Iowa Reading Association 2015 Spring Newsletter

Open Positions on Iowa Reading Board
By Megan Benson, Nominations
The Iowa Reading Association is seeking fun, energetic, literacy-loving individuals to serve on the board.  Iowa Reading is made up of teachers, like you, who desire to organize opportunities for teaching professionals.  Each year, new leaders for the Board are recruited to replace those whose terms expire.  This year the following offices are open: Vice-President and Secretary.  If you have a desire to work with other teaching peers from around the state, please apply.  Nomination forms can be found on the Iowa Reading website under “Forms/Grants”.  Information about the officers’ duties can also be found on the site under “About Us” in the handbook.  Clark Goltz, Executive Director, and Deb Mortensen, Iowa Reading President, are also excellent sources for information.  This is a winning team with exceptional professional goals for teachers and students!

President's Column
What’s in a Name?
By Deb Mortensen
Something very special happened this week! Not the Super Bowl. Not the Miss Universe pageant. Not even the blizzard that hit the east coast. The event that rocked our world was the transition from the International Reading Association to the International Literacy Association. This name change was not a hasty decision. This has been talked about for years. Sure, it means a change in letterhead but I am thrilled that our organization will emphasize ALL forms of literacy. I am sure many of you know that I am an elementary music teacher this year. I have enjoyed the change and am so proud of all the literacy that occurs in my classroom every day. These activities include kindergartners and first graders reading from song charts, emphasizing phonemic awareness, print awareness and various phonics features in words. The second graders can read “rhythms” and utilize their listening skills while discussing “tempo”. Third and fourth graders read left to right as we read musical notes on a staff (Remember FACE and Every Good Boy Deserves Fun?). Everyone in school is a teacher of literacy and we all are responsible for laying the foundation for our students as they tackle all forms of literacy—reading, writing, listening, speaking and viewing.

One of the purposes of the Iowa Reading Association is to assist teacher-training programs. When these purposes were written I assume individual members were educators at our area colleges. These professors would share their passion for literacy by encouraging their pre-service teachers to belong to a professional organization. It has been a while since I have been to college but I would imagine (thanks to technology) that pre-service teachers have so many options for their coursework. I love attending workshops and utilizing the internet to locate resources to enhance my classroom instruction. How does the Iowa Reading Association fit into your professional development? We are discussing as a board alternatives for meetings. Can you imagine learning about literacy in Iowa via your laptop in your pajamas? Can you imagine communicating with your favorite author before introducing their book to your students? Can you imagine having an electronic meeting with teachers from another country and then sharing your learning with your students the next day? These things are happening right now and we want to embrace these changes. Please let us know how you like to receive your information. I hope that you can plan to attend the summer reading conference this June in Ames. There are so many wonderful sessions being planned and the keynotes will inspire. You will learn about all literacies—reading, writing, listening, speaking and viewing.

What’s in a name? Everything—think Helen Keller, Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks and the Iowa Reading Association. I know~ we’ll need to change our name someday soon… Literacy is all WRITE in Iowa!
"Stamp Your Passport with Literacy" This Summer in Ames
By Nancy White, President Elect and 2015 Conference Chair

Are you dreaming of warm carefree summer days?  Are you wondering how you can earn one hour of credit this summer in a fun way?  Are you thinking that a getaway to Ames for two days to hear outstanding speakers, meet authors and have your books personally autographed, and participate in hands-on workshops would be wonderful professional development?  If so, then you can put “Stamp Your Passport with Literacy” this summer at the Iowa Reading Association annual conference June 23 and 24.

The conference will take place at the Scheman Building on the beautiful Iowa State University campus in Ames.  It is an easy to find location with ample free parking and free wi-fi throughout the building.  There are free delicious snacks and beverages throughout the day.  It is a casual atmosphere where you can reconnect with friends and even make some new ones!

Check out the Iowa Reading Association website for a registration form, a powerpoint of the key presenters and their books, and a three page conference preview highlighting information about the keynote speakers.  Handouts from the speakers will also be posted on this website so bring your devices along to conference so you can access them if you are interested in doing so as they are speaking.

