News and Highlights from the WMU-HIL Literacy Leadership Project

Libraries in HIL Project schools and classrooms are getting a boost, thanks to new learning and new resources. And students are big winners! Read stories about three of those schools in this issue!

November 2019


directors' photoFROM THE DIRECTORS

It’s hard to believe we are entering year three of the HIL Project. The Western Michigan University (WMU) management team continues to be amazed by the stories emerging from the Cohort A schools. Principals and teacher leaders in these 75 West Michigan schools are truly implementing the HIL School Renewal Principles and GELN Literacy Essentials with fidelity and integrity. And they are beginning to see results! We’re pleased to share a few of their stories here.

In January 2020, the HIL Project will begin working with 75 new schools in Cohort B. In fact, we are now scheduling introductory staff meetings where we will share the HIL Project story and hear about each school's literacy journey. We’ll leave with an idea of how we can best align HIL Project resources with each school’s own strengths and targeted supports provided by their districts and intermediate school district or regional educational service agency.

We look forward to strengthening relationships as we work together to build the passion, motivation, and capacity required to enhance leadership and literacy across Southwest and West Michigan. It truly is a great time to be an educator in Michigan!

Reciprocal relationship between schools is positively related to school-level student achievement

By Dr. Jianping Shen
HIL Project Co-Project Director

In recent years, scholars and policy makers have increasingly contended that school collaboration or networking is crucial for school improvement. Despite the appeal of promoting and forming collaborative relationships between schools, the empirical evidence on the impacts of network relationships on school outcomes is still somewhat lacking.

Recently the HIL research team studied the link between the school-to-school reciprocal relationships and school outcomes. We found that indices of a reciprocal relationship between schools could predict not only the 2018 student proficiency levels on the State achievement measure (M-STEP), but also the growth in proficiency levels between 2017 and 2018.



We had a wonderful day of learning and growing together at the Principal and Teacher-Leaders Collaboration Summit on October 17, 2019 on WMU's campus in Kalamazoo. The event brought together over 350 Teacher-Leaders and Principals with the common goal of amplifying literacy outcomes for students in west Michigan.

Dr. Patricia Reeves' keynote address discussed the importance of aligning the practices of all the adults in the school toward priority literacy growth targets for students. Dr. Jianping Shen spoke to the power of reciprocal networking relationships among schools, both in sharing resources and increasing accountability. School Leadership Teams made tremendous use of their collaborative time to reflect on the High Impact Leadership Principles that increase motivation and capacity for change in their schools.

Later in the day, the school teams had an opportunity to network with other school teams and share their benchmarks for the school year. Like tuning a symphony, sharing and aligning practices of every teacher, staff member, and leader in the school brings resonance to the work for all.

Check out highlights we recorded in a Twitter Moment here! 

Be sure to connect with us on social media so you never miss an update! Search for #HIL19 to see what's happening on the HIL! 


HIL network energizes 'many hands to make light work'

by Diane Talo, HIL Project Coordinator
What would happen in education if the phrase “many hands make light work” was a living, breathing way of work for intermediate school districts (ISDs)/educational service agencies (ESAs) and their constituent schools? In southwest Michigan and surrounding areas, we are witnessing a renaissance in how we maximize collaboration to benefit all stakeholders in the educational environment.

In chapter seven of Facilitation Strategies for Interdependent Thinking, Lipton and Wellman focus on creating communities of thought. The Reading Now Network and ISDs/ESAs in Southwest Michigan are benefiting from the interdependence created through their joint work. Because of the shared belief that “collective thinking draws on the resources of individuals to produce ideas and insights, and to support the production of ideas and insights of others” (p. 62) school are experiencing greater impact on student success.

It might be cumbersome and challenging to develop interdependent networks that cross district and county lines; however, Lipton and Wellman suggest three specific reasons why it works to our benefit: “the lone genius is a myth, the most interesting mysteries lie at the intersection of minds, and accountability grows out of co-creation.” So, how does a bunch of people—who want to make schools better for the adults and children who go there every day—come together to form a loosely organized and organic structure to support improved literacy practice?  Of course, it is simultaneously simple and difficult.

READ ABOUT our unique approach to school renewal.


The right work at the right time

by Dr. Kyle Mayer, HIL Project Coordinator

Thank you to Project participants and friends for being a part of the HIL Project!
I read an interesting nonfiction book last weekend: The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age, by Bina Venkataramn. 

The book is about how our choices and actions today have implications beyond our own lifetime. It offers guidance on how we as a society can leave a legacy of compassion and wisdom for future generations. Reading it made me think of the HIL Project and the work that each of you are doing.

