May 2014
Membership #:           
Expiration Date:  
Local Councils:                         
In This Issue
Perfect Partnership
Expert Jigsaw
Literacy Links
Website Links
Dates to Remember

2014 IRC Conference
October 2-4, 2014
Springfield, Illinois

 Registration and Housing Opens 
May 1, 2014

Future Dates of the Annual IRC Conference
October 1-3, 2015
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   
Danielson + Common Core + IRC = A Perfect Partnership       
By Roberta Sejnost, IRA State Coordinator 

Today's teachers are faced with the enormous challenge of implementing the new Common Core State Standards within the model of the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Effective Teaching. The next few issues of iCommunicate will focus on an overview of these compelling issues and how IRC can help you implement them successfully.


The purpose of the Danielson Framework for Effective Teaching is to increase student-learning growth by improving the quality of instructional services. Doing this, says Danielson, "requires instructional strategies on teachers' parts that enable their students to explore concepts and discuss them with each other as well as question and respectfully challenge their classmates' assertions." In effect, teachers must assure that students:

  • are being invited, or even required, to think
  • are engaged in thinking and able to explain their thinking
  • are able to formulate and test hypotheses
  • can challenge one another respectfully
  • clearly understand a concept

In sum, teachers need to understand both their students' thinking and their degree and level of understanding. These are all fundamental elements of the Common Core.


According to Danielson, this is the crux of the challenge, and she stresses that teachers need to know how to do all this and, even more importantly, if they are doing it well. So, how is this accomplished? According to Danielson, it is best accomplished when teachers have an opportunity to work together and to have interactions and conversations about whether they are implementing the standards with fidelity as well as about the kind of responses they are getting from their students and the kind of evidence needed to validate that students understand what they are learning. It is the main reason she created Domain 4, which focuses on what it means to be a professional educator and the roles educators assume such as:

  • reflecting on practice
  • coordinating work with other instructional specialists
  • participating in a professional community
  • engaging in professional community

As Charlotte says: "these activities are what separate highly professional educators from their less proficient colleagues." And therein is where the connection between the Danielson Framework, the Common Core State Standards and IRC come together. IRC provides opportunities for collegial interaction and conversations through state conferences, local council meetings and mini-conferences, book study groups, and professional development. And, many of these interactions and conversations revolve around the Common Core State Standards in ELA, science, social studies and even math. Moreover, belonging to a professional organization satisfies a major requirement of Danielson's Domain 4. All in all, IRC is clearly a vibrant partner to Danielson's Framework and the Common Core.

Expert Jigsaw as an EOY Review
By Patricia Tylka, IRC Vice President Elect

When it's time for the end-of-year review, put the students in charge of their own learning through an expert jigsaw! 

Before class, divide the content you want to review into four or five main categories.  List the most important ideas you want students to remember within each category; these are your "must haves."

Next, divide your class into small groups. If you have four main categories, make groups of 4 students. (Groups of 3 and 5 students are workable, but avoid more than 5; research shows that 6 or more students to a group is less productive.) Each student within the group is charged with becoming an expert in one of the main categories.

Allow time for students to become experts at their topics by individually brainstorming, rereading notes, and reviewing tests, quizzes and assignments. Remind them that you are a resource! Then have students meet in topic-alike "expert" groups to share, correct, augment and refine their information. If any group is larger than four students, break it up into smaller groups of two or three. As expert groups are working, circulate among them, making sure they are including your "must haves" and checking for accuracy. Each expert group should prepare to present their information using chart paper, a game format, PowerPoint, Prezi, etc. If you have more than one expert group for each topic, have them present to each other and then revise their presentations using feedback from the other experts and the presenting experience. 

Once presentations have been created, the expert groups disband, and students return to their base groups. Next, each student takes a turn at presenting the information to the other members of the base team, making sure that the other members fully understand the information. As students listen to the presentations by other group members, they can use their favorite graphic organizers to create a quick-study guide for themselves. 

For more information on Expert Jigsaw, see:

Tewksbury, Barbara. Designing Effective and Innovative Courses.

Aronson, Elliot. Jigsaw Classroom: Tips on Implementation.

Literacy Links
By the IRC Technology Committee


Take a moment to review some of the Literacy Links provided by the IRC Technology 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 is an assessment tool that lets teachers know how every student is doing at any moment, using multiple choice and short answer questions.


Comprehensive Resources 


Read Write Think

This website has excellent resources including classroom resources, professional development resources, videos and parent and after school resources, which are organized in categories for easy navigation.


Interactive Resources



This is an interactive concept map tool, which makes researching differentiated for each student, giving many levels of information linked to the concept searched.



Reading Passages 


Tween Tribune

This website has newspaper articles about current events at different reading levels, organized by grade level and topics, and students have the option of commenting and reading other students' comments to the different articles.



Web 2.0 Tools 


Toon Doo

This tool allows students to create cartoons to interpret a concept from a verbal or textual form into a visual form, using creativity and critical thinking skills.





Watch Know Learn

This website is a directory of approximately 50,000 educational videos for grades K-12, organized by grade level and subject, including subcategories for easy navigation.