May 2019

This quarterly newsletter has been created by Wayne RESA literacy consultants for literacy educators. In each issue, you will find Literacy Learning Network updates and information, statewide initiative updates, book synopses, teaching and coaching strategies, and upcoming professional learning opportunities. We look forward to partnering with you as we engage in best practices in literacy instruction for all students.

Literacy Learning Network logo with children reading books.

In 2016 the Michigan legislature passed the third grade reading law. This legislation created an impetus for what educators have always known. . . . we need to teach kids to read.

Shortly after the passing of the legislation, the MAISA GELN, which is made up of leadership of the ISDs across the state, partnered with researchers to identify and compile a small set of research-supported instructional practices to provide a focus for professional development throughout the state. Though the Literacy Essentials do not specify one particular program or approach to literacy instruction, and may look different in different districts, they create a common language and platform for educators across the state.

Shortly after the Essentials documents began to be released, the superintendents in Wayne County started to ask some important questions:

  • What would it take for us to truly prioritize literacy in Wayne County?
  • How do we provide equitable access and opportunity to all students in literacy development?
  • How do we create the conditions and align resources to foster student achievement in early literacy?
  • What would it take to create a shared commitment and collective responsibility to literacy across Wayne County?

A leadership group was formed to study these questions in more depth. This committee included nine Wayne County superintendents and four curriculum directors along with our Wayne RESA literacy team and leadership. The results of this study and work through multiple groups and feedback loops led to a Wayne County Literacy Theory of Action, which gets to the heart of:

  • What would it take to get high quality literacy practices in every classroom every day across Wayne County?
  • How can we partner to create networks of improvement communities?

The Wayne County Theory of Action includes such structures and strategies as ensuring guaranteed and viable curriculum, implementing district coaching models, creating or refining multi-tiered systems of support, and employing instructional rounds. This study and shared commitment has become the foundation of the Wayne County Literacy Learning Network.

More information can be found here: Wayne County Literacy Learning Network

Wayne County Literacy Theory of Action flowchart

Statewide Updates

On May 16, MDE released the cut score for the Read by Grade 3 (RBG3) legislation (see below). Read more about the decision-making process.

Image of Read by Grade 3 legislation cut score based on M-Step results; a score of 1252 or lower provides cause for possible retention in third grade.

As we prepare for the implementation of RBG3, MDE encourages the use of their Read by Grade Three Guide, which includes resources such as a parent tool kit and supports for EL learners. As a reminder, Wayne RESA also created a comprehensive Third Grade Reading Legislation Guide with strategies for educators and families. 

Another source of support for RBG3 is MiRead, which provides teachers and students with data-driven, individualized plans for literacy intervention. Now live, the MiStrategyBank includes student documentation and evaluation information (using data from NWEA, Acadiance, STAR, iReady, and AimsWebPlus), assigns strategies, and sends teacher reminders, among other features. June 1st is the official deadline for MiStrategyBank enrollment for the 2019-2020 school year. 

MAISA, GELN and MDE have collaborated to offer a K-3 Literacy Essentials Team Institute with Yearlong Support. This two-day institute, designed for literacy leadership teams, will be offered on June 19-20 and June 24-25 in East Lansing at the Kellogg Center. Teams will select one of the two date options and follow the registration instructions

After the February launch of the Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy, Grades 4-5, Dr. Palincsar and Dr. Fitzgerald have continued to guide educators in implementing researched best practices via live webinars in March and May. See below for access to the recorded sessions.

The Essential Practices for Disciplinary Literacy Instruction in the Secondary Classroom are now available to the public. Educators interested in further exploring disciplinary literacy can also partake in this free online course created by the Annenberg Foundation.

For those working with students in grades 9-12, the following resources may be useful: Modern States offers free AP courses online, and students are then eligible for AP testing; CLEP is another way that families can save on college tuition, and test preparation materials are available through Modern States.

Books and Strategies

Bookshelf with varying levels of children's literature.

