The Roundup

A gathering space for educators

December 2018

In the Instructional Services department at Van Buren Intermediate School District, supporting teachers and administrators with instruction is the heart of our work. It is our hope that this monthly newsletter will help capture upcoming events and important information to support your work in your districts, schools, and classrooms. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our department should you need help with this work.

December can be a time of excitement, stress, sorrow and joy. Make an effort to focus on what is in front of you in the moment and breathe in the peace and joy that comes your way! This month goes quickly and can be a beautiful time to appreciate each other.

MTSS Connections

Essential Standards: The Rubber Hits the Road!

This is by far, THE MOST pivotal part of the journey in creating an MTSS model at your school. During the months of January and February, schools in Cohort A are working to identify their essential standards. Without knowing what is ESSENTIAL for our students to learn, we can't know how to intervene with intensity and with whom. MTSS Leadership teams have learned how to create these essential standards and are working to support their teacher teams back in their buildings in order to get this work done.

The basic tenants of MTSS are simple:

1. Identify Essential Standards for every grade or course.

2. Share Essential Standards for your students with the world! (Parents, students, etc.)

3. Create assessments that assess just these essential standards.

4. Create interventions that connect DIRECTLY to the essential standard.

5. Determine who needs the interventions by using the data from the common formative assessments.

Of course, this can be easier said then done, but we are here for you to coach you along the way. Each of the twenty one schools in Cohort A receive six half days of direct coaching. This coaching is used to work with leadership teams, or directly with teachers, or sometimes with only the principal. We know that each school has it's own resources and we want to ensure that everyone feels that they can accomplish this work!

MTSS Facilitator for VBISD

Cheryl-Marie A. Manson - 269-330-2668


Essential Instructional Practices

Moving into Instructional Routines

Professional Development and Coaching over the last month has drawn a focus to Essential Instructional Practices #4 and #5. As we dig deeper into the building blocks of reading, these practices encourage reflection upon using explicit instruction.

Let's start by clearing up misconceptions around "Instructional Routines." Instructional Routines are the use of a consistent, explicit format for teaching a discrete skill/process/procedure in classrooms, similar to what we do when teaching classroom procedures for behavior. We are recommending that Instructional Routines be done daily as part of Tier 1 Literacy Instruction.

These brief videos will create more clarity around explicit instruction in the following areas:

This folder will take you to Instructional Routine cards that will provide a quick daily reference and includes K-2 and 3-5 routines.

The following chart may better explain what you would see in Explicit Instruction. If you're interested in viewing a more detailed chart on Explicit Instruction click here.

Big picture
Anita Archer's website gives a starting place and serves as a resource to refine practices around Instructional Routines and Explicit Instruction. Click below for a link to her book.

I Don't Have Enough Time...

At this point in the school year we start to feel swamped and pulled in different directions. It's also at this point we need to refocus ourselves and ensure the time we are spending is in the right areas. When we are in this state of learning new things, we need to look back and reflect on the things we need to start to let go of. When we try to do the old and the new, we struggle to do anything well. Dr. Nell Duke gives us insight to how time adds up quickly and how we can reallocate it to make more meaningful use of our time. Click here to read this quick article.

Literacy PD Opportunities

180 Days of Reading and Writing

180 Days. Make every moment matter. Teach fearlessly. Empower all students to live literate lives.

When: March 14 & 15, 2019

Where: Berrien RESA

Cost: $225 for 2 days including lunch

You can find more details on this flyer.

Daily 5 + Behavior

Gail Boushey, herself, comes to West Michigan to help you transform your reading instruction!

When: March, May, and/or August 2018

Where: VBISD Conference Center

Cost: Varies based on dates attended

You can find more details about Daily 5 + Behavior opportunities and registration here.

VBISD's Early Literacy Coach/Consultants

Geanice Miller - 269-271-9813

Melissa Wierenga - 269-599-7259


Professional Learning around "Principles to Action"

Last month in this section, we highlighted the Mathematics Teaching Practices from a popular text from the National Council of Teaching Mathematics, called "Principles to Action".

This month, I'd like to push you to think about what you could provide for professional learning with a text like this. A simple entry point might be to ask your group to dig into the "Effective Teaching and Learning" section. Here is what it might look like...

Read the Mathematics Practices listed on on page 10.


Yearlong PLC team

  • Option A - This could be a group that tackles one at a time, and has discussions about each of the practices in relation to their current work, then discuss how they might be able to shift their practice. Each meeting would be a different practice.
  • Option B - You could also start by reading through all eight practices during the first session, then picking one to grapple with as a group throughout the year.
  • Option C - Another option would be for each participant to choose a math practice and make commitments to the team to make improvements throughout the year. Then share-out as the year goes along. This would require a strong facilitator to help hold everyone accountable.

Single Day Training

  • You could start with an overview of the practices and explain how the book is laid out, especially the "Effective Teaching and Learning" section.
    Discussion->Illustration->Teacher & Student Actions.
  • Then clearly share with participants what the goals for their learning are (modeling mathematics practice #1). Then describe the outcome for the time you have together. For instance, this duo made a creative video to describe their learning for the day.
  • Lastly, be sure that everyone understands what their success criteria is! "You will know you have been successful, when..."

There are many protocols that you could use to facilitate these conversations:

These are just some examples of how you could start planning some professional learning around this academic text. Please don't hesitate to reach out with questions or design assistance!

Curriculum Coordinator

Ben Tomlinson - | 269-330-1347


Next Generation Science Exemplar Training

Monday, Jan. 28th 2019 at 8:30am to Tuesday, Feb. 12th 2019 at 3:30pm

58900 Cherry Grove Road

Dowagiac, MI

This NGSX professional development course provides a platform for K-12 teachers, administrators, science coaches, and higher education preservice faculty to engage in the 3-Dimensional vision of the Michigan Science Standards.

Together, in face-to-face study groups, NGSX participants explore the major ideas found in the NRC Framework and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), developing tools and strategies to take this new vision back into their classrooms.

Audience: Elementary Teachers, Secondary Science Teachers, Administrators, and Science Coaches

More questions about NGSx? Visit the FAQs

Facilitated by Ben Tomlinson (VBISD), Mary Burke (KRESA), and Kathleen Van Alst (SJCISD)


Monday, Jan 28, 2019

Tuesday, Jan 29, 2019

Wednesday, Jan 30, 2019

Monday, Feb 11, 2019

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2019

Times: 8:30am - 3:30pm


Beware of Tech Support Scams!

"Please enjoy our second edition of the Technology Tips and Tricks Newsletter, as well as a bonus Phishing Awareness document from the West Virginia Intelligence department."

Technology Newsletter

Phishing Awareness flyer

-Damian Koob (Director of Technology, VBISD)