Monday, August 26, 2019

September Back-to-School Edition!

Back-to-School Resources

Educators know the first weeks of the school year are a crucial time to get to know our students as individuals with unique personalities, as learners in our classrooms, and as members of families and communities.  Building relationships with students and their families should be our first goal.  If you are looking for some new ideas and resources, check out:

What do you do to get to know students and families?  Share in the comments! 

Professional Learning Opportunities

The Study of Early Literacy (PreK-5) and the Inquiry into Disciplinary Literacy and Learning (6-12) are our networks to support best practices in literacy instruction.  If you are interested in learning more about either, please email me at  

KRA Data Day-  If you are administering the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment this fall and are interested in exploring how you can use the data to inform your instruction, join us on October 18th 8:30-3:30 at WISD.  FREE to all.    
Register HERE

Social Studies Standards, Framework and Disciplinary Literacy! 
Join us for a series of dates to help deepen our understanding of these three documents. 
 October 21, October 29, and November 7   8:30-3:30 at Saline Liberty School.   Free to Washtenaw County educators.  $25 for those outside of the county.
Register HERE for this three day series! 

Monday, July 22, 2019

July & August

Light Summer Reads

As we end July, and I see school supplies show up in stores, I start thinking of the first days of school! I appreciate some light reads with new ideas that are offered in Choice Literacy:

Upcoming Professional Learning

Teaching the Holocaust, Empowering Students

July 31 8:30-3:30 at WISD

Register HERE

Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy-

 One Day Overviews

 August 1st for grades K-3 at WISD 8:30-3:30

At the end of each session, registrants will be invited to join the SOEL network for the 2019-2020 school year. 

**Also, don't forget about the online modules for the PreK and K-3 Essentials

Friday, May 31, 2019


SOEL Celebrates Another Year of Learning!

As the 2018-2019 school year comes to a close, SOEL teachers took time in our last meetings to reflect on and share what they learned about literacy instruction, the changes they made in teaching because of that learning, and how that, in turn, resulted in student learning. 
*Please see our charts from PreK SOEL and K-3 SOEL and our quick visual summary below:

IDLL and the Disciplinary Literacy Essentials! 

After giving feedback three years ago, studying them for two, and being a pilot county for one, The Essential Practices for Disciplinary Literacy Instruction in Secondary Classrooms have finally been publicly released.  In 2019-2020, our Inquiry into Disciplinary Literacy and Learning will continue to study disciplinary literacy through book studies, school visits, and collaborations with EMU and UM.

2019 Reading Book Lists from ILA

Just in time for summer reading, The International Literacy Association released the Choices Reading ListsEach year, thousands of children, young adults, and educators around the United States select their favorite recently published books for the Choices reading lists. These lists are used in classrooms, libraries, and homes to help readers of all ages find books they will enjoy. Check them out for yourself and the children in your life:

Teacher's Choice

Children's Choice

Young Adult Choices

Summer Learning Opportunities

Disciplinary Writing Institute
 9:00-3:00  at 
June 24-25

Register HERE

*This connects to the newly released 6-12 Disciplinary Literacy Essential Instructional Practices and our IDLL network here at WISD

Teaching the Holocaust, Empowering Students

July 31 8:30-3:30 at WISD

Register HERE

Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy-
 One Day Overviews

 August 1st for grades K-3 at WISD 8:30-3:30

At the end of each session, registrants will be invited to join the SOEL network for the 2019-2020 school year. 

**Also, don't forget about the online modules for the PreK and K-3 Essentials

Tuesday, April 30, 2019


Why is Diverse Literature Important in All Classrooms?

A start to our diverse books lending library: picture books on top,
upper EL and MS in the middle, HS on the bottom. 
Thoughtful conversations and planning with SOEL and IDLL teachers, guidance on text selection from guest speaker Dr. Laura Jimenez from our Responsive Teaching Institutes, a wish and a book list from the late YCS teacher Caroline Jacob, and ongoing collaboration with Dr. Shayla Griffin, Culture and Diversity Consultant at WISD, are all part of helping us build and shape a county-wide lending library for diverse books.  After selecting some K-12 diverse texts, SOEL met with Dr. Griffin to help understand and communicate why diverse and multicultural literature is important in all classrooms. Dr. Griffin says:
 1. Multicultural books act as mirrors that affirm, validate, and celebrate our children’s identities and lived experiences and the contributions people like them have made to the world.

