRC). The founding mission: to build collaborative participatory research between university and secondary teachers interested in exploring and developing the teaching and assessing of writing. At the heart of the collaborative are partnerships between the Oakland Writing Project, Chippewa River Writing Project, and Michigan State University Writing in Digital Environments senior researcher Prof. Jeff Grabill.

This year we continue to deepen our understanding of how to build effective peer to peer feedback and writer’s revision practices. Teacher researchers will tap into multiple digital tools across the year and encourage students to consider audiences beyond teacher and peers. Both the student artifacts and teacher inquiry will support constructing an audience-based learning progression for argumentative writing.

Interested in following the group’s learning journey? Look for future blogs from the MiTRC teacher researchers both on National Writing Project’s Digital Is and at our project website.

Afghan Women's Writing Project

Over the summer, a representative from the Afghan Women’s Writing Project shared writing from the AWWP with the Oakland Writing Project Summer Institute. Publically expressing themselves is a risk for these writers, but they bravely share their work on the Project’s website. New teen writing has just been posted. Teenage girls in Afghanistan are often caught in a conflict between fear of repressive traditions and brave hopes that their country’s postwar future will improve for women.

In the Teenage Writers Workshop feature in 2014, AWWP teens explore this conflict in pieces ranging from what career choices they have, to questioning society’s position on issues that have a profound impact on their freedoms. Like all writers, these teens love getting feedback. Please consider sharing this work with your students and have them post supportive comments.


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

2111 Pontiac Lake Road

Waterford, MI 48328

(248) 209.2195