Cajon Valley Visitors Share their Reflections about Dearborn Schools

“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

 Image result for collaboration

​”​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

Standards-Based Instruction Amplifies Teaching and Learning

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

Strategies, Strategies, Strategies

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).


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.”

20161130_161156 20161130_161143


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.

img_2189  img_2184


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.

tempfileforshare2 tempfileforshare tempfileforshare1