What's the Word?

Literacy Team Newsletter, Volume 2, Issue 2, December 2015

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Greetings Educators!

We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and know you're looking forward to the holiday break. In this issue of the newsletter, we've included upcoming professional learning opportunities for the winter, highlighted blog posts you might not have gotten to check out, and provided resources to support effective classroom practices.

Thank you for all that you do! Have a restful and joyous holiday.

- The Oakland Schools Literacy Team

2nd Annual Effective Practices Conference

The 2nd Annual Effective Practices Conference will be held at Clarkston High School on June 21-22, 2016. We need teacher leaders in literacy to present their best strategies, lessons/units, approaches, and ideas to other educators in the Oakland County. Please consider submitting a proposal to present. The deadline is February 1, 2016.

For more information and to submit a proposal, CLICK HERE.

New Reading and Writing Units for Grades 3-5

New immersion packets for grades K-5 writing are now available under the resource section in each unit. This packet supports teachers with various immersion strategies and provides sample immersion lessons.

Grades 3-5 can now access the new writing units of study. These new units are tightly aligned to the K-2 writing units of study and use Writing Pathways as the primary assessment tool. There are three new units per grades 3-5 and three more units will be available in the fall of 2016.

Reading units of study for grades 3-5 will be added over the next few months.Be sure to keep checking atlas for the remaining units.

NEW: Frequently Asked Questions About the Grade K-5 Units of Study

There are a few question Michele Farah gets with some regularity about the MAISA Units of Study for grades K-5, so she put together a Frequently Asked Questions page on the Oakland Schools Literacy website. Check it out!

Supporting Struggling Readers in the Content Area

This workshop will help general and special educators understand struggling readers in content area texts in new, dynamic ways and give them better tools to support these students. Teachers will learn strategies to use immediately in their classrooms and they will have the opportunity to practice those strategies with their colleagues and in their content area during the workshop.

Grades 3-5 begins: January 11

Grades 6-12 begins: February 1


Grades 3-5 Grades 6-12

Presenter(s): Dalyce Beegle, Susan Golab, Les Howard and Jill Jessen, Oakland Schools Consultants

Questions?: Contact Kim Adragna

Revision - the Heart of Writing

These webinars run from 7-9pm. The first hour is an interactive presentation and the second hour is a discussion between presenter and participants. Register for all, some or one of the offerings. Registration is FREE. SCECHs available for attending three or more webinars.

Dr. Troy Hicks
Revising Digital Writing

Thursday, January 14, 2016 7-9pm EST
recommended reading: Crafting Digital Writing: Composing Texts Across Media & Genres

Dr. Nell Duke
Not Like Pulling Teeth: Revision in a Project-Based Context
Thursday, February 11, 2016 7-9pm EST
recommended reading: Inside Information: Developing Powerful Readers and Writers of Informational Text Through Project-Based Instruction

Penny Kittle
How Writing Notebooks Lead to Revision
Thursday, March 3, 2016 7-9pm EST
recommended reading: Write Beside Them: Risk, Voice, and Clarity in High School Writing

Questions?: Contact Delia DeCourcy

Adolescent Accelerated Reading Initiave (AARI): Join Our Learning Labs!

Never heard of AARI? Been engaged in AARI for years? From novice to rockstar, come engage in a peer-to-peer learning opportunity.

What is AARI? CLICK HERE to find out.

January 20 and February 25. (Labs are limited to 15 participants.)


Questions?: Contact Jill Jessen

M-Step Prep Webinars: Test Literacy & ELA Curricular Connections

Grade Level(s): Grades 3-5 & 6-8

Get your students ready! These hour-long, interactive webinars presented by teacher leaders will provide ready to use strategies for addressing test literacy, item directions and format, and MSTEP navigation with students. In addition, presenters will address how to integrate the content of M-STEP preparation organically into ELA MAISA unit instruction.

Dates & Times:

Elementary: January 28, 2015 7-8pm, facilitated by Beth Rogers, Clarkston

Middle School: January 26, 2015 7-8pm, facilitated by Jianna Taylor, West Bloomfield

For more information and to register: CLICK HERE

Questions?: Contact Delia DeCourcy

Foundations of Emergent Literacy for Students with Moderate to Significant Disabilities

Grade Levels: Preschool to post high school students with significant cognitive disabilities

This presentation will focus on emergent literacy instruction for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Content is appropriate for teachers of students with IEPs taking MI Alternate Assessment and will include the characteristics of emergent literacy learners of all ages, the conditions necessary for learning, and instructional strategies targeting shared reading, writing, and the development of phonemic awareness and alphabet knowledge.

Date: March 3, 2016

For more information and to register: CLICK HERE

Presenters: Dr. Karen Erikson and Dr. David Koppenhaver

Questions?: Contact Jane Strunck

Foundations of Conventional Literacy for Students with Moderate to Significant Disabilities

Grade Levels: Second grade to post high school students w/ significant cognitive disabilities.

This session is designed as a condensed presentation of the week-long literacy academy in the summer and is appropriate for teachers of students with significant cognitive disabilities taking the MI Alternate Assessment.

Learn how to bridge research into practice for individuals with significant intellectual disabilities and complex communication needs. The focus is on instruction for Conventional literacy learners – students who know most of their letter names and sounds most of the time.

Date: March 4, 2016

For more information and to register: CLICK HERE

Presenters: Dr. Karen Erikson and Dr. David Koppenhaver

Questions?: Contact Jane Strunck

Bringing Words to Life, 2nd Edition

by Beck, McKeown, and Kucan

Recommended Reading by Delia DeCourcy

Grounded in research, this book explains how to select words for instruction, introduce their meanings, and create engaging learning activities that promote both word knowledge and reading comprehension for students in grades K-12. The authors draw on extensive experience in diverse classrooms and schools.

New to This Edition
*Reflects over a decade of advances in research-based vocabulary instruction.
*Chapters on vocabulary and writing; assessment; and differentiating instruction for struggling readers and English language learners, including coverage of response to intervention (RTI).
*Expanded discussions of content-area vocabulary and multiple-meaning words.
*Many additional examples showing what robust instruction looks like in action.
*Appendix with a useful menu of instructional activities.

Calling All Educators of Students with Significant Disabilities!

Want to learn more about effective ELA instruction? What teaching text comprehension, shared reading and predictable chart writing looks like with your students? The Dynamic Learning Maps Professional Development website houses tons of free learning modules, accessible anytime, anywhere. Links to valuable instructional resources and the unpacked Essential Elements of the State Standards are also on the website.

Do You Work with Students Learning English as a Second Language?

A Digital Resource contributed by Suzanne Toohey

If so, check out this blog on Understanding Bilingual Development in Early Childhood and test your knowledge of fact versus fiction when it comes to second language learning and bilingual development. Many of the colleagues and parents we work with do not understand what an asset bilingual language development is and how it can facilitate literacy learning, and it's important that we get accurate information to them.

Youth Radio

A Digital Resource contributed by Susan Wilson-Golab

Youth Radio is an award-winning media production company that trains diverse young people in digital media and technology. Lesson plans and digital resources are provided here.

The Learning Network

A Digital Resource contributed by Susan Wilson-Golab

The Learning Network is a site hosted by The New York Times that provides resources for teacher and students looking to build their review skills--skills that are also strongly called upon in the redesigned SAT. Lessons and supporting resources can be found here.

College-Ready Writers Program

This October, The Oakland Writing Project launched a Classrooms in Action inquiry group focused on reviewing the National Writing Project's College Ready Writer's Program Argument mini-units. Teacher consultants from Avondale, Clarenceville, Clarkston, Oak Park, Pontiac, and Royal Oak will be engaged in a year-long study of the resources and the growth impact shown in their students' writing.

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With the recent release of the Spring 2015 Statewide M-STEP results, the Michigan Department of Education has updated their M-STEP website and created ‘Guides to M-STEP.’ These guides help explain to parents and students how our state assessment has evolved, the importance of assessments and other pertinent information regarding the M-STEP. These guides also are available in Spanish and Arabic. The MDE encourages schools to utilize these guides in their communities, to aid with a continuing smooth and seamless transition. Visit the M-STEP website for more information.
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

Jill Jessen, AARI Consultant

Diane Katakowski, Speech and Language Consultant

Colleen Meszler, Special Education Consultant

Deb O'Neill, Special Education Supervisor

Suzanne Toohey, ESL Consultant

Oakland Schools

Kimberly Adragna

2111 Pontiac Lake Road

Waterford, MI 48328

(248) 209.2195