December 2014
Membership #:           
Expiration Date:  
Local Councils:                         
In This Issue
CPDUs Deadline
Free PD Webinars
Article Headline
Literacy Links
The ISBE Corner
Website Links
Dates to Remember

2015 IRC Conference
October 1-3, 2015
Peoria, Illinois

 Program Proposals Due
March 1, 2015

Registration and
Housing Opens

April 15, 2015

Future Dates of the Annual IRC Conference
Sept. 29-Oct 1, 2016
October 5-7, 2017
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   
CPDUs Deadline is December 31, 2014
By the Illinois Reading Council

Did you attend the March 2014 IRC Conference?  Or, the March 2013 or March 2012 IRC Conference? 

If you answer yes, please remember that all CPDUs earned prior to June 30, 2014 from an approved Professional Development provider, such as the Illinois Reading Council, must be entered as soon as possible, but no later than December 31, 2014.  The CPDU forms are available in the back of the Final Program Book.  Or, you can download the forms at:

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the IRC Office. 
FREE PD Webinars on Common Core State Standards in Speaking and Listening         
By Illinois Reading Council 

Wired Wednesday Webinars is a unique collaboration that focuses on the Common Core State Standards in Speaking and Listening. The Illinois Reading Council has partnered with the Wisconsin State Reading Association to provide the webinars that are FREE for IRC and WSRA members only.
Upcoming presenters include:

  • Harvey Daniels: Teaching the Social Skills of Academic Interaction on Wednesday, January 7.
  • Jeff Wilhelm: Reading Unbound on Wednesday, January 28.
  • Doug Fisher: Collaborative Conversations and the Speaking and Listening Standards on Wednesday, March 17.
  • Matt Copeland: Facilitating Student Discussion With Socratic Circles on Wednesday, April 15.

All webinars will begin at 7:00 PM. Participants will earn one clock hour per webinar.  For more information, watch the trailer or visit the IRC Website.  Space is limited, so register today!    

The Road to Close Reading
By Roberta Sejnost, IRA State Coordinator

The process of close reading, an instructional strategy that fosters deep thinking because students are encouraged to critically read and reread, is made up of several steps.  In the next issues of iCommunicate, we will focus on a process to help teachers maneuver the road to close reading; the first element we will highlight is how to identify complex text. 
Text Complexity: The Process

A major component of the New Illinois Learning Standards (formerly known as the Common Core State Standards) is the use of complex text. The need for complex text comes from research clarifying that students often come to college unable to read college-level texts independently. However the use of complex text in the classroom often provides challenges. 

Basically, text complexity is defined as the level of difficulty in reading and understanding a text based on a series of factors:  (1) the readability of the text, (2) the levels of meaning or purpose in the text, (3) the structure of the text, (4) the conventionality and clarity of the language, and (5) the knowledge demands of the text (CCSS, Appendix A, pg. 5). And it is divided into three elements:
  • Qualitative measures
  • Quantitative measures
  • Considerations relating to the reader and task
As a result, when planning instruction, it is important to select texts that provide students with opportunities to meet grade-level standards using complex text. PARCC, who designed our Illinois assessment, has outlined the following process to help us determine text complexity. 

Determining Text Complexity

Step 1: Qualitative Measures:  Identify a grade-level band based on the text's readability.  To do this, teachers are directed to check the text's readability based on three possible sources shown below
To use the above readability formulas, access the following sites: 
Step 2: Quantitative Measures:  Identify an appropriate grade for the text based on how hard the text is to understand.  To do this, PARCC has provided a set of rubrics, one for literary text and one for informational text, which can be found at the following site: 


Using the rubric, teachers can evaluate the text based on:
  • Meaning (literary), purpose (informational)
  • Text structure
  • Language features
  • Knowledge demands
  • Use of graphics
  • Audio stimulus
  • Visual/video stimulus
Step 3: Considerations Relating to the Reader and TaskDetermine how the text should be used in the classroom as it relates to the students and tasks they will perform such as: 
  • Will my students be interested in this text topic?
  • Is the content of the text appropriate for the age of my students?
  • What knowledge and skills should students demonstrate after reading this text?
  • How can this text be used with other texts?
  • What aspects of the text will most likely pose a challenge to the student?

In sum, the first step on the path to an effective close reading lesson is to make sure the text used is complex enough for students to be able to "grapple with it."  For a detailed explanation of text complexity as it is defined and utilized by PARCC, access the website: 


And, watch for the next iCommunicate that will focus on creating text-dependent questions.  


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.





This online questioning tool can be used with any device with a web browser. There are quizzes already made or you can create your own.

Comprehensive Resources


Free Resources for K-12 Education    

This website has a variety of excellent resources including free tutorials, ebooks and much more for students, parents and teachers.

Interactive Resources


Interactive Websites     

This resource has a variety of interactive websites for grades K-5 for all subject areas


Reading Passages


32 Reading Websites

This website has a variety of resources for online stories for all ages.



Web 2.0 Tools


Pow Town

Create animated presentations that allow students to be creative, and it is easy to use.




Ted Ed Lessons

This website has a variety of educational lessons for all subjects, and videos in the format of Ted Talks.


The ISBE Connection:  News from the Illinois State Board of Education
By Nancy Paprocki, ISBE Liaison

The Illinois State Board of Education is pleased to be partnering with the Illinois Resource Center to present the Annual Statewide ESEA/NCLB conference.   


The conference will be held February 3-5, 2015 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. Six keynote addresses will be the heart of the conference.  We are looking forward to learning from Jeff Charbonneau, 2013 National Teacher of the Year and Bonnie Hain a leading national authority on English Language Arts and Literacy.  Alberto Retana from Community Coalition, a nonprofit organization focused on improving education health and public safety and Stuart Shanker, a prominent childhood development psychologist at York University in Canada are also providing keynotes. Thursday brings informative presentations from Thomas Many, former Superintendent of Schools in Kildeer Countryside CCSD 96 and ISBE's own State Superintendent of Education, Christopher Koch.   


Over two hundred presentations and panels are being planned for the NCLB Conference. Each day of the conference provides a different focus. Day One, Tuesday, February 3, highlights High Impact and Innovative Instructional Strategies. Day Two, Wednesday, focuses on School Engagement with Family and Community to Improve Student Achievement and Thursday, Day Three emphasizes Strong District and School-wide Policies, Programs, and Practices. Lead, Focus, Connect... Beyond NCLB was chosen as the conference title to reflect the time of educational change prevalent in Illinois today.


Technical Assistance from several divisions of ISBE will be available throughout the conference, as well as focused presentations by ISBE staff members on topics such as state and national education priorities, policies and resources. These topics are especially beneficial to those who administer or teach in federally funded programs.


ISBE hopes that you will join us for an informative and insightful conference. The conference registration deadline is Friday, January 23rd. Clock Hours are available.  Full conference registration for all 3 days is $450.00.  Registration for each individual day is $160.00.  More information is available at or you can call 224-366-8555.