December 2022 Secondary ELAOK Newsletter

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English Language Arts

December 2022

In this issue:


Some of you already receive this monthly newsletter of secondary English language resources, but for some of you, this is your first one. Welcome to this resource!

Teachers of the Year Finalists

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister revealed the 12 finalists for Oklahoma’s next Teacher of the Year in October.

“These finalists represent some of the top teaching talent in Oklahoma,” Hofmeister said. “They are exceptional individuals who have a tremendous heart for their students and an unwavering dedication to the teaching profession.”

Two of the twelve finalists are English language arts teachers: Traci Manuel, a 10th grade advanced English II teacher at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa Public Schools, and Rexanne McCrary, an 11th-12th grade AP language and composition teacher and virtual English teacher at Union High School in Union Public Schools. Read on to learn more about Traci. Rexanne was featured last month.

Traci Manuel

10th grade advanced English II teacher

Booker T. Washington High School, Tulsa Public Schools

Traci Manuel

Years of Teaching

11 ½ Years in the Tulsa Schools District

Years in Current Position

This is my first year serving as an Advanced English II teacher at the historic Booker T. Washington High School (BTW) in Tulsa. Previously, I had the privilege of teaching Pre-AP English for seven years at BTW's feeder magnet program, Carver Middle School.

Favorite Piece of Literature

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

Advice to ELA Teachers

ELA teachers are jewels that many people in our modern-day society don't always value as ones that are still needed, but a true educator knows that ELA teachers are the glue that holds everything together in learning. Therefore, I advise all English teachers throughout the state of Oklahoma to keep teaching the classics while adding modern texts & approaches to learning. With technology vastly changing every minute, English teachers must make sure to adapt their pedagogies to meet the needs of students in the 21st century. As an English teacher, one has the ability to bring literature to life and make it applicable to students' lives outside of the classroom. In closing,  I advise all English teachers to keep doing as Robert Frost would say: "take the road less traveled and it will make all the difference."  

Final Thoughts

Being in the teaching profession has always helped me to understand my goal is to be a lifelong learner who builds and serves my students, colleagues, and the greater school community. I believe that all teachers are better when they have an attitude of service to realize that the teaching job never ends when the last bell rings. As a fellow teacher, I implore other teachers to keep serving their students and never quit even when the task seems impossible. All teachers must remember that they have the most rewarding job of all time "unlocking the brilliancy in all students."-Marva Collins

Approved English Language Arts Textbooks

HQIM cover

Beginning December 19, 2022, the updated list of approved state textbook/ instructional materials for Secondary (Grades 6-12) English Language Arts (ELA) will be available on the OSDE High-Quality Instructional Materials website at The new state textbook/instructional material lists include evaluation rubrics completed by content area experts, in the state, for comprehensive materials that districts can use along with their own data and local-level priorities to identify the instructional materials appropriate for their district.

State-approved comprehensive materials are those with an overall rating of “Exemplifies Quality” or “Approaching Quality.” Per an amendment to Oklahoma Administrative Rule 720:10-3-6, supplementary materials are not reviewed or approved by the State Textbook Committee. Supplementary materials may undergo a rigorous local review to be purchased with state textbook funds. Supplementary programs supplement adopted comprehensive programs but should not replace them.

To learn more about the new evaluation process for the State Textbook Committee go to 

Additional Information Regarding State Textbooks:

  • Instructional Materials/Textbook Caravan - The Oklahoma Educational Publishers Association (OEPA) sponsors the annual textbook Caravan which is an event that allows educators to preview State-approved programs. Pre-registration is not required. Please go to for information about the textbook Caravan.
  • The English language arts reviews were completed by Oklahoma teachers from around the state who will remain anonymous. Twelve educators served on the middle school team, and ten educators served on the high school team. They gave so much of their time, talent, and expertise.

Please contact Rebecca Morales, Director of Instructional Materials for additional information about textbook adoption at

Oklahoma Literacy Association Annual Conference

The Oklahoma Literacy Association Annual Conference will be held on Saturday, April 1, 2023, at Oklahoma Christian University. The theme is Energizing the Reading and Writing Connection. Dr. Carol Jago will be the keynote speaker. Her keynote will be titled, Reading and Writing in the Digital Age. 

If you are interested in presenting at the conference during a breakout session, submit a presentation proposal. Presentations can be for any age between Pre-K and 12th grade and should be based on current literacy research. Proposals are due on Jan. 13th.

A registration link to attend the conference will be coming soon. We hope to see you there!

For additional information, please email

OLA poster

deadCenter Education Tour Now Scheduling Spring 2023 School/Class Visits

deadCenter logo

Since 2012, the deadCenter Statewide Education Tour has educated and inspired Oklahoma high school students on the art of filmmaking. The free program presented by 2020 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Jena Nelson is designed to help students learn the fundamentals of film literacy and movie magic through the lens of an OSCAR® qualifying film festival, and to provide hands-on exposure to a growing career field in the state. The program won the Governor’s Arts Award for Education in 2014 and has reached more than 20,000 students. 

