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Novel Ideas: Spring 2019

This is an ELA Newsletter to foster community and share great ideas.


"Its lesson, really,
about not being what you’re born into
but what you’re born to be,
even if that means
not caring about the capes they wave in your face
or the spears they cut into your shoulders."
This excerpt from the poem, "The Story of Ferdinand the Bull", by Nebraska State Poet Matt Mason, reminds me of what we do every day as ELA educators.   How often are we sadly touched by the stories of trauma that accompany some of our students throughout their school days?  And how easy it would be to perseverate on those waving capes and cutting spears that can and often do get in the way, if only temporarily?  Imagining what our students are born to be is a unique lens through which we view those tender and sometimes timid souls who inhabit the desks and tables of our classrooms.  Knowing what our students are born to be, we provide the tools and inspiration with which they can achieve that birthright.  How lucky are they?  And how lucky are we?
As we near the end of yet another school year, I want to thank all of you for the "born to be" moments you provide for our students every single day.  While the skills of the English language arts are the core of what we do, we also have the rare opportunity to share and learn with our students what it means to be human, to care for one another, and to value each other despite our differences.  I extend my sincerely gratitude to you all. 
Have a great summer!


NDE is still in need of Nebraska educators to help develop and review NSCAS items.

ELA Item Writer Workshop June 11-13cid:image001.jpg@01D2F1AF.A7AD9EF0

ELA Item Content and Bias Review July 23-25

Both events will take place in Lincoln. Stipends will be paid to non-contract individuals, and all experience and grade levels are welcome to submit an application.

Here is the link to apply:

Thank you kindly!

Marissa Payzant, Ed.D.

English Language Arts Specialist

301 Centennial Mall South, PO Box 94987

Lincoln, NE 68509-4987 

Phone:  402-471-4336



NE Shakespeare

Fine Lines Summer Camp

Oxbow Writing Project 2019

2019 GIPS/NSLA Summer Institute

Save the Date
Summer Institute, July 16, 2019
NSLA and Grand Island Public Schools Partnership

Authors Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris, authors of “Who’s Doing the Work?” will offer the keynote address. Additional speakers and topic sessions will occur throughout the day.


Articles of Interest

Collections Corner

DID YOU KNOW...about the professional learning tools in myHRW?  They benefit both you and your students.  You can access them via your dashboard - click on the Professional Learning icon.  Select a topic form the menu and then click on STUDENT TOOLS.  You will see a variety of strategies and graphic organizers to help you scaffold for your students.  Pssst....these could also make good sub plans!

Checks for Understanding

Looking to jazz up your checks for understanding?  Or how to spend the last five minutes of class in a meaningful way?  Check out this list of 53 Checks for Understanding from Edutopia.

Video Use in the Classroom

Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, citizenship status, or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to address inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).

Las Escuelas Públicas de Omaha no discriminan basados en la raza, color, origen nacional, religión, sexo, estado civil, orientación sexual, discapacidad , edad, información genética, estado de ciudadanía, o estado económico, en sus programas, actividades y empleo, y provee acceso equitativo a los “Boy Scouts” y a otros grupos juveniles designados. La siguiente persona ha sido designada para atender estas inquietudes referentes a las pólizas de no discriminación: El Superintendente de las Escuelas, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).