Monday, October 1, 2018


Literacy Professional Learning is off to a Strong Start!

K-3 educators in the Study of Early Literacy (SOEL) had their first meetings of the year to:
  • Look at the history of SOEL, now in our sixth year (timeline to come!) 
  • Write a Personal Syllabus to create a learning plan for the year.

The Inquiry into Disciplinary Literacy and Learning (IDLL) Network met at Saline High School for our first meeting to examine the new Essential Practices for Literacy Instruction in Secondary Classrooms, for which we are a pilot group this year.  Our study includes:

Upcoming Professional Learning

Register HERE for the Responsive Teaching Institute 

(SOEL & IDLL teachers, e-mail Melissa for a discount code) 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


Start Your School Year with Authentic Relationship and Community Building 

In these activities, students greet each other respectfully and then share interesting, meaningful activities that draw them together while practicing speaking and listening skills.

 They become more open to diverse people and cultures, ready to take a stand for equity. Such connections and understandings help create the optimal social emotional conditions for learning. They foster awareness of social biases and reveal possibilities for transforming them. 

       The activities are grouped by the domains of Teaching Tolerance’s Anti-bias Framework: Identity, Diversity, Justice and Action, with five advisories in each domain. 
See the entire guide HERE.

Powerful Literacy

Dr. Ernest Morrell, Professor of English at Notre Dame, and frequent guest speaker for SOEL and Responsive Mathematics, talks here about Powerful Literacy.  In listening to his definition we can see what is often lost among our mandates, programs, and test scores when it comes to thinking about what it means to be a literate individual. 

Upcoming Professional Learning Opportunities

Echoes and Reflections: Holocaust Professional Learning
Supporting educators and their students with the courage to question the past and the knowledge to impact the future.  

Join us October 9 & 10 at WISD from 9:00-3:00
  • Meet the public act requirement for teaching the Holocaust and other genocides.
  • Discover and utilize classroom-ready digital lesson plans, visual history testimonies, and additional primary source materials.
  • Align the curriculum to your school improvement plan strategies and district needs.
  • Make connections with what you are already do in your classrooms.
  • Enhance personal knowledge about the Holocaust and other genocides.

Friday, June 22, 2018

July & August

Summer Reading Lists for Educators

Whether it's for our own reading pleasure,  professional learning, or a mix of both, we should all make time to read this summer!   

Check out these lists for some ideas:
Kids Books (by teachers)

Upcoming Professional Learning

July 31-  Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy- An Overview

Register HERE

Anyone is welcome, but this day will also provide an overview of the Essentials in preparation for SOEL SI August 1, 2, 3**
The purpose of the Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy document is to increase Michigan's capacity to improve children's literacy by identifying a small set of research supported literacy instructional practices that could be a focus of professional development throughout the state. The focus of the document is on classroom practices, rather than on school- or systems-level practices.

August 1, 2, 3, SOEL Summer Institute

K-3 Educators- Join SOEL in Our SIXTH Year!
Register HERE  (THREE spots open!)

Because teachers are continual learners, dedicated to perfecting their craft, they participate in robust professional learning experiences, such as SOEL, as part of their career.

Rooted in the Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy, SOEL began in an effort to prepare teachers to not only teach students to learn to read, but to read to learn from the start of their literacy journey (Reutzel, 2014).

We know good teachers, effective teachers, matter much more than particular curriculum materials, pedagogical approaches, or programs.

