September 2022 Elementary ELA Newsletter

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ELAOK: Elementary

September 2022

This newsletter is dedicated to helping educators understand the current conversation about the science of reading and how to keep up with literacy research. I hope you find some tips that will support your literacy journey. 

The Science of Reading - What it is and how to keep up with the latest research


What is the Science of Reading?

Melissa Ahlgrim, Director of Reading Sufficiency, presented an Introduction to the Science of Reading at EngageOK 2022 that provides an overview of the research behind how people become proficient readers. It describes the science of reading as “multi-disciplinary research on reading and writing conducted over five decades across the world and in multiple languages, culminating best practices identified by scientific research”.  It is the understanding of how the brain learns to read and scientifically proven practices that are effective to support learning to read.  The science of reading is a body of research and not a program, assessment, or one-size-fits-all approach. 

The foundation of this research is the simple view of reading and the understanding that reading is not natural. Decoding and language comprehension skills must be taught explicitly, systematically, and sequentially in the classroom to connect the various parts of the brain needed to comprehend text using instruction that is proven to support student learning. 

What happens to the brain when reading?

OSDE supports best practices through research-aligned standards, a thorough review of instructional materials, professional development, and family supports. Reading instruction is multifaceted, and it is vital that we try to remain current on our instructional practices to support students in the classroom. 


How do I keep up with literacy research?

Here are some of the ways I keep up with current research. I challenge you to try one of the following suggestions this month and find a pathway for gaining information that works for you.

Practice Guide from IES
  • Books/Articles - Here is a list of ideas if you are just starting out. 
  • Practice Guides from the Institute of Educational Sciences (IES). The practice guides are one of my go-to resources for strategies and professional development ideas.  Each practice guide has 4 evidence-based recommendations based on a topic including an explanation, examples, and overcoming obstacles. Topics range from Kinder through 12th grade. The OSDE ELA team has compiled the practice guides related to literacy on the ELA Resource Page.
  • Oklahoma Reading Academies - Cohort 4 will be the final cohort for LETRS training. Registration begins in October. 
  • Reading 101 - Short on time?  Reading Rockets has self-paced modules and resources on each of the components of literacy including writing and assessment. 
  • Podcasts - Look for podcasts that invite the actual experts to speak about their research. Some examples include  Science of Reading: The Podcast, Teaching Reading, and Learning: The Reading League Podcast, and Edview360. Once you find a favorite researcher, then follow them on social media.
  • Professional Organizations offer resources from leading experts in the literary field. If you do not have the budget to join, then there are a number of free resources on their websites and social media. Memberships in state affiliates are offered at a lower cost. 

I hope you find something on this list that will help you keep abreast of reading research. Do you have other strategies to keep up with educational research?  If so, please contact me at and let me know. 

Virtual Training in Foundational Literacy

From the Start Reading Project

The OSDE is pleased to offer the From the Start Reading Project, a set of 9 professional development courses on evidence-based foundational literacy in the OSDE Connect virtual learning platform.  These dynamic modules provide professional learning on the components of strong early literacy instruction with a focus on practical classroom application, and cover the following topics:

  • The Early Elementary Literacy Block
  • Oral Language
  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Phonics
  • Foundational Writing
  • Vocabulary
  • Language Structures
  • The Writing Process
  • Comprehension

Through these courses, educators will learn highly-effective strategies based in the Science of Reading.  Each module is 1-2 hours in length, can be accessed individually or as a complete set, and are available for educators to explore independently for personal growth or with a team of colleagues.  Upon completion of each module, teachers will have access to download a Professional Development certificate.

This training is ongoing and available through OSDE Connect -  Enroll in Module 1 here.

For questions or more information, reach out to Christina Hicks at

2023 Sequoyah Masterlist

Sequoyah Book Award

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!  Here are the 15 books chosen for the 2023 Children's Sequoyah masterlist for 3rd through 5th grade students. 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.

September is Library Card Sign-up Month

Library Card Sign-Up Month

September is library card sign-up month!  Find your public library and encourage students and their families to sign up for a library card. Explore all of that the library has to offer, like new children's books, access to technology, and educational programming.

"It's a little card that goes a loud way. Let your imagination sing at the library." — Idina Menzel

“The library is where your imagination sings. Get your library card and 'check it out' today." — Cara Mentzel

Imagine Forest Reading Quotes