Registration for the conference is now open.  If you register before April 1 you will be saving money by getting the early bird discount.  If you have a group of six or more registrations from one school sent in on the same purchase order you will receive a discount also.  Contact Clark Goltz at for more details.

One hour of recertification or graduate credit registration will take place on Tuesday morning at the conference.  The form for recertification credit through Heartland AEA is already on the Iowa Reading website for you to download, fill out, and bring to conference.  The recertification credit is available for only an additional $25.  Graduate credit is available through Viterbo University for an additional $110.

There are many hotels in Ames with varying amenities.  Choose one that you like and make a reservation soon.  They are all within an easy drive to the Scheman Building on campus.

There will be lots of choice of sessions to attend.  No matter what grade level or subject you teach or are interested in there will be sessions for you.  There will be three times each day when keynote presenters will be speaking and you will have a choice of two or three presenters focusing on various grade levels and topics.  Concurrent sessions will occur three times each day and there will be ten different sessions for you to choose from during each time slot.  There will definitely be something of interest to everyone during these breakout sessions!

Talk to your friends and colleagues about traveling to Ames this June for an outstanding professional development conference.  It will be a wonderful opportunity to “Stamp Your Passport with Literacy”.

For further information please don’t hesitate to contact me at or call me at 319-929-3330.  Hope to see you in Ames on June 23 and 24!
Nancy's Nuggets -- News from the State Coordinator
By Nancy Wright, State Coordinator

Greetings!  I have been participating in the state-wide book study groups in our local Midlands of Iowa Council.  I enjoy learning with my colleagues as we read The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook by Jennifer Serravallo, and Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It by Kelly Gallagher.

My study group and I have some favorite quotes from Gallagher and I’d like to share them with you. 
  • “We are developing test-takers at the expense of readers.”
  • …”there is one big problem concerning the state and local standards in this country:  there are too many of them.  Is it just me, or would it take weeks to teach any one  . . . with any depth?”
  • “When was the last time your faculty had a substantive discussion about whether students have sufficient access to interesting reading materials?”
  • “I have adopted a 50/50 approach in my classroom. . . .I want half of their reading to be academic, and I want half of their reading to be recreational.”
We are challenged by Mr. Gallagher’s observations and suppositions; and we are reminded again of the power of “choice” for students in selecting their own reading materials. 
Reminder – as your local council winds up this year’s meetings, be sure to line-up your slate of officers for the 2015-2016 school yearInvite people face-to-face to consider serving as an officer, and be ready to explain the benefits of holding an office.  In our Midlands of Iowa Reading Council, we offer to pay the membership cost for their International Reading Association membership.  As officers, they are eligible to attend the state Leadership Workshop June 22, 2015 at the Gateway Hotel in Ames.  They will have a free night’s stay in the hotel, plus two meals provided.  And they can network with the officers from the other 12 local reading councils and the state board of directors.   You can report the names of your officers to me via email: .  I will send out a form soon for this purpose.
The International Reading Association has just launched its name change to International Literacy Association.  The vision of the organization has changed a bit, but many aspects have remained the same.  Following are some frequently asked questions posted on the ILA website.
So is ILA still an organization for literacy educators?
► Absolutely! Wherever you’re teaching literacy, ILA will transform your practice by providing you with practical resources and connecting you to a global community.
I was an IRA Member. Am I a Member of ILA now?
► Yes. You’ll even get a new ILA membership card to prove it! We think you’ll love ILA as much as IRA . Together, we can reach everyone, everywhere, with the transformative power of literacy.
Where can I find my benefits and favorite IRA /ILA resources?
► NO CHANGE THERE. We’ve kept these in the same place for easy access. Even your saved bookmarks will still work. Your username and password have stayed the same, too.
The journals look different. Has the content changed?
► No. You can still expect the latest research-based content you’ve come to rely on in each of our journals. We’ve redesigned them to support our new vision as ILA .
Here are some reminders for officers of the local reading councils in Iowa.  Contact any state officer if you have questions or need some help.  I hope to see you at the June 22nd Leadership Workshop in Ames, and as you “Stamp Your Passport With Literacy” at the June reading convention!
New officers reported to State Coordinator for 2015-2016 year.
(Information needed for Leadership Workshop invitation)
April 15, 2015  
Nancy Wright
55491 230th Street
Glenwood, IA  51534
Merit Council artifacts submitted
(Submit by USPS mail or send a digital copy)
May 1, 2015
Lois Van Houwelingen
 210 Union Street         
 Pella, IA    50219
RSVP for Iowa Reading Leadership Workshop attendance  
May 14, 2015
Nancy Wright
Local Council Officer report form completed for International Reading Association.  
June 15, 2015
International Reading Association website – report submitted online.
Attend the Iowa Reading Association Leadership Workshop, Ames, Iowa
June 22, 2105
10:00 AM

