August 2022 Secondary ELAOK Newsletter

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English Language Arts

August 2022

In this issue:

Launching the School Year

The summer months provide opportunities for teachers to rest and recharge, but teachers also use that time to plan and collaborate for the upcoming school year. Teachers attend workshops in-person and virtually and read books by teaching experts to hone their craft. They comb through their textbooks and websites to find the most engaging fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama for their students. They network with teachers from around the state and country through social media to share ideas and inspiration.

Students will soon return to the classroom, and you will be ready for them. Whether you teach with a large team of colleagues or you are the entire English department at your middle school or high school, you have an incredible opportunity to make a difference in the lives of your students this year. I encourage you to meet them where they are and take them as far as you can in the 180 days you have with them. Challenge your students to become more critical readers, more strategic writers, and more nuanced thinkers.

Remember that the English language arts webpages have a wealth of resources for you. The standards page includes links to the 2021 Oklahoma Academic Standards for ELA, the Curriculum Framework, crosswalks, vertical progressions, the appendix, and training videos. The resources page includes links to past professional development slideshows about various topics, past newsletters, state and national organizations, and research briefs. The writing contests page includes links to state, national, and international contests. Always feel free to reach out to me at if you need guidance or support in some way.

EngageOK Recap & Resources

group of teachers

During the EngageOK on the Road summer conference, I had the honor of meeting with teachers in Woodward, Elk City, Lawton, Moore, Jenks, McAlester, and Durant. I presented three different workshops, which I have linked below.

Literature Circles in Secondary ELA Classrooms

From various genres to specific roles, literature circles can honor student choice and provide differentiation in secondary English language arts (ELA) classrooms. Experience a literature circle with a poem, learn how to facilitate literature circles in your middle school or high school ELA class.

Using Picture Books to Build Secondary ELA Classroom Culture

Picture books pack a punch in a pint-sized package. Listen to a read-aloud, and learn how to incorporate picture books into your secondary English language arts class to review skills, teach terms, introduce units, and inspire writing. Leave with ideas you can implement this coming school year.

Strategies to Involve All Learners in the Writing Process

The writing process includes five distinct stages: prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Secondary English language arts (ELA) students navigate these stages in unique ways. Learn strategies to engage all learners in each stage of the writing process.

*Note: This slideshow has been revised, based on feedback from teachers at all seven locations of EngageOK. Even if you attended this session, this slideshow has new content and organization, including revision strategies organized by the word level and sentence level.

English Language Arts Curriculum Framework Project


In 2020, Oklahoma educators revised the Oklahoma Academic Standards for English Language Arts (OAS-ELA) to increase clarity, coherence, and purpose.  These standards were formally approved in 2021.

The English Language Arts Curriculum Framework will be updated to reflect the 2021 OAS-ELA revisions as well as the 78 objectives that were added in 2021. This expansion of the Framework would help support the Oklahoma Edge Strategic Plan by ensuring “each student in Oklahoma has equitable access to high-quality public education that inspires deep learning and leads to success.”

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.

Phase 2 includes the following goals:

  • revising and updating the student proficiency level pages
  • creating universal design for learning pages
  • creating writing feedback strategy pages

Three writers per grade band will be led by team leaders during Phase 2. Those grade bands are Pre-K- 2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. The 16 members of the writing team will be expected to attend at least six meetings from October 2022-April 2023.  The tentative meeting dates are as follows:

  • Saturday, October 22, the Oklahoma State Department of Education in Oklahoma City, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, November 15, on Zoom, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, December 13, on Zoom, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, January 24, on Zoom, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, February 21, on Zoom, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 21, on Zoom, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, April 18, 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 Monday, September 19 at 11:59 p.m.  Selections will be announced no later than September 30, 2022.

Application Link

Online Tutoring Tool Training: Aug. 8


The Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) has purchased a statewide subscription to Brainfuse, an online tutoring service that is accessible to all Oklahomans through their public library. Of particular interest to schools is the Homework HelpNow module, which provides online assistance for students in grade 3 through college, including in English language arts. More information about HelpNow and other ODL Brainfuse offerings is here:

ODL will be asking public libraries, as well, to reach out to local schools to make them aware of this service. Our contract specifies access through public libraries and public library websites. School websites may link to their local public library website to facilitate access for students.

A live school-focused training session on Brainfuse is being offered next week through GoTo. This session will be recorded, and ODL will share links to the recorded sessions.

