Elementary ELA Newsletter August 2020

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ELAOK: Elementary

August 2020

In this issue:

Back to School

For most of the schools in Oklahoma, the month of August means the start of the new school year has either happened or it is imminent.  When I was a classroom teacher, August was when my wondering and worrying would shift into high gear.  I would constantly try to think about how the school year would play out, and what I could do to make certain that the learners in my charge had a great and impactful experience.  I am certain that most of you are having those same thoughts, only magnified!

We know this school year will be unlike any other.  Whether it's due to starting the year a few weeks later, providing a virtual learning option, rotating your students through in-person learning, or planning and/or adjusting to numerous other scenarios, you are in uncharted territory.  But, educators everywhere are finding new and creative ways to make this year work, and I have no doubt that the children you serve will flourish because of your tenacity, positivity, and courage.

Thank you for being willing to continue to make our students a priority.  I look forward to hearing about all of the ways you make this year special for your students.

EngageOK in the Cloud Recap

EngageOK 2020

EngageOK in the Cloud, our virtual summer professional development, took place in mid-July.  On July 16, Jason Stephenson and I presented the session"Providing Feedback on the Oklahoma Academic Standards for English Language Arts" and on July 17, I presented the session "Effective Literacy in the Intermediate Grades".  If you were not able to attend these sessions, you can go to the EngageOK website, find the ones you want to watch, and click "Watch video".  

Return to Learn and Next Steps Guidance

Return to Learn

As mentioned in the first article, planning for and starting the 2020-21 school year will be far different than the start of any school year in the past. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Education has published a framework for Oklahoma school districts as they plan for the 2020-21 school year. Return to Learn Oklahoma: A Framework for Reopening Schools includes a host of considerations for how districts can plan for a variety of contingencies that may impact the upcoming school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instructional Support and Guidance begins on page 29 of the document, starting with general guidance and moving into specific ELA guidance on page 34. 

Also, new and more in-depth guidance is coming soon for different grades bands and content areas with sections on standards & pacing, effective instructional routines,  classroom assessment, connection & integration with other disciplines, social & emotional well-being, equity & inclusion, and safety considerations.  

The grades 3-5 virtual meeting to go over the new guidance will be on Monday, August 10, from 4:00-5:00 p.m.  Information for the meeting was sent out in a previous newsletter; if you did not receive it, please email me at deb.wade@sde.ok.gov.

NOTE:  This is not our regular monthly meeting for grades 3-5; that will take place on August 18 at 4:30, and information for that meeting will be emailed out a few days in advance.

Oklahoma Excel

Oklahoma Excel

Oklahoma Excel has just launched two amazing learning experiences for ELA teachers in Oklahoma. Oklahoma Excel is a professional learning opportunity for districts and teachers across Oklahoma. These professional development opportunities are focused on clarity and feedback in the ELA classroom.

The Facilitated Track is designed for large or small groups in which a facilitator leads teachers through the slides and professional learning experience. The facilitator is provided with complete slide decks, handouts, resources, and a detailed facilitator guide.

The Self-Study Track is designed for individual teachers to work on the new OK EDGE virtual platform. Materials and resources are online and teachers are able to complete this work at their own pace.

For more information please visit sde.ok.gov/oklahoma-excel/professional-development or reach out to Andrea Chrisman, the Oklahoma Excel ELA Instructional Specialist, at andrea.chrisman@sde.ok.gov.

Sequoyah Book Awards & Lists

Sequoyah Book Awards

With this award, Oklahoma honors the Native American leader Sequoyah, for his unique achievement in creating the Cherokee syllabary. Sequoyah chose eighty-five symbols to represent all spoken sounds of the Cherokee language. In so doing, he created a way to preserve his people's language and culture.

The Sequoyah Committees are pleased to announce the winners of the Sequoyah Book Awards for 2020:

  • Children’s: Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood
  • Intermediate: Front Desk by Kelly Yang
  • High School: Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

The 2021 Children's Master List is now available, as are the 2021 Promotional Materials.  

Each masterlist is created to appeal to children in a variety of situations, interests, and reading levels.  The books on the masterlists are not intended to be an automatic recommendation of the books.  The masterlists are not to be taken as recommendations that children be encouraged or required to read every title on a particular list. Teachers and other group leaders should carefully read and consider a title before reading a masterlist title to a class or group, or  assigning a title as required reading.  It is not the intention of the committees that every student must read every book on each masterlist.

RSA Resources

Virtual Resources and Webinars

The University of Florida Literacy Institute (UFLI) has developed a Virtual Teaching Hub, along with a Parent Resource Hub. The Virtual Teaching Hub contains online tools for teaching foundational literacy skills, along with lesson structures, instructional activities, tips for managing behavior and maintaining attention during virtual learning, and technology tips. Video tutorials for how to use these tools are also available.

UFLI is also offering a free 6-part webinar for Teaching Reading Online for PK-5th grade teachers. The webinars are from 6-7 pm (CST). They will be recorded and placed on the Virtual Teaching Hub at a later date.

  • August 4: Introduction to Teaching Reading Online
  • August 6: Tour of the UFLI Virtual Teaching Resource Hub
  • August 11: Tech Tools for Online Instruction
  • August 13: Management Tips for Virtual Teaching
  • August 18: Spotlight on Primary Grades (PK-2)
  • August 20: Spotlight on Intermediate Grades (3-5)

The registration link for these webinars is https://education.ufl.edu/ufli/webinars/?fbclid=IwAR2ywVA67Mu6aKp5KW2VS1kP2PmZpxQGCvDlQ662uZxvAi9_-9ssrwzgijg

Using Jamboard for Small Group Reading Instruction

A video tutorial was recently made available for using Jamboard to teach small reading groups and address interventions in a virtual environment. The video is just under 30 minutes long and is packed full of helpful information. You can access the video here: https://youtu.be/yGsg1TEzu3w 

Monthly Features

Reading Quote of the Month

Victor Hugo reading quote

Writing Prompt of the Month

This month's writing prompt was discovered on the teachingauthors.com site.  It's called an IN ONE WORD poem.  Here are the instructions:

  • Think of a word- one that you love, one that you've heard too many times, one that intrigues you, or one that bothers you.
  • Type your word into Wordmaker to see the list of words that can be made from it (or find the words yourself without the help of technology).
  • Choose some words from the list to use or immediately discard.
  • Write the poem in paragraph form first.
  • Break the paragraph up into a poem so that each line ends with one of the words from your list.

Here is an example from the site, written by April Halprin Wayland.  The chosen word was VIRTUAL:

"It's a kind of art-

lit by air

and light.  Kept in a vault,

it can only chase its own tail,

so blow on it, gently- this is vital.

It's yours, invent your own ritual."     

I went to Wordmaker and typed in the word LEARNING.  The result was 182 words I could use to write a poem, including realign, agile, large, gain, and age. 

I think it would be interesting to see what words in a shared list stood out to other people and why, and what poems could be created as a result.  Think about all the possible poems within your classroom community that could stem from a single word!