January 2015
Membership #:           
Expiration Date:  
Local Councils:                         
In This Issue
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 icommunicate@illinoisreadingcouncil.org.   
Program Proposals for the October 2015 IRC Conference are due March 1, 2015
By the IRC Conference Committee


The IRC Conference Committee would like to share with you the Call for Program Proposals  for the 2015 IRC Conference in Peoria, Illinois from October 1-3, 2015. 

Teachers, researchers, librarians, administrators, and others interested in promoting reading and related literacy areas are encouraged to submit program proposals.  Please take a moment to review the 2015 Program Proposal format, general information, and criteria for selection.  Program proposals are being accepted online at www.illinoisreadingcouncil.org.

The Program Proposals must be submitted online or postmarked no later than March 1, 2015.
Close Reading & Text Dependent Questions
By Roberta Sejnost, IRA State Coordinator

In the last issue of iCommunicate, we focused on how to determine the complexity of a text.  The next step is to develop an effective close reads lesson using that complex text.


The process of close reading, the instructional strategy that fosters deep thinking because students are encouraged to read, reread and critically analyze the text, is not a process students automatically follow.  According to Fisher and Frey (2012), teachers need to create and use text-dependent questions to guide students as they are redirected to the text to locate answers and support them with direct evidence. These text dependent questions urge students to think at deeper levels each time they reread a passage.


According to Fisher, Frey, & Lapp, 2012, teachers should prepare text-dependent questions before the reading is assigned to students, and they should focus first on the literal level of comprehension with subsequent readings focusing on more advanced thinking based on Bloom's Taxonomy and Webb's Depth of Knowledge, thus requiring students to think more deeply each time they reread the text.  Across the readings, questions should progress through a general understanding, key details, vocabulary, text structure, author's purpose, inferring, and forming arguments.


Close Reading: The Process


Step 1:  Cold Read:  Students read and annotate the text passage on their own.


Step 2:  First Close Read:  Teachers ask text-dependent literal-level questions that focus on Standards 1, 2, and 3, which highlight general understanding and key textual details.  Examples of such questions include "Who's the main character?  What information in the text lets you know this is the main idea?"


Step 3:  Second Close Read:  Teachers create text-dependent questions that foster deeper thinking and focus on Standards 4, 5, and 6 and highlight vocabulary, text structure, and author's purpose.  Examples include "How do the words influence the book's meaning?  How does the story change from beginning to end?"


Step 4:  Third Close Read:  Students now answer questions that require making inferences and forming opinions and arguments, providing textual evidence for support.  Examples of this include "What would logically happen next?  What clues support your thinking?  Do you agree/disagree with the author?  Provide evidence for your answers."


Text-dependent questions are easily created through the use of the Question and Answer Relationship strategy.

  • Right There Questions:  Literal questions whose answers can be found in the text.  Often the words used in the question are the same words found in the text.
  • Think and Search Questions:  Answers are gathered from several parts of the text and put together to make meaning.
  • Author and You Questions:  These questions are based on information provided in the text, but the student is required to relate it to their own experience.  Although the answer does not lie directly in the text, the student must have read it in order to answer the question.
  • On My Own Questions:  Although ordinarily these questions do not require students to have read a passage, teachers may use this type if they structure their questions to ask students to use their background knowledge of a text they have read previously to make a connection with a currently read text.  This clearly supports Standards 7, 8 and 9.

Overall, as teachers construct text dependent questions, it is important to highlight specific aspects of the text students should consider in order to encourage critical thinking and textual evidence support across all reading experiences.



Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2012). Close Reading in Elementary Schools. The Reading Teacher, 66(3), 179-188.

Fisher, D., Frey, N., & Lapp, D. (2012).  Text Complexity:  Raising Rigor in Reading.  Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Raphael, T.E. (1986). Teaching Children Question-Answer Relationships, Revisited. The Reading Teacher, 39(6), 516-522.
Static Stick Decal Contest          
By Illinois Reading Council 
The Illinois Council for Affective Reading Education (ICARE) and the Illinois Reading Council (IRC) invite you to design a Static Stick Decal that encourages children to read.

  • You must be a student in grade 4, 5 or 6 in a school in the state of Illinois.
  • Make your original design in the 4 inch square on the form.
  • Invent an original character(s) to include in your design.
  • Develop an original saying or slogan.
  • You are limited to three colors plus black and white.


  • An autographed book by a well-known children's author.
  • An invitation for the winner and his/her parents to be our guests at the Saturday Luncheon at the annual Illinois Reading Council Conference.  The winner will sit in a place of honor and be introduced during the luncheon.
  • 30 Static Stick Decals with the winning design to distribute to classmates.
Entries must be postmarked no later than April 10, 2015.  For more information, download the application form available on the IRC Website.  
Raise a Reader Program
By the Illinois Reading Council

The Illinois Reading Council's Raise a Reader Program identified twelve books that would cause today's busy young mothers and fathers to stop and remember sitting on someone's lap to be read to and to want to recreate those memories with their own little ones.


The Illinois Reading Council couldn't highlight everyone's favorites in the program, but included the top memory makers.      

  • Goodnight Moon
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • Corduroy
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon
  • The Snowy Day
  • Charlotte's Web
  • Clifford the Big Red Dog
  • The Furry News
  • Bread and Jam for Frances
  • Frog and Toad are Friends
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Visit the IRC Website to download book activities, newspaper activities, and other book lists that go along with this program.  Please feel free to share this program with families across Illinois.  Our goal is to create an emotional connection between reading and family.  

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

The Title I program was legislated in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and assessments.  Due to the flexibility waiver that Illinois finally received from the US Department of Education (USDE), there have been many exciting changes to Title I requirements for the 2014-2015 school year which went into effect July 1, 2014.  Illinois' flexibility request was initially submitted on February 28, 2012, resubmitted on January 31, 2014, and was granted by the USDE on April 18, 2014.


A lot of hard work by the Illinois State Board of Education went into making Illinois' waiver acceptable to the USDE.  The primary reason for not receiving the Federal Waiver in our original application was the Illinois State Board's unwillingness (to our benefit) to change to data based teacher evaluations prior to our own scheduled implementation of PERA for the 2014-2015 school year.  Illinois felt that our schedule of implementation was the right thing to do, in order to properly learn the new system and to implement it correctly and with fidelity.  Those states that rushed to change their teacher evaluation system to meet waiver requirements later struggled with implementation.


Highlights of the changes to Title I due to the NCLB waiver include the following:

  • The terms "status" and "AYP" are eliminated from our academic and legislative vocabulary after the Fall 2014 status designation.
  • Supplemental Educational Services (SES) are no longer required by districts formerly in "status."  This frees up Title I dollars to be put back in the classroom and in the schools.
  • School Choice is no longer required by districts.  This will also free up dollars that were previously used to transport students from schools in "status" to schools that were making AYP, whether within a district or to a neighboring district.
  • A 10% district wide professional development set aside is no longer required for schools not making AYP, since AYP no longer exists. Title I targeted schools may still opt to use Title I dollars for professional development, but the professional development must be targeted to Title 1 teachers, paraprofessionals, or administrators in Title I buildings.  Professional development can also be used by teachers that directly work with Title I students.  Schools that run Schoolwide programs may use professional development dollars for all teachers, paraprofessionals and administrators in the school.
  • PARCC assessments replace ISAT and ACT as the required assessment. PARCC assessments are a two part testing series. A performance based assessment will be given around 75% through the school year with a four week window for testing.  The End of year assessment will be given in April-May after 90% of the school year and will also have a 4 week window for testing.  ACT testing is optional for districts, but all students must take it if the district opts to administer this assessment.  The ACT test will also be funded by the state at this time.  The ACT testing window will also be adjusted so as not to conflict with PARCC.  
  • There will be a three tier labeling system for schools: 
    • Priority Schools:  The lowest performing 5% of schools (approximately 147 schools) were identified in November of 2013 as priority schools and will receive extensive services provided by Illinois Center for School Improvement.  Those districts with Priority schools are required to set aside funds from Title I allocations for additional services to these schools. 
    • Focus Schools:  The next lowest performing 10% (approximately 270 schools) will be labeled focus schools and will receive a lower level of services from ISBE.  Focus schools have not yet been identified.  ISBE is currently working with the USDE to determine a definition of "Focus School."  When defined and identified, these schools will also be required to set aside Title I funds in order to provide additional services to these schools. 

    • Foundational Schools:  All other schools will receive a basic level of foundational services from ISBE to help with increasing student performance.  PD will be offered in 5 areas:  continuous improvement planning, ELA standards, Math standards, Balanced Assessment and Teacher Evaluations.  More information about foundational services can be found at www.illinoiscsi.org

Additional information can be found on the ISBE web page at:  http://www.isbe.state.il.us/nclb_waivers/default.htm.