What's the Word?

Literacy Team Newsletter, Volume I, Issue 2 January 2015

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Happy New Year!

Greetings from the Oakland Schools Literacy Team. We hope you had a relaxing holiday break that allowed you to recharge. The newsletter for this quarter is packed with information about upcoming literacy events, conference presenting opportunities, and useful resources that will support your teaching this winter. We hope you find these helpful and encourage you to get in touch if you have any question. (kim.adragna@oakland.k12.mi.us)


M-STEP Update for Spring 2015 Testing

Some details about the M-STEP have been released. The new assessment meets all of the requirements put into law by the legislature; that it be: an online assessment, with a paper-and-pencil option; aligned to the state standards; expanding writing assessments to additional grades; providing an increased number of constructed response test questions so that pupils can demonstrate higher-order skills, such as problem solving and communicating reasoning; and pilot tested before statewide implementation.

The ELA Spring 2015 M-STEP is a comprehensive ELA model:
  • Grades 3-8: Smarter Balanced content plus Michigan-developed field-test items. This will include a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT), a Classroom Activity, and a Performance Task.
  • Grade 11: Smarter Balanced content plus Michigan-developed field-test items. This will include a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT), a Classroom Activity, and a Performance Task. This is in addition tothe ACT plus Writing and Work-Keys.
  • The M-STEP (grades 3-8, 11) will include items from the following Michigan Standards: reading, writing, language, listening.
  • Academic growth will be measured using Student Growth Percentiles (SGPs), a well-established measurement of student learning that has been piloted and implemented in several states. SGPs describe a student’s learning over time compared to other students with equivalent prior test scores. To learn more about SGPs, click here.

Helpful Links

Word Study Survey

The Oakland Schools Literacy Team is gathering information about the current state of word study across our county. If you are a K-5 general education classroom teacher or K-12 Special Education teacher supporting students in the area of literacy, we invite you to participate in a survey on Word Study.

Oakland Schools is establishing a word study stakeholder group, representing both large and small districts with a variety of economic backgrounds. Stakeholders will include staff from both general and special education. This survey is intended to gather critical information that will be used by the stakeholder group moving forward. Please forward the survey link to general education teachers of grades K-5 and special education teachers K-12 who work within literacy. The deadline for completion is January 16, 2015.


Mixing Sources, Amplifying Voices: Crafting Writing in an Information Age

Facilitator: Professor Troy Hicks, Central Michigan University

Date: January 20, 2015, 7-8 PM (one hour optional follow up discussion)

Format: Webinar

Spend the Day with Donalyn Miller

(Author of The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild)

Sponsored by the Oakland County Reading Council

Date: January 31, 2015, 8:00 AM - 3:30 PM

Format: 1 day workshop


Supporting Low Level Readers in the Content Area Classroom

Facilitators : Dalyce Beegle and Darin Stockdill, PhD

Dates: Winter cohort - February 3 and 25th, 2015

Format: 2-day series

Formative Assessment in Action with James Popham

Date: February 6, 2015, 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Format: 1 day workshop

Literacy & Technology Leadership Lab, Cohort 2

Facilitators: Delia DeCourcy & Paul Morsink

Date: Winter Cohort begins February 10

Format: 2 full days and 3 evening sessions

The Art of Teaching Argument

Facilitators: Delia DeCourcy, Darin Stockdill, PhD, and Susan Wilson-Golab

Dates: Winter Cohort begins February 12

Format: 2 full days and 1 evening

How Student Blogs Support Literacy Learning & the Common Core

Facilitator: Stephanie Dulmage, Technology/Curriculum Integration Specialist

Date: Monday, February 16, 2015 7-8pm (one-hour optional follow up discussion)

Format: Webinar


Thinking, Acting, and Writing Like a Scientist – NEW 1st Grade Writing Unit

Facilitators: Sandy Biondo, Ph.D & Robby Cramer, Van Andel Science Institute

Date: March 3, 2015 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Format: 1 day workshop

Foundations of Conventional Literacy for Students with Moderate to Significant Disabilities

Facilitators: Dr. David Koppenhaver & Dr. Karen Erickson

Date: March 4, 2015 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM

Format: 1 day workshop

Reinventing Classroom Reading: What Digital Media Offer Us
Facilitator: Professor Sara Kajder, University of Georgia

