Press Release

International Reading Association awards HLGU Professors and Local Educators

Monday, May 13, 2013
by Rebecca Sneed

Larinee Dennis and Julie Jackson Albee worked with four area educators to develop a unit of study that incorporated several Common Core State Standards for grades three to five.

In the fall, Albee received notice that the International Reading Association had issued a call for researchers to partner with K through 12 practitioners to develop interdisciplinary units in Literacy Education. She contacted Larinee Dennis and they gathered a writing team. Two HLGU alumni, J'Lynne Schafer Mundle ('01), third grade teacher at Stowell Elementary in Hannibal, and Megan Duckworth Hathaway (07), fifth grade teacher at New London Elementary, along with Principal Melanie Smith and Sue Spiegelhoff, fourth grade teacher, both at New London Elementary, completed the team.

Larinee Dennis led the effort, and the team met for several writing sessions during October and November. They collaboratively created the unit entitled, "Research and Persuade What Animal Should Be New At the Zoo?" During the unit, in groups of four, third through fifth grade students research an endangered species, write a newspaper article, develop a PowerPoint presentation, and give an oral presentation to a "Zoo Board" that determines which animal should be added to the zoo's collection. The unit was submitted to the International Reading Association (IRA) for review in November.

Teachers Hathaway and Spieglehoff, along with their third, fourth, and fifth grade colleagues, piloted the unit with their students during January, February, and March.

Principal Melanie Smith observed that "This unit really created the perfect context for students to read and explore nonfiction text. The students had rich conversations as they formatted support for their opinions, while teachers actively collaborated to discuss the best ways to implement the unit."

Fifth grade teacher, Hathaway, noted that "It was exciting to see my students working together while researching and writing diligently in their groups, with support and a healthy spirit of competition."

"The high level of engagement got my class excited about the process of researching and writing," added Sue Spiegelhoff.

In late March, Mundle and her co-teachers also began teaching the unit. She observed, "My students learned to use text features while researching and then applied them into their own writing."

The benefits of the unit noted by area teachers were also recognized by the International Reading Association. In late January, the team received notification that their unit was one of six units rated as exemplary by IRA's Professional Resources Group. As a result, the team was invited to present the unit at the Poster Session of Interdisciplinary Units at the International Reading Association's 58th Annual Convention in San Antonio Texas in April.

In addition to presenting at the conference, team members heard keynote speakers and attended numerous educational workshops where they learned strategies that will enhance their instruction of children and future teachers. Albee and Dennis expressed their appreciation for the support of the HLGU administrators who provided financial support for this excellent educational experience.

Contact Information

Carolyn Carpenter
Director of Public Relations