Literacy Newsletter April 2021 logo with title, date and megaphone

This 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.

Literacy Learning Network Updates

Lit Lab Pop-Ups

Wayne RESA Lit Lab Pop-up logo

With collaborative support from the Literacy Learning Network, the MiSTEM Network, the COSA Collaborative, and Wayne RESA consultants, our first blended Lit Lap Pop-Up series will be held for eight weeks this summer. 1500 Wayne County incoming third graders will participant in this enriching experience that fuses STEM, maker, literacy, and art activities each week. At the center of this series are eight engaging picture books. Participants will receive their own copies of the books and can follow along during the opening read-alouds each week. By partnering with the Nutty Scientists of Southeastern Michigan and the Detroit Institute of Arts, students will also have access to STEM kits and opportunities for artistic connection and expression related to the books. Both community partners will demonstrate activities that encourage student engagement followed by opportunities for students to write in their Lit Lab Notebooks. With their new magnifying glasses, these curious third graders will be encouraged to explore the natural world around them and jot down their observations. Finally, students will be able to share and provide feedback to peers in small group settings. This unique opportunity reinforces many of the Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy at both the classroom and school-wide levels in an effort to reduce summer learning loss. As Mellissa Wilson, lead Lit Lab Pop-Up consultant, explains, we can “strengthen the collective impact through connections that advance student learning and achievement by eliciting support of families, educators, and community partners.”

Headshot of Cornelius Minor, educational consultant and author of We Got This

Summer Learning Series

This summer, Wayne RESA consultants across various areas of expertise will be leading two professional learning series. The first series, held from July 26 – 30, will focus on using instructional technology in the classroom. Offering two sessions each day, Instructional Technology consultants will guide participants in implementing various technological tools and applications to enhance instructional delivery. From August 2 – 31, we will be hosting our second annual Summer Learning Blitz. Sessions will begin each day at 3:00 pm and will cover a variety of topics that center on increasing motivation and engagement to promote student success. This year, we are excited to feature Cornelius Minor, leading educational consultant and author of We Got This. His sessions will ground our learning in equitable literacy practices within and across disciplines. In both series, the sessions will be virtual, free of cost, and recorded. Registration links will be available soon on our Catalog and Registration page. We look forward to learning with you!

Wayne RESA COSA logo: Coach on Special Assignment

Coaching Connections

Wayne County Coaching Network Logo

Our last COSA Collaborative for the year celebrated the many creative ways our Wayne County coaches have used to connect with their teachers throughout this very trying year, such a coaching menus, blogs, and Bitmoji classrooms. Our final Coaching Network meeting will be held on May 12. If you would like to read more about the impact of literacy coaching, Mary Anne Brush’s recent blog post captures the essence of one district’s desire to improve literacy instruction and support for both teachers and students.

Statewide Updates

⭐The National Writing Project of Michigan is offering both virtual and face-to-face opportunities for students and teachers this summer. Take some time to nurture your inner writer by looking into Summer 2021 programs throughout the state or even teacher and youth writing camps in our region.

⭐The Disciplinary Literacy Task Force is excited to offer another Introductory Institute on August 5, 2021, from 8:30 to 12:00pm, via Zoom. The cost is $25, and participants will earn 3.25 SCECHs. Register today!

⭐The Disciplinary Literacy Task Force will also be offering a condensed version of the Deeper Dive Institute from August 11 – 13, 2021. Synchronous sessions will be held via Zoom from 9:00 – 11:00 am each day; participants are expected to attend all synchronous learning sessions and engage in approximately two hours of asynchronous learning in between each session. The cost is $50, and participants will earn 12 SCECHs. Registration is now open!

⭐The Michigan Department of Education (MDE), in partnership with the researchers and educational leaders from the Region 8 Comprehensive Center, has developed resources to help districts promote family engagement in literacy. These resources are intended to provide effective early literacy learning strategies for districts to use with families in an effort to support literacy learning at home.

⭐The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has published the Early Literacy Summer Reading Guide 2021 to support students in summer reading as we pivot to a new, better normal. This guidance is an urgent call to action for school leaders to plan now for book-based summer reading programs.

⭐The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have co-authored Learning Beyond COVID-19: A Vision for Thriving in Public Education. In it, they establish five priorities that will help educators embrace opportunities for change.

