CCIRA May Newsletter 2019

A Message from CCIRA President
Amy Ellerman
Passing the Gavel

It has been an honor to serve as CCIRA’s President this past year.

Involvement in CCIRA has positively impacted the trajectory of my career in so many ways—through my own ever-deepening content knowledge, the opportunities to grow my leadership skills, and the incredible people I have met and learned beside along the way. I would not be the educator I am today if I had not been an active member and leader of CCIRA.

If I could give one piece of advice to new teachers (to all teachers, really), it would be to find the professional organization(s) that will support you and challenge you to keep growing. Teaching is complex, and it is constantly changing. To stay inspired and on the edge of what’s best practice (recognizing that the edge is in perpetual motion), it is crucial to find a community of professionals with a similar mindset for growth—to seek out those fellow educators whose thirst for new learning will be energy-giving.

For me, CCIRA has been that community.

As I pass the literal and metaphorical gavel to our President-Elect, Jessica Rickert, I will forever be appreciative of this opportunity to give back to CCIRA through my time in a leadership role. I’m not dropping off the face of the planet—beginning in June I’ll step into the Immediate Past President role. (The Presidential Line is a four year gig from start to finish.) I’m excited for the challenges this new position will bring, and I’m looking forward to the year ahead under Jessica’s leadership.

I would like to publicly thank Anne Cook, our current Immediate Past President, for her four years of service in the Presidential Line. She has been a tremendous mentor for so many of us within CCIRA, and we are so appreciative of her vision, her strength, and her leadership. Thank you, Anne!!

Innovation-Imagining the Future of Literacy

Please join us February 5-8, 2020 for a fabulous conference. You will have time to explore the Innovator’s Mindset, use Design Thinking to boost creativity and bring out the maker in every student. We are dedicating time for self-care; come learn strategies for making time for yourself!
Looking forward to learning alongside you in 2020!
Proposals wanted for the
2020 Conference on Literacy
We are currently looking for presentation proposals for the 2020 Conference on Literacy. The annual CCIRA conference offers a high quality professional development experience for attendees. The purpose of CCIRA sessions is to promote best practices and current research in the field of literacy. We appreciate your willingness to share your expertise with conference attendees by hosting one or two sessions. You can click on the link below to submit your proposal on the CCIRA website. Thank you in advance, and see you in February 2020!

Local Council News

Collegiate Peaks Council

Once again their Family Literacy Night was a huge success in Salida,Colorado! Longfellow Elementary School hosted the a literacy night, January 24th with a ranching theme. They had over 200 elementary age students with approximately another 150 parents. The night was hosted in collaboration with Longfellow Parent Association, 13 teachers from Longfellow, High School and Middle School volunteers, numerous community volunteers such as the Hutchinson Ranch who brought in a petting zoo, GARNER (Greater Arkansas Environment Group) provided a Science center, and the Boys and Girls Club provided a story teller.  

Every student was provided a book from the Scholastic Book Fair (happening simultaneously) as a collaborative effort with the Longfellow Parent Association (LPA) and funds from CCIRA. Everyone received a pulled- pork dinner as well! It was a wonderful evening.  
Ten Mile Council
Ten Mile Reading Council hosted a new kind of professional development this year, a Teacher as Reader book club with a focus on reading diverse books. The K-12 class was a favorite for participants for the following reasons: reading a lot of great books, pushing their thinking, collaborating and having discussions with colleagues, and of course.... books for classrooms! Speakers like Cornelius Minor and Morgan Davis provided support for thinking about new ways to bring the books to life in the classroom while addressing very serious cultural and societal issues facing children today. The book group has requested to meet again next school year to continue the conversation while growing their understanding of the importance of texts like  Refugee Rickshaw Girls  and  The Water Princess.
West Elk Educators
The West Elk Educators, one of our newest local councils to CCIRA, had an event back in February on Brain Based Learning and there were 12 educators present! They had a great time! Their next event is this upcoming Thursday, May 2. They are doing a Teacher Wellness Event at a local establishment called Rooted Apothecary where there will be yoga and wellness recommendations.  

WEE is working on obtaining a grant with the local Gunnison Valley Education Foundation asking for funds to host a monthly speaker series next year.  They are hoping to get the grant money and be able get a speaker lined up for each month which will enable them to be able to compensate the speaker, provide light refreshments, and get some WEE swag.  (In the future too, applying for CCIRA grants is also a great way to support local council work!)

WEE has connected with Western Colorado University (formerly Western State) and invited their education department, along with students in the education program, to their events. Several professors have expressed interest so WEE hopes to connect with them in the fall with the grant/speaker series they have planned.
Welcome to CCIRA WEE!  
You don't want to miss this opportunity!
Recharge! A Northern Colorado CCIRA Teacher Conference

Join us for a day of learning before school starts. On July 25, the Northern Colorado Councils will host a mini-conference to get ready for the school year. We will have presenters on the following topics; Digital Literacy, ESL, Reading/Writing, Co-teaching, Special Education support, Parent Engagement, and many local authors. Knowledge Bound, a local teacher store, and Firehouse Books, a local book store will be on site to purchase everything you will need to start the year strong. Join us from 7:30-4:00 at the Loveland Campus of University of Northern Colorado for a day of networking, learning, and to recharge for the new school year. Members of CCIRA get a discounted rate of $25, non-members are $35. Contact Michele Warner at or Rebecca Hoover at for further information

Partners in Education

May Teaching Tip
Engaging with text can often be difficult for students, especially when the text is centuries old, written in difficult to understand prose, and includes unfamiliar technical jargon. For historical documents, integrating literacy strategies, discussion strategies and primary source analysis can help break up confusion and lead to a deeper understanding.

For the most difficult to digest historical documents, consider using the Written Conversation discussion strategy paired Stanford History Education Group’s Historical Thinking prompts, which are free to download here .

Written Conversation Procedure: Have a silent conversation by talking on paper. Two people share a piece of paper and a pencil and silently discuss the reading by writing back and forth to each other. No talking is allowed except with young children who often need to read what they have written to each other out loud.

Also, consider applying for the Teaching with Primary Sources Western Region Summer Teacher Institute June 27-28, 2019. More information and registration is available by clicking here .

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.

Did you know?
Penny Kittle, a 2019 CCIRA featured speaker, has a #BookLove foundation that funds classroom libraries as a result of the Summer Book Club. Clare Landrigan is the elementary club organizer and will be at CCIRA 2020. Together they are working toward providing funds for educators to use. Check out the website below for more information!

A note from the outgoing
Immediate Past President
Anne Cook

I want to thank you all for the honor of being the Chairman of the 2017 Conference on Literacy, and the President and Immediate Past President of CCIRA. I have truly loved every minute in this amazing organization and look forward to many years to come volunteering as we continue to grow. I have met so many wonderful educators, made life-long friends, had conversations with inspiring speakers and authors throughout the country while involved in past and present conferences, and have also partaken in unparalleled professional development in my 25+ years of involvement in CCIRA. I cherish my years working with the outstanding people involved in CCIRA, and the past 4 years have flown by faster than I could have ever imagined. We are in good hands with our leadership and the organization is always looking to grow and encourage more leaders. I look forward to seeing you wherever we meet as we continue this journey in literacy.

Thank you also to all the Executive Committee members past and present. You have always lead us with strength and a vision for the future.

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, and again in the Fall 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.