Elementary ELA Newsletter July 2020

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ELAOK: Elementary

July 2020

In this issue:

Coming This Month: EngageOK in the Cloud!

EngageOK in the Cloud

If you haven't registered for EngageOK in the Cloud, there's still time!  This free event is July 14-17, and there are  numerous interesting and timely topics including teaching the Tulsa Race Massacre in high school, computer science integration across K-5 curriculum,  and identifying and meeting the needs of at-risk students.  Check out the EngageOK in the Cloud site for the full list of sessions and an agenda of the event.

The sessions that are more specific to ELA are listed below:  

  • Wednesday, July 15, 10:30 a.m. - "Supporting Effective Early Reading Instruction through RSA and Evidence" presented by Melissa Ahlgrim, Director of RSA

  • Wednesday, July 15, 1:00 p.m. - "Dyslexia:  Definition, Eligibility, and Intervention Frameworks for Teachers" presented by Michele DeBerry, Program Specialist, Special Education Services

  • Thursday, July 16, 10:30 a.m. - "Effective Literacy in Early Childhood" presented by Lauren Jenks-Jones, Director of Early Childhood

  • Thursday, July 16, 1:00 p.m. - "Providing Feedback on the Oklahoma Academic Standards for English Language Arts" presented by Jason Stephenson and Deb Wade, Directors of Secondary and Elementary ELA

  • Friday, July 17, 10:30 a.m. - "Effective Literacy in the Intermediate Grades" presented by Deb Wade, Director of Elementary ELA

If you have any questions about sessions that I will be presenting, or how to register for the event, email me at deb.wade@sde.ok.gov.  I hope to "see" you at EngageOK!

Children's Books About Race and Diversity

PBSkids.org has provided a list of children's books that celebrate race and diversity.  As the site states, "Children's books are one of the most effective tools to engage with young children on important issues."  If you are an early childhood teacher, you might want to check out the link for picture books that celebrate diversity.

Although the lists are intended for parents, elementary teachers can use these books to start conversations about diversity in their classrooms.

PBS kids

Return to Learn Guidance Document

Released in June, the Return to Learn guidance provides Oklahoma educators and stakeholders with information and resources on school operations, academics and growth, and support for children and families for the 2020-2021 school year.  The section on academics and growth begins on page 28 and includes guidance for content areas.  If you want to take a closer look at this document, click on the Return to Learn link.  

More Summer Professional Development

Summer 2020 Learning Series

Write Center

The Write Center is partnering with the National Writing Project to provide the Summer 2020 Learning Series- weekly free webinars in July featuring some incredible speakers from the world of ELA.  Here is the schedule:

  • July 8 - Narrative Writing:  Now More Than Ever presented by Kelly Gallagher
  • July 15 - Writing Poetry to Read Poetry in Online Spaces presented by Carol Jago
  • July 22 - Designing Academic Writing Assignments for All Students, All Environments, All Classrooms presented by Jim Burke

All webinars will take place from 12:00-2:00 p.m.  Click on this link to register for the Summer 2020 Learning Series.

Virtual Summer Poetry Teachers Institute, July 14-16

Virtual Summer Poetry Institute

Get inspired this summer!  This July, the Poetry Foundation will host its fifth annual Summer Poetry Teachers Institute online July 14-16. This free, two-and-a-half -day event will include tailored seminars, hands-on workshops, and small break-out sessions, all delivered through Zoom. You’ll join a learning community of educators from across the country, and possibly the world, to study and discuss poetry with renowned practitioners and expert teachers. Together, you’ll develop lesson plans to bring back to your classroom.

Teachers of all grades, K-12 and community college instructors are encouraged to apply. International registrants are welcome to join at the scheduled session times (sessions are in Central Daylight Time/CDT and in English). We welcome new and experienced teachers: both those who enjoy teaching poetry and those who have struggled with it. We also welcome back previous attendees. We ask that all registrants are available and commit to participate in all sessions offered in their tier. 

Go to the event website to register or for more information.  Registration closes on July 03, 2020 @ 11:55 pm.

Thanks to Jason Stephenson, Director of Secondary ELA, for bringing this opportunity to my attention!

Grades 3-5 Virtual Meeting, July 21

Our next virtual meeting for grades 3-5 will be on Tuesday, July 21, at 4:00 p.m.  Below is the Zoom info for the meeting; the password will be sent in an email before that day.  

Meeting Info: https://zoom.us/j/95590209732 ● Meeting ID: 955-9020-9732 ● Phone: (312) 626-6799

Summer Academy Recap

ELA Virtual Summer Academy 2020

We held the ELA Virtual Summer Academy the second week of June, and almost 200 Oklahoma educators attended!  We had strong representation from all grade bands, and the group was comprised of many districts from across the state.  

The focus of the 3-day academy was on improving feedback in writing instruction.  Jason Stephenson and I led Day 1, and we discussed the pros and cons of numerical grades, letter grades, margin comments, rubric scores, teacher conferences, and peer responses as forms of feedback for student writing. 

During Days 2 and 3, Dr. Maja Wilson shared ways to be more intentional when responding to student writers. The focus, according to her, should be more on the writer, rather than the writing itself. She shared that responding to writers requires:

  • care for a writer's personhood
  • the intention to understand
  • a commitment to be an ally of the writer's intentions
  • listening to the writer's story over time
  • acknowledgement of your own subjectivity
  • reflection on the limits of your own perspective
  • attention to how *others* interpret what you say and do

In an exit survey, we asked participants to tell us a) about their biggest takeaways from the academy, and b) how they think the ELA academy will impact the way they give feedback. Here are some comments from both early childhood and upper elementary educators:

"Response is ANY interaction with the writer that contributes to the writer's experiential understanding of how writing and reading really work.  This really validated what/how I work with my students in writing."  ~Paula Sharp, Mustang Public Schools 

"When I realized that my feedback to my students was more to justify their grade than to guide them in the areas of their strengths, that was my ah-ha moment!"  ~Shelly O'Grady, Byng Public Schools

"I think that this PD demonstrated the value of student writing.  It is all about making connections with our students and giving them freedom to have a voice."  ~Jennifer Lang, Deer Creek Public Schools

If you did not have a chance to attend the virtual summer academy, we plan to create a modified online version that you can take at your own pace. We will announce when it is ready on the #ELAOK Elementary Facebook page, the  #ELAOK Facebook page and also here in a future newsletter.

Monthly Features

Reading Quote of the Month

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Writing Prompt of the Month

Dictionary for a Better World

I was reading through my weekly email from the A Year of Reading blog, and one of the editors was praising a book called Dictionary for a Better World by Irene Latham and Charles Waters.  The title alone intrigued me, so I did some investigating.  It is, in my opinion, worth the accolades.  Each letter represents at least one word, but some letters have several (for example, the letter C has compassion, courage, and create).  Each word has a beautiful poem, a related quote, an anecdote from one of the authors, and a Try It!  prompt. 

I see this text being used to prompt writing in many different ways.  Just a few ideas I had:

  1. Students could create their own poems, using the same focus word and poem style. 
  2. Students could do the Try It! prompt and then write a reflection.
  3. Teachers could use the authors' anecdotes to create writing prompts.

Also, if you want to hear Charles Waters, one of the authors, read some of his  poems from the book, click here.