Learning Council

Quarterly Bulletin-November 2014

English Language Arts


Busy is an understatement for ELA this first marking period. We all know as teachers that ELA has layers upon layers we as a district need to address to help us continue to move in the right direction.

During this first marking period, we had two major tasks: running the remaining grade levels through their Reader’s Workshop lab classrooms and working with K-3 Writing teachers on implementing the new writing continuum within our report card. After numerous discussions throughout the marking period, we recognize the need to continue our lab classrooms and our work around continuums as this is the direction the district, as well as the county, will move towards next year in scoring writing.

As we move forward, we will have our second round of lab classrooms this February/March with an ELA focus. Our model workshop lessons will hone in on writing workshop. These will be full day labs so participating grade levels will have time to collaborate and dive into some learning together. We also hope to work closely with the secondary ELA team to work on aligning our Grammar Usage and Mechanics from the CCSS into Royal Oak workshop. We all know there is a tremendous need for some GUM within our students’ writing. Besides lab classrooms and GUM alignment, we hope to spend some time looking at how continuums help propel student learning. Big tasks to conquer this year in ELA!! ~The M&M team (Molly Brinker and Mary Kosnik)


ELA 6-12 has steadily been working on implementing and assessing the MAISA Common Core units that have been adopted, ensuring that spiraling learning progressions are taught through the units across the grade-levels. Teachers are currently assessing their unit common summative assessments and are analyzing and adopting MYP objective rubrics for those units. General unit information is available in Atlas, and will (by the end of the year) reflect our MYP updates to these units.

ELA 6-12 is piloting the use of plagiarism materials and resources for the purpose of reading and writing in a responsible and principled manner. We are also using Lexile reading levels to inform both reading choices, both for independent reading, classroom instruction, and informational reading. ELA teachers will also be piloting district Lexile-leveled resources. The goal of the ELA 6-12 group is to share both plagiarism and Lexile information with other departments for use in the near future. ~Jill Hill

Fine Arts and Performing Arts

The Royal Oak Fine and Performing Arts teachers have been very busy this year. Last spring, Elementary art teachers re-designed their report cards to include more arts appropriate benchmarks. They continue to be busy uploading student artwork to the ARTSONIA site, which allows parents to view their own children’s artwork on line. Teachers also continue to display artwork out in the community, including the Royal Oak Public Library.

Secondary art teachers have established an initial Vertical Planner in conjunction with pursuit of International Baccalaureate MYP status. While it still requires some work, the progression of art units from grade six through ten is taking shape. Additional work is being done on identifying and utilizing formative assessments appropriate in the art classroom. Teachers are sharing ideas and looking at the best ways to document these types of assessments.

Music teachers are working at full speed, juggling curriculum work with very busy concert schedules. This summer, our middle school music teachers attended training for IB Technology. This training is meant to assist our middle school music teachers in integrating technology into their music programs. Early in October, our secondary music teachers gathered to create their Vertical Planner in response to the upcoming MYP visit. Their collaboration enabled them to align their units of study in the necessary format required by International Baccalaureate. They now have documented their units from grade 6 through grade ten. In addition, work has been done to identify and utilize specific formative assessments appropriate for their programs.

November 13th through the 16th ROHS students from music, drama and art participated in a successful production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” The following week, teachers Dave Jensen and Deborah Buffa brought a representative from Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp to ROHS to meet with prospective Merit Scholarship candidates for the upcoming summer camp season. Many students from instrumental and vocal music and art were interviewed. Great job keeping the Arts Spirit alive in Royal Oak Schools! ~Martha Shrode

Foreign Language

World Language is in the middle of a big year. First off the K - 5 Spanish cohort got together to finalize a scope and sequence that will be followed through all of the elementary buildings in order to gain consistency across the district. This will also give the middle school teachers an overall better idea of where the Spanish students should be when entering their building.

At the secondary level the groups have been working hard at finishing up their vertical planners to have consistency in their Scope and Sequence as well. The groups are in the middle of a curriculum year and have been looking at possible book changes for the next school year. In December the group will be working on getting the curriculum of all three languages into Atlas Rubicon. This is an exciting time to be in the World Language Department. ~Ray McMann

IB Programme

Primary Years Programme

Helen Keller Elementary is an authorized PYP (Primary Years Programme) and is in the process of "Self Evaluation" that requires reevaluation of our IB/PYP goals, successes as well as identify areas to focus for the next five years. There will be an official IB Re-Authorization visit this Spring. We have been working diligently to incorporate the new CCSS into the PYP units. Thank you to staff and stakeholders for your continued support! ~Sue DeWolfe

Middle Years Programme

Subject Vertical Planners

Subject Vertical Planners are complete and have been approved by the International Baccalaureate. Thank you all for your time and efforts to get the vertical planners completed this summer and this fall. They are housed on google drive viewable to all.

