Subject: Metro ECSU - December 2020 edNews

December 2020, Vol. 28, No. 2
edNews is a quarterly publication of the Metropolitan Educational Cooperative Service Unit
Metro ECSU - 2 Pine Tree Drive, Suite 101 - Arden Hills, MN 55112
Front desk: 612-638-1500

edNews Editor: Colleen Feller
Upcoming CLEAR training is an opportunity to examine, learn, and take action
Dr. Martina Wagner will facilitate a 4-part learning series (virtual via Zoom) on the CLEAR Model on January 20, February 3, February 17, and March 3, 2021. The trainings will take place from 3:00-5:00pm each date. Educators, leaders, and support staff are invited to attend.

What is CLEAR?
The CLEAR Model is aligned with equity and language strategies as part of a district-wide response to the need for culturally and linguistically responsive instruction:
Cultural- emphasizes the human purpose of what is being learned and its relationship to the students' own culture.
Linguistic Learning- encourages students to make choices in content and assessment with support for language development through methods based on students' experiences, values, needs, and strengths.
Equitable- respectful learning environments in which students’ racial and ethnic diversity is valued and contributes to successful academic outcomes.
Achievement- includes multiple ways to represent knowledge and skills and allow for attainment of outcomes at different points in time.
Responsive- through positive relationships, rigorous learning experiences are created involving higher order thinking and critical analysis.
Simply put, CLEAR is a model that responds to the cultural diversity of students within instructional activities. To accomplish this, teachers and leaders must be culturally proficient in relating to their students. This knowledge of students is incorporated into curriculum, instruction, and assessment in order to meet the needs of all learners.
CLEAR is anchored in research-based best practices that include the work of Zaretta Hammond, Paul Gorsky, Glenn Singleton, and Dr. Sheldon Eakins.

For more information, contact Angela Skrade at or 612-638-1528.
High school concurrent enrollment instructors: scholarships for graduate level credits are available!
What is the Statewide Partnership?
Metro ECSU’s Statewide Partnership for Concurrent Enrollment is a program designed to support concurrent enrollment teachers in receiving the 18 graduate level credits in their area of instruction, required by the Higher Learning Commission's standard for instructors.

Approximately 76% of the state’s high school concurrent enrollment instructors currently do not meet this requirement. To meet the needs of these instructors and the students they service, the state legislature appropriated funding opportunities for concurrent enrollment instructors throughout all regions of the state.

Metro ECSU, as a fiscal host for these monies, offers instructors approved through participating districts, tuition scholarships of up to $300 per credit, up to 18 graduate credits, at our partner higher education institutes: Bemidji State University, Minnesota State University Mankato, St. Cloud State University, Southwest Minnesota State University, and Winona State University. Public education instructors who are currently or in the future will be teaching concurrent enrollment courses in high school settings and who have been nominated by their district to participate in the program are potential participants.

As of Fall 2020, 169 Teachers from 76 districts have earned credits through our program, with many completing their required 18!

For more information on our Statewide Partnership for Concurrent Enrollment program and how your district or instructors can participate, please visit our website, or contact Angela Skrade at 612-638-1528 or
Metropolitan Education Leaders Network (MELN) winter workshops
Flexible & Distance Learning: How can leaders best support teachers in today's learning environment?
Education leaders are finding innovative solutions and are committed to supporting students and staff amidst profound challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s MELN Leadership In-Service Series theme is Flexible & Distance Learning -- How can leaders best support teachers in today’s learning environment?

The 2020-2021 MELN Leadership In-Service Series is taking place in a virtual format. Four 2-hour trainings will be offered, with two dates/times for each session. Each session is limited to 25 participants. This series of workshops is presented by
Next MELN Leadership In-Service Training:
Trauma-Informed Practices for Leaders: Taking a Positive Approach
Date: January 13, 2021
Time: 1:00-3:00pm

In this session, we discuss trauma within the context of the COVID-19 epidemic, how it influences learning, and how we as leaders can model and lead educators to prioritize trauma informed practices. Leaders will walk away from the session with a plan for how they will support educators in creating safe and positive learning environments that respect students’ needs in our current reality.

We have received great feedback on the virtual two-hour workshops that have already been completed on topics featuring equity, flexible learning, trauma, and academic gaps. Comments include:
  • The presentation truly engaged me, and I was immediately drawn into collaborating with colleagues from other districts.
  • The presentation and discussion were rich and valuable.
  • Trauma has many different forms and the signs we can look for are numerous. I appreciated the visuals, strategies, and resources.
  • The PD was extremely relevant to what we are currently dealing with in our efforts to continue to close the achievement gap, by making content standard relevant and engaging for students.
  • I learned about many equity leadership ideas and where to start. The workshop was extremely helpful!
MELN Leadership In-Service Series welcomes all education leaders including instructional leaders and coaches, curriculum coordinators, principals, assistant principals, Q comp coordinators, lead teachers, peer reviewers, and district leaders.

