What's the Word?

Literacy Team Newsletter, Volume 2, Issue 1 September 2015

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Greetings Educators!

Summer may seem like a distant memory given the busy opening weeks we know you're having. We hope the start of the year has been exciting and inspiring--we know it's been a lot of work. Hopefully some of the news and resources in this edition of the newsletter will help as you embark on this year's academic journey. Please get in touch if you have questions or seek support for the important work you do.

- The Oakland Schools Literacy Team

Jill Jessen, AARI Consultant

Jill joined Oakland Schools after a decade as an ELA, political science, and reading intervention teacher in Rochester. After several years developing and implementing Advanced Placement Language and Composition curriculum, Jill moved into reading intervention with the Adolescent Accelerated Reading Initiative (AARI) where she has discovered her passion for empowering struggling readers to have the confidence to influence their world – all through the power of reading.

For more about Jill, visit her website page! You can reach Jill at Jill.Jessen@oakland.k12.mi.us

Suzanne Toohey, ESL Consultant

Suzanne is excited to join Oakland Schools as the new ESL/Title III Consultant. Previously, she taught English Learners for seventeen years in diverse contexts in Michigan, Arizona, and Central America. She became fascinated with second language acquisition while teaching computer science as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Belize. Through Northern Arizona University she earned a Master’s degree in Bilingual/Multicultural Education. Suzanne has held Advisory and Executive Board positions in the Michigan Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages organization and is an alumnus of the Galileo Leadership Consortium.

You can reach Suzanne at Suzanne.Toohey@oakland.k12.mi.us

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 completed this fall. Be sure to keep checking atlas for the remaining units beginning in November, 2015.

MAISA Unit Student Artifacts

Thanks to the hard work of Oakland County teacher leaders in several districts, annotated student artifacts are now available for most of the MAISA units. They are available on our website, as well as under the assessment section of each unit on Atlas. These artifacts are helpful in professional learning contexts and can be used as models in the classroom.

Research Writing Resources

The supplementary materials on research writing developed to support the secondary argument and information writing units are now available on the Oakland Schools Literacy website under the "resources" tab. They include lesson plans and a skills progression.

The MME in 11th grade will consist of 1) the SAT with Essay, 2) ACT WorkKeys, and 3) the online M-STEP Science and Social Studies. There will no longer be an M-STEP English language arts and mathematics component.

For the M-STEP in grades 3–8, the Performance Task portion of the English language arts assessment will only be administered once in elementary school (grade 5) and once in middle school (grade 8). This reduces testing time by 2.5 hours in each of the 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 7th grades!

For more news about the 2016 M-Step visit this link.

Supporting Struggling Readers in the Content Area

Grades 3-5 Begins: September 28

Grades 6-12 Begins: October 5

Description: 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.


Dalyce Beegle, Susan Golab, Les Howard and Jill Jessen, Oakland Schools Consultants


Grades 3-5 Grades 6-12

Writing Growth & Progress: Basics and Beyond

Begins: September 25

Description: This workshop shares research on writing development and strategies across the age span (preschool-12th grade) for all teachers of writing. Content includes evidence-based instructional practices, specialized instruction for intervention, and specialized core instruction for students with IEPs taught to alternate standards.

Presenter(s): Dr. Janet Sturm and Dr. Gary Troia

Learn More and Register

Assessing Writing in Grades 6-12

Begins: September 29

Description: This series introduces teachers to multiple learning progression models focused on growing writer’s knowledge and use of rhetorical moves to narrate, inform, and argue—all key to helping students be successful on the redesigned SAT Essay test. In addition, the series will share strategies and resources for building effective peer to peer feedback and revision practices.

Facilitator: Susan Wilson-Golab, Oakland Schools Secondary Literacy Consultant and guest Writing Project Teacher Consultants

Guest Speaker: Dr. Jeff Grabill, MSU Writing in Digital Environments (WIDE) Research Senior Fellow

Learn More and Register

4T Virtual Conference on Digital Writing

Begins: Sunday, October 11 - Wednesday, October 14

Description: Sponsored by the University of Michigan School of Education, Oakland Schools and four Michigan Writing Project sites, the 4T Virtual Conference on Digital Writing will focus on the research, pedagogy, and tools of teaching digital writing in the K-12 classroom. Connect and collaborate with other K-16 educators. FREE REGISTRATION & SCECHs.

Format: 16 interactive webinars over 4 days

Keynotes: Troy Hicks, Professor at Central Michigan University & Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, Executive Director of the National Writing Project

Consultant Contact: Delia DeCourcy, secondary literacy consultant


LIteracy Webinar Series: Revision - the Heart of Writing

Begins: October 22

Description: Each of these 7 webinars focuses on revision and features a published expert (Penny Kittle, Troy Hicks, Jennifer Fletcher and Nell Duke, to name a few). We recommend participants read his or her corresponding book before the virtual session to deepen learning and offer greater opportunity for conversation in the second hour of the webinar. FREE REGISTRATION

Format: 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.

Consultant Contact: Delia DeCourcy, secondary literacy consultant

SCECH's available!

Learn More and Register

Teacher Consultants Engaging in National Networks

Oakland Writing Project Teacher Consultants have been busy--including attending the Advanced Summer Institute at Oakland Schools. Read all the OWP news here.

If you're a teacher of students who use augmentative or alternative communication (AAC) to listen, speak, read or write, please check out the resources below to support your literacy work:

Read&Write for Google

Read&Write for Google is a Chrome extension that provides comprehensive reading and writing supports for Google Docs and the Web as well as PDFs, ePubs, and KES files stored in Google Drive. It can be a powerful support for struggling readers and writers. And the best part is: it's free!

These supports include:

  • Read Aloud with dual-color highlighting
  • Word Prediction
  • Translator
  • Talking and Picture Dictionaries
  • Fact Finder
  • Highlighters and ability to collect highlights
  • Vocabulary Builder to easily create a list of words with text definitions and images
  • Annotations (PDF and ePub)
  • Navigational tools (PDF and ePub)
  • Voice notes
Read&Write for Google Chrome™ - Support for Google Docs
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