Brainfuse HelpNow Webinar - Oklahoma Libraries

  • Monday, August 8, 2022; 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
  • Please join the meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
  • You can also dial in using your phone.
  • United States: +1 (571) 317-3116
  • Access Code: 922-171-109

ODL is excited to bring this important learning tool to Oklahoma students!

Oklahoma’s Statewide Contract for Brainfuse is made possible with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Future years of the service will be funded with LSTA funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

State Testing Update & Resources

The Oklahoma School Testing Program (OSTP) in grades 3-8 addresses the following

  • Reading and Writing Process
  • Critical Reading and Writing
  • Vocabulary
  • Language
  • Research

The specific breakdown of the standards can be found on the current test blueprint.

The 2023 OSTP for English Language Arts will be aligned to the 2016 Oklahoma
Academic Standards, but it will have field test items aligned to the 2021 standards.
Therefore, the 2022-2023 school year is an opportunity for schools to implement the
2021 standards, which are clearer and more detailed than the 2016 standards.
Teachers who use the 2021 standards to guide their curriculum and instruction will
cover most of the skills from the 2016 standards.

Since revisions did take place and some objectives were deleted or moved, there are
some skills from the 2016 standards that teachers can use to supplement the 2021
standards. Those skills are linked in the charts in this document and are also linked to their 2016 objective analysis pages from the ELA Curriculum Framework.

The 2021 standards will begin to be assessed in Spring 2024.

Ada Limón: U.S. Poet Laureate


Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced last month the appointment of Ada Limón as the nation’s 24th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2022-2023.

“Ada Limón is a poet who connects,” Hayden said. “Her accessible, engaging poems ground us in where we are and who we share our world with. They speak of intimate truths, of the beauty and heartbreak that is living, in ways that help us move forward.”

"What an incredible honor to be named the 24th Poet Laureate of the United States. Again and again, I have been witness to poetry's immense power to reconnect us to the world, to allow us to heal, to love, to grieve, to remind us of the full spectrum of human emotion,” Limón said. “This recognition belongs to the teachers, poets, librarians and ancestors from all over the world that have been lifting up poetry for years. I am humbled by this opportunity to work in the service of poetry and to amplify poetry's ability to restore our humanity and our relationship to the world around us." [source]

Her poem "The Raincoat" is a fine example of her work. I featured this poem at the 2021 fall regional workshops, and I mistakenly called it "The Umbrella" at some of the 2022 EngageOK workshops.

Boubacar Boris Diop Lessons


Often referred to as “the American Nobel,” the Neustadt International Prize is a biennial award sponsored by the University of Oklahoma and managed by the university’s literary magazine, World Literature Today. Boubacar Boris Diop is the winner of the 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

Francophone writer Boubacar Boris Diop (b. 1946, Dakar, Senegal) is the author of many novels, plays, and essays. He was awarded the Senegalese Republic Grand Prize in 1990 for Les Tambours de la mémoire as well as the Prix Tropiques for The Knight and His Shadow. His Doomi Golo was the first novel to be translated from Wolof into English. Toni Morrison called his novel Murambi: The Book of the Bones “a miracle,” and the Zimbabwe International Book Fair listed it as one of the one hundred best African books of the twentieth century.

In this linked resource packet, there are two lessons that draw on or connect to the writing of Diop. Lesson One is accessible for grades 8-12, while Lesson Two is designed for upper-level English classes. From writing a personal narrative on a meaningful childhood place, to exploring one’s relationship with language, to looking at the immigration experience, these lessons allow students to explore themes in Diop’s works while connecting them to their own personal lives. Appendices A & B have the stories by Diop, and Appendices C-D are grading rubrics that might be helpful with assessment. Appendix E includes Oklahoma state standards.

Public Speaking Competencies

The OSDE in partnership with educators around the state, has developed a draft of public speaking competencies. If you are a high school English teacher who teaches a public speaking elective, please take some time to review the document and provide feedback on this form.  The public speaking competencies will exist as as draft during the 2022-2023 school year.

Holocaust Education Survey

The Jewish Federation of Tulsa is interested in learning more about how English language arts educators teach about the Holocaust. This survey will allow them to better plan for professional development and identify teachers who are already actively teaching about the Holocaust. Please complete the survey by Friday, September 16.

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt

Write a letter to your future self in May 2023. Share your hopes and dreams for your professional and/or personal life in the next nine months. Then seal your letter in an envelope, and store it in a place where you will remember. Save it to read during the last month of this school year.

Reading Quote

Ralpho  Waldo Emerson on reading