Category Archives: English Language Arts

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

Strategies to Encourage Summer Reading

Summer. The word alone conjures images of the pool, beach, sand, sun, relaxing with a good book…

Unfortunately, summer break often means a vacation from reading for many students.

Summer Reading Loss Research

The importance of summer reading is well documented in educational research. Studies confirm that summer reading loss perpetuates the achievement gap between low-socioeconomic communities and more advantaged communities. However, Jimmy Kim (2004) found Continue reading Strategies to Encourage Summer Reading

Opportunity for Curriculum Networking and Resources

There are nearly 15,000 English Learners in Kent County schools.  Nationally, 1 in 4 students is an English Learner.

How are you supporting English Learners (EL) at your school in Math, Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts?

EL Coaching Network (ELCN)

Last year participants from 20 districts came together to learn, discuss, and devise action plans to increase the achievement of their EL students. The 2016/2017 EL Coaching Network will focus on support for ELs in the K-12 content areas. EL teachers, EL staff, and content teachers are welcome to join.

Did you know that Kent ISD has other Curriculum focused networks?

Not only can your district participate in our EL Coaching Network, the Teaching and Learning department at Kent ISD has created the opportunity for all Kent County districts to network and obtain resources related to each specific content area. Continue reading Opportunity for Curriculum Networking and Resources

How to Read (and Enjoy) More Books

Several years ago, I got pretty into Goodreads, mostly because I like measuring stuff and Goodreads made it fun to set goals for and keep track of how many books I read. It was also a big thing on Twitter — people would share how many books they were reading, and they would set reading goals for the year.

But then I stopped keeping track of how many books I read — publicly and privately — and I don’t think I’ll ever go back. I can’t tell you how many books I read in 2015 simply because I don’t keep count. That’s not a humble brag, either — no “I’ve lost count because there are so many” nonsense. Rather, I’ve found that not counting has given me exponentially more enjoyment and advantage out of reading than I ever realized during the counting days. This, in turn, has made me a more well-read reading teacher. Continue reading How to Read (and Enjoy) More Books

3 Unique Reading Strategies You’ll Want to Try!

Learning to read can be difficult for anyone.  Michigan’s proficiency on the NAEP is just over 30 percent for third-grade readers.  Michigan Association of School Administrators (MASA) Region Three superintendents are tackling this problem through the Reading Now Network, which is beginning to develop resources for the classroom.

This morning I watched a TedX talk that had some unique approaches to improve reading in ALL students.  When I say ALL students, I mean even those with learning disabilities.Chris Bugaj

The TedX talk was by Chris Bugaj, MA CCC-SLP the founding member of the Assistive Technology Team for Loudoun County Public Schools.

In Chris’ TedX talk, he shared three unique reading strategies. Continue reading 3 Unique Reading Strategies You’ll Want to Try!

Helping Students Become Active Thinkers, Part 2

Last week, Tim Hargis wrote about four areas of focus to help students become active thinkers and independent writers. He described purpose and craft in detail.  In part 2, he will go over the final two focus areas: genre and text structure and content.  To learn more about this subject, register for The Writing Diner 2: Creating Active Thinkers for Common Core Success (Elementary & Middle School) on August 6th at Kent ISD.

A Focus on Genre and Text Structures

Teaching the three different types of writing through genre and text structure units is another way to up the level of thinking for student writers. If students have to grapple with Continue reading Helping Students Become Active Thinkers, Part 2

Helping Students Become Active Thinkers, Part 1

The ultimate goal of all writing instruction has to be to help students become active thinkers while they are independently writing. This is the foundation of my writing beliefs. We need to teach writing in a way that will allow students, when they are sitting alone with a blank paper or computer screen in front of them, to have writing knowledge and skills inside of them that they can apply, on their own, in any situation.

If this is our goal for our writing instruction and we achieve it, then students will not only be successful in our classrooms, but they will be successful in grades, on standardized tests, writing in the content areas, and beyond.

The Common Core State Standards demand this of our student writers. The authors of The Standards outline seven characteristics of students who are “college and career ready.” At the top of the list is that students “demonstrate independence.” As teachers, we need to Continue reading Helping Students Become Active Thinkers, Part 1

Gallagher Builds a Lifelong Desire to Read and Write

What is in the best interest of our students? Is it teaching to the newest standards movement, like the Common Core? Teaching that prepares students to take a test? Or is it something more meaningful and authentic? Something more enduring?

Kelly Gallagher will be at Kent ISD on March 23rd  to present Core Values to secondary educators. He invites fellow educators to pause in the midst of the standards commotion and remind themselves to do right by their students – to ensure that Continue reading Gallagher Builds a Lifelong Desire to Read and Write