Elementary ELA Newsletter December 2021

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

December 2021

In this issue:

Word of the Year: Perseverance

Cambridge Dictionary

In last December's newsletter, I followed the lead of the Oxford English Dictionary and chose several words of the year to reflect the work of Oklahoma educators- hope, kindness, and service.  This year, I did not have to choose my own word because I found that Cambridge Dictionary's word of the year applies perfectly to the world of education.  Their 2021 word of year is perseverance.

The Cambridge Dictionary site says:  

"Perseverance is defined as ‘continued effort to do or achieve something, even when this is difficult or takes a long time’. It is related to the verb persevere. We often talk about showing perseverance in the face of adversity (despite a difficult or unlucky situation or event). In 2021, people all over the world have had to show perseverance in the face of challenges and disruption to our lives from COVID-19 and other problems."

Thank you for your perseverance in 2021.  Thank you for  enduring, persisting, and standing firm.  I hope that the remainder of 2021 provides opportunities to rest and reflect before you welcome in the new year.

Oklahoma Science of Reading Academies: Apply Today!

In order to increase the reading outcomes for elementary students across our state, the Oklahoma State Department of Education has established the Oklahoma Science of Reading Academies. Using the learning modules from the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling, or LETRS, educators will learn about evidence-based practices for reading instruction.  This sustained and job-embedded professional learning on the science of reading is available at no cost to all Oklahoma public-school educators, with a focus on those who work with students in kindergarten through third grade. For  insight into LETRS training, watch this video highlighting how an Oklahoma school district increased student outcomes through the science of reading. Cohort 1 is currently underway, and Cohort 2 will begin in January 2022. To register for Cohort 2, complete this application by January 5, 2022.  

If you are interested in more information about any of the Science of Reading cohorts, contact Megan Ashbaugh at megan.ashbaugh@sde.ok.gov or go to www.sde.ok.gov/scienceofreading.  

Cohort Timeline for Science of Reading Academies

ELA & The Hour of Code

Hour of Code image

Having your students participate in the Hour of Code event during the week of December 6-12 can strengthen the connection between literacy and computer science.  Code.org has new curriculum that makes connections between learning computer science and other subjects, including ELA.  One new activity included in the curriculum is Poem Art, but the Computer Science Connections page also has activities like Character Study, Story Morals, and Spelling with Bee.  

CommonLit has Oklahoma Academic Standards


CommonLit now has questions that are aligned to the 2021 Oklahoma Academic Standards for English Language Arts!  If you are not familiar with CommonLit, it is a nonprofit education technology organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, especially students in Title I schools, graduate with the reading, writing, communication, and problem-solving skills they need to be successful in college and beyond.

CommonLit believes in providing teachers with all the resources needed to set their students up for success, while also encouraging best practices in the classroom. That’s why the CommonLit Literacy Model is built on a foundation of over 2,000 high-quality free reading passages for grades 3-12, complemented by aligned interim assessments, growth-oriented data, and expert-led teacher development.

 If you already have an account, go to Preferences in My Account and select Edit.  Choose Oklahoma Academic Standards from the drop-down menu that asks for your preferred set of standards.  If  you need to create your free teacher account, your default settings for preferred standards will automatically be set to the 2021 Oklahoma Academic Standards for ELA.  

The CommonLit blog has links to multiple resources to help you explore and understand all the features of this website.

Thanks to Jason Stephenson, Director of Secondary ELA, for sharing this information!

Kindness Calendar: Do Good December

The website actionforhappiness.org has a free kindness calendar for this month entitled "Do Good December".  There are daily activities listed, some of which could easily be used as writing prompts (e.g., December 6, 17, and 21). To access the calendar, go to the Do Good December page.

Do Good December Calendar

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt of the Month:  Wordless Picture Books, Part 3


In the last two monthly newsletters, I shared about using wordless picture books to create unique writing activities with your students.  September's activity was writing characters, where students have the opportunity to write what the characters are thinking and/or feeling.  November's activity was writing in the gaps, where students are provided with the chance to think more about plot details and character motivation. The final activity I will share is narrative mapping.  When using narrative mapping, students use the images to create their own narrative paths.  Teachers guide students in recognizing the key elements that can shape their narratives, including how characters are positioned on the page, images or illustrations that show the passage of time or shifts in the point of view, and color or shading.  Students can use sticky notes to map a couple of pages or the entire story, and then write or record their stories based on what they mapped.

Choose a picture book and discover what your students see in the images.  Encourage them to collaborate with one another to share ideas and revise their maps to create their own unique stories.

Reading Quote of the Month

Janet Wong

"Book Time

When you find




And there's

nothing good

to eat--

This is book time.

Pull out a book--

Sink your teeth

into the think

of it."

Janet Wong, the 2021 Excellence in Poetry for Children Award recipient