MYP Authorization Visit

We will have an MYP Authorization Visit in spring 2015. As soon as the dates are known, they will be communicated. An MYP Authorization Visit Checklist was sent to all staff and is on google drive for use by teachers and PLCs in preparation for the visit.

MYP Unit Planners

MYP Unit Planners are still on the share drive and are also on the google drive in Completed Unit Planner folder for ROMS or ROHS. At this transitional point, any work you do or your PLC does on your unit planners is best saved in both places and another copy saved by you in your own google drive/h drive/flash drive. Please work with Learning Council representatives regarding use and access to Atlas Rubicon. PLC time over the next few months should include a focus on MYP Unit Planner work along with saving sample student work from MYP Assessment (1 High, 3 Medium and 1 Low example).

MYP Training

Several teachers from both buildings and new administrators at middle school have and are currently attending IB training. We hosted an MYP Assessment Facilitator, Lou Marchesano, who came to Royal Oak on our Nov 4th PD day. He was informative and helpful in getting the MYP Assessment conversation and planning moving forward.

MYP Culture/Visuals

You may have noticed a beautiful new world flag at the front of your building as well as various other visuals around the buildings (bulletin boards of student work, monitors with scrolling IB Learner Profile). I have noticed your classrooms related to MYP—they’re looking great!

Final Note:

All secondary staff should have an orange IB MYP binder, the new Principles to Practice and your subject guide (please DISCARD/RECYCLE the old ones), and an Online Curriculum Centre (OCC) login. If you need any of these or have other questions, please let Mia Gutierrez know. (gutierrezm@royaloakschools.org) ~Mia Gutierrez



Teachers are in full swing of teaching the Common Core State Standards using the new Math Expressions resource. On the Professional Development Day November 4th Megan Mitschrich visited the district and helped teachers gain familiarity on the digital component of Math Expressions which is also know as "Think Central". Jody Babich from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was brought in for late start Professional Development on October 29th and November 19 to answer questions and lead discussion in regards to Math Expressions implementation. OnDecember 11th the district has arranged to take a team of teacher leaders to visit a school in Troy who currently uses Math Expressions to observe a lower elementary and upper elementary lesson. ~Jason Taylor


To begin the school year, the 6-12 mathematics department has been focused on the further strengthening of the vertical alignment of our curriculum. We have spent a small amount of time focusing on what changes the Common Core has brought to us, but we have mainly focused on starting a study of our materials. At the middle school level, a study is taking place determining how well Connected Math fits in to the current vertical sequence K-12, while at the high school level, Algebra teachers are doing a focused book study on new materials that better meet the needs of our students and the Common Core State Standards. The Algebra teachers are focused on finding materials that better align to the current standards, as well as materials that have a developed online presence to meet the many different learning styles of our students. ~Matt Milazzo

Physical Education and Health

At the Elementary level, a Physical Education web site is being finalized. The web site will cover important areas such as curriculum, report card changes, assessments, instructor bios, interesting web site links, and important dates. An Elementary Physical Fitness Testing document was created and the new report card was completed. The Elementary Health curriculum is also being reviewed by the Health Advisory Committee to see how the District is covering the material stated in Erin’s Law.

At the Middle School and High School level, both Health and Physical Education were vertically aligned to meet the MYP curriculum. Supplemental materials for the High School’s Reproductive Unit are also set to be reviewed by the Health Advisory Committee in future meetings. ~Keith Doody



The Learning Council has been keeping abreast with the upcoming changes in the National Science Curriculum. The NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards will hopefully be adopted early next year. The focus of NGSS will be with students developing an understanding of the four disciplinary core ideas: physical science, life science, earth and space sciences and engineering, technology and applications of science. ~Pam Edginton


PLCs have worked to develop and implement common formative assessments. We have looked at the Common Core Standards and found the natural ties into our classroom and how we support the Common Core for both ELA and Math. While we are not certified reading teachers, we understand the importance of our role in supporting the CCS and our colleagues!

A member of our department shared with us an updated MYP unit planner for our department that she created after attending Level 2 training in October. We are very thankful for her work putting this together and sharing the unit planner with us!

