The Literacy Connection

Reading Program

Texas A&M University-San Antonio


November is NANOWRIMO!

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.

On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.

November Picture Book Month

Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book during the month of November.

Faculty favorite picture books are below:

I am a Reader! I am an Illustrator!

Wednesday, Nov. 29th, 5:30-6:30pm

1950 Rigsby Avenue

San Antonio, TX

In recognition of Picture Book Month, Dr. Piper and Dr. Jozwiak (Early Childhood) are organizing the I am a Reader! I am an Illustrator! event at Stewart Elementary. The event will focus on empowering young readers to engage with literature. Based upon picture books, graduate students enrolled in Dr. Piper's course, Children's and Young Adult Literature, will have activities available for the students at Stewart. Students enrolled in Dr. Jozwiak's early childhood course will have prop boxes centered around picture books available for students at Stewart to use for imaginative play. Persons with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact Dr. Piper at in advance of the event.

National Day on Writing

The National Day on Writing (October 20) was founded by the National Council of Teachers of Englishon the premise that writing is critical to literacy but needs greater attention and celebration.

Texas A&M University-San Antonio celebrated by providing the campus community with the opportunity to reflect on the reasons they write. At four areas on campus, participants were able to think about why they write for themselves, for work, for school, and for home. The event was organized by Drs. Bridgman and Piper.

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” ― Mark Twain

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Tasha A. Vice is a new Assistant Professor of Literacy at A&M-SA. Tasha Vice was born and raised in Portales, New Mexico. She is married to her high school sweetheart, James. They have two daughters Trinity (16) and Liberty (6).

She first studied at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico. There, she earned both a M.Ed. in Education and a M.A. in English Literature. During that time, she researched female characters in American Literature and explored interests in Gothic literature, Paranormal Romance, and classic film noir. While enrolled, Tasha Vice began teaching college reading. Dr. Vice has taught 4th and 5th grade music, 7th and 8th grade reading, college English, college reading, college writing, and college success skills.

After transferring to Texas, Tasha Vice studied at Texas Tech University where she earned a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction-Literacy where her focus was on helping struggling readers succeed. She looks forward to sharing her knowledge of teaching with EDRG students at Texas A & M- San Antonio.

Dr. Vice has published creative works in El Portal Magazine (Poetry, Photography, and Short Fiction) and has published articles for Texas DEPCO and JCASP in Education on the subject of Metacognition for Readers and Writers. She has presented conference papers evaluating the literary elements of fiction and papers on popular culture in pedagogy.

Tasha is always interested in learning something new. So, she has many hobbies including reading, writing fiction, studying music (guitar, clarinet, & piano), yoga, and spending time with her family.

Outstanding Alumni Spotlight

Spotlight on Graduate Students

Undergraduate Students' Spotlight

Literacy Lock-In at Beacon Hill Elementary

San Antonio Independent School District's (SAISD) Cohort I teachers, Marisa Barrera and Monica Puga-Aburto, held a Literacy Lock-In for 3rd-6th grade students at Beacon Hill Elementary on November 3rd. The 3rd and 4th grade students read and completed activities based upon the book, Because of Winn Dixie by , while the 5th and 6th grade students read and completed activities based upon the book, Flora & Ulysses. Both books are written by Kate DiCamillo.

The students enjoyed completing a book tasting activity, where they sat in a "restaurant" and used a book tasting menu to preview three different books. In addition, the students completed an art activity by using their comprehension skills (visualization) to draw a scene from their book.

The students were really excited to complete a scavenger hunt based upon finding items related to their book. The building's lights were turned off as the students used flash lights to work in pairs to find the needed items, in which they used IPads to take pictures or video of each item.

This was a well-attended event, and both teachers stated that they will attempt to have another lock-in in the spring for those students who were not able to attend. Two additional teachers, Ms. Frost and Mr. Kavulic, assisted Mrs. Barrera and Mrs. Puga-Aburto with the event. Mrs. Nelson, principal of Beacon Hill, attended the event, as well as Drs. Pittman and Wilson.

Powering Up Your Literacy Skills Parent Workshop at Gates Elementary

Cohort I graduate students, Ariana Moreno and Angel Prado, conducted a parent workshop at Gates Elementary in San Antonio ISD. The workshop focused on increasing parents' self-efficacy to assist their children with literacy related skills such as comprehension. The purpose of the workshop was to also empower parents and to make them aware that they are their child’s first and most important teacher. Providing parents with literacy skills will enhance the child’s ability to have high expectations for their work. Parents were able to partner with the teachers by learning strategies utilized in the classroom and ways to implement literacy strategies at home.

Teachers modeled a read-aloud demonstrating the use of think marks and thinking stems. The parents practiced making responses in a double-sided entry journal. Parents were free to ask questions along the way. At the end of the workshop, the parents were able to pick up a free book and sign up online for a library card. Teachers and parents truly enjoyed the collaboration, and both groups look forward to more events in the future. The participants included seven parents, Drs. Piper and Wilson, Dorothy Abadias (Parent Liason for Gates Elementary), and Sonya Mora (Principal at Gates Elementary). The parent workshop was one part of two literacy initiatives the students enrolled in School Wide Literacy Leadership had to complete.

8th Grade Book Clubs at Woodlawn Academy

This semester, graduate students, Raul Flores and Annette Jones, have been running book clubs at Woodlawn Academy with 8th graders. Mr. Flores’ groups have been reading Diary of a Part Time Indian and discussing power and agency in families, while Ms. Jones’ group has been reading Wolf Hollow and discussing bullying. Ms. Jones will continue her book club until December because of such high interest.

Building Readers at Home Parent Workshop at Will Rogers Academy

Myrna Chavarria, graduate student and Cohort 1 teacher, worked with her campus staff at Will Rogers Academy in San Antonio ISD to offer 1st and 2nd grade parents a workshop entitled, Building Readers at Home: Teachers and Parents Working Together. The purpose of the workshop was to inform parents of the crucial role they play in building their child's early literacy skills so that they can instill the love for reading into their children. Specifically, oral development was highlighted, and parents were given ways to increase their child's oral language by talking to-, reading to- their child, telling him/her family stories, and making sure their child speaks in complete sentences.

The parents were then given the opportunity to experience reading a fluency passage and tracking their oral reading rate. Parents, also, participated in a reading comprehension activity that focused on questioning strategies to utilize at home. The workshop was provided in both English and Spanish and had 56 parents to participate. The event was attended by the Assistant Principal, Mrs. Silva and the Implementation Specialist, Dr. Holly Hill. Other teachers helped cook the spaghetti and sauce, while high school students assisted with passing out plates.

Professional Development on Co-Teaching in Northeast ISD

Summer Garrison, graduate student, led a successful Professional Development on Coteaching at Hidden Forrest Elementary. This is a part of her larger research project concerning coteaching and its impacts on teacher efficacy.

Early Childhood Book Club At Carver Library

Veronica Lopez Guerrero implemented a new literacy initiative at Carver Library on the east side of San Antonio. She hosted several early childhood book clubs on Sundays at Carver Library. During the book club meetings, Mrs. Guerrero read books to Prekindergarten and Kindergarten students. Books, such as Pete the Cat and Corduroy, were read while Mrs. Guerrero engaged the students in discussions centered around the books.

Family Literacy Night - Camp-Read-A-lot at Hillcrest Elementary

Priscilla Gallardo, Cohort I Graduate Student, worked with family and staff at Hillcrest Elementary in San Antonio ISD to implement a family literacy night. The theme was Camp-Read-A-lot. Over 60 students along with their parent(s) or guardian(s) participated in the event. The students were able to sit around three different camp fires and listen to three different books read by teachers. The event included several literacy stations that focused on early literacy skills, such as sight words and spelling. The students were able to rotate from each literacy station.

Throughout the evening, drawings were held, and the students were able to win backpacks and a camp package which included books, a throw, and chocolate with marshmallows. At one station, the students were able to make S'mores with chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows.

The event included participation from several volunteer teachers from each grade level, Jane Carrera (Parent-Family Liaison), Pasty Nester (School Librarian), Adriana Mayces (Cohort I Graduate Student), Mayra Hernandez (Hillcrest teacher and Cohort II Graduate Student), Ilse Flores (A&M-SA Student Intern), Mr. Zapata and his PALS students, Jennifer Sanchez (Principal), and Dr. Pittman. San Antonio Youth Literacy (SAYL) and the San Antonio Public Library provided information for parents. The event was held November 15th from 4:30-6:00 p.m.

Graduate Students Meet at cafecollege to Work on Their GRP

Dr. Pittman met with several of her Faculty of Record students at cafecollege to offer assistance to students working on completing their Graduate Research Project (GRP). It is necessary for each student to complete a GRP as one requirement to graduate with a Master of Science degree in Reading. Cafecollege is funded by the City of San Antonio and managed by the San Antonio Education Partnership. Cafecollege is dedicated to providing college access information, resources, and opportunities to the citizens of San Antonio. Located at 131 El Paso St, San Antonio, TX 78204, cafecollege is open Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, visit

What is Patricia Leffew Currently Reading?

Patricia Leffew, a Cohort 1, graduate student is reading The One and Only Ivan with her fourth grade students at Highland Park Elementary in San Antonio ISD. The book is about

Ivan, a silverback gorilla, who lives in captivity at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, along with his friends Stella (the elephant) and Bob (the dog). After Ruby arrives (baby elephant) Ivan realizes that changes must be made. In the end Ivan and Ruby are sent to a zoo, where they try to adjust to a new way of living.

Patricia states that she used this book as part of her novel unit for the Secondary Reading course with Dr. Wilson and that she loved the book so much that she decided to use it with her class.

Literacy Organization Spotlight

Texas Association of Literacy Education (TALE) is an affiliate of the International Literacy Association (ILA). TALE's mission is to promote literacy that will enhance the lives of all Texas citizens personally, socially and economically. TALE hosts an annual conference each year, and in 2018, the conference will be held February 23-24 in Canyon, Texas at West Texas A&M University. TALE also has several publications including a journal and a newsletter. If you are interested in learning more about literacy in Texas, advocating for literacy initiatives in Texas, or providing service to the organization, please consider joining. Membership is $10 per year. For more information, visit .

Faculty and Students Publish in TALE Yearbook

Dr. Rebekah E. Piper, Summer Garrison, and Lauren Morgan published "Creating Elementary-Aged Agents of Change: The Impact of Civil Rights-Themed Literature" and Drs. Theresa Garfield (EDSE associate professor) and Ramona Pittman published "The Impact of Experiential Learning in Literacy and Teacher Efficacy: A Study of SA Reads" in TALE Yearbook: Literacy Alive and Well! Supporting Effective Literacy Instruction for All Learners. The publications can be accessed at

Class Registration

Class Registration is now open. Please register as early as possible to avoid class cancellation.

$500 Scholarship for a Full-Time Preservice Teacher with a 3.0+ GPA

If you are interested in applying for the Bessie Pearce Recruitment Grant, please download the attached form to read the requirements. The deadline for applying is February 1, 2018. For more information, please contact Jeanne Cantu at

Calling all Reading Specialists. . .

If you have graduated from the Reading Program, have passed the Reading Specialist Certification Exam, and are employed as a Reading Specialist (Literacy Coach, Interventionist, etc.), please send an email to Dr. Pittman at Include your contact information, graduation year, Reading Specialist certification year, and current employment (district and school). The Reading Program is trying to track how many Reading Specialists we have in the field. Thanks!

Reading Specialist Certification Exam

You can take the Reading Specialist Certification exam during the semester of your Internship (EDRG 5380). In order to be cleared to take the exam, you must take the practice exam at the Testing Center on campus and score at least 80%. You will not become certified until your degree is conferred.

The Reading Specialist Certification exam (Test Code 151) is given on a continuous basis. Please check for more information. For the Reading Specialist Certification Preparation Manual, click the following link Please check with your Faculty of Record for more details.

Reading Specialist Exam Review Session

Dr. Pittman will hold a review session for those graduate students interested in taking the Reading Specialist Certification exam. The review session will be held in early February on a Friday or Saturday. More details will be provided towards the beginning of the Spring semester.

November Literacy Events

November 2-5, 2017- Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers (ALER) Annual Conference in St. Petersburg, FL. Dr. Piper was accepted to present "Cultivating Effective Literacy Professionals: A State-Wide Analysis of Teacher Educator Perceptions and Preparation Approaches". For more information on the ALER:

November 8-11, 2017 - International Dyslexia Association (IDA) Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Pittman presented "Structuring Literacy for African American Students". For more information on the IDA:

November 16-19, 2017- National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Conference in St. Louis, MO. Graduate students, Lauren Morgan and Summer Garrison, will present "Creating an Inclusive Classroom of Ideas and Cultural Differences: Initiating Change in a Sensitive Classroom". For more information on NCTE:

Reading Graduate Faculty

Happy Thanksgiving!

For inquiries, comments, or suggestions, please contact Ramona T. Pittman, Editor.

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