Oregon ELA Educator Update

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Oregon ELA Educator Update                                                                        April 5, 2021

Introduction and Disclaimer:

In this newsletter, we will share with you some announcements, research, resources, and opportunities for training by ODE, as well as other offerings by statewide and national colleagues that may be of interest to you. 

Note: Unless hosted or facilitated by The Oregon Department of Education (ODE), the training opportunities shared here have not been endorsed by ODE, but are being shared as relevant and high-quality opportunities for English Language Arts and Literacy education professionals to consider.

2021 English Language Arts & Literacy Instructional Materials Evaluation Recruitment

The Oregon Department of Education is accepting reviewer nominations for the 2021 English Language Arts & Literacy evaluation of instructional materials. District administrators and supervisors are highly encouraged to nominate teachers, curriculum specialists, or other experienced professionals with expertise in English Language Arts & Literacy for grades K-12.

The nomination form details what committee member participation will require during this year’s evaluation. Nominated individuals will be asked to complete an application regarding their qualifications and experience. Those selected to participate will receive professional development and an honorarium. No travel is required for this year’s evaluation.

Individuals on this committee will be responsible for reviewing submitted ELA instructional materials to be adopted by the State Board of Education. Nominations are open thru April 23, 2021. Please use this form to nominate qualified individuals.

For more information or questions, contact Aujalee Moore, Instructional Materials Coordinator: aujalee.moore@ode.state.or.us or (503) 947-8683.



April is Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month

This month is Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month. It’s a time to remember past genocides as well as reflect and recommit on ways we can stop ongoing and prevent future atrocities. Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education have shared a handful of recommended resources and training opportunities to support your teaching and learning. 

Foundational Lesson Plans for Teaching About the Holocaust

OJMCHE Learning Opportunities--Teachers' Page

Facing History: Genocide Still Happens

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Burma's Path to Genocide

Seeking Book Reviewers

With the adoption of SB664, Holocaust and Genocide Education should now be incorporated into K-12 classrooms. Although this is clearly difficult subject matter to discuss in any classroom, K-5 teachers often find it particularly challenging to introduce the themes of Holocaust and other genocides studies to young children. 

The Oregon Department of Education, in partnership with the Oregon Jewish Museum and the Multnomah County Library, is creating a curated list of book titles for use in elementary classrooms. You are invited to participate in this project by selecting one of the book titles from the curated list and submitting a brief review for publication in the April Social Science and English Language Arts Updates. 

Please scroll to the ROUND TWO, April 2021 section of the document to find titles from which to choose.

Please contact Amit Kobrowski or Tina Roberts if you have any questions.

Book cover for Something Happened in Our Town


Book Review: Something Happened in Our Town

Review by: Eliana Belle, Gervais Elementary School, Kindergarten

This text follows two families as they discuss a recent and painful event that took place in their own town, the shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer. The main characters in this story are classmates, most likely in elementary school. Throughout the book, questions are asked and answered that can help explain to young children the history of Black people in America, and the relationship between Black and White people over time. Overall, this story promotes fairness, kindness, and education about hard topics.

This book was meant for students in grades pre-k through third. I am a kindergarten teacher and think this book would fit well for the grade. It is a very honest story that closely resembles current events, and it does contain some hard to understand content. However, I can pre-teach necessary content and frontload important vocabulary to make this story more comprehensible to my students. These topics are important to their education and we often wait far too long to really dive into them. This text can be used with Oregon Language Arts and Literacy Standard SL.K.1 through an in-depth class discussion.

Rhythm and Resistance: A Conversation About Teaching and Writing Poetry

Tuesday, April 6 at 4pm PT, 6pm CT, 7pm ET

Join award-winning author, Renée Watson, and Rethinking Schools editor, Linda Christensen, for a conversation about teaching and writing poetry. They will discuss creating generative spaces for students to take risks as writers, finding poetry models that move students into writing, as well as tough questions about revising and grading poetry. Dyan Watson, Rethinking Schools editor, will introduce the evening. 

Renée Watson is a New York Times bestselling author, educator, and activist, and Rethinking Schools contributor. Her young adult novel, Piecing Me Together (Bloomsbury, 2017) received a Coretta Scott King Award and Newbery Honor. Her poetry and fiction often center around the experiences of Black girls and women, and explores themes of home, identity, and the intersections of race, class, and gender. Renée served as Founder and Executive Director of I, Too, Arts Collective, a nonprofit committed to nurturing underrepresented voices in the creative arts, from 2016-2019. Renée grew up in Portland, Oregon, and splits her time between Portland and New York City.

