June 2016
Membership #:           
Expiration Date:  
Local Councils:                         
In This Issue
Website Links
Dates to Remember

2016 IRC Conference
Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2016
Peoria, Illinois

Future Dates of the Annual IRC Conference
October 5-7, 2017
October 4-6, 2018
October 3-5, 2019
October 1-3, 2020
Peoria, Illinois











Welcome to iCommunicate, IRC's monthly e-newsletter!  Here you will learn, share, and enjoy information on timely topics and cutting edge projects. We'd love to hear your thoughts.  Please contact us with your comments, suggestions, and ideas at icommunicate@illinoisreadingcouncil.org.
IRC Publications
By the Illinois Reading Council

The Illinois Reading Council has many resources available for members. Take advantage of these great materials to share with organizations, parents, or teachers! The items listed below can be ordered from the IRC Office by phone at 888-454-1341, by fax at 309-454-3512, or with the online order form

Some ABC's for Raising a Reader
Parents are their child's first teachers, and it's never too soon to introduce your child to books. By reading aloud to your child, you provide the sounds of written language, demonstrate book handling skills, develop your child's expectation that the print and pictures carry a message and build positive attitudes toward reading. Use this ABC listing of ways that you can encourage a love of reading and make reading fun for your child.


Un abecedario Para Criar A Un Lector
The Spanish version of Some ABC's for Raising a Reader.  Parents are their child's first teachers, and it's never too soon to introduce your child to books. By reading aloud to your child, you provide the sounds of written language, demonstrate book handling skills, develop your child's expectation that the print and pictures carry a message and build positive attitudes toward reading. Use this ABC listing of ways that you can encourage a love of reading and make reading fun for your child.

 
A ttempting Unknown Words: Suggestions for Parents
As the parent of a young child, you are a very important person for your child's reading and language development. You are your child's first teacher! This tri-fold brochure will provide strategies to aid your child as they attempt unknown words.



Help Me Grow To Be A Reader
This little 16-page booklet helps parents understand how children grow to be readers, as told from the child's point of view.  Strategies for helping young readers develop their reading skills are outlined in a fun format. 


Illinois Reads Bookmarks and Posters
By the Illinois Reading Council

Under the auspices of the Illinois Reading Council, ILLINOIS READS is a yearly statewide project to promote reading for all Illinois citizens.  Beginning with read aloud books for babies, 6 books are selected for each age band through adult readers.  A variety of topics and themes are chosen for each age band.  There is a mix of hard covers and paperbacks, with several Spanish-language titles and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-related books; the work of Illinois authors will be especially highlighted.  The Illinois Reading Council distributes thousands of bookmarks and posters to promote the program each year.  As you plan a Family Reading Night in your community this fall, don't forget to order Illinois Reads bookmarks and posters by phone at 888-454-1341 or by email at irc@illinoisreadingcouncil.org .  


Let the IRC Professional Development Team be Your PD Partner!
By the IRC Professional Development Committee

Take advantage of the Illinois Reading Council's expertise. Targeted professional development provides teachers the critical road map to high student achievement and highly-effective instruction.

The Illinois Reading Council now offers a cadre of educators available for on-site training and technical assistance, tools, and resources.  IRCPD utilizes the latest educational research and is informed by years of experience and subject matter expertise.

IRCPD offers custom programs, exceptional speakers, timely topics, and engaging programs to assist you and your facility in reaching all your educational goals.  Session topics may include, but are not limited to:
  • Common Core State Standards Strands
  • Multi-Tiered System of Support
  • Instructional best practice supporting teacher evaluation
  • Writing Instruction
  • Reading, Writing, & Learning Workshop Model
  • Project CRISS©
  • Disciplinary Literacy
  • SEL
  • ESL
  • Technology
  • Vocabulary
  • Assessment
  • Curriculum
For information about bringing high-quality professional development to your district, school, or community at a very reasonable cost, visit IRC's website at   www.illinoisreadingcouncil.org or contact IRCPD via email at pd@illinoisreadingouncil.org or by phone at 888-454-1341.

Literacy Links
By the IRC Educational Media Committee

Take a moment to review some of the Literacy Links provided by the IRC Educational Media Committee to help Illinois educators in today's classrooms. These links and past links will be available on the IRC Website under "Literacy Links" on the homepage.
 
