February 2019 Secondary ELAOK Newsletter

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English Language Arts

February 2019

In this issue:

Friends of the Library Book Sale

Friends of the Library Booksale

Do you want to build your classroom library? The annual Friends of the Library book sale will take place later this month at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds. Many books will be on sale for only $1 each.

  • Friday, February 22: Members Only Pre-Sale Event, 1-9 pm (Not a member? Not a problem, click here to join today.)
  • Saturday, February 23: Open to General Public, FREE! * 9 am-5:30 pm
  • Sunday, February 24th, 2019 - Open to General Public, FREE! * 9 am-5:30 pm

OSU Writing Project Summer Institute


2019 Invitational Summer Institute
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, Oklahoma

Pre-Institute Days: June 5 & 19
Institute: July 8-19
9:00 A.M.-4:00 P.M.
Willard Hall, OSU Campus

Apply online by March 10!


The Invitational Summer Institute is a professional development program where teachers of all subjects and all grade levels, Pre-K to university, come together to explore best practices, write and respond to others' writing, and read and discuss current research. Educators leave the Summer Institute with a wealth of ideas generated by sharing with other dedicated educators, strategies and activities for instruction and assessment, a renewed energy for teaching, a sense of confidence in their own writing abilities, and a connection to a larger collegial group.

Teachers invited to the Summer Institute will:

  • Develop teaching strategies that fit their styles & meet the needs of their students
  • Read & discuss research on the teaching of writing & how it may be applied to subjects across the curriculum
  • Work in groups and share writing
  • Present a demonstration
  • Develop professional leadership roles as researchers, practitioners, writers, and inservice providers


The benefits of attending the Summer Institute are:

  • Graduate credit
  • PD points
  • Published OSUWP summer anthology
  • Training in writing in the content areas: strategies for ELL instruction, technology integration, and achievement gap reduction
  • Free PD for schools sending teams of two teachers
  • Joining a professional community of writers and teacher leaders
  • Training as a professional development workshop facilitator for "teachers teaching teachers"

Free Online Workshop


Join the Initiative for 21st Century Literacies Research as they celebrate their sixth annual 21st Literacies Lecture Series with the 2019 Divergent Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research winners (pictured below). This Facebook Live event will take place on Thursday, February 21, from 7:00--8:15 P.M.

Lindy Johnson

Dr. Lindy Johnson
William & Mary

Dr. Lindy L. Johnson is an Assistant Professor of English Education at William & Mary and Director of the Eastern Virginia Writing Project. Her research draws on sociocultural theories of mediated action to examine the increasingly multimodal nature of digital technologies, and the emerging social practices and activities that arise from these technologies. Lindy is particularly interested in examining how digital storytelling and multimodal literacies can encourage adolescents toward civic engagement and other activist projects. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D. in Language and Literacy from The University of Georgia, Lindy taught high school English in Boston Public Schools. Her research has been published in the English Education, Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, and English Teaching: Practice & Critique, and Theory into Practice.


Dr. Raúl A. Mora
Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana

Dr. Raúl Alberto Mora is an Associate Professor of English Education and Literacy Studies at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín. At UPB, he teaches undergraduate and graduate seminars on teaching methods, literacy, and qualitative research, and helped create the MA in Learning and Teaching Processes in Second Languages, program that he coordinated between August 2013 and June 2016. His current research explores second language literacies in urban spaces and gaming communities in Medellín, the pedagogical implementation of alternative literacies in second-language education, the use of transmedial discourse in sociocultural studies, and critical frameworks for English Language Teaching in Colombia, topics he develops with his research team at the Literacies in Second Languages Project (LSLP). Dr. Mora holds a B.A. in Modern Language Education from Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, an M.A. in Teacher Education (as a Fulbright Scholar), and a Ph.D. in Language and Literacy, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Free Workshop in OKC

THRIVE colorful logo

No doubt – teaching is both a challenging and rewarding career! Educators have to learn to juggle the many facets of teaching and managing a classroom!

Join Inspiration for Instruction on Saturday, March 2, for this focus session where they will discuss solutions to common problems and chronic stresses. Sessions will be specialized for elementary and secondary (middle and high) school teachers.

THRIVE is designed to focus on the needs of:

  • university students preparing to teach
  • first-year and second-year teachers
  • alternative and emergency certified teachers

All educators are welcome to attend! Register for free today.

Regional Meetings in Chickasha & Woodward

The Oklahoma State Department of Education’s Office of Curriculum and Instruction is excited to announce free professional learning workshops for the 2018-19 school year. These workshops are designed to support educators with effective instructional strategies aligned to the Oklahoma Academic Standards and are perfect for educators looking to identify a new Professional Learning (PL) Focus or deepen expertise in an existing PL Focus.

Thank you to everyone who attended the secondary ELA regional meetings in Oklahoma City and Broken Arrow. The last two meetings happen this month.

This professional development opportunity is an all-day session. In the morning, attendees will explore depth of knowledge in secondary ELA. In the afternoon, attendees will explore aligning curriculum to the ELA standards.

You can view and register for upcoming workshops on this SDE website.


The website ReadWorks is a great resource for finding thousands of fiction and nonfiction passages with supports designed to improve comprehension.

