May 2022 Secondary ELAOK Newsletter

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English Language Arts

May 2022

In this issue:

Providing Reading Interventions for Students in Grades 4-9

PDF cover

What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) recently published a new practice guide "Providing Reading Interventions for Students in Grades 4-9." WWC developed this practice guide in partnership with a panel of experts on reading interventions. The panel distilled recent reading intervention research into four easily comprehensible and practical recommendations that educators can use to deliver reading intervention to meet the needs of students in grades 4-9.

Recommendations in this practice guide:

1. Build students’ decoding skills so they can read complex multisyllabic words.

2. Provide purposeful fluency-building activities to help students read effortlessly.

3. Routinely use a set of comprehension-building practices to help students make sense of the text.

  • Part 3A. Build students’ world and word knowledge so they can make sense of the text
  • Part 3B. Consistently provide students with opportunities to ask and answer questions to better understand the  text they read
  • Part 3C. Teach students a routine for determining the gist of a short section of text
  • Part 3D. Teach students to monitor their comprehension as they read

4. Provide students with opportunities to practice making sense of stretch text (i.e., challenging text) that will expose them to complex ideas and information.

The webpage for this guide includes links to the guide itself as well as a more digestible 22-page summary and even a one-page summary. Although the PDF for the guide is over 200 pages, the main information concludes on page 76.

I am offering hour-long Zoom chats in June and July about each of the four recommendations.  Think of these chats as virtual book club, except we will dive into this practice guide and share our learning and ah-ha moments with one another. Come to the Zoom meeting having already read the assigned section. All Zooms will be offered on Wednesdays at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Pick whichever time is more convenient for you.

  • June 8: Recommendations 1 & 2
  • June 22: Parts A & B of Recommendation 3
  • July 6: Parts C & D of Recommendation 3 & Recommendation 4

Register today:

Humanities Grant for Grade 6 Teachers

Chisholm Trail logo

The Oklahoma Writing Project (OWP) has been awarded a grant through the National Writing Project’s Building a More Perfect Union, a program for humanities organizations across the United States to assist in recovering from interruptions to operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Engaging Humanities Through the Art is the grant created by OWP to benefit Oklahomans.  This grant is a partnership with the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center located in Duncan, Oklahoma.  It features the Garis Gallery of the American West and contemporary Indigenous art.  Students will respond to art and history using various literacy structures such as poetry, narrative, essays.  This grant will increase the visibility of these collections by allowing more students to visit the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center. The grant will also provide for more instructors, entrance fees, supplies and training opportunities for teachers on how to use this center to meet state teaching standards.  

The Oklahoma Writing Project is partnering with Chisholm Trail Heritage Center for summer professional development.  This summer summit will focus on the Oklahoma Academic Standards and engaging humanities through art.  The summit will be hosted at the center in Duncan with the exhibits being the focus.  This opportunity is open to teachers of grades 4-6.  Only 20 participants will be chosen.

Who: Teachers of grades 4-6

Dates: June 13-17, 2022; 8:30 am-- 4:00 pm breakfast/lunch provided

Stipend: Up to $1,000 for those who complete all components of the summit 

Deadline to Apply: May 18, 2022

Learn more about this opportunity in the link below:  

Building a More Perfect Union Grant

Join Oklahoma Excel for ELA

Excel flyer

Every student deserves a great teacher, not by chance but by design.  Join Oklahoma Excel to learn how using principles of Improvement Science can help iron out your classroom headaches!

In the upcoming school year, the teachers in the ELA Network Improvement Community (NIC) will be focusing on strategies for building nonfiction comprehension and tier 2 vocabulary. Teachers who join this free, year-long professional learning experience will have access to:

  • 45-60 hours of sustained, job-embedded, data-driven, classroom-focused professional learning
  • Instructional coaching
  • Networking opportunities with other educators from across the state
  • Practice implementing evidence-based, high-leverage instructional strategies
  • Ongoing opportunities to collect and analyze data related to instructional practices

Stipends are available on a first-come, first-serve basis until funds are depleted.

If you have questions please email Andrea Chrisman, the Oklahoma Excel ELA Instructional Specialist, at

Learn more and apply:

Meet Andrea Chrisman


In an effort to provide even more helpful and relevant resources to Oklahoma educators, Andrea Chrisman will be joining as a regular contributor to the newsletter. Read the letter below to learn more about Andrea.

Hello ELA Teachers and Leaders,

I am Andrea Chrisman, the Oklahoma Excel ELA Instructional Specialist at the Oklahoma State Department of Education. I work with teachers in the field to support them in implementing research-based best practices, data analysis, and next steps to improve their practice.

I am originally from Oklahoma and attended the University of Oklahoma. After graduating, I moved to San Jose, California, and began teaching students in an urban, Title 1 school. My students came from an area with low socioeconomic status and a lack of resources where a majority of the community was made up of Spanish- or Vietnamese-speaking people, migrant workers, English Language Learners (ELL), or first-generation immigrants. Later, I moved to San Francisco and began working in a similar community. From serving those schools in California, and my experience working on the south side of Oklahoma City, I have a heart to serve students from communities like these and have honed my skills to do so. 

I will be joining as a regular contributor to the ELA newsletter to share effective strategies for teaching ELLs, instructional best practices from my Excel research, and bringing in experiences from teachers across Oklahoma. 

As the article above explained, I am also looking for teachers who are interested in working with an amazing team of teachers that are a part of Oklahoma Excel. We offer year-long professional learning in the structure of a Network Improvement Community (NIC), in which teacher teams from across the state partner with Oklahoma Excel. Throughout the year, members learn about and investigate high-leverage strategies for the ELA classroom. This year, we will work with teachers to build student nonfiction comprehension. If you are interested in joining this nationally recognized program, you can email me at

You can access the application or visit the Oklahoma Excel website for more information.

EngageOK on the Road


EngageOK, the Oklahoma State Department of Education's annual summer professional development, is back on the road in July! There will be secondary ELA sessions at every stop. The dates and locations are listed below; session titles and registration links will be coming soon.

  • Monday, July 11: Woodward High School
  • Tuesday, July 12: Elk City High School
  • Wednesday, July 13: Lawton High School
  • Thursday, July 14: Southmoore High School
  • Monday, July 18: Jenks High School
  • Tuesday, July 19: McAlester High School
  • Wednesday, July 20: Durant High School

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt

angelou quote

What is a story you have been meaning to tell? It might be a personal story that happened to you years ago. It might be a dystopian tale you dreamed up last year. Walking around with a story in your heart or mind can be painful, so get it down on paper today. Start with five minutes. Begin to write your story, and see where it takes you.

Reading Quote

Mo Willems quote

Illustration by Tamara Shopsin; Photograph by John Blanding / The Boston Globe / Getty