Interactive Resource
 
 
This interactive website allows students to explore primary resources and determine author's point of view, analyze and collect evidence, organize research, and write explanatory or argumentative essays..

Assessment
 
Edueto 
 
This assessment tool allows teachers to create a variety of online assessments. This free tool can be used for a quick formative assessment that is anonymous, or a teacher can create a class and track data for individual students.
 
Reading Passages
 
 
DK Findout is a website for students, teachers and parents that provides a variety of resources on many topics. This searchable website contains videos, quizzes, interesting facts of the day and more.

Literacy Leaders:  Profiles of School Leaders Moving Literacy Achievement -- Follow Up
By Tinaya York

In January, I introduced iCommunicate readers to two amazing school principals, Ms. Elizabeth Meyers, A. Phillip Randolph Elementary and Ms. Lissette Rua, Robert Fulton Elementary both in Chicago. Each leader was focused on ensuring strong literacy practices were happening throughout their building and both had visions of literacy instruction that was responsive to students' needs and building teachers capacity to respond to those needs. I talked to each leader again at the end of the school year to discuss how effective their plans were and any changes they are considering for SY2017.
 
Elizabeth Meyers, Principal
A. Phillip Randolph Elementary School, Chicago
39 years old
Years as an administrator: 7 (principal and asst. principal)
Years as a teacher and coach: 7
 
School Demographics
  • 524 Students
  • 99% Free and Reduced Lunch
  • 2.8% English Learners
  • 11% Diverse Learners
  • 93% African American
  • 7% Latino
  • .2% Multi-racial
  • .2% White
In January, your vision for literacy was: Building a culture of responsiveness. Giving kids what they need culturally, emotionally, socially and academically and your School Year 2016 Goal was 50% of students reading at grade level; at that time only 20% of students were at grade level).

Has your vision changed and did you meet your goal?
 
Our vision for literacy has not changed. We did not meet our goal but we did make a 15 percentage points jump in students who are at grade level, from 20% to 35% of students at grade level. We are proud of our work.
 
You shared how you and your assistant principal ensured strong instructional practices were happening (pop ins and providing feedback, systemic professional development cycle based on instructional model, literacy coach leading grade level meetings). Was this effective and what changes would you make?

Overall it was effective especially with the literacy coach manning the ship. Next year, we are going to give more specific feedback, giving action steps and doing a better job of follow up. "I just came in your classroom, let's work on this;" More Bambrick-style (reference to Paul Bambrick-Santoyo).

You stated that the important feature to the success of your literacy plan implementation was that teachers felt supported. Did they still feel this way at the end of the year? Was there any change to your belief about what was most important to the success of implementing high quality literacy instruction?

At the end, teachers still felt supported. One piece we will consider moving forward is giving them something specific to work on, giving them something to work on based on data. For instance after a pop in saying, this is what you need.

How do you think your teachers will respond to more specific feedback and action steps?

Well, one thing I learned is that not all people were at the same capacity. People needed different things but we didn't have the data before to back up what we were saying they needed either. Now we do. Being specific, having the data, focusing on what students need, and not assuming is where we are [in our understanding of what is important to successful implementation].
 
Did your literacy plan work and how do you know?

Yes! Every grade level experienced growth! No one went back. Even from middle of the year. The grade level we are really proud of is 2nd grade. In the middle of the year, the average RIT score was 169. Now it is 178.5 [They started the year at 160]. Attainment in second grade is also higher from MOY where 16 students were at grade level to 24 students at grade level (from 37% to 56% on NWEA's MAP assessment).
 
Any change to your advice for school leaders? Previously you stated, "You have to make time and set incremental goals; time to build capacity and time for successful implementation."

I would add one more piece of advice, to assume nothing. Make sure that nothing gets lost in translation. Lay out what you want to do, do not assume they know it. When you assume and don't say what you want, people interpret.
 
Final thoughts on what you are really proud of this school year.

I can say that I am really proud of having students who actually really love to read. We gave out books at the end of the year after our awards ceremony and the students were so excited. They traded books, they were looking at the books and that's a change from the beginning of the year. We were really proud.
 

