ELD Specialists delve into SDI for Newcomers

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.

California District Team Visits Dearborn

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!



New Teacher PD: A Focus on SIOP

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.”

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Michigan Department of Education – News Release

LANSING – Michigan’s move to become a national leader in literacy continues as the first meeting of the Governor’s PreK-12 Literacy Commission will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, December 5, in Room 426 of the Capitol Building.

The commission was formed by Governor Rick Snyder through Executive Order 2016-18 to provide policy recommendations and reports on the state’s progress in becoming a national leader in literacy. The first meeting will focus on establishing the scope of work for the commission and hearing overviews of the literacy achievement, policy and leadership efforts in Michigan.

“Literacy is the foundation of learning and a keystone in moving Michigan forward both academically and economically,” said State Representative Amanda Price (R-Holland), chair of the commission. “My goal is to tap the expertise and insights of the commission’s members and develop precise strategies to help every child learn to read and write.”

The 13-member commission was appointed by the Governor, with two members submitted by the State Superintendent and one each by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Majority Leader of the Senate and Majority Leader of the Senate.

The PreK-12 Literacy Commission members and their backgrounds include:

  • Lois Bader of East Lansing, the executive director of the Capital Area Literacy Coalition. She holds a bachelor’s degree from California State College, a master’s degree from Kean University and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. She will represent a member submitted by the State Superintendent.
  • Steve Goodman of Grand Haven, the director of Michigan’s Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative, co-director of Michigan School Climate Transformation Grant and the Adolescent Literacy Model Demonstration. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology/special education from Grand Valley State University and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in applied behavior analysis from Western Michigan University.
  • JaNel Jamerson of Flint, the executive director of the Flint & Genesee Literacy Network. He holds both a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Michigan Flint. He will represent a member submitted by the Senate Minority Leader.
  • John Kennedy of Kentwood, president and CEO of Autocam Medical. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Detroit Mercy and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan.
  • Kyle Mayer of Grand Haven, the assistant superintendent of the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, a master’s degree in educational leadership and a Ph.D. in educational leadership research and technology from Western Michigan University.
  • Susan Medendorp of Lansing, the center director of Abrams Teaching Lab at the Michigan Dyslexia Institute. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social sciences as well as an elementary education degree with special education endorsements for ages 0-25 in emotionally impaired, learning disabilities, and mentally impaired from Calvin College and a master of divinity from Calvin Theological Seminary.
  • Naomi Norman of Ann Arbor, the assistant superintendent of Washtenaw Intermediate School District. She holds a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree in educational studies and is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan
  • Amanda Price of Holland, a state representative for the 89th District who serves as chair of the Education Committee. Price holds a bachelor’s degree in humanities from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in public administration from Western Michigan University. She will represent a member submitted by the Speaker of the House and will serve as chair of this commission.
  • Jeremy Reuter of Haslett, the president of the Early Childhood Investment Corporation. He holds a bachelor’s degree in family community services and a master’s degree in family studies from Michigan State University.
  • Nadra Shami of Dearborn, a district language and literacy trainer for Dearborn Public Schools. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in instructional technology from Wayne State University, a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Michigan and an education specialist degree in education leadership from Oakland University. She will represent a member submitted by the State Superintendent.
  • Denise Smith of Detroit, vice president of early learning at Excellent Schools District in Detroit. She holds a dual bachelor’s degree in communications and French from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in human development from Pacific Oaks College.

The commission was created after state government leaders formed a workgroup to review state policies on literacy and determined that an independent commission was needed to set literacy goals for the state and provide reports on progress.

Established within the Michigan Department of Education, the commission will investigate, analyze and advise on changes to state programs, statutes, regulations and policies relating to the assessment, professional development, education programming, socioeconomic challenges, best practices, collaboration, parental engagement and teaching of literacy.

Culturally Responsive Instruction: Understanding our Diverse Students

EL & Compensatory team members have been immersed in the Culturally Responsive Instruction series hosted by Wayne Resa.  The workshop sessions examine processes and tools that facilitate and support cultural competency at every level as well as practices to support higher achievement for all student groups.  As part of day three, our EL team facilitated a segment on how to utilize the cultural richness of Arab-American and Muslim children.  The session sought to dismantle normative assumptions while examining the mismatch between home cultures and US school culture in order to create positive and valuable change in individual and social systems.

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Empowering Educators through Cultural Competence

For all Dearborn Public school students to be taught well and achieve academically, educators need to understand and respond to the dynamics of culture in their school environment.  That is what the 3D Community teachers experienced in “Cultural Proficiency—Are we there yet?”. Teachers worked together on the Cultural Proficiency Continuum, Guiding Principles, and the Essential Elements of Cultural Proficiency to construct a school plan for students, teachers, and administrators.  “You cannot be truly proficient as a learner, educator, or institution until you are culturally proficient.”

In a second session, participants examined what it means to be a refugee and the journey refugees take before they enter our school system.  A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence.  The participants explored how Culturally Responsive Teaching impacts students academically and socio-emotionally.  Each participant defined their own values to understand that empathy is key to building positive and successful relationships.

A third session focused on understanding our culturally diverse students by taking a look at what happens when their home culture and school culture interact.  Participants developed an understanding of their own cultural histories and the role that plays in the implementation of culturally responsive practices for social and academic success.  Looking at events from different perspectives served as a starting point for examining the mismatch between culturally diverse home cultures and US school culture in order to support the advancement of educational equity in the classroom.

