Category Archives: All LCN

Digital Text Sources and Tools

Many teachers express that they are overwhelmed by all the options available for finding and interacting with digital texts. At our recent Technology to Foster Reading and Writing study sessions,  Andrew and I facilitated investigations into some of the options that we feel have the most value to educators and students. Here is some of what we uncovered:

First, we really like Diigo, especially when used as a Google Chrome extension. When added, users can highlight and make notes on any webpage or PDF, and it’s all stored in a user’s library in a way that can be shared. It also has an outliner tool and a groups function, both of which can be used for many purposes. Tip: make sure you access the education upgrade to get more features.

We also looked at a number of platforms and sources for texts. See below for some basic details about the ones we chose.

    • Newsela / Newsela Elementary
      • Allows choice of non-fiction articles with option for different Lexile level for each article
      • Access articles by link without logins or set up a class
      • Helpful cross-text features like Issues and Text Sets
      • Users can annotate text but teacher can’t see annotations w/o paid model
      • Assessment questions available (more complex and varied than Teen/Tween Tribune)
      • They try to lure you into their paid model – comparison of free vs paid
    • Teen/Tween Tribune
      • Allows choice of non-fiction articles with option for different Lexile level for each article
      • Access articles by link without logins or set up a class (You can see student results w/ login)
      • Assessment questions included with login (mostly simple recall questions)
      • Provides a commenting option that allows students from everywhere to post comments on articles and reply to each other.
      • Student can access articles, take quizzes, and post comments without teacher assigning
      • Some great options for finding and exploring texts
        1. Bookflix (Read and listen to texts)
        2. NoveList (find books by interest, lexile, and more) No full text.
        3. eBook Collection / eBook k-8 Collection
        4. Gale PowerPack (magazines & more)
    • ReadWorks
      • Large library of articles searchable by lexile, skill, and other filters w/ audio option for some K-5 content
      • Questions, strategies, and much more available
      • Requires downloading or printing texts and sharing w/ students
      • Digital ReadWorks
        1. Requires logins for teacher and students
        2. Students can annotate texts, which are visible by teacher
        3. Allows teacher to assign and track quiz results
        4. Students can’t alter Lexile level but teacher can assign articles to specific students to differentiate
        5. Questions are fairly low level but provide feedback for students
        6. No way for students to select articles on their own

Yes, that’s a long list, and there is more to explore no doubt. Hopefully this helped you determine what might be best for you. If you have other ideas to share, please add them in the comments.

The Motivated Brain

On January 5th, the group revisited the Primary SEEKING processes and then built their knowledge, into the Secondary and Tertiary SEEKING levels. Connections were made with the opening event learning around the Levels of Competence and to the Norms of Collaboration, specifically “Paying attention to self and others”. Active Processing activities were also studied.

The big takeaway: “Processing has to be done in a variety of ways, and multiple times to deepen learning because we have to activate the SEEKER so that he will WANT to SEEK further and WANT to SEEK further.


Next time we will be doing Chapter 4!



Cris Tovani: Literacy Coaches Network on October 14, 2016

Literacy Coaches Network Membership,
Thank you for making our opening LCN day on September 22nd a huge success! The turn out was fantastic and our initial feedback has been extremely positive. The sessions are meeting the needs of our diverse group of educators.

Our next LCN Day is on Friday, October 14th from 8:00 to 3:00 at Thousand Oaks with Cris Tovani as our guest speaker. You must register to attend through the Kent ISD website. The cost is $35.00 per person for snacks and lunch–as well as the venue. You have the opportunity to invite one guest to grow and learn with you. This will be a valuable learning opportunity as part of our year of learning at LCN.
How to register:
The LCN member would register and there is a button that says “are you bringing a guest?”. When they click yes, a drop down comes up of name, district and email. It will add the $35 guest charge when they click yes.

Cris Tovani’s day for LCN:
Supporting Colleagues to have the Energy to Teach
Teachers are frequently asked to do more than time allows. Helping them identify what matters most can give them more energy to teach. Beliefs drive practice and when beliefs are supported by current research, teachers can articulate instead of defend how they use precious teaching time. During this daylong workshop, Cris Tovani will share how she works with her instructional coach, Sam Bennett, using data to meet more students’ needs. Participants will examine current research, coaching letters and view video clips to consider how to support their colleagues to have the energy to teach.

Looking forward to learning with Cris Tovani and our LCN learning community.
The LCN Training Team
Nelli Koster
Mark Raffler

New Essential Literacy Practice Documents for the State of Michigan

New from the Early Literacy Task Force of the General Education Leadership Network of the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators:

New Resources

Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy Prekindergarten
The purpose of this document is to increase Michigan’s capacity to improve children’s literacy by identifying a small set of research supported literacy instructional practices that could be a focus of professional development throughout the state.

Click here to view the full pdf.

Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy Grades K-3
GELN and its Early Literacy Task Force are pleased to share these Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy Grades K-3. The purpose of these essentials is to increase Michigan’s capacity to improve children’s literacy by identifying a small set of research-supported literacy instructional practices that could be a focus of professional development throughout the state. Stay tuned for more information on how we are using the documents to strengthen instruction.

Click here to view the full pdf.

One to One Coaching to Impact Learning

Coaching is a great professional learning learning experience supporting growth for teachers and for students.  The positive impact of coaching over time is well-documented with  research (Jenny Edwards – Cognitive Coaching,  Cathy Tool, Diane Sweeney, Jim Knight).  At our upcoming LCN study session,  Coaching Conversations to Sustain Learning, Kathy Arlen of Kent City PS  and Marsha Turner of Ionia PS will share their stories of coaching.  Learn:   How  does a teacher connect with a coach for support?  What thinking guides the support a coach offers? How does a coach and coachee monitor success for the students and the teacher?  What are some tips, tools and processes the coach finds supports learning for the coachee?   See you on Thursday!  Laura and Char