Through learning together with literacy experts, professional texts, and teacher action research, SOEL teachers are powerful teachers of literacy!
'Probably the most compelling data is the difference in the percentage of kids who made their reading growth goals in NWEA comparing SOEL-trained teachers to others. Non-SOEL teachers averaged 58.1% of their kids who met their reading growth goals. SOEL teachers averaged 69.7% of their kids, 11.5% more. That's a big deal!'- District Curriculum Director

Engaging Students through Arts Integration and Student Participatory Action Research for Social Justice

August 9th   9:00-12:00 
      &          1:00-4:00  
* Register for one or both  
Arts Integration with Kimberly Boyd-  August 9th 9:00-12:00

A UMS/SOEL Collabortion:
Movement engages students in active learning! Movement and creative dance provide an opportunity to reach kinesthetic learners in a way that allows them to process and retain information efficiently. Join dance teaching artist Kimberli Boyd to explore warm-ups, creative movement learning activities, and simple structures for composing dances that involve students in active learning.
Whether your students are learning a new language, building a bolder vocabulary or discovering more dynamic descriptive word choices, movement provides an active approach to understanding nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, simile, and metaphor. This interactive and participatory workshop will share strategies that integrate best practices in teaching with elements and principles of dance. The result is a simple yet highly effective approach to enhancing student engagement, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and much more.
Objectives for the Workshop-  To know:
  • the basic elements of dance;
  • how to identify the movement potential in a poem topic
Be able to:
  • apply specific strategies for using simile and metaphor to write a free verse poem
  • apply structures that use improvisation to create dances inspired by prom theme introduced in the workshop.
  • the value of integrating movement and creative dance with poetry as a means of supporting student engagement, critical thinking, collaboration and creative expression.

 The Responsive Mathematics Institute continues this year, beginning with Dr. Vaughan Watson from Michigan State University. This professional development is an opportunity for teachers to learn how to use Youth Participatory Action Research as a means for incorporating social justice into the classroom. 

*Teachers are also invited to participate in the morning session from 9:00am - 12:00pm with Kimberli Boyd. The morning session will focus on Engaging Students through Arts Integration. Movement engages students in active learning! Movement and creative dance provide an opportunity to reach kinesthetic learners in a way that allows them to process and retain information efficiently. Join dance teaching artist Kimberli Boyd to explore warm-ups, creative movement learning activities, and simple structures for composing dances that involve students in active learning.

Friday, May 25, 2018


SOEL Teacher Research Presentations

On May 22, 23, 24, Study of Early Literacy teachers presented their year long action research projects around an aspect of their early literacy instruction aligned to the Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy.  

SOEL impacts teacher motivation and engagement in improving literacy instructional practices.

You can see all teacher presentations HERE and view snapshots of many in the video below. All SOEL teachers and their colleagues should be proud of the work SOEL teachers have done and presented this year! If you are interested in joining SOEL, attend SOEL SI August 1, 2, 3!

IDLL Practices in Disciplinary Literacy 

Inquiry into Disciplinary Literacy and Learning teachers and guests spent the day on May 16  digging deeper into disciplinary literacy practices in social studies, science, math and ELA.  IDLL will continue work next year by aligning current lesson plans and building new units specific to disciplinary literacy.  If you are interested in joining IDLL, come to our summer institute!  

Wednesday, May 2, 2018


SOEL 3 - Writing Instruction in Early Literacy

SOEL teachers observing Mini-Lesson and Conferring
The Study of Early Literacy, cohort 3, has a focus on writing instruction, Essential #6 of the K-3 Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy. Our April meeting was spent on Learning Walks in SOEL classrooms, specifically looking at Writer's Workshop.  Thanks to SOEL member Jennifer Miller for hosting our day! 

Literacy Learning Opportunities for All! 
 *See linked flyers for all information/registration

Thursday, April 5, 2018


Dr. Ernest Morrell on Building Powerful Family-School Literacy Connections

On March 13, we welcomed Dr. Ernest Morrell back for a third session this year on Every Child a Super Reader.  This time, Dr. Morrell led participants through a thoughtful planning session on building and sustaining school-family literacy.

Upcoming Learning Opportunities

Saturday, March 3, 2018


SOEL 2 with Dr. Gina Cervetti on Science Integration in Literacy

On February 28th, the Study of Early Literacy 2, welcomed Dr. Gina Cervetti from the UM SOE.  Dr. Cervetti believes we (educators) should support the development of KNOWLEDGE (not just isolated skills) through extended investigations and experiences, units of study, and conceptually focused reading. By combining what we know about literacy instruction with the NGSS, knowledge building will be the focus, as it should be.  SOEL looks forward to working with Dr. Cervetti next year in writing science/literacy integrated units, in line with both NGSS and The Essentials of Instruction in Early Literacy. 