⭐Dr. Nell Duke, Naomi Norman, and Sydney Janecke have compiled a guide to summer literacy programs that are aligned with HB 4048. This document provides research-based instructional practices as well as sample programs to assist districts and schools when planning summer learning opportunities for their students.

Books and Strategies

Bookshelf with varying levels of children's literature.

Book Talk

Igniting Passion in Readers of All Ages

Magic Ramen
Andrea Wang

Cover image of Magic Ramen by Andrea WangMomofuku Ando was motivated to restore peace and full stomachs to the people of Japan, many of whom were still suffering the devastating after effects of World War II. Watching the poor and hungry wait in long lines for bowls of ramen gave Momofuku an idea. Despite numerous failed attempts to create instant ramen, he persevered, and after one year, he had finally invented a delicious meal that only required two cups of boiling water to prepare. Today, Momofuku Ando’s magic ramen is enjoyed by people across the world!

The Weird and Wonderful World of Bugs
Rea Manderino 

Cover image of the book The Weird and Wonderful World of BugsThis colorful informational text provides young readers with detailed explanations and photographic illustrations of the developmental stages and body parts of several different types of insects. Scientific groups, eating habits, and habitats are uncovered as well as unusual facts; for example, “there are almost 390,000 species” of beetles, or “each species of firefly has its own flashing pattern!” Manderino encourages students to become scientists and discover insects in the natural world around them.

King and the Dragonflies
Kacen Callender

Cover image of the book King and the Dragonflies

King and his family have suffered a great loss. King’s older brother, Khalid, has suddenly passed away.  King leans on his friends to get through his day-to-day life, but one friend is no longer part of his circle.  His best friend Sandy confided in King that he is gay and that changes their friendship.  Under the advice of Khalid, King tells Sandy that he can’t be friends with him any longer.  King struggles with the loss of this friendship, his family’s grief, and that he may be gay himself. .

Life as We Knew It
Susan Beth Pfeffer

 Cover image of the book Life as We Knew ItMiranda’s disbelief turns to fear when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove. Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all–hope–in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.

A Principal’s Tale: A Self-Determined Leader
Dr. Shelley McIntosh

Cover image of A Principal's Tale by Dr. Shelley McIntoshDr. Shelley McIntosh, one of our esteemed Wayne RESA literacy coaches, has been a long-time advocate for progressive change in the Detroit Public Schools Community District. Her most recent book is a must-have guide for school administrators, in which she infuses practicality through the 4 Rs: Reality, Resolution, Reflection, and Reflection Questions. Dr. McIntosh presents realistic obstacles to building a school community and provides tested resolutions. After adding her own metacognitive observations, she passes the baton to school administrators in the form of questions that spur growth.

Coaching for Equity: Conversations that Change Practice
Elena Aguilar

Cover image of Coaching for Equity by Elena AguilarLeading literacy coach and consultant Elena Aguilar advocates for equitable literacy instruction via coaching. This in-depth guide promotes honest introspection and self-reflection as the first step in the transformational coaching process. While she acknowledges that the inroads to successful coaching rely upon relationships and trust, she includes ways to initiate conversations about race and inequities in the classroom. Among the many resources in this book are rubrics that can be used to establish and measure the impact of coaching for change.

Image of a desert

Hydrating our Book Deserts

At the Michigan Reading Association’s Annual Conference in March, literacy leader Donalyn Miller, affectionately known as the “Book Whisperer,” asked a simple question: “How is your reading life?” While answers rolled into the chat, she set the stage for an important but often overlooked discussion–book deserts. To remark that your reading life is great or overflowing with the abundance of wonderful books means that you have access to books. Yet, unfortunately, book deserts exist all over the United States. Dr. Molly Ness, founder of the End Book Deserts organization, explains that “high-poverty geographic areas” often align with a dearth of reading materials. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, reported that “forty-five percent of our nation’s children live in neighborhoods that lack public libraries and stores that sell books, or in homes where books are not present” (Ness, 2019). While there have been many recent efforts to provide children of all ages with equitable access to books, as Dr. Ness explains, “We must [also] create a book culture” (2019). Author  

