Engage Teachers May 2016 Newsletter


  • Supt. Hofmeister Speaks Out on EOIs, TLE, Budget video
  • Oklahoma Educators: Teach Like Me
  • Summer Conference Coming to a City Near You
  • Standards Implementation Teams Needed in ELA, Math
  • Five Ways to Finish Strong While Keeping It Fun
  • Growing Summer Dendrites
  • School Districts Name Teachers of the Year
  • Kinder Survey Reopened
  • TV Stations Offer Free Lessons for Severe Weather
  • News From Across the State


Supt. Hofmeister Speaks Out on EOIs, TLE, Budget


View a special video message from Joy Hofmeister, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.



Oklahoma Educators: Teach Like Me

Happy Teach Like Me Day!
The goal of the Teach Like Me Campaign is to improve teacher recruitment and retention by redefining and professionalizing the teaching profession. Today, May 3, join educators around the world by posting your positive stories about teaching on social media with the hashtag #TeachLikeMe.
To learn more about the Teach Like Me campaign, click here.
Check out what some of Oklahoma’s teachers have to say! To watch the 60-second Teach Like Me video, click here.
A big thank you to Shane Bevel Photography and Flying Colors for donating their time and talent to produce this Teach Like Me video featuring educators across the state.


Summer Conference Coming to a City Near You

Join us in July for rich and meaningful professional development, including strategies for implementing new standards in English language arts, math, science, health and physical education.

We’re taking our summer education conference, EngageOK, on the road this year to help reduce travel costs for you and your districts. Each conference will open at 8 a.m. with a general session, followed by breakout sessions throughout the day until 3 p.m.
We are still finalizing the agenda for each of the six locations, but here’s a sneak peek at some of the topics we will address:
  • Classroom management
  • Legislative updates
  • Adapt curriculum to OAS
  • Reading Sufficiency Act
  • Early childhood
  • English language learners*
  • Title IX*
  • TLE updates
  • Suicide prevention
  • Understanding bullying
  • Open education resources
  • Creating a maker space
  • State assessments update
  • Accountability under ESSA
  • Federal Programs
  • OCAS updates
  • Special education updates
  • OK EdPlan updates
* in some locations
To register online and for more details as they become available, click here. On-site registration begins at 7 a.m. the day of the conference. Classroom dress preferred. Professional development certificates will be available inside the program at each site.
To watch a highlight video from 2015’s conference, click here.
We hope to see you at EngageOK On the Road!


Standards Implementation Teams Needed in ELA, Math

The Oklahoma State Department of Education is looking for exceptional educators to help develop resources this summer to support the transition from PASS to the Oklahoma Academic Standards for ELA and mathematics. Please consider applying for this historic opportunity to provide support for your Oklahoma colleagues.
  • ELA Standards Transition Task Force: We are seeking 27 Oklahoma educators for online collaboration and three two-day meetings in June, July and August in Oklahoma City. The task force responsibilities will include developing model lessons or tasks, model classroom assessments and other deliverables.
  • Curriculum Frameworks Teams for Mathematics: We are seeking 39 educators from across Oklahoma to develop instructional and assessment resources for the new PK-A2 standards. 
Resources may include guidance on the meaning and intent of the standards, exemplar tasks, support for remediation and differentiation, and support for administrators and parents. The majority of the work will be via online collaboration, but teachers will also meet for three two-day meetings in June, July and August in Oklahoma City. 
For more information, see the applications, which will be available on the OSDE website May 12.

When applications are available, notifications will be sent through ELA and mathematics mailing lists and posted on the OSDE website. To sign up for the email lists, click here. 

Five Ways to Finish Strong While Keeping It Fun

by Rebecca McLaughlin,
Director of Gifted Education and Advanced Placement, OSDE
With most testing over, rather than winding down, now is the time to gear up classroom learning. May is the perfect opportunity to synthesize the year’s learnings into meaningful lessons and activities. The following ideas will make the last few instructional weeks of school in your classroom as engaging as the first few:
INVESTIGATE: Plan a data scavenger hunt. Give students a starting point with a list of websites, books and other resources concerning the major topics of the school year. 
CREATE: Give students a choice of a career, author, country, time period or scientist and allow them to become experts on whatever they choose and then present it to the class. Give them an opportunity to choose an innovative presentation method, such as iMovie or Prezi.
DEMONSTRATE: Join another grade level or class and host a poetry night or a mini-math fair. This gives students a chance to share projects with an audience other than their class.
EVALUATE: Students compile a collection of their best work from the school year or past semester and add their reflections. This can be done in hard copy or digitally and can include illustrations, photos, charts and quotes.
REFLECT: Have students share what they have learned by writing letters to next year’s class, including memories, tips for success, favorite lesson and encouragement.
Remind students that learning doesn’t stop when school is out in May. Help them set learning goals for the summer. For some summer activity ideas, click here.

Growing Summer Dendrites

by Jeanene Barnett,
Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, OSDE
As a teacher, one of our main goals each year is for students to leave our classrooms with more dendrites because we know that more dendrites can equate to more connections between knowledge, skill and greater success in school. Dendrites are responsible for picking up information from neighboring neurons and transmitting information in the brain.
Summertime, because of its very nature, does not encourage dendrite growth. In fact, as Eric Jensen’s book “Poor Students, Rich Teaching” notes, “when students stop going to school [having summer breaks or leaving school], IQ drops.” So, what can we pack into the summer beach bag? A few simple activities can keep those brain synapses firing and dendrites growing – especially during summer.
1. Remind students to read every day. This helps in two ways. First, it builds students’ working vocabularies to help overcome the 30 million-word gap, the often-called vocabulary deficiency between toddlers of wealthy and poor families. Second, it literally grows dendrites. Jensen cites research that “when students read for 30 minutes a day for nine consecutive days, a significant amount of new neural connections form.”
2. Encourage parents to have meaningful conversations with their children about their passions, life goals and career options. Children who explore their world and think about how they fit into it tend to be more confident about their ability to achieve their goals. Any summer activity – at the mall, theme park, neighborhood/city pool or a drive through town – can turn into a time for students to think about, talk about and explore career opportunities.
3. Provide resource lists of outside activities. A National Public Radio story from 2014 cites research that shows MRI evidence that activity improves kids’ thinking skills, particularly in multitasking, compared to children who aren’t as active. Running and playing outdoors provides the added benefit of “green exercise.” National Geographic studies show that as little as 5 minutes outdoors leads to measurable improvements in mood and self-esteem. A quick Google search will reveal over 58 million options for outdoor summer activities for children.
It’s not rocket science (but it is backed up by MRI brain science), just common-sense practice: Reading, talking and playing outside will help students grow dendrites.


School Districts Name Teachers of the Year

Celebrate educators who are helping our kids become lifelong learners. Thank you to the superintendents and principals who shared the names of these outstanding educators!
  • Cleveland Public Schools: Nic Johnson, Band and Outdoor Leadership
  • Comanche Public Schools: Quinn Blair, Kindergarten, Comanche Elementary
  • Coweta Public Schools: Becky Herriman, 3rd Grade Reading, Northwest Elementary
  • Cushing Public Schools: Rosa Blocker, 2-4 Library Media Specialist, Cushing Upper Elementary
  • Deer Creek Public Schools: Eric Lyons, Art, Deer Creek High School
  • Edmond Public Schools: Kristin Linholm, 6th Grade Literacy and Social Studies, Cimarron Middle School
  • Gracemont Public Schools: Kristina Scott, 1st Grade, Gracemont Elementary School
  • Haworth School District: Michele Maye, Elementary PE/High School Golf
  • Heavener Public Schools: Kim Hall, 4th Grade, Heavener Elementary
  • Hugo Public Schools: Kimberly Smith, Yearbook, Desktop Publishing, Computer Programming and Algebra I ACCEL, Hugo High School
  • Insight School of Oklahoma: Melissa Rathbone, Social Studies
  • Insight School of Oklahoma: Dr. LeAn Sanders, Guidance Counselor
  • Jennings Public Schools: Kristy Meador, Pre-Kindergarten, Jennings Elementary School
  • Mannford Public Schools: Pam Winfield, 7th Grade Language Arts, Mannford Middle School
  • Mustang Public Schools: Tiffany Massie, Special Education, Canyon Ridge Intermediate School
  • Newkirk Public Schools: Dr. Lori Ryan-Elliott, 4th Grade, Newkirk Elementary School
  • Noble Public Schools: Rachael Locke, Early Childhood Music, Katherine I. Daily Elementary
  • Norman Public Schools: Ellen Kraft, English Language Learners, Truman Primary
  • Norman Public Schools: Juan Renteria, 5th Grade, Truman Elementary (Rookie Teacher of the Year)
  • Owasso Public Schools: Trina Gardner, 4th Grade, Stone Canyon Elementary School
  • Ponca City Public Schools: Lindsay Burkhalter, 4th Grade, Lincoln Elementary
  • Poteau Public Schools: LaVette Flynn, Kindergarten, Poteau Primary School
  • Purcell Public Schools: Tammy Gardner, Kindergarten, Purcell Elementary
  • Skiatook Public Schools: Glynda Hunt, 3rd Grade Math and Reading, Skiatook Intermediate Elementary
  • Stillwater Public Schools: Amy Goad, 3rd Grade, Westwood Elementary
  • Stilwell Public Schools: Tasha Workman, English IV, Stilwell High School
Help us celebrate a few more amazing people who work hard for our kids:
  • Noble Public Schools: Ann Ewing, Director of Federal Programs (Administrator of the Year); Tom Clowers, Custodian, John K. Hubbard Elementary (Support Person of the Year); David Rowden, Instructional Technology (Support Person of the Year)
  • Teacher of the Year honorees from Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy: Marina Kristin Johnson, 8th Grade Social Studies; Haley Bradley, 8th Grade Math; Kimberly Ring, 3rd Grade; Marianne Day, 2nd Grade; Allison Miller, Algebra II; Karla Shane, World History; Athena Jarvis, Graduation Coach.


