August 2017
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Expiration Date:  
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In This Issue
Website Links
Dates to Remember

2017 IRC Conference
October 5-7, 2017
Peoria, Illinois

Future Dates of the Annual IRC Conference
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 .
2017 IRC Conference
By the Illinois Reading Council

The 2017 IRC Conference will celebrate 50 Years of Reading Excellence from October 5-7, 2017 in Peoria, Illinois.  Conferees will learn from an impressive list of literacy professionals, including Harvey "Smokey" Daniels, Frank Serafini, Jennifer Serravallo, and Gail Boushey and Allison Behne from The 2 Sisters, just to name a few.  Authors include Annie Barrows (Ivy and Bean), Lynda Blackmon Lowery (Turning 15 On the Road to Freedom), Nick Bruel (Bad Kitty), Matt de la Peña (Last Stop on Market Street), and Megan McDonald (Judy Moody).  Other highlights include the Administrator Academy with Kay Dugan, the Illinois Reads Author Event, and the very popular Hear the Authors Read.  Please take a moment to peruse the complete list of featured speakers and events in the online Preliminary Program at  It also isn't too late to register as the early registration prices have been extended to September 15th!  We hope to see you in Peoria!  
IRC Webinars:  Unlocking Opportunities throughout 2017-2018
By the Illinois Reading Council

The Illinois Reading Council will be offering the 2017-2018 Wired Wednesday Webinars for members only.  Each webinar begins at 7:00 p.m. and focuses on Unlocking Opportunities. IRC Members who watch the live or recorded webinars can earn professional development clock hours. Mark your calendars and register to take part in this convenient, free IRC membership benefit.  The first webinar is planned for:

7:00 p.m.  
Unlocking Opportunities through Dynamic & Interactive Unit Plans with Rae Hughart  

Future webinars will be:
  • October 4, 2017
    Unlocking Opportunities through Play-Based Learning
    with Adam Peterson
  • November 1, 2017
    Unlocking Opportunities through Graphic Novels
    with Teri Lesesne
  • December 6, 2017
    Unlocking Opportunities Beyond Assessments For Learning: 
    Assessments That Improve Learning
    with Thomas R. Guskey
  • January 3, 2018
    Unlocking Opportunities through the 2018 Illinois Reads Books
    with Becky Anderson
  • February 7, 2018
    Unlocking Opportunities through Informational Literacy
    with Chris Bohne
  • March 7, 2018
    Unlocking Opportunities by Deciding Not to "Do It All"
    with Janet Allen
  • April 4, 2018
    Unlocking Opportunities with Access to Books:  Game Changer for Kids
    with Donalyn Miller
  • May 2, 2018
    Unlocking Opportunities through Direct Vocabulary Instruction
    with Marilee Sprenger
  • June 6, 2018
    Unlocking Opportunities to Support Early Literacy Learners
    with Lori Stevens
Please feel free to share the  Wired Wednesday Webinar Flyer and encourage your colleagues to join IRC today!
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.
Comprehensive Resources
Spiral is a free online tool that lets teachers create free virtual classrooms where students can create collaborative presentations, view and respond to presentations, and/or watch YouTube videos with easily-created teacher questions.

Interactive Resources
TodaysMeet is a free online tool that creates a back channel for students and teachers to use in many ways, such as ask questions, have a discussion, share links, create a poll, formative assessment and much more.
Web 2.0 Resources
This free web-based tool incorporates easy drag and drop technology with hundreds of design elements included, which makes creating infographics easy for all ages
Examining Race and Literacy
Part 1:  Who Do I Teach/Lead?
By Tinaya York
Around this time last year, I wrote a post encouraging readers to examine race and how it impacts what they bring to their schools.  As a reminder, I am talking about race as a social construct that has assigned groups into a mythical hierarchy of superiors and inferiors, race as an ideology, race as power. Not multiculturalism, not differences. Instead, the idea that someone's skin color dictates the level of access they have to worthy educational opportunities.  In this three part series, I want literacy folks to examine race and literacy.  The first of the three part series is to focus on whom we teach and lead. Who is in our schools and what do we understand about them and their literate lives?
Literacy researchers, professors, librarians, and teachers (and our friends in cognitive psychology) have a very important voice in the education industry.  Our research and recommendations impact how children learn to read, what they read, how much access they have to books, and whether it can change people's behaviors even if it doesn't change their hearts.
How many of you used or were told to implement or try:
  • QAR?
  • Change the reading block to 90-100 minutes?
  • Implement independent reading (D.E.A.R, SSR, etc.)?
  • KWL?
  • Use a systematic phonics based reading curriculum? Wait, use whole language based curriculum? Oh no, go back to systematic phonics based reading curriculum?
  • Authors Chair or Peer Conferencing for writing?
All of these things are fixtures in classrooms across Illinois.  So I'm asking folks to use their influence to start talking about race and literacy and unpack some of the things that we may be bringing into our schools and classrooms that have deleterious impact on student learning.  In the first part of this series I am asking you to examine whom you teach/lead and what are their outcomes.
I recently attended a professional development sponsored by the National Equity Project.  A statement about one of their beliefs around educational equity really stood out to me -- to erase the predictability of who succeeds and who fails. This is such a powerful statement in that every conversation about who is "succeeding" in reading and who is "failing" in reading has been the same EVERY YEAR for nearly 50 years.
So whom are we leading and teaching and do we have explicit and implicit bias that perpetuates the predictability of who succeeds and fails?
Take out your reading data for the past three to five years. Sort your data by race, gender, and free and reduced lunch. Think of other unique ways to group your data (e.g., if you use NWEA look at % at grade level by race over five years). Look at historical demographic data. Think about conversations you have had with families. Play around with the data until you can answer some questions about whom you teach/lead:
  • Who are our children and where do they come from? Can I tell their stories (not my generalizations, but their stories)?
  • Is the same population of students scoring about the same every year? Why?
  • Are there any instances in the past five years when the collective group of Black and Brown children outperformed the white children in my building? Why/why not?
  • If you have majority white students, have the outcomes been the same by socio-economic status every year?
  • Have we seen any sustainable increases in reading scores over the last five years for any of the subgroups created?
  • Who wins the reading and writing awards every year in our building? What/Whose literacies are we celebrating?
Go about this task with a NO EXCUSES approach.  We are not using the word "gap" in this conversation; we are not using "their parents don't support," we are not using "the families live in poverty," or "they are ELLs." If you cannot answer some of these questions, or you are finding that who succeeds in literacy at your school is too doggone predictable, it's time to start talking to families about their literate lives and reviewing more bits of data. Work on understanding WHO these children are and what narratives you might be missing that result in repeated low literacy learning and achievement.
If you are tired of the same results, I implore you to look within and see if you are bringing biases that create under-performing learning environments for the children you teach/lead. We will talk more about this in Part II of this series -- HOW we teach/lead.
Literate Life Update
  • Finished: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Reading: Fast Talk on a Slow Track by Rita Williams-Garcia