Educator Currents: Feb. 26, 2014


A tale for Fido Dogstoyevsky


In multiple Oklahoma library systems, kids are bending fuzzy ears to their books of choice. Reading to dogs is a growing hobby, as it provides opportunities for children to practice reading out loud.

The Metropolitan Library System’s “Reading to Dogs” program in Oklahoma City has partnered with two therapy dog organizations and some individual owners to bring the canines to their libraries.

Kristin Williamson, children’s services coordinator for the system, said the dogs appeal mostly to younger kids, but there are some older readers, especially students who struggle with reading out loud.

“The dogs are a non-judgmental audience, so it can really build a child’s confidence with being able to read out loud,” Williamson said.

She recalled hearing about one child who said he was reading to stuffed animals at home as practice for reading to the dogs.

In Tulsa kids have been reading to dogs at libraries since 2005. The “PAWS for Reading” program started in a single library, where it was so popular that the kids had to join a waiting list. From there it started to spread, and now it is in 15 libraries in the Tulsa City-County Library system, said Tracy Warren, community outreach and literary services manager.

There are 21 dogs in Tulsa’s program. Barkley is a terrier/poodle mix that visits Jenks Library. He was rescued from the Tulsa Animal Shelter in 2003, and went through training to become a therapy dog a few years ago. On the other end of the size spectrum is Jack, an Irish Wolfhound and a common visitor in Owasso and Collinsville.

All the dogs in both programs are certified therapy dogs. All the pooches have been trained to be calm in any environment and respond to multiple people.

Rules for reading to dogs vary from site to site. In Oklahoma City, Williamson said some of the bigger libraries have such high interest that it’s best to call the library ahead of time to let them know you’re coming. There are also occasional special days when a therapy cat or miniature horse might make an appearance.

Save the date for this year's Vision 2020

Vision 2020 banner

The Oklahoma State Department of Education is already hard at work making plans for this year’s Vision 2020 conference. We hope to see you there!

The conference will take place July 15-17 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

A new website for the conference will launch soon. Watch for that here.

In the meantime, we’re looking for some good speakers. Who would you like to see leading a session? You can nominate anyone, even yourself.

Nominate Vision 2020 speakers this week:

OKTOY Blog: The power and influence of a teacher


To quote Japanese music educator Shinichi Suzuki, “Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.”

I was inspired recently when I met a group of teachers at a Great Expectations conference. The title of this blog post was our topic of discussion.

The power of a teacher is to make a child safe, to challenge, and to encourage to give courage. Our power is to create other incredible teachers, police officers, potters or architects. Our positive influence rings in the heads of supportive spouses or co-workers. Most importantly, at the heart of the power and influence of a teacher is our ability to create the next generation of supportive, loving parents who children deserve and constantly need.

Read the full post at Peter Markes's OKTOY Blog:

AP training available

AP Teachers

Spring Workshops

The Oklahoma State Department of Education is partnering again with College Board to provide a series of pre-AP and AP workshops throughout Oklahoma this semester.

Workshops are being offered in math, English, science and social studies in all eight regions of the state. Although a few sessions have happened, most are still to come. They will continue through May 9.

The workshops will focus on successful instructional methods by subject.

For a list of all the workshops and to register, visit:

Oklahoma Summer Institutes

Registration is open for AP Summer Institute courses at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Tulsa. The Oklahoma State Department of Education has gathered links to information and registration for both on its website.


Summer institutes provide an opportunity for AP teachers to explore the latest methods and curriculum in their subjects while meeting each other.

Plan now for STEM-training grants

The Oklahoma State Department of Education is excited to announce that over $1 million will soon be made available to eligible districts to engage in a competitive grant process that further supports math and science professional development and promotes integrated STEM instruction.

Due to the collaborative nature of this grant, school districts will need to partner with other districts and institutions of higher education. Please begin thinking about forging these partnerships prior to the formal announcement in March.

Watch for more details in future editions of Educator Currents.

Aerospace conference scheduled

The aerospace industry in Oklahoma has a $12 billion annual output and employs more than 70,000 people, according to the Oklahoma Aerospace Commission, but there is a lack of qualified employees and engineers in the state.

In an effort to build a stronger link between educators and the industry, the Aerospace Education and Industry Partnership (AEIP) is hosting a summer conference for STEM teachers in grades 3-12 and counselors to show how the processes students learn today could lead to careers in the aerospace industry.

