September 2019 Secondary ELAOK Newsletter

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.
English Language Arts

September 2019

In this issue:

Fall Workshops on Writing Instruction

osde logo

OSDE is excited to announce free professional development workshops for the 2019-20 school year. These workshops will be held in different regions of the state and are designed to support educators with effective instructional strategies aligned to the Oklahoma Academic Standards.

These workshops are perfect for educators looking to identify a new Professional Learning (PL) Focus or deepen expertise in an existing PL Focus.

For more information on PL Focus, click here.

I will be leading workshops around the state this month on the topic of teaching writing through an inquiry approach. This free, six-hour workshop will build on what we learned at EngageOK on the Road this summer. Although the workshop is free, seating is limited, so register today! The Broken Arrow (September 16) & Oklahoma City (September 27) dates are currently at capacity, but we have added two more dates for those areas. See the sign-up below!

Teaching Secondary Writers Through Inquiry:

After learning three approaches to inquiry in the secondary ELA classroom, teachers will study mentor texts to learn how to teach various aspects of writing.

Standard 5 Video Short

Brook & Jason

I recently finished editing the standard short video for Standard 5: Language. In this video, Dr. Brook Meiller and I discuss our understanding and evolution of teaching grammar in the classroom. Brook and I both served on the standards writing committee back in 2016. I hope you enjoy our video. This is the ninth and final video in the OAS for ELA standards series, which is available on this page from the ELA Curriculum Framework website. The standard videos are also available as a unit in the ELAOK Facebook page.

OKCTE Fall Conference

The 2019 Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English fall conference will take place on Saturday, 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.

spirited inquiry

Oklahoma Teen Book Convention

teen book con

The Oklahoma Teen Book Convention is dedicated to facilitating and celebrating the love of literature and lifelong learning by providing a multifaceted experience of diverse activities in an inclusive and accepting environment for Oklahoma youth ages 12 to 18. 

The inaugural event was in Guthrie in the fall of 2017. The next Oklahoma Teen Book Con will be on November 16, 2019, in Norman, featuring YA author Neal Shusterman.

Neal Shusterman


Admission is FREE! But you are encouraged to signup for an email reminder. It will go out prior to the event as a simple reminder.


Panel sessions with YA Authors from around country will be at OKTBC to talk, chat, and generally be awesome. You’ll get to hear from some of your favorite writers and ask them questions. There will be other times for photo ops and book signings.


Teens will have small meet-up sessions with these great YA authors. Meet-ups rotate in short sessions to get a few minutes to personally talk with authors and a small handful of other avid teen readers.


A place where teen artists can showcase their work, connect with other teen artists and art supporters, and develop a following. If you’re a teen artist, check out the Artist Alley application!

First Class Cohort 2

A Professional Learning Cohort of First-Year Teachers & Their Mentors


The OSDE invites first-year teachers to join First Class Cohort 2 during the 2019-20 school year. The program is intended for teachers who have not yet completed a full academic year of teaching. First Class participants will meet face-to-face in six sessions to focus on classroom management. All sessions will be held at the Gordon Cooper Technology Center in Shawnee from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m beginning in September.

In addition, school-based mentors, who will be working with these first-year teachers as part of a teacher induction program, are invited to participate in two full days of professional learning in September. Mentors will guide first-year teachers in targeted induction activities throughout the academic year.

Download an application here.

For more information about the Teacher Induction Program, click here.

If you have questions, contact Susan Pinson, Executive Director of Professional Learning, at or (405) 522-1835.

Foldables Workshop

Foldables flyer

The OSU Writing Project is hosting a fall foldables workshop for teachers focusing on reading, math, writing, and cross-curricular, including EL students. It will take place on October 12 from 9am to 4:30PM at North Hall at OSU Tulsa. Register through this Google Form. Contact with questions.

Oklahoma Book Festival

OK book fest

Join the Oklahoma Book Festival for a fun-filled day celebrating books, authors, poets, illustrators, and readers!

The 2nd Annual Oklahoma Book Festival will take place at the Boathouse District in Oklahoma City on September 21, 2019.

Get a sneak peek of the presenters!

About the Festival

This event welcomes book-lovers young and old for a day of educational adventure.

