July 2016
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Expiration Date:  
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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.
2016 IRC Conference
By the Illinois Reading Council

The  August 15th Early Registration Deadline is quickly approaching for the 2016 IRC Conference that is planned for September 29-October 1, 2016 in Peoria. The Illinois Reading Council invites you to register today and learn from a number of diverse featured speakers who will help teachers, specialists, and administrators from every grade level and content area.  Speakers include: 
  • Carmen Agra Deedy
  • Jeff Anderson
  • Sandra Athans
  • Joan Bauer
  • Kylene Beers
  • Jennifer I. Berne
  • Joelle Charbonneau
  • Andrew Clements
  • Sophie C. Degener
  • Debbie Diller
  • Nell Duke
  • Ralph Fletcher
  • Debra Franciosi
  • Kelly Gallagher
  • Tim Green
  • Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Deb Hays
  • Jennifer Holm
  • Linda Hoyt
  • Gail Huizinga
  • Carol Jago
  • Steven L. Layne
  • Teri Lesesne
  • Mike Lockett
  • Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • Adam Peterson
  • Bob Probst
  • Amy Rasmussen
  • Jason Reynolds
  • John Schumacher
    (aka Mr. Schu) 
  • Betsy Sisson
  • Diana Sisson
  • Jordan Sonnenblick
  • Margo Southall
  • Tracy Tarasiuk
  • Jeffrey Wilhelm
  • Becky Anderson Wilkins
  • Illinois Reads Author Panels 
  • And many more!
Take a moment to peruse the online Preliminary Program at  www.illinoisreadingcouncil.org.
Illinois Reading Council Election
By the Illinois Reading Council

The Illinois Reading Council Election Ballot will open on Monday, August 1, 2016.  IRC Members will receive an email with a direct link to the online ballot provided by Balloteer, Inc.  The email will contain a Voter ID Number and Password. This will be your opportunity to vote for the Vice President of IRC, to become President-Elect in 2018-2019, and President in 2019-2020, and the Treasurer  of IRC, who will serve until July 2019.  The election will run from August 1, 2016 until September 1, 2016. The voting site will close at 12:00 p.m. CST on September 1, 2016.  
Thinking, Reading, Writing, and Talking Race
By Tinaya York

There is much to talk about and much to think about. July 5, 6, and 7 are dates of much consternation as is the history of the nation -- these dates are just fresh. The newest memory of the many racial remembrances this country has stored in its archives.
I had planned to write this commentary on the topic of including more writing in the curriculum But I must now speak on what we have our children thinking, reading, writing and talking about and how might July 5, 6 and 7 help (re)introduce the need for us to have conversations about race.
Not about differences.
Not about learning others culture.
Not about multiculturalism.
Not about culturally relevant pedagogy.
About race.
Race as a social construct (not a biological one).
Race as an ideology.
Race as power.
If you work with children as a teacher, school leader, staff, coach or consultant, the following question is one you must begin to think about. How might we engage children in thinking, writing, reading and talking about race in its complexity?

This commentary is not meant to be a step-by-step guide on how to talk about race in classrooms. I want to take the readers into a space of reflection where you can do the work of unpacking your own ideas of race and how this systemic form of oppression impacts you, your instruction, your leadership and inevitably, what children learn.
Please note: If you teach in or interact with schools that are majority White, you are not off the hook.
Race exists.
I'm not talking about differences, learning others' culture, multiculturalism, and culturally relevant pedagogy.
I am talking about race as a social construct that has assigned groups into a mythical hierarchy of superiors and inferiors, as an ideology, as power, as, "Hands up, don't shoot!" As, "are you really going to continue funding schools inequitably?" As, "did you just close 50 schools in the black and brown neighborhoods?"
How will your schools think, read, write and talk about race this year?
Helpful References

