July 2019 Secondary ELAOK newsletter

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English Language Arts

July 2019

In this issue:

EngageOK on the Road

The Oklahoma State Department of Education will take its professional development conference on the road again this summer with EngageOK 2019. I will be presenting workshops related to secondary ELA (listed below), but there will be lots of other presenters and topics as well. We hope to see you on the road! Learn more and register now!

Save the Date!

  • July 15: Woodward
  • July 16: Lawton
  • July 17: Durant
  • July 18: Bixby
  • July 23: Moore

Teaching Writing through Mentor Texts, Part 1

Engage students in the writing process by teaching ideas, organization and word choice through mentor texts such as graphic novels, poetry, and comics.

Teaching Writing through Mentor Texts, Part 2

Engage students in the writing process by teaching sentence fluency, voice and conventions through mentor texts such as young adult literature, emails, and novels.

Supporting Struggling Secondary Readers

Secondary English language arts teachers can help their students with reading difficulties. In this session, participants learn strategies from the Oklahoma ELA curriculum framework to assist struggling readers with literacy proficiency.


100 Writing Prompts

Rebekah O'Dell, the author of two books on teaching writing (Beyond Literary Analysis and Using Mentor Texts), has collected 100 more writing prompts for your use this summer. 100 Days of Summer Writing is in its second year. Its purpose is to give teachers the chance to write with mentor texts, so they feel more comfortable and confident leading their students to do the same once the school year begins. You can certainly use some of these prompts with your students in the fall. Take some time to check them out. Those of you with eagle eyes will see a few prompts submitted by yours truly.

100 days pool logo

Google Tour Creator

Tour Creator logo

Google Tour Creator debuted last year. This tool allows users to build 360 degree virtual maps. Teachers and students can tell visual stories, embedding photos and captions within each map. Narration and background music can also be added. One fine example is a series of maps about settings from The Great Gatsby. Tom Mullaney created this Tour.


Joy Harjo: U. S. Poet Laureate

Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo will  succeed Tracy K. Smith as the country's 23rd poet laureate consultant in poetry this fall. Her term will make her the first Native American poet to serve in the position. A native and resident of Tulsa, Harjo is also the first Oklahoman to be named U.S. poet laureate. Harjo says the appointment is an opportunity to continue a role she has often assumed throughout her career: as an "ambassador" of poetry.

In my Creative Writing 2 class, I liked to share Harjo's poem "She Had Some Horses" with my students. It's such a striking, interesting poem, made even more powerful by listening to Harjo read it. At the end of the fall semester, we prepared for our public reading at a Mic Night. Since I required my students to read their work in public, I shared some of my work as well. One poem I read was an homage to Harjo's poem as well as my students, aptly titled "He Had Some Students." I filled the poem with inside jokes from our class, but it was also a very emotional piece. When the end of the school year came in May, I read "He Had Some Students" to my students one more time, tears in my eyes. I am grateful to Joy Harjo for giving the world her poetry, which helped me write some as well.

National Student Poet

teen girl

The National Student Poets Program is the nation’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work. It is a collaboration of the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. The Program builds upon the Alliance's longstanding work with educators and creative teens through the prestigious Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

Representing five geographical regions of the nation, the 2019 National Student Poets are:

  • Christian Butterfield (Southeast), Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Julie Dawkins (Southwest), Edmond, Oklahoma
  • Taylor Fang (West), Logan, Utah
  • Salma Mohammad (Midwest), Fishers, Indiana
  • Alondra Uribe (Northeast), The Bronx, New York

Julie Dawkins will be a senior at Deer Creek High School this fall. In the summer of 2018, she participated in the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute for creative writing. Dawkins will be appointed to her poetry post on July 17, 2019, at the National Museum of the American Indian. (I just so happened to teach Julie in my Creative Writing I class when she was a freshman. I am very excited for and proud of her!)

Oklahoma Poetry Musem

building labeled Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry

The mission of the Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry (ROMP) is to bring poetry and people together, to encourage wordplay and literacy, and to provide a space where everyone can have an experience of poetry. It is located in Locust Grove. 

