About St. Louis Suburban Council of IRA

a professional organization of educators and individuals actively engaged
in the development of literacy throughout the Greater St. Louis Area.

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Membership News for April 2013


Jody Rozbicki
Congratulations to all our members for their commitment to St. Louis Suburban Council of IRA. Your dedication and outreach to bring new members to our organization has resulted in a 2012-2013 membership of 269 as of March 1, 2013. This membership number includes 19 student members. Our council represents reading specialists, literacy coaches, classroom teachers, special educators, teachers of English Language Learners, gifted students, librarians, counselors, administrators, university faculty, individuals working with adult literacy programs, and representatives of publishers. Our members are professionals from St. Louis County school districts, St. Louis Public Schools, St. Louis Archdiocese, Independent & Charter schools, Special School District, and seven universities. St. Louis Suburban Council of International Reading Association is a true professional learning community with 269 members and 47 literacy teams.
One of the ways our Council brings in new memberships is through our newsletter and website. Deb Dickerson has been our St. Louis Suburban Council newsletter editor for 14 years (1999-2013). Deb’s dedication to excellence is seen through the recognition our Council has received from International Reading Association for our publication. The newsletter reaches 1200 members and nonmembers each time it is printed. It has become our major source of communication, along with the website. Thank you, Deb, for a decade and four years of outstanding work that you graciously gave to our council’s publication.
At the Spring Gala, Beth Knoedelseder will be installed as our new newsletter editor. Beth will be newsletter editor starting August 2013.
Our new membership year will begin August 2013. Membership forms for 2013-2014 are in the April newsletter and on the website. Membership dues are the same as 2011-2012 & 2012-2013. The April 2013 newsletter will be our last newsletter for this year. You will not receive another membership form by mail until August 2013 newsletters arrive at your door. Membership forms can be printed from the council‘s website, (www.STLSuburbanReading.org) or contact Jody Rozbicki. For the 2013-2014, membership drive, the council encourages all our St. Louis Council Literacy Teams to welcome student teachers by encouraging them to apply for membership with your literacy teams at the student rate. If you have questions or need to contact Jody Rozbicki about membership, please email at (jrozbicki@ladueschools.net) or phone (home 636-458- 0004) or (school 314-983-5520)

Highlights of the 2013 Write to Learn Conference


Betty Porter Walls, Ph.D.
Neither frigid temperatures nor picturesque frozen landscapes prevented several hundred educators from attending the Write-to-Learn Conference, February 27-March2, 2013, at Tan-Tan-A Resort in Osage Beach, MO… The theme for this year’s conference, “Challenging Conventions, Tweaking Traditions,” was addressed by an array of speakers –poets, songwriters, authors, screenwriters, teachers, consultants.  Topics included technology, Common Core State Standards, writing, interdisciplinary instruction, and creativity.  Publishers were present with their latest publications and vendors displayed instructional and personal wares. The St. Louis Suburban IRA was well represented by executive board members Sarah Valter and Betty Porter Walls, who conducted conference sessions.  In addition other board members Tom Cornell, Mitzi Brammer, and Mollie Bolton attended sessions and award ceremonies while board member Carla Nieman ‘manned’ an exhibit.
Keynote speakers included Emmy and Peabody Awards winner for The Simpsons, Mike Reiss; Matt de la Pena, whose novels Ball Don’t Lie and Mexican White Boy were named ALA-YALSA Best Books for Young Adults; Chris Tovani who authored I Read It, but I Don’t Get It and the videotape sets Thoughtful Reading and Comprehending Content; professional poets Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger; and others. These speakers and other featured speakers provided a plethora of sessions from which to select. In addition to a day and a half of breakout sessions, meal sessions, visits with vendors and autographing sessions, conferees had an opportunity to attend a full day pre-conference session focusing on a certain topic or an afternoon post-conference session. Our own Sarah Valter conducted a pre-conference session, “New Literacies for New Learning: Teaching Elementary Students to Become Thoughtful Readers and Writers in the 21st Century Classroom.”  Her session focused on incorporating technology into reading and writing workshops. “Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmetic: Traditions and Challenges for the 21stCentury Classroom” was the title of Betty Porter Walls’s session on integrating children’s literature and mathematics in a Common Core aligned classroom.  Many sessions had overflow audiences during the conference.
This year’s conference was sponsored by Educational Solutions International in cooperation with the Missouri Association of Teachers of English, the Missouri Writing Projects Network, the Missouri Reading Initiative, and the Missouri State Council of the International Reading Association (MSC-IRA). Previously noted for its attraction to secondary teachers, the Write to Learn Conference now provides meaningful topics and sessions for both elementary and secondary classrooms. Thanks partly to the collaboration with MSC-IRA, more conference sessions focus on literacy than in the past.
Willy Wood, Conference Coordinator, stated that preliminary comments evaluated this year’s conference as, “A winner.” I thought the sessions were informative and entertaining; the spirit of the conference was very positive, and the speakers were dynamic. It may have been very cold outside, but the conference was a warm comfortable place to be and to share learning experiences with other educators.
Mark your calendars for next year’s Write to Learn Conference, February 27 -March 1, 2014.

News From MSC-IRA


Mitzi Brammer, Ph.D.
State Coordinator, MSC-IRA
This spring has been a very busy one indeed for the Missouri State Council of the IRA. The state council once again co-hosted the Write to Learn Conference that was held February 28-March 1 at Lake of the Ozarks.   Seven hundred twenty teachers, librarians, reading specialists, coaches, administrators, and college/ university faculty from across the state attended this exciting event. This amount is an increase over last year’s conference attendance.  At its Dr. Seuss Reception, the MSC-IRA presented The Outstanding Pre-Service Reading Teacher Honors to the following pre-service teachers from Missouri colleges and universities who have demonstrated significant accomplishment or innovation in preparing to promote literacy achievement: Kelly Davis, University of Central Missouri; Ashley Krause, Maryville University; and Laurel Helm, Missouri Southern State University.  In addition, the Research in Reading Award was presented to two different recipients: Dr. Cathy Pearman for “Pre-Service Teachers’ Self-Efficacy” and Drs. Beth Hurst and Randy Wallace for “Social Interaction in Literacy.”
Fantastic Key Note speakers included Jeff Anderson, Mike Reiss, Matt de la Pena, Michael Salinger and Sara Holbrook, and Cris Tovani.  Our own St. Louis Suburban IRA council was also represented by Sarah Valter and Dr. Betty Porter Walls who each presented sessions at the conference.
Mark your calendars now for the MSC-IRA Literacy Leadership summer institute. This two-day conference to be held on June 20 and 21, 2013, will be filled with fun, information, and food. Participants will be actively engaged by hearing informative presentations that are relevant to current literacy practice.
Finally, congratulations to St. Louis Suburban IRA Executive Board member Steve Baybo. He has taken on the voluntary position of State Poster Chair. Are you interested in becoming more active in literacy at the state level? Contact Mitzi Brammer at mbrammer@ssdmo.org.

