September 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
IRC's Statewide Special Interest Councils
By the Illinois Reading Council

Are you familiar with Illinois Reading Council's five special interest councils? These statewide councils provide a forum for members to work with other literacy leaders to advance and share knowledge about specific interests and to serve as a resource for professional growth. Membership in these councils is open to all members of the Illinois Reading Council -- members can join one of these councils as their primary council or add them to their membership for $15.
CIRP (College Instructors of Reading Professionals), focuses on the needs of college reading and learning assistance professionals.   ITA (Illinois Title 1 Association), supports and fosters the interests of Title 1 teachers by promoting successful instructional practices and providing opportunities for networking.

ICARE (Illinois Council for Affective Reading Education) members focus on how students learn to read, recognizing the importance of modeling the love of reading. The Illinois Statewide Young Authors' Conference is sponsored each year by ILLC (Illinois Language and Literacy Council). This conference honors exceptional writing by students in grades K-8.  SRL (Secondary Reading League), pays special attention to the needs of educators who work with middle, junior high, and high school.
If you are interested in joining or adding one of the special interest councils, please contact IRC Office. 
Formative Assessment in a Brain-Compatible Classroom:  How Do We Really Know They're Learning
By the Illinois Reading Council
The Illinois Reading Council is excited to offer the FREE 2016-2017 Wired Wednesday Webinar series on " Unlocking Opportunities" for IRC members only.  IRC members can receive 1 PD hour for participating in each "live" webinar.  Register today for the next webinar: 

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2016     
7:00 p.m.  
Formative Assessment in a Brain-Compatible Classroom:  How Do We Really Know They're Learning
with Marcia Tate  
  • AbstractIf you wait until you have planned your lesson to decide how you will assess it, you have waited too late! Once you have decided what you want students to know and be able to do, the second question becomes How will I know when they can do it? This engaging webinar deals with effective questioning and assessing those products and performances that tell us whether students are really learning. It also delineates four ways that students can knock the top off any test. This webinar has been called informative, practical, and a great deal of fun! 
  • BioMarcia L. Tate, Ed. D. is the former Executive Director of Professional Development for the DeKalb County Schools, Decatur, Georgia. During her 30-year career with the district, she has been a classroom teacher, reading specialist, language arts coordinator, and staff development director. Marcia is currently an educational consultant and has taught over 500,000 administrators, teachers, parents, business and community leaders throughout the world and has authored 8 best-sellers, and her latest Formative Assessment in a Brain-compatible Classroom: How Do We Really Know They're Learning?. Marcia has written a number of published articles and chapters that have been included in other books. She received her bachelor's degree in psychology and elementary education from Spelman College; Master's degree in remedial reading from the University of Michigan; specialist degree in educational leadership from Georgia State University; and her doctorate in educational leadership from Clark Atlanta University.
Register today for the webinar to be held on October 12th!
IRC Book Club 2.0
By the Illinois Reading Council

Read, reflect, and respond to Reading Nonfiction:  Notice & Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst.  This nine-week course, beginning October 16, will focus on principles and strategies presented in Beers and Probst's text that will help students comprehend nonfiction text.  Participants who complete all assignments are eligible to receive 15 PD clock hours at the conclusion of the book club.  The expected time commitment for participants is approximately 1.5-2.0 hours/week.    

Required for participation:
  • Gmail address (free at  The Book Club uses Google Sites.  
  • Text:  Reading Nonfiction: Notice & Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst.  Text available through Heinemann (
Register online by October 9, 2016 to participate in the book club. Registration is FREE for IRC Members.  The cost for non-members is $45, which includes IRC membership for one year.  Book club participants also have the opportunity to attend sessions with Kylene Beers and Robert Probst at the 2016 IRC Conference.

PLEASE NOTE:  Conference registration and cost of book is not included. 
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.
Web 2.0 Tools
This comic strip creation tool is very easy to use for all ages. It is a great tool for practicing dialogue, voice and much more. It even works in multiple languages.

Reading Passages
This online reading comprehension tool provides a variety of reading passages at various reading levels with comprehension questions included. It is all interactive with onscreen questions to help build stamina for students to read text on computers. It even keeps track of correct answers with points.
Create videos quickly and easily with this online tool. It is a great way to retell a story or create movie trailers about books. It is a great way for students to show what they know about a variety of topics
Letters About Literature
By the Illinois Center for the Book at the Illinois State Library

Letters About Literature is a national reading and writing competition made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and by gifts to the Library of Congress Fund, the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Illinois Center for the Book. Each year, the program invites students to read a book, poem, or play of their choice and write a letter to the author about how the work changed their life or view of the world. Students can enter on their own or through their schools, libraries or other youth organizations.
There are three levels of participation: Level I for grades 4-6, Level II for grades 7-8 and Level III for grades 9-12.  One Illinois winner will be selected for each level and receive a $200 cash award.  Teachers of the winning students will receive a $100 cash award to purchase materials for their school library.  Winners and teachers will be invited to an awards ceremony in Springfield.  The state winners' letters will be forwarded for national judging.
All information about the 2016/2017 program is available at the Illinois Center for the Book website ( including:    
  • Entry Form and Guidelines Teaching Guide
  • How Letters About Literature Supports Common Core Standards
  • How Letters About Literature Supports National Language Arts and Reading Standards 
  • Past Winning Letters

The entry deadlines for the 2016-2017 competition are:

  • December 2, 2016 for Level III (Grades 9-12)
  • January 9, 2017 for Levels I and II (Grades 4-6 and Grades 7-8)

All Illinois entries should be mailed to:


               Letters About Literature
               Competition Level (indicate Level 1, 2 or 3)
               c/o Illinois Center for the Book
               Illinois State Library
               300 South Second Street
               Springfield, IL 62701 

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
By Nancy Paprocki, IRC Advocacy Committee Chair
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will replace No Child Left Behind (NCLB) beginning in the 2017-2018 school year.  ESSA will include the familiar Title grants, which in the recent past have been largely limited to Titles I-III due to lack of funding.  ESSA recreates Title IV, which is now divided into 6 parts:
  • Students Support and Academic Achievement Grants
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers
  • Charter School Grants
  • Magnet School Assistance
  • Family Enhancement in Education Programs
  • National Activities
ESSA will eliminate 49 educational programs, including many that supported the comprehensive needs of students, such as 
  • Safe and drug free schools and communities state grants
  • National center for school and youth safety
  • Elementary and secondary school counseling programs
  • Partnerships in character education, and Grants to improve the mental health of children
Some of these programs are now included in Title IV Part A, Student Support & Academic Enrichment Grants (SSAEG), which can be used to support students in three specific areas: activities to support well-rounded educational opportunities, activities to support safe and healthy students, and activities to support the effective use of technology.

The necessity for Title IV-A developed after many student identified needs were not being addressed in current funding programs. Students need access to health and safety programs, a diversity of academic programs, and modern technology. Students need access to a well-rounded curriculum. Block grant funds in Title IV-A will help schools expand health, physical education, music, art, STEM, computer science, accelerated learning, history, and civics courses. Schools need technology-proficient educators, well-equipped classrooms, sufficiently supported administrative structures, and a curriculum optimized to take advantage of the benefits technology offers to all students. Evidence shows a direct correlation between learning and physical and mental health that is essential to academic success, school completion, and the development of healthy, resilient, and productive citizens. Schools help students acquire life-long knowledge and skills through health education, physical education, nutrition, school mental and behavioral health services, counseling, and integration among all education and health programs. Implementation of these programs helps close opportunity and learning gaps and provides students with essential modern workforce skills.

Title IV -- Part A, formerly known as the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities program under NCLB -- had not been funded since 2007, when Congress last appropriated $270 million for the entire nation. ESSA reconstitutes Part A into the Student Support and Academic Enrichment program, and authorizes the new program at $1.6 billion annually through 2020. The actual appropriations for the program differ from these figures as appropriations are a separate process from authorizations in Congress. President Obama's budget currently funds Title IV at only $500 million, much less than appropriated in the bill; however, negotiations are ongoing in Congress. Districts will receive a formula-driven allocation of funds based on sub-part 2 of part A of Title I for the preceding fiscal year. If that appropriation remains, Illinois will receive only $22,048,000 of which all 852 districts will take an equitable portion (an average of $25,878). At the $500 million total level of appropriation, only 15% of districts nationwide will receive funding over $30,000. This means only the largest districts in Illinois will receive an allocation over $30,000. The law requires that no allocation will be less than $10,000, and a majority of districts in Illinois will receive the minimum allocation.

LEAs may form consortia with other surrounding LEAs and combine the funds each agency receives to jointly carry out the activities described. No more than 2% of funding is allowed for administrative costs. ESSA allows 100% transferability of funds between Title II and Title IV-A and from Titles II and IV-A to Title I. No funds may be transferred out of Title I into Title IV-A.

Title IV-A provides opportunities for innovation. By not being limited to a specific subject area for which to apply for grant funding as in the past, LEAs are free to emphasize any of the multiple subjects listed in ESSA, and they are free to select their own focus or integrate across subjects. Outside of funding concerns, the possibilities are endless as to how states can utilize this program to make a meaningful investment in their students. ESSA does impose some specific requirements regarding how funds should be spent.

Twenty percent of Title IV-A funds in districts with an allocation of over $30,000 must be spent in well-rounded education activities. For example, activities can now be coordinated with other schools and community organizations and services, Higher Ed, and other public and private entities, not just in single school based programming. Activities may also include counseling, college and career guidance, music and arts programming and activities to improve instruction. Accelerated learning, such as AP and IB programs are allowable activities. Foreign languages can also be included. PD for teachers is an allowable and encouraged project under Title IV-A.

Twenty percent of Title IV-A funds in districts with an allocation of over $30,000 must be spent in safe and healthy student programming. Funding for PE and health courses are an option here. Parents are encouraged to be included in programs implemented with this bucket of funds. Again, a focus on partnerships with outside public and private agencies as well as other schools is encouraged as is also professional development for teachers.

The last area of focus for Title IV-A is technology. A district shall use a portion of Title IV-A funds to improve the use of technology to enhance the academic achievement, academic growth, and digital literacy of all students, including addressing issues in the needs assessment. Devices and software are obvious purchases, but, there is a cap of 15% on equipment and software. PD is allowed and encouraged here as well. Additionally, an emphasis is placed in the legislation on providing students in rural, remote and under-served areas with needed resources, such as internet and portable devices.

Hopefully, the Title IV-A program will be fully funded, allowing this program to come to fruition as designed in the ESSA legislation.   It is not too late to contact federal legislators and encourage them to provide full funding for these innovative grant opportunities.