ELAOK Newsletter: July 2018

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July 2018

In this issue:

Meet the Secondary ELA Director


Jason Stephenson grew up in southeastern Oklahoma in Atoka and Holdenville. He graduated Oklahoma Baptist University summa cum laude with a B.S.E. in English Education. He has an M.A. in English with honors from the University of Central Oklahoma. A past president of the Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English, Jason has been an Oklahoma Writing Project teacher consultant since 2009. During his tenure at Deer Creek Public Schools in Edmond, he taught seventh and eighth grade reading, on-level and Pre-AP English 2, Creative Writing 1 and 2, and reading for fun. He also sponsored student council and worked as a curriculum technology coach. He was the 2008-2009 Deer Creek High School teacher of the year. Mr. Stephenson served on the writing committee for the Oklahoma Academic Standards for ELA. His favorite poets are Faith Shearin, Wisława Szymborksa, and George Bilgere. His favorite novel is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. His favorite book series is Ramona Quimby by Beverly Cleary. Jason joined the OSDE staff as Director of Secondary English Language Arts in July 2018. You can reach him at jason.stephenson@sde.ok.gov or on Twitter at teacherman82.

Mr. Stephenson's Tip of the Month

I taught a high school creative writing elective for many years, but any ELA teacher can make some time to incorporate one of these activities. Remember to write alongside your students. You can polish a final draft in advance, or if you are feeling brave, you can draft on the fly on your markerboard or computer hooked up to a projector. Showing your students your writing process helps dispel the myth that all writing is perfect after the first draft.

  1. Six-Word Memoirs: Ernest Hemingway once famously wrote the incredibly short and incredibly sad short story, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Students can take a stab at this micro-writing challenge by encapsulating part of their lives by using only six words.
  2. Where I’m From Poetry: George Ella Lyon’s autobiographical poem comes to life when she reads it aloud. After studying the poem’s content and structure, students can write a Where I’m From poem of their own. If students are studying a piece of literature later in the school year, they could write one of these poems from the point of view of one of the novel’s characters.
  3. Slash: These days some students “ship” their favorite fictional characters by rewriting stories to form a new romantic pairing or relationship. (I always wished Hermione Granger ended up with Harry Potter, not Ron Weasley.) One way students can do this is playing the card game Slash. It’s basically Apples to Apples but with characters in a relationship. If you don’t want to spend the money on the game, you can make your own character cards, or better yet, you can invite your students to help you.
  4. Visual Prompts: The Writing Prompts tumblr has over 800 visual prompts. You could assign certain prompts to students or let them explore the website and find their favorite prompt to write in response to. (Note: Some school districts block tumblr, so talk with your IT department in advance.)
  5. American Life in Poetry: Ted Kooser created this project during his tenure as national poet laureate, and he maintains it to this day. Each Monday, he features a beautiful yet accessible poem by an American. The column archive now has close to 700 poems for students to peruse, study, and imitate. When I taught my poetry unit, I had students select their favorite poems from this website, which I then used as mentor texts. You can also subscribe to the weekly column by email.

I used these writing activities and texts with my students, but you know your students and district best. You might decide to use these ideas as is. Maybe you’ll tweak them. Or you might determine they are not the best fit. Please know that these are just tips and not official recommendations.

Engage on the Road 2018

ENGAGE on the ROAD 2018

Register to attend EngageOK on the Road, OSDE’s annual summer conference for educators, administrators and school personnel. This free training event will offer  a variety of professional development opportunities.

ELA Session Descriptions:

The State Department of Education English Language Arts (ELA) Directors for Elementary and Secondary will be providing a two-part series on Depth of Knowledge (DOK) in relation to their focus grade bands. In Part 1 of DOK in ELA, attendees will walk through an overview of text complexity and how the Oklahoma Academic Standards for ELA support this shift. There will also be the opportunity to have a deeper learning of DOK levels. During Part 2, participants will review text complexity. They will then have the opportunity to practice applying academic rigor through tasks required of students in relation to DOK levels for their specific grade band.

