Iowa Reading Association 2014 Spring Newsletter

Seeking Vice President Nominations
By Megan Benson
The Iowa Reading Association is seeking a fun, energetic, literacy-loving individual to serve as Vice President.  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.  If you have a desire to work and play 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 Wendy Hammrich, Iowa Reading President, are also excellent sources for information.  This is a winning team with exceptional professional goals for teachers and students! 
Megan Benson, Nominations Chair

President's Column
Greetings from your 2013-2014 Iowa Reading President
By Wendy Hammrich

Another school year is truly speeding along as we finish up our mid-year testing. Educators always hope the information gathered gives an indication of how our children are progressing.  Screeners are a great way to monitor our journey toward attaining the goals set.  From that information we make adjustments that hopefully keep us on the right course to eventually hitting the target.

The same scenario fits for the Iowa Reading Association.  Last June the Iowa Reading Association set four main goals during our Board Retreat.  They included the following:
1. Utilize technology in as many ways as possible.
2. Restructure the state conference to accommodate the growing numbers of attendees yet preserving the central location.
3. Continue to refine the statewide book study
4. Increase membership numbers

At our January board meeting we discussed our progress in reaching all of these areas.  In order to better inform our membership we have been using e-mail blasts and updating our website whenever possible.   We used our Twitter connection during the summer conference and hope to do even more while attending the International Reading Conference in New Orleans.  

Our THREE book studies (yes … I said 3) are also posted on the Iowa Reading Association website ready for members to utilize.  Just go to the homepage,  and click on Book Study.  From there choose either “The Common Core: Teaching K-5 Students to Meet the Reading Standards” or  “The Common Core:  Teaching 6-12 Students to Meet the Reading Standards” (both by Brenda Overturf).  The third choice is “Literacy Work Stations” by Debbie Diller.

We also want to make sure everyone feels very welcomed and cared for while attending our summer conference this year on June 24 and 25 in Ames.  Last year we had an OVERWHELMING number of educators come to the Iowa State campus.  IT WAS AMAZING!!  Afterwards, we read every survey that was filled out and used your feedback to make changes!  

Some of those changes include the following:
1. Request:  More concurrent sessions
Answer:  This summer we will have 10 sessions at a time instead of 8.

2. Request:  More time with keynote speakers
Answer:  This summer we will have more concurrent sessions using our keynote speakers in the two large auditoriums.

3. Request:  Not fond of live video feeds.
Answer:  We will NOT have live video feeds but rather MORE keynote speakers to present in person at either Fisher Theater or Benton Auditorium.

4. Request:  Better quality concurrent session speakers.
Answer:  That one I needed your help with attaining and WOW did you come through.  We have had an overwhelming number of educators filling out program proposals for our consideration.  Thank you!  It is that type of teamwork that makes a successful conference.

The attainment of our final goal to “increase the number of people joining the ranks of the Iowa Reading Association” is also truly up to you.  We rely upon our members to spread the word by sharing their enthusiasm with colleagues.  Networking with other educators is so critical as our profession is unique unto itself.  No one understands what drives our passion more that other teachers.  My challenge to all of you is simply this.  Invite just one other teacher to join you at conference or come to a local meeting.  There is nothing more powerful in the life of a teacher than to share ideas and support each other in our most important journey.  

As always….Thank you for your service!

Conference Update
By Deb Mortensen, President-Elect and 2014 Conference Chair

As I write this newsletter article, I am so excited to be planning the summer Iowa Reading Association conference which will be held at the Scheman Center, on the Iowa State University campus in Ames. The two day event will be June 24-25, 2014. The theme of the conference is “Literacy is All WRITE”.  Some of the highlights for this conference are listed below.