Nancy Wright
Attend the state reading conference “Stamp Your Passport With Literacy”,  Ames, Iowa
June 23-24, 2015 Nancy White
Membership Matters
By Diane Bean, Director of Membership Development

As the International Reading Association transitions over to being the International Literacy Association, I have been thinking back to the changes that the Iowa Reading Association has made in the last few years:
  1. We have changed the annual Iowa Reading Association conference to summer instead of spring.  No worrying about making substitute lesson plans!  You can also get 1 hour of recertification or graduate credit for participating in the conference.
  2. We also moved the venue for the summer conference.  The beautiful Scheman Building on the Iowa State University campus in Ames offers ample free parking for everyone.  Improved free wi-fi will be available.  There will be a free charging station available to drop off your devices.  We are able to provide meals at much more affordable prices than we were able to in Des Moines.  Free snacks are available for most of the day.  The speakers and authors are going to be outstanding this year!
  3. We are making electronic payment available for registering for the summer conference for a small fee.  Check out the registration forms at 
  4. For the past few years, we have offered a statewide book study for 1 hour of recertification or graduate credit.  This year we have a choice of three different books.  The authors of those books will be at the conference and several class participants have been drawn to share a lunch with them.  Bring your book to get it personally autographed!  I hope that you are keeping up on your assignments!
This is the time to check with your school about going to the summer conference.  As an Iowa Reading Association member you get a $40 discount on the cost of registration.  There is an early bird discount if you get your registration in by April 1st.  There are group discounts available for groups of 6 or more people from the same school.  Historically, only about half of the people who come to conference are Iowa Reading members.  Let's try to turn that around!  Stop by the membership table at conference and say "hi" and try your hand at a special Plinko game.  See you there!
Strategy Corner
Getting the Most Out of Your Scholastic Book Orders
By Lindsey Johnson, Burlington Area Reading Council, President

Do you receive Scholastic Book Orders? Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount you receive each month? Let me tell you about what I did with mine this past fall. Last year was the first year I taught 3rd grade and I was disappointed by the little response to the book orders I sent home each month. As a kid, I loved ordering from Scholastic and felt so special when my order came in. However, I teach at a very high free/reduced lunch school and I now understand why there is little response. This year I was pleasantly surprised when a few students ordered from our first catalogs. I then had an idea that would not only engage my class, but perhaps increase participation, too.

I decided to give my whole class 2 catalogs and wanted them to find 3 books they really wanted. I then asked them to narrow it down to one. Once they had chosen the book they wanted, I explained that they were going to write a friendly letter (a skill we had been working on all month) to their family persuading them to buy it for them. We quickly brainstormed good reasons. I have never seen my class so engaged during writing! They were coming up with logical reasons and were really excited to write. After helping them format their letter, they quickly began to write their drafts. It was so quiet in my room; you could hear a pin drop. And my room is not usually quiet! (It’s a sign we’re learning.)

Once they had their drafts completed, they turned them in. Throughout the week I conferenced 1:1 with students about their letters and we edited and revised them together. Then, they got to choose a neon colored piece of loose leaf paper to write their final copy on. Oh, were they excited! Out of 22 students, I received 6 book orders! All of the orders were for books the students had asked for in their letters. I was amazed and jumping for joy. Not only did I get my students excited about writing, but I gave them a task that was purposeful. Not to mention received more bonus points to use on our classroom library!

