EngageOK Teachers Newsletter for September 2015



Joy HofmeisterDear Teachers,

Welcome to the inaugural edition of EngageOK Teachers, an e-newsletter specifically designed for teachers. I hope you will find the information here useful as you serve the schoolchildren of Oklahoma. Please share this newsletter with your colleagues. Subscribe to the newsletter. We appreciate all you do to help shape the future of our great state.

ACT program opens doors for juniors

An experienced teacher recently sent a questionnaire home to parents on the first day of school. She wanted to get to know her students. The note asked about everything from the child’s interests to any allergies he or she might have.

The final question: “What are your expectations for your child?”

It’s a question Oklahomans might well consider when it comes to expectations for our schoolchildren. Who do we want them to grow up to be? Do we expect them to reach for heights even unimaginable to their parents? Or do we expect them to settle for what’s convenient?

Recently I announced a plan that will open a new on-ramp to post-secondary education for all public school students. Students in their junior year of high school may take the ACT college-entrance exam at no cost to districts or students on March 29, if their district chooses to participate in the pilot program. Schools will administer the test onsite, and on familiar ground for students in 11th grade. More than 400 of our 464 school districts with high schools in all 77 counties already have voiced interest in participating.

By removing obstacles of cost and distance, we are easing the path from K-12 to college or CareerTech. It is estimated that 62 percent of Oklahoma jobs will require some post-secondary education by 2020 — only four years away.

This pilot program is funded through dollars already allocated for assessments through the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE). By buying in bulk, OSDE is leveraging a lower cost for this opportunity. Our mission is to stretch education dollars without sacrificing our commitment to children.

Currently, only about 50 percent of Oklahoma high school juniors take the ACT. What are our expectations for the other 22,000 juniors who have been shut out?

We Oklahomans want the best for our children. Let’s be clear that we believe their full potential is within their reach. Let’s be clear that our expectations match their promise.

-- Joy Hofmeister, State Superintendent

We want to know what you think!

Third draft of standards posted online

The third draft of the Oklahoma Academic Standards in English/language arts and math were posted Tuesday! You can view the current draft on the OSDE website. You will also find a feedback form on the site. Email the form by Oct. 16, to tell us what you think, as the writing committee continues to develop the new standards.
Next Tuesday, September 22, there will be a video conference for the ELA standards, and Thursday, September 24, there will be a video conference for the mathematics standards, 1-3 p.m.

OETA-TV covered the standards town hall meeting at the EngageOK conference this summer and visited with attendees. The story gives a great overview about the process. Watch it here.

The new standards were mandated last year by House Bill 3399. They are set to go into effect by the 2016-17 school year.
These standards are for Oklahomans written by Oklahomans.

TOYState Teacher of the Year announced

Congratulations to Shawn Sheehan, the newest Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. Shawn teaches special education and Algebra I at Norman High School.

While participating in the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s OKMath and OKSci Leadership program in 2013, he launched "Teach Like Me," a multimedia campaign to boost public perceptions of teaching and improve morale among educators. Learn more about the program.

He will spend the year as Oklahoma’s teacher ambassador, traveling across the state to meet with education stakeholders and representing Oklahoma in the National Teacher of the Year competition. Read about his first days on the job.

How to talk to your kids about bullying

Joy A. Hermansen, M.ED., CPS
Certified Prevention Specialist

Bullying has become a public health epidemic affecting 1 out of 7 K-12 students who are bullies or victims of bullying. In the United States that equals more than 2 million bullies and 2.7 million victims of bullying in our schools.

Studies indicate that bullying peaks during the middle school years because it is one of the most difficult transitional times for students.

Visit the great resource from Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center geared toward this vulnerable age. It is written directly to the student regarding prevention in real-life terms.

As school begins, use this resource as a talking point to discuss bullying and what students can realistically do about it. The guide is designed from the students’ perspective and uses best practices in effective bullying prevention.

