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VOLUME NO. 54 // ISSUE NO. 1 // SPRING 2018



Finding Inspiration through reading and writing

Recommended: Books that Challenge, Delight, and Inspire


Children's Books: In a Word, page 3  Engaging Perspectives: the Young Adult Reader Toward Inclusion and Respect: YA books that Reflect Adoption, page 8 Suzii Parsons Oklahoma State University

DEPARTMENTS 2            Editor's Expressions                3             Children's Book Reviews

Teachers Need to Read a Lot

8            Young Adult Book Review 40           Teacher to Teacher 42           Policy and Advocacy 48           Tech Talk 52           Research Summary 56           OKLA Awards: Scholarship


57          Letter from the OKLA President

Josh Flores Mustang Public Schools Lara Searcy Northeastern State UniversityTahlequah

58          Guidelines for Authors 59            OKLA Membership

Traditional and Digital Writing


ON THE COVER An Oklahoma State University graduate student, Melissa Bour, is enjoying the writerly life. 


Beth Beschorner Minnesota State University Anna H. Hall Clemson University

“What I wrote about was important”: Using Storyline to motivate students to write persuasive text

Leisa G. Standish Spencerville Adventist Academy, Maryland Wendy Emo Ocean Beaches Schools


We are pleased to present the latest edition of The Oklahoma Reader, the first to be published under the organization's new name, the Oklahoma Literacy Association (OKLA). We hope you enjoy the articles and features in this edition. We are sure you will be drawn into Suzii Parson's columns highlighting children's and young adult literature selections. She shares picture books that will draw you in with their one-word titles and young adult literature highlighting the challenging topic of adoption. This edition's technology column has been written by two graduate students from Oklahoma State University and features ways to use technology with cooperative learning. In the Teacher to Teacher column, Susan Christian shares the importance of early reading experiences on the development of a reader. The policy and advocacy column highlights Oklahoma teachers' advocacy efforts during the recent Teacher Walkout. In the Research Summary column Linda McElroy shares two articles on the important role of note taking. Between the two articles she shares you will read about a research study conducted with fourth grade students and learn about teaching tips for teaching note-taking from the second article. These strategies will be applicable for older students as well. We hope you will take the opportunity to read the three featured articles. Joshua Flores and Lara Searcy remind us that we, as literacy educators, have a responsibility to read. Josh and Lara share their reading personalities and journey with us. Two articles spotlight writing! Beth Beschorner and Anna Hall provide seven tenets of high-quality writing instruction to support students' development. Then they present ideas on using both traditional and digital writing approaches in classrooms. Leisa Standish and Wendy Emo specifically focus on persuasive writing and present a Storyline Approach, which uses a narrative structure to design an inquiry-based unit of study. We are glad you are including The Oklahoma Reader in your professional reading. Please see the Guidelines for Authors in this edition and consider submitting an article or a column to be included in a future edition!

Sincerely, Donita Shaw & Julie Collins Editors

For inquiries, reach us at: Email:



Spring 2018: In a Word In the forward to Feather (2017), Hans Christian Anderson awardwinning author Cao Wenxuan writes, “A good picture book comes very close to philosophy.” Wenxuan’s tale of a little feather carried by the wind, wondering about and searching for its bird of origin, reads with a gentle tone but urgent yearning that will resonate with the youngest reader to the adult, as Feather moves through the world seeking a place where she belongs. Children may especially relate as Feather tries to make her voice heard, to have her important questions answered so that she can find his place and fly higher but finds few who will take the time to listen and engage with her. The world Feather explores, is beautiful, intriguing, frightening, and kind, and there is much room for thinking big thoughts in the simple repetitive structure of this gorgeous text. Anderson awardwinning artist Roger Mello’s illustrations, like Wenxuan’s text, offer brilliant images and plenty of space for readers to wonder and explore.

Partner text: Plume by Isabelle Simler (2017), a nonfiction nearly wordless picture book about birds and feathers, invites readers to look closely with detailed scientifically accurate illustrations and a humorous backstory.

Like Feather, each of the books in this edition’s list invite readers of all ages to ponder grand ideas, each invitation issued with a single word title.


Rain (2017), by author/illustrator Sam Usher, begins with a familiar scene that may at first elicit a knowing sigh from a young reader—a child wants to go play in the rain, but the adult says it’s best to stay inside, but the story that unfolds is familiar in the best sense of the word. Inside, Sam and his grandfather amicably share a cozy space, eating together, reading and writing alongside each other. When Sam’s grandfather decides it is time to venture forth to mail the letter he has been writing, the rain has stopped and water spreads before them, bright and inviting, reflecting and dancing the colors all around them. Granddad and Sam climb into a boat, and their cozy rainy day becomes a joyfully raucous water-sparked carnival shared with love and wonder by this loving pair. There are wondrous possibilities in everyday things and, like Granddad says, “The best things are worth waiting for.” The detail in these playful illustrations will invite readers to return again and again to explore. Partner texts: Usher’s Snow (2014) and Sun (2017) are companion books with the same characters and theme of joyous possibilities in even unpromising days, especially when you are with someone who loves you.

Speaking of possibilities, each day is full of them, a truth that Julie Morstad celebrates in Today. With all that possibility comes choices—lots of choices from the moment you awaken to when you drift off again to sleep. For each daily choice, from what to wear and how to do your hair to the many, many things you can choose to do (including, what book to read, of course), Morstad offers a visual smorgasbord of options, myriad ways of being and doing. Throughout, she elicits reader opinions— “What would you choose?” --and comparisons— “Here are some of the things in my room. Do you have some of these too?” The result is an inviting, interactive book that shows a world of diverse choices and people. Everyone has a place and a say in Today. Partner text: The young narrator in Now by Antoinette Portis shares her favorite things—a favorite breeze, a favorite leaf, a favorite hole…all the things she is experiencing right now. Bold strokes and color illustrate direct text that is predictable with slight playful variations.


Windows by Julie Denos (2017) seems connected genetically to some of the most loved children’s literature of all time— warm and comforting like Goodnight Moon, appreciation of place and moment like The Snowy Day, and, though with gentler launch and journey than Sendak’s Max, the same reassurance in home being where you are loved best of all. In Windows, a child pulls on a red hoodie, snaps the leash on the dog, and heads out for an early evening walk. Denos’ second person narrative allows the reader to easily step into the shoes of the child: “You can take a walk, out your door into the almost-night.” From the vantage point of the darkened walk, the child notes windows “lit up like eyes in the dusk, blinking awake as the lights turn on inside…,” or dark so that they “leave you to fill them up with stories.” “Then you arrive home again, and you look at your window from the outside. Someone you love is waving at you, and you can’t wait to go in.” Both language and image are so carefully crafted so that reading and listening is immensely satisfying.

At times, Anna feels like a migrating bird, and she wonders what it might be like to stay in one place. Sometimes she feels like a jackrabbit, who lives in abandoned burrows like her family lives in temporary housing. During the day, watching her older family members dip and rise in the fields, she is a bee like them. Anna is snuggled into her family community but also set apart as people stare and speak words in a language she does not understand, a dichotomy Isabelle Arsenault movingly depicts through use of space and line. Maxine Trottier’s richly metaphorical text allows the voice of a child in a family of migrant workers to emerge gracefully, offering readers opportunity to appreciate and empathize. The community depicted here are Low-German Mennonites who travel from Mexico to Canada every year to find work in the fields. An informative end-note offers information on this particular community and the significance and challenges of seasonal labor.


Partner texts: The main character in I Know Here by Laurel Croza (2010) is struggling with the idea of moving. She describes all that she loves and knows about the place where she lives, and finally comes to understand that in many ways, she can take what she knows somewhere new. In the sequel, From There to Here (2014), this same child is learning to find herself in a new place. Both books inspire us to see and value where we are in the world. Love (2018) isn’t an emoji-level book. Rather, Matt de la Pena and Loren Long look at love as it truly lives with us in the world, not always in pretty, bright packages but steadfast, determined, ubiquitous, and at work in our lives even—maybe even mostly and most profoundly-- in unexpected places and difficult times. “And in time you learn to recognize a love overlooked. A love that wakes at dawn and rides to work on the bus. A slice of burned toast that tastes like love.” Love is a heartening reminder of all that goes with us in a world in which we can all too easily feel alone. Love is here.

Partner texts: In Away by Emil Sher (2017), sticky notes tell the story as a busy mother and child stay close and care for each other. Their lives are authentically messy, and their love steadfast and sure. Cynthia Rylant’s (2017) perfectly spare text and Brendan Wenzel’s illustrations that are at once expansive and intimate remind us that we are part of a big, beautiful world, to live is to grow and change, and even when life is hard, there is hope ahead.


Suzii Parsons believes that books truly matter in the lives of young people. She is the Jacques Munroe Professor of Reading and Literacy at Oklahoma State University. You can contact Dr. Parsons at

References Croza, L. (2010). I know here. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books. Croza, L. (2014). From there to here. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books. de la Pena, M. (2018). Love. New York City, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers. Denos, J. (2017). Windows. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press. Morstad, J. (2016). Today. Vancouver, BC: Simply Read Books. Portis, A. (2017). Now. New York City, NY: Roaring Brook Press. Rylant, C. (2017). Life. San Diego, CA: Beach Lane Books. Sher, E. (2017). Away. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books. Simler, I. (2017). Plume. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. Trottier, M. (2011). Migrant. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books. Usher, S. (2015). Snow. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press. Usher, S. (2017). Rain. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press. Usher, S. (2018). Sun. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press. Wenxaun, C. (2017). Feather. Brooklyn, NY: Elsewhere Editions.



Toward Inclusion and Respect: Books that Reflect Adoption Young adult literature is powerful stuff. Between the covers of a well-crafted teen book, readers can find inspiration, consolation, entertainment, and guidance. While honest and authentic portrayals are a mark of all quality literature, they are critical for this passionate and discerning yet vulnerable and relatively inexperienced population. Young adults need to see themselves, others, and the many possibilities for doing life in honest and respectful ways. My colleagues and I recently published a study (Parsons, Fuxa, Kander & Hardy, 2017) on how adoption and adoptive families are portrayed in young adult literature. (You can find that article here if you are interested in reading more: Our content analysis of thirty-seven recently published contemporary realistic fiction books revealed that, while these narratives did invite readers to explore cultural and social identities, a large number of them perpetuated negative stereotypes about adoption and adoptive families. For instance, more than a few storylines were built on the premise that adoption is a shameful secret or the suggestion that adopted individuals, and often their family members, are inherently incomplete or damaged. The erroneous idea that adoption is a legally suspect event made an appearance in these books as well. We were concerned, too, with negative portrayals of birth parents and a gender-imbalance that focused most, and often most negatively, on girls and women. There were, of course, more authentic portrayals, narratives that both explored the complexities of adoption and the strength of family to expand and embrace, stories with well-developed characters and engaging rather than sensationalized plots. I’ve listed some we felt had particular merit below. When Robin Benway published Far from the Tree (2017; Harper Teen), a YA novel featuring three birth siblings and their three separate adoptive families, I was eager to read it. The novel begins with sixteen-year-old Grace who is aching from her very difficult decision to place her own baby for adoption. Love and support from her parents does little to dull the pain, and she is struggling to reenter a school environment where nothing feels the same. With newfound insight about what her own birth mother might have experienced, Grace yearns to find more about her biological roots. The search turns up two siblings, heady territory for Grace who has always been an only child. Maya, a year younger, was adopted by a wealthy family who gave birth to another child just a year after. Bold, brash, and brunette in a quieter red-haired family, Maya knows she is loved, but with her family strained by internal problems, she wonders more than ever how and where she fits. Joaquin, the oldest, has spent his life in and out of foster homes. His current foster parents want to adopt him, but Joaquin is too afraid of being hurt again. The siblings form relationships and slowly trust each other with their secrets. With Grace’s urging, they eventually decide to find what they can about their birth parents, leading to a wrap-up that is satisfying but not simplistic.


Search and discovery adoption stories have all too often been milked for dramatic thrills, but Benway has crafted her characters and their stories with respect for life’s complexity and the many ways that love manifests itself in our lives. Far from naïve and rich with love, Far from the Tree is a satisfying and illuminating read. The books listed below also offer adoption stories in a variety of contexts, each told with respect and insight. For more guidance on choosing such books, please see the article referenced above. Finding miracles (Alvarez, 2004; Knopf) A teen girl, adopted as a very young child from an unnamed Central American country and raised in the U.S., returns to the country of her birth, seeking information about her birth parents. Although the story has dramatic twists and turns that border on less than plausible--Milly’s unique eyes that reveal her ancestry and, more troublesome, her rich grandmother who doesn’t acknowledge her as a full member of the family--it also realistically and sensitively addresses Milly’s feelings about being different and her family’s anxiety about Milly’s need to search. Adolescent readers should be engaged along Milly’s harrowing journey and satisfied by the steadfastness of her family’s love. A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life (Reinhardt, 2007; Wendy Lamb/Random) 16-year-old Simone doesn’t want to talk about being adopted, even though her parents know every detail of her beginnings and have consistently encouraged her to explore them. When her parents learn that the birth mother is ill, they become insistent, so Simone reluctantly reaches out and ultimately fleshes out not just her identity, but her spiritual worldview as well. Starting with the intriguing but very typical teen Simone, readers are offered a rich opportunity to explore multiple facets of culture and faith, just as they are challenged to reconsider what constitutes the borders of a family. With beautifully rendered characters, this book will resound with and challenge a wide range of readers. Kimchi and Calamari (Kent, 2007; Harper Collins) 14-year old Joseph Caldero can’t quite reconcile his identity as part of a proudly Italian-American family and his Korean visage in the mirror. A school project about ancestry launches him on a search for more information about his beginnings. Joseph is immensely likeable and relatable as is his warm working-class family. Joseph’s questioning makes his father uncomfortable— he loves Joseph and feels that the moment Joseph was adopted he became fully his son and, thus, fully Italian-American. With humor and rich characterization, Kimchi and Calamari is a heartfelt exploration of culture and community.


The First Part Last (Johnson, 2003; Simon & Schuster) When faced with an unplanned pregnancy, Bobby and his girlfriend make the difficult decision to place for adoption. But when the birth mother is rendered physically incapable of making a decision, Bobby decides to parent. While not ultimately an adoption piece, the decision-making process the couple carries out and the thoughtful portrayal of a teen birth father makes it relevant here. Bobby’s mother, realistically, warns him of the challenges he will face as a teen parent. She doesn’t take over his responsibilities, nor does Bobby expect her to do so. Instead, we see him successfully (though not without hardship) navigate the difficult landscape of being a young, single parent. The Secret of Me: A Novel in Verse (Kearney, 2005; Persea) In this first book of a trilogy, 14-year-old Lizzie yearns to discover the facts of her birth but worries about hurting her loving parents or disrupting the family (her siblings were also adopted) by searching. The Girl in the Mirror (Kearney, 2012; Persea) Having decided with her family’s blessing to seek information about her birth parents, Lizzie receives a lead in a letter on the very day her father dies. Grief stricken and unsure about how to proceed, Lizzie struggles to find her bearings and move ahead. Lizzie is broadly relatable as a teen. The family dynamics resonate as does her authentic struggle. The conclusion is not overly tidy, but rather reads as real and hopeful. When You Never Said Goodbye: A College Adoptee Searches for her Birthmother (Kearney, 2017; Persea) In this final book of the trilogy, Lizzie (now Liz) heads to NYU to study poetry and to look for her birth mother who placed her for adoption in New York City years before. With the support of family and friends she searches determinedly in the face of a variety of obstacles and, ultimately, finds a way to make peace with an answer. Kearney’s gentle, introspective companion novels are written in flowing free verse that allows room for readers to read themselves into the story.


Small Damages (Kephart, 2012; Philomel) When Sophie learns she is pregnant, her boyfriend bails and her mother balks. An arrangement is quickly made for Sophie to give birth in Spain, near the couple who hope to adopt the child. Far away from all she knows, Sophie finds care and guidance from the servants at the villa at which she stays and learns something of the resilience and permanence of love. Although the premise alone could play into the common stereotype of birth parents as rejected and thrown away, the literary value of this book raises it above the formulaic story of a pregnant girl sent away. The characters and the setting are deftly painted and Sophie, though in an exceedingly difficult situation, demonstrates agency and, responding to the care of strangers who become family to her, a resilient spirit that lifts her past circumstance and offers a bright vision of possibility. Whether or not the placement happens here is unclear, providing readers with yet another aspect to talk about. Red Thread Sisters (Peacock, 2012; Viking) Adopted from a Chinese orphanage right before she ages out of adoption eligibility, Wen has difficulty adjusting to her new life in the U.S., and truly aches for the best friend she left behind. With the encouragement of her family, Wen seeks an adoptive home for her sister-friend. The depiction of an older child trying to adjust to a new family and a new culture is honest and balanced. There is not an automatic happily-ever-after here; rather, we see the effort it takes for each family member to find their new identity together. That we see Wen grieving is an important aspect of this piece. Whale Talk (Crutcher, 2001; Greenwillow) T.J. is “Mixed. Blended. Pureed. Potpourri. Adopted. Big deal: so was Superman.� Athletically gifted but unwilling to participate in the athletic hierarchy of his high school, T.J. agrees to anchor a new swim team to help out his favorite teacher, but he will do it his way: against the grain. T.J.’s birth to a drug-addicted mother is addressed with respect. Her love for him is visible and, when her life spirals beyond her control, she seeks out the kind woman who was in the hospital with her to take T.J. This piece challenges the reader to look racism, poverty, addiction, and violence in the face. It also illuminates the power we all have to bring hope and change.


When the Black Girl Sings (Wright, 2008; Simon & Schuster) Lhani is the only Black girl at her private school, the child of White parents who are divorcing. Seeking equilibrium, she finds her voice in a choir at an African American church, her love of singing leading her into a space to claim her identity as a young Black woman. The community of the choir gives her an opportunity to admit that she is curious, whereas before she felt that would be a betrayal to her parents. In this joyful piece, Lhani finds her voice and learns to embrace change and the beautiful messiness of life.

Zen and the Art of Faking It (Sonnenblick, 2010; Scholastic) The reader cannot help but laugh as San Lee, recently relocated against his will and in a new school, takes the opportunity to reinvent himself. No longer your everyday teen, and certainly not a kid whose dad is in prison, San Lee takes advantage of his Asian ethnicity to convince his new classmates that he is a Zen master. When he is exposed as a “fake, adopted, research-based Buddhist,” San Lee must find a way to reconcile with his family and his identity. Junior high comes alive here, with all the insecurities that come with being 13, the new kid, and different. San Lee’s quest to redefine himself will resonate with young teens everywhere, as will the message that, ultimately, we are who we are, and therein lies our power.

Suzii Parsons believes that books truly matter in the lives of young people. She is the Jacques Munroe Professor of Reading and Literacy at Oklahoma State University. You can contact Dr. Parsons at


Mr. Josh Flores and Dr. Lara Searcy

Teachers Need to Read a Lot: The Reading Process as a Social and Solitary Professional Responsibility A lot. Two words, not one. English Language Arts (ELA) teachers know a lot about reading. We attend a lot of workshops about reading, buy (and sometimes read) a lot of books about reading, and, often, expect a lot of reading from our students. But do we read a lot? According to a 2007 report, “nearly half of all Americans ages 18 to 24 read no books for pleasure” (National Endowment for the Arts Report, 2007) and surprisingly, “teachers don’t read any more often than adults in the general population” (Kittle, 2013, p. 147). Teachers ask students to engage in a variety of reading approaches-- whole-group, choral, reader’s theater, with audio, in pairs, in literature circles, and independently-- but do we engage in these same processes? As teachers of reading and writing, it is our professional responsibility to read and to write in and outside of the classroom. As Penny Kittle advocates, “you need to emphasize embracing your own literacy; owning what you write and reading what you want” (2008, p. 3). We should understand the joys of navigating new authors and the struggles of organizing words to better understand our students' experiences. At these moments, our own reading lives can shape how we approach teaching reading-- are we intimately involved, or passively participating in the turning of pages? We realize reading is a difficult discipline to maintain as an educator because it is behavior-oriented. It relies on a set of concrete habits that require time, motivation, and consistent practice (Silvia, 2007). Scheduled independent reading time is a hard commodity to acquire; however, time is the construct and hurdle that we all share. Amidst the multitude of responsibilities teachers have, we must include time to read (for professional and personal growth) a priority. Reading, we know, is the input of information (National Institute for Literacy, 2008) and teachers work in an output mode five days a week (or more). Therefore, reading is an essential form of replenishing, self-care for the ELA teacher. Teachers Need to be Reading Models We can't teach something we don't practice (Kittle, 2013). One way to find time during the school day is to read when students read. According to research from Beers & Probst (2017), “Ten minutes. Ten minutes a day of focused silent reading has the potential to change a student’s academic life, and that might, in turn, change her life’s trajectory” (p. 136); so consider, in turn, what those ten minutes can do for a teacher’s (reading) life. Often, as Gallagher states in Readicide (2009), “teachers do not understand the value of SSR (silent sustained reading) and often use that time to grade essays, catch up on paperwork, or answer emails” (p. 45). This time is properly implemented when teachers model the reading process by reading with their students, sharing their emotions and reactions as they encounter characters and conflict and plot. We demonstrate our metacognition for students to show how a “reading experience becomes a catalyst for change in their lives” (Beers & Probst, 2017, p. 59). Too often, students view books as burdens imposed upon them, rather than invitations to experience new thoughts. 13

Teachers can help students recognize the potential power of text in their lives by modeling how reading can change their minds, change their thinking, and thus change themselves (Beers & Probst, 2017). This, according to Maya Angelou, is the “life-giving power of literature,” because once you find that “reading can change you, can change how you see the world, can change how you view yourself, then you are more likely to turn to reading again and again, anticipating the possibility that the book will give you some new idea, some new perspective, some new vision that may change who you are” (Beers & Probst, 2017, p. 59). For classrooms, this reading process can’t only be a solitary activity. When teachers model independent reading with their students, it must include modeling the reflection process through student conferences, relevant writing prompts, questioning, or group discussion. Relying on silent sustained reading isn’t enough. Sharing thoughts, quoting beautiful sentences, confessing confusing plot points, and making comparisons to personal experiences contributes to a classroom culture that inspires and cultivates curiosity, or the contagious nature, of reading! Likewise, what we model with our students in the classroom needs to extend to our professional communities. When we share our thinking with our peers outside the classroom, we demonstrate our professional responsibility. In our co-reading, we openly talk about our ideas, share our understanding, and clarify misconceptions of texts. Co-reading with our colleagues is intellectually gratifying and, at the least, potentially validating; therefore, it is an essential professional practice to find people with shared interests to encourage, read, and write with you (Silvia, 2007). One method is to create or join a goal-driven reading group (goal-driven, because sometimes, “book clubs” are a sneaky disguise for social gatherings where no one read the book). Groups can be a force for constructive social pressure when they provide positive reinforcements and insights to people struggling to change their unproductive ways (Silvia, 2007). The goal of any reading or book club should be to develop a support system that encourages productivity through constructive reading habits. They can provide the perfect space and pace to become a continual resource for professional growth. However, large social groups can be intimidating and may follow protocols that are inconvenient or impractical for your reading process. Therefore, book club situations may not be beneficial for every personality type, so it is also important to examine the benefits of reading as a solitary endeavor that may later serve collaborative purposes. Our #introvertED Reading Process As introverts, we, Josh and Lara, understand how to adapt our needs to a noisy world which is why our reading group (code named “#ReadsearchED”) is more of a reading partnership we developed through a shared reading process tailored to our professional needs and personal schedules. We first discovered our shared reading interests through collaborative research work on academic standards and curriculum development. In sharing our knowledge, we found inspiration in the other’s work and discovered the mutual need for an audience beyond our perception and context. We remained connected in our professional pursuits and decided to co-read common selections based on our similar research interests. This intentional choice of coreading aids our professional partnership because we have a common language when discussing and designing professional development-- but that didn’t come naturally. One’s reading personality is most certainly idiosyncratic, or as Penny Kittle (2013) says, “a reading appetite is quirky, singular, and essential” (p. 19). Before attempting to co-read, readers need to understand and know themselves as individual readers. Knowing who you are as a person is an essential first step to identifying characters and stories you can approach and make connections. Reflecting on our Myers-Briggs 14

Type Indicators (MBTI) is one way we have come to better understand ourselves as readers. MBTI results represent aspects of a person’s personality and we use them as a reference to inform our shared reading process and rules. Josh’s MBTI results categorize him as an ISFJ while Lara is an INTJ. There are even correlations that will align your MBTI personality results with those of famous literary characters and authors (Wenger, 2011; Scott, 2015; Scott 2016). As noted, we are “I”ntroverted and consider this a strength in our partnership. As an INTJ personality type, Lara naturally seeks out books to support her “T”hinking. She is comfortable with words and uses them to her advantage. She is also I”N”tuitive about her interests and plans everything, including her reading list. Finished books become scrapbook archives of her “T”hinking. Because she seeks perfection (to a fault), she imposes order in her reading life and often “J”udges those who do not have a similarly structured system (ahem, Josh). On the other hand, Josh is an ISFJ personality type and his reading process is driven by “S”enses. While reading, he prefers to keep his ears occupied with a Spotify playlist, surrounded by lively spaces, and is dependent on the smell and taste of dark coffee, no creamer. Keeping his senses entertained, he can better focus on words on the page. But he is only reading what is necessary to apply to his current interest or status and he is unlikely to finish a book if he “F”eels it is unnecessary, or there are more enticing topics competing for his attention. Comparing our Myers-Briggs results with a focus on our reading habits shows the main differences between us and how our attention is wired and how we make decisions. Although we recognize that personal and professional growth happen through reading together, the reading process is a blending of growth and fixed notions, and we need to understand both for our shared goals to succeed (Hattie & Zierer, 2018). A reader’s environment influences the reading process and, for our partnership, our preferences are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Lara’s reading environment is quiet, bright, and intentional. Her bookshelves are alphabetized and categorized. Each shelf holds labeled books with indexes and an analytic system for archiving notes. Therefore, sustained and focused reading can only happen within this environment because it is optimal for concentration-- Lara is not an “on the go” kind of reader. Lara consumes books in their entirety-- reading fast and through completion because she needs closure. Therefore, her reading process and environment permits only one book open at a time. By contrast, Josh juggles multiple books, often diving between professional and workrelated interests and blurring the lines between the two worlds. His reading environments have range, are usually unscheduled, and sparked by feelings and the context of his surroundings. Stuck in a rocking chair waiting for a toddler to go back to sleep? That’s time for reading something light and entertaining. Stuck at the in-law’s house during the holidays and forced to watch football? That’s time for reading something heavy and scholarly. His book bag is prepared for multiple scenarios and has more than one option. And Josh isn’t above abandoning a book that doesn’t maintain his interest--after all, the effect size for boredom has the most negative impact (Hattie & Zierer, 2018). However, Josh also archives salient quotes and inspired ideas while reading, but his notes exist pretty much anywhere there is white space-- doodles in the book’s margins, notes in various journals, on whiteboards, and Post-its. Regardless of our differences as readers, how we read, or where we read, we find the mutual tracking of our reading to be a positive way to hold each other accountable to shared and professional goals and is vital for ongoing communication. We collaborate by documenting our reading progress using technology to share and streamline our co-reading thinking. Using Google Docs, we maintain an ongoing index of books co-read, notable quotes, APA citations, progress, and a list of potential reads. This index is our shared database to reference when we write or present together, or separately. Having a shared research base has sparked many lesson, 15

