November 2019 Elementary ELA Newsletter

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ELAOK: Elementary

November 2019

In this issue:

November is...

November is a month where some recognize the people and things for which they are thankful.  November is also a month that celebrates authors, books, and an overall love of reading.  In the first week, there is National Authors' Day and National Book Lovers' Day.  The second week is National Young Readers' Week, with November 12th designated as National Young Readers' Day.  And the entire month is not only Family Stories Month, but also National Picture Book Month.  

Some wonderful Oklahomans were willing to help us recognize the important role that books play in the lives of children.  A special word of thanks to Joy Hofmeister, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, for sharing a memory about one of her favorite children's books in honor of Young Readers' Week. 

“My second grade teacher read Charlotte’s Web each day after recess. We would rest our heads on our desks and listen quietly to Miss Keck as she introduced us to places, characters and a story I loved. I was a struggling reader throughout elementary school.  I distinctly remember longing to read as well as my teacher so that I could one day read chapter books on my own.” - Joy Hofmeister

And a big thank-you to Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt as well for helping us celebrate National Picture Book Month right here in Oklahoma.  He reads Goodnight, OKC  to elementary students every Friday at elementary schools across Oklahoma City in numerous school districts. The book is written and published by the Junior League of Oklahoma City.

If you are thankful for the role that books play in your life, you may also want to take part in some (or all) of these events.  You could:

  • Read a book by your favorite author or send a thank-you to him or her via social media. 
  • Take some time to read to a child or listen as he or she reads to you. 
  • Write down or retell the stories that are unique to your family. 
  • Revisit those picture book you enjoyed as a child or still love today.  

Joy Hofmeister, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and one of her favorite children's books, Charlotte's Web

david holt

Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt and one of his favorite picture books, Goodnight OKC

Qualitative Measures Rubric

qualitative rubric

Page 90 of the Oklahoma Academic Standards for English Language Arts explains the text complexity bands:  In order to determine the complexity of a text, it is essential to consider three inter-related aspects as shown on the graphic to the left:  quantitative measures, qualitative measures, and matching readers with texts and tasks.

There is now a qualitative measures rubric available to help determine text complexity for literary and informational texts.  The categories in the literary rubric are meaning, text structure, language features, and knowledge demands.  The categories in the informational rubric are  purpose, text structure, language features, and knowledge demands.

The Qualitative Measures Rubric can be found on the ELA Curriculum Framework.  Teachers can use this rubric to help determine the best placement for texts in their curriculum.

Fall Regional Recap

Over the past several months, I had the privilege of leading fall regional workshops in numerous locations around the state.  The workshops focused on the literacy progression of each mode of writing from the ELA Curriculum Framework, as well as a closer look at how to deconstruct and demystify writing prompts.  Over 100 districts were represented throughout the course of these seven workshops, and it was a pleasure to meet and collaborate with so many educators.  

Here is the link to the slideshow from the regional workshop.  There have been some revisions since the first workshop, but overall the content is largely the same.


Broken Arrow Fall Regional


Alva Fall Regional


Atoka Fall Regional


Chickasha Fall Regional

okc metro

OKC Fall Regional, MetroTech


Tulsa Fall Regional

okc metro

OKC Fall Regional, OSDE

OKCTE Fall Conference Recap


A few weeks ago, I attended the OKCTE Fall Conference with Jason Stephenson, the Director of Secondary ELA.  Our keynote speaker was Dr. Antero Garcia, and his address was focused on how we use tools, texts, and society to promote inquiry.  The ILA Brief:  Improving Digital Practices for Literacy, Learning, and Justice gives a more in-depth look.

I also went to several breakout sessions, including:

  • One-Pagers:  Atypical Assessments for Typical Standards by Shaila West, Stillwater Junior High
  • Guided Drafts and Single-Point Rubrics by Brandy Hackett, Yukon High School
  • Using Technology to Teach Writing by Dr. Jen Oswald, Elise Foss, and Megan Brown, NWOSU
  • Writing in the Special Ed. Classroom- Zombie Style by Susie Schatz, East Middle School, Ponca City
  • Pencil to Paper:  A Writer's Notebook by Vickie Felder, Adams Elementary, Enid Public Schools
  • Who Tells Your Story:  ELA Lessons from the Musical "Hamilton" by Shanedra Nowell, OSU

Dr. Shelbie Witte of OSU closed the conference by discussing some key points of the peritextual literacy framework in her session "Judging a Book by its Cover....and Everything Else." 

The What Works Clearinghouse

what works clearinghouse
what works

 As the infographic above explains, the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) develops practice guides in conjunction with an expert panel, combining the panel’s expertise with the findings of existing rigorous research to produce specific recommendations for addressing these challenges. The WWC and the panel rate the strength of the research evidence supporting each of their recommendations. 

One helpful guide is the Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade.  It provides four key recommendations, activities for each recommendation, obstacles that may arise, and advice from the panel for how to handle those obstacles.  

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt of the Month

writing fix

Writing Fix is a website with so many resources, listing them could easily overtake this newsletter.  One feature on the site is left-brain vs. right-brain prompts.  If you're looking for something a little different when it comes to ways to generate student writing, this is a great place to start!

Reading Quote of the Month