Danielle Calvin, Director of Elementary ELA, will offer a session on Culturally Responsive Teaching in the Classroom. During this session, attendees will learn about the importance of culturally responsive teaching and how to apply effective practice in their daily instruction and interaction with students.

 Jason Stephenson, Director of Secondary ELA, will facilitate a session on Aligning Curriculum to the ELA Standards. Participants will explore effective strategies for aligning curriculum and instruction to the Oklahoma Academic Standards for Secondary ELA.

Register to attend here.

Around our State

Moore Public Schools Book Bus

Read Moore

Debuting summer 2018, the Read Moore Book Bus will be traveling to areas in Moore  Public Schools throughout the summer break. Complete with age-appropriate books and educational games, the bus will allow everyone to enjoy an air-conditioned, fun place to take a break from the sun and #ReadMoore this summer. Watch the short video to learn about Moore's initiative to bring more than one thousand books to students.

NWOSU Community Outreach

Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, Oklahoma, is supporting community outreach through initiatives birthed out of the compassion and dedication from a couple of their own. Continue to read about the impact that determination can spark from a simple dream and noticing the need of a community.

Teacher Closet

Teacher Closet

 The Teacher's Closet was founded in June 2017 by Dr. Jen Oswald, Assistant Professor of Education, and Dr. Jennifer Page, Assistant Professor of English, to supplement the professional clothing needs of NWOSU's education majors. Education majors face steep fees for certification exams, background checks, and licensure, which means that building a professional wardrobe can be a financial challenge. Dr. Oswald and Dr. Page established The Teacher's Closet to help students fill in the gaps in their wardrobe, so that they can focus on the more important task of becoming excellent educators.  They accept donations year round and have been extremely blessed by the Alva and area communities! During the past year they have provided professional dress clothing for approximately eighty-seven NWOSU students including education and business majors.

Literacy Center

Literacy Centers

Founded in August 2016 by Dr. Jen Oswald and a few dedicated education majors serving as volunteers, the NWOSU Literacy Center seeks to address the literacy needs of students and their families through individualized literacy tutoring. NWOSU education major volunteers are partnered with an area P-12 student, and the volunteers complete assessments to determine individual interests, strengths, and targeted areas for literacy remediation. Lessons are provided weekly and designed to meet each student’s individual needs; his or her interests, strengths, and literacy needs are considered for each and every lesson. They have served forty-eight students and two adults in the past two years.

Meet the 2018 ELA Frameworks Writers

Intro Slide3

A new round of work has begun on the ELA frameworks! There are twenty talented teachers from around the state who have committed the next six months investing time, energy, and expertise, continuing to develop resources for educators as they work with the Oklahoma Academic Standards for ELA. Meet the framework writers through the introductory slides above. 

The current work can be found HERE at the site hosting our ELA frameworks. Check back often as new resources and enhancements will be added throughout the work cycle.  Use the feedback button on the site to share your comments, suggestions, and thoughts. We look forward to hearing from you.

SDE Literacy Team

kids in tree

The Literacy Team at the Oklahoma State Department of Education in the Office of Curriculum and Instruction is here to support you as you navigate through the world of literacy instruction. Contact us at any time with questions, professional development opportunity inquiries, or instructional guidance requests.

Main Office: Kida Upshaw, 405. 521.4096

The Team:                                                                         

  • Melissa Ahlgrim, Director of RSA, melissa.ahlgrim@sde.ok.gov
  • Danielle Calvin, Director of Elementary ELA, danielle.calvin@sde.ok.gov
  • Brook Meiller, Striving Readers Grant Program Manager, brook.meiller@sde.ok.gov
  • Sharon Morgan, Striving Readers Grant Specialist , sharon.morgan@sde.ok.gov 
  • Michelle Seybolt, Striving Readers Grant Specialist, michelle.seybolt@sde.ok.gov
  • Timmie Spangler, Director of Instructructional Materials & Library, timmie.spangler@sde.ok.gov
  • Jason Stephenson, Director of Secondary ELA, jason.stephenson@sde.ok.gov


      Contact Information

      Danielle Calvin, Director of Elementary ELA

      Oklahoma State Department of Education




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