presentation, and writing ideas (like this article). This shared virtual space to collaborate is essential and easy to maintain, especially when we often have conflicting schedules and geographical distance to overcome. On paper, our reading rules and reading environments are incompatible, but our discourse about the pages we read separately has helped us establish trust in each other that transfers into productive professional cooperation. The brain is a unique blend of what we read, so we must find others to help us begin and maintain a heavy lifting literacy routine. Like exercising to reach a fitness goal, reading with a mental workout partner enhances motivation, stamina, and personal growth. For us, connecting with a fellow co-reader has provided much-needed accountability and has allowed us assistance in heavy lifting different text complexities and Lexile weights. Do you have a trusted spotter to help with heavy sets (of books)?-- the Collected Works of Shakespeare can weigh anyone down! What We Have Learned About Reading from Our #ReadSearchED Notes Cris Tovani (2000) asks a central question about literacy instruction-- do we teach the READING, or do we teach the READER? In teaching the READER, we need to understand a variety of reading strategies and approaches since some approaches work more effectively at different times for some students than for others (Fisher, Frey, Hattie, & Thayre, 2017). According to Penny Kittle in Book Love, “a key difference between readers and nonreaders is readers have plans” (2013, p. 63). Our co-reading plans, organized around separate and opposing reading practices, became our shared, research supported philosophies for teaching. What we have learned about reading instruction comes from what we have read and what we have practiced. Knowing what to read next and having access to it helps establish goals that help to create momentum and maintain reading “flow,” or mental state of active immersion (Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2009). It is often hard to get back into a regular habit of reading because, like exercise, staying fit is easier than getting fit, and making progress toward even a small goal is more productive than doing nothing. In addition, reading must serve a purpose because purpose affects book selections and comprehension strategies. Setting goals and establishing a purpose are essential early steps in developing your reading process. As readers, we are “involved with the text before (setting a purpose for reading), during (self-monitoring comprehension, investigating unfamiliar vocabulary terms), and after (referring back to the text to strengthen one’s understanding, probing questions, discussing) reading” (OAS-ELA, 2016, pg. 7). Using this process allows us to consider how students revise their thinking as a result of their reading which should then inform our instruction. These “transactions with texts” allow us to enter conversations with others who offer another perspective, and thus we learn “how to read the world” (Rosenblatt, 1988; Beers & Probst, 2017). Reading the world is crucial to the last stage of the reading process where we “engage in discussions and complete projects,” such as publishing because adding to the collective knowledge base is a professional responsibility. Unfortunately, students often read only to find evidence, or to pass a test-- not for personal reasons. According to Beers & Probst (2017), “the overwhelming majority of our high school students do not identify themselves as readers and do not turn to reading for enjoyment. Teachers give them the right books to read, and many often give them time to read, but students need to understand why and how reading matters” (p. 17). What we have learned about teaching reading-- from book choice, to independent reading, to class-wide reading, to reading aloud, to discussion, to vocabulary instruction-- is that “reading is more than a skill to be taught. It is how 16

knowledge is built [...] so getting better at reading isn’t solely about acquiring skills; it’s also about acquiring knowledge” (Fisher et al., 2017, p. 133). Just as professionals practice choice in our reading, we must also afford students to grow into life-long readers by giving them choices and expose them to stories, genres, and multimodal texts untethered to Lexile levels. Teachers can feel limited by resources, or constrictive curriculum maps, or the narrow literary canon represented in textbooks. Yet, we know, and must use the research to support, that it is vital for students to choose their books-- these are the books students are most likely to finish and the most likely to become their favorites (Kittle, 2013; Beers & Probst, 2017). Time for independent reading helps students develop their unique reading process and grow stronger in all other aspects of reading (e.g., fluency, vocabulary, background knowledge, and stamina). Like us, students need time for reflection and discussion after reading. By overthinking our reading practices, we better recognize how teachers can make independent reading time purposeful by equipping students with metacognitive strategies and systems to set reading goals and track the number of books read. Our end goal is to empower students to not depend on their teachers to understand and appreciate literature (Kittle, 2013; Fisher et al., 2017). As practitioners, we acknowledge that committing to a single method of delivering instruction is not enough to consistently maintain a student’s motivation, interest, and create successful readers because it ignores individual learning styles and preferences of students. We obviously cannot abide by a common process in our own co-reading. Therefore, dependency on singular strategies, like class-wide reading, ignores students’ interests and limits the potential volume of texts read over the course of a semester due to the time it takes to read a novel as a class. Most harmful, it can foster a dislike of reading by ignoring the opportunity for students to discover topics worth reading about on their own (Beers & Probst, 2017; Fisher et al., 2017). Listening to what our students have learned is one crucial avenue of assessment-- in addition to what they read and what they create. Like other skills taught in the classroom, participating in academic discussions requires modeling and guiding from the teacher. When students are provided with a structured forum to share responses from reading, they deepen, extend, and transfer their understanding to each other. The brain is hardwired to speak, but teachers must provide class time to do so. According to research, “student discussions vary from 14 seconds to 68 seconds per class period,” and it’s not a discussion if “it is not a free exchange of information among at least three participants that lasts longer than 30 seconds” (Fisher et al., 2017). Reviewing the how of teaching reading reminds us that teaching is an art; “it will never be a script of simple steps at the end of which all readers become proficient. Teaching is far more complex than any publisher or program can imagine. But teaching is the only way to improve readers” (Kittle, 2013, p. 16). Literacy instruction requires more than reading because understanding is expressed through speaking, listening, writing, and viewing. Effective literacy instruction must seek to elicit independence-- students are often waiting for teachers to tell them what they need to learn rather than using the tool of reading and literacy to foster their own learning (Kittle, 2013). So why must teachers read a lot (two words)? We need to live the reader life to be reading role models; to grow, we need to invest in our reading process: knowing who we are (our personality and our rules for reading) and where we read best (our environment). We need accountability-- either in our social or solitary roles as a reader. Understanding and defining our personalities and, thus, our needs as learners revealed the complexities of collaboration and the reading process. What a privilege it is to find a trusted partner and be able to adjust this process. However, through our experience, it is also a revelation that we can easily overlook these benefits for students by narrowing reading, and thus learning, to a series of strategies and 17

deadlines that lack alignment to their needs. And as we seek to promote the development of our students as lifelong readers, we need to make sure that we are also promoting our development as teachers of reading and teachers who read. Reading a lot is our professional responsibility.

Josh Flores is a Pk-12 ELA Coordinator at Mustang Public Schools. He can be reached via email at

Dr. Lara Searcy is the English Education Specialist at Northeastern State University. She can be reached via email at


References Beers, G. K., & Probst, R. E. (2017). Disrupting thinking: Why how we read matters. New York, NY: Scholastic. Developing early literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel: A scientific synthesis of early literacy development and implications for intervention. (2008). Jessup, MD: National Institute for Literacy. Fisher, D., Frey, N., Hattie, J., & Thayre, M. (2017). Teaching literacy in the visible learning classroom: Grades 6-12 classroom companion. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Literacy. Gallagher, K. (2009). Readicide: How schools are killing reading and what you can do about it. Portland, ME: Stenhouse. Hattie, J., & Zierer, K. (2018). 10 Mindframes for Visible Learning: Teaching for Success. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Kittle, P. (2013). Book love: Developing depth, stamina, and passion in adolescent readers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Kittle, P. (2008). Write beside them: Risk, voice, and clarity in high school writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Nakamura, J., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2009). The concept of flow. In Snyder, C. R., & Lopez, S. J. (Ed.). Oxford handbook of positive psychology. Oxford University Press, USA. 89-105. National Endowment for the Arts. (2007). To read or not to read: A question of national consequence. Research Report, #47. Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE). (2016). Oklahoma Academic Standards for English Language Arts. Retrieved July 30, 2016, from Rosenblatt, L. M. (1988). Writing and reading: The transactional theory. [Abstract]. Technical Report No. 416. doi:ED292062 Scott, K. (2015, November 11). The Myers-Briggs Types of 101 Famous Authors. Retrieved January 14, 2018, from Scott, K. (2016, January 28). The Myers-Briggs Types of 202 Fictional Characters. Retrieved January 14, 2018, from Silvia, P. J. (2007). How to write a lot: A practical guide to productive academic writing. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 19

Tovani, C. (2000). I Read It, But I Don’t Get It: Comprehension Strategies for Adolescent Readers. Portland, ME: Stenhouse. Wenger, A. J. (2011, June 18). Write with Personality. Retrieved January 14, 2018, from .


Dr. Beth Beschorner and Dr. Anna H. Hall

Traditional and Digital Writing Celia and her classmates are authoring a procedural text that describes how to play safely on the playground to share with kindergarteners at their school. Celia is currently working to take notes during writer’s workshop surrounded by markers, paper, and a stapler. Meanwhile, her classmate, Tonia, is taking photographs to embed into her procedural text using Adobe Spark. After she finishes taking photographs that demonstrate playing safely on the playground, she plans to type captions describing the photographs, and record audio that explains the procedures. Both children are actively engaged in meaningful writing practices that support children’s development as writers. Classroom instruction can, and should, support both traditional and digital writing. In order to become proficient writers in the 21 st century, children must be able to use traditional writing approaches, as well as digital tools, like iPads, tablets, and Chromebooks. Therefore, teachers must be able to integrate digital technology into their writing instruction in meaningful ways. It is critical that teachers first understand and practice the basic tenets of effective writing instruction. Teachers also need to understand the use of available digital tools and how to incorporate these tools into their existing instruction. The purpose of this article is to describe key tenets of high-quality writing instruction and to give examples of digital technology that can be effectively incorporated into writing programs. High Quality Writing Instruction Research suggests seven tenets of high-quality writing instruction that support children’s development as writers (Graham, McKeown, Kiuhara, & Harris, 2012), which are described below. Captures Interest and Motivation through Authentic Reasons for Writing Effective writing teachers design instruction that considers their students’ needs and interests (Hall & Axelrod, 2014), because they understand that motivation and academic achievement in writing are strongly correlated (Graham, Berninger, & Fan, 2007; Piazza & Siebert, 2008). Therefore, high-quality writing instruction is based upon the beliefs that children’s writing improves when they are interested in what they are writing about and when they write for an authentic audience. Modeling and Scaffolding through Mini-Lessons and Group Writing Effective writing teachers provide strategy instruction for improving writing (Graham, Harris, & MacArthur, 2006; Graham, Harris, & Chambers, 2016) that is implemented by providing appropriate scaffolding (Bodrova & Leong, 1998) and modeling (Burns & Casbergue, 1992; McGee & Purcell-Gates, 1997). Further, effective teachers of writing believe that children learn about written language by being immersed in text (Chapman, 1996).


Time for Independent Writing Effective writing teachers make independent writing time for children a priority every day (Graham & Harris, 2016). Graham and colleagues (2012) argue that daily instructional time for writing helps children learn the skills and strategies to be effective writers and gain confidence in their writing abilities. Adult and Peer Feedback through Conferencing Effective writing teachers ensure that all writers get feedback on their writing, both from adults and peers (Graham & Harris, 2016). One effective approach for adults to provide feedback is through conferencing, which often occurs while children are writing and “teachers circulate among them and guide the writing, depending on the issues with which a student is struggling” (Lipson, Mosenthal, & Daniels, & Woodside-Jiron, 2000, p. 211). Conferencing often leads to children gaining insight into possibilities for revision (Fitzgerald & Stamm, 1990). Time for Revision When students revise their writing the organization of the writing, content of the writing, and use of writing mechanics improves (Matsumura, G., Patthey-Chavez, G., Valdez, R., & Garnier, H., 2002). Effective writing teachers provide opportunities for children to go through the writing process and allow time and support for the revision of writing. A Variety of Sharing Opportunities Effective teachers of writing know that when young children are encouraged to share their writing, there are many benefits. First, when young children share what they have written, their work naturally has an authentic purpose and audience (McCarrier, Pinnell, & Fountas, 2000). Further, sharing can build children’s confidence in their ability to read, write, and speak (Lensmire, 1992; McCallister, 2008). Sharing also establishes a sense of community, and assists students in negotiating their social worlds at school and at home (Cazden, 1985; Dyson, 1993). Praise and Recognition Effective teachers of writing give authentic and specific praise for children’s writing. In order to do this, teachers focus on what skills children are currently using in their writing, what knowledge they have about the writing process, and what writing skills students are ready to work on next. When the successful qualities of children’s writing are recognized and acknowledged, children are motivated to continue improving their writing (Simic, 1993). Instructional Practices that Support Digital and Traditional Writing In the following sections, we will give specific ideas for incorporating the seven key tenets of high-quality writing instruction (described earlier) in relation to specific standards. In each section, possibilities for technology integration are included. Oklahoma Standard 1.3.W.3 Students will express an opinion in writing about a topic and provide a reason to support the opinion.