  • March 13, SOEL 1 welcomes Dr. Ernest Morrell on Every Child a Super Reader at EMU. 
  • August 1, 2, 3 SOEL Summer Institute  (Save the Dates, more info. to come) 

IDLL at Millcreek MS- Disciplinary Literacy and Inquiry Based Learning

On February 21, the Inquiry Into Disciplinary Literacy and Learning was hosted by member Melanie Dever at Millcreek Middle School. Melanie and Ethan from Huron HS, led us through a process of thinking about what it takes for teachers to teach disciplinary literacy (as opposed to reading and writing in the content area), that disciplinary inquiry is about constructing and communicating knowledge, and this instruction is defined as supporting students' specific literate practices in the discipline for the purpose of disciplinary inquiry. 

Join IDLL!
  • May 17th at UM on the future of Disciplinary Literacy-contact Melissa Brooks-Yip if interested.  

March (and EVERY month) is Reading Month 

Are you looking for some new titles for YOU and the diverse readers in your classroom?  

Like book lists?   Follow me on Twitter!    @melyiplit 

Friday, February 2, 2018


 What are Teachers Reading? 

Teachers in The Study of Early Literacy (SOEL) 3 are reading Write Now! Empowering Writers in Today's K-6 Classroom by Kathryn Ganske.  With a focus on writing instruction, Write Now! details:
  • What writing instruction should look like in the age of high standards
  • The power of mentor texts to teach narrative and informational writing skills
  • Strategies for teaching argumentative and persuasive writing
  • Vision, choice and identity in motivating writers
  • Multi-genre projects to integrate social studies and science

Upcoming Literacy and Technology Professional Learning

IDLL hosts Dr. Liz Kolb on Learning First, Technology Second

March 22 at Huron High School, Ann Arbor
Hosted by the Inquiry into Disciplinary Literacy and Learning teacher network-  all are welcome! 


Learning with technology doesn't happen because a specific tool “revolutionizes” education. It happens when proven teaching strategies intersect with technology tools, and yet it's not uncommon for teachers to use a tool because it's “fun” or because the developer promises it will help students learn.
Learning First, Technology Second offers teachers the professional learning they need to move from arbitrary uses of technology in their classrooms to thoughtful ways of adding value to student learning.
*About the Author:  Liz Kolb is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Michigan. She is the author of several books, and the creator of the Triple E Framework for effective teaching with digital technologies.

Dr. Ernest Morrell on Every Child a Super Reader

SOEL and Responsive Mathematics once again host Dr. Ernest Morrell on March 13th at EMU.
Register HERE
Dr. Morrell will continue working with participants around the 7 Strengths Framework, on how to foster:
  • belonging
  • curiosity
  • friendship
  • kindness
  • confidence
  • courage
  • hope


  • August 1, 2, 3:  SOEL Summer Institute at WISD- for educators focused on PreK- 3 (with a focus on early literacy instruction and the PreK-3 Essential Instructional Practices) along with Teacher Action Research.
                 Pre-register HERE

  • August 21: EdCamp as WISD- for all educators

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


Are you ready for World Read Aloud Day

Lit World believes everyone in the world should get to read and write. On World Read Aloud Day (WRAD), people around the world read aloud together and share stories to advocate for literacy as a human right. 
Download your resource packet here that includes how to host a WRAD event, decorations, spreading the word, a read aloud guide and tips on connecting with authors. 
Please share your WRAD celebrations on social media!

Upcoming Professional Learning

Questions?   Contact Dr. Cathy Fleischer

*Note, the Learning First, Technology Second workshop with Dr. Liz Kolb that was cancelled on December 14th is RESCHEDULED for March 22 at Huron High School.   If you can no longer make it, please contact Cheryl Taylor at 

If you'd like to attend on this new date, you can register HERE