Saturday, December 10, 2011

Reading Street Updates

CCSS Teacher Manual Inserts
     Everyone (even K and 3rd grade teachers) will be receiving new Common Core State Standard tabs for all Reading Street teacher manuals.  You can insert these in your manuals at the beginning of each week's plans. If you have not already gotten them, I, or your ELA chair will be delivering them to you next week.

New Weekly Test Booklets
     Everyone will also be receiving a CCSS edition of the Weekly Test Booklets- both a teacher manual and student edition to copy.  These will be coming to you next week as well.

Don't forget: January 17th PD on SmartBoard Lessons for Reading Street
There are still about 12 spots left!

Copies of Unit Assessments
     During the first round of Reading Street Unit tests, I ordered, organized and sent out copies to all buildings. This proved to be difficult and time consuming, but a also a waste of paper, since I made copies that some teachers did not need due to the way they administered the test.
     For this second round, we've tried to organize this    with one person at each building. This, too, has proven to be difficult and time consuming for one person to do at this level. 
    We've come to the conclusion that this needs to be an individual responsibility. For Unit 3 and beyond,  arrange well ahead of time for your own copies of these Unit Assessments.  If you need copies for all of your students, please make sure you send orders to Lisa Scott at the copy center well ahead of time. 

Observations or Feedback
     Quite a few teachers observed others teaching Reading Street or had another teacher observe and provide feedback and have found both quite helpful while adjusting his/her own craft of teaching.  If you'd like to either observe another teacher teaching Reading Street, or have someone else observe you and provide feedback, please e-mail or call me to arrange it:   333-7621

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 3, 2011


More Common Core State Standard Resources

1. You might have heard that Michigan now calls the CCSS the CCRS  (College and Career Readiness Standards). So, if if you see CCRS, know that it is the same as CCSS.   

2. A podcast with Georgia Heard, who discusses the

 surprising connections between nonfiction, poetry, and the

 Common Core:
3. Persuasive writing is a key focus in the Common Core,

 and Heather Wolpert-Gawron has suggestions for

 minilessons to home in on persuasion skills:

4. From the Choice Literacy archives, Franki Sibberson has

 suggestions for previewing nonfiction with students:

5. Angela Stockman shares some professional

 development ideas to help colleagues "unwrap" the 

differences between content and skills in the Common Core:


Preventing Brain Freeze- K-5

Reading, math and writing skills can freeze up, ThinkStretch is

offering Brain Freeze Packets for all ten days of Winter 

Break.  Each grade-specific packet contains:
  • snowman reading log
  • math facts for quick review
  • winter writing activity
  • and bonus activities for winter science and art fun!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


See this complete ReadWriteThink lesson, with research based strategies, printouts,  and related resources for teaching reading in your content area.

It includes strategies on:
  • Vocabulary
  • Guided Preview of Text
  • Think Aloud

Frequently Asked Questions on Reading Street

This PowerPoint from IISD covers FAQ across all Ingham districts currently using Reading Streets.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Can you believe you've already been in school for 30 days?! 

Please read on for resources on Reading Street K-6, and some important 7-12 information on CCSS:

Reading Street Users: 
From my literacy friends in Holt, who are also in their first year of using Reading Street, these are  short, sweet, and to the point YouTube videos on technology instructions for SuccessNet:

1.  Assigning Tests on

2. Adding Test Scores to

3. Adding and removing students from your roster

For additional technology help on Reading Street:
Or 1-800-848-9500

The MAISA website ( Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators) offers entire units aligned to the CCSS.  Download the zip files for your use.  The last time I saw free units, just a few months later they were pulled, and are now $30 to order!

Unpacking the CCSS
I hear the term "Unpacking" a lot with the CCSS, but the following is the first time I've seen anyone do it and publish it!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October 4th K-6 Meeting

Reading Street Notes

View the slideshow of notes from second year users, my classroom observations, and a sample outline of instruction:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reading Street Resource Round-up!

Some of these are new, some you have seen before, some are redundant, but now they are all in one spot!  Thanks for sharing these when you find them!

      Now that you've used the program for a week, these might be more beneficial.

         Get connected with other users in the county. 
Go to the site and request an invite and I'll add you!

