Feb 2021 Secondary ELAOK Newsletter

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.
English Language Arts

February 2021

In this issue:

Monthly Virtual Meeting

Calling all Oklahoma secondary ELA teachers! Our monthly virtual meeting will be on Wednesday, February 10, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. As requested in one of our prior meetings, one of our topics will be connections to social studies. Bring your own questions and topics. Click this Zoom link to join!

The Youngest Inaugural Poet

young black woman

On January 20, 2021, Amanda Gorman became the youngest poet to ever read at a presidential inauguration.

The 22-year-old National Youth Poet Laureate read her poem “The Hill We Climb," and began by addressing Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans, and the world.

The poem is available in text form or video on YouTube from PBS.

Previous poets to have read at an inauguration include Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Miller Williams, Elizabeth Alexander, and Richard Blanco. LitHub has collected their poems on this page.

Awareness to Action: Creating Trauma-Informed Schools Through Multi-Tiered Systems of Support

Join the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) on February 15, 2021, from 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m., for Awareness to Action: Creating Trauma-Informed Schools Through Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, a one-day, all-virtual summit. This free professional development event will expand upon OSDE's previous trauma summits by offering educators a framework for action.

The conference will unpack the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support and illustrate how this equitable framework can address the academic, behavioral, and mental health needs of all students.  Click here to register for this event.


Oklahoma Literacy Association Annual Conference: March 6

Mark your calendars for a great learning opportunity! On Saturday, March 6, the Oklahoma Literacy Association invites people to join their virtual conference: "The Power of a Literate Life:  What We Do to Create Empowered Readers."

The keynote speakers are Kylene Beers and Bob Probst. Beers and Probst have co-authored several books together, including their most recent book, Forged by Reading: The Power of a Literate Life.  

Click here to register for this conference.

Beers Probst

Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute Auditions

Quartz Mtn

It’s time for your students to start preparing to audition for the 2021 Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain (OSAI)! The team at Oklahoma Arts Institute (OAI) is looking forward to being back together in person this summer and is making plans to ensure that will happen.

The OAI wants every eligible student in the state to feel encouraged to apply for this opportunity to receive college-level training—on full scholarship—in their favorite art form with nationally-renowned artists. Please share this information with your students, fellow educators, and community members so that high school students from all over Oklahoma can learn about this fantastic opportunity!

Auditions for the 2021 Institute are currently underway and are being conducted entirely online due to the continued rise in coronavirus cases. The program will still be held in person, but one month later than usual, July 10-25.

To be considered, students must complete a brief online application and submit audition materials demonstrating their artistic ability. Performing artists and filmmakers will submit a video file. Writers and visual artists will submit a digital portfolio of their work. The application portal is currently open at apply.oaiquartz.org.

CREATIVE WRITING: Applicants must submit creative writing samples online per the guidelines by March 15 at 11:59 p.m. CST. See the full guidelines at oaiquartz.org/disciplines/creative-writing.

Detailed application instructions are listed on the Oklahoma Arts Institute website. Applicants are also encouraged to follow OAI's social media accounts (@oaiquartz) for tips and updates.

Jueju Poem Contest


If you like word games, poetry, or both, try your hand at this year’s Newman Prize for English Jueju, sponsored by the Institute for US-China Issues at the University of Oklahoma.

This year there will be a $500 prize for the best English Jueju in four categories:

  • Elementary
  • Middle
  • High School
  • Adult/College

There is only one catch—the winning English poem must follow the rules of Classical Chinese Poetry. Learn the rules, as well as access learning videos, games, word lists and other resources at link.ou.edu/english-jueju-resources.

Submit your poem by February 26, 2021 to newmanpoetryaward@ou.edu. The winner will be invited to an online award ceremony held in conjunction with the 2021 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature ceremony celebrating the Chinese novelist Yan Lianke on March 5th. For more information, visit link.ou.edu/english-jueju.

World Read Aloud Day

boy with book

Eighty-five percent of children ages 6-14

who have been read aloud to said they loved it.*

World Read Aloud Day, which is held on the first Wednesday of February, was held on February 3, 2021. This year’s celebrations included a special focus on virtually engaging communities virtually to bridge the educational and emotional gaps created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing quarantines and school closures.

World Read Aloud Day, founded by the nonprofit LitWorld in 2010, is an opportunity for people around the globe to celebrate the joy of reading aloud and to advocate for stories as tools to build community, literacy, and equity. In the wake of COVID-19 and its severe impact on students’ emotional and educational wellbeing, this opportunity is more important than ever. According to the paper Why Stories Matter (2020), “When we read aloud and listen deeply to the words of others, we discover who we are and what makes us strong, and we build community around the parts of ourselves that matter most.”

Middle school and high school English teachers can spark joy and intrigue in their students when they read aloud to them. When I was in the classroom, I sometimes read picture books connected to a historic event aloud to my sophomores. To entice my eighth grade students to check out a book, I would read aloud an opening paragraph or page to them. When my students and I studied poetry in creative writing, I read our mentor text poems aloud and after our discussion, had a student also read the poem aloud.

Just because World Read Aloud Day has already passed us by does not mean we can't find time to read aloud to our students. What is your greatest success story in reading aloud to your middle school or high school students? I would love to know. Email me!

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt

When I sponsored a high school creative writing club, we wrote juejus in conjunction with the biennial contest listed above. I jokingly described a jueju as a beefy haiku to my students. One of them won the high school contest that year! Now it's your turn. Read the poem instructions, and then write a jueju. We could all use $500, right?

Reading Quote

Ward quote