Linda Christensen taught high school language arts for 30 years. She currently works as the director of the Oregon Writing Project at Lewis & Clark College. She is the author of Reading, Writing, and Rising Up and Teaching for Joy and Justice; co-editor of Rhythm and Resistance: Teaching Poetry for Social Justice, The New Teacher Book (3rd edition), and Rethinking Elementary Education.

Dyan Watson, Rethinking Schools editor and Director for Inclusion at the Oregon Episcopal School in Portland. Some of her works include Teaching for Black Lives, Rhythm and Resistance: Teaching Poetry for Social Justice, and Rethinking Elementary Education.

This event is hosted by Rethinking Schools. Participants will need access to Zoom. The event is 75 minutes. ASL Interpretation is available.

Register here for the Zoom link and a 25% Rethinking Schools book and magazine discount code.

This event is free to attend. To make events like this available to more teachers, we would greatly appreciate your solidarity donation.

OJMCHE Presents:

Book & Film Circle: The Holocaust 

April 7 from 5:30 - 6:30pm

During this second Book & Film Circle session, participants will be asked to watch the 2019 film Jojo Rabbit and/or read the book Night by Elie Wiesel. 

Jojo Rabbit is a satirical film directed by Taika Waititi about the Hitler Youth and antisemitic propaganda during the Holocaust but is also a story of resistance. 

Night is a memoir that recounts the author’s experiences as a Jewish victim of the Holocaust who was deported from his hometown of Sighet, Romania and imprisoned at Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

We hope to discuss the messages of this book and movie, the histories they portray, and how the accounts they share continue to be relevant today, especially in the face of a present rise in antisemitism.   

The event will take place at the start of Yom Hashoah—Holocaust Remembrance Day—and we hope to set our intentions for this meaningful day with discussion and reflection.


images of book covers

Capturing History – Students Write About COVID

April 1 – June 30 The Beaverton City Library is assisting with a Girl Scouts Gold Award project by collecting writings from students in grades 6-12 about the pandemic. Selected writing will be assembled into a booklet and added to the Beaverton City Library’s local history collection. Some writing may also be published elsewhere and can be kept anonymous if the authors choose. Writing can be in the form of an essay, a personal story, a poem, or any other form they choose.

Writing can be submitted in doc or PDF form with the online form -https://www.beavertonlibrary.org/COVIDWriting.

Flyer for Student Writing Opportunity

Image of Oregon Council of Teachers of English Spring Conference

Register at octe.org

Logo for March for Change Student Summit


Inspiring Change Student Summit

April 18 from 1 - 3:30 p.m.

This program is for any teen in grades 9 - 12 who is interested in learning about tools of social justice and how to inspire and create change in their communities. The virtual program, called “Inspiring Change” will kick off with a webinar-style joint panel featuring local organization Don’t Shoot PDX, and one of the lead organizers of March For Our Lives.

Following the panel, participants will interact with members of Portland Youth Climate Strike in breakout rooms to learn more about different roles people can take on while organizing. Finally, participants wanting a certificate of participation can conclude the program by attending a discussion where they unpack and reflect on what they have learned.


Earth Day is April 22

Here are some resources to help you celebrate Earth Day in your classrooms:

Environmental Education--Education Education Resource Library

Project Learning Tree Earth Day 2021

Edutopia--Earth Day: Lesson Plans, Reading Lists and Classroom Ideas

Read, Write, Think: Celebrate Earth Day!

Photo of Sharroky Hollie


Portland Reading Council Presents:

Six Ways to Know You are Culturally Responsive 

with Dr. Sharroky Hollie, director of The Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning

May 4, 2021 4:00 - 5:30 pm via Zoom

The phrase "culturally responsive" has now become cliché in education. Cultural responsiveness benefits students, in particular those students who have been traditionally underserved in US schools. Given its importance for students to be academically successful, how do you know if you are culturally and linguistically responsive in your mindset and skillset? Find out in this inspiring and thought-provoking session. 

This event is open to PreK-12 educators + higher ed faculty and students. 

Co-hosted by Teacher Created Materials and the Multnomah ESD.

$30 Portland Reading Council Member

$40 Non-member

$20 College Student

There is limited seating for this event. Contact Penny Plavala with questions. 

