February 2023 Secondary ELAOK Newsletter

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English Language Arts

February 2023

In this issue:

Teachers of Oklahoma

Teachers of Oklahoma logo

Teachers of Oklahoma is a statewide teacher respect and appreciation tour with Rebecka Peterson, the 2022 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, who was recently named one of five finalists for National Teacher of the Year. Inspired by Humans of New York, Peterson will travel to all 77 counties in Oklahoma, interviewing teachers who are making a difference and sharing their stories to offer words of encouragement for teachers, students, and their communities.

"My hope this year is to elevate the teaching profession by sharing the good and important work that teachers all over Oklahoma are doing every day. I am specifically looking for teachers who are highly effective but may not get a lot of recognition, for whatever reason—in other words, a true unsung hero," said Peterson.

One of the recent featured teachers is Courtney Green, a ninth grade English teacher from Pauls Valley.

Courtney Greentext

Read the rest of Courtney's story as well as the stories of many other teachers from around the state on the following Teachers of Oklahoma social media pages:

Being a great teacher is a labor of love. From helping us through challenging times to motivating us to chase our dreams, teachers impact our lives long after we leave the classroom. Help Rebecka celebrate a special teacher in your life by completing this short nomination form. Feel free to nominate a deserving colleague!

Poet Jericho Brown

smiling man

Oklahoma City University's annual Thatcher Hoffman Smith Poetry Series will host free public presentations by celebrated and Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Jericho Brown on March 29, 2023, at 10AM and 8PM, in the Kerr-McGee Auditorium at the Meinders School of Business at Oklahoma City University.

Here is one of his poems for you to read and enjoy and perhaps use in your classroom.



The water is one thing, and one thing for miles.
The water is one thing, making this bridge
Built over the water another. Walk it
Early, walk it back when the day goes dim, everyone
Rising just to find a way toward rest again.
We work, start on one side of the day
Like a planet’s only sun, our eyes straight
Until the flame sinks. The flame sinks. Thank God
I’m different. I’ve figured and counted. I’m not crossing
To cross back. I’m set
On something vast. It reaches
Long as the sea. I’m more than a conqueror, bigger
Than bravery. I don’t march. I’m the one who leaps.

Reflection Questions:

  • What metaphorical or symbolic meanings emerge for the water and bridge?
  • What effect does the repetition have on this poem's mood and tone?
  • How does the shifting point of view change your understanding of the speaker?
  • What do you make of the poem's final line?

Artificial Intelligence Resources

In last month's newsletter, we learned about ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence bot capable of generating writing when given a prompt. Here are four resources to further your knowledge about ChatGPT.

In this 21st century essay, "Ghosts," the author uses a chat bot to finally write about the loss of her sister. Her initial prompt is very short, but with the help of GPT, she writes more and more. The ninth and final version of her essay is almost entirely written by her. This essay is a fine example of the revision process.

  • How could you and your students use ChatGPT to revise writing?

The November 30 release of ChatGPT and its abilities to generate, revise, and critique essays have raised concerns about the promise and perils of AI for writing instruction. In this free webinar recording from the Write Center, four panelists discuss how these tools work, their affordances and challenges, and the place of artificial intelligence in the writing curriculum.

  • Which ideas and insights from the webinar resonate with you the most?

In this article from The 74 Million, four teachers and two experts discuss the future of the high school essay in light of ChatGPT.

  • Which of the article's seven points seems most important to you?

AI Writing Check is a free service developed by Quill.org and CommonLit.org to enable educators to check if a piece of writing submitted by a student was written by the AI tool ChatGPT. This algorithm is designed to detect AI-generated writing.

  • Based on your current classroom practices, will you be using this tool?

Holocaust Education Survey

In partnership with the Jewish Federation of Tulsa and the OSDE, State Representative John Waldron has developed a survey about Holocaust education opportunities for English language arts, social studies, and fine arts teachers. Please take this survey by the end of February to share how you currently do or do not incorporate the Holocaust in your English language arts class.