View the resource guide to 101 Basics of Bullying for Students in Middle School and High School.

For more information, please visit our Prevention Education OSDE webpage or email me.  

EdCamp: Introducing a new way to engage in professional development

During EngageOK, the OSDE's summer conference, hundreds of educators from across the state came together to experience one of the nation’s largest EdCamps.
Wesley Fryer, an EdCamp organizer, said EdCamp is special because instead of attending prescheduled workshops, topics are chosen on the fly and “participants vote with their feet” by choosing which breakout sessions they wish to attend.

Watch the ELEVATE video on EdCamp.

See a list of upcoming EdCamps in Oklahoma.


Reach your students with enthusiasm

By Robyn R. Miller, Ed.D
Deputy Superintendent for Educator Effectiveness & Policy Research

As you begin the school year, you have the ability to revolutionize student learning by cultivating passion. You increase the odds of engaging students when you show and share your enthusiasm.

Hal Urban, an award-winning educator and author of the best-selling book, Life's Greatest Lessons, created a powerful acronym description from the word ENTHUSIASM (see below).

A commitment made to honing these traits is one that will provide great dividends for both you and your students. Also, making content relevant and meaningful within the understanding of your students’ social, emotional and physical development is extremely effective. As students learn new material, they must make connections with prior knowledge and with real world application. Critical thinking, communication and collaboration are three significant C’s that allow students to learn with a purpose. When students think critically, communicate effectively and collaborate often, they are preparing for life beyond your classroom.


policyFree guide details education laws

Stay up to date on the new laws affecting education. View or download Red Banner: 2015 Legislation at the OSDE website to get a general overview of this year’s new laws and legislative actions affecting public education. It is searchable by bill number or topic. Get the guide on our website.
This book is not intended to be all-inclusive nor serve as legal advice, but it is a great resource.

Specialized training available

What is it?
  • A training event that includes 24 different 1-day AP® and Pre-AP content/strategies workshops presented by College Board consultants for Oklahoma public school teachers
  • A training event designed for middle school and high school English, math, social studies, science, art, and world languages teachers  
  • A training event that includes a session specifically designed for administrators who want to build strong AP programs
When/where is it?
  • October 7-9
  • Metro Tech Springlake Campus in OKC

Space is limited, so register early to ensure your spot.

Apply for grants

If you want to start a new AP course at your school, improve an existing course with updated materials/equipment, or seek funds to train teachers in AP content and strategies, consider applying for one of the four types of AP grants available to Oklahoma public schools. Grant applications are now available online and are due December 5

Fun ways to learn across Oklahoma

Check out what teachers are doing across the state to engage their students:
Ida Freeman Elementary students in Edmond explored STEM lessons by launching helium balloons at their school. Read the story in The Oklahoman.
Hoover Elementary librarian Alex Gates challenged his students to accept the differences of other people, as his sixth-graders were treated to a visit by author Sharon Draper after they read her book. The protagonist in Draper’s novel, which has been translated into 18 languages, is an 11-year-old named Melody who has cerebral palsy. Gates said his students took real ownership in the book. Read the story in the Tulsa World.
Caney students recently took on a space race of gooey proportions through their involvement as a 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21-CCLC) site. Through a collaboration with NASA, students spent nearly eight weeks designing “marshmallow pressure suits.” Read the OSDE ELEVATE story on our website.
It’s been over a year since Ellen DeGeneres surprised Union’s McAuliffe Elementary with a brand new bookmobile. Now, as the new vehicle ends its second summer in operation, the school’s summer book program is firing on all cylinders. Read the OSDE ELEVATE story on our website.



helpHow can we help?

If you have questions for the OSDE, email Annette Price, communications and constituent services specialist. Annette is a former teacher with experience teaching at the early childhood, secondary and adult levels.


Do you have ideas to share with teachers across the state? Engage with other teachers to build your skills and inspire your creativity. E-mail your contributions.


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Last updated on January 19, 2017