February 2016
Membership #:           
Expiration Date:  
Local Councils:                         
In This Issue
Website Links
Dates to Remember

Wired Wednesday Webinar
March 9, 2016

2016 IRC Conference
Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2016
Peoria, Illinois

Future Dates of the Annual IRC Conference
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 icommunicate@illinoisreadingcouncil.org.   
2016 Illinois Reads Launch planned for April 2 in Mt. Sterling
By the Illinois Reads Committee
Birth - 4
  • Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
  • Peter's Trucks by Sallie Wolf
  • Bike On, Bear! by Cynthea Liu
  • Friendshape by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  • Who Said Coo? by Deborah Ruddell
  • Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker
K - 2 
  • My Grandfather's Coat by Jim Aylesworth
  • Yum!  Yuck! by Linda Sue Park and Julia Durango
  • The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock
  • Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward
  • Winnie:  The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally M. Walker
  • A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry
3 - 5
  • The House That George Built by Suzanne Slade
  • Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell 
  • The Detective's Assistant by Kate Hannigan
  • The Show Must Go On! by Kate Klise and Sarah Klise
  • Stick Dog by Tom Watson
  • Wanderville by Wendy McClure
6 - 8
  • NEED by Joelle Charbonneau
  • Hold Fast by Blue Balliett
  • Bird by Crystal Chan
  • The Keepers:  The Box and the Dragonfly by Ted Sanders
  • Blind by Rachel Dewoskin
  • Fantastic Fugitives by Brianna DuMont
9 - 12
  • Tempest by Julie Cross
  • Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
  • Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy
  • Oblivion by Sasha Dawn
  • The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley
  • Pirate Hunters:  Treasure, Obsession and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson
  • Paris, He Said by Christine Sneed
  • Dollface:  A Novel of the Roaring Twenties by RenĂ©e Rosen
  • Made in America by Chris Chelios
  • The Blade Itself by Marcus Sakey
  • Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
  • The Hidden Man by David Ellis
The complete list of the 2016 Illinois Reads Books is also available in a PDF.  Bookmarks and posters can be ordered at info@illinoisreads.org.

To find out more information about the Illinois Reads Program and 2016 authors, visit www.illinoisreads.org.  Ideas to incorporate the books into your classroom and summer reading activities will be available soon.

Webinars:  Culturally Responsive Instruction
By the Illinois Reading Council
The Illinois Reading Council and the Wisconsin State Reading Association are pleased to offer the FREE Webinar series for IRC and WSRA members again.  This year's topic is Culturally Responsive Instruction

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9, 2016      
7:00 p.m.  
Best Practice Writing in Culturally Responsive Classrooms for
K-5 with JoEllen McCarthy

  • DescriptionBooks build community. In this webinar, Educator Collaborative's Book Ambassador, JoEllen McCarthy, will explore mentor authors and mentor texts that can serve as windows and mirrors, and open doors for all learners, as a way for them to see themselves, their stories as they talk, read, write and reflect on their and other worlds. Together we will look at multicultural literature and lessons that support reading, writing and thinking that allows students to better understand and appreciate the diverse world we live in. Through the use of engaging and powerful mentor texts, teachers can support, scaffold, and expand their repertoire of resources and writing strategies to help build community, awareness and promote culturally responsive classrooms. Participants will receive a "Must-Have" book list of suggested texts and teaching points featuring new titles and digital resources too. In addition we will look at student work samples, anchor charts, and more literacy snapshots that translate this practice into action.
  • Bio:  JoEllen McCarthy, a dedicated educator for 20+ years, is a self-proclaimed "literacy geek."  Her considerable knowledge of effective literacy practices and child development, coupled with her passion and expertise for children's literature, makes her a significant resource in the school districts with which she works.  A frequent presenter at regional and national conferences, including NCTE, Literacy For All, ASCD, and NYSRA, JoEllen spreads a love and enthusiasm for learning and the role literature plays in all aspects of education. Additionally, she works collaboratively in schools and districts to support best instructional practices, co-teaching, planning, literacy coach support, demonstration lessons and constructing curriculum. JoEllen works alongside students, teachers and administrators to meet the "core" of what matters most for all learners supporting agency, choice and goals that help meet them where they are.  JoEllen holds degrees from Loyola University Maryland, NYU, and an administrative degree from Hofstra University.  She was a classroom teacher in the NYC public schools and on Long Island. She currently works as a literacy specialist and regional coach, supporting and celebrating teaching and learning. JoEllen contributes to Choice Literacy, is an ambassador for Wonderopolis, and consults for Scholastic and through the organization she founded, Always Learning, which provides school and district-based professional development, energizing learning opportunities in many school communities.  A true believer in the power of collaborating and sharing, JoEllen is proud to be a connected educator, using Twitter as her online "literacy lounge" to share "literacy snapshots" and "#PDlove" to grow ideas and celebrate literacy and learning in action.  A proud member of the NerdyBookClub, she can be found tweeting daily about reading, writing, and learning together at @JoEllenMcCarthy as well as occasionally blogging at McCarthyJoEllen.blogspot.com.
Register today for the upcoming webinar!

