August 2015
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Expiration Date:  
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In This Issue
Website Links
Dates to Remember

Wired Wednesday Webinar
September 23, 2015

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

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   
International Literacy Day--September 8, 2015 
By the Illi nois Reading Council
Inte rnational Literacy Day will be celebrated on Sept ember 8, 2015.

With nearly 800 m
illion people in the world who still can't read or write, the International Literacy Association (ILA) would like us to focus on worldwide literacy needs and has put together a kit of creative classroom ideas and student activities centered on the collective action theme-The Power of the People: Start a Literacy Movement. If interested,   sign up today to get your ILD Kit ILA is also encouraging communities to construct a Little Free Library and has put together a special kit with instructions on how to build and maintain your own Little Free Library. Download ILA's Litle Free Library Kit today

The Illinois Reading Council has recently built two libraries (shown in the above picture) that will be planted very soon in Normal, Illinois and Mt. Sterling, Illinois.  If you are interested in starting a library in your area, please feel free to visit the to get started today!

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

7:00 p.m.  
Schooling for Resilience:  Lessons from Single Sex Schools
with Dr. Pedro A. Noguera
  • Suggested Readings: "Urban Schools and the Black Male Challenge" and "Saving Black and Latino Boys."
  • Bio: Pedro Noguera is the Distinguished Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences at UCLA. His research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions, as well as by demographic trends in local, regional and global contexts. He is the author of eleven books and over 200 articles and monographs. He serves on the boards of numerous national and local organizations and appears as a regular commentator on educational issues on CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio, and other national news outlets. Prior to joining the faculty at UCLA he served as a tenured professor and holder of endowed chairs at New York University (2003 - 2015), Harvard University (2000 - 2003), and the University of California, Berkeley (1990 - 2000). From 2009 - 2012 he served as a Trustee for the State University of New York (SUNY) as an appointee of the Governor. In 2014 he was elected to the National Academy of Education. Noguera recently received awards from the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences, from the National Association of Secondary Principals, and from the McSilver Institute at NYU for his research and advocacy efforts aimed at fighting poverty.. 
  • Website:
  Register today for the upcoming webinar!

Flipped Reading
By Jon Bergmann, The Flipped Learning Experts, A Division of TurnAbout Learning, LLC
Many ELA teachers say that they are the original flipped learning aficionados.  After all, they assign books for kids to read, and the next day students come prepared to discuss the readings in class.  To some degree, there is a lot of truth to this statement.  However, there are still many elements of the flipped classroom that can enhance an ELA course. In fact, Aaron Sams and I just recently completed a book titled Flipped Learning for English Instruction.  We spend the bulk of the book discussing how ELA teachers can rethink class time and maximize learning.
One technique we highlight in our book is how to "flip" reading.  This addresses one of the common complaints of many Language Arts teachers -- students that do not complete the assigned readings.  Instead of reading literature, many students read Spark Notes and don't interact with the actual text.
A growing number of teachers are now discovering software which tracks student reading and comprehension.  The two we heard about most from ELA teachers were Curriculet ( and ActivelyLearn (  From the students' perspective, these readings have a Kindle-like user interface.  The benefits of these tools are that they track student reading, and allow teachers to imbed annotations, questions, and other media into the student interface.
Table 1: How to Flip A Reading
If some students do not have access to the Internet, then you will need to provide them with either class/school time to read, or paper copies to take home.
If you want to learn more about flipping your class, come to our website at Or better yet, sign up for our monthly newsletter which highlights best practices in Flipped Learning. (

The PARCC Assessment:  The Saga Continues
By Roberta Sejnost, ILA State Coordinator
What's New for 2016?
Although the PARCC assessment for 2016 will change, it is important to note that while the test will include fewer questions overall, it will continue to test the full range of standards and provide valid and reliable results. Testing situation changes are that it:
  • Is held once every year between March 7th and the end of school in June.
  • Is shorter for all grades by approximately 90 minutes.
  • Is easier for schools to administer.
  • Provides more time for instruction.
Writing Tasks Continue
As in previous PARCC assessments, students will be required to perform three types of writing responses, (1) Literacy Analysis Task (LAT), (2) Research Simulation Task (RST), (3) Narrative Task (NT), which will be assessed through the PARCC rubrics that focus on the reading comprehension of key ideas, written expression and knowledge of language and conventions.  There are 6 different rubrics for these tasks:
  • Grade 3 LAT/RST (Informative/Explanatory and Opinion) Rubric
  • Grade 3 Narrative Rubric
  • Grades 4-5 LAT/RST (Informative/Explanatory and Opinion) Rubric
  • Grades 4-5 Narrative Rubric
  • Grades 6-11 LAT/RST (Informative/Explanatory and Argumentative) Rubric
  • Grades 6-11 Narrative Rubric
All rubrics can be found on:
  • by selecting PARCC Assessment, Sample Questions.  Rubrics are on the left side.
It is wise to provide classroom opportunities for students to complete "PARCC like tasks" and rubrics that will be used to assess student writing on PARCC assessment.
What Can I Do To Support Success?
Jill Brown and Kathy Rhodus, the ISBE ELA content specialists and co-creators of the website , suggest the following activity for teachers to evaluate the writing tasks they require of their students to see if they meet the standards and prepare their students for the PARCC assessment.
  1. Look back at the writing tasks from your classroom.
  2. Place an A, B, or C next to each writing task that prepares students for the PARCC task. (See figure below)
  3. Consider
    a.  Are all my classroom tasks meeting the standards?
    b.  Which ones may need more attention?
    c.  How might I better align my tasks to PARCC?
Above all, let's remember the words of Kelly Gallagher who notes:
  • When students write about the texts they read, their reading and writing improve.
  • When students learn and engage in the writing process behind creating texts, their reading and writing improve.
  • When students write their own texts frequently, their reading and writing improve. 
Illinois State Board of Education.  "Illinois Writing Matters."  2014. 
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.
QuizStar is a web-based quiz maker that enables you to create, administer and automatically grade your quizzes online.  With QuizStar you can manage classes and quizzes, attach multimedia files to questions, make quizzes in multiple languages, and you can access it from any computer.

Reading Passages
This free online resource of reading passages provides access to over 1,000 interactive reading comprehension exercises that adapt to individual ability levels.  This program teaches students to think critically, draw inferences, understand scope and global concepts, find or recall details, and infer the meanings of useful vocabulary words.
Common Craft videos give students an easy and fun way to understand new ideas in just a few minutes.  You can embed, download or display the videos easily.