  • Free to attend
  • Meet 75-100 of America’s finest literary talent
  • Listen to panel discussions and presentations
  • Buy a book and get it signed by the author
  • Bring the kids for children’s storytime and craft activities
  • Experience live entertainment
  • Enjoy the food trucks
  • Browse the vendor booths and merchandise
  • Pose for a pic with your favorite costumed characters
  • Discover new books, writers and illustrators

Bridges to Hope Conference


Please join Superintendent Hofmeister as she welcomes Dr. Bruce Perry with the Child Trauma Academy to speak on Monday, February 17, 2020, at the Cox Convention Center. This event is free and open to all educators, non-profit partners, tribal entities, other government agencies, and any organization who currently works with at-risk children. Register today!

His clinical research over the last ten years has been focused on integrating emerging principles of developmental neuroscience into clinical practice. This work has resulted in the development of innovative clinical practices and programs working with maltreated and traumatized children, most prominently the Neurosequential Model©, a developmentally sensitive, neurobiology-informed approach to clinical work (NMT), education (NME) and caregiving (NMC). This approach to clinical problem solving has been integrated into the The ChildTrauma Academy ( programs at dozens of large public and non-profit organizations serving at-risk children and their families.

He has presented about child maltreatment, children's mental health, neurodevelopment, and youth violence in a variety of venues including policy-making bodies such as the White House Summit on Violence, the California Assembly, and U.S. House Committee on Education. Dr. Perry has been featured in a wide range of media including National Public Radio, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Nightline, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, and CBS News, and the Oprah Winfrey Show. His work has been featured in documentaries produced by Dateline NBC, 20/20, the BBC, Nightline, CBC, PBS, as well as a dozen international documentaries. Many print media have highlighted the clinical and research activities of Dr. Perry including a Pulitzer-prize winning series in the Chicago Tribune, US News and World Report, Time, Newsweek, Forbes ASAP, Washington Post, The New York Times and Rolling Stone.

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt

The Dog Hair

The above story is an example of flash fiction, a story told in 100 words or fewer. Try it out yourself. Write a complete story with as few words as possible. 

Reading Quote

austen library

Advice Column

What are some tips about collaboration with ELA teachers of different grade levels to help build a cohesive curriculum?

~A First-Year Teacher

Dear FYT,

I had four preps my first year of teaching middle school: on-level 7th and 8th grade literature (reading) and Pre-AP 7th and 8th grade literature (reading). My school's curriculum revolved around novel studies, many of which I had never read before. I spent many nights and weekends reading the next few chapters in the books my students were reading. It was stressful and tiring.

Thankfully, I had two amazing colleagues who helped me along. One was my mentor who also taught 7th grade. She gave me a lot of her assignments and tests, and in return, I talked her ears off about my classroom management problems. My colleague across the hall had taught 8th grade literature the previous year and was extremely organized. We collaborated on some projects, so that our Pre-AP classes could have some common experiences when we read The Diary of Anne Frank play.

I think it's wonderful that as a first-year teacher, you're already thinking about a cohesive curriculum. (During my first year, I kept thinking about Stevie Smith's poem "Not Waving But Drowning.") So, to finally answer your question here are some tips about collaboration:

  1. Start with your own grade level first. Is everyone teaching the same main texts and in the same order? What sort of curriculum map or pacing guide is your grade level using? If everyone is teaching the same curriculum around the same time, you can collaborate on lesson ideas and assessments. I always found this helpful when I was teaching sophomore English. My colleagues and I made better lessons and units when we planned together.
  2. Meet as a vertical team. Perhaps your school has some time built into the schedule to meet as Professional Learning Community (PLC). If not, you could talk with your department head about meeting as a department to discuss the vertical alignment of your school's ELA curriculum. It might be helpful for everyone to list the major texts and writing assignments for their grade level for each quarter of the school year.
  3. Be humble. I won't lie to you, FYT. The first year of teaching can be tough. You will be learning a lot about yourself this year as a teacher and a human, let alone learning about all your students and your curriculum! When you approach a colleague from a different grade level, consider having an attitude of kindness and curiosity. Get to know them as a friend before diving headlong into the whole cohesive curriculum conversation. (Imagine how it might feel as a veteran teacher to have a first-year teacher barge in and question curriculum decisions!) With time, you can ask your colleagues why they do things the way they do.
  4. Change can be painful but also necessary. At one point, your department may decide to change the curriculum. One time at my old high school, we decided to move To Kill a Mockingbird from 10th grade (which I taught) to 9th grade (which I did not teach). I was sad I could no longer teach that novel, but we realized as a department that TKaM fit better with our coming of age theme for our freshman students. Many teachers have favorite texts and writing assignments, but sometimes their placement in a course may need removed, moved, or updated as in the example above or to add to the diversity of authors students study. (See Rudine Sims Bishop's "Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors" for more on this.)

All the best,

Send your question to