A team of educators from Kentwood High School spent an engaging day at Fordson High School on Tuesday, December 17, 2016.
Kentwood Public Schools has experienced a significant growth in their EL population in the past year and recognize the need to restructure their EL services and professional development. The team of administrators and teachers were interested in the scheduling of our EL students, course placement, procedures and protocols, resources, staffing, and professional learning. The visit included classroom observations in Language Arts, Biology, World History, Algebra 2, and Chemistry. They also had time to debrief with the EL Department and Fordson staff afterwards. The team was extremely impressed by the consistency and emphasis on explicit content and language objectives, student engagement, student articulation of tasks, and the positive climate and culture in every classroom they visited. In addition, they appreciated the opportunity to discuss our professional development structure and the impact it has on staff which was evidenced as they visited classrooms.
A great big THANK YOU to the Fordson staff for their warm welcome and for allowing our visitors to learn from our incredible Dearborn Public Schools staff.
The EL Department hosted another parent meeting for DPS families new to the country. Parents rotated through three sessions that were planned based on parents’ survey results. The sessions provided information on Adult Education (ESL Classes), Health & Dental and Special Education Services.
“Encouraged by [Dearborn Public Schools’] example and success. Setting the precedence will enable us to move forward with confidence.” Jo Alegria, Cajon Valley School Board President
“I was mostly impressed by the clear-eyed focus and sheer dedication to English Learner students. I saw this in several ways that stood out:
Your teaching team reflects the community. This gives students a sense that they are in their home and that they too can be teachers and change-makers in their community
The volume of support staff at schools dedicated to language acquisition.
Principals led their schools with a specific focus on English Learners.
The central office staff charged with teacher training and support has a clear mandate from the district leadership that their efforts are a priority in the district. This enables smart people to make bold decisions. Plus those charged with executing the mandate lead with passion and hard work. “
Eyal Bergman, Family and Community Engagement Officer
”It is clear that the Dearborn School District is laser focused when it comes to identifying and meeting the needs of their diverse student population. I am so impressed with the comprehensive MTSS model and the ongoing professional development offered to staff. District staff recognize that in order to have systemic change, they need to create a culture where every adult is responsible for student learning. The EL specialists are trained monthly and tasked with bringing that knowledge back to their school site. As the Director of Special Education I was excited to see how the EL department, Compensatory services Department and the Special Education department collaborate in 3D meetings. This cross collaboration ensures that everyone is on the same page and delivering high quality instruction and intervention. In every classroom that we visited it was evident that all staff were trained in best practices and implementing consistently. I was also moved by the great work that Dearborn does to ensure that newcomers and their families feel welcome and supported. They understand the challenge it is to come from another country, particularly a war torn country, and ensure that families and students are greeted by staff that speak their language and represent the community. Overall, our visit to Dearborn far exceeded my expectations. The district staff went out of their way to plan and organize tours of a variety of schools. At each school we were met by the school principal and key staff that spent time describing their journey, successes and challenges. We were also met by Executive Directors and the Superintendent. In a district so large and so busy, we are very grateful for time and efforts spent to help us as we embark on our own journey. Thank you.”
Jenine Henry, Director II, Special Education and Pupil Services
Miller Elementary Staff has been immersed in the Common Core State Standards. They are excited about the positive changes they believe are in store for them. The work has really led to a focus on working through the ELA standards and breaking them down to truly have a better understanding of the expectations. The efforts have led to a more focused approach on teaching the standards effectively and planning measurable academic student tasks. As a follow-up to a workshop on teaching with the standards in mind, this past week in particular was spent meeting with PLC grade-level teams to refine and extend the learning to ensure equitable access for all kids.
“Our session was informative and eye opening. [The] coaching has already shifted our thoughts, planning, and intentions in a positive and meaningful direction. More importantly, our teaching will be more focused and effective. Our entire staff looks forward to our future professional learning and growth. I know this is a more efficient and meaningful way to teach, so thank you for your patience and thoroughness.” -S.Klan
“I know a big [take-away] was the clarification on the I do, we do and you do aspects of our mini lessons. Teachers are now clear on how to implement that during the Daily 5 mini lessons. Another piece was looking at the (quarterly) pacing guide to help teachers plan their lessons based on hitting certain standards on a weekly basis. It’ll help everyone get a lot more organized and teach strategically.” -S.Alawy
“Great PD…an eye opener to unwrapping the standards and great lesson ideas that were compatible with standards that we are teaching.” -M.Abdulla
This afternoon, Title I Resource Staff revisited the key elements of a language-rich interactive classroom by engaging in a variety of strategies tied to the common core state standards. The strategies focused on developing speaking and listening skills, reading with a purpose and writing. The strategies included the Oral Retelling Task, ABC Brainstorming, Academic Language Word Work, Structured Reading, Structured Writing using textual evidence and foldables. To sum it up, they had lots of additions to their Strategy Toolboxes!
Here’s some feedback from our 3-2-1 Tickets Out:
3 things I learned are the importance of word work, setting clear content and language objectives and close reading.
2 things I will implement in my classroom are word work and more total response signals.
1 thing I wish is more PD on newcomer strategies!
3 things I learned are the word work activity, how to take the oral retelling task to writing, and new ideas to implement the strategies into different subject areas.
2 things that I want to implement into my class are word work and reading comprehension strategies.
1 thing I wish is more PD on any new strategies. Thank you! I love coming to these!
3 things I learned are word work activity, mini-book (foldable) and ABC brainstorm > from lower level to higher level tasks.
2 things I will implement are the ABC sort and word work.
I thing I wish is more PD on strategies for teaching higher level (depths of knowledge).
This morning, ELD Specialists participated in collaborative learning opportunities facilitated by colleagues. The focus for this meeting was on Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) for newcomers and small group strategies that work! Participants rotated between four rounds that focused on Oral Language Development, Word Work/Phonics, Guided Reading and Structured Writing.
On December 14 and 16, a district team from Cajon Valley Union District visited Dearborn Public Schools to learn how the district supports the teaching and learning of English Learners as well as the specific initiatives the EL Department has in place to serve refugees, a population that is growing exponentially. The visitors spent two days walking through classrooms and meeting with school staff to debrief and get their questions answered.
The discussions were astounding as they were really impressed with what Dearborn has in place for meeting the needs of all students. Some of the topics that were positively highlighted through observations and dialogue were the collaborative teaching models, the focus on academic language development, the emphasis on all four language domains, the positive culture and climate in the schools (including the positive relationships among staff and between staff and students), the centralized professional development for support staff and the depth and breadth of professional development opportunities provided to staff.
Thank you to the staff at Salina Elementary, William Ford Elementary, Woodworth Middle School, Miller Elementary and Geer Park Elementary for opening their classroom doors and showcasing the great work that Dearborn teachers do every day!
EL Language and Literacy Trainers led the November 30th workshop session for new teachers with a focus on Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) strategies. The session focused on developing academic language through structured word work, reading, writing, listening and speaking.
Here is what some new teachers had to say:
“One take-away is the implementation of structured conversations within the EL classroom to ensure students are practicing oral language.”
“One take-away is the use of a word sort to have students make connections between content related vocabulary.”
“One take-away is how important it is to implement SIOP strategies to build language.”
“I really like the accountability piece for both partners.”