Elementary ELA Newsletter November 2021

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ELAOK: Elementary

November 2021

In this issue:

English Language Arts Curriculum Framework Project

The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) is seeking English language arts educators to participate in the Oklahoma ELA Curriculum Framework project, which includes revising and updating the current ELA Framework. This is a 3-year project, completed in 3 phases. Applicants are applying to participate in Year 1 (Phase 1) of the Oklahoma ELA Curriculum Framework project. Phase 1 includes the following goals:

  • revising and developing the Objective Analysis section of the curriculum framework
  • updating the Literacy Progression section of the framework

Three writers per grade band will be led by team leaders during Phase 1.  Those grade bands are Pre-K-Grade 2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, and Grades 9-12.  The 16 members of the writing team will be expected to attend at least six meetings from January-May, 2022.  The tentative meeting dates are as follows:

  • Saturday, January 8, the Oklahoma State Department of Education in Oklahoma City, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, February 1, on Zoom, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 1, on Zoom, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, April 5, on Zoom, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 3, on Zoom, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, May  26, on Zoom, 6:00-7:00 p.m.

While most work will be completed individually, other Zoom meetings may be required as the need arises.

All Oklahoma educators interested in participating in the ELA Curriculum Framework project must complete the application no later than this Monday, November 8, at 11:59 p.m.  Selections will be announced no later than November 12, 2021.

Application Link

Oklahoma Science of Reading Academies Training Opportunity

The Oklahoma State Department of Education has officially launched the new initiative to support 10,000 K-3 educators with evidence-based practices for reading instruction. The Oklahoma Science of Reading Academies provide sustained and job-embedded professional learning on the science of reading, at no cost to educators. The Science of Reading Academies are based on the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling, or LETRS, learning modules. The Science of Reading academies will be offered to four different cohorts of educators over the next three years. Cohort 1 is already underway, but Cohort 2 will begin in January 2022. 

An informational webinar about the Oklahoma Science of Reading Academies was held on August 10, 2021. Visit the Science of Reading Academies page for a recording and slides for this webinar. 

If you are interested in more information about any of the remaining Science of Reading cohorts,  contact Megan Ashbaugh at megan.ashbaugh@sde.ok.gov.  If you would like to register for Cohort 2, complete this application.  

Science of Reading Academies

National Family Literacy Day

National Family Literacy Day, parents reading to their two childrn

National Family Literacy Day, celebrated across the United States, focuses on special activities and events that showcase the importance of family literacy programs. First held in 1994, the annual event is officially celebrated on November 1st, but many events are held throughout the month of November. Schools, libraries, and other literacy organizations participate through read-a-thons, celebrity appearances, book drives, and more.

The website readwritethink.org provides some activities to help celebrate National Family Literacy Day:  

  • Invite parents, grandparents, caregivers, or other family members to your classroom for a family/school reading day.
  • Encourage students' family members to read a favorite story from their childhood, or their child's favorite bedtime story. (Grandparents can share both their child's and their grandchild's favorites!)
  • Provide a collection of books for families to share during a group reading session and have different places set up around the room for families to read together.
  • Present each family with a certificate of participation or a bookmark at the end of the event. Ask a local bookstore for a donation, or print certificates and bookmarks.
  • At the close of your event, be sure to remind parents about other National Family Literacy Day events in your community.

Remember that family literacy is something that should be encouraged all year. Make plans for your own Family Literacy Day and invite students and their families to brainstorm ways they can keep their family engaged in reading on a regular basis!

Fall Regional Recap & Resources

In September and October, I traveled to different parts of the state and talked with teachers about the revised Oklahoma Academic Standards for English Language Arts and how to use them to accelerate learning in their teaching communities.  It was wonderful to meet in person and hear the rich conversations and discussions of the teachers who attended.