Authentic Reasons for Writing. One way to present opinion writing in an authentic way is to invite students to read letters to the editor from the local newspaper. They could be asked to talk about issues in their community (within school or their neighborhood at large) that are controversial and worthy of exploring. Once children get excited about real and interesting topics, their writing will begin to flourish. Modeling and Scaffolding through Mini-Lessons and Group Writing. To model opinion writing, it is helpful to first write a group opinion piece on a topic that appeals to the whole class. After determining the group topic through an active class discussion, the teacher can demonstrate listing powerful reasons and prioritizing these reasons in an order that will make the greatest impact on the reader. In addition, the teacher can demonstrate starting the class opinion piece with an exciting hook and close with a powerful ending. Finally, teachers can model the importance of being reasonable when stating support for their opinions, in order to be more convincing to their reader. This can be modeled by reading opinion pieces together from different points of view and discussing which ones are more convincing and why. Time for Independent Writing. After children have read many effective opinion pieces from various points of view and participated in opinion piece writing as a group, they are ready to begin writing on their own. Graphic organizers are helpful for children in the prewriting stage of opinion writing. For this genre, the organizer may have a line for children to write their topic and their point of view, along with space for multiple reasons supporting their argument. The graphic organizer can serve as a helpful reminder as children work on their pieces over multiple days. A Variety of Sharing Opportunities. Children enjoy sharing opinion pieces with adults and peers because they are able to explain their intense feelings about a topic. It is important to give children a variety of revising and sharing opportunities during the writing process to extend the authentic purpose of their writing – to communicate and share with others. Integrating Digital Tools. As children start to write their opinion piece about the topic of their choice, they might begin by creating digital sticky notes using a digital platform like Children can use Padlet to organize the ideas they plan to include to support their opinion. Each sticky note could include supporting evidence for the opinion. In addition to written text, Padlet allows children to insert web links, images, photographs, and videos. Therefore, as children conduct research to support their opinions, they can collect and organize multiple types of digital resources, in addition to text, using their Padlet notes. Further, these notes can be rearranged throughout the writing process in a way that facilitates the writer’s organization of ideas. Padlet also allows children to easily share their notes with one another and their teacher in order to facilitate collaboration and provide teachers with an easy way of providing feedback. As children move from pre-writing to drafting their opinion piece, they can use their notes on Padlet with text, images, photographs, and audio to create a multimedia project that can be shared with an authentic audience locally or more globally. One platform that can be used to create this type of project is Using allows writers to upload a PowerPoint presentation or create slides, which can be thought of as “pages”. Further,


the author can insert images to communicate their ideas, add links to web-based content, and an audio recording tool that can be used to record the writer reading their stories. Therefore, the use of, allows kids to voice their own narrations and practice their own reading fluency by providing an authentic reason for re-reading. Additionally, allows the author to insert polls, quizzes, open-ended questions, etc. within the text that might serve as an interesting way to acquire information from and engage their readers. For example, if children are writing an opinion piece about supporting clean water legislation, the children might begin their text with a poll to “hook” the reader like, “Do you ever think about where your tap water comes from?” In this example, the writer engages by creating an interesting first sentence that takes advantage of the polling feature of the platform. Finally, the project can easily be shared via a link that is generated by the site. Thus, using a digital platform that can be distributed or posted electronically makes it possible for writers to share their ideas, and receive feedback from a broad audience outside of the walls of the classroom or school. Oklahoma Writing Standard 1.6.W.2 Students will organize information found during group or individual research, using graphic organizers or other aids with guidance and support. Authentic Reasons for Writing. In order for children to write effective informational pieces, they must first become experts on an authentic topic. Children often have many current areas of expertise including athletics (e.g., riding a bike, soccer, swimming), special talents (e.g., singing, juggling, tumbling), and hobbies (e.g., Pokemon Go, hiking, caring for pets). In addition, given accessible resources (e.g., books, videos, websites), children can become experts on many new topics of interest (e.g., dolphins, mountain climbing, film making). Children are likely to write more facts and fill their pieces with more voice and expression when they are allowed to choose a topic that they are excited and knowledgeable about. Modeling and Scaffolding through Mini-Lessons and Group Writing. It is helpful to introduce the word “expert” and the definition of this word when teaching informational writing. When children understand the uniqueness of the knowledge they possess and the importance of sharing information with others, their motivation will rise. Teachers can demonstrate informational writing by choosing a topic that they know a lot about and that children will be excited to learn about. For example, if a teacher has been on an exciting adventure such as skydiving, she can share facts about this experience to pique children’s interest. After crafting a model text, the teacher can invite the class to vote on a topic for a group text. As teachers and students take time to look through resources in small groups, take notes, and write their findings together, they will learn the steps of writing informational text in a non-threatening environment. Time for Writing. In addition to writing informational texts about topics of interest, teachers can include opportunities throughout the day for children to record information about class projects. For example, during morning gatherings, children can help record attendance and special activities for that day. During Science, children can record predictions and findings from class experiments.


Praise and Recognition. Raising children’s awareness about the power of informational writing and the multiple functions of this genre in everyday life helps foster a community of writers. By acknowledging each other as experts and sharing their knowledge with teachers and peers, children recognize the importance of recording information. In addition to sharing information, children learn new facts and build their vocabularies by engaging in dialogue and listening to their friends share their informational writing. Possibilities for Technology Integration. After children determine their topic for writing, they might start by creating a digital graphic organizer known as a web or cluster that organizes ideas by connecting them into groups. Two examples of digital platforms that can be used to create a web are or Children can use one of these platforms to create a digital web to organize the ideas that they plan to research about their topic. If the children are researching an animal, they might create a web that organizes the topics that they plan to include: what the animal eats, where the animal lives, etc. The children can research these topics using many sources, including the Internet. There are a number of search engines, like Ask Kids and KidRex that are designed for children’s use that filter out adult content. In some instances, there are specific websites that contain useful information. For example, if children are researching an animal of their choice, the National Geographic Kids website contains useful photographs and information. Then, as children research their topic they can organize and record the information on their digital web. Many digital webbing tools, like Popplet and, allow the creator to include text, photographs, videos, and drawings. Therefore, children can capture what they read and view on the Internet, but can also write text and include photos from the traditional print resources that they use. As children prepare to publish their informational report, Voice Thread ( might be considered as a platform for their writing. Voice Thread is an online platform that allows users to upload a presentation (e.g. PowerPoint) that includes images and text. Then, the author can record audio for their presentation within Voice Thread. The unique affordance of Voice Thread is that readers can leave comments, via text, audio, or video throughout the presentation. This provides an authentic audience for the child’s writing and allows for an avenue to provide feedback. However, a constraint of this platform is that there is small fee for educators to utilize the site. Oklahoma Writing Standard 1.3.W.1 Students will begin to write narratives incorporating characters, plot (i.e. beginning, middle, and end), and a basic setting (i.e. time, place) with guidance and support. Authentic Reasons for Writing. A powerful entry point for young writers is writing about personal experiences. When children write about their own life events, they are able to craft their stories with a beginning, middle, and end by simply retelling their experience. In addition, writing about personal experiences allows young writers to insert sensory details and feelings that would only be known or felt by the author of the story. Sharing personal narratives with classmates is an authentic reason for writing when these pieces are used to build community within the classroom.


Modeling and Scaffolding through Mini-Lessons and Group Writing. To demonstrate effective narrative writing, it is important for teachers to write in this genre in front of their students. As teachers model writing about their own personal moments or use their imagination to create stories, students begin to view their teachers as authors. They also observe the audience’s reaction when their teacher is writing and begin to understand what story elements make a narrative engaging. In addition to teachers’ modeled narratives, children’s literature is a powerful resource in demonstrating effective techniques for narrative writing. For example, Charlotte’s Web demonstrates one way to hook the reader by beginning with the question, “Where’s Papa going with that ax?”. Donald Crews’ book, Shortcut, demonstrates how an author can zoom in on a topic, because this book tells the story of a specific event. Time for Independent Writing. When children are ready to begin their own narratives, graphic organizers can be very helpful in guiding the prewriting process. Organizers that encourage children to plan the different parts of their stories (e.g., beginning, middle, end) before writing assist in story development and organization. Organizers that encourage children to think about their senses in relation to the story or to describe their characters help children add important details to narratives. Additionally, children can bring photographs to spark ideas for writing about real or imagined events. A Variety of Sharing Opportunities. Many teachers begin the year with personal narratives, because they allow children to explore their own cultures and traditions, empathize with other children’s experiences, and reveal differences and similarities among classmates. As children write and share their narratives, they build early bonds of trust through sing and listening about personal experiences. These bonds will last throughout the year in their writing community. Possibilities for Technology Integration. During the pre-writing stage, it is helpful for children to think through the major events that will occur in their narrative, including the beginning, middle, and end of story. Therefore, it can be useful for children to create a timeline of events for their story. Online platforms, like and the timeline creator on can be useful for this purpose. is another online platform that can be used to create a digital timeline and includes the ability to write some events with larger text than other events. This might be useful for planning the main events and supporting details that will be included in the narrative. By creating the timeline digitally, instead of using paper and pencil, children can: (a) insert images and/or photographs into the timeline, (b) easily edit the timeline to include more details and events, and (c) share the timeline with others for collaboration and feedback. Selecting or creating photographs and/or images that help to tell the story might be another possibility for meaningful integration of digital technology. Children might take photographs to add to their story, use pre-existing photographs from their families, use stock images and/or photographs available on their digital tool or from the Internet (e.g. a site like Pexels), or create digital drawings using tools like Doodle Buddy or Drawing Pad.


Conclusion In 21st century classrooms, it is imperative that children have daily opportunities to write using both digital and paper-based tools. In Celia and Tonia’s classroom, their teacher provides various avenues for students to engage in writing and she guides her students in selecting the best mode for their specific projects. Effective writing teachers, like Celia’s and Tonia’s, consider key tenets of high-quality writing instruction before deciding which tools will best meet their instructional goals. Further, to meet specific learning standards, they consider integrating technology within the framework of highly effective writing practices.

Dr. Beth Beschorner is an Assistant Professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She can be reached via email at

Dr. Anna Hall is an Assistant Professor at Clemson University. She can be reached via email at

References Hall, A.H. & Axelrod, Y.D. (2014). “I am kind of a good writer and kind of not”: An examination of elementary school students’ writing attitudes. Journal of Research in Education, 24(2), 34-50. Burns, M.S. & Casbergue, R. (1992). Parent-child interaction in a letter-writing context. Journal of Reading Behavior, 24(3), 289-312. Cazden (1985). Research currents: What is sharing time for? Language Arts, 62(2), 182-188. Chapman, M. L. (1996). More than spelling: Widening the lens on emergent writing. Reading Horizons, 36, 317-339. Dyson (1993). A sociocultural perspective on symbolic development in primary grade classrooms. New Directions for Child Development, 61, 25-38. Fitzgerald, J. & Stamm, C. (1990). Effects of group conferences on first graders’ revision in writing. Written Communication, 7(1), 96-135.


Graham, S., Berninger, V., & Fan, W. (2007). The structural relationship between writing attitude and writing achievement in first and third grade students. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 32, 516-536. Graham, S. & Harris, K. (2016). A path to better writing: Evidenced-based practices in the classroom. The Reading Teacher, 69(4), 359-365. Graham, S., Harris, K., & Chambers, A. (2016). Evidenced-based practice and writing instruction. In C. MacArthur, S. Graham, & J. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Handbook of Writing Research. New York, NY: Guilford. Graham, S., McKeown, D., Kiuhara, S., & Harris, K. R. (2012). A meta-analysis of writing instruction for students in the elementary grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(4), 879-896. Lensmire, T. (1992). Peers, risk, and writing. Paper presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the National Reading Conference. San Antonio, Texas. Lipson, M., Mosenthal, J., Daniels, P., & Woodside-Jiron, H. (2000). Process writing in the classrooms of eleven fifth-grade teachers with different orientations to teaching and learning. Elementary School Journal, 101(2), 209-231. Matsumara, L., Patthey-Chavez, G., Valdes, R., & Garnier, H. (2002). Teacher feedback, writing assignment quality, and third-grade students’ revision in lower and higher-achieving urban schools. Elementary School Journal, 103(1), 3-25. McCarrier, A., Pinnell, G., & Fountas, I. (2000). Interactive writing: How language and literacy come together, K-2. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. McGee, L. M., & Purcell-Gates, V. (1997). So what's going on in research on emergent literacy? Reading Research Quarterly, 32(3), 310-318. Piazza, C. & Siebert, C. (2008). Development and validation of a writing dispositions scale for elementary and middle school students. The Journal of Educational Research, 101(5), 275285. Simic, M. (1993). Publishing children’s writing. ERIC. Retrieved from on January 13, 2017.


