September 2022 ELAOK Newsletter

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English Language Arts

September 2022

In this issue:

OKCTE Fall Conference

OKCTE logo

The Oklahoma Council Teachers of English is looking for presenters for their Fall Conference on October 29 in Tulsa. This year's theme is "Pursuing the Power of English." Those wishing to submit a presentation proposal can use this link before October 1 to be considered.

Those simply wanting to attend can use this link to register for the conference, which comes with a year-long membership to OKCTE.

Test & Item Specification Documents


Cheyenne Short is the Director of English Language Arts Assessments for the Oklahoma State Department of Education. She has some exciting news to share about some new assessment materials that are now available.

The Test and Item Specifications (TIS) documents for English Language Arts assessments were recently updated for grades 3-8. The updates include newly released passages and items, including technology-enhanced items that students in grades 6-8 will encounter beginning in the 2023 OSTP administration. Here are the middle school ELA documents:

These documents serve as a tool for teachers to understand the design of the testing program, passage guidelines, and types of items students might experience on the English Language Arts assessment.

If you have questions about these documents, you can email Cheyenne at

Neustadt Lit Fest


An invitation from Professor Robert Con Davis-Undiano at the University of Oklahoma:

We at World Literature Today are pleased to invite English language arts teachers to attend the 2022 Neustadt Lit Fest, a conference offered in-person at the University of Oklahoma in Norman as well as on Zoom.

Each fall, the Neustadt Lit Fest is the premier humanities event in the state, and this year it focuses on a legendary writer from Senegal: Boubacar Boris Diop. The Neustadt Lit Fest in his honor will take place from October 24-26, 2022—all free and open to the public. Here is the link to the Lit Fest webinar, and we hope that all of you will register for it right away.

Below are five events in particular that we think could come into ELA classrooms via Zoom. If you cannot view them live, you can access the recordings afterward. Please let me know what else I can do to help you make these events available to your classes and useful in your teaching.

Robert Con Davis-Undiano
Phone: 405-659-9452

Neustadt Lit Fest Schedule

Tuesday, October 25:

Readings by the Jury for the 2023 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s and Young-Adult Literature

  • 11:30am-1:00pm | Zoom
  • Members of this year’s NSK jury—William Alexander, Raúl Colon, Veera Hiranandani, Jessica Kim, Trung Le Nguyen, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Lawrence Schimel, Brenda Woods, and Mindy Yuksel—read from their work, featuring giveaways of signed copies of their books.

Announcement of the Winner of the 2023 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s and Young-Adult Literature

  • 1:45pm-2pm | In-person/Livestream | Scholars Room (OMU 315) | 900 Asp Avenue | Norman, OK
  • Kathy Neustadt announces the winner of the 2023 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s and Young-Adult Literature.

The 2022 Neustadt Prize Keynote by Boubacar Boris Diop

  • 3:00-4:00pm | In-person/Livestream | Scholars Room (OMU 315) | 900 Asp Avenue | Norman, OK
  • The Neustadt laureate reflects on his life’s work, followed by Q&A with the audience.

Wednesday, October 26:

Black and Blues Dance Film Premiere

  • 12:00 noon-12:45pm | In-person/Livestream | Meacham Auditorium (OMU 242) | 900 Asp Avenue | Norman, OK
  • Premiere of the film based on Diop’s prose poem “Black and Blues,” the text of which is available in the Neustadt curriculum, featuring artistic direction and choreography by Prof. Marie Casimir, followed by a live talkback with the dancers and Prof. Casimir.

Prize Ceremony and Acceptance Talk

  • 4:00-5:00 pm | In-person ceremony/Livestream | Meacham Auditorium (OMU 242) | 900 Asp Avenue | Norman, OK
  • Kathy Neustadt, Nancy Barcelo, Susan Schwartz, and RC Davis-Undiano give the Neustadt International Prize for Literature to Mr. Diop followed by his acceptance speech.

Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud is a poetry recitation contest for high school students. Poetry Out Loud encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.

Cash prizes are awarded to the top two state winners. The state winner receives a trip to Washington, D.C., for the national contest. To learn more, please visit the Oklahoma Poetry Out Loud website.

The 2022 Poetry Out Loud national champion was Mia Ronn from California. She recited "the world is about to end and my grandparents are in love." Watch the video of her performance to get a better idea of the competition.

Writing Contest

women writing the west

All high school students in grades 9-12 and age 13-19 are invited to send their unpublished short written works in nonfiction, fiction, or poetry/songwriting to the Women Writing the West® (WWW) inaugural High School Writing Contest.

Entries should recognize women and girls’ stories and their contribution to the history, culture and growth of the North American West, defined by WWW as anywhere on the North American continent west of the Mississippi River, including Alaska and Hawaii, Canada west of Manitoba, and Mexico.

One entry per student. For the inaugural year, entry fees are underwritten by WWW’s generous donors.

Monetary awards will be presented to the top three winners in the three award categories, and they will be recognized via their own video at the annual WWW Conference in Oklahoma City on October 20-22, 2022.

2023 Sequoyah Masterlists


With this award, Oklahoma honors the Native American leader Sequoyah for his unique achievement in creating the Cherokee syllabary. Sequoyah chose eighty-five symbols to represent all spoken sounds of the Cherokee language. In so doing, he created a way to preserve his people's language and culture.

The Sequoyah Committees are pleased to announce the winners of the Sequoyah Book Awards for 2022:

  • Children’s: Zeus, Dog of Chaos by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb
  • Intermediate: When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohamed
  • High School: Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

The 2023 masterlists have been released! There is one for middle school and one for high school. There are fifteen books per masterlist. Promotional materials, including an annotated masterlist, readalikes, bookmarks, and book talks on YouTube are available.

Each masterlist is created to appeal to children in a variety of situations, interests, and reading levels. The books on the masterlists are not intended to be an automatic recommendation of the books, and children should not be required to read every title on a particular list. Teachers and other group leaders should carefully read and consider a title before reading a masterlist title to a class or group, or assigning a title as required reading. It is not the intention of the committees that every student must read every book on each masterlist.

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt

Factory Obscura is an immersive art experience in Oklahoma City. Examine the photograph below of one of its rooms, then write in response for five minutes. Your writing can be prose or poetry.

mirror, disco ball, colorful background

Reading Quote

Fran quote