The 2021 Elementary ELA Fall Regional Landing Page is the place to go to find all the resources from the 2021 Elementary ELA Fall Regionals, including slides, webpages, documents, and the video for the virtual session.  If you have any questions about any of the resources, email me at deb.wade@sde.ok.gov.

Learning Opportunity with The Reading League Oklahoma

Thursday, November 11th, 6:30 p.m. - Text Types:  Selecting the Right Text Tool for the Job

The Reading League Oklahoma

On Thursday, November 11 at 6:30 p.m., Dr. Pam Kastner will present "Text Types:  Selecting the Right Text Tool for the Job."  With all the different types of text used in the early literacy classroom - leveled text, decodable text, authentic text, etc. - it's hard to know what to use.  During this session, Dr. Kastner will look at the attributes of the different types of text, as well as when and how to use each one effectively.  Registration for this event is free to anyone at www.bit.ly/TRLOK-NOV2021.  A recording of the event will be made available to members of The Reading League Oklahoma.  Dr. Kastner is the State Lead Consultant for Literacy at the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN).

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 three separate 30-day challenges. The first challenge runs from Nov. 1 –30, the second challenge runs from March 1 – 31, and the third runs from July 1 - 31. Students can count their minutes starting on the first of each month.  A student’s information can be submitted through the online form located at okcthunder.com/readingchallenge beginning Nov. 30 for the fall challenge, March 31 for the spring challenge, or August 1 for the summer challenge.

Go to the Thunder Reading Challenge site for registration information, printable bookmarks, and more.

Writing Contests for Elementary Students

Recently I've had several people ask about writing contests for elementary students.  A great starting place is the ELA page on the OSDE website.  There is a section devoted to writing contests that Jason Stephenson updates regularly.  

However, if you're eager to get started, here are some of the writing contests for elementary students.  The following contests—state, national, and international—are ways for students to submit their writing. The contests in this month's newsletter are only those with deadlines in December, January, or February, and are organized chronologically by their deadlines in the table below:

Contest Name Age Group Deadline
My Favorite Book Grades 4-6 December 17, 2021
Oklahoma Bar Association Law Day Writing Contest Grades 1-12 January 14, 2022
Oklahoma Writing Project's Write to Win! PK-Grade 12 January 18, 2022
Engineer Girl Grades 3-12 February 1, 2022
OKC National Memorial Annual Student Essay Contest Grades 5-12 February 2022

There will be more contests included in future newsletters.  I hope that you will encourage your students to enter a writing contest- it is an excellent way to celebrate them as writers!

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt of the Month:  Wordless Picture Books, Part 2

Explorers by Matthew Cordell

In September's newsletter, I shared the activity of writing characters in wordless picture books from the May 2021 edition of  NCTE's Language Arts journal.  This activity was one of three mentioned in the article about how to use wordless picture books as mentor texts, along with writing in the gaps and narrative mapping.  

This month I would like to share more about writing in the gaps with wordless picture books.  In the article it states, "Without words, which often provide guidance in understanding the plot and details that fill out settings, readers are positioned more powerfully as authors."  The article goes on to suggest that students have the ability to imagine not only what might have occurred, but why.  This allows students to create new story elements and think more about plot detail and character motivation.

Give writing in the gaps a try.  Use Explorers, the mentor text referenced in the article, or another wordless picture book you love.  See what your students' imaginations can create!

Reading Quote of the Month

Jean Fritz

Award-winning writer Jean Fritz was born on November 16th, 1915.  She is best known for writing historical biographies including, And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?, Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt, George Washington's Breakfast, and Shh!  We're Writing the Constitution.  Fritz was a diligent researcher, including little-known facts in her writing and not adding dialogue into a subject's mouth unless it was attested in primary sources like diaries or letters.

In an interview with Scholastic, Fritz had this to say about children and books:

"Lots of kids like reading true stories. Lots of them like fantasy. It doesn't matter as long as they're reading good books". 

If you're looking for nonfiction books that are entertaining as well as educational, try some written by Jean Fritz.