Dr. Leisa G. Standish and Dr. Wendy Emo

“What I wrote about was important:” Using Storyline to motivate students to write persuasive text “Dr. Leisa, it’s so much fun when you come to do writing with us!” So said one of the elementary students in my persuasive writing research project. This is not a typical comment that students make when describing their experiences with persuasive writing. In fact, persuasive writing is one of the most difficult cognitive skills children master in literacy instruction and students often find writing persuasively more difficult than other genres such as narrative and descriptive (De La Paz & Graham, 2002; Ferretti, MacArthur & Dowdy, 2000). The role of persuasive writing is becoming more central to many national curriculums, national standardized testing programs and international assessments. Students are being asked not only to take a position, argue, interpret, analyze and persuade but they are being asked to do so in an authentic scenario based on a “real-world” issue. They must make an argument, use evidence to justify it, competently manipulate persuasive devices and language as well as situate the argument in an accepted and organized argument structure (Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2013; Common Core State Standards [CCSS], 2010; Oklahoma Academic Reading Standards 2016; United Kingdom Department of Education, 2013). This article outlines an inquiry-based, creative strategy, Storyline, to engage and motivate students to write competent persuasive text. Storyline (Bell, Harkness, & White, 2007) is a well-documented pedagogical tool for teaching Social Studies. Previous research has focused on the implementation of Storyline to promote collaborative learning, develop understanding, motivation, engagement, problem solving skills and other strategies relating to Social Studies and Science content (Ahlquist, 2013; Demir, 2013; Rimmereide, Blair & Hoem, 2011). This article describes a new line of inquiry as it employs the engagement and motivation of Storyline strategy as a tool to improve students’ writing of authentic persuasive text. Further, it assesses the creative, inquiry-based nature of the Storyline strategy to engage and motivate students in the persuasive writing process. Background The United States has prioritized instruction in complex literacy tasks. This is reflected in the English Language Arts framework of the Oklahoma Academic Reading Standards (2016) The upper elementary school literacy standards focus on students analyzing complex, grade appropriate texts to support their written arguments with evidence. However, as students are expected write more difficult expository and persuasive tasks, NAEP data indicate that 72% of grade four students and 73% of grade eight students are scoring at or


below basic in writing. (Gilbert & Graham, 2010; McCann 1989; National Assessment of Educational Progress [NAEP], 2009, 2012). The focus of this research, utilizing the Storyline strategy along with explicit instruction in persuasive writing to improve students’ ability to write complex persuasive text, addresses many of the concerns arising from national and international literacy testing (OECD 2010, 2018; NAEP, 2009, 2012). Students are engaged and motivated to participate in complex writing tasks through their authentic engagement in the Storyline strategy. They receive explicit strategy instruction in writing persuasive text as well as a specific audience to write for and a social context for their writing. The Storyline Strategy The Storyline approach was created at the Jordanhill College (now the Faculty of Education at the University of Strathclyde) in Scotland. In 1967, the Storyline approach was designed to meet the requirements of the integrated curriculum that was based on a content area and used a student-centered approach to teaching. The Storyline approach uses a narrative structure to design an inquiry-based unit of study. The teacher first defines a general story which will work well with the required curriculum and the interests of the students. A teacher who needs to teach literacy and environmental sciences could frame the story as the students creating TED Talks by Kids on the life in a rainforest tree canopy. Native American history and government studies can be combined through a Storyline in which groups of children act as different nations within the confederacy of the Iroquois League. A mathematics and history focus would exist in a story converting a historic mansion or castle into a hotel. All of these topics could lead to many learning activities, such as reading primary source documents, interpreting media, writing, speaking, reasoning, and computing. After deciding on a topic, the Storyline teacher then decides on “episodes,” just like a novelist plans out the problems and resolutions within a novel. Unlike a novelist, the teacher’s story is written for active participation, much like computer games which have a story. The teacher links each episode to the curriculum standards but also leaves room for the story to develop as the students take part. The teacher begins the story with an intriguing proposal or a question such as “What is a rainforest?” The first student action generally is to create visuals of the Storyline setting; this serves as an anchoring visual which all share and which draws out what the children already know about the setting. Then the children create characters who act within that setting. Students add artifacts to the setting and to the characters, such as biographies or items the characters might use. The teacher facilitates the plot, or rising action, using the students’ characters in the context of the curriculum and working in plot developments which arise from the students’ suggestions. The Storyline teacher typically asks students, “What problems will arise in this situation which your character will have to solve?” The students’ responses are then built into the unit plan as is appropriate. Smaller problems center on the setting (“What does this place look like?”); some relate specifically to the character (“What tools and knowledge does your character use in her job?”); some problems acknowledge the characters’ relationships (“How will our characters resolve their differing opinions?”); and some are those which would naturally arise from the setting (“How did today’s weather affect your character’s work?”). Larger problems also will exist, such as rainforest waterways becoming choked with runoff. Along the way through the story the children discover background information for the setting and characters, find new information needed to solve the problems, and suggest ways to solve the problems. Just as in a story, the Storyline tale ends with a resolution and a culminating


event. Unlike a story, however, the students also revisit and review their learning during the unit of study. Table 1: Storyline Outline for Research Intervention Airport Town Storyline Set the Stage: The problem A new airport will open in the area. Before the airport can open, the local government needs to have safety teams in place. Students choose to be on one of the safety teams. Orientation: Who works on safety teams? What do they need? The Characters - Students safety team members create characters, including uniforms and biographies. Presented to class; placed on airport frieze. The Setting – Students determine safety features needed in team headquarters and produce architectural drawings to place on the frieze. Students discover that the headquarter designs are to be featured in the local newspaper. Students write newspaper articles about their headquarters and place these on the frieze. Critical Event: Serious accident reported Students are told that a serious accident has occurred at the site of the new airport. To help prevent further accidents, the state government asks teams to create safety information for schools. The safety teams discuss what information to present, how, and who the audiences should be. Safety teams conduct research, plan, and present information. Critical Event: School accidents Two actors dressed as policemen inform the students their safety teams there has been massive flooding and their safety teams are needed to assist the victims who are on the school grounds. Secondary students act as flood victims; they have tags indicating what injuries they have sustained. Safety teams write reports which indicate treatments and procedures. Critical Event: Design a safety device Safety teams are asked to design and make prototypes of innovative safety devices. Students write persuasive essays intended to persuade emergency services personnel to purchase the innovations. Culminating Event: Students present their persuasive essays to representatives from the State Emergency Services personnel. Later students review their learning on safety with the teacher.

Review of the Literature Much of the research on Storyline focuses on the impact of students’ motivation. Researchers in the field of language teaching found that Storyline creates motivation for digital and verbal communication in second language teaching. Specifically, students’ literacy skills were enhanced when creating a virtual world with a Wikki, collaborative editing on the Etherpad and blogging to reflect on the process (Rimmereide, Blair & Hoem, 2011). Further this data also indicates that students were strongly motivated to engage in the Storyline approach resulting in an improvement in academic achievement and second language learning benefits (Ahlquist, 2013). Demir (2013) used a Storyline intervention in a Year 5 Science classroom and found that the Storyline approach increased students’ academic achievement as well as engaging the students’ curiosity in the content. Researchers in the United States and Australia have used the format of Scottish Storyline but renamed it Storypath. Cole and McGuire (2012) found that Storypath (Storyline) engages students in critical thinking strategies. When students engage in solving problems that simulate real life they develop strategies to aid in organizing their thinking. Storypath has also been found to teach real life learning and active citizenship in local government using an inquiry-based model to strengthen authentic experiences of civic life 31

(McGuire & Cole, 2008). McGuire and Cole (2005) also found that the strategy allowed students to construct new and deeper understandings of their world. A review of the literature in the Storyline approach indicates that Storyline provides a rich educational opportunity for students to inquire into the content area, think critically, improve academically, speak and write more persuasively, solve problems collaboratively while being engaged and motivated in the process of learning in different content areas. Theoretical Background The study is grounded in constructivist, progressive, and motivation theory. Firstly, the study is based on the constructivist theory that teachers facilitate learning by creating a real-life context for students to engage in as events unfold. (Dewey, 1907; Freire, 1970; Vygotsky, 1978). Secondly, the progressive theory promotes a child-centered approach, selfexpression and creativity (Fleming, 2008). In addition, using the environment and learning by discovery are all emphasized (Gillard, 2004). Finally, the study is aligned with the theory of intrinsic motivation. Children are involved in a task for the sake of its own reward as they are encouraged, challenged, and empowered (Leeper & Hodell, 1989; Ryan & Deci, 2000). Methods The present study included a classroom intervention that integrated the Social Studies curriculum with other subject areas for Grade 4. The researcher participated in the inquiry by planning the Storyline strategy and guiding the teacher through the 4-week inquiry-based unit of study. The unit required the students to solve critical incidents throughout the content which resulted in the students writing three persuasive pieces including a newspaper article arguing the effectiveness of the innovative design for their new safety headquarters, a puppet show to convince young children to follow safety procedures and a persuasive essay to persuade officials to purchase their new safety invention. The present study included qualitative data including interviews, surveys, writing samples and participant observation. Two grade 4 classrooms and 47 students participated in the present study. Results The storyline survey data was completed by all students in the intervention group to be analyzed and coded for themes along with students’ interview transcripts. The following themes emerged from the data in relation to the effects of the Storyline strategy on students’ motivation to write persuasively and the effects of the intervention on their perceptions about writing persuasively.

Table 2: Themes Theme Research data Design  the design process of Storyline motivated their persuasive writing process, created a sense of ownership in the writing task, and allowed them to use their imagination.  creating the “real life” prototypes gave them a tangible object to write about  the design process gave them time

Evidence 56% of the students stated their designs were their favorite part of the unit Students comments about motivation to write persuasively based on the design process:  It was fun thinking it [safety invention] up and writing about using it for our team.  I got to use my imagination and it [safety invention] was my


to think about their ideas before writing their persuasive text.

 





own design. It was easy to think up the idea [for the safety invention] as we had already thought about it and then we designed it. I loved using my imagination to design it [safety invention] and write about it. I was able to create things during the Storyline and then write about them.

41% of the students listed the Students found the creative opportunity to be creative as the best processes in the Storyline part about writing in the unit intervention improved their persuasive writing and they were  I had to come up with an idea. I more engaged in the writing had to think of a name and what process. you would use it [safety invention] for. I liked doing it Students commented on the because it was creative. originality of their writing ideas, their engagement in writing due to  The safety invention was easier the experiential nature of the to write, it was fun and easier. intervention, the ability to take risks You had to think of ideas and with writing without fear of failure be creative. I was using my and the creative process engaging ideas. their thinking.  I was not focused on being marked. I was enjoying myself, being creative and having fun”.  I learned new things and wrote about stuff that is important. We were creating to get our minds thinking”. Students used persuasive writing to create interest and engagement for the audience and that they are motivated to produce a higher standard of writing Students reported that teacher expectations of topic, content, format inhibited their overall writing product

Students highlighted content learned in the unit, the importance of prior knowledge in their writing topic and choice of writing

students expressed the fact that:  The teacher marks most of my work, if it is someone different I get excited. It is harder to write when the teacher just reads it. With another audience you do your best to make them interested. An outside audience is better [than a teacher audience] because I want to impress them and do a better job. Storyline survey 70% of the students found the Storyline persuasive text easier to write than the teacher created

topic based on their content knowledge


Students persuasive writing improved based on their engagement in the topic including interesting and new content

pretest and one of the most prevalent reasons for that was that they had prior knowledge on the topic due to their knowledge learned in the unit and the design of their safety innovation prototype  I like to write about things I know about.  I use what I know about to write.  We got to create something new and we already had it planned.  I was learning about new things [during Storyline]. It was more interesting, more fun because I was not just sitting down doing more work. Storyline was more interesting.  I was learning new things. I was creating to get my mind thinking.  The safety topic had new information. I was able to be creative in my writing and I was learning more.  What I wrote about was important. I wrote about stuff that’s good and that’s important

Discussion and Implications The study used inquiry-based, creative instruction to assess students’ motivation to write real-life persuasive text. The key themes that emerged from the study provide the framework for implications for classroom practice to engage and foster improvement in students persuasive writing. The Storyline intervention used in the present study implies that intrinsic motivation to write persuasive text includes students design, creativity, audience, knowledge and engagement. The students in the Storyline intervention group attribute these factors to improving their persuasive writing abilities. Table 3: Classroom Implications. Classroom Implications Classroom Practice 1. Motivation to Write Emphasis on Student centered, experiential learning

2. Use real life issues in writing

Engagement in practices that will emulate real-life

Evidence It is more interesting to learn new stuff. I learned new things and wrote about stuff that is important. We were creating to get our minds thinking. I liked performing..., I liked creating...., I loved


persuasive writing skills 3. Engage students interest in the content

Students highlight how relevant and important they felt the content and their persuasive writing was rather than just another required task to be completed

4. Use prior knowledge to engage in hands on design experiences

Students engagement in the design process creates a sense of ownership in their persuasive writing

5. Engage a real life audience

A real-life audience improved the quality of the students writing and motivated them to appeal to their audience and do their personal best Student choice in persuasive writing topics, content and form allows them to create interesting, motivating, original and creative text

6. Students choice of topic, content and form

designing..., I liked inventing..., I loved writing... Storyline was more interesting than other topics as there were lots of things we did, it was fun, I could be creative, and I learnt a lot...the topic was more interesting It was more interesting, more fun because I was not just sitting down doing more work...the safety topic had new information. I was able to be creative in my writing and I was learning more I had to come up with an idea. I had to think of a name and what you would use it [safety invention] for I had to think of ideas and be [safety invention] was more important to write about and more fun. if it is someone different [audience other than the teacher] I get do your best to make them interested...I want to impress them I chose much more interesting things, things that I know about...easier to write own design

Conclusion Reading complex informational text, understanding new content area material and then using that material to write competent persuasive text in order to increase students’ ability to be career and college ready is a challenge for many students. Providing strategies for students to accomplish these goals in an intrinsically motivating and yet academically challenging manner is one way to meet those goals. The present study contends that through the use of an inquiry-based approach such as Storyline students are engaged in the reading and writing processes required by the Oklahoma Academic Standards (2016) through creativity, originality, content knowledge, collaborative planning, awareness of audience and choice of topics.


Table 4: More to Explore Videos online Snoball Films. (2009). Storyline. This is a video of a foreign language teacher in Norway and her middle school class working through a Storyline. Available at Websites Storyline International. This is the main Storyline site intended for world-wide users interested in Storyline. This site includes news and archives about Storyline events around the world, examples of Storyline use, links to articles, and links to Storyline websites in many languages. Available at Storyline Design. This site includes opportunities for professional development courses regularly scheduled in the United States of America. Some English-language resources are linked or are present on the site. Available at Storyline Resources for Teachers. This site serves as a coach for Storyline teachers. Fully developed Storylines are available for purchase on this site, or teachers can choose to write their own Storylines and use the suggestions on the site to check on quality planning. Available at A Storyline Approach (2009) Highland Literacy Project A detailed outline of the approach and examples of classroom units and teaching strategies. Available at


Dr. Leisa Standish is a teacher at Spencerville Adventist Academy in Maryland. She can be reached via email at

Dr. Wendy Emo is a teacher at Ocean Beaches Schools. She can be reached via email at .

References Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), (2013). My Schools. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), (2011) National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). Retrieved February 28, 2018, from Ahlquist, S. (2013). ‘Storyline’: a task-based approach for the young learner classroom. English Language Teachers Journal, 67(1), 41-51. Bell, S., Harkness, S., & White, G. (2007). Storyline – Past, Present & Future. Glasgow: Enterprising Careers. Cole, B., & McGuire, M. (2012). Real world problems: Engaging young learners in critical thinking. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 24(4), 15-17. De La Paz, S., & Graham, S. (2002). Explicitly teaching strategies, skills, and knowledge: Writing instruction in middle school classrooms. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 291-304. Demir, S. (2013). The effect of teaching “let’s travel and learn the world of living creatures” unit by storyline on academic achievement. European Journal of Educational Studies, 5(1), 177-185. Dewey, J. (1907). The school and society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ferretti, R. P., MacArthur, C. A., & Dowdy, N. S. (2000). The effects of an elaborated goal on the persuasive writing of students with learning disabilities and their normally achieving peers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92, 694-702. Fleming, M. (2008). Arts in education and creativity: a review of the literature. A report for Creative Partnerships. London: Creative Partnerships. Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum. Gilbert, J., & Graham, S. (2010). Teaching writing to elementary students in grades 4-6: A national survey. The Elementary School Journal, 110(4), 494-518. Gillard, D. (2004). The Plowden Report. Retrieved from plowden_report.htm#curriculum. Lepper, M.R. & Hodell, M. (1989). Intrinsic motivation in the classroom. In C. Ames and R. Ames (Eds.), Research on motivation in education (vol 3 pp73-105) San Diego, CA: Academic Press.


McCann, T. M. (1989). Student argumentative writing knowledge and ability at three grade levels. Research in the Teaching of English, 23(1), 62-76. Mcguire, M. & Cole, B. (2005), 'Using story path to give young learners a fair start'. Social Studies and the young learner, 18, 20-23. Mcguire, M. & Cole, B. (2008). Classroom success stories: Using the Storypath approach to make local government understandable. The Social Studies, 99(2), 85-90. National Center for Educational Statistics. (2009). NAEP 2009 report card to the nation and the states. Retrieved February, 2018, from National Center for Educational Statistics. (2012). NAEP 2011 report card to the nation and the states. Retrieved February 28, 2018 from National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts. Washington DC: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. OECD. (2010). PISA 2009 Results: Learning to Learn – Student Engagement, Strategies and Practices (Volume III) OECD. (2018). PISA 2015 Results in Focus. Retrieved March 30, 2018, from Oklahoma Academic Standards: English Language Arts. (2016). Retrieved February 28, 2018, from Rimmereide, H.E., Blair, B., & Hoem, J. (2011). Wiki storyline in second language. Seminar Net: Media, Technology and Life-Long Learning 7(2), 6. Ryan, R.M, & Deci, E.L (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, Social development and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78. United Kingdom Department of Education. (2013). 2014 National Curriculum. Retrieved February 28, 2018 from lum2014. Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes (14th Ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Appendix A Student Survey What did you like about Storyline? What was your favorite activity that we did in the Storyline unit? Why did you like it? (you can choose more than one) Did you find it easier to write the exposition on your new safety invention or easier to write the exposition on TV with your teacher? Which exposition was easier and why do you think it was easier? What did you enjoy more the Storyline unit or other social studies units you have studied this year? Why?

Appendix B Interview Script 1. What is more important when you write content or form (grammar. spelling etc)? 2. Do you think you need to be good at grammar and spelling to be a good writer? 3. I get better grades on topics I choose for myself rather than ones the teacher assigns? 4. Who is the most important audience that you write for the teacher or other people? Why? 5. When you use an outline does it improve your writing? 6. Do you prefer writing in a group more than writing for myself. 7. How would you rate your writing? How would you rate your writing during the Storyline unit? 8. Do you ever find it difficult to write? Did you find it difficult to write during the Storyline unit? 9. Writing is an important way to express my feelings? 10. What did you enjoy more, the Storyline unit or other social studies units? 11. Did you feel like the tasks were your choice in the Storyline unit? 12. How would you describe your experience working in groups on the storyline unit? 13. 14. Was it easier to write the Innovative safety design persuasive text or the persuasive text on TV? Why? 15. Was it easier or harder to write for a real life audience than writing for your teacher? 16. What did you enjoy most about the Storyline unit? Why?


Teacher to Teacher Column Susan Christian

Developing Readers by Developing a love of Reading My favorite memories are of my 2-year-old daughter sitting up in her bed holding her favorite copy of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Bill Martin, Jr., 1967). Madison held the book upside down, but she was reading. Now of course she did not know most of her letters yet, and even the pictures were upside down, but she was still reading in the most important sense of the word: She was engaging with a book, she was deriving her own meaning, and she was enjoying the encounter. In too many classrooms, we have put the pedagogical cart before the horse. We want children to learn the skills of reading – like phonemic awareness and decoding words – so they can read fluently, and then eventually come to love reading itself. But that is backwards. You do not learn skills so you can love reading; you love reading and books, so you learn skills. That is why one of the most important qualifications for any teacher is a love for reading. When the teacher loves books, it just shows. Teachers who love reading introduce every new book like they were introducing a special classroom guest, one the children are sure to get excited about. It is amazing how many children today are in love with all kinds of technology. They are not threatened by it and they approach each new device confident that they will be able to master it. And nobody ever sat them down with a lesson on computer hardware or programming. We just let them enjoy the interaction, and when they want to know more, we teach them.


The result is that some children are now writing code and building their own computers. What if we said that we wanted them to learn the inner workings of a computer so that they could eventually come to love technology? Instead, we let them fall in love with the technology, and many have gone on to far surpass us with their technical wizardry. John Holt wrote a wonderful, classic book titled How Children Learn (1967) in which he made some profound observations about their learning processes – observations that do not necessarily square with how we sometimes do school. One of his insights was that children do not choose to learn in order to do things in the future – they choose to do right now what they see significant others in their life are doing, and, through doing, they learn. Holt said that children are brilliant learners because they think of themselves as doers, not as learners. Children will learn to read when we drop them into a classroom that is littered with literacy (poetry on the walls/bulletin board, book-filled shelves, writings by children), one with a teacher who wants to bring them into his or her beloved world of books. Madison is now a high school sophomore, and she is a reader. She moved from a love of books and stories to a knowledge of the skills that help readers develop more. And why would she want to develop those skills? To enjoy the world of reading she had come to love. Many – probably most – of our kids do not bring that love of reading to school with them. But when we therefore think that we need to double down on the isolated parts of reading to catch them up, we only take them further from the world of reading we ultimately want them to enjoy.

Susan Christian, Moore Public Schools


POLICY AND ADVOCACY Advocacy in Action: The 2018 Oklahoma Teacher Walkout The 2018 legislative session has been an interesting one in Oklahoma. Education funding came to the forefront and teachers let the Oklahoma State Legislature know that they expected to see increased funding for education, for the classroom as well as for teacher and support staff salaries. Teachers made it known that they would lead a walkout in April. The original date set for the walkout to begin was April 23rd, but it was moved up to April 2nd to highlight the fact that the Oklahoma State Legislature is required to set the education budget every year by April 1 st, although this deadline is not usually met.

Photo Credit: Kelli Anglley, Elgin Public Schools, April 5, 2018

The walkout was led by the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Professional Oklahoma Educators (POE) had been lobbying for increasing teacher salaries, with their “60 in 6� plan, promoted in a press conference prior to the walkout on March 15th. This plan aimed to reward career teachers by raising the top of the pay scale to $60,000 over the next 6 years (Professional Oklahoma Educators). The walkout was planned to draw attention to the drastic cuts the education budget has endured over the past decade, which have affected overall education funding for curriculum materials, including textbooks, as well as salaries. The OEA laid out requests for $506 million for education funding, with $366 million allocated to teacher salary increases, $65 million for raises for school support staff, and $75 million for school funding (Oklahoma Education Association). Education funding has been at the forefront in states across the country, not only in Oklahoma. Prior to the Oklahoma Teacher Walkout in April, West Virginia teachers had already held a 9-day walkout, rallying for, and receiving, a salary increase. Since the Oklahoma Teacher Walkout, teachers in Arizona, Colorado, and Kentucky have also


rallied for increased funding for salaries and classrooms. Schools across the country have been making do with less for a decade, as cuts have been made to education budgets. Some states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont, have been able to restore their education funding, as well as funding for related services affecting students, and have seen student achievement improve as a result (Darling-Hammond, 2018). Oklahoma students have been suffering from declining education funding in multiple ways (Blatt, 2018). As state funding for education has decreased since its highest level in 2008, students have found themselves in larger classes as teaching positions have been eliminated or could not be filled due to a teacher shortage. A shortage of teachers has been seen across the country, due to reduced funding for education creating unrealistic challenges in the work environment including growing class sizes and declining budgets for resources and facilities (DarlingHammond, 2018), but has been severe in Oklahoma, not only to due to increased demands on teachers, but also due to the fact that teachers can earn significantly more salary for their efforts by crossing the Oklahoma state line in any direction. Teaching positions across the country have been filled by unqualified teachers this school year due to the shortage of teachers, with over 1800 positions in Oklahoma currently filled with teachers who are not fully prepared for the job (Blatt, 2018). While many emergency certified teachers are in the midst of the certification process or may be certified in another area than the position they are accepting, the increased number of emergency certified teachers has grown at an alarming rate. The current number of 1800 in Oklahoma is up from 32 emergency certified teachers employed during the 2011-2012 school year (Oklahoma State Department of Education, 2017). The Oklahoma State Legislature and Governor Mary Fallin attempted to prevent the Oklahoma Teacher Walkout by passing legislation which increased revenue for education, designated for general school funding and materials, as well as teacher and support staff pay raises, and raises for state employees, prior to the April 1st legislative deadline. House Bill HB1010XX provided revenue for education through increased taxes on gross production of oil wells, cigarettes, fuel and hotel rooms. These funds were designated for teacher salaries from $5,000-$8,395, with higher raises going to teachers with more experience, as proposed in the 60 in 6 plan (Professional Oklahoma Educators), for an average raise of $6,100, as well as $1,250 designated for school support staff. These raises cost $354 million for teachers and $55 million support staff. Additionally, the revenue will provide an additional $70 million for school funding, some of which will be allocated for new textbooks (Oklahoma Education Association). This funding totals $479 million, a huge increase in revenue for Oklahoma schools, but $27 million short of the request from OEA (Oklahoma Education Association). The hotel tax portion of the revenue package was repealed the following week by HB1012XX. Many districts across the state announced support for their teachers’ participation in the walkout and closed schools in their districts so that teachers would be available to attend the rally and advocate for education in Oklahoma City. The teacher walkout began on Monday, April 2nd, with thousands of teachers descending on the Oklahoma Capitol to rally and speak with their legislators, as well as groups of teachers demonstrating in their own cities if distance made their attendance in Oklahoma City challenging or impossible. The walkout continued for nine days, until OEA leaders announced on Thursday, April 12th that there was no hope for further legislation


increasing education funds and that teachers should go back to their classrooms. Teachers had a range of reactions and emotions to the announcement ending the walkout. While many are calling for teachers to remain united, some are vocal about differences of opinion regarding the need to continue rallying for funding while the momentum for the movement had already been built, some have been more accepting of the fact that 2018 saw the historic passage of a revenue package and that we should expect the restoration of funding to come over a number of years, not all at once. The OEA state convention began amid rumors of a petition to impeach the top two officers, although nothing was on the agenda during the conference to address it (Eger & Hardiman, 2018). While this petition was not officially presented to OEA leadership during the annual conference, the assumption was that not enough signatures were collected to bring the issue to a vote, but the discussion shows the range of opinions of the effectiveness of the walkout (Hardiman, 2018, May 1). Other initiatives to raise revenue were brought up by legislators and citizens, including restoring past income tax reductions and removing the capital gains tax exemptions, but these were not acted upon during the session Overall, it appeared that teachers were treated to tremendous, but not unanimous, support during the walkout. From being joined by parents and students, receiving messages via social media from teachers in other states and countries, and being treated to meals and fuel by local businesses, teachers felt supported while they advocated for funding for education. Students who attended the rally learned real life lessons about advocacy and government. On several days classroom areas were set up on the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol and classes were modeled to demonstrate commitment to education. Other students attended in support of their teachers. Aubrey Scott, Jenks High School Student, summed up what she thought that the rally meant when she said that it, “really educated the public on our current situation in Oklahoma ... and on what teachers do and how much they sacrifice (Stanley, 2018).� However, as with most political discussions, debate ensues as supporters on both sides of an issue make their points. Some Oklahomans are not pleased to see taxes raised and a group was formed to fight the increased taxes. Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite, led by former Senator Tom Coburn, was formed in response to the passage of the tax revenue package in March by the Oklahoma State Legislature. The group is currently collecting signatures to attempt to get veto referendum on an upcoming ballot (likely the General Election on November 6, 2018) for the citizens to vote for or against the tax revenue package (Hertneky, 2018). Oklahoma State Superintendent for Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister sent a letter to Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter on Thursday, May 10th, asking for his opinion on whether school districts should implement the recently passed minimum teacher salary schedule, since there is a potential referendum petition on the horizon which could repeal the revenue package passed to fund the raises (Egar, 2018, May 11, 12). Additionally, POE filed a petition with the Oklahoma Supreme Court on May 10th asking the court to declare the referendum petition unconstitutional (Hardiman, 2018, May 11, 12). You should keep yourself informed through professional groups, advocacy groups and local news sources regarding legislation, petition efforts and the upcoming elections. Primary elections for state races with more than one candidate running for an office will be held on June 26th, with runoff elections, if needed, on August 28th. The


