March 5, 2019
Principal to Principal: A Principal's Perspective on the Literacy Essentials
Derek Wheaton
Derek Wheaton
“Learning, without any opportunities to share what we've learned, is a little like cooking for ourselves; we do it, but we probably won't do it as well.” -Mike Schmoker

Mike Schmoker in his book FOCUS(2011 ASCD) clearly outlines three essentials that would radically improve student learning; 1. What We Teach(coherent curriculum) 2. How We Teach(sound lessons) and 3. Authentic Literacy(purposeful reading and writing). He postures that if we focused on these three essential elements with clarity, purpose and simplicity,” then our schools will achieve what previous generations never thought possible.”

The High Impact Leadership(HIL) project that I am involved with has at its core a focus on literacy and the implementation of the Essential Practices in Early and Elementary Literacy or Essential Instructional Practices. The theory of action as part of the GELN collaboration that ensures the minimum standard of care that “Every child develops strong early literacy knowledge, skill, and dispositions” means that teachers have to implement quality practices in every classroom every day and that their instructional skills have to be developed. The Literacy Essential modules found at www.literacyessentials.org provide research supported instructional practices that should be a focus of professional development and learning..
Making Health a Priority in Copper County
Craig Sundbland, Lake Linden-Hubbell High School
Lake Linden-Hubbell completed the HSAT in the spring of 2018. In August, elementary teachers were trained in the Whole School Whole Child Whole Community (WSCC) Model and Michigan Model for Health. The teachers are committed to teaching the Social Emotional and Nutrition and Physical Activity units to all elementary students during the 2018-2019 school year.

Once school started, the Wellness Committee met to develop goals for the year. Mental health supports and services were identified as an area of need. Dial Help’s Youth One Stop Program was suggested as a way to help elementary students who are referred or self-identified as needing additional supports in relation to bullying, grades, anxiety, depression, etc. It is currently available for the students for six hours each week.

The Committee also discussed the need for updating recess equipment so more students could actively participate in recess. Teachers have been asked for suggestions so that a list can be created. At the encouragement of the Food Service Director, who is a member of the Wellness Committee, new signage in the lunchroom that encourages healthier choices for breakfast and lunch will be purchased.   
IHSIP Grant Funds In Action
Leif Williams, Houghton Lake Middle School
Based on action planning by the school improvement team, Houghton Lake Middle School decided to pilot the use of active seating options in the classroom. One cart of seats was purchased with MEMSPA IHSIP Grant funds for teachers to test out in their classroom and determine which seating work the best in their setting.   

Active seating improves posture and muscle tone, provides sensory input and a necessary outlet for burning energy, and increases blood flow to the brain and body. Students love the new seating options, and teachers are practicing ways to manage the additional movement in their classrooms. It is hoped that by modifying the classroom to suit the physical activity needs of our students, we will improve physical, mental health, school climate and student achievement. We will be using some of the remaining IHSIP funds to purchase the most preferred active seating options.

Some funds will be spent on “loaner” gym shoes for students for use in the gym either during physical education classes or when we have inside recess. Many of our students, especially our economically disadvantaged students, do not have appropriate or comfortable shoes to make the most of the physical activity time offered during the school day.  
Nurturing The Whole Child at Ealy
Ronald Bailey, Ealy Elementary
Teachers at Whitehall’s Ealy Elementary are embracing the whole child by implementing activities that enhance project ISHIP’s goals by further integrating wellness into their classroom culture. At the completion of the all staff school training on the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) Model, teachers were asked to try activities that would support implementation of the model. Mrs. Christensen is one of many teachers who embraced the opportunity. This fall, her 4th grade class adopted their school’s once beautiful native plant garden. Students could see the abundance of dying plants in the garden, providing an authentic opportunity to engage them in plant life cycle discussions. The class ventured into the garden with clipboards to explore, observe, sketch, identify native plant varieties, and more. Students also used the garden to practice mindfulness through respectful sensory engagement with intention. This is only the begining . The Ealy school garden’s native plants will continue to intimately connect students to the pulse of nature as they observe and interact throughout the seasons and years. And as the garden becomes further integrated into the school culture, all students at Ealy will benefit from utilizing this dynamic outdoor classroom for place-based experiences and inspired learning.
Partner Spotlight
Michigan public school safety drill performance times improving, according to Munetrix study
By Buzz Brown

In a recent study of the findings from our 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 review of tracking data on Michigan’s mandated public school safety drills, we were pleased to find improvements in timing and safety, and also some areas where schools are paying more attention to even small items that can add up to enhanced, overall security during safety emergencies. 

Per Michigan Public Act 12 of 2014 , public school districts must run safety drills 10 times each year, for each building, for the following situations:
  • Fire
  • Tornado
  • Lock Down
Note: Cardiac incident/AED checks are optional, but 10% of school districts in the study do them.

The goal of the state in introducing these mandatory drills was to ensure student safety in a variety of scenarios. In looking at data from 120 Michigan public school districts that use the Munetrix Public Safety Drill app , the drills are definitely helping to meet this goal.