Finally, a course proposal is being submitted for a grade Environmental Science class to be offered in 2015-2016 based on a pilot course offered this year. The class is designed for students who may struggle in Biology, the typical course for 9th graders. By providing supports during 9th grade (help with organization, reading, study skills, etc.), the hope is that students will be better prepared for the rigors of Biology when they take it in 10th grade. In addition, these students will now take Chemistry or Physics in 11th grade, which allows them to have an additional year of math study prior to taking the more math-intensive science courses. Students for Environmental Science are identified based on MAP reading scores, MEAP scores, and other data. ~Deb Taylor and Dave Barnett

Social Studies


Social Studies is excited to kickoff the curriculum adoption process for the 2015-2016 school year. The adoption of a Royal Oak Curriculum will allow us to organize in one place all of the great resources that teachers have already created. In the mean time, all elementary teachers should be using the Michigan Collaborative Citizenship Curriculum (MC3). This curriculum is available through the Oakland Schools Public Atlas, the same place you access ELA and Math units. This resource is aligned with the Michigan Social Studies GLCE as well as ELA common core standards. As a reminder for some and an announcement for others, with the change in the testing window for MEAP from fall to spring 5th grade teachers will now proctor the Social Studies MEAP as part of the tests we deliver. In the coming weeks you will receive MEAP released question stems. Please work to include these stems in your instruction and assessment of all subject areas but especially Social Studies.~Ryan Knapp


The Secondary Social Studies department has several initiatives for the 2014-2015 school year that we will be working together to achieve: continued MYP unit and assessment writing for grades 6-10; embedding a formative assessment program that is purposeful and intentional for all secondary Social Studies classes; the high school is working on revising and refining the common summative assessments for each course that reflects the Common Core Standards; and, finally, the Middle School teachers and High School teachers are continuing to explore new and improved ways to coordinate Social Studies curriculum between Grade 6 and Grade 12 through increased collaboration. Secondary Social Studies is conducting a needs assessment regarding curricular resources -- which will enable our department to have an idea of a timetable on resource renewal for subsequent years (e.g. when do we update our US History textbooks for 9th Grade or our World History textbooks for 7th Grade? To what extent do our textbooks have online support?)

With our late-starts as our primary resource for collaboration, our goal of increased coordination will mean that we need to be more familiar with the Google platform for sharing ideas in the Secondary Social Studies Department. ~Alec Snyder

Special Education

The special education staff has accomplished a lot this first marking period. Jane Flarity-Gram has organized a calendar of topics to be covered during many of the late start days. As a staff we have met a few times to discuss the common practices that should be followed while writing a PLAAFP. We reviewed previous PLAAFPs to critique them. We also troubleshooted questions staff had about the best way to include information, so a complete picture of a student is formed.

We have received instruction from Oakland Schools Medicaid administrator about the expectations and procedures to be followed in the submission of medicaid reimbursement forms for some services provided to students who have IEPs.

We recently reviewed the technology needs to best serve students with IEPs with Allyson Dewar. A review of the ROHS Academic Support Room will be done to see which resources are needed. Special education teachers were introduced to apps and websites that may be useful in aiding our teaching or useful to students as they complete general education tasks. Increasing the skill level students with special needs have was discussed. It was also noted special education teachers need time to become more familiar with available technologies.

A transition committee is being formed. The focus of this committee will be to better inform special education staff about the students coming to their buildings. This will be a K-12 committee.

Foreign language instruction for students with special needs has been discussed during 6-12 group meetings. We have reviewed expectations and possible alternatives to earning foreign language credit (PC)

OSTC has been discussed. The expectations in regards to accommodations and academic readiness were explained. Visitation procedures were reviewed. ~Patti O’Leary and MaryAnn Campbell


Since joining the Learning Council this year (2014-2015), I (along with the help of the elementary technology committees), have started the process of creating a Technology Skills Matrix. The goal is to create a Technology Skills Matrix that helps teachers understand which student technology skills should be gained from one year to the next. The general idea is that these skills are sequential and build on each other. The overall goal is for the Technology Skills Matrix to span grades K-12. This year we will complete the K-5 matrix and then expand to K-12 in future years.

So far, I met with one technology leader from each elementary school building to obtain feedback on a Technology Skills Matrix, as well as to assess building needs for technology professional development. Each building leader took the matrix back to their technology committee in order to collaborate. My personal goal is to keep communication open and develop a fluid system of delivering district information to each building. The technology teacher leader from each building will disseminate district information to their respective buildings.

Additionally, I have been assisting with the rollout of a K-5 typing program (standards and frequency). Teacher leaders from every building were chosen by their building administrator to helpdemonstrate the typing programs for their building.

At the secondary level I have been assisting the initiative for all technology courses (6-12) to have a documented scope and sequence. This will help all teachers (technology and otherwise) understand curriculum and skills needed for each class. This will be an ongoing process during the 2014/2015 school year. ~Alyssa Reimold