If you have never dealt with the topic of race, literacy and education, check out these helpful readings:
Hilliard, A. (2001). "Race," identity, hegemony, and education: What do we need to know now? In W. Watkins, J. H. Lewis & V. Chou (Eds), Race and education: The roles of history and society in educating African American students. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Prendergast, C. (2003). Literacy and racial justice: The politics of learning after Brown v. Board of Education. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press
Rogers, R., & Mosley, M. (2006). Racial literacy in a second-grade classroom: Critical race theory, whiteness studies, and literacy research. Reading Research Quarterly, 41(4), 462-495.
Wilson, W. J. (2011). Being poor, Black and American: The impact of political, economic and cultural forces. American Educator. p 10-23, 46.
Hughes-Hassell, S., Barkley, H., & Koehler, E. (2010). Promoting equity in children's literacy instruction: Using a critical race theory framework to examine transitional books. American Association of School Librarians. 
Perry, T. (2003). Freedom for literacy and literacy for freedom: The African-American philosophy of education. In T. Perry, C. Steele & A. Hilliard III (Eds.), Young, gifted and Black: Promoting high achievement among African-American students (pp. 11-51). Boston: Beacon Press.
If you have trouble locating these texts, feel free to email me and I will send them along (tinayayork@gmail.com).
You can also find really good suggestions for texts here: http://m.startribune.com/what-writers-of-color-say-we-should-read-now/386494211/
ISBE Makes the Switch to SAT for Roughly 140,000 Illinois Juniors
By Nancy Paprocki

As a follow up to awarding a 3 year contract to The College Board, the company that provides the Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT), the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced earlier this month that it would replace Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARRC) testing for high school students with the SAT. High School students would still be required to take a PARCC science exam one time during high school. The announcement was well received statewide.

High School students were typically over-tested in the spring of their Junior year, including college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT, PARCC exams, and often for honors students Advanced Placement exams. Of these tests, students didn't seem to have any buy-in or see any gain from taking the PARCC exams. School administrators believe students had no reason to perform at their best in the wake of all the other testing going on, and this was evident in PARCC test results. High School Districts were able to select which courses would complete certain PARCC exams, whether in 9th-11th grade. Depending on the courses taken, oftentimes students were overlooked in the testing process. Administering one test to all juniors alleviates the possibility of overlooking any students. Federal law and federal funds require that all students be tested at least once in high school in reading, math and science.

The new SAT contract replaces the 14 year contract that Illinois had with ACT. The SAT contract will save the state an estimated $1.4 million. Each SAT test would cost $33.30 per student, as compared to $39.50-$56.50 for the ACT, depending on the version administered to students. SAT provides free resources to students to help prepare for testing, including Khan Academy test practice, free daily practice questions through its mobile app, and free downloadable practice tests. The test has fewer questions, has one less subject area, but requires about the same amount of time as the ACT. SAT is widely accepted at all US colleges, according to the College Board website.

The newly revised SAT was released this past March and is the first significant rewrite in 10 years.  It provides a greater focus on data analysis, reading comprehension and algebra, and less of a focus on vocabulary that students don't use. A large emphasis was placed on aligning to common core. Passages were revamped and replaced to be cross disciplinary to include literature, literary nonfiction, humanities, work and careers, social studies, science and history. Students will be tested on words in context and widely used words and phrases found in texts in many different subjects. Students will be asked to engage in close reading. Evidence based reading and writing will ask students to interpret, synthesize and use evidence found in a wide range of sources, including graphics, tables, charts, and graphs. In the essay portion, students will be asked to read a passage and explain how the author builds a persuasive argument. Students will analyze evidence, provide reasoning and identify stylistic and persuasive elements. Lastly, the SAT's latest redesign eliminates the penalty for guessing incorrectly. There is no more advantage to leaving an answer blank.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) signed into law on December 10, 2015, focuses largely on the goal of fully preparing students for college and career. In the course of developing a state plan for compliance with ESSA, stakeholders were very vocal and emphasized the need for access to a college entrance exam for all students in Illinois, and also the need to reduce testing time and the number of tests that are administered to Illinois students. By eliminating PARCC and providing SAT to all high school juniors, the Illinois State Board has listened and responded to stakeholders, eliminated testing redundancy and provided a great option for the students of Illinois.
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
Dipity is a free digital timeline website for creating interactive timelines collaboratively.  This tool allows for the integration of video, audio, images, text, links and much more.

This assessment tool allows teachers to create an online assignment and/or assessment. Teachers assign it to their students, see live results of students showing their work and then teachers can give feedback in realtime.
Web 2.0
This website allows students to make animated movies by dragging and dropping items from an extensive gallery of characters, backgrounds etc. This is a very easy to use tool for students of all ages.