Thursday, December 19, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to SOEL, RA and WC! 

                                                             WISD/LESA Literacy

Happy Holidays to all educators involved in the literacy initiatives at WISD and LESA!   Enjoy your well deserved break!


Motivating Students to READ over the Holiday Break!

Franki Sibberson of Choice Literacy suggests that teachers help students organize some reading time into their holiday break with this organizer: 

Thinking Ahead to Vacation Reading

When will you have time over vacation to read? Will it be short bursts or long periods of time?

Is there a book you’ve been hoping to finish? What is the title?

Will you be in the car or on a plane for a long time? What kind of books might you take?

What places will you visit that you might like to read about?

Will you have time during the days without much to do? Is there a book you’ve been hoping to
read that you haven’t had time for?

What nonfiction topics would you like read about?

What internet sites would you like to visit (favorite authors, magazines, etc.)?

What magazines or quick reads would you like to have on hand for short bursts of reading?

Which relatives might you like to read with? What might you read to/with them?

Is there anyone you’ll see over the holidays who you like to talk with about books?
What are you most excited to chat with them about at this time?

Sunday, December 1, 2013


The Early Language Gap is About More than Words

      Our Study of Early Literacy (SOEL) group here at WISD has been deep into reading recent research and learning from top experts at local universities.  Dr. Tanya Wright from MSU shared this video illustrating the importance of teaching more than just vocabulary words. Look below the "tip of the iceberg" to reveal what is included in truly understanding the meaning of a word.
*from the Shanker Institute

Writing Collaborative: Addressing Instruction for 21st Century Writing Skills

Writing Collaborative was developed at WISD by five Washtenaw County teachers. The mission of Writing Collaborative is to understand writing in content areas in order to make explicit the processes and strategies needed to expand and improve student writing. Writing Collaborative believes that:
  •        Teachers should maintain ownership for their                         students’ writing in their content area.
  •        An interdisciplinary approach is key to improving                   student writing.
  •        Content area teachers who understand their own                   writing processes are the best mentors for their                     student writers.
  •        Teachers are the best teachers of other teachers.
  •        Educational practice should be balanced with theory             and research.
  •        Students should have flexibility and choice when                   writing.
  •        Reading Apprenticeship provides a foundation for                 better writing instruction. 

Interested in training?  

     During the initial 3-day training, Writing Collaborative helps teachers help their students determine:
Ø  What we do when we write
Ø  The practices of successful writers
Ø  How to help students attend to their metacognition and
      make thoughtful choices as writers
Ø  Four Sure Things Teachers Can Do to Improve Student Writing
·       Mind the GAP:  genre, audience, purpose
·       Use models and modeling
·       Increase opportunities for students to write
·       Give appropriate feedback
*See the bottom of this post for dates and registration info. 

*We are interested in learning more about the needs of teachers in the area of writing instruction.  Please take this SHORT SURVEY to help us continue quality professional development in this area. 

*Have you already been trained in Writing Collaborative?   If you are a secondary science or social studies teacher looking to work more on your content area writing instruction, Dr. Chauncey Monte-Sano and Dr. Leah Bricker at the University of Michigan are offering opportunities. Contact Melissa Brooks-Yip at or 734-994-8100 ext 1266


Finding the Right Books for Common Core-

Aligned Reading

            In  Reading Today, Lauren Aimonette Liang (University of Utah), Naomi Watkins (University of La Verne), and Deanna Day (Washington State University/Vancouver) suggest ways to find challenging, high-quality texts that match the criteria of the Common Core State Standards. “Be aware of the various types of nonfiction, and strive to include a variety in classrooms,” they urge. Teachers should also consider different formats: picture books, magazines, novels, how-to guides, and a variety of informational texts. 
They suggest the following websites as resources:
• International Reading Association:
• Hornbook’s Nonfiction Notes:
• School Library Journal:
• Text Project:
• World of Words:
In addition, Liang, Watkins, and Day recommend the following books (each with a Lexile level):
Island: A Story of the Galapagos (J. Chin, Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, 2012 – 900L)
Lincoln’s Grave Robbers (S. Sheinkin, Scholastic, 2012 – 930L)
Kid Pickers: How to Turn Junk Into Treasure (M. Wolfe, Feiwel and Friends, 2013 – 1030L)
Frog Song (F.Z. Guiberson, Henry Hold & Company, 2013 – 950L)
The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure (M. W. Sandler,
Candlewick, 2012 – 1270L)
Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure (J. Murphy,
Clarion Books, 2012 – 1200L)

“Selecting Quality Nonfiction Classroom Texts That Meet CCSS Qualifications” by Lauren Aimonette Liang, Naomi Watkins, and Deanna Day in Reading Today, October/November 2013 (Vol. 31, #2, p. 25-27),; the authors can be reached at, and
**Shared from Marshall Memo #511


Upcoming Literacy Professional Development

Writing Collaborative (grades 4-12):
February 6, 7, and March 7, 2014 at WISD 8:30-3:30
April 29, 30, and May 16, 2014 at WISD 8:30-3:30  *See flyer here  

Reading Apprenticeship (grades 4-12):
January 28, 29 and February 12, 2014  at WISD 8:30-3:30
April 22, 23 and May 14, 2014 at WISD 8:30-3:30  *See flyer here

Speaker: Dr. Timothy Shanahan on elementary literacy and the CCSS.  March 11th , 2014  12:30

*All details, costs, and registrations can be found on WISDGoSignMeUP!