Elementary ELA Newsletter July 2021

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ELAOK: Elementary

July 2021

In this issue:

Newsletter Features This Month

This newsletter has a little bit of everything:  information about the Oklahoma Academic Standards for English Language Arts, a recap of EngageOK sessions, new resources from the Oklahoma State Department of Education, upcoming learning opportunities, and the writing prompt and reading quote of the month.  Even in the middle of summer, there is so much to share! 

The 2021 Oklahoma Academic Standards for English Language Arts

ELA Standards cover

The 2021 OAS for ELA are based on the 2016 OAS for ELA, and represent a slight revision of those standards. The eight overarching standards remain the same, but various objectives have been revised to increase clarity, improve coherence, and better align to purpose.

Download your copy of the standards today.

Crosswalks and Vertical Progressions

Several documents have been created to help Oklahoma educators better understand and implement the 2021 ELA standards.  Elementary and secondary crosswalks give a side-by-side comparison of the 2021 and 2016 version of the standards, and vertical progressions provide a way to identify a student’s skill level on a continuum or track the evolution of a particular skill.  It is our hope that these documents will help teachers more deeply understand the shifts in the standards in order to fully educate their students in English language arts.

Elementary Crosswalk (Grades PK-5)

Vertical Progressions (Grades PK-5)

Vertical Progressions (Grades 3-8)

Visit our ELA Standards webpage to access implementation documents for all grades.

Recap of EngageOK 2021

EngageOK in the cloud

EngageOK in the Cloud, our virtual summer professional development, took place in June this year.  

On June 21, Jason Stephenson and I presented the session "English Language Arts Makeover:  How to Transform Instruction to Reflect the Revised Oklahoma Academic Standards" and on June 22, Melissa Ahlgrim and I presented the session "Supporting Elementary Students with Research-Based Literacy Instruction".  If you were not able to attend a session, go to the EngageOK in the Cloud site to access recordings of all the 2021 presentations.

Ready Together Oklahoma

Ready Together Oklahoma

The Ready Together Oklahoma web page is a hub for resources that focus on responding to pandemic-related challenges and providing students what they need to thrive and grow.  

The page is separated into key categories, including:

  • Student Learning & Success
  • Prioritizing Health & Well-Being
  • Ensuring Equity for All
  • Engaging Families & Communities
  • Supporting Teachers & Leaders

Explore the pages for resources and strategies to help students regain disrupted learning, feel safe, and succeed within their local school community and beyond.

Oklahoma Science of Reading Professional Development

As part of Ready Together Oklahoma: An Action Plan for Supporting Students Through the Pandemic and Beyond, the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) will begin in July to offer no-cost professional development in early childhood literacy for 10,000 teachers over the next three years. All teachers who work with K-3 students on reading, spelling, and related language skills are eligible for the program.

Oklahoma Science of Reading professional development is funded by the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) and will contain:

  • In-depth knowledge based on the most current research regarding what, when, and how language skills need to be taught
  • Ways to assess student language development for prevention and intervention
  • Guidance on how to plan and balance word recognition and compression instruction
  • Information on how to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all students

The “science of reading” is a vast, interdisciplinary body of scientifically-based research about issues related to reading and writing derived from researchers from multiple fields including education, cognitive psychology, communication sciences, linguistics, and neuroscience.

The OSDE program is a two-year commitment, with both asynchronous, self-paced learning, and learning sessions with a facilitator. Teachers participating will need to plan for about an hour a week during the school year in order to get the most out of the program.

Those who complete this interest survey will receive a follow-up email with additional details regarding this opportunity.

ELA Learning Opportunity on July 20

Jason Stephenson and I will be hosting a follow-up session to our EngageOK presentation.  On that day we will examine the 2021 ELA standards more, spend some time looking at the vertical progressions, and highlight some of the revisions made to the Appendix.  

There is a morning and afternoon session offered that day.  To register, choose a link below:

10:00 a.m. session

12:00 p.m. session

Even if you did not attend our EngageOK presentation, we feel that you will still find this session informative and helpful!

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt of the Month


I have referenced Edutopia numerous times in my newsletters because the site has so many helpful articles and resources.  One such example is the article "50 Writing Prompts for All Grade Levels".  The article has suggested prompts for high school, middle school, and elementary, but I found some in the secondary sections that I think could also work for elementary.  I love that author Todd Finley ends the article by reminding readers to write alongside their students - always great advice!

Reading Quote of the Month

E.B. White

E.B. White, author of the children's books Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and Trumpet of the Swan, was born on July 11, 1899.  When I was a child, I read all of these numerous times, especially Charlotte's Web.  I was captivated by the world he created in this book, and even now I admire his ability to draw readers in.  When asked about reading and libraries, he once said, 

"A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort.  A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered.  Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people- people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book."

Several years ago, my colleague Jason Stephenson was reading a book called Some Writer:  The Story of E.B. White.  He let me borrow it for an afternoon, and that same day I ordered my own copy!  Written by Melissa Sweet, it is a beautiful compilation of quotes, journal entries, and photos that provide insight into White's childhood and his evolution as a writer.  I recommend reading it if you also enjoy E.B. White's books.