Date: March 24, 2015 7-8 PM (one-hour optional follow up discussion)

Format: Webinar




Oakland County Effective Practices Conference Call for Proposals

This year's Effective Practice's Conference sponsored by the Learning Achievement Coalition of Oakland County will be held June 23 – 24 at Lake Orion High School. The call for proposals focused on student engagement, literacy, mathematics and early childhood is open. Presenters can present a traditional conference session or facilitate an unconference session. The conference organizers are seeking about 20 presenters on literacy. We encourage you to submit a proposal!

To apply, visit https://jfe.qualtrics.com/form/SV_e9dF69hRK1pyWRD

4T Virtual Conference Call for Proposals

The 4T (Teachers Teaching Teachers about Technology) Virtual Conference is seeking motivated, imaginative, and forward-thinking educators to present at their 4T Virtual Conference held May 16-18, 2015.

About 700 K-16 teachers from across the globe sign up each year to attend this virtual conference co-sponsored by Oakland Schools and the University of Michigan School of Education.


  • receive a stipend to present a one-hour interactive webinar
  • undertake 12 hours of virtual training in effective webinar facilitation
  • earn free SCECHs
  • CLICK HERE to learn more and to apply


  • present 20-30 minute section of a one-hour webinar
  • can present solo or as part of team
  • CLICK HERE to learn more and to apply


Archived Webinars: Reading & Writing in Digital Spaces

Oakland Schools Literacy and The Oakland Writing Project kicked off a new literacy webinar series on October 16. Archived webinar recordings and materials from our first three sessions can be found below:

Small Bites: Research in the K-5 Classroom

Facilitator: Professor Kristin Fontichiaro, University of Michigan School of Information

Small Bites: Research in the 6-12 Classroom

Facilitator: Delia DeCourcy, Secondary Literacy Consultant, Oakland Schools

Digital Technologies and Expectations for Writing in College
Facilitator: Professor Jeff Grabill, Michigan State University

REGISTER for one or many upcoming events in the series. All sessions are FREE. SCECHs are available for Michigan educators who attend two or more of the two-hour sessions.

Literacy Research Association Video Channel

The Literacy Research Association has a YouTube Channel with a growing collection of videos related to a wide range of literacy topics and research. In particular, there is a series of video-taped panel discussions concerning Research to Practice. Each panel includes university researchers and practicing teachers discussing the research to practice connections related to the topic of the episode.

The Research to Practice videos are listed below with the number in the series and the title/topic:

Episode 1 - Disciplinary Literacy
Episode 2 - Graphic Novels
Episode 3 - Multimodality and Writing
Episode 4 - Gender as a Lens
Episode 5 - Multiliterate and Polyglot Friendly Educational Spaces
Episode 6 - Design Based Research
Episode 7 - Academic Vocabulary
Episode 8 - Gaming

If you're looking for an accessible entryway into learning more about current research, this is a great place to start. There are many other videos on the channel as well, so feel free to visit, and if you watch videos and leave a comment, give a shout out to Oakland Schools Literacy!

CCSS-aligned Interdisciplinary Units

During the 2013-14 school year, teams of teachers from 5 districts gathered multiple times to craft and then implement and revise interdisciplinary units focused on research writing. Some of the results from this initiative are below. The units are aligned to the Common Core Standards and include:
  • a unit overview
  • scope and sequence
  • lessons from each content area
  • additional resources
  • student work samples

Units are published to Atlas Rubicon and are downloadable via Google Drive. Though each unit was written for a particular grade, they can be adapted for other grade levels.


New Process for State Continuing Education Clock Hours (SCECH)

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has announced that the seat time requirement to demonstrate attendance at State Continuing Education Clock Hour (SCECH) sessions will be streamlined. Beginning immediately, instead of documenting attendance through "sign in/out" or "stamp in/out," the requirement only will require a one-time identification method. That method will be determined by the individual SCECH provider.

Please stay tuned for details as Oakland Schools reviews our SCECH process. Should you have any questions regarding SCECH credits earned at Oakland Schools, please contact Lori Dean, our onsite SCECH Coordinator.


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