Questions? Contact Susan Frame at 612-638-1543 or
PBIS: Minnesota educators are staying positive during distance learning
As schools and districts transition between learning models, it is even more important for educators to establish, teach, and reinforce expectations for learning.

SW-PBIS (School-Wide Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports) is a framework or approach for assisting school personnel in adopting and organizing evidence-based behavioral interventions into an integrated continuum that enhances academic and social behavior outcomes for all students.

In August, 16 teams from Cohort 15 and 20 new Cohort 16 teams prepared for the start of their 2020-21 school year with PBIS Cohort Training that was held virtually through Zoom. These 36 school teams from across the metro area have been added to the ever-growing total of 337 schools in 78 districts!

To support these new school teams and established school teams that are sustaining their PBIS implementation, the MN PBIS project developed a Distance Learning website. Artifacts, examples and resources are continuously added to the site, so be sure to check back often. One of these school teams, Grandview Middle School, was even featured in a practice guide from the National Center on PBIS! You can find that practice guide here.

Teams can apply for Cohort 17 School-Wide PBIS training (Summer 2021-Spring 2023) on the Application for School Training webpage here! Applications are due by February 8, 2021.

Is PBIS a part of the culture at your school or district? No? Contact your Regional Implementation Coordinator for the Metro, Lauren Sparr, or visit the MN PBIS website to learn more!

Lauren Sparr: or 612-638-1534
MN PBIS website:
Success Beyond the Classroom (SBC) continues to accelerate discovery, ignite creativity, and inspire confidence during this unusual school year.

An educator recently shared:
We are REALLY enjoying YAC. The authors are doing such a wonderful job not only with great content and advice, but also in just connecting with the kids in a way I didn’t expect for a virtual conference. Thank you for all you do to provide this experience for kids!
Virtual Young Authors Conference: January 2021 Preview
SBC's Virtual Young Authors Conference (YAC) will ring in the new year with the following presenters:
  • John Coy (Live session on January 20 and Live Q&A on January 28)
  • Naomi Kinsman/Society of Young Inklings (Live session on January 13)
  • David Oppegaard (Recorded session available on January 4)
  • Virtual Book Club led by Desdamona -- January title is More to the Story by Hena Khan
Virtual YAC features unique content each month through May 2021, including:
  • Three activity sessions (a combination of live and recorded sessions);
  • Live Q&A interviews with local authors;
  • Weekly blog featuring videos created by members of the Minnesota writing community sharing their creative writing passions, tips and tricks, and highlighting new and bestselling YA and children titles;
  • Teacher/Parent Resource – Virtual Book Club;
  • Space for SBC to feature the work of our young writers.
Young Authors students: you're invited to participate in a free writing contest
The Society of Young Inklings is an organization dedicated to empowering youth writers. YAC students are invited to participate in the organization's annual writing contest. Each year from January to March, the Society of Young Inklings accepts submissions from 3rd-9th graders to be considered for their annual Inklings Book anthology.

Contest Highlights
  • ALL writers receive personalized feedback on their submissions!
  • Winners are paired with a professional writer/mentor who works with them to revise their stories and poems for publishing.
  • Finalists are given the opportunity to be published on our website.
Learn more by watching the December 29 YAC blog by Naomi Kinsman and by visiting: 
Senior High Knowledge Bowl students compete over Discord
Knowledge Bowl is up, running, and virtual! We’re so excited to have mastered a way for this game to continue and to give our students an opportunity to come together in this unpredictable climate. Over the platform Discord, teams can play together or apart. Teams from different schools all across the Metro will play via this audio and text app to see who's the best of the best, the smartest of the smart. For information on registering contact Madi Grove, SHKB Coordinator, at 612-638-1514 or
Teachers: looking for creative arts and STEM content during distance learning?
SBC has you covered!
During this unusual time when field trips and guest speakers are not an option, SBC can help teachers fill in the enrichment gaps with our virtual Creativity and STEMLink programming. Students will have the opportunity to get their bodies moving, create visual art projects, and innovate and experiment with STEM activities. Contact Colleen Feller to learn more.
Future City Competition students, distance learning on Earth, design lunar cities!
Twenty-five teams of motivated middle school students are designing cities on the moon. Despite the challenges that come with distance learning and virtual team meetings, students participating in the 2020-2021 Minnesota Future City Competition (FCC) are doing a stellar job.

Teams have been busy writing research essays, building city models, and preparing team presentations. Judging via Zoom will be different this year, but probably a realistic option for future Earth-to-Moon communication!

Check the MN FCC website in February to view photos of the students and their projects and learn which team won first place. Minnesota's top team will compete in the virtual National Future City Competition in April.

