August 2019 Elementary ELAOK newsletter

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.
ELAOK: Elementary

August 2019

In this issue:

Back to School!


It's that time of year!  You've hit all of the back-to-school sales for extra classroom supplies, you're getting your room ready, and your calendar's filled with events that will happen between now and the first day of school.  As the big day approaches, here are a few reminders that may help:

 1.  Set procedures:  In his book The First Days of School, Harry Wong says procedures must be established immediately and used regularly.  Have a well organized plan and stick to it.  Consistency is the key!  If you are unsure of what procedures to prioritize, check out this link to see more about  Wong's Well-Managed Classroom.  

 2.  Form relationships:   Community-building exercises should be incorporated into the schedule for the first several days. Some of your students have known each other since preK, and some are brand new to the school.  Incorporate activities that will  help everyone (including you) get to know each other.  Lee Roland, motivational speaker and former principal in the Putnam City district, stresses the importance of relationships in his book Fantastic Voyage: "I purpose to motivate, inspire, and empower aim high and go even higher...I want to champion, push, and spark them into believing in themselves."  

 3.  Have fun and relax:  Surround yourself with people who care about and encourage you, both at and away from school.  Take time for yourself.  Here are two insightful articles about the importance of self-care, "Happy Teachers Practice Self-Care" and "Educator Self-Care All Year Long (Not Just in the Summer)".  

EngageOK on the Road Recap


This was my first year to present at EngageOK, and it was an incredible experience. I met so many enthusiastic and passionate educators from around the state and we had wonderful discussions about our ELA topics. Jason Stephenson and I are already thinking about our fall regional conferences and what we’d like to do. 

I've included updated links to all of my sessions.  If you have any questions or need clarification, please feel free to contact me.  Thanks to all who made this such a memorable and exciting event!

Exploring the ELA Curriculum Framework

Writing Development

Teaching the Three Modes of Writing in the Elementary ELA Classroom

engage crowd

Teachers attend the Writing Development session at Southmoore High School.

Sequoyah Book Awards


With this award, Oklahoma honors the Native American leader Sequoyah, for his unique achievement in creating the Cherokee syllabary. Sequoyah chose eighty-five symbols to represent all spoken sounds of the Cherokee language. In so doing, he created a way to preserve his people's language and culture.

The 2020 Children's Masterlist is available, as well as a wealth of promotional materials.  I thought the bookmarks were fantastic; all of the book covers are on one side, and then there's a checklist on the other where students can track their reading.

Each masterlist is created to appeal to children in a variety of situations, interests, and reading levels.  The books on the masterlists are not intended to be an automatic recommendation of the books.   The masterlists are not to be taken as recommendations that children be encouraged or required to read every title on a particular list. Teachers and other group leaders should carefully read and consider a title before reading a masterlist title to a class or group, or  assigning a title as required reading.  It is not the intention of the committees that every student must read every book on each masterlist.

Upcoming Events

okwp logo

Oklahoma Writing Project's

Write to Learn Workshop

August 10, 2019

If you still need a few more quality writing activities before the school year starts, you should attend this event.  Click here to register, and use the code OKWPFY20A to attend for free!

quartz mountain

Quartz Mountain Fall Arts Institute

October 3-6 or 10-13, 2019

Journey to Quartz Mountain this fall for an all-inclusive, four-day workshop retreat at the Oklahoma Fall Arts Institute. Taught by nationally renowned artists, workshops are offered for all skill levels and are held at the beautiful Quartz Mountain Arts and Conference Center in the Wichita Mountains of southwest Oklahoma. This year’s workshops include painting, drawing, writing, photography, printmaking, music, and more.

Unlike other workshops, all meals and lodging are included in tuition.  Click here for more information about enrollment and workshop rates for Oklahoma K-12 educators.


OCTE Fall Conference

October 5, 2019

This year, in union with NCTE's theme of Spirited Inquiry, members of OCTE will gather to celebrate teacher and student voices from across Oklahoma. Antero Garcia will be this year's special keynote guest.  If you are interested in attending, you will find more information here.

OCTE fall conference

Writing Contests

When students write with an authentic purpose and audience, they are motivated to craft powerful words into prose and poetry. The New York Times Learning Network has an article with ten reasons to send student work out into the world. The Learning Network also has a list of over 70 avenues for student publication of writing.

The 35 contests on this webpage—state, national, and international—are ways for students to submit their writing. The contests are organized chronologically by deadline. Start planning now for which writing contests you want to share with your students.

Want an overview of these contests? Check out the slideshow Jason Stephenson created for Oklahoma Literacy Association's 2019 spring conference.


Monthly Features

My goal with this newsletter is to feature great ideas and best practices from our peers around the state.  The Writing Prompt of the Month will be a monthly feature, as will the Reading Quote of the Month.  I would also love to celebrate your schools or districts.  If you have a writing prompt, reading quote, or an accomplishment to recognize, please email me at 

Writing Prompt of the Month: Would You Rather?

  • Would you rather have more time for lunch or more time for specials?
  • Would you rather play video games or play outside?
  • Would you rather understand everything you read or understand how to solve every math problem?

Not only is this activity a great icebreaker for the beginning of the year, it's also an excellent way to get kids writing!  There are numerous sites that provide options for you, or you may create your own for your students.  

Reading Quote of the Month

book dream

Celebrating Fairland Elementary!

Thanks to Laura Goins, a Reading Specialist from Fairland Elementary, for sending this in:  "Teachers from Fairland Elementary checked off something from our bucket list and traveled through 7 states to Atlanta, GA to visit the Ron Clark Academy! It was an amazing day and got us excited to start the new school year!" Pictured are, front row: Principal Angela Wade, Reading Specialist Laura Goins, Ron Clark, 1st Grade Teacher Jackie Brown, 3rd Grade Teacher Mary Caudill. Back row: Librarian Kristin Hitchcock, 3rd Grade Teacher Katie Detherage, 2nd Grade Teacher Misty Wilmoth.  



Celebrating Union's McAuliffe Elementary!

Toni Peterson, a 5th grade teacher from McAuliffe Elementary, shared this on our #ELAOK Elementary page on Facebook:  "Toni Peterson and Jazmine Dale, 5th grade teachers at Union’s McAuliffe Elementary, joined 4,300 other educators at the National Get Your Teach On Conference June 30-July 3 at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX. The conference, which highlighted speakers such as Rachel Hollis, Hope & Wade King, and Adam Dovico, provides K-8 teachers strategies to increase student engagement and rigor through classroom transformations, hands-on math & literacy strategies, and activities to build classroom culture."