Elementary ELA Newsletter, February 2022

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ELAOK: Elementary

February 2022

In this issue:

Reading Aloud to Students

One of my favorite things as a teacher was reading aloud to my students.  Whether I was reading the adventures of Junie B. Jones to first graders or introducing Percy Jackson to upper elementary students, that time devoted to reading aloud was something we all looked forward to. The resources in this section are all focused on how to make reading aloud to your students a great experience for you and them.  

World Read Aloud Day:  February 2

Word Read Aloud Day

This year, World Read Aloud Day falls on Tuesday, February 2.  Scholastic sponsors World Read Aloud Day and their site has numerous resources for you and your school to use, including a schedule of events and a virtual kit with digital resources.  Even if you choose to celebrate this day later in the month, be sure to sign up for the free resources and ideas.

10 Tips for Reading Aloud with Children

New York Public Library

I shared this resource from the New York Public Library last year, but the information is still relevant and helpful for teachers and caregivers alike.  Here are the 10 tips for reading aloud with children:

  1. All reading is good reading.
  2. Find a comfortable space to read together.
  3. Slow down.
  4. Ask and answer questions together.
  5. Be yourself.
  6. Read ahead!
  7. Embrace wordless picture books.
  8. Don't worry about age or grade level.
  9. You don't have to finish a book.
  10. Make reading aloud part of your routine.

As a classroom teacher I learned the importance of #3; the time spent reading aloud wasn't a sprint, but rather a slow and steady journey that we could all enjoy.  Incorporate some of these tips with activities from this newsletter's other articles on reading aloud to get the most out of your read aloud time.

Edutopia's YouTube Video:  Why Reading Aloud Never Gets Old


"Why Reading Aloud Never Gets Old" is a YouTube video created by Edutopia.  The video makes several compelling points for why teachers should read aloud to students of all ages.  Here are some suggestions from the video to make reading aloud a beneficial time for students:

  • Before reading, identify and define unfamiliar words and common terms together.
  • Pause periodically to discuss confusing information (e.g, using context clues, re-reading, and summarizing).
  • Pause to ask students questions about the text (e.g., plot and character development).
  • Ask questions that connect students to previous lessons and other texts.

Check out the link above to watch the video, or visit the Edutopia site for more helpful resources for educators.

Learning Opportunities for Educators

There are some exciting learning opportunities coming up in the next few months.  See the flyers below for dates and keynote speakers.  More information will follow for some of them, but for now - save the dates!

OSDE's Trauma-Informed Summit:  Monday, February 21

OSDE 2022 Trauma Informed Summit

This summit will expand upon the Oklahoma State Department of Education's (OSDE) previous trauma-informed conferences by offering educators practical strategies to collaborate with families and communities for student success. Keynote speaker Heather Forbes will discuss the tools, understanding, and resources needed to successfully create a trauma-informed learning environment, whether it is in a single classroom, a whole school, or an entire district.

All registered attendees will receive a link to the keynote before the day of the virtual event.


9:00- 9:15: Welcome

9:15-11:15: Keynote Speaker- Heather Forbes

11:15-11:30: Thank you and Evaluation

Click here to register.

Oklahoma Writing Project Summer Institute

Oklahoma Writing Project

Teachers of all subject areas and levels- kindergarten through university- who are interested in incorporating writing into their instructional routine should apply for the Oklahoma Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute.  

During the Summer Institute, participants will learn ready-to-use strategies  and best classroom practices from group members, experience the writing process and writing groups first-hand, and develop a literacy presentation to share with their home schools and other Oklahoma educators.  

This institute will be held June 13-16, June 20-23, and June 27-30 at the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education Building located on the OU Norman Campus.   The deadline to apply is Friday, February 18, 2022.   Click on this link  to submit your application or to see more information on dates, location, and other specifics.

AIM Institute's 10th Annual Research to Practice Symposium:  Monday, March 14

AIM Institute Research to Practice Symposium

Visit the event page for more information on symposium speakers and to register for free.

Oklahoma Literacy Association's Annual Conference:  Saturday, April 2

Oklahoma Literacy Association's Annual Conference

More information on registration and a schedule of events will be in next month's newsletter, or you can go to the Oklahoma Literacy Association website.

Oregon Response to Instruction and Intervention's Annual Conference:  Thursday & Friday, April 28-29

Oregon Response to Instruction and Intervention

For more information on this free event, or to register, click here.

OSDE's Partnership with DonorsChoose

Donors Choose

The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) is dedicating $6 million in federal relief funds to help teachers get resources for their students through the national nonprofit, DonorsChoose. The partnership between OSDE and DonorsChoose will provide up to $800 to an educator’s project. 

Starting on Feb. 4, interested teachers can sign up on the DonorsChoose website and submit their project requests. Projects cannot be submitted before Feb. 4. Submissions will include an essay with clear goals linking their requested resources to student learning in the wake of COVID-19. All Oklahoma pre-K through 12th-grade public school teachers are eligible. 

Once the project opens on Feb. 4, OSDE will begin funding eligible requests on a first-come, first-served basis. DonorsChoose will deliver resources to the teacher’s school address. Materials requested must be for student use; professional development materials will not qualify. Only one project may be funded per teacher. 

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt of the Month

Gears of a clock

I was reading a blog called "Two Writing Teachers" and saw this quote:  

"Whoever is doing the talking, reading, and writing is the one doing the thinking....Writers need time to practice what they are learning in the context of their own writing projects.  This is where growth happens."

So this month's writing prompt is:  Give your students time to write every single day.  Maybe some days the time devoted to writing is longer, but there should always be time set aside to write, practice, and grow.

Reading Quote of the Month

Mark Teague

Mark Teague, author of numerous books including Dear Mrs. LaRue and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?, will celebrate his birthday on February 10th.  

In an interview with Reading Rockets, he had this to say about reading to and with children:

"...I think every human loves stories.  And so if they're not reading, tell stories to them.  Tell classic stories.  Do it orally.  Reading time with your kids is a really important thing. "