We may not always realize it in the day-to-day grind, but our HIL Project efforts have implications far beyond Cohort A and B schools. It will make a difference in the lives of untold numbers of children now and into the future.

READ ABOUT some exciting recent examples.


From classroom bookshelves to classroom bookstores: Grant's classroom library journey

by Carol Dawson

At Grant Primary Center and Grant Elementary, we have been working hard to dig into our High Impact Leadership (HIL) goals. We had our first HIL staff meeting in January of 2018, and our instructional rounds came soon after. One of the focus goals that came from those rounds was to build more engaging classroom libraries. We listened, learned and planned and then got started on our classroom library journey.

READ AN ACCOUNT of their library journey by principal Carol Dawson.
Some amazing teamwork resulted in redesign of our traditional school libraries into warm and inviting “bookstore” style libraries. Grant elementary staff added lots of comfy seating—couches, chairs, pillows, rugs and beanbags.


Lawrence Elementary celebrates library grand re-opening

The Lawrence Elementary School celebrated the grand re-opening of their school library on Monday, October 7, 2019. LES staff was intentional in their focus on creating an environment for students to enjoy reading and have improved access to books. The new library, made possible in part by their HIL Project grant, was celebrated throughout the day with special activities and incentives. 

Special thanks go out to Lawrence Elementary School’s new co-librarians, Sherrie Alburtus and Andrea Caton, as well as all volunteers and staff who helped make this project possible. 
The grand re-opening of the Lawrence Elementary School library even caught the attention of local media! Click here to view WWMT video and photos.


River School: Growing beyond expectations

Since the Fall 2019 release of M-STEP data, there has been chatter within Berrien County about what is happening at River School in Sodus Township. The growth and learning are beyond what anyone would have expected.

Looking at M-STEP scores from Spring 2017, zero percent of River School’s third graders achieved proficiency. Two years later in Spring 2019, 80 percent of third graders reached proficiency on the M-STEP. Also, under the new Read by Grade Three law, River School is one of two schools in Berrien county that would not have had any students be recommended for retention had the provision been in place for 2019.

READ ABOUT what's happening at River School in this account by HIL Facilitator Karen Aupperlee.
It’s these little things that make River School grow beyond expectations. But together, they are not so little! Take a look! 


Principal to Principal: Amplify change with new RNN Data Tool

by Derek Wheaton, HIL Project Coordinator
Every educator has their own ingrained beliefs about standardized testing: the time spent preparing for teaching format, ensuring students have the tested content, and actually giving the test. Ask almost any educator and most likely you will hear some negative beliefs about testing.

The reality is, though, no matter what our beliefs are regarding testing, we all must shift away from a focus on beliefs to a focus on behaviors. Our schools, school districts, teachers, and our state are held accountable for how well students perform on the M-STEP. What do we do to shift the conversation and ensure we are doing what is best for our student learners?

READ MORE about one powerful new tool.

Leading Now, Reading WOW!

Don't miss all the latest news and happenings featured in the Leading Now, Reading WOW! widget on the home page! If you haven't visited lately, here's a sampling of what you've missed:
  • Updates and photos from Cohort A schools
  • News about ways local businesses and charitable foundations are enhancing literacy work at HIL Project schools
  • Stories about the impact that high integrity, high fidelity literacy practices are making in schools
  • and more!
Visit the home page often to learn what's new and exciting at HIL Project!

How can you help?

Some HIL Project schools are benefiting from the generosity of local businesses and charitable foundations. These donors recognize the good work happening and want to leverage their giving through partnerships poised for success. 
We acknowledge with appreciation their support and invite others to join them.

Thank you:

BESCO Water Treatment
Binda Foundation
Metal Flow Corporation
Perrigo Charitable Foundation
United Way

Contact us to learn how individuals and organizations can enhance literacy efforts at HIL Project schools, AND receive recognition for their generosity.
Learn how to contribute

Upcoming Events


March 17, 2020 (Bernhard Center, WMU-Main)
June 22-23, 2020 COHORT A 
June 24-25, 2020 COHORT B
(both at Grand Traverse Resort)


December 13, 2019
January 10, 2020
February 14, 2020
March 13, 2020
April 17 2020
May 8, 2020
June 5, 2020

Building Classroom Libraries: Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy

This series of courses was created by a subgroup of the ISD Early Literacy Coaching Network to provide support to district literacy leadership teams focused on building and supporting classroom libraries within their school. The courses are aligned with the Essential Instructional Practices in Early and Elementary Literacy.

Click here to learn more. 
(To access courses, you will need an EduPaths account and be logged in.)
Visit the HIL website
Copyright © 2019 Western Michigan University - HIL Project, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.
If you received this email from a colleague or friend,
subscribe here so you won't miss future issues of HIL Project communications.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp