Elementary ELA Newsletter, January 2020

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ELAOK: Elementary

January 2020

In this issue:

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

Welcome to a new month, year, and decade!  As we return to our classrooms after an extended break, it can sometimes be difficult to reignite interest and motivation.  I recently read an article from Edutopia that gives some insight on maintaining student motivation.  Although first published at the start of this school year, much of it holds true for avoiding a potential mid-year slump as well.  



Wonderopolis was created in 2010 by the National Center for Families Learning.  It is a place where learners of all ages are encouraged to explore and discover topics through exploration and curiosity.  Wonderopolis also has a component called Wonder Ground, which was created especially for educators.  Wonder Ground promotes high interest, inquiry-based learning and serves as a how-to guide for integrating Wonderopolis into the classroom.  Click here for more information on Wonderopolis and Wonder Ground.

Bridges to Hope: Teaching in the Shadow of Trauma, Monday, February 17, 2020

bridges to hope

Join State Superintendent Hofmeister as she welcomes Dr. Bruce Perry with the Child Trauma Academy to speak on Monday, February 17 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.

Dr. Perry's 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.

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.

Click on this link for more information about Dr. Perry and to register for Bridges to Hope.

Oklahoma is New Affiliate of The Reading League

reading league

It's official! Oklahoma is the third affiliate of The Reading League.  The first meeting will be on January 18, 2020, so if you are interested in membership and updates for the Oklahoma chapter of  The Reading League, please click on the link to complete the Reading League Membership Interest form.  You can also follow us on Facebook at The Reading League Oklahoma or on Twitter @TRL_OK, #OklaEd.

NCTE 2019 Convention Recap: The Literacy Studio

literacy studio

One of the sessions I attended at the 2019 NCTE Annual Convention was entitled "The Literacy Studio:  Integrating Reading and Writing."  The presenters, most of whom were educators from Fort Osage Schools in Independence, Missouri, emphasized the importance of focusing on student choice. 

 The three main components of a literacy studio are:

  • Crafting Sessions (whole group, heterogeneous instruction focusing on reading and writing whenever possible)
  • Composing (Independent work time — students choose whether to read and/or write and they have to keep it balanced!)
      • Conferring with readers and/or writers during composing
      • Invitational Groups (small, needs-based groups — NOT level-based)
  • Reflection (reflecting with others in a wide variety of configurations, focused on teaching what the student learned today, rather than random sharing!)

It was both intriguing and challenging to me to think about how different my classroom would have looked if I had incorporated something like a literacy studio and given my students more choice in when their independent reading and writing occurred.  

If you want to see the full session, click on the link to access the presentation slides for The Literacy Studio.

Oklahoma Writing Project Summer Institute: Applications Now Being Accepted


Oklahoma Writing Project's 


June 2020

APPLICATIONS: Twelve outstanding teachers will be selected to attend the Oklahoma Writing Project 2020 Invitational Summer Institute to be held at the Moore-Norman Technology Center in Norman. Teachers of all subject areas and of all levels of instruction--kindergarten through university--interested in teaching composition or incorporating writing into their regular subject matter instruction may apply. The important consideration is a strong commitment to teaching of composition and helping students' understanding through writing.

CRITERIA FOR SELECTION: Teachers who are selected should have these qualifications:

  1. Outstanding teaching record.
  2. Strong commitment to growth in teaching composition.
  3. Willingness to develop a formal presentation on topics related to writing instruction and to share those presentations with other participants at in-service workshops.
  4. Willingness to do the writing, research, and reflection that will be asked of all participants during the Summer Institute.
  5. Demonstrable success as a teacher of writing and promise as an equally successful teacher of other teachers.
  6. Willingness to be an active participant in the Oklahoma Writing Project and its professional and in-service programs.
  7. Above all, a strong and open approach to ideas.


  1. Creation and delivery of literacy presentation to be shared at your home school and with other Oklahoma teachers
  2. Portfolio of your own writings as you experience the writing process and best classroom practices
  3. Your published writing in the 2020 Summer Institute Anthology
  4. Collection of ready-to-use literacy strategies and best classroom practices aligned with Oklahoma Academic Standards
  5. Over 45 hours of professional development
  6. Become part of a network of teachers focused on improving literacy practices with Oklahoma students 

STIPEND:  Up to $1,000 stipend for each participant who completes all the required components of OKWP Summer Institute

APPLICATION DEADLINE: March 11, 2020.  Applicants invited to interview will receive an appointment sign-up email by March 29, 2020.


  • Start saving your student writing samples now.  You will need student samples for your interview and during the Summer Institute.  Be sure and save high/low ability examples from your writing lessons. Originals are great but copies are fine.
  • At the interview, you will bring your professional vita and some of your student writing samples.

The online application has further details, including the dates of the summer institute, if you are interested.

Writing Survey Responses

Thank you to all those who completed our writing survey.  We had over 500 responses, and a significant number of them were elementary teachers.  This information helps us as we look at both the current and future statuses of writing instruction in our state.

Write-a-Story Contest Update

In the December newsletter, I featured a writing contest on Scholastic's Scope website, but an Oklahoma teacher discovered conflicting information about the age requirements (4th grade vs. 5th grade being the earliest age).  I was able to speak to someone at Scholastic, and they will allow 4th graders to submit entries this year.  Shout out to Terri Dill from Mustang for catching the discrepancy!  Here is the link to the Scope site if you want to get more info about the Write-a-Story contest.  I'd love to see an Oklahoma student write the winning story!

The HUTCH Magazine

HUTCH Magazine

The mission statement for The HUTCH Magazine says, "HUTCH magazine provides an inviting platform for young learners to share their ideas while focusing on positive and constructive values. HUTCH is an accessible resource for parents and child educators wishing to encourage meaningful learning through the unique experience of being published in a print magazine."

Although the magazine itself is not free, the submission process is.  The next issue's theme is "Look What We Can Create When We Create Together: The Power of ‘We" and the deadline is February 15, 2020.  ’If you go to the HUTCH website, you can obtain more information about submissions, see some of the entries from a previous issue, and even order a copy of the magazine.

Monthly Features

In Case You Missed It:  OSDE on Social Media

book vending machine

Last month, I posted a link to an article that the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) shared via Twitter.  This month, I found this wonderful story on the OSDE Facebook page.  

To read or watch more about Oklahoma's first book vending machine, go to the OSDE Facebook page.  If you are not able to read the story there, it is also available on these news websites:




Writing Prompt of the Month

New York Times picture prompts

Using images as writing prompts is one of my favorite ways to generate responses from students.  The New York Times website has A Year of Picture Prompts.  Each image has a corresponding prompt, or you may create your own.  Clicking on the link will also take you to other years' collections.

Reading Quote of the Month

Mo Willems

"A book is a child's friend."       Mo Willems