Scaffolded Instruction in Light of CCSS


Mitzi Brammer, Ph.D.
The Common Core State Standards, or the Missouri Core Academic Standards, as they are referred to in the state of Missouri, will not only move students in their thinking about the texts they read, but they will also move teachers in the way they teach reading and writing. Released in June, 2010, these standards include rigorous content and require application of knowledge through high-order skills in order to prepare students effectively for a career or post-secondary education (MO DESE, 2012). Larkin (2012) states that inherent in these skills are students’ ability to (a) know how to learn, (b) access changing information, (c) apply what is learned, and (d) address complex real-world problems in order to be successful. Ultimately, educators want students to become independent learners. However, this independence may need to be facilitated with scaffolding. Blackburn (2012) adds that the rigorous educational environment involves each student being supported so he or she can learn at high levels. It is simply a myth that providing support means lessening rigor.
Dickson, Chard, and Simmons (1993) define scaffolding as the systematic sequencing of prompted content, materials, tasks, and teacher and peer support to optimize learning. Scaffolding, though, is not just about teachers helping their students to complete tasks. According to Beed, Hawkins, & Roller (1991),“when adults provide a scaffold…the child may internalize the essence of the thinking” (p. 649). Scaffolding can take many forms which may include but are not limited to:
    Breaking the task into smaller more, manageable parts
    Using “think alouds”
    Cooperative learning
    Cue cards
    Activating background knowledge
    Giving tips, strategies, cues and procedures
    Sequencing skills so that they build on each other
    Selecting examples and problems that progress in complexity
    Using graphic organizers
    Providing completed models of problems
    Providing checklists to help students remember the steps and processes used to solve
    problems and complete tasks (Archer & Hughes, 2011)
While scaffolded instruction is beneficial to struggling readers and writers, it can also be quite demanding on the teacher. Knowing when to fade support is critical. Often teachers will continue to scaffold when it really is no longer needed. Pressley, Hogan, Wharton-McDonald, Mistretta, and Ettenberger (1996) offer the following cautions to educators when deciding how and when to use scaffolding:
      Use scaffolding when appropriate. Not all students may need scaffolding for all tasks and materials. Provide scaffolding to those students who need it only when they need it.
      Be knowledgeable of the curriculum, particularly if it is re-aligned to the Missouri Core Academic Standards. This will allow you to determine the difficulty level of particular materials and tasks as well as the time and supports necessary to benefit your students.
      Practice generating possible prompts to help students. The first prompt you give to a student may fail, so you may have to give another prompt or think of a different wording to help the student give an appropriate response. Also, allow your students to provide prompts when applicable.
      Be positive, patient, and caring. You may become discouraged if students do not respond or are not successful as a result of your initial scaffolding efforts. Continue to convey a positive tone of voice in a caring manner along with continued scaffolding efforts and student success soon may be evident.
There is no such thing as an “average” classroom. With diverse needs, teachers need to be empowered now more than ever to begin planning for and implementing effective scaffolds to allow all students to be successful with the rigorous literacy expectations of the Common Core State Standards.
Archer, A., & Hughes, C. (2011). Explicit instruction: Effective and efficient teaching.  New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Beed, P. L., Hawkins, E. M., Roller, C. M. (1991). Moving learners toward independence: The power of scaffolded    instruction. The Reading Teacher, 44(9), 648-655. Blackburn, B. (2012). Rigor made easy: Getting started. Larchmont.  NY: Eye on Education.
Dickson, S. V., Chard, D. J., & Simmons, D. C. (1993). An integrated reading/writing curriculum: A focus on  scaffolding. LD Forum, 18(4), 12-16.
Larkin, M. (2012). Using scaffolding instruction to optimize learning. (ERIC Digest No.12). Retrieved from ERIC database. (ED474301)
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). (2012). Common core state standards. Retrieved from  http://dese.mo.gov/divimprove/curriculum/Common_Core.html
Pressley, M., Hogan, K., Wharton-McDonald, R., Mistretta, J., & Ettenberger, S. (1996).  The challenges of instructional scaffolding: The challenges of instruction that supports student thinking. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 11(3), 138- 146.

St. Louis’ Read, Right, and Run Marathon Coming in April 2013 – VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY




Would you like to support local students as they complete Go! St. Louis’ Read, Right and Run Marathon?  By Saturday, April 6th, many metro St. Louis area students will have read 26 books, done 26 good deeds, and have run 25 miles with their schools and families. On race day, they will complete their final mile and a quarter and can use your support.  You can cheer students along the course, at the finish line, or in the food tent. Prior to the event you can even stuff the thousands of bags for participants.  

Visit www.gostlouis.org and click on the SupportGo tab to check out the volunteer opportunities.

Common Core: Extending the Dialogue




Gwendolyn Y. Turner

 “I think it’s a mixed bag,” Youngblood {Missouri ASCD President} says about teachers’ concerns.  “It’s not going to be where we have to throw everything out and start all over again. Missouri is in pretty good shape, and I think mostly what you hear are concerns and fears from teachers because they don’t know quite know what’s happening yet.” (Sloan, 2010, pg.5)


Missouri was one of the earliest states to adopt the Common Core State Standards (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2010), and classroom teachers need to have a clear understanding of their implications for literacy teaching and learning. This paper provides an overview of some of the issues and implications for teachers.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) describe what students are expected to learn at every grade level.  Key concepts indicate that the CCSS: (a) are aligned with college and workforce expectations, (b) are focused and coherent, (c) include rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order skills, (d) build upon strengths of current state standards, (e) are informed by standards in other top performing countries, and (f) are evidenced-based (CCSS, 2010).  

Missouri has adopted the Missouri Core Academic Standards (CAS) as part of their CCSS. Missouri’s CAS are designed to help kindergarten through 12th grade students gain the knowledge and skills they will need for college, post secondary training, and careers.  According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MoDESE), these standards, which go into effect during the 2014-2015 school year, must make up 85% of Missouri’s standards for English/language arts (ELA) and math, and school districts should begin now aligning their ELA curriculum, instruction, and assessments to the CAS (MoDESE, 2012).

Even though 45 states, 4 territories, Department of Defense Schools and the District of Columbia have adopted the CCSS (CCSS 2010), Berkin (2012) and Gewertz (2012) conclude that many educators just do not know what these changes will mean for their individual classrooms.  The following comments explore some of the issues, implications, and suggestions for teachers of literacy and the English language arts.


“Providing teachers with real training and templates, not scripts and worksheets, and meaningful opportunities to work together to implement strategies that will improve student learning, are critical components of any strategy to implement the common core.  We will fail if we do not do both” (Phillips & Hughes, 2012, pg. 12).

        In it’s white paper, Literacy Implementation Guidance for the ELA Common Core State Standards, the International Reading Association acknowledges that many challenging and confusing issues have arisen about the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, and that it is imperative for classroom teachers to not only understand them, but the best practices for both instruction and assessment (IRA’s CCSS Committee, 2012).  Several literacy researchers (Gewertz, 2012; Long, 2011; Shanahan, 2011; Strickland, 2012) have identified key issues that must be addressed: (a) text complexity and use of evidence, (b) what comprises the foundational reading skills, (c) what constitutes academic vocabulary, (c) comprehension and close reading of text, (d) production and distribution of writing, (e) role of disciplinary literacy, (f) texts presented in a variety of multimedia formats, (g) role of fiction versus nonfiction text, and (h) assessment.  As states transition from No Child Left Behind, Berkin (2012) raises two additional issues that teachers must grapple with. First, because of the depth of the standards and the differences that might exist between CCSS and state standards, both novice and experienced teachers will have to engage in new ways of teaching and will need on-going support for this. Secondly, publishers are repurposing old materials and indicating that they are aligned with the Common Core, and decisions about materials need to be made carefully. Morrell (2012) reminds English language arts teachers, that part of our responsibility is to help students acquire the 21st-century literacies without abandoning the more traditional literacies that have defined education for centuries. Because of the rapid pace in which many of these standards will need to be implemented, educators will need time to discuss and learn new methods with sustained support and training, if districts are to be successful (Post, 2012/2013).   Developing standards is just the first aspect of a very complex educational process in which resources, existing practices, and educator preparation will have to be revisited and revised if the CCSS are to be achieved.

Implications for literacy teaching and learning

 The standards are pushing us to examine our practices, and examine them we must.  We must push ourselves in the same way we are being expected to push our students. We educators must thoughtfully read the complex common-core documents in their entirety, write rigorous lessons plans, and listen critically to those who are trying to help us learn and change”. (Strasser & Dobbertin, 2012, pg. 14)

One major implication is that Missouri teachers will need to rethink how existing teaching and learning practices have to be modified to align with the CAS.  Even with crosswalks that help to frame the CAS with Grade Level Expectations, Course Level Expectations, Show-me Standards, and assessments, teacher professional development and processing time will be essential. In all schools, Berkin (2012) indicates that teachers must realize that with the new Common Core Standards, text materials will be more complex with a wider range of genres and formats. Students will be expected to engage in close reading and respond to evidence-based questioning using authentic texts in a variety of multimedia formats.  Students will only achieve this if both ELA/literacy and content area teachers are ready to provide appropriate instruction. Gewertz (2012) argues that because literacy will no longer be the responsibility of English language arts and literacy teachers, that content area teachers will have to share responsibility in the achievement of students.  All teachers will have to know the literacy proficiencies of their students, the demands of the texts, and the context in which the literacy is used (McKenna & Robinson, 2009). In his commentary on Common Core vs. Common Sense, Wolk (2012) argues that neither experienced teachers nor prospective teachers have been trained to teach in ways that the new standards require.

IRA President, Cummins (2012/2013) proposes that teachers will have to become lifelong learners as they stay current on research and work more collaboratively with their colleagues to learn new practices to meet these standards.  Cummins proposes that teachers understand the value of using challenging text, purposely select classroom texts, and dig deeper in these texts so that students can learn to examine concepts from multiple perspectives.  One major premise of the CCSS that teachers must know is how to teach with texts that students struggle to read (Shanahan, 2011). Missouri teachers would do well to heed advice from both Cummins and Shanahan.

Teachers are encouraged to carefully explore existing exemplars that provide some guidance for developing their own classroom materials (Crawford, Galiatsos, Lewis, & Ottesen, 2011; Phillips & Wong, 2010).  MoDESE (website) maintains that the standards do not require school districts to use specific curriculum or teaching methods. These decisions are left up to the individual districts.  Instead the Missouri’s Core Academic Standards are designed to provide a “blueprint” for English language arts instruction within and across grade levels. MoDESE (website) has provided a roadmap that outlines four key literacy domains across grade levels with anchors: (a) Reading, (b) Writing, (c) Speaking and Listening, and (d) Language.  Three major shifts in literacy instruction and assessment will be occurring in Missouri schools because of the Core Academic Standards: determining text complexity, close reading and text dependent questions, and opinion and argument writing. As Missouri teachers begin to explore avenues that will allow them to address these shifts in literacy, MoDESE provides sample ELA curriculum projects and units that can serve as models.   These sample ELA curriculum units, which are created by Missouri educators, expand across grade levels and include teaching strategies, activities, supporting resources, and both summative and formative assessments.  According to MoDESE schools can adopt the model units, revise them to fit their own needs, or use them as resources (http://dese.mo.gov/ccr/modelcurriculum.html). Two major aspects of the implementation of the new CAS will be providing greater teacher collaboration and better instructional materials to meet these Standards.


 While no one set of exemplars exist for implementation of these new Common Core State Standards, Missouri, at least, has provided a starting place with their Model Curriculum Project. As teachers explore all of the ramifications of implementing the new Standards in their classrooms, the dialogue needs to continue on how best to provide this new path to college and career readiness. Phillips and Hughes (2012) remind us that the real challenge of implementing CCSS will be for teachers not policymakers.

In describing a planning framework to meet the Common Core State Standards, Strickland (2012) maintains that the Standards do not define how teachers should teach, what the instructional content should be, the interventions needed, nor the support needed for either special needs or English language learners. Instead CCSS provide a “shared and consistent vision of what students should be able to do. They provide guidance for educators and for those who shape the policy to support educational infrastructures”. (Strickland, 2012, pg. 25).  CCSS should help to establish a school’s curriculum; it is not the curriculum (Wessling, 2013).

As the bar is raised on what we expect students to know in order to become college and career ready, this is the time to engage in thoughtful and decisive actions on how we will help ELA/literacy and content teachers prepare to address the CCSS.  Hopefully, as Missouri moves ahead with the implementation of the new CAS, many of the issues will be explored, and the dialogue will continue.


Berkin, A. (2012, September 7). Quick guide to the Common Core: Key expectations explained. How the Common Core will change the way teachers teach and students learn. Education Week: Spotlight on Literacy and the Common core. 15-16. Retrieved from: (http://www.edweek.org/ew/marketplace/products/edweek_spotlights.html)

Common Core State Standards Initiative (n.d.) (http://www.corestandards.org/in-the-states)

Cummins, C. (December 2012/January 2013).  Celebrating teachers: Common Core and teachers making a difference. Reading Today, 30(3), 2-3.

Gewertz, C. (2012, September 26). Common standards drive new reading approaches. Education Week: Spotlight on Literacy and the Common Core.1-3. Retrieved from: http://www.edweek.org/ew/marketplace/products/edweek_spotlights.html


I nternational Reading Association Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Committee. (2012). Literacy implementation guidance for the ELA Common Core State Standards [White paper]. Retrieved from (http://www.reading.org/Libraries/association-documents/ira_ccss_guidelines.pdf). 


Crawford, G., Galiatsos, S., Lewis, A., & Ottesen, K. (2011). The 1.0 Guidebook to LDC linking secondary core content to the Common Core State Standards. Retrieved from: http://www.literacydesigncollaborative.org/.

Long, R. (2011, August/September). Common Core State Standards: Approaching the assessment issue, Reading Today, 29 (1), 23-24.

McKenna, M. & Robinson, R. (2009). Teaching through text: Reading and writing in the content areas. Boston: Pearson.

 Morrell, E. (2012). 21st-Century literacies, critical media pedagogies, and language arts. The Reading Teacher, 66(4), 300-302.

MoDESE (2012).  Missouri Core Academic Standards: Preparing students for colleges and careers—New standards for Missouri schools. Retrieved from


MoDESE (2012). Missouri Model Curriculum. Retrieved from http://dese.mo.gov/ccr/modelcurriculum.html

Phillips, V. & Hughes, R. (2012, December 5). Teacher collaboration: The essential common-core ingredient. Education Week Spotlight on Implementing Common Standards, Retrieved from: http://www.edweek.org/ew/marketplace/products/edweek_spotlights.html)

Phillips, V. & Wong, C. (2010). Common core standards, assessment and instruction. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(5), 37-42.

Post, M. (December 2012/January 2013).  Managing change, implementing promise. Reading Today, 30 (3), 4-5.

Shanahan, T. (2011, August/September). Common core standards: Are we going to lower the fences or teach kids to climb. Reading Today. 29(1), 20-21.

Sloan, W. (2010). Coming to terms with Common Core Standards. ASCD INFObrief. 16(4). 5. Retrieved from: http://www.ascd.org/publications/newsletters/policy-priorities/vol16/issue4/full/Coming-to-Terms-with-Common-Core-Standards.aspx

Strasser, D., & Dobbertin, C. (2012, July 10). Four myths about the ELA Common- Core Standards.  Education Week Spotlight on Literacy and the Common Core. Retrieved from: (http://www.edweek.org/ew/marketplace/products/edweek_spotlights.html)

Strickland, D. (2012, February/March). Planning curriculum to meet the Common Core State Standards. Reading Today. 29(4) 25-26.

Wessling, S.B (2013, January 16). Implementing the common core: Moving the instructional shifts for the ELA/Literacy Standards from words to actions. ASCD’s Getting to the Core Webinar series. Retrieved from: http://www.ascd.org/professional-development/webinars.aspx

Wolk, R. (2012, December 5). Common Core vs. Common Sense. Education Week: Spotlight on implementing common standards. Pgs. 12-13. Retrieved from (http://www.edweek.org/ew/marketplace/products/edweek_spotlights.html)


Highlights of the 2012 Literacy for All Conference



Dr. Betty Porter Walls

 On Saturday, October 6, 2012, more than one hundred educators, gathered at Harris-Stowe State University (HSSU) to participate in the “2012 Literacy for All Conference: Literacy for the Future” sponsored by the St. Louis Suburban Council of the IRA and HSSU.  After a sensitive, humorous and informative keynote presentation, “Moving Students from Apathy to Passion: Learning to Love Reading,” by Dr. Bonnie M. Davis, conferees had the opportunity to choose from a variety of breakout sessions targeted for pre-school thru high school, to visit with a variety of publishers and vendors, and to meet authors.  Sessions focused on topics including Common Core State Standards, brain-based learning, digital literacy, multiculturalism and social consciousness in children’s literature. Everyone received a certificate of attendance and a conference resource book.  There were plenty of door prizes and free books!  The conference was as well received as the weather was conducive to having a wonderful time learning more about literacy.  Mark your calendars for the “2013 Literacy for All Conference” on Saturday, October 5.





Kathleen McDonnell

We hope you will encourage your students to participate in the 2012-2013 St. Louis Suburban IRA Reading Poster Contest again this year. The judging will be held during our February 12, 2013 council meeting. Everyone who attends the meeting will be asked to vote on the best poster in each category. The categories are: K-2nd grades, 3rd-5th grades, 6th-8th grades, & 9th-12th grades. The rule Missouri State Council-IRA (MSC-IRA) and St. Louis Suburban guidelines can also be found on the MSC/IRA website:

Procedures for Submitting Posters:

·       Each school may submit the best posters in each category.

·       Posters may be submitted between 4:30 and 5:30 pm at the St. Louis Suburban council meeting on February 12, 2013.

·       Posters NOT submitted to the MSC/IRA poster contest will be returned the evening of the judging.

·       For more information contact: Kathleen McDonnell at 636-946-9799.

Judging of the Posters:

The three best posters in each category will be submitted to the state level of the poster contest.  The overall winning poster at the state level will become the official MSC/IRA poster to receive special recognition.  The top poster in the four categories will also be recognized by MSC/IRA Council.  The state winners will be announced in the Missouri IRA Newsletter. 

*New this year:  It is now required to obtain permission in writing for each student to participate in the poster contest.  Please see the official entry blank for the state poster contest. 

Marjy Schneider, Mary Eileen Rufkahr and Molly Bolton are the committee members that will be receiving your entries after 4:30.  Winners from both St. Louis Suburban judging and MSC/IRA state judging will be posted on-line.  See the St. Louis Suburban IRA website for more details.    http://www.stlsuburbanreading.org/ 

Highlights of November 2012 Missouri Early Learning Conference



Sarah Valter

Early childhood and primary educators from across the state gathered at Tan-tar-a on November 1st and 2nd for the 2012 Missouri Early Learning Conference. The conference, co-sponsored by Missouri State Council of the IRA (MSC-IRA), featured such well-known speakers as Susan Zimmermann, Matt Glover, Debbie Diller, Jerry Pallotta,  Brod Bagert, and Jill Molli.

Susan Zimmermann, co-author of Mosaic of Thought and 7 Keys to Comprehension, opened the conference with a keynote address on Thursday. This keynote, entitled "The Joy of Reading," emphasized ways to engage young learners and teach them to be passionate about reading. Zimmermann then shared strategies for reading comprehension in several breakout sessions, highlighting the significance of modeling each of the seven key comprehension strategies: using schema, visualizing, inferring, questioning, summarizing, determining, importance, and monitoring.

Matt Glover switched the focus from reading to writing on the second day of the conference with his keynote speech, "Nurturing Young Writers." In his discussion of writing in the primary grades, Glover outlined methods for making the youngest learners excited about writing independently in Writer's Workshop. Through video clips and writing samples, Glover engaged, entertained and enlightened the audience with examples of proficient young writers who are passionate about writing.

 Another highlight of this year's conference was two author luncheons sponsored by MSC-IRA. On Thursday, Jerry Pallotta, author of nonfiction children's books, presented strategies for getting students to read and write nonfiction in his session entitled "Writing a Tidal Wave." Friday's luncheon featured children's poet Brod Bagert, who shared ideas for getting kids excited about poetry in "The Poetry Revolution and the Classroom Teacher."

St. Louis Suburban IRA was represented at the Missouri Early Learning Conference with break-out sessions led by two of our board members. Dr. Betty Porter Walls, President 2010-11, shared strategies for integrating math and literacy. Sarah Valter, current President-Elect, spoke about content-area literacy. Other break-out sessions during the conference featured topics such as math and literacy stations, the Common Core State Standards, science, classroom management, and the social-emotional development of young learners.                                 

The 2012 Missouri Early Learning Conference provided a wealth of new knowledge for primary and early childhood teachers in Missouri. Make sure to look for information this summer for the 2013 conference!

Committees Responsibilities for 2013




Sandy Kettelkamp, Committee Chair

If you are interested in being on St. Louis Suburban Council Board’s Committees in 2013-2014, please contact Sandy Kettelkamp by email: skettelkamp@affton.k12.mo.usYour email will need to list your committee interest, and brief description.  As the 2013-2014 year begins in August, the Board of Directors will be looking for members interested in being active in the Board’s Committees. 

See you at the Spring Banquet 2013!

 Community & Family Literacy


1. Research community projects

2. Facilitate Poster Contest, Habitat for Humanity book

    drive, and Newspapers in Education,

3. Facilitate Tab Tops & Penny-a-Page, Philippines  

    Project & Haiti Library Project.

Communications Committee

Newsletter Responsibilities:

1. Format and print newsletters

2. Mail and email newsletters,

3. Identify writers and articles for newsletters.

Website Responsibilities:

Assist Website Masters, Mitzi Brammer and Dan Rocchio

Membership Committee


1.     Brochure and newsletter articles promoting membership

2.     General meeting registration tables

3.     Recruiting university students

4.     Membership records

5.     Attendance certificates for general meetings

6.     Mailing labels for newsletters

Spring 2014 Banquet Committee


1.     Find location for spring banquet

2.     Select dinner menu and present cost to board for approval

3.     Inform facility of layout for banquet

4.     Plan table center pieces, giveaways, entertainment if necessary

5.     Responsible for set-up and take down of banquet

Awards Committee


1.     Complete the Honor Council & Show-Me binders

2.     Decide Mini-Grant winners

Budget Committee


1.     Monitor expenditures, reimbursements, and account,

2.     Present budget reports to the board each month

3.     Present final budget report from past year and proposal for new year to the board

Nominating Committee


1.     Identify board members for officer positions

2.     Identify council members for Board of Directors openings

3.     Identify Executive and Board of Directors for committee chairs

4.     Promote the benefits of being on the Executive and Board of Directors

2013-2014 Program Committee


1.     Identifies a program theme or direction

2.     Contacts speakers and schedules 2014-2015 program

3.     Decides on location of general meetings and board meetings

4.     Plans for follow-up staff development programs