For more information on this activity, you may visit my blog post about it here.
Council Corner
READ Council Dubuque, Iowa
By Kelly Neumann, Reading Educators' Association of Dubuque

It has been a busy year for the Dubuque READ Council.  Our local theme was ‘Literacy Takes You Places’.  We enjoyed everything from book talks, to a book study, from an author visit, to amazing technology integration.

Our amazing members chose to support many charities this year.  We held a “White elephant sale’ to raise money for Hope for Haiti.  Our members decided we did not raise enough so we passed a basket and collected two times the amount we brought in at the sale.  The Maria House is a transitional Housing program in Dubuque.  We donated a basketful of goodies for their silent auction.  Rumor says it brought in almost $200.00.  Our President, Mary Daughetee, mentioned when in the hospital with her dying father there were no books for her kids to read.  Our members voted to donate 50 books to each of the two hospitals in Dubuque.

Our secretary, Laurie Brimeyer, has recently appeared on YouTube. How exciting right? And, it was even something good. She was videotaped giving book talks on the current ICCA books for Sageville School.

We are already planning for our Literacy Extravaganza for 2015-2016.
International Project
By Julie Ortner, International Project Committee Chair

There’s still time to get your haiku!!  If you missed it in the previous newsletter, we are partnering up with author, Alison McGhee, for our International project this year. She will create a beautiful handwritten on cardstock (and signed) haiku for your special occasion (birthdays, anniversaries, holiday gifts) with 100% of the “Haiku for You” profits donated to the Life and Hope Haiti project.  Your contribution will go towards uniforms, books, teachers, electricity and other operating expenses. The cost of this beautiful gift is $31.89 ($27.00 plus tax and $3.00 shipping). You can either download a jpeg photo of the recipient or Alison will allow space for a photo. You may pay via Paypal. Contact her at Feel free to contact Julie Ortner if you have any questions (
Book Review
By Heidi Stangl, Iowa Reading Association, Co-Vice President

Memoirs of a Goldfish  (2010)
Written by: Devin Scillian
2013-2014 Goldfinch Award Winner

Memoirs of a Goldfish is a touching, yet hilarious story about the life of a goldfish over a 14 day time span. Told through the eyes of the goldfish himself, the reader gets a true insight into the emotional ups and downs of his life. This story is sure to put a smile on anyone's face. This book could be used for a variety of reasons in the classroom. It would be great to use for a study of memoirs, a unit on feelings/emotions, or even just as a class read a loud.

Other great stories by Devin Schillian include:

Devin Schillian will be at the Iowa Reading Conference this summer!  Check out his website at:

Just for Me
Reviewed by Angie Goemaat, Three Rivers Reading Council

The Essential 55
By Ron Clark

He has been called “America’s Educator”, named Disney’s Teacher of the Year in 2000, chosen to be “Oprah’s First Phenomenal Man”, has been a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show twice, is a New York Times Bestselling author with his book The Essential 55-Rules, started a school in Atlanta, Georgia appropriately named The Ron Clark Academy and I have had the thrilling pleasure of hearing him speak not once but twice!I was first introduced to Ron Clark and his teaching strategies in the fall of 2008. It was the weekend before school started and I happened to come across the movie  The Ron Clark Story on  Lifetime television. From then on I was a fan on a mission!

I quickly searched the internet for everything I could on this dynamic teacher and one of the things  I came across was his first book, The Essential 55. I read this book and decided that I could implement many of these expectations into my classroom and these were not only for the classroom but rules for living life and many could be carried into adulthood.

The Essential 55, are 55 rules or expectations that  Ron Clark believes can work in any classroom to help the students become more successful. From rule #1 which discusses how to respond to adults by saying yes ma’am and sir, to rule #20—While you are with a substitute teacher, you will obey the same rules that you follow when I am with you, to rule #48 which talks about bullying, and to rule #55-Be the best person you can be.

In February of 2009 I had the opportunity to visit the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia for a three day conference. This was an amazing experience! There were teachers from all around the world there! All the things I had read in his book I now saw being used in the classrooms at this academy.