     You'll find printables, tutorials, and other support materials. See the tab in the upper right
         hand corner.

            PowerPoints, downloads and links.

And don't forget the ELPS Shared Drive to find other materials teachers have created and shared.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


September 8th is International Literacy Day!

It is difficult right now to think about planning one more thing, but check out some of the ideas you can do for September 8th and beyond to promote literacy!   If you want to get a project going, but don't have time to plan- I WILL HELP, just ask me!  

Some ideas from the International Reading Association include:
  • Stage a Fun Run for Literacy and provide donated books to participants.
  • Use newspapers to go global — conduct a scavenger hunt for country names or compare how stories are covered by newspapers from different parts of the world.
  • Invite students, parents, or guests who have lived in other parts of the world to read a story or to talk about classrooms in other countries.
  • Have older students make books to share with younger students or donate to childcare centers.
  • Invite a publisher to your classroom or school to discuss how books are developed.
  • Ask a local bookstore to donate books to disadvantaged children or for reading contest prizes.

Read Picture Books FREE  Online with Your Students at We Give Books.
We Give Books is a new digital initiative that enables anyone with access to the Internet to put books in the hands of children who don't have them, simply by reading online.

We Give Books combines the joy of reading with the power of helping others, providing a platform for caregivers and educators to inspire children to become lifelong readers and lifelong givers.

We Give Books also helps some of the world's best, most inspiring, literacy organizations by spreading the word about their great work and by providing books to the young people these organizations support.

You'll find books like Llama, Llama, Red Pajama, Why Monkeys Swing in Trees, Why Elephant has a Trunk and many more. 

 This site provides very detailed plans for celebrating National Literacy Day in K-12 classrooms and includes topics on traditional reading and writing, learning centers, e-pals, and digital literacy.  

Michigan's Involvement in International Literacy Day:

    If you have the book Memoirs of a Goldfish, click here to download activities, posters, and templates.  Memoirs of a Goldfish is the 2011 Michigan Reads! One State, One Children's Book program. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


It's already time to head back!  With professional development on CCSS and Reading Street coming up next week, I'm revisiting some topics on this blog from the spring, and adding some additional information.

Common Core State Standards:
The Ingham ISD gave an information session in March:

-This shows a draft of the connections between state standards (GLCES and HSCES) and the CCSS for ELA

-These are K‑12 ELA Curriculum Maps aligned with the CCSS:

-Current news from ASCD

-There are many useful documents I've stored on our Companion Wikispace:

 -Documents detailing the alignment of the CCSS with Michigan’s Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCE) and High School Content Expectations (HSCE) in English Language Arts and Mathematics are now available at 
Educators will need to unfold these standards in order to compare them to current classroom practice and identify adjustments to instruction and materials that support the depth of understanding implicit in the CCSS.



In addition to the resources below, you can now find SmartBoard resources on the ELPS Shared Drive for 1st grade from Okemos teacher Penny Wallace.   Go to the 1st grade folder and see "Penny's Reading Street Files"


Welcome to Reading Street and SmartBoard Goodies were made by teachers and include ideas for:
  • organizing materials (pictures and descriptions)
  • activities for centers in the 90 minute block of instruction
  • Smart Board Activities
  • Parent forms

90 Minute Block:

If you don't already know about this great resource, check out Laura Candler's website called Teaching Resources. She has a whole section explaining the 90 minute block and provides many great templates for organizing centers. This is not tied specifically to Reading Street, but a general structure of a 90 minute block. As you get to know all of the elements of Reading Street, I'm sure you'll see how they plug into this framework of the 90 minute literacy block.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Just two quick points of interest on literacy:

1. If you have a Facebook page and like to stay up-to-date on teaching resources, check out and "like" Laura Candler's Facebook Page which she updates regularly.

2.  Choice Literacy offers free newsletters to non-members and provides links to many literacy related articles and resources.

I hope you are enjoying your summer and are able to get in some of your favorite reads!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Literacy Instruction: End of the Year Activities

1. Story Starters for End of the Year Writing:


• The person I most enjoyed having in class was...
• The person who most surprised me in class was...
• I’ll never forget the day that ...

...OR WHEN...
• The first day of school was...
• Definitely the best time in class was...
• The best class we had was...

