December 2019 Elementary ELA Newsletter

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ELAOK: Elementary

December 2019

In this issue:

The Nation's Report Card on Reading


In Spring of 2019, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) was given to some fourth and eighth graders in Oklahoma.  These students, along with students from across the nation, were a sampling used to assess what our nation's students know and can do in select subjects. 

The NAEP reading assessment uses literary and informational texts to measure students’ reading comprehension skills. Students read grade-appropriate passages and answer questions based on what they have read. 

The overall results:  

▪ In 2019, the average score of fourth-grade students in Oklahoma was 216. This
was lower than the average score of 219 for students in the nation.
▪ The average score for students in Oklahoma in 2019 (216) was not significantly
different from their average score in 2017 (217) and in 1998 (219).
▪ The percentage of students in Oklahoma who performed at or above the NAEP
Proficient level was 29 percent in 2019. This percentage was not significantly
different from that in 2017 (29 percent) and in 1998 (30 percent).
▪ The percentage of students in Oklahoma who performed at or above the NAEP
Basic level was 63 percent in 2019. This percentage was not significantly different
from that in 2017 (63 percent) and in 1998 (66 percent).

The infographic below is a visual representation of this data.  Go to the following link for  information about NAEP and the Nation's Report Card on Reading.


Claremore ELA Teacher Wins Milken Award


Photo Source: Milken Family Foundation

In a surprise announcement, eighth-grade teacher Brooke Lee received the national Milken Educator Award at an all-school assembly on November 26th at Will Rogers Junior High in Claremore. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister was joined by Governor Kevin Stitt and Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Jane Foley in presenting the prestigious award, which comes with $25,000.

“The impact Brooke has made on students and families is nothing short of extraordinary. We are so proud to have her represent Oklahoma on the national stage,” Hofmeister said. “Brooke creates an environment where her students feel safe, valued and connected, while inspiring her fellow educators to discover innovative, evidence-based strategies that bolster student outcomes.”

Lee, an English language arts teacher, is known for providing experiences to engage her students’ individual interests and using a multitude of learning strategies to meet the needs of a diverse set of learners. Last year, nearly half of Lee’s students showed an average increase of at least two years of academic growth.

“Every child in Oklahoma deserves to be inspired by the very power of education itself and the potential of a bright future, and Oklahoma’s teachers help to make this possible each day,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “They invest in children from all walks of life and ultimately leave an impact that extends far beyond the walls of our schools. Oklahoma is proud of Brooke Lee as she sets the standard for exceptional teaching and helps to make our shared vision of a Top Ten education system possible.”

A teacher of six years, Lee did not know she was being considered for an award. She is the only Milken Educator Award winner from Oklahoma this year and is among up to 40 honorees nationally for 2019-20. The award recognizes early to mid-career educators for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.

“Brooke Lee knows that the gift of language is incredibly important for her students and is able to craft her lessons to meet individual needs,” Foley said. “Brooke’s commitment to each child's growth and her creative yet empirically grounded approach to teaching is the kind of inspirational leadership we seek in Milken Educators.”

Lee leads professional development, mentors incoming and career teachers, hosts pre-service educators and chairs the English department at Will Rogers. After Claremore Public Schools committed to becoming a Great Expectations model district, Lee was chosen to become a Great Expectations instructor for her colleagues. Recognized as a leader in the district, Lee was asked to join the district team in planning a new state-of-the-art science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) facility after the passage of a $50 million bond.

“Mrs. Lee believes that education is the equalizer for all students and that relationships are the foundation of student learning,” said Bryan Frazier, superintendent of Claremore Public Schools. “She is not only an outstanding, caring teacher to students, but she is also a teacher leader actively involved in collaborative learning with staff. It’s fitting that the Milken Educator Award is considered the Oscars of Teaching because she is a true superstar in our school and our community.”

Lee is also actively engaged in her community. She works with Rogers County Youth Services to bring programs into the school for students facing social and economic challenges.

[Source:  Oklahoma State Department of Education]

NCTE 2019 Recap


Jason Stephenson (Director of Secondary ELA) and me

The 2019 NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Annual Convention took place on November 21-24 in Baltimore, Maryland.  Thousands of professionals from all aspects of the ELA world came together for a chance to learn more about what spirited inquiry could look like in our classrooms.  

In addition to hearing keynote addresses from George Takei, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Tonya Bolden, I also attended numerous sessions, the first-timers' welcome reception, and the Elementary Section Get-Together.  Throughout the convention I met, and learned from, educators from all over the country.  I sat in on sessions that included prominent educators and authors; Kylene Beers, Bob Probst, Penny Kittle, Linda Rief, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Lester Laminack, and Ralph Fletcher are just some of the people who captivated me first as a reader and then again as an attendee during their sessions.  

It was an incredible time of learning and growth, and I look forward to sharing more of it with you in next month's newsletter.

OSDE on Social Media

Whether it's via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, the Oklahoma State Department of Education is constantly sharing helpful and relevant news and research for educators, parents, and students.  One example is a recent tweet from the OSDE (@oksde).  Click on the link to read the full article "Every Child Can Become a Lover of Books".  


Write-a-Story Contest

Scope, Scholastic's magazine geared for middle school students, recently posted a Write-a-Story Contest that is open to students in 4th-12th grade.  Students are asked to finish one of these three story starters:

1. For the record, I voted against exploring the Forbidden Tunnel of Doom.

2. My house collapsing into a sinkhole wasn’t even the worst part of my day.

3. There’s a chance that I’m not fully human.

Click on the link to the Scope Contests page for more information on how to submit entries.  

Writing Survey

Calling all Oklahoma ELA teachers! Please take this quick survey about writing instruction and assessment in your classroom by the end of the month.  Your input is greatly appreciated.

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt of the Month

Although not every day on this calendar is about writing, it does provide numerous opportunities to generate writing prompts for children and adults.  Thank you to Dr. Cindy Koss, Deputy Superintendent for Student Learning and Achievement, for sharing this.  Click here for your own copy of the December Kindness Calendar.

kindness calendar

Reading Quote of the Month

During the NCTE Annual Convention in Baltimore, I walked past a bookstore that had this plaque out front.  I thought I'd share:

reading quote baltimore