Kinder Survey Reopened

Thank you to all Kindergarten and pre-Kindergarten teachers who have participated in the Kindergarten readiness survey from the Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness (OPSR).
In order to encourage additional feedback, the survey has been reopened. If you are a Kindergarten or pre-Kindergarten teacher who has not yet responded, please do so by June 1.
The goal of this survey is to evaluate Kindergarten readiness efforts and what needs to be done to support teachers in their classrooms. We would like to know your thoughts and experiences with Kindergarten readiness assessments. Please be honest with your answers and include any additional comments or suggestions at the end of this survey. Your responses will be kept confidential. Thank you!



TV Stations Offer Free Lessons for Severe Weather

Weather 101 is a fun and interactive way to teach weather and weather safety to school children in Kindergarten to 3rd grade.
KWTV News 9 and KOTV News on 6 teamed up with Elisabeth Roop, a Deer Creek Elementary teacher with nearly 15 years of classroom experience, to develop the curriculum. They are offering these lesson plans free of charge and hope you can use them in your classroom.




More than 100 lessons available to teachers

Register now to take advantage of free award-winning curriculum specific to Oklahoma. Newspapers in Education (NIE) has provided resources for teachers since 1960. NIE-registered teachers receive daily delivery of The Oklahoman via the digital print replica and access to the newspaper’s archives dating back to 1901.
Registered teachers are also eligible to receive supplements printed by The Oklahoman in classroom sets. Register now and view the catalog of more than 100 lessons and workbooks, click here.
Also, visit the site to learn more about contests with prizes up to $1,500. Deadlines range from March 21 to April 30, and topics include geology, aerospace and defense, History Day and improving the community.

News from across the state

In Case you Missed It!  (sticky notes)

DEBT- AND CANCER-FREE: Alissa Lloyd’s dream of becoming a teacher was abruptly halted when, at age 21, she discovered she had cancer. Her battle with the disease forced her to drop out of college and drained her finances. But a University of Oklahoma program for promising teachers is making it possible for her to get her education degree by forgiving up to $5,000 in student debt per year. “I wanted to use my pain and my fear to help students with theirs,” Alissa said. “My life started over, and I became more passionate about teaching than I even knew I could be.” To read the story, click here.
PRESIDENTIAL ADVICE: Two Oklahoma high school seniors are reflecting on advice they received from President Obama: “Think about what you want to do, not about what you want to be.” Nathan Levit and Matthew Welborn met the President of the United States this month as part of the U.S. Senate Youth Program, an exclusive event that invites 104 young people from across the country to a weeklong insider’s look at Washington, D.C. To read the story, click here.
WHITE HOUSE SCIENCE: When the Woodall Cybercats Robotics Team members heard they were going to the White House to show their projects to the President of the United States, they thought it was a joke. It was April 1, after all. It’s not every day that a school of about 500 students gains national recognition. To read the story in the Tulsa World, click here.
STUDENT VOICES: Some of the top juniors and seniors from across the state participated in the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council this semester. While they were at the Capitol, they stopped by the OSDE to talk about the struggles they face inside the classroom, what they believe it takes to be a great teacher and other tough issues important to them. This is the first segment of a new OSDE video series, Elevate+

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Last updated on January 18, 2017