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The Role of ELD Specialists

The EL & Compensatory Education Department is committed to meeting the needs of all English Learners (ELs) across the district.  This commitment extends to supporting any student who struggles with language as a large body of research supports the view that language learning is influenced by many aspects of human experience and capability, including economic background.

Dearborn Public Schools has enrolled over 600 English Learners since June 16, 2016.  This includes over 500 immigrants of which 100 are refugees.  These numbers continue to significantly increase.   In addition, 73% of our district population is on free/reduced lunch which is determined based on a household’s annual income.

To meet student needs, we currently have nineteen bilingual resource teachers at the elementary level, seven at the middle school level and three at the high school level.

The new federal bill titled “Every Student Succeeds Act,” abbreviated in the summary as ESSA, requires that the first four components of the accountability system (achievement, growth, graduation/attendance and EL progress) carry substantial weight over the fifth measure (school success).

In order to meet the demand, the responsibilities of current bilingual resource teachers were revised to include expectations and roles aligned to ESSA.  The bilingual resource teacher position was retitled to English Language Development (ELD) Specialist.  The change in name is necessary since the focus and target of the ELD Specialists will be aligned with ESSA and Federal guidelines.  The teachers possess the expertise and knowledge of the EL dynamics, second language acquisition, ELD standards, and CCSS.  The teachers also carry the expertise to support newcomer students using Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) with the integration of the four domains (speaking, listening, reading and writing).  The expectations are also transitioning from push-in (small group) support for English Learners to co-teaching in core content areas.

The ELD Specialists are part of the building leadership team that provides professional development and works to bridge the achievement gap. In addition to working directly with our non-English speaking population of students and being an active member of the building support team, ELD Specialists are assigned to buildings to support teachers in planning and delivering instruction that accelerates English Language Development.

With the increase in student population, the district was able to provide additional ELD Specialist positions for a number of elementary and secondary schools where the need was justified based on the numbers of newly enrolled English Learners.

Students First.  Educate.  Innovate.  Celebrate.   


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Welcoming Visitors to Dearborn

On Wednesday, November 9, a team from East Noble, a district in northern Indiana visited Dearborn Public Schools to learn about the successful EL practices our district has in place.  The Indiana team was seeking a district with a large Arabic-speaking population (a new population to East Noble) that is “highly effective at all aspects that effect interactions with the EL population regarding family contact, cultural sensitivity and best practices.”  In collaboration with the Michigan Department of Education, Dearborn was recommended as a district to visit.

The Federal Program Director along with a principal and a team of elementary and secondary teachers visited Salina Elementary, Salina Intermediate and Edsel Ford High School.  They met with the leadership teams from each building to learn about their school initiatives and programs in place, followed by classroom walk-throughs and observations.  The team then reconvened at central office to debrief the day and answer questions.  It was an exciting day for the team!




Here is a note passed along from the coordinator of Federal Programs:

“I would like to thank you and your team again for letting us visit.  Your generosity and graciousness was much appreciated.  My team has much to ponder and consider as we move toward better meeting the needs of our ELs. Please pass our gratitude on to everyone there and we hope to meet again.”

Welcoming New Families

On November 2nd, the EL and Compensatory Education department hosted a district-level parent meeting for new families.  Transportation was provided from neighborhood schools to assist parents in attending the informational meeting.

Committee members in attendance included Youssef Mosallam, Rose Aldubaily, Maylee Mosallam, Ameena Elder, Lila Amen, Margaret King-Ahmed, Rola Bazzi-Gates, Amged Monyiddin, Manar Kodamah, Wedad Maatouk and Nadra Shami.

Youssef Mosallam and Glenn Maleyko welcomed parents to the district, shared our district mission in meeting students’ needs and our goal of partnering with parents to help all their children be successful.

Wedad Maatouk represented the Adult Education and shared information about how Dearborn Public Schools is committed to meeting the educational needs of all residents through classes and programs that are offered by the Adult Education program.

Margaret-King Ahmed, district parent involvement educator, shared a snippet about Parent Talk opportunities offered at various DPS schools which focus on talking to children using language that builds self-esteem and encourages responsibility.

A parent survey was administered and completed by parents with native language support and translation provided by Manar Kodamah, DPS district liaison.  The survey results will assist in planning future meetings and making ‘next step’ decisions.

Representatives from ACCESS and HYPE were also in attendance and shared the resources and supports they are able to provide to parents and their families.  Contact information and brochures were shared to give parents access to the services available to them.  Parents were pleased and satisfied with the community and school outreach.

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EL Department attends the WIDA National Conference

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Two team members of the EL and Compensatory Education Department, Maura Sedgeman and Kellie Bugajski, attended the WIDA 2016 National Conference which provided opportunities for professional learning, idea sharing, relationship building, and strategic collaboration.  The theme, “Drawing on Life’s Experiences: Designing Bright Futures,” expresses that English Language Learners bring an amazing array of knowledge and experience that must be valued in development of language ability and to be successful upon graduation from high school.  They specifically attended the Migrant/Refugee/Newcomer sessions with a focus on best practices that support students academically, socially, and emotionally and allowed us to reflect on improving the educational outcomes of ELs.  The new learning will be incorporated to upcoming district professional development opportunities.