Iowa Reading Association 2015 Winter Newsletter

2016 Iowa Reading Conference
By Heidi Stangl & Debra Wake - Iowa Reading Co-Presidents Elect and Conference 2016 Chairs
What do Debbie Dadey, Nancy Carlson, Trent Reedy, and Kenn Nesbit all have in common?  Aside from being prominent in the world of children’s literacy, they are also part of the great line up we have for the 2016 Iowa Reading Conference. 

Debbie Dadey and her co-author Marcia Thornton Jones have written over 160 books for children including The Adventure of the Bailey School Kids series, which has over 25 million books in print, as well as The Worst Name in Third Grade, The Ghostville Elementary series, and The Swamp Monster in Third Grade series. She also teamed up with her son, Nathan Dadey, to write The Slime Wars.

Nancy Carlson is an accomplished book author and illustrator who has published over eighty books including I Like Me, How to Lose All Your Friends and Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! Her books delight our very youngest readers. Nancy visits over 150 classrooms a year.

Trent Reedy is the author of Words in the Dust and Divided We Fall. In his new book, If You’re Reading This, a son attempts to reconnect with his father he lost in Afghanistan. Trent is an Iowa boy who spent time in Afghanistan while in the National Guard. While in Afghanistan, Trent decided he wanted to become an author and made that dream a reality when he returned to Iowa.

Kenn Nesbitt is America’s poet laureate. His clever verse and surprise endings make Kenn’s poems favorites for today’s youth. Kenn’s website has lots of funny poems and poetry books for children, classic children's poetry, games, contests, poetry lessons and activities, and journals, plus a rhyming dictionary, funny poetry podcast, videos, school visit information and lots more. Kenn’s poetry performances will leave you ready to teach your students how to write and perform their own poetry.
Stay tuned to our next column where we will introduce you to more of the great speakers we have lined up for the Iowa Reading Conference in June 2016.  Go to and like Iowa Reading on Facebook for all of the latest updates.

President's Column
By Nancy White, 2015-2016 Iowa Reading Association President
As I look up the proper definition for the word gratitude in my dictionary (yes, I am still using the same hardcover physical book that I took with me when I began college so many years ago) it says it is the state of being grateful.  If this is the case, then I reside in this constant state.  As your state president I have much to be thankful for during this holiday season.

I am grateful to all of the members of the Iowa Reading Association for your trust in electing me as your state president.  Please feel free to contact me at any time at with questions, comments, and suggestions.

I am grateful to the Board of Directors of the Iowa Reading Association.  This hardworking, dedicated group of volunteers spend their precious Saturdays throughout the year to travel to Ames to attend Board meetings.  Their input keeps the Iowa Reading Association a live and vibrant organization. 

I am grateful to the state committee chairs for their willingness to take on a chairmanship with grace and commitment.  I am humbled by their vision and enthusiasm for their committee.

I am grateful to the officers of the local councils who plan and organize excellent meetings for their members.  These volunteer officers spend many hours working to make the local council programs some of the best (and definitely most enjoyable) professional development.

I am grateful to the state conference chairs for organizing wonderful state conferences each year.  I have had the opportunity to attend many of these conferences and always love the speakers each year.  As I was recently reading Open a World of Possible: Real Stories About the Joy and Power of Reading edited by Lois Bridges and published by Scholastic, I realized that I have actually met so many of these literacy “gurus” and authors over the years at the Iowa Reading Conference.  One of the authors I read about in this book is Regie Routman who will be one of this year’s conference keynote speakers.  Mark your calendars now to attend the 2016 Conference “The Power of Reading” on June 28-29, 2016, in Ames.  Tell your administrators now that you want to attend and ask for funding for registration costs. The registration form, conference powerpoint highlighting the keynote speakers, a program proposal form, and a conference flyer are all available on the home page of our website

Most of all, I am grateful that when a friend of mine asked me so many years ago if I would be willing to help start a local council in our area, I said, “Yes, I’d love to do that” even though I had no idea that it would evolve to me serving as your state president.  I encourage you to get involved in some small way and I know you will be grateful that you said “yes” too!

With heartfelt gratitude,
Nancy White
Iowa Reading President
Nancy's Nuggets
By Nancy Wright, State Coordinator

To all our Iowa Reading Association “Super Heroes” – Greetings!  You work hard to help our Iowa students become life-long readers, and thereby life-long learners.  You deserve a salute!

I hope you have considered one of the Iowa Reading Association’s state-wide book studies this year.  The Iowa Reading website, has a page devoted to the book studies.  There are two book studies to choose from, selected by the 2016 Iowa Reading Association reading conference chairs, Debra Wake and Heidi Stangl.  Both book studies are available for one hour license renewal credit (Heartland AEA - $25), or for graduate credit (Drake - $100).

Regie Routman has been a powerhouse in the field of literacy for several years.  She uses her expertise as a teacher, author, and speaker to addresses literacy and leadership in her new book Read, Write, Lead.  Regie states every teacher must be a leader, and principals must know literacy.
Her newest book Read, Write, Lead has been chosen for one of the 2015-2016 Iowa Reading book studies. The book  is based on her 40 plus years of teaching, coaching, and leading in diverse schools and on the premise that teachers must be leaders and principals must know literacy in order to improve and sustain school wide student achievement. The book has a detailed study guide and there is informaion on her website about the book. Regie will be speaking at the Iowa Reading Conference in June.

Tanny McGregor’s book, Comprehension Connections, is a much-used resource by many classroom teachers.  It includes chapters and everyday lessons on: metacognition, schema, inferring, questioning, and visualizing.
Remember – both authors will be featured speakers at the June 28-29, 2016 Iowa Reading Conference in Ames, as a special culmination to the Book Study courses!
Remember – both authors will be featured speakers at the June 28-29, 2016 Iowa Reading Conference in Ames, as a special culmination to the Book Study courses!

Iowa Reading Association members have access to valuable Professional Development opportunities through membership in local reading councils. Each of the thirteen local councils in Iowa offer high-quality presentations at their local council meetings.  The speakers may be Iowa authors, Iowa college or university instructors, Iowa librarians, or Iowa teachers.

The International Literacy Association offers numerous resources to members as well.  This past year, the International Reading Association has gone through a transformation process, including the name change to ILA.  The focus of the organization stays much the same, with continued publications as before.  More emphasis will be given to world-wide literacy in the work of the organization.  International members will still have “members only” access to articles, lesson plans, reading lists, Literacy Daily blog, and ILA E-ssentials on the ILA website,  ILA E-ssentials are “quick-read articles by top literacy experts that will help strengthen your teaching practice while fostering your students' confidence, creativity, and critical thinking skills.”  You will also find articles about instructional coaching and using technology in literacy instruction.  (NOTE:  the IRA website,, will redirect you to the current website for ILA.)

Congratulations to the 13 reading councils who will receive the second half of their “Local Council Grant” because they sent in the bulk of their memberships by October 1st!  Your grant money should have been sent to your council the end of October.  All thirteen councils were also eligible for the first half of this grant because they sent at least two officers to the June Leadership Workshop.  The “second half” of the Local Council Grant will be awarded to:  Boone-Story Council, Burlington Council, Dallas County Council, Eastern Iowa Council, Hardy Reading Council, Jefferson-Van Buren Council, Lee County Council, Midlands of Iowa Council, Northeast Iowa Council, Northwest Iowa Council, Quint County Council, READ Council, and Three Rivers Council.

Local council leaders – reminders:  If you have not done so already, please email Deb Saylor or Rebecca Pashek, our Creative Writing and Poetry contest chairmen to let them know who the contest chairs are in your local councils.