Lissette Rua, Principal
Robert Fulton Elementary School, Chicago
41 years old
Years as an administrator: 2 ½ years (principal and asst. principal)
Years as a teacher and coach: 12 ½ years
 
School Demographics
  • 415 students
  • 99% Free and Reduced Lunch
  • 31% English Learners
  • 14% Diverse Learners
  • 53% Latino
  • 45% African American
  • 1% White
  • .4% American Indian
  • .2% Multi-racial
In January your vision for literacy was: For teachers to appreciate where children are and not see them as deficits but rather as opportunities and to move from basals to balanced literacy framework. Part of the vision is to help teachers realize they are on the cusp of something great if they just embrace it. They need to approach reading as a workshop and understand there's a philosophy around how and when to teach and when you move students to more independent practice. And your School Year 2016 Goal was: Implement two components of balanced literacy framework for grades K-3: read alouds and guided reading. There are two parts to the read aloud:  one, we want kids to enjoy reading, and second to spark accountable talk.

Has your vision changed and did you meet your goal?

We did meet our goal. The whole primary department implemented the two components and students had really good growth. When I spoke with the teachers they said that having an administrator being behind them and giving them resources really helped with pulling small groups. Teachers could not say they didn't have leveled books and we bought texts that were culturally relevant. You can say we put our money where our mouth is.
 
Our Vision hasn't changed but we are going to add using running records; Teachers were stuck on why students weren't moving past texts that became more complex. I'm still thinking about whether we want to add on another component or tweak the system we have now to make lessons stronger and just add the assessment piece.
 
They asked why are we doing running records and what do we do with this. They were teaching one strategy to all students but we need to move to this. We need to be able to say, this is this kid's particular struggle and they need this.
 
One thing I also want to change is the way teachers are still treating the two-hour literacy block as sections: mini-lesson, guided-reading, and then centers. I want it to be more of a flow where teachers are pulling guided reading groups while kids are in centers and doing independent reading and students really know what to do.
 
You shared how you and your assistant principal ensured strong instructional practices were happening (peer visits, professional development mapped out weekly). Was this effective and what changes would you make?

Peer visits were powerful. It made people's practice public and helped us focus on what we do in the classrooms. One thing I would do differently is to visit schools that are where we want to be, to do cross site visits so teachers can see they are not alone in this work. I also want them to visit other schools because I don't want them to be complacent. Seeing other teachers' practice would help them see how far they can push this. We are just at the beginning stages.

They need to see it [balanced literacy instruction] in the city schools and see how these teachers plan and look at the data.
 
You stated that the important feature to the success of your literacy plan implementation was helping teachers understand that it is okay to teach kids at their instructional level while providing access to grade level material and your support for balanced literacy. Was there any change to your belief about what was most important to the success of implementing high quality literacy instruction?
 
There is no change in this belief. We stuck to the message that you can teach at instructional level but the children do not stay there and being able to distinguish that. What do you need to teach them so that they can grow? Having a literacy background and primary background helped me support the teachers. Next year, I want to be able to pull groups and make myself more available for that. I know it's hard as an administrator but I think that's what it takes.
 
Did your literacy plan work and how do you know?

Yes it did. Every time I walked into classrooms I saw balanced literacy. I talked to kids and the kids could explain what they were doing, they knew their levels, they knew their goals. I was in one classroom and there was a data wall in the room and a boy was telling me, "I'm at a level C but at the end of the year I need to be at a level I. And a little girl next to him says "But that's okay because we are all growing." Hearing the kids talk about it and reading, looking at data and how students are growing and looking at data and seeing growth within levels let us know our plan worked. [For K-1 the school moved from 20.4% at our above proficient on TRC (Text Reading Comprehension) to 43.1% at or above proficient).
 
Any change to your advice for school leaders? Previously you stated:  Be sincere about your baseline-this is where you are, no excuses. Commit to moving your students.

I want to add to commit to professional development for your teachers. We know it's hard. But that one absence can turn into a positive impact in the classroom. Invest in really good professional development and let teachers bring it back and share with each other. You also have to commit to the resources. It's the best money you are ever going to spend. Also commit if you have a bilingual population, to having those resources in Spanish for example. When you get the resources encourage them to set up the book room so they become invested and they feel ownership. The book room was a living space for us where we held meetings.
 
Final thoughts on what you are really proud of this school year.

I am proud of how far the building came and teachers allowing themselves to be vulnerable, especially the teachers who didn't teach reading before. They sought out their own professional development. I even taught their classes so they could see someone else teach a lesson. They knew implementing balanced literacy was a heavy lift and they ran with it.