ELAOK Secondary October Newsletter

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English Language Arts

October 2018

In this issue:

OCTE Fall Conference

The Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English fall conference is almost here! The conference will take place on Saturday, October 13, 2018, in Stillwater at Oklahoma State University. The keynote speaker is Penny Kittle, who most recently co-authored 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents with Kelly Gallagher. The full-day conference's theme is "The Power of Voice." A continental breakfast and lunch will be included in the membership/registration fee, and coffee/refreshments will be provided all day. The conference runs from 9am to 4pm. Register today!

Penny Kittle

Testing Update

The OSTP will be different this spring for 6th, 7th, and 8th grades in ELA. The tests for grades 6 and 7 will now include constructed response (CR) items. These are short answer questions to which students will type their answers. Students are scored on whether they answered the question with evidence. Their spelling and grammar is not counted. The new test blueprint and item specifications guides for grade 6 and grade 7 explain CR items in further detail. The sample CR items for sixth and seventh grades appear below.

Sample 6th Grade Constructed Response Item

Grade 6 CR item

Sample 7th Grade Constructed Response Item

Grade 7 CR item

8th Grade Mode Update

The 8th grade ELA test will not include constructed response items since it already includes an essay. This year the SDE is not releasing the mode in advance of the test. This means students should be familiar with all three modes: narrative, informative, and argument.

If you have further questions about assessment, contact Christie McCreary, the ELA/Social Studies Assessment Specialist.

Game: Judging the News

Factitious screen

A new game called Factitious lets players determine if a short news story is real or fake. You swipe left or right to indicate your judgment. You can also simply click the "X" or check mark at bottom of each news story. This game was originally designed with middle school and high school students in mind, but anyone can play. Astute readers can probably determine the authenticity of the news story by its word choice, but a button will reveal the source of the story. The game is free and can be played on mobile devices or laptops. What a fun way to address objectives 6-12.6.R.3! (Note: Some news stories contain mature language.)

New Writing Contests

cowboy poetry

The Chisholm Trail Cowboy Poetry Contest invites students grades K-12 to write a cowboy poem from eight lines up to two pages. Poems must be about the cowboy way of life--ranch life, cowboys, cowgirls, livestock, rodeo. For example, a student may want to write about animals--the barn cat, the dog who herds the cattle, or riding a horse on a hot summer's day. Trophies will be awarded for 1st-6th place. The deadline is November 1, 2018.

write the world text logo

Each month Write the World holds a new competition developed around a particular idea or genre of writing, such as poetry, fantasy, sports journalism, or flash fiction. Competitions encourage teens ages 13-18 to dig deeper into the writing process, try out new genres, and share their work with a sea of eager readers.

And because a first draft is never perfect, students have the chance to receive peer and expert feedback before submitting their final piece.

The October competition's genre is personal narrative. The length is 500-1,000 words, and the deadline is October 30, 2018. Learn more about upcoming competitions for the rest of the school year.

Jeffrey Seaman

The 2019 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage essay contest asks high school students to describe and analyze an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official who served during or after 1917, the year of JFK's birth. This is a national contest, and first place is $10,000! The deadline is January 18, 2019.

Jeffrey Seaman, a junior who is homeschooled in Short Hills, New Jersey, won the national 2018 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest for High School Students. Seaman's winning essay profiles Harry T. Burn, a Republican State Representative in Tennessee who, in 1920, cast the deciding vote to ratify the 19th amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote.

More writing contests can be found on the SDE ELA Resources page. Telling students about different writing contests can encourage them to write more on their free time, leading them to become independent writers as described in Standard 8.

Reminder: Three writing contest have deadlines this month!

  • First Amendment is due October 14.
  • Masonic Charity Foundation is due October 31.
  • VFW Voices of Democracy is due October 31.
  • Links to these contests are on the Resources tab.

Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud logo

Oklahoma A+ Schools at the University of Central Oklahoma is pleased to present the 2018 Poetry Out Loud Recitation Contest. This program encourages high school students to learn about poetry by memorizing and then reciting a poem selected from the National Poetry Out Loud catalog. Winners from school contests will advance to the state finals at UCO on March 7, 2019. For more information on the contest and to register your class or school, visit okaplus.org.

Poetry Out Loud is a free poetry recitation contest for high-school students (grades 9-12) in both public and private schools. Poetry Out Loud encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.

Oklahoma Book Festival

balloon OK Book

The Oklahoma Book Festival will take place on October 20, 2018, from 10am to 5pm at the Boathouse District in Oklahoma City. The day will feature more than 50 authors from around the nation, plus panel discussions, presentations, story time and crafts activities, food trucks, and more! Oklahoma's inaugural book festival is completely free to attend. Some of the authors include David Grann, author of Killers of the Flower Moon: the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI; Sam Anderson, author of Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City, Its Chaotic Founding, Its Apocalyptic Weather, Its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World-Class Metropolis; and Oklahoma's own Tammi Sauer, author of 23 picture books, including Mostly Monsterly.

ELA Framework Update

ELA Framework homepage

The ELA Framework homepage is now more streamlined and user-friendly. This ever-growing website is a resource hub for Oklahoma English teachers, created by Oklahoma English teachers. Here are some new features:

  • New content includes further objective analysis with teacher insights and supporting resources in addition to teacher actions and student actions that already existed. Check out this page on argument writing for freshman: 9.3.W.4.
  • Instructional guidance and student proficiency levels now exist for the writing strand for all of the standards at all grades levels. Here's Standard 2 at the 12th grade level.
  • Finally, the literacy progressions now have a subpage and are organized into reading and writing strands.

Monthly Features

Snoopy beagle writing

Writing Prompt

Maybe you only have the energy to write one sentence. Well, here's a fun challenge for you: Write an absolutely terrible, ridiculous opening sentence to a hypothetical novel.

This challenge is an annual contest whose origin is the infamous sentence "It was a dark and stormy night." The full sentence, written by English novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, is actually: "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

The grand prize for the XXXVth Lyttoniad went to Tanya Menezes, who at seventeen years old is the youngest winner in contest history. Here's Tanya's winning sentence: "Cassie smiled as she clenched John's hand at the edge of an abandoned pier while the sun set gracefully over the water, and as the final rays of light disappeared into a star-filled sky she knew that there was only one thing left to do to finish off this wonderful evening, which was to throw his severed appendage into the ocean's depths so it could never be found again--and maybe get some custard after."

Reading Quote

“If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our Library.”

—John F. Kennedy