Local reading councils should also be thinking of nominees for state awards, including Iowa Reading Teacher of the Year, Iowa Reading Administrator of the Year, Iowa Service Award, and Celebrate Literacy Award.
Membership Matters
By Diane Bean, Director of Membership Development

I hope that everyone has had a great start to their school year.  Remember that it’s not too late to join Iowa Reading and your local council.   First year teachers can join free, students and retired members are $15.00 and all other memberships are $35.00.  State only memberships are also $35.00.  If you join as a sustaining member ($10.00 more) your extra contribution goes to the president’s special project which was described in the last newsletter.

I am very pleased that all thirteen local councils have gotten a bulk of their memberships in by the October 1st deadline.  Every council also has their schedule of meetings listed under “Council Links” at so that potential members (and state only members) are able to visit meetings that sound interesting.  Keep checking your council’s listing because things will be updated as more information is sent in. 
Boone-Story-Debbie Haywood 
Burlington-Ruth Wittenmyer
Dallas County-Becky Pashek
Eastern Iowa-Diane Bean
Hardy-Tony Pieper
Jefferson-Van Buren-Rachel Meyers
Lee County-David Wendt
Midlands of Iowa-Laurie Weekly
Northeast Iowa-Crystal Thurn & Emily Welper
Northwest Iowa-Julie Anderson
Quint County-Lexi Wiltgen 
READ Council-Margaret Welter
Three Rivers-Christine Lundgren-Williams

Thanks to all of the local council membership directors and for the hard work they do to make things run smoothly!
Karla Bronzynski Scholarship Winner
Deb Saylor, Dallas County Reading Council

I was very honored to receive the Karla Bronzynski Scholarship from the Iowa Reading Association last summer.  Karla had been a dear friend of mine for several years.  I was able to purchase over 20 picture books to use with my students.  I have the honor to go and read to the elementary classrooms monthly. I look forward to this time as much as the students do.  When I read to the kids early in the school year I read Dr. Seuss’s brand new book What Pet Should I Get to the lower elementary. Dr. Seuss has always been a favorite of mine and it was fun to share his newest book with the kids. Recently I read Miss Hazeltine’s Home For Shy and Fearful Cats by Alicia Potter.   This book is about a caring young woman who takes in homeless cats and then finds her kindness rewarded when she suffers in turn.  I also read I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson's Blackboard by Jennifer K. Mann.  This is a cheerful and empowering picture book for the child whose talents lie in unconventional areas, and those still searching for their strengths.

I also purchased some poetry books and the I’ll Read to You, You’ll Read to Me titles.  I had copies of these books, but the kids always had to share while reading with each other.  Now they have their own copy when reading.

Karla’s light will continue to shine on each time I read one of these picture books in her honor and as the kids practice their fluency.  Reading and kids were her passion and they are mine as well.  I miss my friend and colleague, but know she is watching over the members of the Iowa Reading Association with a smile as we instill a love of reading in our students on a daily basis.
Strategy Corner
By Stephanie Laird, Vice President

While speaking a local conference I had the opportunity to attend a session focused on three technology tools you can use to annotate a digital text:, Scrible, and Although the presenter did not specifically refer to using these tools during a close reading lesson, I later found that students could easily use these tools while digging into complex text during a close read. When paired with digital texts from Newsela, ReadWorks, Curriculet, Wonderopolis, or any teacher created or uploaded PDF or document, these digital annotation tools allow students to document their thinking, analysis, and understanding of a text through varying the color of the highlighting, sticky notes, and text.

The formatting or origin of the text doesn’t impede the process of purposefully rereading a text or meeting priority standards, and students can work independently or collaboratively, during a whole group lesson or targeted small group instruction to make meaning from what they are reading. When the Close Reading lesson is completed, students simply share a link to the annotated web page through email, permalink, saving as a file, or any other means established by the teacher. We know students need to reread texts, and digital annotation is another avenue for them to accomplish dig deeper.

Council Corner: Hardy
Marlene Reece, Zone B Director

Four of our Hardy meetings have meals provided at a modest cost. A $5 donation towards the expenses helps defray the cost of catering by a member of our Executive Board. This year, Hardy has added additional book study ONLY meetings to the schedule. Those meetings will be bring your own brown bag meal. Since there are two book studies, this allows additional meeting time to collaborate for discussion.
An information table greets our members as they arrive for our meetings… Registration & check in, new announcements, membership materials, and an opportunity to “Pour your spare change into our International project” with a juice pitcher to hold donations for “I Pour Life.” Sometimes we have door prizes drawn from the attendance sheet! (What could you donate to create door prizes for others?)
Kristina Hart, library specialist for the Anamosa MS & HS, was our speaker in October. Her topic was “Ignite the Love of Reading from Within” on how to encourage reluctant readers & whet the voracious appetites of students who can’t get enough of the adventure of reading. Kris piqued our interest about web sites, resources, YouTube videos, graphic novels, and many more multimedia resources available to EVERYONE! Her excitement was contagious! Who do you know in your area with that kind of enthusiasm? Ask them to speak at one of your meetings this year or next.
We celebrate our young authors and poets with a BANQUET at the end of the year. Winning writers and their families are encouraged to attend for a delicious meal and a presentation by William Byrd, “Making Connections with Reading and Music,” as well as reading their winning selections to the large group.
Children Book Review: "What Pet Should I Get?" by Dr. Seuss
By Alicia Patten

Books written by Dr. Seuss are some of the most popular books checked out at my elementary school library and “What Pet Should I Get?” is no exception.

The reader of this book follows Kay and her brother to the pet shop to look for a new pet. There are lots of possibilities and lots of friendly animals. The only problem is, they must decide on one. Many readers will be able to relate to the excitement of choosing a pet and also the agonizing decision making process.

Elementary students will love the rhyming words and the various animals, some which came straight from Dr. Seuss’ imagination. The ending of the story, after a pet was finally chosen, lends itself for student writing. Though a new pet was chosen, the identity of the animal was not revealed. Students can create their own animal and description of what they think it might be.

Older readers will appreciate the detailed author’s note at the end of the book about Theodor Seuss Geisel, his love of animals, and the process of how this book, almost forgotten, was brought to life over 20 years after his death.

“What Pet Should I Get” has lively pictures with the traditional Seuss-style rhyming text, which definitely fits in with his other famously popular books.

How Do We Get Kids to Read During Those Cold Winter Months

By Laurie Weekly, Midlands of Iowa Reading Council

How do you get your students to read?  That is the question that has haunted many teachers for years!   As the weather turns cold and the snow begins to fly, more time is spent indoors.  What can you as a teacher do to get your students to read more?   What kind of help can you give to parents so they are able to get those same kids to read more at home?

After teaching reading for eleven years, I have discovered a lot of things.  One is to remember that you can’t make a child read.  You have to find a book that catches their attention.  Dig in and find something they really like.  Then use it as a read aloud with the class or form a lunch book club and invite others who want to read the same book to join.  Book clubs are a great way to get students interested in reading.  It becomes contagious when they see others having “fun” reading!  I have “hooked” many reluctant readers this way.

Another important thing to remember is to allow the child to choose what they want to read.  Give students a variety of books to choose from and they will be more apt to read.

Make sure books are readily available in your classroom and have a wide selection of books to choose from.  Make sure your classroom library is easily accessible.  Help students by educating them on how to find a book that is “just right”.  A book that is interesting and can easily be read by the student is a book that is just right for them.

It is sometimes easier for teachers to get students to read because that is what you are supposed to do in school, right?  With the cold months beginning to set in, kids begin to stay inside.  They play video games and watch TV.  How do parents get their kids away from the video games and TV?  Read a book?  Suggest to parents that they have a comfy, warm spot set up where there child can cuddle up with a good book.  Give parents the idea of spending some time reading with their children.  Suggest to parents they make sure kids have easy access to books all around the house by putting books in baskets and setting them throughout the house.  Most importantly, encourage parents to have a conversation about the book the child is reading with that child.