Book Talk

Igniting Passion in Readers of All Ages

Thank You, Omu! 
Oge Mora

Cover of the picture book entitled Thank You, Omu!In this 2019 Caldecott Award winning book, Omu, which in Igbo means queen, makes a thick red stew and looks forward to enjoying the best dinner she’s ever had. The scent of her stew makes its way through the town, bringing all kinds of people–even the mayor–to her door. Each time, Omu shares her stew with her visitor, only to find an empty pot at the end of the day. Moved by her generosity, Omu’s visitors come back with some of their favorite dishes, and the group eats, dances, and celebrates for the rest of the evening. Omu decides that it is the best dinner she’s ever had after all.

Amal Unbound
Aisha Saeed

The book cover illustration for Amal Unbound.Twelve-year-old Amal loves going to school in her small Pakistani village, and she dreams of one day becoming a teacher. Unfortunately, after delivering a fifth daughter, her mother slips into postpartum depression, forcing Amal to run the household and look after her sisters. On a trip to the market one day, Amal encounters the relentless son of her village’s corrupt leader. Unwilling to back down to him, she is forced to serve him and his mother at his estate, far away from the support and love of her family. The ensuing quest reveals Amal’s sheer will and determination to follow her dreams.

Marie Lu

Book cover image of the young adult novel entitled Warcross by Marie Lu.Emika Chen isn’t sure how she will make ends meet by working as a bounty hunter in an ever-growing virtual reality world.  She’s days away from being evicted and at the end of her rope. Suddenly everything changes when her hero, the famous inventor Hideo Tanaka, contacts her to help him unravel a plot to kill him and destroy his Nerolink glasses–used by millions of people worldwide. Emika believes the opportunity is an incredible stroke of luck but quickly discovers that she has been drawn into a situation that will cause her to question herself, her new friends, and the hero she admires.  To answer these questions, Emika must puzzle her way through the competitive Warcross Game, the Dark World (a virtual reality world known for its illegal dealings), and the slowly unraveling truth of the long-ago kidnapping of Hideo’s younger brother.

The Summer of Jordi Perez
Amy Spalding

Abby Ives, a fashion blogger, has just gotten the internship of her dreams at the chic Lemonberry boutique. It is the summer before her senior year of high school, and Abby is convinced that she will only play a supporting role in the love lives of her best friends. Yet, a budding friendship with Jacks, her burger-testing partner, and an evolving relationship with her co-worker, Jordi Perez, leads her to conclude that this is “the weirdest summer ever.” While working to balance new and old relationships, Abby struggles with her plus-size appearance, her relationship with her mom, and her confidence as a voice in the world of teenage fashion, but her humorous tone and introspective observations make Abby a relatable and endearing character. 

The Impact Cycle
Jim Knight

Cover image of The Impact Cycle by Jim Knight.In Jim Knight’s newest book, he focuses on three essential stages in the “impact cycle”: identify a goal, learn and implement strategies that address the goal, and improve those strategies through continual adaptation. Knight advocates for an active, dialogic partnership between coaches and teachers aimed at maximizing instructional impact. With supplemental videos, case studies, and an instructional coaches’ toolkit, Knight illustrates common coaching conundrums and practical ways for coaches to improve their craft. This book is user-friendly, and it gets at the heart of coaching for student improvement.

Teach Like Yourself
Gravity Goldberg

The cover of Teach Like Yourself by Gravity Goldberg.Determined to empower her readers, Goldberg urges teachers to be authentic practitioners who balance their teaching and home lives, practice professional and personal self-care, and value the whys and hows of effective teaching practices. Complete with a Teach Like Yourself Manifesto, Goldberg embeds her own teaching stories, evidence-based best practices, and spaces to reflect in each chapter. In an era of educators under fire, Goldberg provides concrete ways to avoid burnout, to restore confidence, and to nurture the self-trust necessary to develop true expertise.    

Avoiding Summer Reading Loss

A little girl reading to her stuffed bears in the summer time.

The Essential School-wide and Center-wide Practices in Literacy encourage literacy educators to promote summer reading opportunities for students. One of the main indicators of reading aptitude is reading; in other words, students who read more are often better readers (Allington, 2006). However, in some communities, students have limited access to books, particularly those that relate to their interests and hobbies. There are several ways that books can be made available to students over the summer; for example, the school library could remain open on certain days of the week throughout the summer, or teachers could work with public librarians to secure library cards for students and their family members. Engagement and accountability are important, too. Giving students a summer reading list of culturally relevant books and a way to report their impressions will reinforce the importance of reading outside of school. Finally, daily activities like cooking together or looking up directions require students and their families to read for specific purposes. Ultimately, the value of reading throughout the summer cannot be underestimated because “often, it is the students who can least afford to lose the reading gains they’ve achieved during the school year who fall the farthest behind when they return to the classroom after a summer break” (Mraz & Rasinski, 2007).

