Elementary ELA Newsletter March 2020

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ELAOK: Elementary

March 2020

In this issue:

Family Guides Available in English & Spanish

spanish family guides

The OSDE Family Guides are resources aligned with the Oklahoma Academic Standards and developed specifically for Oklahoma families to complement classroom learning. They illustrate what is expected of students at each grade level in different content areas along with activities families can do at home to further support children's learning experiences.  The Family Guides are now available in both English and Spanish.  Click here to access the guides in both languages.

Reading Rockets

Reading Rockets

Reading Rockets is a national public media literacy initiative offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help.  Jennifer McKay, Director of Early Childhood, shared a helpful article with me on the top 10 things to know about reading.  They are:

  1. Too many American children don't read well
  2. An achievement gap exists
  3. Learning to read is complex
  4. Teachers should teach with the end goal in mind
  5. Kids who struggle usually have problems sounding out words
  6. What happens before school matters a lot
  7. Learning to read is closely tied to learning to talk and listen
  8. Without help, struggling readers continue to struggle
  9. With help, struggling readers can succeed
  10. Teaching kids to read is a team effort

Access the article:  Top 10 Things You Should Know About Reading

There is also a slide deck that corresponds to the article, and every slide has several other links and resources for each numbered item on the list.

Amazing Writing Race at the OKC Zoo, March 26

oklahoma writing project

The Oklahoma Writing Project invites you to attend "The Amazing Writing Race."  This year participants will experience the animals through various writing activities and discussions with zoo specialists.  Each teacher may bring 5 students (grades 1-6) per adult chaperone.  Parents and student teachers are welcome to chaperone as well.  

All teams (students and their adult chaperones) will race around the zoo to various stops.  At each stop, they will be challenged to write narrative, opinion, or informative pieces based on writing prompts specific to that location.  All writing activities are aligned to the Oklahoma Academic Standards.  Oklahoma Writing Project teacher consultants will be at each stop to guide participants in the writing activities.  

The day concludes with hearing some of the group's writing from the day as well as celebrating some of the winners from the 2020 OKWP Write to Win contest.  

If you are interested in attending this event, please click here for the registration information.

Oklahoma Literacy Association's Annual Conference, April 4 at Oklahoma City University

oklahoma literacy conference

The Oklahoma Literacy Association's annual conference will be on Saturday, April 4, at Oklahoma City University.  The conference begins at 8:00 am and ends at 4:00 pm.  The day's events include a keynote with authors Kylene Beers and Robert Probst, a luncheon with Oklahoma author Hannah Harrison, and several breakout sessions.  Registration is $25 for students, $50 for members, and $70 for nonmembers (includes membership fee).  Go to oklahomaliteracy.org to register.

ELA Summer Academy, June 9-11

Maja Wilson

The State Department of Education is pleased to announce the topic and dates for the 2020 ELA Summer Academy. The academy will be from June 9-11 in Oklahoma City, and the topic will be providing feedback on writing (the PL focus for the 2020-2021 school year). The speaker will be Maja Wilson, author of two books- Rethinking Rubrics in Writing Assessment and Reimagining Writing Assessment:  From Scales to Stories.

The summer academy is designed to provide Oklahoma educators with research-based instructional strategies they can use to enhance classroom experiences for students. Educators will have the opportunity to engage in a professional learning focus that will be part of the EngageOK summer conference and fall regional meetings.

The academy can hold 60 teachers, 30 elementary and 30 secondary.  Attendees will receive $25 per hour of professional development provided at the academy, which will be in Oklahoma City. Participants must attend the entire academy to receive the stipend.

All applications are due by 5 p.m. March 31. Notification of acceptance will occur via email no later than April 14, 2020. Selected applicants will be provided information regarding the process for hotel reimbursements, which will be issued to school districts upon complete participation of the full academy, hotel receipts, and demonstration that the participant lives beyond 65 miles from the event location.

Click here for the 2020 ELA Summer Academy Application

EngageOK on the Road: Save the Dates!

EngageOK on the Road is coming back!  More information will follow in future newsletters, but here are the dates and locations where we will be providing free professional development to Oklahoma educators:

  • Monday, July 13:  Woodward
  • Tuesday, July 14:  Jenks
  • Wednesday, July 15:  Durant
  • Thursday, July 16:  Clinton
  • Tuesday, July 21:  Oklahoma City

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt of the Month

On a snow melting day

One of the blogs I follow is Two Writing Teachers.  About a month ago, they interviewed Buffy Silverman about her new book On a Snow-Melting Day:  Seeking Signs of Spring.  When asked if she could give teachers one bit of advice, Silverman replied, 

"Reading poetry to your students can be a gift.  Let them enjoy listening to a poem each day, without asking for discussion or analysis.  Then read the poem again and ask students to remember one or two favorite words.  Write those words in a class bank, and encourage your students to borrow them for their own writing."

The accompanying image includes words from the opening pages of Silverman's book.  Use them as a mentor text with students as they think and write about the signs of spring in Oklahoma.  I would love to hear from you if you do this activity!  

Click here to read the entire interview with Buffy Silverman.

Reading Prompt of the Month

Ralph Fletcher

When I attended the NCTE convention in November, I had the privilege of meeting some of my favorite authors, including Ralph Fletcher.  His book Craft Lessons is one I discovered early in my teaching career and have referenced and used numerous times over the years.  His session at the convention on how visual texts support reading and writing was one of my favorites.

Recently on Twitter, I came across the following quote from Fletcher:  "The best books for kids really are written for adults, to charm and astonish us, to prickle the very hairs on the backs of our necks, so that kids will sense our delight, and want to become readers themselves."  

My interpretation of his words is that one of the most important things we teachers can do is allow students to see us as readers.  The content of what we read is not nearly as critical as the act of reading itself.  A love of reading is contagious!