...OR WHAT...
• I most enjoyed learning about...
• The hardest thing to understand was...
• I will always remember that ...
• I am most proud of the fact that this school year, I...

2. Literacy Keepsakes to take home at the end of the school year.

3. Digital Literacy- An End of the Year Digital Scrapbook

4. -Ways to keep kids motivated at the end of the year
- Laura Candler

5. End of the Year and Summer Reading Lists to Share:

-See these Scholastic lists and tips and others to keep students reading during the summer.

- End of Year and Summer Reading Lists.

-NCTE Books for Summer Reading

-RIF- Summer Reading for all Kids

Literacy Learning for the Future

2011 Education Policy Platform

This position statement from the NCTE calls for funding to advance literacy learning for all students. Read the entire statement at the link above.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Online Tutorials for Reading Street

Get a review of all Reading Street PD topics by checking out the
My Pearson Training- Reading Street 2011 site. You can view videos and download tutorial materials.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Reading Street and 90 Minute Block Websites

Reading Street:

Thanks to Jodi Lepla for the following sites filled with Reading Street resources for teachers.

Welcome to Reading Street and SmartBoard Goodies were made by teachers and include ideas for:
  • organizing materials (pictures and descriptions)
  • activities for centers in the 90 minute block of instruction
  • Smart Board Activities
  • Parent forms
and more!

It looks like these give a nice snapshot of how other teachers are implementing Reading Street successfully. I know some of the K-1 Haslett teachers used these sites for the SmartBoard help and the organization tips.

90 Minute Block:

If you don't already know about this great resource, check out Laura Candler's website called Teaching Resources. She has a whole section explaining the 90 minute block and provides many great templates for organizing centers. This is not tied specifically to Reading Street, but a general structure of a 90 minute block. As you get to know all of the elements of Reading Street, I'm sure you'll see how they plug into this framework of the 90 minute literacy block.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reading Street Memo from Cliff Seybert

May 6, 2011

Dear Teachers,

We are approaching our final two Reading Street in service dates for the 2010-2011 school year on May 24th at MacDonald Middle School from 4:15-5:15 p.m. Followed by a voluntary June 13th in service (paid at the curriculum rate) at the same location for those that can attend, from 8:30 a.m. –3:30 p.m. We will also begin to disperse more of the Reading Street materials to buildings and classrooms as the pace picks up for remaining PD this year and as we look forward into the summer and fall. The logistics of disbursing materials to schools is complicated by current staffing considerations. As many of you know staffing patterns for the 2011-2012 school year may look a little different than they do today. This will require building principals and building teams to shift materials as staffing changes take place. We are keeping a tight inventory of what is being shipped to buildings in order to make changes down the road.

Your ELA elementary chairs continue to press forward with professional development considerations and recognize feedback from you as being an important part of their planning. We are working on the design of your PD and hope to provide engaging experiences that provide a model of implementation for Reading Street for a typical classroom day/week. While questions certainly remain, the non –negotiables for each grade level are defined in the attached document. Here are a few others thoughts:

  • Classrooms will engage students in the full breadth of resources and of the parameters described in the non-negotiables for each grade level: Get Ready to Read, Small Group Time, Progress Monitoring, Enrichment for Advanced Students, Focused Center Time in conjunction with small group time, and Assessment components shall provide the basis for instruction within the 90 min. block.

  • Teachers shall use a five - day plan as outlined in the Reading Street program within 90-minute blocks of time for your students. For shortened weeks due to vacation periods, half days such as PTC days, etc. teachers will follow an appropriate three or four-day plan set by Reading Street for such abbreviated weeks.

  • We will continue with our current Sitton Spelling program and the Calkins Units of Study writer’s workshop. The 90 min. block is designed for reading instruction from Reading Street, and therefore does not include Sitton Spelling or the Units of Study. With your input ELA chairs will evaluate the efficacy of the Sitton Spelling program and the Calkins Units of Study next year to determine future direction.

  • Social Studies and Science curriculums tied to GLCEs will continue until we know more about the CCSS for these subject areas. The 90 min. reading block will not negate time for these subject areas within the current parameters of our instructional day, though you may support topics on other subjects through the use of Leveled Based Readers from Reading Street. We will have to make some adaptations to insure we are teaching the essential elements of social studies and science as we move forward.

