EngageOK Teachers Newsletter for November 2015


  • Educators share thanks on social media
  • Engage families through Parent Rights
  • Pre-K classrooms inside nursery homes bring purpose, learning opportunities
  • How to upcycle used paper into notepads
  • Environmental quality grants available
  • Fun tweets you may have missed


#gratEDtude sign held by teacher and parent in school hallEducators share thanks on social media

Educators and families are expressing what they are thankful for this month on social media -- including Lisa Kerns, who teaches second grade at Hilldale Lower Elementary in Hilldale.

She says, “Parent volunteers are crucial to our commitment to meet the needs of our students."

Lisa, in the blue scarf, is joined by one of her parent volunteers, Elisa Vance. Like our Facebook page to follow a new #GratEDtude post each day. Contribute your own through Twitter with the hashtag #GratEDtude!



Engage families through Parent Rights

By David Kinney
General Counsel, State Department of Education

David KinneyA well-rounded education requires the engagement of many individuals, especially parents. In 2014, the Legislature created the Parents' Bill of Rights, which guarantees certain rights without interference from the state. For example, parents are free to make decisions regarding upbringing, health care, and moral or religious training. The Parents' Bill of Rights also addresses rights that affect a teacher’s relationship with a child and her or his family:

1. Parents have the right to “direct the education” of a minor child. This means that parents may choose a public or private education, or classroom or virtual learning for their children.

2. Parents have the right to access and review their children’s school records. Teachers and educators should welcome the involvement of parents.

3. Parents have the right to restrict video or voice recordings of their children from the public. To post video or audio of a student to social media or any other public venue, you must first have approval from the parent.

Adhering to parent rights is not only the law, it’s a great way to show families how much you respect them. Developing a relationship with parents at home goes a long way toward developing learning in the classroom.



nursing home members interact with pre-K studentsPre-K classrooms inside nursing homes bring purpose, learning opportunities

Some 4- and 5-year-old Oklahomans have more grandmas and grandpas than they can count. By placing pre-kindergarten classrooms inside nursing homes, some Oklahoma districts are elevating education for their youngest children while simultaneously enhancing the lives of elders in their communities.

The children affectionately call the nursing home residents their “grandmas” and “grandpas” and interact with them daily through these intergenerational programs. Residents help the children learn the alphabet, build their self-esteem and assist them with simple lessons in science and math. Meanwhile, the children bring joy, purpose and encouragement to the residents.

A mom asked her daughter, who is in Enid's program, if the grandmas and grandpas called her by her first name or her nickname. The 4-year-old replied, "I don’t remember what they call me, Mom. I just know they love me."

Read the full story.



students upcycle notepads in classroomHow to upcycle used paper into notepads

The STEM Club at Bethel High School is tackling the problem of recycling in their school after it lost its recycling program this year. The students invented a way to make notepads out of old paper.

See instructions on how to make notepads on their website.



Environmental quality grants available

environmental quality

The Oklahoma Environmental Quality Education Committee invites PK-12 teachers to apply for a grant to promote enthusiasm for learning about the environment and natural resources.

Applicants may apply for amounts from $100 up to $1,000 per grant. A total of $11,000 will be awarded in early 2016. Eligible categories include: environmental club projects, green school efforts, edible school gardens, environmental education projects, outdoor classroom revitalization, and recycling and composting programs. Deadline for submission of grant applications is December 1. Submit your applications now!

While you're thinking about conservation, take advantage of the agency's "Make Every Drop Count with the Water Wise Droplets" coloring book. Print them for free.



Fun tweets you may have missed

Using the hashtag #OklaEd, education stakeholders are discovering a new world of encouragement and professional development accessible any time of day.

Searching for posts marked #OklaEd is a way to find news and opinions from like-minded teachers. You can even tag your own posts with #OklaEd to share great things happening in your classroom. In addition, there is an #OklaEd chat on Twitter from 8 to 9 p.m. every Sunday. Here's a small sampling of tweets you may have missed in October:

Kelli Anglley ‏@kellianglley, Teacher at Elgin Middle School
Start an after school club with something YOU are interested in.  See where you and your students take it. #gafesummit #oklaed #EPSOwls

Deborah A. Gist ‏@deborahgist, Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools
College & career ready is not only the content but also WHAT our students are able to do with what they are learning. #oklaed

Terri Cullen ‏@DrTerriOU, Associate Professor at OU
Time for teachers to plan and give each other feedback ... as well as training/PD so intent is not lost  #oklaed

Alex McBride ‏@Teenservant, Student at Carl Albert High School
as a student I'm more interested in classes that'll actually help me in my future  #oklaed

Jayden Mills ‏@mjaydenmills, Student at Chickasha High School
Education is not just about "School." It is the channel through which we will make this world a better place. #BePassionate #oklaed



Tree contest offers free lesson plans

Students in grades 3-5 have until December 11 to submit posters to the Oklahoma Forestry Services’ Arbor Week contest. The National Arbor Day Foundation is providing a curriculum for educators, based on the its contest theme, “Trees are Terrific … Inside and Out.” Students can use what they learn to illustrate how the parts of a tree help it flourish.

Prizes include cash, pizza parties and recognition at the Arbor Week Kickoff Luncheon in March in Oklahoma City. The winning poster will be printed and distributed throughout the state. The winning school will receive a tree to plant on school grounds. See the contest rules and entry forms. Download the free lesson plans.



Win cash, maps

Your students can design postcards for a chance to win great prizes!

To help us celebrate Geography Awareness Week, November 15-21, students in PK-12 may submit original artwork in the form of postcards. The contest theme is "Explore! The Power of Maps." Students can win up to $100, and teachers can win National Geographic Society maps. Entries must be postmarked by November 24.

Read about the details for entering the contest.



Travel and learn

Fulbright logo

The application process for the Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program is now open. The program allows U.S. educators to participate in short-term seminars abroad in the social sciences, social studies and the humanities. 

Upon their return, participants are expected to develop and disseminate a curriculum project and share their knowledge.

The program is open to K-12 teachers, administrators, media specialists and postsecondary faculty. 

Apply now!. The deadline is December 9.



Tulsa school gets $1 million grant

Congrats!Youth At Heart recently received a near $1 million grant award from the Oklahoma 21st Century Community Learning Centers. The five-year award will provide afterschool enrichment to Tulsa Public Schools' Walt Whitman Elementary School.  

Youth At Heart tutoring participants demonstrated academic gains during a pilot program in 2013-2014. Students who participated in tutoring efforts increased their reading proficiency by at least one grade level. The program hopes to see the same results at Whitman. Congratulations, Whitman Elementary!



Help! keyboard keyHow can we help?

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




submissions sign

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.






What's for dinner?

By Susan Pinson, M.A.T.
Executive Director of Professional Development and Technical Assistance

Are you looking for resources to spice up your lessons and keep students engaged?

Here is the pumpkin pie edition of our scrumptious recommendations to satisfy your appetite for something quick, hearty and sweet.


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Last updated on November 17, 2015