Dr. Shayla R. Griffin, PhD. 2018
2. Multicultural books act as windows that expose students to the diversity of the broader world. 

3. Multicultural books can help students and educators interrupt bias and prejudice. 

Stay tuned for more on the Caroline Jacob Memorial Diverse Lending Library available in the 2019-2020 school year for Washtenaw County educators. 

What are We Reading to Learn? 

SOEL Teachers summarize, review and recommend books from
professional reading time this year
Professional books, and the time to read them, has always been part of SOEL since we formed in 2013. 
A few of our titles this year were:

  • Every Child a Super Reader: Seven Strengths to Enter a World of Possible, by Ernest Morrell and Pam Allyn, was a favorite for a second year in a row.   Centered on Belonging, Curiosity, Friendship, Kindness, Confidence, Courage and Hope as Super Reader strengths, this book will certainly be on our SOEL list again next year, as it connects specifically to Essentials #1 and #10

Upcoming Learning Opportunities

Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy- One Day Overviews

 August 1st for grades K-3 at WISD 8:30-3:30

At the end of each session, registrants will be invited to join the SOEL network for the 2019-2020 school year. 

Disciplinary Writing InstituteJune 24-25 at EMU

Register here- Disciplinary Writing Institute 

Participants will be given an invitation to join the IDLL network after completing the institute. 

Monday, April 1, 2019


Professional Learning is Collaboration 

Relationships matter!  SOEL & IDLL had the opportunity to learn together with partners in our community during our March meetings. We are thankful for collaborative relationships with the Assessment Literacy Network, 826 Michigan, the EMU Office of Campus and Community Writing, and the Responsive Teaching Institute.

SOEL 1 teamed up with Assessment Literacy on March 13th on the work of Instructional Agility: Responding to Assessment with Real Time Decisions.   

Designing a rubric with learning targets

Throughout our day long session with author Nicole Dimich Vagle, we:

  • Identified classroom conditions to set up instructional agility and student investment;
  • Learned key components of instructional agility;
  • Learned strategies for developing student investment through instructional agility;
  • Reflected on our current instructional agility and student investment practices to determine next steps.
Take-aways centered on what student investment in assessment can do for their engagement in the classroom, particularly around literacy.

Examining diverse texts
SOEL 2 learned more about equity, inclusion and social justice in literacy and in school leadership during the March 14th Responsive Teaching Institute.  SOEL learning on the importance of a book being written by who it is about will influence an upcoming county wide lending library of diverse books.  Here are a few reputable sites educators can visit to help build a diverse classroom library:

SOEL 3 took a field trip to 826 Michigan to learn about the writing non-profit in Ann Arbor and volunteer with a 2nd grade classroom from Lincoln Community Schools.

Amy Baxter works with a small writing group
 We witnessed and learned from The 826 Stand for student voices, and their mission to build diverse and inclusive environments supportive of student writing ages 6-18.   During our visit and book study of Interactive Writing Across Grades, SOEL made connections to Essential Instructional Practices 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9 &10. 

IDLL teamed up with the EMU Office of Campus and Community Writing to examine Disciplinary Literacies in college classrooms and the support for students at the University Writing Center. 
Levels of Concern for Writing
Writing is prioritized in many classrooms across various subjects at EMU. From writing to learn in the various content areas, to learning to write genres specific to the discipline, professors and instructors detailed their instructional thoughts and decisions around writing in their classrooms.  The University Writing Center helps student writers prioritize their writing in levels of concern- with purpose and audience of the highest concern and conventions of the lowest concern.

Upcoming Professional Learning

Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy Overviews- 
May 1 and May 9

Disciplinary Writing Institute June 24-25

Wednesday, February 27, 2019


SOEL Explores Sound and Rhthym in Early Literacy Learning

Through our SOEL at WISD collaboration with the University Musical Society at UM, teaching artist Marcia Daft demonstrated Sound Writing- Exploring Rhythm, Reading and Writing.  First graders at Perry ELC in Ypsilanti participated in rhythm activities for identifying syllables in classmate's names, and ease of movement for classroom transitions. 