general election will be held on November 6, 2018 (Oklahoma State Election Board, 2018). Be sure to research races and petitions prior to deciding who to support! Remember, the best thing that has emerged from the 2018 Oklahoma Teacher Walkout is a more informed and motivated group of education advocates! Stay vigilant! Keep yourself informed and contact your elected officials with questions, concerns, comments, and most of all, “Thank you” messages when you support their voting record. Follow Education Legislation: The Oklahoma Legislature is required to adjourn no later than 5:00 PM on the last Friday of May annually. This year the last day of session must be no later than May 25th, but the Second Regular Session of the 56th Legislature adjourned early this year, on May 3, 2018. The First Regular Session of the 57th Legislature will convene to prepare for session on January 8, 2019. The first day of session will be Monday, February 4, 2019 (Oklahoma State Legislature). You can always find current legislation through the Oklahoma State Legislature’s website at If you know what bill you want to find you can enter the number in the box under “Find Legislation” on the bottom left corner of the site. Enter “HB” or “SB” before the bill number to designate whether it is a House Bill or Senate Bill. You can also follow links on this page to locate your Senator or Representative, as well as daily agendas, meetings and calendars. If you are a member of Facebook, the following groups provide sites where you can find reliable information about advocating for public education and also participate in the discussion. Many groups and sites may pop up during the election process. Please be sure to be a good consumer of information when researching candidates and issues. Chalk the Vote The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) has launched a new initiative – “Chalk the Vote” – to communicate directly with teachers about policies that impact children and education professionals. Chalk the Vote and OICA are seeking a “block captain” in every school building in Oklahoma. The block captains will receive and share policy updates regarding legislation, relevant state agency rules, nonpartisan electoral information regarding voter engagement and advocacy tools to help teachers engage with lawmakers. The goal is to maximize information, voting and political participation in Oklahoma’s education community. Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education Our mission is to bring awareness to the truths of the current education reform being forced upon districts, throughout Oklahoma, from state and federal officials. We want to protect and preserve public schools and public education. This is the group that assigns “apples” to candidates who are pro-public education. You may have seen the apple icon next to their names online and wondered about them. Oklahomans for Public Education Our mission is to support candidates in key races with pro-public education agendas.


Julie Collins is a professor at the University of Central Oklahoma. She can be reached at

References Blatt, D. (2018, February 22). “This is not OK�: Cuts are hitting all aspects of public education. Retrieved from Darling-Hammond, L. (2018, April 27). What teacher strikes are really about. Retrieved from Chalk the vote (n.d.) Facebook group. Egar, A. (2018, May 11, 12). Hofmeister to Oklahoma AG: Should teachers start getting raises amid effort to kill taxes needed to pay for them? She calls on state AG to sort out mandate on raises, conflicting repeal attempt. Tulsa World. Retrieved from Egar, A. & Hardiman, S. (2018, April 27). Teachers walkout fallout: Impeachment efforts underway against OEA. OEA president, vice president target of some after walkout. Tulsa World. Retrieved from Hardiman, S. (2018, May 1). Effort to impeach OEA leaders reveals divide among educators after walkout: Some educators at odds with impeachment petition, say leaders made progress. Tulsa World. Retrieved from


Hardiman, S. (2018, May 11, 12) Professional Oklahoma Educators files protest against anti-tax petition with state Supreme Court. Tulsa World. Retrieved from Hertneky, D. (2018, April 9). Group to start petition initiative that may jeopardize teacher pay raises. News 9. Retrieved from jeopardize-teacher-pay-raises Oklahoma Education Association. (2018, April 11). Here’s a look at where we are with our education funding asks. Message posted to Oklahoma Parents and Teachers for Education. (n.d.). Facebook group. Oklahoma State Department of Education (2017, September 15). SBE Approved Emergency Certification Applications. Retrieved from Oklahoma State Election Board. (2018, February 8). 2018 Election Calendar. Retrieved from Oklahoma State Legislature Website. (no date). Retrieved from Oklahomans for Public Education (n.d.) Facebook group. Professional Oklahoma Educators. (2018, March15). Here are some fast facts about the 60 in 6 plan [Facebook post]. Message posted to Stanley, T. (2018, April 22). Teacher walkout: Area students talk about what was achieved, the state of public education. Tulsa World. Retrieved from


TECH TALK Literacy & Cooperative Learning… 2.0! For What Century are We Preparing Students? Crystal Clark and Joey J. Hoffman While the vast majority of students today are considered to be “digital natives”, many educators are considered “digital immigrants (Prensky, 2001)”. Basically, our students are often coming to school with a greater understanding of how to use technology than their teachers. This conundrum forces educators to make a decisionignore this or learn to utilize technology in (and/or beyond) their classrooms. We do not feel it is fair to make such generalizations about how teachers teach because every teacher is different. We will say, however, that every teacher falls somewhere on the technology utilization spectrum of using very low tech (paper, pencil, etc.) (Jenkin, 2015) to very high tech (Education Dive, 2016). That said, many educators are not welltrained in the appropriate and effective use of technology; which is, in our opinion, the underlying reason technology is not always successful (Kesling, 2015). It is not wise for schools to slap a SmartBoard on the wall and say they are utilizing technology, unless they provide teachers with quality training on how teachers and students alike can use it... meaningfully! The Technological/Pedagogical/Content Knowledge (TPACK, Mendoza, 2014) and Substitute/Augmentation/Modification/Redefinition (SAMR, Puentedura, 2017) models are excellent tools with which to begin evaluating the value of various educational technologies in practice. “At the heart of the TPACK framework, is the complex interplay of three primary forms of knowledge: Content (CK), Pedagogy (PK), and Technology (TK). The TPACK approach goes beyond seeing these three knowledge bases in isolation.” (Koehler, 2017). Puentedura (2017) states that the SAMR Model was “developed as a way for teachers to evaluate how they are incorporating technology into their instructional practice”. These models are intended to heighten awareness of technology usage in the classroom. Additionally, they may also provide a goal for which to strive for making the most meaningful use of that technology. If we want to create and foster classrooms that prepare students for the 21st century, teachers need to be well-versed in the various technologies available, as well as how to use them effectively and collaboratively within their classroom walls. The Dynamic Meanings of “Literacy” Before the age of technological communication, many might have loosely described literacy as the idea of communicating; reading, writing, speaking, and listening. One who was literate would have been able to do such tasks fluently and with clarity. However, the depths of literacy, by definition, have evolved from those previously understood concepts. Its definition has become more encompassing and complex as technology has broadened the horizons by which people are able to interact. We, as educators, must reconsider the very definition of literacy in order to help students, and ultimately society, become truly literate in the ever evolving 21st century. Technology has connected people from all corners of the globe. Therefore, issues surrounding communications with diverse cultures must be carefully addressed.


The advancement of technology, and its impact on the ways in which people communicate, expands the once static view of literacy. Nowadays, literacy is anything but static. Even when considering what constitutes a text, many perceptions have shifted. Texts were once, and still commonly are, believed to be any form of communication in print. Now, texts are being viewed as any mode or media from which one may derive a message- including images, videos, print, verbal or nonverbal cues, and so on. Overall, literacy is an umbrella term for various types of literacy needed in order to interact effectively with others. The general term of literacy now entails the abilities to: ● Adapt to changes in communication tools and trends and proficiently communicate with these tools (technological literacy). ● Think critically about information from various sources (media/information literacy). ● Conduct effective, accurate, and specifically relevant online informational searches. ● Connect with diverse peoples in such a way that is respectful of viewpoints and beliefs (cultural literacy). ● Understand a given society’s popular culture and remain updated on current events (cultural/social literacy). ● Work collaboratively with others to identify, deliberate, and solve problems on a local, regional, national, or global scale (social/cultural literacy). Cooperative Learning Factors “Kids need to learn in a social, challenging, non-competitive atmosphere where they feel they have both choice and responsibility,” stated Gretchen Lee, a middle school teacher in California (as quoted in Bafile, 2011, p. 1). Cooperative learning is much more than simply putting students in groups and giving them a task to do; it is a technique that should remain flexible and be utilized across a large assortment of objectives. This unique teaching method requires planning and can be utilized in a variety of ways. Cooperative learning clusters manage to give students explicit instructional content, helping safeguard perceptive reasoning of new information and reinforcing academic growth (Johnson & Johnson, n.d.). There have been multiple studies focusing on a range of positive outcomes, including behavior, intergroup relations, social cohesion, attitudes towards subject areas, attendance, and higher academic achievement (Johnson & Johnson, n.d.; Slavin, 2015). For cooperation, working together to accomplish a shared goal, to succeed, individuals must comprehend and work towards an outcome that is beneficial to them as well as all the other members of their group (Johnson & Johnson, n.d.). All over the world, cooperative learning is regarded as a valued pedagogy with the potential to impact achievement, motivation, social interaction, problem solving, and countless other educational outcomes (Baloche & Brody, 2017). Monique DeVane, California College Prep’s head of school, says “[Cooperative learning] teaches students that it’s not just about content; it’s about cultivating habits of mind that are the underpinnings of deeper scholarship” (as cited in Davis, 2012). When a student in a group receives affirmation that what they are thinking really matters and can impact another person in the group, a powerful life lesson can be learned. Teachers must use


a variety of techniques to prepare groups for a successful collaborative learning experience. From making pre-instructional decisions, to monitoring student learning, a teacher’s role shifts from leader to more of a coaching interventionist, providing assistance only when necessary. New Standards for Technology Integration In order to support educators across the country, multiple national technological standards have been made, such as those by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Many states, similar to Oklahoma, also have technology standards of their own, often integrated into their other subject objectives. Of these, our favorite set of technology standards for students are from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). In 2016, Oklahoma adopted these standards. The seven fundamentals of ISTE are: 1. Empowered Learner 2. Digital Citizen 3. Knowledge Constructor 4. Innovated Designer 5. Computational Thinker 6. Creative Communicator 7. Global Collaborator Each of these standards are further broken down into more specific indicators. One of the aspects we appreciate most about these standards are that they give students positive names. This, in turn does not simply tell what students should be able to do, but helps students take on a whole new identity in the best possible ways. Additionally, we admire that these standards are grouped by age or grade. Students are enabled to build upon their current technological abilities.

Crystal R. Clark Oklahoma State University, Graduate Student 5th Grade Gifted Cluster Reading, Language Arts, & Science Teacher, Creekwood Elementary, Broken Arrow Public Schools

Joey J. Hoffman Oklahoma State University, Graduate Student Academic Enrichment Specialist, Broken Arrow Public Schools


References Bafile, C. (2011). Let’s cooperate! Teachers share tips for cooperative learning. Education World. Retrieved from Baloche, L., & Brody, C.M. (2017). Cooperative learning: Exploring challenges, crafting innovations. Journal of Education for Teaching, 43(3), 274-283. doi/abs/10.1080/02607476.2017.1319513 Davis, M. (2012). How collaborative learning leads students to success. Edutopia. Retrieved from How teachers are using technology to change the classroom. (2016). Education Dive. Retrieved from International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). Retrieved from Jenkin, M. (2015). Tablets out, imagination in: The schools that shun technology. The Guardian. Retrieved from Johnson, D.W. & Johnson, R.T. (n.d.) An overview of cooperative learning. Retrieved from Kesling, B. (2015, Sep. 15). Technology in classrooms doesn't always boost education results, OECD says; overexposure to computers and the internet causes educational outcomes to drop, study finds. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from Koehler, M. (2012, September 24). TPACK Explained. Retrieved from National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). (2013). NCTE Framework for 21st Century Curriculum and Assessment. Retrieved from NETS-T-STANDARDS. (2008). Retrieved March from Oklahoma Academic Standards. (2018). Retrieved from Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants Part 1. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6. https://doi/pdfplus/10.1108/10748120110424816 Puentedura, R. (2017, Sep. 24). SAMR and Bloom's taxonomy: Assembling the puzzle. Common Sense Education. Retrieved from Slavin, R.E. (2015). Cooperative learning in elementary schools. Education 3-13, 43(1), 5-14. doi:10.1080/03004279.2015.963370


RESEARCH SUMMARY Linda McElroy, Ph.D., Column Editor

Make a Note of That! Effective Note-taking Supports Readers’ Success When readers actively interact with texts, they are more likely to be engaged and to understand, remember, and enjoy the reading process. Note-taking is often used as one listens to a lecture. However, note-taking as one is actually reading a text can also be a strong support for readers. Previous research has shown that taking notes during the reading helps to facilitate active interaction. Most of the earlier research was conducted with older students. This column will discuss two articles about the process of helping elementary children become effective note-takers. The review of the first article will discuss a research study conducted with fourth graders. Next, the second article will provide teacher tips for implementing note-taking strategy instruction. Concepts from both articles can be easily adapted for older readers as well. The following two articles are reviewed: Chang, W. & Yu-Min, K. (2015). The effects of note-taking skills instruction on elementary students’ reading, The Journal of Educational Research, 108: 278291. Knight, J.A. & Justesen, H.A. (2018). Jottings: An approach to guiding reading in the elementary classroom, The Reading Teacher, Vol. 71, No. 5: 601-604. Article One: Evidence from Research The research for the first article was conducted with fourth-grade students from 12 classes in two elementary schools. The schools were in a lower middle-class area. The teachers all had at least five years teaching experience, and they participated on a voluntary basis. Research questions focused on the effect of note-taking instruction on the students’ note-taking and reading comprehension. The study also investigated the criterion for evaluating students’ note-taking performance. The experimental design used two factors. The first factor was the treatment groups, as the classes were divided into three treatment groups: (a) the note-taking instruction (NTI) group, (b) the free note-taking without instruction (FNT) group, and (c) the free-recall writing (FRW) group. The classes were randomly assigned to the groups. The second factor was reading ability. Students were grouped as low reading ability or high reading ability, based on a standardized assessment. The researchers developed note-taking performance tasks using expository texts which were evaluated by three experienced elementary teachers to be grade-appropriate and unfamiliar to the students. The study was divided into three phases: baseline, intervention, and evaluation. Baseline Phase First, the baseline of students’ reading comprehension was measured on a standardized test with 24 multiple-choice questions over four texts. The questions included factual text knowledge questions, summarizing questions, analysis and comparison questions, and inference questions.