When I stepped back into my own classroom after being at the academy I felt so invigorated by what I had just learned. Although it was February, I slowly started to teach and  implement these 55 expectations. This became our Character Counts time. We would role play these rules and the kids loved it. I felt like the students were “hungry” to learn the next rule and they totally “lived” up to what was expected from them. I had a parent come at conference time and say, “Mrs. Goemaat, my child is saying please and thank-you all the time at home now.”

I really recommend this book as a “just for me read” on a personal and professional level. It will get you excited about teaching again and change your classroom for the better!
Karla Bronzynski Reading Scholarship Award

Dear Members of the Iowa Reading Association,

We have lost a dear friend of our beloved Association. Karla Bronzynski, passed away on November 17, 2014. Karla was a dedicated educator who was currently serving as Zone B Director. Many of you may remember Karla as State President of the Iowa Reading Association. Her conference theme was “Get in the Game: Read”. She included two of her loves that year—reading and coaching. I remember seeing Iowa athletes (that she had contacted) share why they thought reading was important on the screen between sessions. It was an outstanding conference that involved many people including her dedicated local council, Hardy Reading Council.

Many of you are wondering, what can I do to honor Karla’s memory? We are establishing a Karla Bronzynski Reading Scholarship Award. You can help fund this award by sending a monetary amount of your choosing in care of our Executive Director, Clark Goltz.

What else can you do? Karla was a positive influence on so many educators across the state. I can’t fathom how many students were effected by her attending workshops, teaching workshops and attending our annual international and state conferences. Karla was a human “pinterest” board before it was even online. She was always sharing strategies that worked in her classroom with others. Please consider applying for this award. The uniqueness of this scholarship is that you will be building a classroom library with books of your choosing. “Mrs. B” loved books and she would be honored that 20 classrooms across the state will be given books to enhance the lives of their students over a ten year period. The winner of the Karla Bronzynski Reading Scholarship Award will be recognized at this summer’s reading conference (which will be June 23-24, 2015).  Her legacy will live on with this award. Karla’s council, Hardy Reading Council, is an active council, having achieved Honor Council status almost every year since the award originated. I believe that is in large part to the dedication of Karla Bronzynski and so many others from Hardin and Grundy counties that she has mentored. Consider applying for this award. Remember that you must be a member of the Iowa Reading Association and have taught in your current position for five years or less. Please complete the application found at  and return it to me by April 1, 2015. The recipients will be contacted by May 1 so you may make plans to attend the summer conference to be held at the Scheman Center on the Iowa State University campus.

Last summer, we had the honor of presenting Karla with the “Iowa Reading Teacher of the Year” award. It was a special night with many past state presidents in attendance. Karla’s light was so bright that night. I can’t help but think that her light continues to shine in all of us as we enter the classroom each day. Let’s not extinguish this light…

Deb Mortensen, President Iowa Reading Association
Calendar Reminders
By Carol Duehr, Secretary & Newsletter Editor


  • Board of Directors Meeting, Saturday, April 11, 2015,  10:00 a.m, Pizza Ranch, Ames
  • Executive Board Meeting, Saturday, April 11, 2015, 1:00 p.m., Pizza Ranch, Ames
  • Merit Council booklets due by May 1, 2015
  • Executive Board Meeting, Saturday, May 2, 2015, 1:00 p.m., Pizza Ranch, Ames
  • Board of Directors Retreat, Sunday, June 21, 2015,  3:00 p.m, Pizza Ranch, Ames
  • Board of Directors Meeting, Sunday, June 21, 2015,  5:00 p.m, Pizza Ranch, Ames
  • Leadership, Monday, June 22, 2015, 10:00 a.m., The Hotel at Gateway, Ames
  • Iowa Reading Association Conference, June 23-24, 2015, ISU, Scheman Conference Center, Ames, IA
  • International Reading Association Meeting, July 17 -20, 2015, St. Louis, MO
Our mailing address is: Iowa Reading Association | P.O. Box 16 | Ossian, IA 52161