This year’s AEIP Day will take place July 31 at Rose State College in Midwest City. Attendees will receive a $100 stipend and a $110 Pitsco gift certificate. Previous fellows will also be receiving $15,000 in classroom grants.

The conference will last all day and include networking opportunities. Space is limited, so be ready to register as soon as it opens May 1.

For more information visit:



From the Superintendent’s Desk

State Superintendent Janet Barresi writes about the positive force of Advanced Placement classes, the latest numbers in Oklahoma and the opportunities to grow even more AP opportunities in the state. Based on last year’s results alone, students may have saved millions in tuition, but that’s only part of what AP classes can do. 

Read the column here:


Spread the word about RSA

OSDE has put together a poster with the basic facts parents need to know about the Reading Sufficiency Act. Print it off or pass it around online. Feel free to share this poster in any place in your school or community where you think parents will see it.

For a full-size PDF file of the poster, click the image above.

Attend REAC3H Regionals

C3 Logo

Join the Oklahoma State Department of Education Curriculum Directors as they give an in-depth analysis of the Oklahoma Academic Standards. Participants will take away a better understanding of what the standards ask students to do, significant shifts in standards and strategies they can effectively implement into their curriculum and teaching practices.

Here are the latest dates:

  • March 3 – Broken Bow
  • March 4 – Oklahoma City
  • March 6 – Oklahoma City *SCIENCE SESSION ONLY*
  • March 28 – Lawton 


PD in Colonial Williamsburg

Applications are being accepted through this weekend to attend the 2014 Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute program through the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence (OFE).

The program offers fifth-grade social studies/history teachers and school librarians, among other resource teachers, a chance to develop techniques and curriculum while visiting Colonial Williamsburg, the country’s largest living-history site.

Each accepted participant will receive a free trip to Williamsburg and $300 to spend on classroom supplies. OFE coordinates the selection process in Oklahoma.

In addition to visiting sites and experiencing history up close, participants will meet daily with peer facilitators to share techniques, ideas, materials and skills with each other. Back in Oklahoma, they will be asked to share what they learned at a couple of OFE events.

Applications, resumes and recommendations must be postmarked by March 3.

Learn more and print an application here:

Fight tobacco with creativity

Oklahoma may still have one of the highest rates of smoking-related deaths in the nation, but one contest that wraps up this week is offering teachers and students a chance to talk about smoking and possibly win prizes.

The deadline for entries in the “Be Smart-Don’t Start!” anti-tobacco poster and multimedia contest is March 3.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma is organizing the contest with help from community partners, including OSDE.

Students in grades kindergarten through five may participate. There are three different categories, grouped by grade-levels. Gift cards and trophies will be handed out for first-, second- and third-place awards in each category, and one overall grand prize—an iPad—will be awarded.

Students may choose to draw a poster on the back of the entry form or submit a short video or jingle online. Additionally, a set of facts and activities are available online for teachers to use in a classroom discussion about the hazards of smoking.

For more information and to enter click here.

Reaching YA readers summit

The Oklahoma Library Association is looking for teachers, librarians, museum educators and anyone else who works with young adults to attend the Oklahoma School Librarians’ Teen Summit, examining the state of services for young adults in Oklahoma and facilitating networking for the future.

The summit will take place Monday, March 31, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Southern Hills Marriott in Tulsa. There is an $80 registration fee. Lunch is included.

Speakers will cover topics ranging from how to better serve and connect with the teen population to National History Day. Small group discussions will take place throughout the day.

The summit is part of the Oklahoma Library Association’s annual conference.

For more information and to register click here:

Journalism scholarships open

If your students are considering a career in journalism, they can apply now for the next round of scholarships from the Oklahoma City Gridiron Foundation.

Applications are being accepted through March 31. In addition to the application, students must include their most recent transcripts and materials that show their interest and skill in the industry. This isn’t just a newspaper scholarship. Supporting materials can come from TV, radio, internet, yearbooks, newsletters, newspapers or magazines.

The foundation has awarded more than $500,000 in scholarships since 1928. The members hope to encourage college students to stay and work in Oklahoma. In 2013 seven scholars split more than $10,000, and several found internships in local media.

Download an application here:


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