CCIRA March Newsletter 2019
March 2019

A Message from CCIRA President
Amy Ellerman
A Seat at the Table

“Do you feel safe and invited to learning’s table?” This is a question Rick Wormeli posed at #CCIRA19 in his session, Cultivating Tenacity and Engagement in Students. This question is still swirling for me as I reflect on not only this year’s annual conference, but also on the learning communities in our classrooms, schools, and communities.

I’m thinking about kids, but I’m thinking about adults, too.

As a young teacher, Debbie Miller’s Reading With Meaning was the first professional book I remember reading cover to cover. It spoke to me—first grade teacher to first grade teacher—in a way that I had not experienced up until that point. That book (and the conversations I had with colleagues who were also reading that book) made me a better Reading teacher.

Those colleagues were the same educators who introduced me to CCIRA. They insisted that I needed to go to the conference, and they were right. That first conference many years ago—and all the conferences since—lit a fire for professional learning that fuels me (and occasionally threatens to burn the metaphorical house down, if I’m being honest).

This year Debbie Miller was at #CCIRA19, and I had the opportunity to hear her speak about her newest book, What’s the Best That Could Happen? She was exactly as I imagined she would be: authentic, full of questions, and so insightful as she made her thinking process visible. She was thinking beside us, inviting us in to wrestle with what she’s wrestling with. I was inspired to reconnect with someone who had (unknowingly) mentored me early in my career—and to discover that her latest thinking is just as compelling for my current work as Reading With Meaning was to me as a baby teacher.

It was one of those closing-the-loop experiences that reminded me how important CCIRA is in my professional life.

The conditions Rick Wormeli described in his session, the one around making sure our kids feel welcome at learning’s table, those are the same conditions we need as adult learners. The need to belong is powerful. As learners ourselves, we need to build relationships with other learners and with our teachers. Sometimes those relationships are built person to person, and sometimes those relationships are built reading those teacher’s books or sitting in their sessions at a conference. A skilled presenter and writer can make us feel as if we are side by side in the work.

There has always been something about CCIRA that has made me feel welcome at the table—whether that table is the conference, a local council event, or simply a group of colleagues learning together across the year and encouraging each other to join in. Professional community is a necessity in education, where the work is so complex and challenging.

Seeing Debbie Miller this year at #CCIRA19 brought this all full circle for me. I’m so appreciative of the colleagues who invited me to the table way back in the day. I know this experience is not unique; I would imagine that most educators who regularly attend CCIRA can name the colleagues who encouraged them to attend for the first time. Most educators can talk about the first professional books or sessions at a conference that inspired them to keep reading and keep learning.

According to Rick Wormeli, the greatest motivator for adults in the workplace is making progress. I would argue that the best way to make our own progress visible is to be active members of a community in which we are continuously learning and reflecting. Sounds like CCIRA to me. . .

I hope you feel welcome at learning’s table, whether that table is the CCIRA Conference, your local council, your school, your team, or your PLN. When we find those places where we belong and we connect, we are ready to learn (just like our students). Please reach out if you’d like to learn more about the many learning tables open through involvement with CCIRA, and please continue to welcome others to the table.

Thank you to all who attended, presented, and volunteered at the 2019 CCIRA Conference! We are truly inspired to be a part of this wonderful learning community. Below are some attendee's comments about what most interested and motivated them to attend the conference. We hope to see you next year at the 2020 CCIRA Conference on Literacy.
 Jessica Rickert
2019 Conference Chair
What interested and motivated you to attend the CCIRA 2019 Conference?
* New strategies and research behind instructional principles/practices.

* New ideas revitalize my reading instruction.

* CCIRA is always a great opportunity to see important thinkers in the field and to get rejuvenated and inspired.

* The inspiration of literacy instruction.

* I am interested in the variety of speakers and opportunities to think about literacy in new and interesting ways.
* Hearing from authors of professional literature that I am currently reading.

* Outstanding quality of experience, excellent caliber presenters, and welcoming environment.

* Engagement and learning

* Previous experience with the conference. It provides me with new insights and often with concrete ideas to use right away.

* It gets me re-energized every year!
Conference Certificate of Attendance and Conference Evaluation
Please check your spam folder in your email if you did not receive either of these items. We are still taking feedback from the evaluation.
Congratulations to Pam Minard, the new Vice-President Elect of CCIRA and Chairperson of the 2021 Conference on Literacy!
Local Council News

2019 PPIRA Fall Conference Call for Proposals
Are you passionate about teaching writing? Is there something that has "clicked" with your students that you think might help writers in other classrooms? Perhaps you've learned something that's improved student achievement in writing or implemented something that has impacted your students as they grow as writers.
You are exactly who we are looking for!

This year for PPIRA's fall conference on October 19, 2019, we are looking to our wonderful educators in the Pikes Peak region for session proposals. This year's conference will focus on writing strategies that can be used across subject areas in support of a variety of learners including gifted, ELL, and students with special education or accommodation needs.

When thinking about your session proposal, please focus on strategies an educator could use in his or her classroom rather than the promotion of a particular curriculum or resource used in your building.

Click the link below to go to the session proposal page.  Proposals are due no later than April 1, 2019.

Please share this email with other educators in your building and across the region via email or social media whom you think have strategies to share!  
Partners in Education

March Teaching Tip

Ever use comics in your classroom?

Comics are a great way to introduce fun and engaging literacy activities to all grade levels and skills. Plus, there is an amazing resource that both educators and students alike can take advantage of both in-person and online!

Pop Culture Classroom (PCC), which hosts Denver Pop Culture Con (f.k.a Denver Comic-Con) in downtown Denver from May 31 - June 2, 2019, has a wealth of literacy activities and resources for free for educators. From comics, gaming, and cosplay workshops to attending Educator’s Day on the Friday of Denver Pop Culture Con, their resources are both innovative and free!

Integrating primary sources into their literacy activities and teaching guides on their site is a great way to ensure cross-curriculum standards are met, and allow students to play to their strengths.

Recently, TPS collaborated with PCC at History Colorado and did just that. One of the most powerful activities teachers engaged in was to create a comic character based off of an exhibit at History Colorado. It combined primary source analysis, visual and textual literacies, storytelling, and pop culture literacies all into one. The best part? Primary sources were used as inspiration for the comic character’s background, super powers, origin story, whatever, giving students reason and purpose for connecting history with today.

CCIRA Grants and Awards
Visit t o look over the array of grants and awards CCIRA offers. Begin to think about applying for a grant or nominating a deserving educator for an award to be presented in the Spring of 2019.
Please join in the excitement surrounding the new CCIRA Blog! It is off to a great start and will open up your world to ongoing professional development ideas with the ease of your computer screen! Start today by clicking on this link: 

CCIRA Executive Committee

Amy Ellerman , President:
Jessica Rickert, President Elect:
Sharon Miller, Vice President:
Anne Cook , Immediate Past President:
Michele Warner , Secretary:
Sue Goodenow , State Membership Coordinator:
Molly Rauh , Director of Membership Development:
Cathy Lynskey , Treasurer:
Lisa Kahn, Administrative Assistant:
Is your local council, state committee, school, or community doing something extraordinary for literacy in Colorado? Do you have a great idea to share with other educators on how to enhance literacy in the classroom? Do you know of a conference or event that CCIRA members might be interested in attending? If so, please contact Anne Cook to submit information for publication.