Vol. 7

Welcome Back to School!

Happy August! This is the best time of year: fresh crayons, fresh faces, and fresh starts! It can be tough to transition from the breezy days of summer back to the grind, but hopefully, your break has been refreshing and you're ready to tackle the school year with zest and determination. Your Indiana Department of Education Literacy Team is so excited to continue developing as a community of practice this year!

What parts of the school year are you most excited about? Share with us using #INspirEDlit on Twitter!

Ideas & Insight

Building Classroom Culture and Community

It's a new school year, so how are you going to build a welcoming, safe, and engaging community within your classroom? Catherine M. Bohn-Gettler of Saint Benedict-Saint John's University has several suggestions including:

  • Establishing meaningful rules, routines, and procedures
  • Promoting a positive environment
  • Enthusiastically introducing content and offering engaging activities
  • Communicating high expectations and praise specific accomplishments
  • Encouraging self-regulation
  • Emphasizes a democratic environment

If you wish to dive deeper into Catherine's advice, click here to read this article.

For those who have started back to school and those who are anxiously awaiting the start of the school year, we wish you the best!

6 minutes of reading a day can reduce stress by up to 68%

Books We Love!

Literacy Framework!

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Research on literacy achievement across the world indicates there are two factors that have an enormous impact on student achievement:

  1. Standards-based literacy instruction
  2. Disciplinary literacy instruction

We recognize that those two factors are much easier said than done; that's where the Literacy Framework comes in. The first draft of the framework will be rolled out by the end of August. This tool will be useful in helping unpack, understand, and implement the Indiana Academic Standards for ELA and literacy. It'll give you ideas on what instruction and assessment can look like for each standard. This will include question stems, academic vocabulary, and I can statements. This tool will help support your curriculum and lesson planning. We can't wait to share it with you!

Community Spotlight

We are looking for amazing educators who inspire through their teaching, ideas, and instruction. Want to nominate an awesome educator at your school? Click here!

Literacy Tech Tool of the Month!

Have you tried Flipgrid? If not, check out this interactive video tool that allows students and teachers to create short videos in response to prompts.

Great ideas from educators around Indiana for how to use this tool in your classroom:

1. Introduction videos at the beginning of the year: Students record their name and give a fact about themselves. Classmates can meet, recognize, and pronounce names correctly to build classroom community.

2. Book reviews: Students can record a review or give a summary of what the book was about. Then when students are looking for what to read next, they can consult the grid.

3. First draft of a writing assignment: Students can record their initial ideas, listen to their video and scribe their thoughts, make edits, and hear how their writing sounds. This is a great scaffold for reluctant writers.

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Meet Our Newest Member: Joe Risch!


My name is Joe Risch and I joined the literacy team in June as the reading specialist with training in dyslexia. I am excited to be part of this great team and work to implement the Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 217.

Before joining the IDOE, I worked as a special education teacher. During my tenure in the classroom, a student came to the school where I was working, as a 5th grader, unable to read. In preparation for working with this student, I received multi-sensory dyslexia training. During the next two years with intense intervention and lots of hard work, that student left our school reading at an end of the 3rd-grade level! In the school years that followed, I continued to work with students who struggled to make progress in reading.

Dyslexia Guidance

At the end of June, the Indiana Department of Education released an initial dyslexia guidance. This document is intended to provide preliminary guidance on the law and bring awareness to the act and what school corporations and charter schools can expect when the legislation goes into effect for the 2019-2020 school year.

In the coming weeks, a list of approved universal screeners for dyslexia will be released. The team is currently working on creating a list of approved training programs. Each school corporation and charter school is required to have an employee certified or endorsed as an “authorized reading specialist trained in dyslexia”. This endorsement or certification can be earned by completing a program on the list of approved training programs.

Connect on Twitter!

It's been reported that 4.2 million educators use Twitter for professional conversations. As educators, there is so much we can learn from each other. We invite you to connect with us and each other!

1. Tweet about what you are excited for this year using #INspirEDlit

2. Follow the hashtag and connect with other coaches and educators!

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