talks and giving students opportunities to discuss the books they are reading are just two ways to nurture a culture of readers. Making books accessible to readers might take some creative thinking, but some Wayne County teachers have scoured yard sales and Salvation Army for relevant and engaging texts. Little Free Libraries have popped up in neighborhoods and parks to encourage reading at any time of the day. In the Chesaning school district near Saginaw, the Big Rockin’ School Bus delivers meals and books to students all summer. While many prefer to hold an actual book in their hands, there are digital options, too. Unite for Literacy provides free access to colorful, digital picture books on a multitude of topics. Many authors, like Kate Messner, have created video read-alouds that can be found on YouTube often by simply searching for the title of the book. Finally, the Michigan eLibrary continues to add ebook titles to their collection. There are other unique ways to get books into kids’ hands, and in doing so, we can foster and sustain the sheer joy of reading.

Noteworthy News

Check out our budding podcast series! This beautiful spring weather is the perfect time to pop in your earbuds, get outside, and learn!

Getting to the Core Wayne RESA podcast logo

Professional Learning

Upcoming Events at Wayne RESA
See the Professional Growth pages on the Wayne RESA site for links to course offerings, their descriptions, and online registration in Learning Stream. All professional learning sessions will be provided virtually until July 31, 2021. At that time, Wayne RESA will reevaluate delivery platforms that ensure the health and safety of our presenters and participants. If the registration for an event does not indicate an alternative plan for professional learning prior to July 31, please contact any of the Literacy Team members for updated arrangements.
Leveled Literacy Intervention Training, K – 2: December 6 – 9, 2021, and February 15 – 16, 2022
The Fountas and Pinnell Leveled Literacy Program System (LLI) is a scientifically-based early intervention program designed to prevent literacy difficulties before they turn into long-term challenges. Participants will learn effective small group instructional strategies to provide the intensive support necessary for some primary students to achieve grade level competency in reading and writing. The intended audience for this online course includes teachers of grades K-2 and literacy interventionists. For additional information, contact Debbie Reeves.
Leveled Literacy Intervention Training, Grades 3 – 5:  January 24 – 27, 2022, and March 22 – 23, 2022
The Fountas and Pinnell Leveled Literacy Program System (LLI) is a scientifically-based early intervention program designed to prevent literacy difficulties before they turn into long-term challenges. Participants will learn effective small group instructional strategies to provide the intensive support necessary for some intermediate students to achieve grade level competency in reading and writing. The intended audience for this online course includes teachers of grades 3-5 and literacy interventionists. For additional information, contact Debbie Reeves.
Creating Context for Teaching Night: May 10
In collaboration with the Holocaust Museum, Wayne RESA proudly presents Creating Context for Teaching Night by Elie Wiesel. Participants in this course will explore the following learning outcomes: learn how to prepare students to read and understand Night within the larger historical framework of the Holocaust, examine the history of antisemitism to provide context before students read Night, examine Jewish life in Eastern Europe to provide cultural context for Night, explore the use of multimedia assets including using visual history testimonies and other primary sources and materials to support the effective teaching of Night, and discuss and identify themes, life lessons and the current relevance of Night. For additional information, contact Rosalyn Shahid.
Disciplinary Literacy Introductory Institute: August 5
The Disciplinary Literacy Introductory Institute generates an initial understanding and awareness of disciplinary literacy and the Disciplinary Literacy Essentials document; in addition, this workshop will expand participants’ understanding of the research around adolescent literacy needs. Participants will experience a compelling vision of what this might look like in the classroom and begin to consider implementation within their current context. For additional information, contact Laura Gabrion.
Disciplinary Literacy Deeper Dive Institute: August 11 – 13
As a continuation of the Disciplinary Literacy Introductory Institute, this professional learning series will expand participants’ understanding and awareness of disciplinary literacy and the Disciplinary Literacy Essentials document. Using a blended learning format, including both synchronous and asynchronous sessions, participants will engage in inquiry cycles and apply their learning to their instruction. Additional emphasis will be given to effective use of remote and blended learning approaches that maximize student motivation and engagement and further expand participants’ understanding of the research around adolescent literacy needs. For additional information, contact Laura Gabrion.
White question mark in a blue circle.

Resources: Where can I find...

☑️ Have your Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet lessons grown stale? Check out these FREE resources from the Stratford Festival!

☑️ Google Keep is a great way to keep you and your students organized. Notes can be accessed across devices, color-coded, shared with collaborators, and much more. 

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