The more kids read, the better they get at it, so let’s get creative and get our kids reading throughout these upcoming cold, winter months!
International Service Project:  I Pour Life
By Kelly Neumann, Chairperson

One of I POUR LIFE’s Mission Statements:  Dropping differences to make a difference.

I was fortunate enough to meet Julie Higgins, Founder/CEO, of I POUR LIFE about four years ago.  I was at a business retreat with my husband and so was Julie.  As we visited I learned that she too was a teacher.  You guessed it, we instantly hit it off. I quickly came to realize this woman was kind, compassionate and just plain down to earth.

 It wasn’t until year two of our husband’s business retreat that I learned of a non-profit organization she was involved with.  At that point, we had already nicknamed her, Salt of the Earth.  I was Garlic, a little goes along way, but needed for some spice.  Julie was just getting ready to join a team heading to El Salvador. As she spoke, I was taken in with the passion and love in her voice and the sparkle in her eyes about these children.  I wanted to know more, no, I needed to know more.

She explained how gangs were taking over and the young people were losing their self-worth.  She talked about how I POUR LIFE teams go into the schools and communities and provide a safe environment for family and community bonding.  I POUR Life “is about promoting empowerment and giving people the skills they need to make it in this world.”

During our third meeting I finally put 2 and 2 together and realized she was the Founder/CEO of I POUR LIFE.  Now you understand why this was the international non-profit I proposed to Nancy White.

Our involvement will impact lives for sustainable change and educational empowerment, where girls and families reach out of their circumstances and into a positive, bright future!  Live Gold is the new term being used in El Salvador.  Girls are seeing they are worth more than gold and learning to live with purpose.  I POUR LIFE is pouring life into our youth, tomorrow’s leaders.

Thank you for participating.

From Clark regarding the I POUR LIFE donations.

The funds raised for the international project can be maintained by the local council from meeting to meeting.  We want to contribute to "I Pour Life" by the end of the school year, local councils can add up their contributions and make out one check payable to "I Pour Life", not the Iowa Reading Association, and send them to me by June 1, 2016. I will gather the checks together and send them altogether to "I Pour Life". Your check will be your documentation on a contribution to an international reading project. Please share this with your local councils. Email or call if you have any questions.

Clark Goltz, Executive Director
Iowa Reading Association
Just for Me
By Wendy Matson, 1st grade, Tri-Center Schools

My school has adopted portions of Collaborative Classroom materials for implementation this school year. I am using Making Meaning and Making Meaning Vocabulary, Being a Writer, and SIPPS (Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics and Sight Words.) I am impressed with all of the programs. The quality choices of literature are both fiction and nonfiction. I have seen improvement and excitement in writing using Being a Writer. The vocabulary words that are presented are excellent. As is the case with any new subject material, it is time consuming and requires a lot of extra time but it is so worth it. I would highly recommend school districts further investigating these programs.

When not reading school curriculum, a friend introduced me to an author. I have read 3 of her books so far and am starting another. The author is Robyn Carr. She is a mix of Danielle Steele and Saundra Brown.
Open Positions for 2016
By Megan Benson, Nominations Chair

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, Treasurer, Membership Director, Zone C, and Zone D Directors.  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 Nancy White, Iowa Reading President, are also excellent sources for information.  This is a winning team with exceptional professional goals for teachers and students!
If You Give a Teacher an Iowa Reading Association Membership
(A parady of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff)
By Deb Mortensen

If you give a teacher an Iowa Reading Association membership, *she will want to go to council meetings. She will ask about the nearest council to her and start attending meetings. If she attends meetings, she will make a lot of lifelong friends. These friends will be teachers, parents, administrators and lovers of literacy. When she makes these friends, they will share classroom strategies and new book titles with her. When she learns these new research-based strategies and buys some of the books mentioned, her classroom will be enriched. Her students will become better readers and they will love coming to school. When her students become better readers and writers, she will want more literacy improvement strategies and will seek out summer conferences, like the Iowa Reading Conference, on the Iowa Reading Association website . By attending the state conference, she will meet authors and learn even more research-proven strategies from presenters at the conference. She will also develop a network of other teachers from across the state when she eats lunch or browses the exhibits. She’ll meet up with authors at the autograph signing table and purchase their books. She’ll build her own classroom and professional libraries which will give her some summer reading and make her more refreshed to start another school year. With this newfound knowledge, she will be an even better teacher when school starts in the fall. She will reflect on all the positive changes she has made in her teaching career and when the Membership Director of her local council asks, “would you like to be a member of the Iowa Reading Association this year?” she will glad say “yes”!

