SIUE and Local Author Team for “Linking Literacy and STEM” Conference

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Local children’s book author Jennifer Ward presented at the CIRP Conference held at SIUE.The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Education, Health and Human Behavior Department of Teaching and Learning hosted the state-wide College Instructors of Reading Professionals (CIRP) Early Career Conference on Saturday, April 27.

CIRP members and Early Career Award winners attended the conference that centered on the topic of “Linking Literacy and STEM: Incorporating Trade Books with Oral, Written and Visual Strategies.” Conference organizer Stephanie McAndrews, PhD, professor and literacy program director, presented alongside local award-winning children’s book author Jennifer Ward.

“This engaging conference focused on using literature as mentor texts to teach comprehension and writing composition based on six text structures: description, compare-contrast, sequence, problem-solution, cause-effect and question-answer,” said McAndrews.

Ward shared how to teach literacy using numerous texts she wrote including her two new books, Mama Dug a Little Den and I Love Birds: 52 Ways to Wonder, Wander and Explore with Birds. Ward and McAndrews incorporated their wildlife photography and love of nature into the literacy presentation. They emphasized the value of integrating theory and practice by incorporating multimodal text structure strategies into comprehending and composing literature.

(L-R) Local author Jennifer Ward, SIUE’s Dr. Stephanie McAndrews, secretary of CIRP, SIUE’s Early Career Award winners Jennifer Scheuchner, Meagan Mendez, Kara Brockmeyer and Amanda Acord, and CIRP President Dr. Becky McTague, professor at Roosevelt University. “These motivating strategies are beneficial for teachers to engage students in authentic experiences that develop their literacy and love of learning,” added McAndrews. “Attendees explained how they could immediately apply these ideas and share them with their colleagues.”

Five SIUE education majors were named Early Career Award winners and invited to attend the conference, including undergraduates Amanda Acord, Kara Brockmeyer, Aryn Dobrinick and Meagan Mendez, as well as graduate student Jennifer Scheuchner.

“The conference was extremely beneficial as a beginning educator, because it introduced me to a variety of strategies to connect science and literacy which will allow me to have a more meaningful impact on all my students,” said Brockmeyer, a senior early childhood education major from Fairview Heights. “Ms. Ward and Dr. McAndrews were highly prepared with examples of strategies and activities I can implement into my future classroom. I feel as if I have a better grasp on how to effectively link and integrate science and literacy concepts, and would highly recommend attending these conferences in the future.”

“By attending the CIRP Conference, I learned how to better integrate young literature into a child’s natural environment,” added Acord, a senior early childhood education major from Red Bud.  “I appreciated the opportunity to attend, as I gained ideas that I can incorporate into my future classroom.” Upon her graduation in May, Acord will be teaching at La Petite Academy in Belleville.

Photos: Local children’s book author Jennifer Ward presented at the CIRP Conference held at SIUE.

(L-R) Local author Jennifer Ward, SIUE’s Dr. Stephanie McAndrews, secretary of CIRP, SIUE’s Early Career Award winners Jennifer Scheuchner, Meagan Mendez, Kara Brockmeyer and Amanda Acord, and CIRP President Dr. Becky McTague, professor at Roosevelt University. Also in attendance, but not pictured, was SIUE’s Dr. Shadrack Msengi, literacy faculty and CIRP Director of Membership.