November 2020 Elementary ELA Newsletter

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.
ELAOK: Elementary

November 2020

In this issue:

The Draft of New ELA Standards is Here!

ELA draft cover

The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) is seeking feedback on the revised Draft of the Oklahoma Academic Standards for English Language Arts (ELA) Standards, which are up for review and revision in 2020. The OSDE facilitates a revision of academic subject matter standards every six years in accordance with 70 O.S. § 11-103.6a.

Academic subject matter standards are concise, written descriptions of what students are expected to know and be able to do at a specific stage of their education. Academic standards describe educational objectives (i.e., what students should have learned by the end of a course, grade level, or grade span), but they do not describe a particular teaching practice, curriculum, or assessment method.

OSDE asks that all interested stakeholders provide feedback on the standards by following the process below:

  • Gather a team of stakeholders and set aside approximately one hour to complete a review for each grade you choose.
  • Download the Draft Standards for ELA.
  • Submit typed feedback (as specific or as broad you like) by December 3, 2020, to

All feedback received during the public comment period will be reviewed by the OSDE and ELA writing committee for consideration in the revision process.

Virtual Meetings for Grades 1-5

Our monthly virtual meetings will not be held in November and December.  Our plan is to return next semester with topics and sessions that will help elementary educators better serve their students.  We may be asking for your input, so be looking for that information in the weeks to come.

Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month, so I wanted to include some ideas for educators who want to incorporate this into their November plans.  Brenda Beymer-Chapman, Director of Social Studies for OSDE, recommends the website of  The National Museum of the American Indian.  It has numerous resources for teachers to use, including a link to Native Knowledge 360º that allows searches by grade, subject, topic, or region.  If you are looking for some children's books to use, try 32 Native American Children's Books.  It has the list grouped by age, and each book has a brief description.  

The Reading League's New Podcast

The Reading League

The Reading League announced the launch of a new monthly podcast called Teaching, Reading, and Learning, The Podcast hosted by TRL National Director, Laura Stewart. 

Teaching, Reading & Learning: The Podcast elevates important contributions to the educational community, with the goal of inspiring teachers, informing practice, and celebrating people in the community who have influenced teaching and literacy to the betterment of children. The podcast features people whose life stories are compelling and rich in ways that are instructive to us all.  The podcast will focus on literacy as we know it (reading and writing) but will also connect to other “literacies” that impact children’s learning; for example, emotional, physical, and social literacies as they apply to teachers and children. 

Visit the Podcasts page of The Reading League to find more information.

Grade 5 OSTP Holistic Writing Samples

On the writing section of the grade 5 ELA OSTP (Oklahoma School Testing Program), each piece of student writing is given a holistic score ranging from 0 (lowest) to 4 (highest). This score, in part, is derived by assessing student performance on the five analytic traits.

The Grade 5 Holistic Writing Rubric provides insight into how student responses are scored, and the holistic writing/constructed response exemplars provide explanation for the scores of selected student responses. These exemplars are new for the 2020-2021 school year and would be very helpful for grade 5 teachers and students as they prepare for the OSTP.

Grade 5:  Narrative

Grade 5:  Informative

Grade 5:  Opinion

Family Literacy Month Resources

Early Literacy Calendar

November is Family Literacy Month!  The two calendars featured in this article provide students and their families with multiple opportunities to learn and explore books, celebrations, and more.  The November Early Literacy Calendar has a month full of great activities that help build pre-reading skills in our youngest learners, and the Children's Activity Calendar for November 2020 has activities, observances, and book suggestions for elementary students for the entire month.  

Thunder Reading Challenge

Thunder Reading Challenge

The Thunder Reading Challenge, presented by American Fidelity Assurance Company, is open to kindergarten through fifth-grade students and challenges young readers to develop good reading habits and a love of literature.

The Thunder Reading Challenge consists of two 30-day challenges from Nov. 1 - 30 and March 1 - 31. Students who read 20 minutes each day, or 600 minutes total for the month, will be entered to win a Thunder prize! In addition, one student in each grade level with the most overall minutes read will win a personalized Thunder jersey and more.

Go to the Thunder Reading Challenge site for registration information.  

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt of the Month

Thanksgiving provides teachers with fairly straightforward, yet meaningful writing prompts.  Years ago, I found a list of writing prompts, all with a focus on thankfulness/gratitude.  Some of them are:

  • Write about something that cheers you up when you feel sad. 
  • Describe your favorite person.  What are the good qualities that person has?  
  • Make a list of the things you like about yourself and explain why you like them.
  • Write about a random act of kindness that someone did for you.  
  • What is your favorite hobby?  Why is it your favorite?
  • Think back to a time when you did something well (passed a hard test, won a big game, etc.), but you needed help to get it done.  Write a thank-you note to someone who helped make it happen.

I appreciated that this list was comprised of being grateful for others as well as things about ourselves.  Try one or more of these this month!

Reading Quote of the Month

Children's author and illustrator Marc Brown celebrates his birthday on November 25.  He has written and illustrated over 100 books, including the hugely popular Arthur series.  

Brown's love of reading and drawing started early and as an author, he often uses his characters to convey that passion.  An example of this is in the following quote:

"Having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card."

For more about Marc Brown, visit the Scholastic site.

Marc Brown