The end of the survey contains a registration link for a Holocaust education workshop in the summer. The Jewish Federations of Tulsa and Oklahoma City will be offering a free Holocaust Education workshop on June 15, 2023, in Oklahoma City and June 16, 2023, in Tulsa.

Summer Institute for Teaching Writing

OWP logo

Oklahoma Writing Project
Invitational Summer Institute

June 2023
Classroom Teachers of All Subjects
—Elementary through College—
Interested in Improving Literacy Skills 

Fifteen outstanding teachers will be selected to attend the Oklahoma Writing Project's 2023 Invitational Summer Institute to be held at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Teachers of all subject areas and of all levels of instruction--kindergarten through university--interested in teaching composition or incorporating writing into their regular subject matter instruction may apply. The important consideration is a strong commitment to teaching of composition and helping students' understanding through writing.

Teachers who are selected should have these qualifications:

  1. Outstanding teaching record.
  2. Strong commitment to growth in teaching composition.
  3. Willingness to develop a formal presentation on topics related to writing instruction and to share those presentations with other participants at in-service workshops.
  4. Willingness to do the writing, research, and reflection that will be asked of all participants during the Summer Institute.
  5. Demonstrable success as a teacher of writing and promise as an equally successful teacher of other teachers.
  6. Willingness to be an active participant in the Oklahoma Writing Project and its professional and in-service programs.
  7. Above all, a strong and open approach to ideas.


  1. Creation and delivery of literacy presentation to be shared at your home school and with other Oklahoma teachers
  2. Portfolio of your own writings as you experience the writing process and best classroom practices
  3. Your published writing in the 2023 Summer Institute Anthology
  4. Collection of ready-to-use literacy strategies and best classroom practices aligned with Oklahoma Academic Standards
  5. Over 45 hours of professional development
  6. Become part of a network of teachers focused on improving literacy practices with Oklahoma students 

Up to $750 stipend for each participant who completes all the required components of OKWP Summer Institute

March 22, 2023.
 Applicants invited to interview will receive an appointment confirmation by email by March 27, 2023.


  • Start saving your student writing samples now. You will need student samples for your interview and during the Summer Institute. Be sure and save high/low ability examples from your writing lessons. Originals are great, but copies are fine.
  • At the interview, you will bring your resume and some of your student writing samples.

The online application has further details, including the dates of the summer institute, if you are interested.

Please contact Dr. Crag Hill (director) at crag.a.hill@ou.edu, Patty Coleman (co-director) plduett1987@gmail.com, or Sandi Hebert(co-director) at srkloepferhebert@gmail.com, if you have a specific question about 2023 OWP Summer Institute.

Monthly Features

Writing Prompt

beans corn squash

This month's prompt is based on a mentor text paragraph from Michelle Obama's book, The Light We Carry (2022):

In springtime when I lived at the White House, we used to plant what's called a "three sisters" vegetable patch in our garden on the South Lawn, mixing a crop of corn, beans, and squash together in one place. This is a traditional Native American method for growing food in a resourceful way, one that's been used for many hundreds of years and is based on the idea that each type of plant has something vital to offer the others: The corn grows tall and creates a natural pole for the bean plants to climb. The beans provide nitrogen, a nutrient that helps the other plants grow more efficiently, and the squash stays low to the ground, its large spreading leaves helping to block weeds and keep the soil moist. The plants grow at different rates; the vegetables harvest at different times. But the mix provides a system of mutual protection and benefit—the tall and the small continually working together. It's not just the corn, and not just the beans, but rather the corn and the beans and the squash combined that yield a healthy crop. The balance comes from the combination.

  • What writing moves do you notice in this passage? I see the use of a colon and a dash to reveal information, a semicolon to join two independent clauses, and a coordinating conjunction that begins a sentence. I see a mixture of long and short sentences. I also notice some rhyming words (tall and small).
  • Pick a writing move from this passage and imitate in your own topic of choice.

Reading Quote

Arnold Lobel reading quote