*This story is written by a woman so the pronoun is “she”. It could very easily be “he”. What will happen when you receive an Iowa Reading Association membership? I know that it is an investment that I gladly pay each year. The friends I’ve made and the things I have learned are priceless. Thanks for sharing that same passion with me!
One of the BEST Classroom Moments
By Beth Bellinghausen, Educator at Lawton-Bronson

One of the BEST classroom moments today. 8th prd study hall can be interesting....but as I was working on essays, I hear a little giggle. I scan with my radar eyes trying to figure out who's messing around, bothering someone or on the phone. I dont see anything off so I go back to my paper when a full belly laugh interrupts the entire room. A 7th grader is fully enjoying his book and looks up at all of us. In fits of giggles he says, "you gotta hear this" and then reads us a passage from his book. Barely able to compose himself....he has the rest of us in giggles and when he finishes reading that part aloud....everyone wants to check out the book! Soooo cute! Gotta love a 7th grade giggling boy...over a book!


By Erica Seeley, Music Teacher, Walnut Hills Elementary, Waukee

During music class, literature is a great accompaniment to a lesson!  Here are some books that we are using in music class this fall/winter season. Kindergarteners learn contrasts of high/low pitches and fast/slow tempos. They also learn to keep a steady beat. Sung and spoken fingerplays are used to teach many of these concepts.
Calendar Reminders
By Deb Mortensen, Secretary & Newsletter Editor


  • Board of Directors Meeting, Saturday, January 16, 2016, 10:00 a.m, Pizza Ranch, Ames (Snow Date January 23)
  • Executive Board Meeting, Saturday, January 16, 2016, 1:00 p.m, Pizza Ranch, Ames (Snow Date January 23)
  • Creative Writing and Poetry entries due on February 15, 2016 to Deb Saylor/Rebecca Pashek*
  • Award nominations (Teacher of the Year, Administrator of the Year, Iowa Service and Celebrate Literacy) are due on February 15, 2016 to Kathleen Konrardy*
  • Applications for Karla Bronzynski Reading Scholarship due April 1, 2016 to Lori Vicker*
  • Board of Directors Meeting, Saturday April 9, 2016, 10:00 a.m, Pizza Ranch, Ames
  • Executive Board Meeting, Saturday, April 9, 2016, 1:00 p.m, Pizza Ranch, Ames
  • Merit Council applications due on May 1, 2016 to Lois Van Houwelingen*
  • Book Studies should be completed by May 6, 2016. Questions? Clark Goltz, Executive Director*
  • Executive Board Meeting, Saturday, May 14, 2016, 10:00 a.m, Pizza Ranch, Ames
  • Board of Directors Retreat, Sunday, June 26, 2016, 3:00 p.m, Pizza Ranch, Ames
  • Board of Directors Meeting, Sunday, June 26, 2016, 5:00 p.m, Pizza Ranch, Ames
  • Leadership Workshop, Monday, June 27, 2016 at 10:00 a.m, The Hotel at Gateway, Ames
  • Iowa Reading Association Conference, June 28-29, 2016, Scheman Conference Center, Iowa State University, Ames
  • Iowa Reading Association Board Meeting, Wednesday, June 29, 2016, 5:00p.m. at Scheman Conference Center, ISU, Ames
  • International Literacy Association 61st Annual Convention, July 9-11, 2016, Boston, MA
*All contact information is found on the Iowa Reading Association website
Our mailing address is: Iowa Reading Association | P.O. Box 16 | Ossian, IA 52161