Details of the presentation can be customized to meet the needs of individual schools and classrooms. Students will be encouraged to use what they learn in the Statewide Education Tour to create a 3-minute film of their own! All completed short films will be entered in deadCenter's 3-Minute Short Film Competition, to be awarded at the June 2023 festival in Oklahoma City. To schedule your presentation, email Jena Nelson at by Jan. 30, 2023.

Upcoming Writing Contests

There are numerous essay contests with upcoming deadlines in the next few months. Their details are below. As a reminder, the writing contests webpage has a collection of contests organized by deadline, genre, type, and participant age range.

Law Day Contest

law day contest

The Oklahoma Bar Association is celebrating Law Day with its annual art and writing contests for all Oklahoma students. Coloring sheets for pre-K and kindergarteners, along with writing and art prompts for 1st through 12th graders are available at Winners will receive awards and cash prizes, and all participants will receive a certificate to recognize their hard work. Submit entries by Jan. 13 to the Law Day Committee, P.O. Box 53036, Oklahoma City, OK 73152

More information about Law Day is available on the OBA website at 

OKCTE Young Writers Contest

OKCTE contest

OKCTE is looking forward to reading your writers' work. The deadline is just after the winter break, January 15, 2023. The few weeks leading into the holiday break are a good time to revise writing from August through December to ready an original piece for the anthology!

Details here.

Oklahoma Writing Project contest

OKWP contest

Oklahoma Writing Project is accepting entries to their 2023 annual Write to Win! Statewide Writing Contest open to students and teachers. 

Each teacher can enter up to 15 student manuscripts, and there is no entry fee. No student may have more than two pieces entered, total, and only one per genre. Teachers may enter two pieces, only one per genre.

More details, including a contest flyer, are available on their website.

OKC National Memorial Museum Essay Contest


The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum’s 22nd Annual Student Essay Contest is here!

Instead of letting the horrific act of violence on April 19, 1995, divide us, it brought people together. It demonstrated the importance of finding common ground among a diversity of opinions—a hallmark of the democratic process in the United States. The power of peaceful, civic engagement overcame the choice to use violence to affect change. 

The essay committee at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is deeply interested in hearing what students, grades 5-12, think about the benefits and challenges of a non-violent, democratic society.

The contest is open to all public, private, parochial or home-schooled students in grades 5-12. Submissions are due February 27, 2023. Prizes range from $50 to $1000.

More details: Essay Contest – Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum (

Holocaust Education Opportunity

Interested in shaping engaging lessons that can inspire students to think critically about the Holocaust and their own roles and responsibilities today?

Would you like to inform the development of free resources that use first hand accounts, video interviews, and unique primary source materials to encourage students to learn how and why the Holocaust happened?

Join the cohort of teachers helping to make a difference!

What are my responsibilities?

  • Use 2+ lessons in your classroom developed by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    • You select the lessons (see below)
    • Applied Curiosity Research (ACR) will provide all materials
  • Share your feedback through virtual logs and an interview after the lessons
  • Additional feedback options (not required) may include student surveys, student focus groups, and classroom visits 

What support will I receive?*

  • When selected, ACR will send you an electronic $50 gift card of your choice.
  • All lesson materials are provided; you will not need to develop anything. We will send a Technical Assistance page to support implementation and will be available for all questions.
  • After the interview and lessons ACR will provide you a $300 honorarium to compensate you for your time and expert feedback. 
  • Additional honorariums may be available if you agree to host/support:
    • Classroom observations and student focus groups ($75)
    • Student surveys ($75)
  • ACR will donate $250 to your school as a thank you for your participation in this project 

*Depending on your district's policy about teacher compensation and research participation.

Next steps?

  • Complete the Teacher Interest Form: [Click Here to Access Form]. You are not committing to anything, just letting us know you’re interested. We'll reach out with the next steps.
  • Review additional information. Below is additional project information and a list of all the lessons you can choose from.

Detailed Project Information

About the Museum: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is America's national institution for the documentation, study and interpretation of Holocaust history, and serves as this country's memorial to the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust.  It carries out multifaceted programs including exhibitions, research, collecting, creation and distribution of educational materials and professional learning for educators, as well as public programming designed to enhance understanding of the Holocaust and related issues.  The Museum is working to keep Holocaust memory alive while inspiring citizens and leaders to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.

About the Lessons: The Museum has developed curriculum resources for secondary teachers and classrooms across the country using the materials in the Museum's collections. The Museum is interested in revising and expanding these resources and lesson plans to ensure that the full set of lessons:

  • Encourage students to think about how and why the Holocaust happened using first hand accounts, video interviews and primary source materials.
  • Are meeting desired learning goals.
  • Align to best practices in critical thinking and inquiry-based learning.
  • Are feasible for teachers to implement in a variety of classroom settings.

About the project. We’re looking for 48 teachers from across the country to collect diverse perspectives and feedback about these materials! 

  • You pick the lessons that will work with your curriculum. 
  • The implementation period is flexible, but we’re asking to teach the lessons between February and June. 

More information:

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt

We experience the holiday season with all five senses. Pick a holiday memory or tradition and describe it for five minutes, one minute for each sense.

Reading Quote

Voltaire reading quote