Using Students’ “Funds of Knowledge” to Bolster Student Achievement

Grandmother and grandson looking at a laptop computer together on a farm.

According to Gonzalez, Moll, and Amanti (2005), “the funds of knowledge approach assumes that families and communities are valuable educational resources.”  Therefore, in order to educate the whole child, teachers and administrators must consider how to validate and highlight the knowledge students bring from their homes and communities. This means learning about the support systems that students rely upon outside of school and using them to “connect the curriculum with students’ lives” (Esteban-Guitart & Moll, 2014). Knowledge about students’ home language, traditions and values, activities, and parents’ occupations can help when planning family engagement activities at school. The goal is to deepen the home-school partnership by relating academic learning to the real world and designing family engagement activities that are interactive, encouraging and social. Once these relationships are established, even parent-teacher

conferences and back-to-school nights will become collaborative and rooted in students’ success. Similarly, educators can learn about the associations students have with their communities and use these to increase educational opportunities. For example, building partnerships with community organizations can provide students with authentic audiences and purposes for their work. Other community institutions may sponsor programs for youth that supplement learning, such as the local library. Finally, religiously- or culturally-affiliated organizations can assist schools in working with diverse families. The benefits of using students’ “funds of knowledge” are vast. When such partnerships exist between schools, families and the community, students are more apt to value learning, persist with school work, and adjust well to the classroom setting (Henderson & Mapp, 2002). 

Professional Learning

Michigan Virtual, in collaboration with the GELN, has created a series of sample videos that highlight the Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy, Pre-K and Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy, K-3. Bullet by bullet, these videos provide solid examples of researched best practices in literacy instruction. 

In this Top 10 in 10 video, Interim Superintendent Alles explains how the P-8 (prenatal to age 8) Priority aligns early childhood and K-12 education by laying the foundations necessary for student success. 

This webinar is the first of two follow-up webinars from the 1-day introduction to the Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy, Grades 4-5. Areas of focus included student collaboration, small group conversation, analysis of texts and application in Social Studies across a unit of instruction.

This webinar is the second of two follow-up webinars from the 1-day introduction to the Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy, Grades 4-5. Areas of focus included writing, small group collaboration and application in science instruction.