Intervention Phase For the intervention stage with students in the Note-Taking Instruction (NTI) group, researchers developed a series of steps to develop note-taking strategy instruction for elementary students. The students received forty minutes of note-taking skills instruction per week for five weeks. First, teachers systematically presented learning materials and explained how to perform definite note-taking strategies. Second, teachers demonstrated appropriate note-taking strategies and gave students chances to practice these skills. Finally, teachers guided students as they revised their notes after discussion and talking with classmates. Students could improve their notes based on peer feedback. Instruction on note-taking was done over five lessons, each with a unique purpose which was extended from the previous lesson, and with increasing difficulty. The five lessons focused on: 1. Highlighting the main idea. Lessons focused on identifying important information and writing it in their own words instead of copying verbatim. Techniques included highlighting or underlining keywords, symbols, and marks; using different colors or symbols to mark different levels of ideas; using textual clues such as text titles and questions within the text; and understanding why a particular piece of information was important. 2. Reducing information in paragraphs. The goal was for students to learn to take notes quickly by reducing the amount of information recorded. Instead of verbatim copying, students learned to transform the most important information into concise statements. Steps include eliminating redundant information, substituting superordinates, skipping examples, excluding descriptive words, shortening long sentences, and integrating low-level ideas to construct higher-level ideas. 3. Identifying keywords. Teachers demonstrated using keywords to reveal relationships between pieces of information. Examples included comparison (however, but, although), causal (because, so, as a result), sequence (first, second, next, finally), description, and problem/solution. 4. Organizing information with visual representations. These can include illustrations, icons, graphs, charts, diagrams, flowcharts, tables, etc. to display information from the passage. 5. Awareness of text structure. Lessons focused on main headings and subheadings (presenting the hierarchy of the text or outline of the text), sequence (series of events or steps in a process) and classification (grouping materials into classes or categories). In each lesson, the three groups read the same articles, but the tasks were different. Students in the NTI groups received note-taking instruction from their teachers and practiced taking notes with teacher guidance. The FNT group read the article. They did not receive note-taking instruction, but they were invited to take notes by writing down what they thought was important. The FRW group students read the article, then engaged in free-recall writing. Evaluation phase The researchers designed an experimental task to examine whether note-taking facilitated the processing of unfamiliar information. A five-paragraph article on “The Cycle of the Rocks� described three types of rocks (igneous, sedimentary, and


metamorphic) and how each was transformed over time as conditions changed. As the students read the passage, they completed notes. The researchers analyzed three dimensions of students’ notes: verbatim copying (copying text word for word, without grasping the information enough to make distinctions about the importance of the information), the representation (no notes, words, graphics, tables), and the terse value (taking notes by using essential words or symbols, icons, or illustrations). Analysis of the note-taking performance showed these results. Verbatim copying. Students in the note-taking instruction (NTI) group decreased verbatim copying from 18.97% to 7.76%. Verbatim copying remained high for the other two groups. Representations in students’ notes. A high percentage of representations in all three groups were done with words. Approximately one fifth of the NTI group used various representations such as tables (18.89%), graphics (2.2%), conceptual mapping, symbols, or other reorganizational methods. The researchers considered tables to be most effective to classify and categorize the content of the passages used. Students in the NTI group knew different representations of note-taking, and they used them to show specific content in their notes. In the other two groups, students sometimes did not take notes, or they used only words to present the content. Terse value. Researchers determined a terse value by dividing the number of concepts in the students’ notes by the number of words they used. A higher terse value means that the students used fewer words to cover more concepts. The terse value was used to verify whether the students grasped the main concepts, whether they omitted redundant words, and whether they included key points in their notes. Both high reading ability and low reading ability students in the Note-Taking Instruction group wrote more concepts with fewer words by the end of the research. Even the low reading ability students in the NTI group scored better than high reading ability students in the other two groups on this measure. Reading comprehension of the passage was evaluated by 16 multiple-choice questions. Students in the NTI group had a mean score on comprehension of 12.31, compared to the Free Note-Taking without instruction group (10.81) or the Free Recall Writing group (11.29). Following other analysis of reading comprehension scores, the researchers concluded: “Thus, these results suggest that note-taking instruction not only improved the note-taking performance of the NTI group students, but also had a positive impact on their reading comprehension. In other words, when students learn how to incorporate note-taking skills and write down important ideas, they also improve their understanding of what they have read.” (p. 288). In the conclusion of the article, the researchers commented that when teachers teach strategy instruction such as note-taking, they should consider the students’ level of learning and integrate scaffolding to help students learn and develop reading strategies. They should model, both verbally and visually, various note-taking skills and explain when and why to use the different strategies. Teachers should provide more opportunities for students to practice and to learn to apply the strategies in varied learning contexts.


Article Two: Tips from Teachers This article from The Reading Teacher provides one strategy for implementing note-taking. The authors point out that elementary children are seldom asked to take notes as they read, and they are usually required to answer literal level, teacher-driven questions. To move beyond this type of thinking, teachers must help students learn to ask good questions, to discover a more open-ended critical type of thinking, and to engage in meaningful conversations about their readings. The strategy, called “jottings,” helps students to quickly take notes of points in the text to include in discussions later. The jottings symbols included items such as: “LOL” for funny, an exclamation mark for exciting, a question mark for questions, a star for important, a heart for favorite, a stick figure for character, a sad face for sad, an eye for notice, a hash tag for vocabulary, FL for figurative language, and a light bulb for main idea. Teachers demonstrate how to use the jottings strategy, then provide a think-aloud to explain how to use the symbols as quick notes to remember points from the readings and to use their notes during discussions. Students keep a list of points they notice as they read by listing the symbol, a brief note about the content they noticed, and the page number so they can include their ideas in discussions with peers. Teaching students how to participate in discussions could be done with a fishbowl approach. One group of students (in the “fishbowl” for others to watch) would be coached and prepared to use their jottings in a discussion as they sit in the center of the room. Other students stand outside the “fishbowl” and observe as their peers use their jottings to support their discussions. After the demonstration, the fish-bowl students explain what they did and why. The remaining students ask questions and discuss what they noticed. Next, all students form groups and try out the process on their own, with teacher support throughout the process. Final thoughts: From both articles, teachers can be assured that students benefit from instruction and support in all phases of the reading process. Important strategies such as note-taking do not come automatically to students. Beginning to model and teach students how to implement these strategies in the elementary grades can facilitate students’ success as readers throughout their lives.

About the author/editor: Dr. Linda McElroy is a professor at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. She previously taught in Oklahoma schools as a classroom teacher and as a reading specialist.


The Richard P. Williams Reading Specialist Scholarship


Shelby Oltmanns thanks the Oklahoma Literacy Association for the 2018 Richard P. Williams Scholarship! Shelby received her undergraduate degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and now teaches 3rd grade at Hayes Elementary School in Oklahoma City. This year she was selected Teacher of the Year at Hayes. Shelby returned to UCO to pursue her Master of Education in Reading degree. She said, " I decided reading would be the best program to apply to my classroom while in school and after graduation. I also saw a big need for Reading Specialists in my school’s population, so I knew this program would not only best serve me but also serve my classroom." Information about the scholarship can be found on the Oklahoma Literacy Association's website. Applications are due February 1st.56


Linda McElroy OKLA STATE PRESIDENT University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
 LMCELROY@USAO.EDU Hello, members and friends! When I wrote my first letter as your state president, I greeted Oklahoma Reading Association members and friends. Now, in the spring of 2018, I am writing to you as Oklahoma Literacy Association (OKLA) members and friends! The Board of Directors and I are excited that our organization is completing the transition with the International Literacy Association (formerly the International Reading Association).  Thanks to Vickie Hinkle, our ILA Coordinator, for helping us make the transition with ILA. Watch for updates on our Facebook page and on our website. You will notice new branding and an entirely new website soon.  The transition is taking time and effort, and I appreciate support from our Board members and from ILA. Please bear with us as we make changes in all of our social media formats. Thanks to Connie Wise, Woodward Public Schools, for serving as our Media Chair. Watch for news and ideas from Connie and others. Check back for updates! We are celebrating a very successful state conference, which was held at Oklahoma City University on March 3. Our featured speaker, Dr. Donald Bear, treated us to an opening keynote, as well as a closing session. He is amazing! We also appreciate our luncheon speaker, Oklahoma poet Sharon Edge Martin, an outstanding group of breakout session presenters, and a group of exhibitors who sent us home with new resources and ideas. Thanks to Liz Willner and an amazing group of OCU teacher education students for hosting us on your campus! Please watch our website for information and make plans to join us for another great conference featuring Dr. Doug Fisher in Spring, 2019! We hope you will join us for online book clubs this summer.  We will be reading Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters (2017) by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst. Sheri Vasinda from Oklahoma State University and her graduate students will be facilitating the discussions, and I know they will be interesting and informative. Watch Facebook and our website for information. We are planning to hold a Leadership Conference this fall, and we hope that you will join us. Continue to join us as we help our students understand that "We are READERS!" As reading teachers, our role is much bigger than just "teaching children to read". Our task is to "Create READERS!" Our ultimate goal, in our interactions with students (no matter their ages) is to provide experiences so they develop self-efficacy and a belief about themselves of "I can do this!" Take time to read something just because you want to!


Linda McElroy President Oklahoma Literacy Association


Authors are requested to submit only unpublished articles not under review by any other publication. A manuscript should be typed, double spaced, not right justified, not hyphenated, and should follow APA, 6th Edition guidelines (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association). Tables and graphs should be used only when absolutely necessary. Include a cover page giving the article title, professional affiliation, complete address, e-mail and phone number of the author(s). Special sections have specific requirements that are described below. The editors reserve the right to revise and/or edit all copies.


The Oklahoma Reader welcomes manuscripts that support the growth and development of classroom teachers, reading specialists, and other literacy professionals throughout their careers. Manuscripts should successfully translate literacy research into practice through concrete strategies and techniques. Considering that the main audience of The Oklahoma Reader consists of PreK-12 teachers, manuscripts that offer practical ideas for successful literacy instruction are encouraged and prioritized. Manuscripts should be limited to 4000 words including tables, figures, and reference(s). Submit the manuscript electronically as a Word document attached to an e-mail message addressed to Manuscripts will be reviewed anonymously by three members of The Oklahoma Reader Editorial Advisory Board. Manuscripts are evaluated on the basis of clarity, interest, organization, content, and style. If accepted, revisions may be requested. Manuscripts must be original work which has not been previously published nor is undergoing simultaneous review in another journal. The Oklahoma Reader also seeks submissions dealing with instructional practices (teacher-to-teacher), and classroom research (teacher research). These are described as follows. All submissions should be submitted electronically as a Word document attached to an email message addressed to Teacher to Teacher: Submit descriptions of teaching activities that have helped students learn an essential literacy skill, concept, strategy, or attitude. Submissions should be no longer than 1500 words and align with the following format: Title (if adapting from another source, cite reference and provide a bibliography Purpose of Activity, including the literacy skill, concept, strategy, or attitude the students will learn Description of activity with examples, questions, responses. Please provide enough detail so someone can implement the activity. How activity was evaluated to know if purpose was achieved. Teacher Research: Submit manuscripts that describe research or inquiry conducted in classrooms. Submissions should be 1000-2000 words and align with the following format: Description of the question or issue guiding the research/inquiry, including a short review of pertinent literature. Description of who participated in the study, what the sources of data were, how the data were gathered and examined. Description of the findings and conclusion from the research/inquiry. Title, author, publisher of the resource. Short description of the resource. Critical review of the resource including strengths and weaknesses. Short discussion of how the resource might be useful to a teacher. 58

The Oklahoma Reading Association (ORA) is now the Oklahoma Literacy Association (OKLA)!

Membership in the Oklahoma Literacy Association gives all interested in literacy education the opportunity to develop and support literacy initiatives and activities at the international, national, state, and local levels. Opportunities to participate in activities that support quality professional development, partnerships with other agencies advocating for literacy, research, as well as the promotion of quality instruction, materials, and policies are all extended and enriched through membership in OKLA. We invite you to become a member of the Oklahoma Literacy Association if you are not yet a member! Membership information can be found here.








Donita Shaw Julie Collins

Oklahoma State University University of Central Oklahoma

Shelley Martin-Young

Oklahoma State University

Linda McElroy Sharon Morgan Sylvia Hurst Liz Willner Brian Thompson Rebecca Marie Farley Debby Yarbrough Tammi Davis

Univ. of Science and Arts of Oklahoma Oklahoma State Dept. of Education University of Central Oklahoma Oklahoma City University Oklahoma State University Oklahoma Baptist University Woodward Public Schools Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma Reading Association Officers President

Linda McElroy

Univ. of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

President Elect

Sheri Vasinda

Oklahoma State University


Sylvia Hurst

University of Central Oklahoma


Debby Yarbrough

Woodward Public Schools

Past President

Liz Willner

Oklahoma City University

ILA Coordinator

Vickie Hinkle

MidAmerica Christian University

Profile for Oklahoma Reader

The Oklahoma Reader - Spring Edition  

The Oklahoma Reader - Spring Edition  

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