  • The core reading program will be implemented by all classrooms on September 19th, 2011 with follow up by principals as they begin monitoring full implementation. Given this start date for all classrooms, teachers will have the necessary time to establish their classroom routines, behavior management systems, and relationships with students. For resource classrooms using My Sidewalks, the accompaniment to Reading Street for use as a tier 3-intervention program, the start date will be determined by the implementation of interventions for individual students and or groups of students not successful in the core-reading program (Reading Street). A likely start date for the use of My Sidewalks will be in October of 2011.

  • Continued professional development will be key to supporting your work. Melissa Yip will be providing on site support designed to respond to teacher instructional needs tied to the use of the core program, improve teaching pedagogy as needed, and set in motion an understanding of assessment practices embedded in Reading Street that will be used and entered into our student data base Pearson Inform.

There is much to work out yet in terms of implementation. We all know that good teachers know that new programs take time to implement and they require a collaborative effort on the part of everyone. Your support of one another will be important. PD will be built around common grade level time for conversation, planning, and implementation strategies. We anticipate that grade level meeting time will begin as part of the June 13th voluntary PD and perhaps on into the summer should teachers choose to meet on their own time as teachers often do.

So, the journey with Reading Street has just begun as part of the district’s RtI / literacy initiative and alignment with CCSS. Insuring that we have a strong core reading program as part of our tier one work with students supports our ability to intervene early and often with students as we build great readers of many genres. Our current genre units will be reviewed and kept in your classroom for now. As the district makes a transition over the course of the 2011-2012 school year to the new Common Core State Standards a determination will be made as to what portions of the genre units may be applicable. Conducting a gap analysis between what we are currently doing and the new CCSS will be an important undertaking next year. For now we are still teaching to the current GLCEs, but are informed by the new CCSS as we take the cross walk between the two sets of standards. Reading Street addresses genre and provides support and access for current GLCEs, as well as the CCSS.

When visiting schools that have implemented Reading Street, teachers have observed some very good methods of both organization of materials, and their instructional day/week. This information can also be shared with grade level teachers as we move forward. Buildings will have to determine how best to organize material for their use and then appropriate building funds and space to support the organization of materials.

We’ll see you on Tuesday, May 24th for our Reading Street PD and again, if your schedule allows, at the June 13th full day voluntary PD before heading into the summer months. Please anticipate that the remaining sets of building and classroom materials will be arriving at your schools shortly. We will identify which materials you should bring to the remaining PDs. See you soon.


Sunday, May 1, 2011


Introducing New Content with Seed Discussions-

Grades 5-12

As we discussed in some of our professional development sessions, strategies done before reading are most useful for students' reading comprehension.

Often times, introducing new content or new concepts can be overwhelming for students and teachers alike. Through the use of Seed Discussions, students are able to preview the new content or concepts for things that they can relate to. They seek out information that looks familiar to them, things they don’t quite understand, and things that look interesting to them, including new vocabulary. Seed Discussions allow students to identify and develop topics important to their own thinking. (from

See this lesson, and related handout for how to do a Seed Discussion with your students.


Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters: A KIDS COUNT Special Report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Children who read on grade level by the end of third grade are more successful in school, work, and in life. This KIDS COUNT special report affirms a commitment by the Casey Foundation to help ensure that all students are proficient in reading by the end of third grade and help narrow the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children.

Click on the title above to download and read the entire report.

The next Reading Street Professional Development- Grades k-6

May 24th, 2011 4:15-5:15 MacDonald Middle School.


Technology options of Reading Street: Leveled reader database, lesson planner

Assessment in Reading Street

Materials : Teacher Editions, First Stop Manuals, Fresh Reads for Differentiated Test Practice, Baseline Assessments, Assessment Handbooks and Weekly Tests.

** Materials are still being sorted and will come to you as soon as possible.

Sharing our Professional Development Experiences- K-12

As you can see from my last post, some teachers attended MRA and are sharing information here. If you attended a professional development session outside the district and would like to share anything, please let me know, or "comment" on the MRA post to share your own sites and materials.