"In the Bones" is the museum exhibit for 2019. You can explore the ways that bones form our foundation, keep us alive and growing and strong, and how poetry lives in them.

The museum is suitable for all ages and has a large variety of interactive opportunities for people to have an experience of poetry.

ROMP also sponsors some writing contests, including ones about water and Oklahoma.

Summer Academy Recap

The ELA Summer Academy took place June 10-12 in Oklahoma City. Twenty-nine teachers, PK-12, attended this three-day workshop to learn more about teaching writing through an inquiry approach.

I led the first day, which was an overview of Shawna Coppola's book Renew!: Become a Better and More Authentic Writing Teacher. We mainly focused on different ways of teaching and understanding writing process. We read Don Murray's essay "Teaching Writing as a Process Not Product." Even thought this essay was originally published in 1972, some of his ideas might still be viewed as quite revolutionary by some English teachers. 

Then Shawna Coppola joined and led us on the second and third days of the academy. We learned about designing writing lessons around inquiry and engaged in some inquiry ourselves about one-panel comics, author blurbs, and em-dashes. We learned that inquiry is sustainable, student-centered, engaging, and develops curiosity in students.

Later on this year during fall regional meetings, I will present on using an inquiry approach in the ELA classroom. I hope to see you then!

groups of teachers

the ELA Summer Academy teachers

Find Your YA Book Title

I shared this funny chart in the #ELAOK Facebook group last month, but it is too good not to share again here in the newsletter. Shawna shared this at the summer academy as an icebreaker. Enjoy!

YA Book Titles

Elementary ELA Director

Deb Wade

Deb Wade has joined the Office of Curriculum and Instruction as the Director of Elementary English Language Arts. Deb has taught in Noble and most recently in Putnam City. She is Nationally Board Certified and has served as the co-director of the summer institute of the Oklahoma Writing Project. We are so excited to have Deb join us! She will be presenting at Engage OK on the Road, so tell your elementary teacher friends to say hello to her and attend her sessions.

  • Deborah.Wade@sde.ok.gov
  • 405-521-3034

One Year Later...

Jason Stephenson & Shawna Coppola

I have now been in my position as the Director of Secondary English Language Arts for one year. I have had the opportunity to meet many of you in-person at events like Engage OK on the Road and the regional meetings we had in different corners of the state. I've also met some of you virtually in the #ELAOK Facebook group and on Twitter with the hashtags #elaok and #oklaed. Most recently I had the chance to work with twenty-nine excellent ELA teachers at the summer academy. (Pic with our presenter, Shawna Coppola, to the right.)

Over the past year, I was able to attend some conferences such as ASCD in Nashville, NCTE in Houston, and CCSSO in Los Angeles. This job is rewarding because I enjoy sharing what I learn with you, so that you can expand your arsenal of teaching tools, allowing you to make a difference in the lives of your students.

I'm pleased to announce that I will get to present at NCTE in Baltimore this November as well as at the Conference on English Leadership, which takes place immediately after the NCTE convention. It is my honor to represent this state and its many wonderful English teachers.

OKCTE Fall Conference

The 2019 Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English fall conference will take place on October 5 in Stillwater at Willard Hall on OSU's campus from 9am to 4pm. The keynote speaker is Antero Garcia, a professor from Stanford University who has written numerous books on teaching English. You can get to know him through his blog and Twitter

You can register for the conference now and submit a proposal to present.

OKCTE fall conference logo

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt

Rudy poet

After watching spoken word poet Rudy Francisco perform his poem "My Honest Poem," write about what comes to your mind. Perhaps you will write a poem of your own in which you confess to some of your beliefs, behaviors, and experiences.

Reading Quote

JKO reading quote

FlipGrid Video

What are some of your summer plans, personally or professionally? Share out in the ELAOK Flipgrid board. You can also revisit past topics such as your favorite book or a teaching hero.

green FlipGrid logo