September ELAOK Secondary Newsletter

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English Language Arts

September 2018

In this issue:

Writing Contest Roundup

Start planning now for your students to participate in writing contests from a variety of organizations. Even if your students don't ultimately submit their writing to any contest, they might enjoy some of the prompts and topics. Please note that some contests are only open to certain grades.

  • First Amendment Essay Contest, grades 9-12 [due October 14] PDF
  • Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma, grade 12 only [due October 31] website
  • VFW Voices of Democracy, grades 9-12 [due October 31] website
  • If I Were Mayor Essay Contest, grade 8 only [December 31] website
  • Ayn Rand, grades 8-12 [due April 25, 2019] website
  • Oklahoma City National Memorial Annual Student Essay Contest, grades 5-12 [topics and deadlines not yet announced] website
  • R. Darryl Fisher Creative Writing Contest, grades 9-12 [deadline not yet announced] website
  • Letters About Literature, grades 4-12 [deadline not yet announced] website
  • Oklahoma Writing Project Contest, grades PK-12 & teacher [deadline not yet announced] website
  • Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English Contest, grades 6-12 [deadline not yet announced] website

Featured Teacher

Ellen Stackable

Ellen Stackable, AP English teacher at Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences, was recently named a CNN Hero for her work with Poetic Justice. Poetic Justice offers restorative writing workshops to incarcerated women, emphasizing voice, hope, and power to change. Stackable began Poetic Justice in 2014 after learning that Oklahoma has the highest rate of female incarceration in the country. The program is now in five female prisons in the state and has reached over 2,500 women. Three volumes of writing are currently available. "I know that all that I have accomplished with Poetic Justice is rooted in my experience at Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences," said Stackable. Ellen has taught at TSAS since 2001.

Professional Development

Learning Leading K20 Center

Creative Writing Workshop: Hosted by the Ralph Ellison Foundation on Wednesday, September 12, from 6:30-8:30pm at the Ralph Ellison Library in Oklahoma City. Led by Craig Wolf,  this month's session, "Where We Were, Are, & Will Be: Writing the Power of Place,” will explore the role of remembered spaces, lived environments, and imagined worlds in contributing weight and emotional resonance to our prose and poetry. Attendance is free. Click to learn more.

Plugging In To Literacy: Hosted by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education on Friday, September 21, from 9am-3pm at the PHF Conference Center in Oklahoma City. Click to learn more or register now.

Learning & Leading Outside the Lines: Hosted by the K20 Center on Tuesday, October 9, from 8am-4:15pm at the Embassy Suites in Norman. Click to learn more.

OKCTE Fall Conference: Hosted by the Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English on Saturday, October 13, from 9am-4pm at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. Click to learn more or register now

Curriculum Frameworks


The OSDE curriculum frameworks are sets of curricular resources developed by Oklahoma teachers to help educators translate the Oklahoma Academic Standards into classroom practice. They illustrate what is expected of students at each grade level by examining the intent of each standard and providing instructional options to support student learning.

These tools may be helpful to educators as they evaluate, select, and implement instruction, curriculum, and classroom assessments aligned to standards. The ELA curriculum frameworks are already a great hub of information, and they are in the process of being revised, expanded, and strengthened. Be looking for more information on the wiki in the coming weeks!

English Learner Resource

FREE EL PD FOR 2018-2019: OSDE is excited to have Oklahoma be a pilot state for WIDA's new eLearning modules. ***From September 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, every educator in Oklahoma that has a WIDA website login or requests a WIDA website login will have free access to four self-paced eLearning modules designed to help educators use best practices in meeting the needs of their English learners.*** The modules may be used by individuals or PLCs, and each provides resources and handouts to aid educators in putting their lessons into practice. Users will be able to print PD certificates to document completed training(s).

HOW DO I LEARN MORE?: Please consult this WIDA Self-Paced eWorkshops flyer.  (The writing rubric series looks especially relevant.)

ACTION NEEDED: Districts who wish to participate need to identify a District Learning Coordinator to the Office of Assessment using the WIDA DLC Designation form. Participation is strongly encouraged by OSDE, but not mandated. However, if a district wishes to participate, they must designate a DLC.

WHAT DOES A DLC DO?: The WIDA District Learning Coordinator (DLC) is OSDE's contact for all WIDA eLearning activities. In general, the DLC will be responsible for creating any new WIDA user accounts for district staff who wish to access the WIDA eLearning modules, and for tracking eLearning participation at the district level. The DLC may also be asked to distribute surveys or otherwise collect information from district participants regarding their experiences in using the modules. 

If you have questions, please contact Elizabeth Warren, Director of English Language Proficiency Assessments. Her email is

Monthly Features

Different Kinds of Questions comic

Writing Prompt

What is a question, big or small, that you had in the past or have now? Write down the question, and then in five minutes, do your best to answer it. (The comic paired with this month's prompt is from Incidental Comics by Grant Snider).

Reading Quote

"Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing." --Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird