Elementary ELA Newsletter October 2020

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ELAOK: Elementary

October 2020

In this issue:

Free Online EBSCO Resources

Oklahoma Department of Libraries

This free resource was shared in the September newsletter for administrators, and I was eager to share it as well because 1) it's free and 2) it works with every kind of instruction.  

Explora by EBSCO provides a safe, trustworthy environment for students to look up articles and facts for research papers, class projects, or homework. A far better alternative to websites and search engines, Explora provides students with easy-to-use features and age-appropriate content from the world’s leading magazines and reference books.  

Available free statewide on school and home computers and from mobile devices, Explora offers all of the following:

  • High-quality articles licensed from reputable publishers, recognized by library professionals
  • Simple search that quickly delivers relevant results, including primary source documents, news articles, and Associated Press videos
  • Easy-to-browse categories organized by popular topic
  • Topic overviews that provide students with a starting point for research
  • Text-to-speech for HTML articles to assist struggling readers or those learning English
  • Numeric reading-level indicators to help students and teachers find grade-appropriate articles
  • No ads or pop-up windows
  • COPPA compliancy, meaning EBSCO does not ask for or require personal information to use its databases
  • Password-protected personal folders that allow students to save search results
  • Citation help, including the ability to export citation information to online bibliography generators such as EasyBib and NoodleTools

For tutorials and information on using the above tools such as text-to-speech and reading level-indicators, go to Using EBSCO Databases in the K-12 Classroom

For access to Explora, go to DigitalPrairieOK.net/Discover and look under Preschool-12th to find Elementary Explora.  The elementary page includes eight categories:  Animals, Arts and Music, Biographies, Geography, Language Arts, Math, Science and Health, and Social Studies.  

If you have questions, contact info@libraries.ok.gov.

Digital Citizenship Week, October 19-23

digital citizenship week

Maybe more than ever before, schools and students are using  many different kinds of digital tools to enhance instruction and learning.  With technology being a critical component in all forms of instruction, it is important to help our students become responsible digital citizens.  

Digital Citizenship Week 2020 will be recognized October 19-23, and there are numerous resources available to help teachers plan and participate.  Visit commonsense.org for free lesson plans and videos grouped by grade, or check out Eduptopia's article "Digital Citizenship Week:  6 Resources for Educators".  

Elementary Monthly Meetings for October

If you would like to attend the October meeting for PreK-K, Grades 1-2 or Grades 3-5, the dates and times are listed below.  Reminder newsletters with the links and passcodes will be sent out closer to the meeting dates and reminders will also go out on social media.  The elementary team would love to have you join us!

Group Meeting Day Time
Pre-K & Kindergarten Thursday, October 8 3:30-4:30
Grades 3-5 Tuesday, October 20 4:30-5:30
Grades 1-2 Tuesday, October 27 4:30-5:30

Free Edition of "Literacy Today" Magazine


One of a teacher's favorite words is "free".  That's why, when I saw that there was a free edition of  Literacy Today (a magazine published by the International Literacy Association), I knew I had to pass this information along!  

This particular edition includes very timely and relevant topics like the science of reading, writing in the elementary classroom, reading instruction that supports racial justice, and more.  It's also available to download to read and reference at your convenience.

Office of Assessment & Accountability Trainings

The Assessment & Accountability Annual Fall Update will be conducted virtually this year, with dates in early October 2020. Representatives from the Offices of Assessment & Accountability will address important updates to their programs for the 2020-2021 school year including:

  • Grades 3-8 Updates
  • College- and Career-Readiness Assessment Updates
  • Programmatic Updates
  • New Data Analytics in Accountability Reporting
  • Accountability Reporting Windows and Timeline
  • Chronic Absenteeism Medical Exemptions

In addition, MetaMetrics will present sessions on how teachers and district leaders can leverage Lexile (ELA/Science) and Quantile (Math) measures to improve teaching and learning. With Lexile measures and Quantile measures, educators

  • Gauge the degree of challenge between the ability of individual students and the difficulty of material.
  • Access free tools and resources to connect students with more than 100 million articles, books, websites, activities, and other learning materials.
  • Take a longitudinal view of student growth toward goals of college and career readiness.

Sessions are repeated on each of the days listed below; select the session(s) that work best for your schedule and click on the link to register:

Monday, October 5

 Tuesday, October 6

Monday, October 12

Tuesday, October 13

OKCTE Workshops for 2020-2021


The Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English has developed some virtual professional development for the fall and spring semesters.

All sessions will be from 10:00-11:00 a.m., and they are sponsored by the Cameron University Department of Education.  

The sessions are free to current OKCTE members who must sign up for each session to get the Zoom link.  Please see the list below for dates, titles, and presenters.

If you have questions, check out the OKCTE website at www.okcte.org and email at okcteenglish@gmail.com

OKCTE schedule

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt of the Month


Earlier in the newsletter, I mentioned that one of a teacher's favorite words is "free".  I believe that it also holds true that another favorite of teachers is borrowing great ideas from one another.  Jason Stephenson, Director of Secondary ELA, shared this as his October writing prompt, and I couldn't resist doing the same.  Its original intent is to be a picture-a-day drawing prompt, but a student of Jason's suggested using it for daily writing prompts instead.  Use a word in a sentence as a story starter, ask for students to use the word in a particular mode or genre, or just see what people can create from the same word.

Reading Quote of the Month

Steven Kellogg

The reading quote is a little different this month.  I decided to try to find quotes by children's authors and illustrators who celebrate their birthdays in the current month.  Steven Kellogg (celebrating a birthday on October 26) is an author and illustrator of children's books and he had this to say about words and illustrations:

"A well-illustrated book is like a beautiful duet where you have two voices that are making music together...."

Reading Rockets also has an interview with him.  To listen or read the transcript, go to the Reading Rockets site.