For more information about FCC, contact Colleen Feller at 612-638-1511 or
Metro ECSU - Proud Sponsor of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2021
Spelling Bee registrations due on December 20

This year, the Metro ECSU Regional Spelling Bee is set to take place on March 25, 2021 at the Shoreview Community Center, 4580 Victoria St. N, Shoreview, MN 55126

While at this time we intend to have an in-person competition for school champions this year, we will base our final decision on format in accordance with public health guidelines closer to our regional bee date. If we are unable to host our event in-person, Scripps will have an online format available to us this year. Whether our bee is held in-person, or virtually, the champion of our local competition will represent our region in the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee! 

Make sure to register your school at This year, in recognition of current circumstances and interrupted school cycles, Scripps will honor the $175 early-bird enrollment fee with no price increase through the final registration deadline of December 20, 2020!

Questions? Contact Angela Skrade at 612-638-1528 or
We look forward to once again providing this fantastic opportunity to metro area students!
Minnesota educators selected to participate in the 2020-2021 Evidence-Based Practices (EBP) Grant Project
Eight special educator teams from across Minnesota have been selected to participate in the Evidence-Based Practices (EBP) using STAR grant for this school year. Four teams from last year’s project are also moving forward this year in implementation of evidence-based practices with coaching. 

Metro ECSU is hosting this grant from the Minnesota Department of Education and teaming with the trained coaches to provide training and coaching on the use of interventions that have demonstrated effectiveness with students with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disabilities. 

About STAR
Strategies for Teaching Based on Autism Research (STAR) is a comprehensive program designed to teach students with significant learning challenges a range of skills including academic, social, language, and motor. STAR incorporates the use of evidence-based practices of discrete trial training, pivotal response training, functional routines, reinforcement, prompting, and visual supports to teach skills in these developmental areas. STAR coaches will be providing ongoing training to all teams in the project as they increase their ability to implement this curriculum to fidelity. 

Fortunately, the STAR program has developed an online learning resource for teams to use in distance learning. The STAR Online Learning System (SOLS) is a comprehensive online program that is modeled after STAR but with the ability to be implemented with platforms such as Zoom, Seesaw, and Google Meets. Many of the participants in the project this year will be learning and implementing SOLS while their district is in the distance learning model. 

Whether teams are implementing STAR or SOLS this year, we are excited to increase educator skills in learning EBPs, as well as provide students with a great opportunity to learn and excel! If you would like more information about this grant project, please contact Tami Childs at 612-638-1517 or
Some of our Minnesota educators actively engage in learning how to implement evidence-based practices with students.
Pivot? Pivot. MNCoE pivots!
In response to COVID times, the Minnesota Centers of Excellence for Young Children (MNCoE) has indeed pivoted.  While maintaining its mission to provide equitable, consistent access to high quality professional development across Minnesota, training has moved from being 100% in-person events to 100% live virtual events. Not unlike the couch in Ross' apartment stairwell (for my fellow Friends TV show-watchers),this has been a big lift, but so worth it!
To date, MNCoE has provided live virtual training via Zoom to 740 state-wide participants across the Evidence-Based Quality Intervention Practices (EQIP), Pyramid Model (PM), and Classroom Engagement Model (CEM) Innovations. Feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive (even though everyone misses being together). 
In addition to positive feedback around content, comments specific to virtual training have praised flexible options for contributing (chat box or speaking), the efficiency of large group sessions (reduced distractions), the time to reflect and practice with co-workers in a safe place (breakout rooms), and the calming presence of a facilitator in breakouts to encourage participation (guide-on-the-side).

One participant stated, “I have not attended a virtual training before and was very impressed with how well it went. The presenters were very organized and led the trainees through the slides and handouts in an easily understandable way.”
Another participant remarked, “The technology was used very effectively to keep participants engaged.”
The latest addition to this menu of virtual PD opportunities launched on November 9 with Home Visiting for Trying Times -- with 129 participants!  Responding to state-wide Early Intervention (EI) concerns around COVID restrictions’ impact on EI providers and families, MNCoE pivoted, in almost real-time, to offer this 5 week PD Google Classroom opportunity. EI providers now have much-needed support in using evidence-based practices while themselves engaging in virtual visits and/or meeting with families and childcare providers in children’s natural environments.
For more information, contact Jennifer Blank, Region 11 ECSE Professional Development Program Manager, Centers of Excellence for Young Children with Disabilities
Contemplating winter maintenance?
When you think of winter maintenance - think Cooperative Purchasing Connection! From roof inspections to lighting retrofits to field maintenance, CPC’s Facilities and Grounds contracts are full of vendors that you already use and perhaps some that you should take another look at. Our contracts are competitively bid - which means that our vendors dug deep to win your business - and your Business Office will be happy because using the CPC contract makes their jobs a lot easier.
Take a look at all of our Facilities and Grounds vendors like Bobcat, Husqvarna, Tremco, and more by going to and clicking on Meet Our Vendors. Thank you!
Stay safe, Minnesota! Thank you, educators, for all you do!
Metro ECSU, 2 Pine Tree Drive, Suite 101, Arden Hills, MN 55112, United States
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