Register Here

OER Symposium: Connections with Higher Education

Oregon Open Learning is partnering with Open Oregon to include K-12 educators at the Oregon Virtual Statewide OER Symposium, which will be held on May 14th from 9 am to 3 pm. There will be opportunities for both synchronous and asynchronous engagement. This is the first year that this event will be marketed to K-12 educators and teachers of dual-credit courses, and there is no cost to register.

For more information, check out the event page: https://openoregon.org/events/event/symposium-2021/.

Image of National Write Center flyer

For more info, check out National Write Center's Webinar page.

Oregon Writing Project Opportunities

[Online] Four-Week Invitational Summer Institute


Interested in attending OWP four-week Summer Institute? We are hosting an open house from 4-5:30 p.m. on March 11th. We will write, share an overview of what you can expect from the Institute, and answer your questions. RSVP here

[Online] From Where I Stand: A One-day Workshop for Women Educators of Color


Writing the College and Scholarship Essay


Learning Express Logo


LearningExpress Library and PrepSTEP Have AP Test Prep Materials

LearningExpress offers a skill-building and test-preparation product, and it is available through OSLIS at no cost to the Oregon K-12 community.

In the past, all users, whether K-12 or not, accessed the resources from the same platform: LearningExpress Library. However, the company recently created separate platforms for various audiences.

PrepSTEP for High Schools consolidates the resources from LearningExpress Library that are most relevant for high schoolers, and it is now the default platform on OSLIS. Among other things, PrepSTEP/LEL offers materials to help students prepare for AP exams.

From the secondary Find Information page on OSLIS, click through these three steps: LearningExpress logo => Prepare for College center => Get Ready for AP Tests.

This Google doc has information about which AP subjects are covered, registering for an account on PrepSTEP/LEL, assigning PrepSTEP content via an LMS, and more.

Please let your students know about this resource. Questions? Contact your library staff or Jen Maurer (jennifer.maurer@slo.oregon.gov) at the State Library.

Oregon’s K-12 OER Hub

The Oregon Open Learning Hub is a digital resource repository and collaboration space for educators, administrators, and other educational partners to curate, create, and remix open educational resources (OER). The Hub is a portal to over 50,000 openly licensed resources available on OER Commons, searchable by grade level, subject, and standard. 

Here are a few suggestions to get started with OER Commons:

Please feel free to reach out to Tina Roberts with questions, comments, and suggestions, or contact the Oregon Open Learning Team at OregonOpenLearning@state.or.us.

Image of Flyer for OEA's JumpStart National Board Certification program

Click this link to fill out the interest form.

Looking to diversify your classroom library and/or reading materials?

In ODE's ongoing effort to position equity at the center of the work we do with and for Oregon's students, we are continuously looking for ways we can examine current practice and amplify voices that are underrepresented and/or missing. Here are some resources that may help:

  • Check out #DisruptTexts for ideas. According to the DisruptTexts website, "#Disrupt Texts is a crowdsourced, grass roots effort by teachers for teachers to challenge the traditional canon in order to create a more inclusive, representative, and equitable language arts curriculum that our students deserve. It is part of our mission to aid and develop teachers committed to anti-racist/anti-bias teaching pedagogy and practices."
  • Another source for diversifying classroom reading materials is the Arizona Department of Education's Diverse Text Guidance.
  • English Elixir shared a blog post that provides supplements and/or replacements to traditional Canonical works. 

Professional Organizations for ELA - National and State

There are several ELA-related professional organizations at a state and national level.  Check them out!  They provide tools, resources, and supports for educators around the state.

NCTE -- National Council of Teachers of English

CEL -- Conference on English Leadership

OCTE -- Oregon Council of Teachers of English

ILA -- International Literacy Association

OSLA -- Oregon State Literacy Association

OLA -- Oregon Library Association

OASL -- Oregon Association of School Libraries

ODE Resources (in every issue)

Ready Schools , Safe Learners

Comprehensive Distance Learning Instructional Resources

Designing Learning for 2020-21: English Language Arts & Literacy

CDL 2020-2021 Essential Instructional Content for English Language Arts/Literacy K-12 Overview

Oregon Open Learning Hub

ELA Performance Standards and Grade Level Documents

ELA Assessment

State Adopted Instructional Materials

If you have ideas for the newsletter, or want to contact the ODE ELA specialists, please reach out:

Tina Roberts -- English Language Arts Education Specialist

Tony Bertrand -- English Language Arts / Social Sciences Assessment Specialist