Parent Power Newsletter: Parent Power Night announced

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May 8, 2014: Issue  3

Save the Date: Parent Power Night

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Parent Power Night is back for a second year!

Save the date for Parent Power Night at this year’s Vision 2020 free education conference at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, July 15, 5:30 – 7 p.m.

Vision 2020 is the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s annual conference for educators, parents and everyone else interested in education. It takes place July 15 – 17, and parents are invited to attend any part, including the general sessions and breakouts each day.

Parent Power Night provides a forum for parents to ask questions, get advice and gain useful materials.

Watch for more exciting details about Parent Power Night in future editions of this newsletter.

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This year’s Vision 2020 keynote speakers are:

  • Lee Roland, principal at Tulakes Elementary in Putnam City Schools. (Tuesday, July 15)
  • Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character. (Wednesday, July 16)
  • Scott Barry Kaufman, author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined. (Thursday, July 17)

Vision 2020 and Parent Power Night are free to attend, but pre-registration is required. For more information and to register, visit:

Teachers tap into their creativity during testing season


Testing season can be a stressful time for students, but a number of innovative teachers throughout Oklahoma have tapped their creative energies to make the experience fun and interesting for their classes.

At West Elementary School in Weatherford Public Schools, teachers got their fourth- and fifth-grade students pumped up with a “Testing Pep Rally.” Teachers donned brightly colored wigs and “Rock the Test” T-shirts for an assembly in which they strutted their stuff to Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and other adrenaline-charged songs. A couple of high school seniors gave the kids tips on how to be ready for tests.

“We just tell the students that you’ve been taught everything you know. Do your best and you’ll be fine,” said principal Ryan Lauder.

The Weatherford teachers aren’t the only ones who have taken to the dance floor for the sake of the kids. At Coolidge Elementary in Oklahoma City Public Schools, teachers headlined an assembly for a tongue-in-cheek version of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it).” The lyrics were customized a bit for the occasion: “If the answer’s right, put a mark on it.”

That wasn’t all. Kids who arrived at school by 8 a.m. were eligible for drawings for prizes such as Frisbees, hula hoops and sidewalk chalk. Students also found encouragement through an array of posters that lined the halls.

“It truly takes a village to take the test at Coolidge Elementary,” said Coolidge principal Annette Williams.

At Hilldale Elementary in the Putnam City School District, things have gone to the dogs — at least in the third-grade classroom of Bobby Rockel. When some of his students expressed anxiety about the tests, he hit on the idea of motivating the kids by urging them to release their inner bulldog.

“A bulldog game to mind,” said Rockel. “They're stubborn, have tenacity, are stout, look intimidating and play a mean game of tug o’ war.”

So his students resolved to be bulldogs this year. They erupt with barking before a test or big assignment and watch a quick video of bulldogs playing tug of war. Occasionally the kids jump out of their seats to dance along to — wait for it — “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

In Tulsa’s Union Public Schools, teacher Samantha Gross was brave enough to dive into the songbook of Disney’s hit movie, Frozen.

The night before her third-grade students were scheduled to take the reading test, Gross’ husband videotaped her singing “Do You Want to Pass the State Test?” The tune is a reworking of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”

“I expose my kids to YouTube videos all the time, because that’s how we’re learning right now. It’s all audio and visual,” explained Gross, who is in her first year teacher teaching third grade. “I wanted to create something that was really personal to our class.”

The following morning, Gross showed the video to her students — after first closing the classroom door, of course, lest anyone else hear her Princess Anna imitation. The kids were delighted.

Little did Gross realize at the time that her husband had posted the video on YouTube.

“It took some guts to actually do it,” she said with a laugh. “It wasn’t supposed to get out the way it did.”

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RSA hotline ready to launch next week

rsa hotline

A telephone hotline for parents with questions about the third-grade promotion portion of the Reading Sufficiency Act will open Monday, May 12.

Oklahoma State Department of Education literacy staff and REAC3H Coaches will answer questions and concerns, provide support for electronic submission of reports and help with communication.

The hotline will be active from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, May 12 – May 23. 

Parents and community members can call (405) 521-3774 to leave comments or questions. The line will be monitored, with responses provided in a timely fashion. 

OKTOY reflects on parents' role


In his latest blog post, 2014 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Peter Markes writes about the greatest influences on students. Parental involvement is key, he writes:

“The greatest influence on a child’s learning is his support in the home. I do not assign great amounts of homework on the premise that ‘if we can get it done in class, let’s.’ However, I am heavily reliant on parent support for our children to practice and return to school ready to learn.

“Without parents engaging in conversation about the school day with their child, without them supporting healthy sleep, eating and brain habits, then my few hours of face-time in the schoolhouse are grossly defeated by a vacuum of support. As the teacher, I feel compelled to give parents a reason to support their child, to send home an excited student whom they can’t help but support.”

Read the full post on the OKTOY Blog:

Okla. students can win $2,529 for college

The Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan and the Oklahoma Department of Libraries have teamed up for the sixth annual Summer Reading Program sweepstakes.

The 2014 theme is FIZZ•BOOM, Save for College. The goal of the Summer Reading Program is to keep children from pre-school through high school reading throughout the summer, expanding their knowledge on subjects that are of interest to them.

There will be two lucky winners who will each be awarded a $2,529 Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan account. The winners will be selected at random from two age categories: Under 13 and 13-18. In addition, each library from where the winners are selected will win $1,000 for its programs.

The FIZZ•BOOM, Save for College entry forms are available at participating libraries for parents, guardians and grandparents of all children signing up for the 2014 Summer Reading Program. Sweepstakes entry forms may be completed and returned to the library or returned by mail. Participants may also sign up online at

Entry forms must be submitted by August 31. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

Parent Power round-up

For useful tips on parenting and education check out OSDE’s Parent Power Facebook page.

Here are some interesting links we’ve shared recently:

"Top 10 mistakes made by parents of middle school students" (NewsOK)

"5 ways our parenting can improve our world" (NewsOK) 

Activities to ward off the summertime academic backslide

"5 tips for parents of teens with smartphones" (NewsOK)