Marcia then came to our SOEL meeting at WISD to work with teachers on incorporating rhythm into reading and writing in the classroom.

Celebrating March is Reading Month  

    Our friends at EMU's Campus and Community Writing (C2W) are celebrating March is Reading Month and the connections between reading and writing. Students, teachers, and family members are encouraged to conduct interviews with each other about their reading habits—and write up what they discover.  You can use the interview questions linked HERE to get you started.  If you share your writing with EMU C2W, along with signed permission forms, they will publish the pieces on their website and even select a few to be featured in their social media platforms. 

Spring Professional Learning Opportunities

Join the Assessment Literacy and SOEL Networks in learning more about how to structure learning environments that better allow teachers to accurately assess and respond to student learning and make real-time decisions that foster student investment. Educators will be able to identify the classroom conditions to set up instructional agility and student investment, describe key components of instructional agility, learn key strategies for developing student investment through instructional agility, reflect on current instructional agility and student investment practices to determine next steps. 
FREE at WISD - Register HERE 

Join all network teachers in learning about applying culturally relevant pedagogy across content areas. Participants will examine how the integration of content areas can further engage students in learning. 
Presenters include:
Dr. Laura Jimenez on selecting culturally responsive books 
Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz on critical English education, Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, racial literacy in urban teacher education.
Dr. Dorinda Carter Andrews- the role of leadership on culturally responsive schools 
Dr. Donna Ford, Culturally Relevant Teaching in AP, Honors courses 
Dr. Sandra Crespo, Culturally Responsive Teaching mathematics   
FREE at EMU- Register HERE

This is a one day overview of the Grades 4&5 Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy Teachers, literacy coaches, or administrators who seek a general overview or a refresher are welcome.  
FREE at WISD- Register  HERE

This is a one day overview of the Grades K-3 Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy Teachers, literacy coaches, or administrators who seek a general overview or a refresher are welcome.  
FREE at LESA- Register  HERE

Friday, February 1, 2019


World Read Aloud Day! 

While today, February 1, is officially World Read Aloud Day, we know it is really EVERY day!  
Visit LitWorld for resources such as bookmarks, booklists, and events, but especially for their Read Aloud Guide to get started now and continue in the future. 

SOEL and Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy

We did end up cancelling our January SOEL meetings due to the #polarvortex2019, but let's not forget that we can always see many SOEL teachers demonstrating Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy on the site.
In this video, you'll see longtime SOEL member, Roshawda Miller talk about coaching reading in small groups.

Responsive Teaching Institutes

On January 17th, the AI Team of WISD welcomed several guest speakers to another Responsive Teaching Institute.  With over 70 educators attending, many saw Dr. Ernest Morrell present on Critical Media Pedagogy: Culturally Responsive Pedagogies for Diverse Classrooms
Join us February 14th  8:30-3:30 at Saline Liberty School to process learning and plan forward for Culturally Relevant Teaching as part of our next Planning and Implementation Day.  Also, save the date for the next Responsive Teaching Institute on March 14th at EMU when we will host Dr. Dorinda Carter Andrews, Dr. Laura Jimenez, Dr. Terry Flennaugh, and Kimberly Wardell Stone.  

Teacher Action Research

Are you interested in learning about Teacher Action Research?  The 4th in our SOEL Teacher Action Research Webinar Series with Dr. Cathy Fleischer will be on February 13th at 4:00.    
No registration is necessary. 
Join us at:

**If you missed previous webinars, catch up HERE!

Echoes and Reflections 

Echoes & Reflections is dedicated to reshaping the way that teachers and students understand, process, and navigate the world through the events of the Holocaust. The Holocaust is more than a historical event; it’s part of the larger human story. Educating students about its significance is a great responsibility. We partner with educators to help them introduce students to the complex themes of the Holocaust and to understand its lasting effect on the world.
Join us February 25th 4:30-8:30 or March 5th 8:30-3:30
FREE.      Register HERE