Text options include:

  • reading passages
  • article-a-day
  • paired texts

You can search by grade level:

  • 6th
  • 7th
  • 8th
  • 9th-10th
  • 11th-12th

Topics include:

  • science
  • social studies
  • literary
  • skills & strategies
  • social & emotional learning
  • holidays & events

You can also search by Lexile.

Writing Prompts

February Writing Prompts

The 2019 We Are Teachers calendar features writing prompts for the month of February. You can download the entire calendar from their website.

Poetry Contest

Newman logo

If you like word games, poetry, or both, try your hand at the Newman Prize for English Jueju, sponsored by the Institute for US-China Issues at the University of Oklahoma. The English Jueju is four lines, seven words per line, twenty-eight words total with an AABA rhyme scheme using only monosyllabic words. Past contest winners are featured in this video, including my former student Lauren Morris.

Four $500 prizes will be awarded to Oklahoma K-16 students or classes (elementary, middle, high school, and college/adult). Winning English language poems must follow the rules of Classical Chinese Poetry!

Learn more details at the contest website. The deadline to submit is March 1.

Rattle's Ekphrastic Challenge

Rattle Logo

You've probably had your students write in response to a photograph or a painting. This is known as ekphrastic writing, and it has existed since the time of the ancient Greeks. Modern ekphrastic poetry has mainly shifted away from vivid description of the art piece to an interpretation, confrontation, or conversation.

Rattle is a long-running journal that has a monthly writing challenge in response to visual art. Rattle features a new piece (art, photography, collage, etc.) each month and invites poets to write in response. Two winners—one chosen by the artist and the other by Rattle’s editor—receive online publication and $50 each month.

The February image, a photograph of a glove, is below.

brown glove on wooden floor

More resources on ekphrastic poetry:

Book Review Contest

Write the World logo

Write the World's February competition is a book review. The prompt follows:

How do we decide what to read? Sometimes a book beckons us with a clever title or flashy cover, but more often we read on recommendation—a personal endorsement from a friend or family member . . . or a stranger who touts their “must reads” in a book review. This month, plant your favorite pages in the hands of hungry readers by telling us what book has captured your heart and why.  
Writing Form: Criticism (aka admiration) 
Subject Areas: Criticism, Journalism, Literature/English
Length: 600–1,000 words  
Competition Opens: February 4, 2019 
Final Entries Due: February 19, 2019

70-Plus Places to Publish Teenage Writing & Art

children Student Voice

The New York Times Learning Network has amassed a list of 70-plus places to publish teenage writing. Some of the contests are open not only to students in the United States but also the entire world! Categories include:

  • annual contests
  • across genres
  • academic research
  • current events and culture
  • essays
  • fiction
  • journalism
  • letters
  • playwriting
  • poetry
  • science writing

You can also find additional contests, including those only available for Oklahoma students, on the State Department of Education's ELA writing contests page.

ELA Textbook Caravan

OEPA logo

Each year, the Oklahoma Educational Publishers Association (OEPA) sponsors a caravan for newly adopted educational material.  Publishers travel to various cities to present their materials approved by the State Textbook Committee. Local school district committee members and teachers are welcome to attend.  This caravan allows educators to view most of the adopted materials all in one day.

This year OEPA has scheduled five days: February 12, 13, 19, 20, and 21. The presentations are from 8:30 a.m. - 2:55 p.m. Ten publishers will be representing English Language Arts, English Learners, Remedial Reading, and Handwriting.

In order to coordinate scheduling and room size, you can RSVP on this Google Survey.  Attendance is still allowed without an RSVP, but if you know you will attend, OEPA would appreciate advance notice.

If you have specific questions regarding this caravan, you may contact either Thompson School Book Depository at 800-456-2828 or Archway at 888-820-4100.

ELA Caravan chart

OSAI Alumnus writes Bird Box

Eric Heisserer

Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute (OSAI) alumnus Eric Heisserer ('87 Orchestra), wrote the adapted screenplay for Bird Box, a popular movie currently streaming exclusively on Netflix. Learn more about Heisserer's writing process in this short interview.

His screenplay for the film Arrival earned him a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination at the 89th Academy Awards in 2016.

Your students can still apply to attend the 2019 OSAI in creative writing. Auditions in Edmond and Tulsa have already passed, but the following dates and locations are still available:

  • Lawton: Thursday, February 7, 2019 * Eisenhower High School
  • McAlester: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 * McAlester High School
  • Oklahoma City: Saturday, February 9, 2019 & Sunday, February 10, 2019 * Oklahoma City Community College, Visual and Performing Arts Center

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt

It's February, so Valentine's Day will be here soon. Lisa Mueller's surprising and delightful love poem has a simile as its title. Once you've read the poem and discussed it, pick a new simile for love ("Love Like ______") and write that poem.

Love Like Salt

It lies in our hands in crystals 
too intricate to decipher 

It goes into the skillet 
without being given a second thought 

It spills on the floor so fine 
we step all over it 

We carry a pinch behind each eyeball 

It breaks out on our foreheads 

We store it inside our bodies 
in secret wineskins 

At supper, we pass it around the table 
talking of holidays and the sea.

Lisa Meuller

Salt Shaker photo

Reading Quote

Borges illustrated quote

FlipGrid Video

green FlipGrid logo

The ELAOK topic for February is simple: What is your favorite book? It could be your favorite book of all time or your favorite book to teach. Visit the FlipGrid board and leave a short video.