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Program Proposals for the 2017 IRC Conference are due March 1, 2017
By the IRC Conference Committee
RC Conference Committee would like to share with you the
Call for Program Proposals
for the 2017 IRC Conference in Peoria, Illinois from October 5-7, 2017.
The Program Proposals must be submitted online or postmarked no later than March 1, 2017
librarians, and others interested in promoting reading and related literacy areas are encouraged to submit program proposals. Please take a moment to review the 2017 Program Proposal format, general information, and criteria for selection. Program proposals are being accepted online at
Improving Our Literate Lives in 2017
By Tinaya York
As is a general custom, we set out to make New Year's resolutions. And as is also general custom, we might not see these resolutions through, at least not for a full 12 months. But nonetheless, I'm asking that we all take a moment to set goals that will improve our literate lives. The more we know, the more we can help others and ourselves. To help set some goals, here are a few tips:
- Be specific about what you want to read, write, draw, design or create. One way to "read more books" is to do an author study and read multiple books by one author. One way to "read more" is to include the articles you read on your phone or while online.
- Create a goal to read from different sites than you normally do. For example, instead of just CNN try out Democracy Now (and give yourself points for viewing the news or listening to an NPR broadcast).
- If you find that you don't know what the heck is going on internationally, add the Guardian or BBC to your News app on iPhone, Reddit, or Inoreader for Android (these apps are news aggregators). Set up notifications so you get an alert to read something new!
- If you live in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs and you want to write more, create more, and learn more, go to Dabble https://dabble.co/ and take a one day class on a variety of topics from creative writing to sign language to making your own beer.
- Just start writing. Open up a notebook, Word document, journal, or napkin and start writing. Write lists of words, write words that hurt, words that heal, words that make sounds. Write sentences about your mother, father, child, or favorite teacher. Just write!
Here's what I am doing in 2017 to improve my literate life.
Books I gotta get through
Yep, I have a pile of books that I have started and have not finished. The pile just keeps stacking up and I am so ashamed but I have 365 days to get it done:
My author study, started in 2016, is on Rita Williams-Garcia. The books I'll read by her this year are:
No Laughter Here
Fast Talk on a Slow Track
One Crazy Summer
P.S. Be Eleven
Additional books I'll finish in 2017:
The South Side by Natalie Y. Moore
The Martian by Andy Weir
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski
The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Art of Coaching Teams: Building Resilient Communities that Transform Schools by Elena Aguilar
And finally, my
Harley-Davidson Manual (2015 Sportster 883)
Writings I gotta start/continue/finish
- Continue writing for iCommunicate.
- Start a blog (not sure on what though).
- Compile short narratives from personal experiences.
- Write the first two chapters of a book.
Things I gotta create/complete/do
- Finish designing the infrastructure for my non-profit.
- Get 300 books to middle school and high school students.
- Listen thoughtfully to teachers and administrators to continue designing purposeful learning experiences for them.
Being literate is being educated. Being literate is opening up your world to new information, challenging your beliefs, and continuing to grow. What are you going to do to improve your literate life? I'd love to hear what you are all doing/creating/reading/writing. You can shoot me an email at
Happy New Year Everyone!
Applications for the Barack Obama Library Award Due April 15, 2017
By the Illinois Reading Council
Do you know a teacher of 5th-8th grade kids who could make good use of a classroom library?
This award is a classroom library, valued at $1000, which was created in 2006 through a generous gift to the IRC from (then) Senator Obama. This collection comprises carefully selected literature that is "culturally relevant" for African-American readers and targets students in the middle-school (5th-8th) grade range.
The Nomination Guidelines and Form are available online. Nominations are due by April 15, 2017.
Getting Parents Involved in Your Literacy-
Based Classroom: The End Result
By Priscilla Dwyer, IRC Vice President
In my last three articles I have discussed planning, preparation and training for having parent volunteers in your literacy-based classroom. I have used Dr. Patricia Edwards' book Tapping the Potential of Parents and my own classroom teacher experience as a guide to help you develop a volunteer program in your classroom. In this last installment of the series, I will discuss how to let go, respect the abilities parents bring to your classroom and how to have a program that runs with fidelity.
It is important to remember that all stakeholders in education bring a "story" of their own to the table. Teachers have their stories, students have their stories, administrators have their stories and so do parents. When developing a parent volunteer program it is important to know your parent volunteers' stories and how their thoughts, feelings and concerns, in regards to school and education and their children, relate to your story and how they will best fit into the daily life or your classroom. Get to know your volunteers, either through conversation or surveys or letters home. "Parents can fill in some of the missing pieces by providing stories about their child's early learning experiences at home" (Edwards, 2009, p. 64). They can also tell you things like, would this parent rather work one on one with a child, is this parent better with a small group, would this parent like to do tasks that don't require him/her to work with children (cutting, laminating, copying, etc.). Be sure to talk with your parent volunteers ahead of time and be sure to tell them what they will be doing when they volunteer and check to be sure they are okay with the task you have assigned.