riting Strategies. Many of the speakers such as Brenda Overturf (Word Nerds and Common Core), Lori Jamison (Marvelous Mini Lessons For Teaching Writing), Debbie Diller (Literacy Work Stations) and Marc Tyler Nobleman (Boys of Steel-The Creator of Superman) will share strategies for teaching writing and how to motivate students to WRITE. The Iowa Reading Association is involved with Delta Kappa Gamma (Key Women Educators) to create a “surprise” for all in attendance!

egister for the conference. A registration form and Speaker’s Brochure are found on the Iowa Reading Association website at  Did you know that Iowa Reading Association members get to come at a reduced rate? There are so many benefits to belonging to the reading association. Contact Diane Bean, our membership director, for more details.

nformation will be shared on many topics of concern to classroom teachers, administrators, librarians, parents, college instructors and their students. Some of the topics include Common Core, technology, motivating writers of any age, vocabulary and comprehension instruction and integrating literacy with other subjects. You may wish to sign up for a book study hosted by the Iowa Reading Association. Check out our website and begin with either Debbie Diller’s Literacy Work Stations or Brenda Overturf’s  Common Core Grades K-5 or 6-12.

eachers, authors, administrators, pre-service teachers and librarians are leading concurrent sessions. The program booklet will be “color-coded” so that the session you attend is just “WRITE” for you. The conference day will begin at 8:00 and conclude at 4:30. Lunch will be provided on site so you can visit vendors and network with fellow educators interested in improving literacy in their classrooms.

owa State University is a wonderful place to host the summer conference. The Scheman building will house everything with its two large spaces for keynotes, an area for lunch, an area for our young authors and our Tuesday evening Awards’ Banquet. There will plenty of vendors to visit and parking is free. Ames is centrally located and there are a number of hotels in the area.

ames will be important at the summer conference. The keynote authors (There are four each day!) will be signing a special “Author’s Chair” to be given at the conclusion of the conference. Door Prizes (given by local reading councils and the vendors) will be given at the end of each day. Each participant will receive a card that makes them eligible for the prizes. Many “thank you” gifts will be given as well.

raduate and re-certification credit. By attending both days of the conference, you can receive graduate or recertification credit. You will register for this the morning conference begins (June 24). I have taken the conference for credit on several occasions and found the information I learned to be very rewarding and useful in my classroom. If you need hours this summer, this is a wonderful way to acquire them. Not only can you attend different workshops of interest to you, you meet wonderful people, can have some “retail therapy” and learn about topics that are timely and helpful to you as an educator. Why not make the conference part of family vacation by visiting Reiman Gardens and other things around the Ames area?
Put this all together and it spells “WRITING”.  2014—where literacy will be all “WRITE” in Iowa. I hope that you will join us! If you have further questions, please don’t be afraid to contact me.  

Nancy's Nuggets -- News from the State Coordinator
By Nancy Wright, State Coordinator

I hope you have had the opportunity to check out the International Reading Association’s special edition of Reading Today:  The Digital Literacies Issue. (Volume 31, Number 3.  December 2013/January 2014)

You can view this issue online at  I urge you to take a look at the article “The Professional Urgency of Your Digital Presence:  Tools and Tips for Councils”.  You will read about ways to enhance your reading council’s activities and communication using digital resources, including Wikis.  Suggestions on using social media include Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest – councils are encouraged to actively participate in these.  Iowa Reading Association is already on Facebook and Twitter – you can follow us @IowaReading. 

In this same issue you can read about “7 Ways to Maximize Your IRA Membership through Mobile Technology.”  You must be an International Reading Association member to access these “members only” articles on the web site.  What a great reason to join IRA if you have not done so already!  You can even sign up for an online IRA membership at a reduced rate of $29 (a basic membership is $39).
If you have started using any of these tools, share your ideas with me, and if possible, send me some samples or photos.  I would love to showcase our Iowa reading councils at the International Reading Convention in New Orleans! 

While you are in the “Members Only” section of the IRA website, check out “IRA E-ssentials” which includes several resources for educators.  I suggest the article “Flood, Fast, Focus:  Integrated Vocabulary Instruction in the Classroom” written by some top-notch researchers:  Camille L.Z. Blachowicz, James F. Bauman, Patrick C. Manyak, and Michael F. Graves.