Upcoming Events at Wayne RESA
Online registration for professional learning is available in Wisdomwhere
Early Literacy
Introduction to the Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy, Pre-K: September 27, October 4, November 1, December 6, January 24, February 28, March 27, and May 1 (half-day workshops – choose all dates – a.m. or p.m.)
Research has shown that literacy knowledge and skills developed in the preschool years predict later literacy achievement. To ensure young children are well-prepared to reach the “reading-by-third grade” mandate, it is vital that prekindergarten programs implement the ten research-based best practices included in the GELN document, Essential Instructional Practices for Early Literacy, Pre-KThis series of eight half-days will provide an introduction to these essential instructional practices and will explore developmentally appropriate strategies for implementation in early childhood programs. Registration is coming soon!
Instructional Rounds in Literacy Education with Richard Elmore: June 4, 2019
Join author and Harvard research professor, Richard Elmore, as we delve into Instructional Rounds in Education. Instructional Rounds offers a model for educators to work together to solve common problems and improve their overall practice. In this session, participants will learn  the principles and practices of this research-based approach to observing, analyzing, and improving teaching and literacy learning. Discover how Instructional Rounds differs from supervision and evaluative observations. Delve into the GELN Literacy Essentials to shape a shared understanding of high quality instruction. Gain insight into the promise and challenges of Instructional Rounds and learn how this approach can lead to large-scale improvement in literacy. Participants will receive a copy of Dr. Elmore’s book, Instructional Rounds in Education.
Foundational Literacy Skills in the K-2 Classroom: August 20-21, 2019
A strong foundation is important, especially when the work is building up our youngest readers and writers! Join Dr. Kathryn Roberts, former kindergarten teacher and current professor of literacy at Wayne State University, in this two-day course focused on strengthening the foundational skills of literacy instruction. If you’re picturing endless worksheets or flashcards, take heart because there are better ways! Participants will leave with an understanding of how phonological awareness and letter-sound knowledge develop, as well as how they can be taught in engaging, interactive and effective ways in the early elementary grades. Participants will also receive Word Sorts and More, Second Edition: Sound, Pattern, and Meaning Explorations K-3, Second Edition by Kathy Gansk to support the instructional strategies shared during this workshop.
Overview of the GELN Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy, Grades K-5: September 16, 2019 OR January 9, 2020
Have you heard the phrase “minimum standard of care”?  Are you familiar with how this phrase connects with literacy practices in our K-5 classrooms? If you are curious about these questions and how it can impact your teaching, then this session is for you!  Come and learn about the GELN Essential Practices in literacy.  In this session, participants will be provided an overview to the K-3 and 4-5 Literacy Essential Practices.  Participants will spend time learning about motivation and engagement and the critical role these play in all aspects of literacy development as well as the other 9 essentials.  As each of the 10 essentials is introduced, participants will be given time for reflection and action planning, therefore school literacy teams and/or grade level teams are encouraged to enroll together. This session could serve as a springboard to build ideas for professional learning linked to school improvement. All participants will receive their own printed copy of the GELN Literacy Essentials for Grades K-3 & 4-5. 
Upper Elementary and Secondary
PSAT/SAT Instructional Shifts: October 1, 2019 – OR – February 5, 2020
This course is designed to provide participants with key information and instructional shifts for the PSAT 8/9.  The PSAT replaces the M-STEP English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics assessments. Participants will understand the PSAT 8/9 test structure, review sample items, and identify the instructional shifts necessary to best support students on this assessment. Registration is coming soon!
Wayne County Coaching Foundations: October 21, 2019 OR March 2, 2020 (each face-to-face date is followed by six online sessions)
Designed as a boot-camp for new and prospective coaches, this series examines key components of coaching. Join us as we explore what literacy coaching is and how it can lead to systemic improvement within a school or district. In this foundational course, we delve into the skills necessary to be an effective literacy coach, including nurturing a growth mindset, developing relational trust, active listening, meaningful use of data, and providing effective feedback. Discover how the Essential Coaching Practices for Elementary Literacy connect with the other components of the Essential Practices in Early and Elementary Literacy and learn how to integrate these core elements into successful practice. The intended audience for this course is new or aspiring literacy coaches. 
District Leadership
Leadership-driven Coaching for Sustained Success: June 26 OR August 14, 2019 (plus five additional online sessions) 
The building leader is integral to sustaining an effective coaching model. When employed and supported effectively, literacy coaching strengthens classroom instruction by improving teacher expertise, provides sustainability to district professional development systems and promotes student achievement. This series will explore the characteristics of effective building level implementation and sustainability of coaching and the role that leadership plays in that success, including a healthy principal-coach relationship.   
Pathways to School- and Center-wide Practices for Literacy Leaders: September 24, October 29, November 26, 2019 & January 28, 2020

Join Dr. Kristy Cooper Stein, Associate Professor of K-12 Educational Administration with the MSU College of Education, as she examines how school and district literacy leaders can use their megaphone to advocate for and implement organizational practices that create equitable literacy learning for all.  This 4-part series will help school- and district-based leaders implement the Essential School-Wide and Center-Wide Practices in Literacy released by the Early Literacy Task Force of Michigan’s General Education Leadership Network. As one of the authors of this document, Dr. Cooper Stein will ensure that participants develop a clear understanding of the purpose, rationale, and research behind the overall document and each of the 10 essential practices. 

White question mark in a blue circle.

Resources: Where can I find...

Working on ways to avoid the summer drain? Try using one of these sites to keep students engaged:,, and

Looking for college scholarships for high school students? Check out the College Board Opportunity Scholarships.

Wayne RESA Literacy Team

If this newsletter has been forwarded to you, and you’d like to subscribe to it, please contact Laura Gabrion

33500 Van Born Road • Wayne, MI 48184 • 734.334.1300 • 734.334.1620 fax •
Board of Education
James S. Beri • Mary E. Blackmon • Danielle Funderburg • Lynda S. Jackson • James Petrie
Randy A. Liepa, Ph.D., Superintendent