Friday, April 15, 2011

MRA Conference- Sharing our Learning (A WORK IN PROGRESS)

Teachers who attended the MRA Conference in March are sharing information from sessions in the form of handouts or slideshows. I am pleased to be able to use our Literacy Newsletter in this collaborative way! I will add to it as information comes in.

Facilitating Meetings as an Educational Leader:

Steve Seward i
s an educational consultant. His MRA session focused on how educational leaders can facilitate effective meetings. See his website on resources for charting and instructional techniques.


Sessions on Technology and Literacy:

Using iPads and Mobile Technology to Support Literacy Skills
-See the documents on this session, shared by Jennifer Wright, on the Companion Wikispace.


Sessions on Common Core State Standards:


Future of Literacy- Jim Burke

Reading Instruction
Rethinking the whole class novel
View more documents from Donalynm

Building Deeper Readers and Writers
Kelly Gallagher’s message targeted teaching deeper reading and writing, more specifically; there are steps we can take to avoid “readicide” in our classrooms.
Student Engagement

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Literacy in the Content Areas- Professional Development Sessions

On March 29th I visited teachers at MMS to provide follow up material from our Feburary 22nd professional development session. I'll do the same follow up with HS staff on April 19th.

See handouts on the Companion Wiki

On April 12th, I visited teachers of Whitehills and Glencairn to share and discuss reading comprehension strategies.

See handouts on the Companion Wiki

Monday, April 11, 2011


Lists for Students

Looking for something for your students to read? Marianne Forman asked me to provide some booklists for students and parents. These lists come from either the American Library Association (ALA), the International Reading Association (IRA) or from library systems including the Capital Area District Library and the Detroit Public Libraries. You can find all of theses lists to download and print on our Companion Wiki. There are suggestions for students K-12 and cover topics requested by teachers and parents, including:

*reluctant readers
*science fiction
*books that you just can't put down
*Newberry Award Winners
*books that would appeal to African American readers (parent requests)
*books that would appeal to Hispanic readers (parent requests)
*popular YA historical fiction
*books that are retellings of classic literature

Useful Websites

If you haven't already checked out following websites, I'll list them here for you to do so!

Tag Galaxy-

Looking for images to go along with reading and vocabulary instruction? This site pulls all photos from Flickr that fit the "tag" you are searching.

Florida Center for Reading Research:

  • To conduct basic research on reading, reading growth, reading assessment, and reading instruction that will contribute to the scientific knowledge of reading and benefit students in Florida and throughout the nation.

  • To disseminate information about research-based practices related to literacy instruction and assessment for children in pre-school through 12th grade.

  • To conduct applied research that will have an immediate impact on policy and practices related to literacy instruction in Florida.

  • To provide technical assistance to Florida’s schools and to the State Department of Education for the improvement of literacy outcomes in students from pre-K through 12th grade.


This site is a collaboration by National Council Teachers of English and the International Reading Association.

It includes:
  • lessons for all grade levels and content areas
  • professional development
  • student and parent resources

IES What Works Clearinghouse: Practice Guides

Practice guides provide practical recommendations for educators to help them address the everyday challenges they face in their classrooms and schools. Developed by a panel of nationally recognized experts, practice guides consist of actionable recommendations, strategies for overcoming potential roadblocks, and an indication of the strength of evidence supporting each recommendation. IES practice guides are subjected to rigorous external peer review.

ELA Units for the Common Core State Standards

Common Core’s Curriculum Maps in English Language Arts translate the new Common Core State Standards for Kindergarten through 12th grade into unit maps that teachers can use to plan their year, craft their own more detailed curriculum, and create lesson plans. They were were written by public school teachers for public school teachers and are available free of charge to anyone who would like to use them. The maps are flexible and adaptable, yet they address every standard in the CCSS. Any teacher, school, or district that chooses to follow the Common Core maps can be confident that they are adhering to the standards. The maps are undergoing revision based on suggestions received during a month-long public comment period conducted in the Fall of 2010. A 2011 edition of the maps will be released soon.


Vocabulary Instruction

Explicit vocabulary instruction is key to getting students to understand what they are reading. Watch Anita Archers' lesson and take note of her instructional process:

1) Introduce the pronunciation of the word.
In order to attachment meaning to the vocabulary term and to retrieve that meaning, students must pronounce the word correctly. If the word is one that students have neither heard or said OR is difficult to pronounce, have the students pronounce the word a number of times.