Over the past year the International Reading Association has been evaluating various aspects of the organization.  A recent message announced the decision to change the name of IRA. 

IRA President Maureen McLaughlin and IRA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post wrote:
 We are pleased to inform you that the board approved major new changes for IRA, including most notably the following:
  • A new cause statement: Transforming Lives through Literacy
  • A name change: International Literacy Association
No doubt changes like these require fuller explanation over time, as well as a “break-in” period. What we wish to note in this inaugural communication is that while reading remains at the core of our mission and purpose, the broader term “literacy” has the advantage of being less reductive. It imparts without more the reality that literacy professionals deal with a cluster of skills that also include speaking, listening, writing, and presenting.
By making this change—which many other literacy-focused associations have already done—we communicate more broadly the depth of our research base and our members’ instructional expertise.
This past week, another change was unveiled.  The 2015 International Reading Association convention will be held during the summer on July 17-20, 2015 instead of the usual spring dates.

At IRA, we embrace change.

Next year, we'll become the International Literacy Association.

And in 2015, for the first time in nearly six decades, we're changing the date of our annual conference in a big way.
All because YOU asked us to.

Goodbye spring; hello summer!

That's right: We'll celebrate our 60th anniversary in St. Louis, MO.

Iowa Reading reminders:  Submit your Merit Council artifacts to Brenda Nugteren by March 15, 2014.  This can be a notebook of artifacts or a digital presentation.  Merit Councils will be honored at the June reading conference in Ames.  Merit Councils will receive a $75 stipend and a free banquet ticket for one officer at the Awards' Banquet on June 24th. 

Submit the names of your council’s leaders for the 2014-2015 year by April 12, 2014 so that invitations can be sent for the June 23rd Leadership Workshop in Ames at the Gateway Conference Center Hotel.  This report, along with contact information for your slate of officers should be sent to me, Nancy Wright.
Iowa Reading Association will be represented at the International Reading Convention in New Orleans May 9-12, 2014.  We have requested to take part in a poster session during the convention where we will share news and accomplishments of all our local councils!  Please send me photos of your council meetings and activities to include in the poster session, and provide a brief written explanation.  These are needed by April 1st, please. 

Remember to share photos of your young writer’s celebrations with our Iowa Reading newsletter editor, Carol Duehr.  She would enjoy sharing your photos in our May or summer Iowa Reading newsletters.  It’s fun to celebrate the student winners of the Creative Writing Contest and Poetry Contest!
Write-on!  And remember Literacy is All-Write!

Membership Matters
By Diane Bean, Director of Membership Development

This has been an educational fall for me as your new membership director!  I wanted to try to visit every council in Iowa to find out what was happening at the local level.  This is something that could only be attempted by a retired person since our councils are all over Iowa (and I live in eastern Iowa).  I was able to visit 10 of the 14 councils and came away with many observations.  
First of all, I realized that I really don’t know my way around Iowa even though I have lived here for 56 years.  Thank goodness for GPS!  I was able to hear many interesting speakers share information on vocabulary instruction, writing, sharing outstanding literature, teaching boys to read and PBS online.  Lee County Reading Council had a K-3  Bookfair to share reading activities with parents and students.  

Many of our councils are participating in the statewide class and some are spending time after their meetings to do it in groups.  Other councils are also offering their meetings as a local AEA class for recertification or graduate credit.  Some councils offer a meal before their meetings.  Others have snacks available.  All of the councils that I have visited had dedicated executive boards and enthusiastic members!  

A special thank you to the councils that I have already visited who were so welcoming to me:  Reading Educators Association of Dubuque, Eastern Iowa, Northeast Iowa, Mississippi Bend, Jefferson Van Buren, Lee County, Hardy, Midlands of Iowa, Boone-Story and Burlington Reading Councils.  

I’m looking forward to visiting the rest of our reading councils in the spring:  Three Rivers, Quint County, Dallas County, and Northwest Iowa Reading Councils.  
Please let me know if there are any questions that you have about the Iowa Reading Association.

Strategy Corner
By Carol Duehr, READ Iowa Reading Council

Good writers use their feelings to help them write.   Here is an Energy Wheel template used to express specific feelings. 
______________ is ___________ like _____________________
       feeling                  color                                                
and also like ____________________________________ .
It ___________________ in/through my ___________________
              Verb                                                    room, mind, etc.
It reminds me of  __________________________ .
It makes me feel _________________ like _________________
It makes me want to _______________________________ .
Peace is white like a new snowfall
And also like sheets flapping in the breeze.
It wanders through my mind.
It reminds me of the feeling of contentment after completing a project.
It makes me feel tranquil like a pond on a quiet day.
 (adapted from Teaching Poetry by Jacqueline Sweeney, Scholastic 1993.)

Council Corner
By Joyce Tucker, Eastern Iowa Reading Council

Our organization, the Eastern Iowa Reading Council (EIRC) has welcomed well over a hundred members this year.  We have been very fortunate to obtain many authors for our meetings.  In the past, we even tried to include some technology based learning into our programs.

This year we started out our program in September with the author Debra Barry.  Debra stated that we should not give up on our dreams.  Always keep trying! Try not to let your students think that writing is such a treacherous thing.  Always think of different and unique ways to get students excited about writing.

For October, we invited Clark Goltz back again for some helpful hints in teaching.  One of his many ideas was each student keeping a reader’s notebook.  We always look forward to a FUN time with Clark Goltz and he keeps us entertained!

In January, Barb Ehlers came to inspire us about children’s literature and using it in the classroom in all areas – reading, writing, science, mathematics and social studies. We especially enjoyed the “Little Red Writing” book by Joan Holub that she shared with us.

On March 31st, we plan on having our yearly Creative Writing/Poetry contest in Independence once again.  First place winners will read their treasured pieces to the group attending that evening.  All proud parents and grandparents that attend will have that proud look on their faces when their special someone reads their creative pieces.

Last but not least, our final meeting will be in April with Wendy Hendrich inspiring us about books and more ideas for students.

At each meeting, we include our special projects such as “Children in Crisis” which consists of donated books and stuffed animals paired up and given to area children in need.  “Basket of Books” is distributed to area businesses such as dentist offices.  A “Noisy Offering” collection is also a regular at our meetings.  It’s just a decorated can that is passed around the room (with members shaking it) as they throw in their loose change.  The additional change is used to help support our special projects.
Hard to believe the year is coming to a close already!

Happy Hearts Fund
By Carol Duehr, International Project Chair



WHO: Local Iowa Reading Councils
WHAT: Consider supporting the Iowa Reading Association International Project
WHEN: By June 1, 2014
WHERE: Send donations for the Happy Hearts Fund to Clark Goltz, Iowa Reading Association Executive Director
At the 2013 Leadership Conference, Carol Duehr, International Project Chair, reported that local Iowa Reading councils had collectively contributed $2,400 from June 2011, when Lindsay Helmers first introduced the project, until June of 2013. During our June 2014 Leadership Conference, we would love to report another significant contribution to the Happy Hearts Fund from the Iowa Reading Association.  Please consider supporting this very worthy cause this year. 

Book Review - Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
By Grace Lin, Reviewer, Kathleen Konrardy, Reading Educators’ Association of Dubuque Council

Talking goldfish, a dragon that cannot fly, an evil green tiger filled with poison, a buffalo boy with a secret friend, and a small girl who wishes to change her family’s fortune.  Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a wondrous tale of adventure and discovery. 

With each passing day, Minli becomes more and more aware of her Ma’s discontent with their family’s meager life.  Despite Ba’s humorous and tantalizing stories, Ma wants more from life.  Eager to do something to help her Ma and Ba so they don’t have to work so hard for so little, Minli steals away one night, determined to find the Never Ending Mountain and meet the Old Man of the Moon in order to ask him how to change her family’s fortune. 

On her voyage Minli meets many strange and wonderful new friends, including a dragon that cannot fly who soon becomes her travelling companion.  Together they encounter a band of foolish and greedy monkeys, a boy who has a buffalo but no parents, a kind and benevolent king, and a set of cheerful twins named A-Fu and Da-Fu.  Their journey takes them to places with names like City of Bright Moonlight, Market of Great Abundance, Village of the Moon Rain, and Fruitless Mountain.  

Although she is a quick and clever girl, will Minli be able to complete her task and find the Old Man of the Moon?  If she does, will he grant her the answer to her great question about changing her family’s fortune, or will Minli discover that the fortune she seeks isn’t really what she is destined to hold?  Read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon to find out!             

Just For Me
By Tammy Hoppe, Northwest Iowa Reading Council

Finding one’s niche in the field of education can be a daunting task.  The process is both intentional as well as accidental.  People may intentionally choose to make reading and literacy a cherished part of their lives, but then occasionally they accidentally find new influences that affect how much value they either had been or should have been placing on the gifts of reading and literacy.  My own enlightening moment was when I got my first edition of The Reading Teacher.  The September 2013 issue featured an article called, “Diagrams, Timelines, and Tables—Oh My!” (Roberts et al., 2013).  With the accidental finding of this article, I finally realized my niche in education:  to call upon my experiences in the arts, education, and language arts to help others better understand visual literacy and its inseparable connections to reading literacy.

Considering that teaching requires passion for and dedication to constant growth not only of self but also of students, effective educators ask themselves how their students' minds and learning can be improved even more.  One thought involves helping students attain even greater comprehension and literacy skills.  As the late Dr. Elliot Eisner taught, what we choose to teach children and how we choose to teach it sends a message to the point of the kinds of minds we intend to see children come to own (Eisner, 2002).  “The kinds of minds children acquire are influenced significantly by the opportunities they have had to learn” (Eisner, 2004).  This same philosophy applies to us, the educators, and we can either accidentally or intentionally grow our niche in education.

I am blessed with the gift of the arts and the skills to be able to use such a fun avenue to heighten children’s literacy through visual literacy.  What’s your niche?  Let your special gifts and skills be your niche in education and use them to help children grow their literacy skills.  Intentionally choosing to read the amazing articles in The Reading Teacher can undoubtedly lead to accidental discoveries of self.  Grow yourself as an educator and your literacy teaching skills by reading The Reading Teacher and sharing with students as well as peers the wonderful learning opportunities this publication will offer.

Eisner, E. (2006, September). What do the arts teach?. 2006-2007 Chancellor’s Lecture Series. Retrieved from
Eisner, E. (2002). The Arts and the Creation of Mind. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Roberts, K. L., Norman, R. R., Duke, N. K., Morsink, P., Martin, N. M., & Knight, J. A. (2013, September). Diagrams, timelines, and tables—oh my!: Fostering graphical literacy. The Reading Teacher, (67)1, 12–23.

Calendar Reminders
By Carol Duehr, Secretary & Newsletter Editor

  • March 15, 2014—Merit Council artifacts submitted to Brenda Nugteren
  • April 5, 2014—Board of Directors’ & Executive Board Meeting
  • May 3, 2014—Executive Board Meeting
  • May 9-12, 2014—International Reading Association Conference, New Orleans, LA
  • June 22, 2014—Board of Directors’ Retreat & Board of Directors’ Meeting
  • June 23, 2014—Leadership Conference in Ames
  • June 24-25, 2014—Iowa Reading Association Conference, ISU, Scheman Conference Center, Ames, IA
Our mailing address is: Iowa Reading Association | P.O. Box 16 | Ossian, IA 52161