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
Sketchboard is an interactive tool that allows online collaboration in real time.  Collaborators are able to combine diagrams, shapes, images and freehand drawings on one endless board.  The projects are automatically saved to the cloud for future collaboration.

Comprehensive Resource
The comprehensive resource provides videos, quizzes, study tools and lesson plans. These resources are available for grades K-12.  The resources are aligned to state standards and are differentiated to meet the varied needs of all learners. 
Web 2.0
Choosito is an Internet search tool that allows teachers to find resources on the web that are differentiated according to reading level. They are organized according to subject area as well. This is a great resource to make finding Internet resources easy and at the appropriate reading level for all students.

The  Color  of  Literacy,  A  Multi-Genre Commentary
By Tinaya York
I enter into a room
A quick glance and what do I see
One or two other people that look like me
Conference after conference
How can this be?
I know Black folks care about literacy
I've read much of our research and our educational beliefs
Lee, Lynn, Morrell, Hilliard and Perry
Duncan-Andrade, Tatum, Woodson and Hale
This list goes on and on, but our stories always fail
To truly be the foundation or the center of the change
Race is discussed and shared but it is never claimed
Why is it that if Blacks "struggle the most" with literacy
Our faces and our thinking are not headlined in the industry
It's just a wondering that I have, not fault to be had
Doesn't make it right or wrong; doesn't make it good or bad
Just thinking on why with our rich literacy history
So many times the only Black person in the room is me
Frustrated?  Maybe.  I think a more appropriate word is concerned.  I am concerned that every time I am a participant or a speaker at a literacy conference or seminar there are very few African Americans speaking or participating.  I began to wonder at the causes.  Is it just a numbers thing?  There are more white teachers, professors, or maybe there are more whites in the geographical region a conference or seminar is held.  But is this really why?

Recent experiences prompted me to review literacy conferences in 2015 and the start of 2016 to see if they represented racial diversity as a means to analyze the importance of culture and race in the literacy industry. These included conferences sponsored by the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers (November, 2015), The International Literacy Association (June, 2015), National Reading Recovery Conference (February, 2016), Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative (October, 2016), and Illinois Reading Council Conference (October, 2015). I looked at the theme of the conference, and the race of the people who were the promoted speakers.  Promoted speakers included keynote, general session or luncheon speakers, and sponsored/advertised speakers called out in catalogs.  Not all speakers are university professors but from those that were, I looked at some of the universities that they were affiliated with (ten total) and the literacy faculty at these universities.  I stuck with faculty for the Masters and or PHD in literacy and read the descriptions of the professor's major areas of study.  I excluded any math, science, history, etc., professor couched within a larger department like curriculum and instruction.  I used pictures of the staff looking for phenotypic markers for people of African descent, and my knowledge of how these persons have identified themselves in past communications to identify them as African Americans.  For this commentary, I am using the term race versus ethnicity to highlight that race is "a socially and historically constructed ideological system that permeates all social, cultural, economic and political domains, and thus a major determinant of power" (De-Cuir-Gunby, 2006, p. 93).  It is critical to look at how race has been used to keep certain groups powerless.  It is important to my wondering about the color of literacy.

So what did I discover?  Without including Illinois Reading Council Conference in 2015 (I'll explain a bit later), 8.75% of the speakers were African American (7 of 80).  At the 2015 Illinois Reading Council Conference, none of the general session speakers, special event speakers, sponsored or advertised speakers were African American.  They are not included in the total number because some speakers were repeat speakers in morning and afternoon sessions as well as across days.  This made it more difficult to tease out the total number of speakers. I did not look at topics, just seeing who's who.  Just trying to understand who is representing what works best for all children as some of the conference themes imply-Literacy for All or Transforming Lives Through Literacy.

Of the 10 universities reviewed including the University of Illinois (Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses) Michigan State, Teachers College-Columbia and Georgia State, 13% of literacy professors are African American (12 of 90).

What does this mean?  What does this mean if every statistic from NAEP to the ACT says African Americans are not as proficient as whites in reading or writing? 
In Illinois only 17% of African Americans met the ACT Reading Benchmark score of 22 with an average reading score of 17.2 (compared to 54% of white students). ( https://www.act.org/newsroom/data/2015/pdf/profile/Illinois.pdf).  An additional statistic that is jarring was reported by Alfred Tatum (2012) in his report Literacy Practices for African-American Male Adolescents, " While preparing this paper, I could not identify one urban school district in the United States with 40 percent or more of African-American males reading at a proficient level" (p. 2). If I accept this as the condition of African American literacy in the United States then I have to ask where are the African American voices in the industry?

I only have questions and no answers in this commentary.  However, I do want us to ponder why this is the case and if it matters.  If race represents power, then there are few to no ideas being represented by the group being rendered literately and literally powerless.

It doesn't matter where or when
or in what space we seem to be
the voices of African Americans
Is rarely heard or seen
What does it mean if of 80 presenters
Only 7 are Black
Is lack of diversity in literacy an issue we must attack

The silence is deafening
I'll add some more reality
2 Asians and 2 Latinos of 80 hardly add variety
A conference with NO COLOR
I ask again how can this be
Wondering, just wondering what is the color of literacy