2) Provide a student-friendly explanation of the word’s meaning. The next step is to present the meaning of the word using a definition/explanation that is easy to understand and only includes known words. Presentation of the definition within a sentence makes it easier to process the definition. See sites below for online dictionaries.

3) Illustrate with examples.
Dr. Archer presented a number of examples to illustrate the vocabulary term/concept. Some of the examples related to the students’ own experiences while other examples related directly to the use of the word in the passage, thus bridging vocabulary instruction and passage comprehension.


Longman's Dictionary


And see Tag Galaxy for pictures to aide in vocabulary instruction!

4) Check understanding by asking questions.
Dr. Archer asked students questions to determine their understanding. In this lesson, students were asked to discern between examples and non-examples of ‘elude’ and later examples and non-examples of ‘intention.’

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Review of February 22nd Professional Development

Grades 7-12:

Comprehension Strategy Instruction
Some of the strategies we practiced on Feb. 22 come from Cris Tovani's text I Read It, but I Don't Get It. See her talking about what is important to get students to comprehend content area text.

Don't forget, in your Literacy Binder, you also have a copy of the Common Core State Standards, which sets requirements for literacy in content areas. You can check out the CCSS website as well.



Have you checked out the Reading Street sample website?
Log in with username: michiganreadingstreet

and password

***You can download any First Stops and Teachers Manuals that you'd like copies of!

Training: If you go to this site, "" and choose your grade level and program (Reading Street), you'll find tutorials and sheets on how to use the Reading Street core reading program.


The Ingham ISD also developed a
Reading Street Wiki for ALL users of Reading Street in Ingham County. This is a great place to connect with teachers in other districts!


The Big Five

Early literacy:

  • phonemic awareness

  • phonics

  • fluency

  • vocabulary

  • text comprehension
Illustration from

See Put Reading First, a document from the National Reading Panel that explains The Big Five. You can download it here for free.

Adolescent literacy:

  • Explicit vocabulary instruction

  • Explicit comprehension strategy instruction

  • Extended discussion of text

  • Motivation and engagement with literature

  • Interventions for struggling readers
You can read more about them in the document mentioned in the February newsletter below: Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention Practices

and watch a webcast on

*I plan to continue professional development around these topics at all grade levels.

Share Your Strategies!

Many of you have mentioned that you use reading strategies with your students. Andy Wells and Mary Lou Turnbull thought that it might be nice to get a collection of these to share with all staff. So, send me your strategies and I'll compile them to share out with the whole district!

You can send me an electronic copy at or a paper copy via inter-school mail to MacDonald Middle School.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Companion Wiki

There is now a Companion Wikispace for the ELPS Literacy Newsletter. On the Wiki, you'll find documents from professional development sessions, research on reading and writing instruction, and documents shared by staff members.

Friday, February 18, 2011



You may have already heard a great deal about
Anita Archer, or maybe even had the opportunity to attend one of her sessions. Either way, you will enjoy these videos of her explicit teaching of:
  • vocabulary,
  • background knowledge strategies,
  • active participation,
  • read alouds,
  • word and sentence dictation
  • summary writing,
  • and retelling.
Each video includes a description, feedback on her teaching, and suggestions to improve.

This site is relevant for all subject areas and all grade levels. This is truly a collection of mini professional development session on the web!


The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) from the What Works Clearninghouse and the U.S. Department of Education produces practice guides for K-12 teachers based on the "best available evidence and expertise to bear on current challenges in education. " Recommendations are made, and the strength of the research is rated based on evidence to support these recommendations.

For K-3: Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade
Students who read with understanding at an early age gain access to a broader range of texts, knowledge, and educational opportunities, making early reading comprehension instruction particularly critical. This guide recommends five specific steps that teachers, reading coaches, and principals can take to successfully improve reading comprehension for young readers.

For upper elementary, middle school and high school: Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention Practices
This guide presents strategies that classroom teachers and specialists can use to increase the reading ability of adolescent students. The recommendations aim to help students gain more from their reading tasks, improve their motivation for and engagement in the learning process, and assist struggling readers who may need intensive and individualized attention.