Typically, parents come to volunteer during the school day, while you are teaching or working with groups. It is important to have all materials for volunteers ready to go with directions and the names of the students they will be working with that day. Then comes the difficult part: let go. Allow the parent space to work with students and develop a rapport. This is important, not only for the students to develop a relationship with this parent volunteer, but for the parent to feel welcome and safe volunteering in your classroom. If you are constantly checking in or hovering, this might lead to feelings of mistrust by the parent volunteer or the students may not develop a working relationship with the volunteer. Not to mention that you can be using the time on other tasks, small groups or individually conferencing.
In my previous article, I discussed setting a volunteer schedule. This is essential to a program that runs smoothly and with fidelity. As I mentioned in the paragraph above, students need to develop a rapport with volunteers and see them on a regular basis. Make it known to your volunteers that they are important and that, if at all possible, the schedule should be kept with fidelity. Also, be sure to let volunteers know well in advance when schedule conflicts arise. You want your volunteers to feel respected and appreciated. Finally, be sure to honor your volunteers in some way at the end of the year. I often have volunteer appreciation parties and the students write thank you notes, draw pictures, sing songs, etc. for the volunteers. Remember that these parent volunteers are your greatest supporters and advocates. I leave you with a quote from Dr. Edwards, "Family involvement brings about improved teaching: it helps you to generate a positive attitude and raise your self-esteem, and you will feel respected by families who are involved. Improved teaching leads to greater academic achievement by students" (Edwards, 2009, p. 15-16).
I wish you luck in developing a parent involvement program in your classrooms. If you have questions regarding setting up a program, feel free to contact me at
, P. P. (2009). Tapping the potential of parents. New York, NY: Scholastic.
IRC's Statewide Special Interest Councils: What is the Illinois Council for Affective Reading Education (ICARE)?
By Kathleen Fleming, ICARE President
The members of the Illinois Council for Affective Reading Education (ICARE), a statewide council of the Illinois Reading Council, are committed
to the improvement of reading and the development of lifelong reading habits.
s purpose centers around the promotion of mutual understanding and cooperative work in the area of affective reading education among educators, the study of educational practices that promote the love of reading, and the encouragement of sharing practical ideas for educators which foster positive reading attitudes.
Gene Cramer ICARE for Reading Award
ICARE strives to recognize educators who model and promote the love of reading. The Gene Cramer ICARE for Reading Award, named in honor of ICARE
s founder, is given annually at the IRC Conference to an exemplary educator who
has performed in an outstanding manner to show concern for the affective domain and who has promoted lifelong reading habits among students.
ICARE encourages all IRC members to think about the amazing educators they know who perform in such a manner and to nominate them for this award!
ICARE is currently accepting nominations for the 2107 Gene Cramer ICARE for Reading Award. While we strongly encourage the nomination of IRC and ICARE members for this award, the person nominated does not need to be an IRC or ICARE member. Any educator who meets the criteria for the award (see award
s nomination form for specific criteria) will be considered for the award. The honoree will receive a plaque and a monetary award.
Static Stick Decal Contest
ICARE and IRC co-sponsor the Static Stick Decal Contest where children are invited to design a static stick decal that encourages children to read. The winning design is printed on static stick decals and distributed by IRC, and the winner receives a variety of prizes. This contest is open to fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade students who attend a school in the state of Illinois. We would greatly appreciate IRC members spreading the word about this contest and encouraging students to participate in the contest. Entries for this year
s contest must be postmarked no later than March 1, 2017. For additional information about this contest, please visit ICARE
s homepage on the IRC website:
ICARE is always looking for new members as well as officers to help support its mission. If you have any questions about ICARE, please contact Kathleen Fleming at
. Please consider joining today at www.illinoisreadingcouncil.org!
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.
This amazing resource engages students in historical inquiry and teaches students how to investigate historical questions by employing reading strategies such as sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating, and close reading.
This online resource is an infographic creator that provides templates that are easy to use. There are also many infographics already created which can be used for lesson activities.
Web 2.0 Resources
This digital resource allows users to create a breaking headline as it would appear on a news station by uploading a picture and creating a headline. This is a great tool for critical thinking skills and digital literacy.