All posts by Amanda Walma (Kent ISD)

As the Professional Development Coordinator for Kent ISD, I help to provide professional learning opportunities, that are aligned to the school improvement framework, to all educators. We created The Bulletin to keeping educators informed about the hottest topics in education and upcoming professional learning opportunities. We offer Learning On Demand, so that you can access learning from your computer at anytime/anywhere and Learning To Go so that you can bring many of our most popular workshops directly to your school. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you or your district.

The Importance of Informational Text

What were you reading before you turned your eye onto this article?  Chances are it could be categorized into informational text reading. 

With the shift to Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards also came a heightened focus on informational text reading, writing, and analysis. And, why shouldn’t it be.

Learning is a journey Continue reading The Importance of Informational Text

Paul Gorski: Cultivating Equitable Classrooms

Paul C. Gorski is the founder of EdChange and the Equity Literacy Institute. He has spent the last 20 years working with educators, schools, and school districts around the world committed to strengthening knowledge, skills, and leadership related to educational equity. Since earning his doctorate in Education at the University of Virginia he has worked as a district-level equity consultant, a teacher educator, and an author and designer of diversity-related resources for teachers.

Paul has written more than 60 articles and chapters, as well as, written, co-written, or co-edited 10 books on educational equity including Case Studies on Diversity and Social Justice Education (with Seema Pothini) and Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap. Paul’s Web site for educators, the Multicultural Pavilionhas won more than a dozen awards and hosts nearly one million visitors each year.

Paul will be visiting Kent ISD on Thursday, May 3rd to talk about Cultivating Equitable Classrooms and Schools for Each Student. 

Continue reading Paul Gorski: Cultivating Equitable Classrooms

Improving Literacy: Essentials Documents In Action

Written by Lisa Brown, MDE

Improving literacy is part of Michigan’s strategic plan to become a top 10 in 10 State. While it will take a multi-faceted approach, beginning with quality tier one, instruction is key. The Early Literacy Task Force (ELTF), a subgroup of the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA), General Education Leadership Network (GELN) set out to collect the highest quality research around literacy instruction and compile it in a way that would be easily understood by educators.

Early Literacy Task Force: glen General Education Leadership Network a MAISA collaborative. MACUL, MASSE, MDE, MRA, MAME, MAISA ELA LT, MAC, MiBLSi, MSU, ECAN, MV, MEMSPA, ISDs/k-12, GVSU, MI ASCD, U of M

The Product: The K-3 Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy.

This document is not their only document designed to support improving literacy throughout the state. In fact, the ELTF has produced a continuum of supports including the Prek- K Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy, 4-5 Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy, School-Wide and Center-Based Practices in Literacy, Essential Coaching Practices in Elementary Literacy and 6-12 Practices in Literacy in progress.  Continue reading Improving Literacy: Essentials Documents In Action

Connecting MTSS and Third Grade Reading Law

Written by: Mark Raffler, Kent ISD

The Kent ISD Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) team has been working for the past six years to develop the understanding and capacity of local districts to balance the behavior and academic demands put forward by the State of Michigan.

The latest legislation put into place, focused on academic content, is the Third Grade Reading Law (Public Act 306).  This legislation comes with many requirements and considerations for districts in order to increase the number of students reading proficiently by the end of third grade.
Continue reading Connecting MTSS and Third Grade Reading Law

Focusing on Read Alouds: K-3 Literacy Essentials

Written by: Christi Gilbert, Literacy Coach/Kent ISD

Essential #2 states: “Read Alouds of age-appropriate books and other materials, print or digital”

Why read alouds?

There is a STRONG research consensus that supports literacy development through read alouds. Children learn about reading and writing from read alouds. They also increase their vocabulary hearing new words during a read aloud.

But, our reality:

Tanya Wright, a lead researcher with the Literacy Essentials, did a study on read alouds.  She visited four classrooms  and conducted over 55 visits. Throughout those visits she noticed two important things: Continue reading Focusing on Read Alouds: K-3 Literacy Essentials

Literacy- Making Every Minute Count

Written by Melissa Buurstra, Early Childhood Specialist

Do you ever wonder about the time at school children spend waiting for their turn to use the bathroom or another class to finish in the gym?

In Kent County’s Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) classrooms, we do wonder about this time. We have a name for it and we even plan for it on our weekly lesson plans. We call it “transition time”.

These 3-5 minute waits really add up. For instance, a GSRP classroom waiting in line 5 minutes every day amounts to 650 minutes or almost 11 hours which is close to 2 entire days of school.

“We take this time seriously and use transition time activities as an important part of our lesson planning,” says Ashley Karsten, Kent ISD GSRP Supervisor. Continue reading Literacy- Making Every Minute Count

Alternatives to Suspension

Written by: Kelly Amshey, Assistant Principal Rockford Public Schools Freshman Center

We have all been frustrated when issuing suspension to students when we know that the consequence does little to shape behavior.  In my experience, many students who “earn” suspensions are the most at-risk academically, requiring more time in the classroom, not less.

Students who require special education services, those who struggle with attendance, and those who are otherwise disengaged from school may be those who are suspended most frequently, undermining our goal of keeping them in class and supporting their educational outcomes. Continue reading Alternatives to Suspension

MDE “Top 10 in 10 Roadshow” Visits GR in April

“We have a tremendous opportunity, working together as a state, to lift student achievement using these goals and strategies. This requires open minds and the will from all involved to make it work.” State Superintendent Brian Whiston

Michigan’s Education Vision is for “Every learner in Michigan’s public schools to have an inspiring, engaging, and caring learning environment that fosters creative and critical thinkers who believe in their ability to positively influence Michigan and the world beyond.” Continue reading MDE “Top 10 in 10 Roadshow” Visits GR in April

Creating a Positive School Climate

Imagine you are a student at your school and you have a big test tomorrow. Maybe the test is the SAT or maybe just a spelling test.  The problem is that you have not studied. How would you be feeling? You might feel a little panicked, sweaty, nervous, or even nauseous. 

Having some anxiety in a stressful situation is a normal response. However, not everyone experiences this the same way. The definition of anxiety is a feeling that can vary in severity from mild uneasiness to a terrifying panic attack. The feeling can last a few moments to many years. Continue reading Creating a Positive School Climate

Personalized Learning Conference: #PLCON18 Call for Proposals is OPEN!

UPDATE: This conference is being postponed until May 1, 2019. Please save the date. We are still accepting proposals, but it will be for the 2019 conference. We will still be holding the 2018 site visits at Kent Innovation High and Kenowa Hills. Click here for more information on site visits.

Kent ISD is pleased to announce the hosting of the third Personalized Learning Conference on May 3, 2017 and is searching for presenters to share their experiences in this evolving educational practice. Personalized Learning is a model of learning that promotes flexibility within the learning environment to allow students’ needs to drive instructional strategies, assessments, use of time, and materials. Continue reading Personalized Learning Conference: #PLCON18 Call for Proposals is OPEN!