The Letter Generator tool is designed to help students learn to identify all the essential parts of a business or friendly letter, and then generate letters by typing information into letter templates. A sample letter is included, and students can learn about the parts of a letter by reading descriptions of each part.

Once students have become familiar with letter formats, they are prompted to write their own letter. Students follow the steps and fill in specific fields in the template (for example, heading, salutation, closing, signature, and so on). They may even add a decorative border and postscript to the friendly letter. The finished letter can saved, e-mailed, or printed.

This useful tool provides step-by-step instructions for familiarizing users with the necessary elements of written correspondence, and can serve as an excellent practice method for composing and proofreading both formal and informal letters.

There are options for K-12 teachers and various subject areas!

From: ReadWriteThink- an NCTE site.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Professional Development

The Ingham ISD offers many literacy centered professional development opportunities, and many are added throughout the school year. If you don’t check often, you may not know about them! Below is a list of the literacy topics coming up. You can register right on the site. These are appropriate for all subject areas, but specified grade levels.
• Active Engagement and Vocabulary– Grades 4-12
• Comprehension– Grades 2-8
• Early Literacy– Grades K-2
• Explicit Instruction– Grades K-8

What Research Says
A recent literature review published in Fall 2010 edition of The Language Arts Journal of Michigan outlines what teachers can do to help struggling adolescent readers:

Current policy documents from the Alliance for Excellent Education give declarations of what should be done to help struggling adolescent readers. The Alliance for Excellent Education outlined its suggestions in a report entitled Reading Next: A Vision for Action and Research in Middle and High School Literacy (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006) that make suggestions for middle and high school educators. Biancarosa and Snow came up with fifteen key elements for effective adolescent literacy instruction that fall under the categories of instructional and school infrastructure improvements. Some of these elements that fell under instructional improvements were:

Direct, explicit comprehension instruction
: Direct instruction should be linked to goals students wish to achieve as readers, not just the ones that fits the teachers visions (Hall, 2009).This can be achieved by involving students in the instruction by asking questions like “what does it mean to be a reader? what does reading look like? or what type of reader to you want to be-come?” (p. 354).

Strategic tutoring-- According to Biancarosa and Snow (2006), this method is important because it provides focused individualized attention for the struggling reading. Specifically, thistype of tutoring is referred to as strategic because it “emphasize[s] that while students may need tutorial help to acquire critical curriculum knowledge, they also need to be taught ‘how tolearn’ curriculum information” (p. 18). Within this model, tutors are taught learning strategies to
help students complete subject-area assignments. The goal of the tutoring is to empower thestruggling readers to read independently using the learning strategies (Biancarosa & Snow,2006).

Diverse Texts -- These texts of various topics and difficulty levels, make reading more accessible to struggling adolescent readers who may otherwise get frustrated with the difficulty level of texts.

Intensive Writing- "Writing instruction also improves reading comprehension" (Biancarosa and Snow, 2006). When students read and write together, they enhance their critical thinking skills.

* From "Taking Another Look at Struggling Adolescent Readers." Brooks-Yip & Koonce, 2010

Parental Involvement
Teachers Involving Parents
You’ll find interactive homework for science, language arts, and math. This site gives you suggestions, formats and templates for involving parents in schoolwork, along with research, resources, and training on involving parents.


Members of this English Language Arts Network (ELAN) will share information about literacy and serve as liaisons between Ingham ISD and their own districts. The ELAN will provide an opportunity for teachers to collaborate with colleagues. Participants are provided with updates on current issues and resources to teach English language arts. Topics for discussion are often chosen by participants. The network is facilitated by Amy Kilbridge, Ingham ISD English language arts consultant.

Audience: Middle and high school English language arts and special education teachers
Date(s): October 6 and December 8, 2010; February 2, March 9, and April 27, 2011
Time(s): 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Location: Ingham ISD, TEC, Room 302
Cost: No charge for Ingham County educators; $75 for out-county educators
Credit: 0.8 SB-CEU, pending MDE approval
Contact: Debbie Kirchen at 517.244.1251 or
*You can STILL join even if you did not attend in October or December.