October 2014
Membership #:           
Expiration Date:  
Local Councils:                         
In This Issue
Wired Wednesday
Balanced Classroom
Illinois Readers' Awards
Danielson Domain 4
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.   
Wired Wednesday Webinars
By the Illinois Reading Council



7:00 p.m.  


The Speaking and Listening Standards in the Collaborative Classroom with Linda Rourke  

  • Suggested Reading: The Core Principles of the Collaborative Classroom 
  • Description: The Collaborative Classroom is an intentional environment in which collaboration and social development are infused into academic learning. The CCSS Speaking and Listening Standards are addressed in and essential to student success in the Collaborative Classroom environment. The CCSS define student collaboration as going beyond conventional cooperation and compliance to becoming invested, caring members of a learning community. To build such communities, teachers need to incorporate authentic ways for learners to collaborate in order to deepen their learning and promote intelligent discourse. They must also ensure that students are equipped with the social skill sets needed to support classroom discourse, extend their own thinking, and expand on the thinking of their peers. The session will focus on the importance of and strategies for creating a collaborative community of speakers and listeners where students communicate in thoughtful, deep and meaningful ways.
  • Questions explored include:
    • How have the CCSS changed the way we think about speaking, listening, and collaboration in classrooms?
    • What's hard about incorporating the Speaking and Listening standards into what we teach?
    • What do we know about the interrelationship between speaking and listening and academic development?
    • How do we shift our practice to help engage in authentic conversations and deepen their skills and knowledge?
  • Bio:  Linda is a National Education Consultant for the Developmental Studies Center, a nonprofit organization based in Emeryville, CA committed to fostering the social, emotional, ethical, and academic development of children. In her role, she offers keynotes, workshops, presentations, and professional development for administrators, literacy coaches, and teachers serving diverse populations at all grade levels across the country. She presents at local, state, and national conferences and helps teachers implement best practices for teaching and learning.  Linda began her career in education over 30 years ago as a High School English teacher, an experience that shaped her lifelong commitment to literacy education. She holds a B.A. in English and an M.S. Ed in Literacy Education from Northern Illinois University. 


7:00 p.m.   


Listen Hear! with Mike Opitz    

  • Suggested Readingwww.listen.org 
  • Description: Listening is the first stage of language development and continues throughout the development of all other language stages. In fact, discriminative listening begins to develop as early as the third trimester of prenatal development. The brain converts sounds heard in the environment into meaningful information. As development continues, children begin to discriminate the basic speech sounds that will allow them to imitate speech. Eventually, listening facilitates language play and nurtures phonological awareness. This awareness of words, syllables, and phonemes enhances speaking development and emergent reading skills.  But that's only the beginning! Learners continue to use listening for a variety of purposes throughout their lives, perhaps now more than ever given newer technology, which capitalizes on students' ability to critically listen. Most recently, the authors of the Common Core Standards (2010) have catapulted listening into the language arts spotlight by giving it equal attention to the other language arts; it is no longer neglected.  Here are five good reasons for explicitly teaching listening to help readers reach their full reading potential. 
    1. Learners develop an ability to discriminate sounds. Listening involves the identification of the differences among sounds. This identification and discrimination leads children to the understanding that sounds are grouped together to form words.
    2. Children realize the value of listening. Listening makes up a great percentage of a child's day in and out of school. Expanding children's views of listening and the benefits of using good listening skills can impact how they use listening. For instance, listening precisely to verbal instructions has a direct impact on children's success in the classroom. They know exactly what they are to do as a result of being able to perform this type of listening.
    3. Students listen for a variety of purposes. Listening serves many purposes. Students can be taught to use listening to enhance their understanding of the environment, conversations, music, and stories read aloud.
    4. Listening enhances children's ability to use the other language arts. Teaching listening allows students to follow directions, understand expectations, and make sense of verbal classroom communication. As children improve as listeners, they learn to use the same strategies to improve their command of the other language arts.  
    5. Students understand the relationship between listening and reading. Listening, like reading, is an active process. Listening and reading require the use of similar thought processes such as predicting and self-monitoring to attend to the conveyed message for the construction of meaning
Visit https://sites.google.com/site/wsrawiredwednesday to register for the October 29 and November 5 webinars.  Space is limited so register early. 
4 Strategies for Implementing the CCSS in a Balanced Literacy Classroom
By Margaret Mary Policastro and Dr. Becky McTague, authors of
The New Balanced Literacy School: Implementing Common Core

Within the CCSS there is a powerful new lens and shift of awareness to language. This view incorporates language in a new and different manner for the balanced literacy classroom. Language as action along with language and learning as social cognition and discourse are the driving forces for classroom instruction. A rising challenge is the connection of language and language development and the important role it plays in all aspects of literacy and literacy instruction. So much so that we believe the lens of all literacy instruction must begin with language. Halliday's (1993) language-based theory of learning captures the idea of making meaning as a semiotic process, i.e., the resource for making meaning is language. From this perspective, his general theory of learning is interpreted as "learning through language." Most importantly, the shift of instruction is now centered on all aspects of language to inform all literacy instruction. Taking the tenets of balanced literacy and refocusing them with the lens of language and the influence this has on instruction can be critical to implementing the CCSS. The following represents the tenet of balanced literacy through the lens of language and a strategy to implement it:



Interactive Read-Aloud with informational and complex text: Allow for the children to respond to the text in different ways besides just listening. Having the children respond with whiteboards and markers allows for the teacher to model close reading and have the children predict, find evidence, and other types of responses. Young children can draw or write their responses. Aim for at least two daily read-alouds and pair up a fictional passage with a nonfiction or informational text. Think about aligning them to a classroom thematic unit.          


Guiding Language into Reading: Rethink the guided practice to include more time devoted to close reading of text whereby the teacher is utilizing the language of the students to build argument and find text-based responses--all within rich conversations and classroom discourse.


Team-based Language and Literacy Centers: Switch up the manner in which centers are delivered and have students work to solve problems on teams. Shift the attention of the work to students building arguments and finding evidence within the activity. Include the 21st century research and communication tasks.


Word Walls to Language Walls: Expand the classroom discourse to include more than just words. Take class ideas to grow into deep conversations that include images, ideas, and other forms of meaning making. These walls work quite well in art, music and physical education classes as well.


These strategies are switching it up to include language and discourse and can be used across all content areas.


Learn more at  www.capstoneclassroom.com or locate the new professional resource by clicking the following link: The New Balanced Literacy School


Illinois Readers' Choice Awards
By Leslie Forsman, ISLMA Liaison


Are you and your students looking for a good book to read?  May we suggest the 82 titles on the Illinois Readers' Choice Awards lists for your reading pleasure?  The Illinois School Library Media Association's Monarch, Bluestem and Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award and the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award selection committees have gathered nominations, reviewed titles, and created their lists of nominations for the students of Illinois to read and vote on next spring.  (Many of these committee members are already reviewing titles for the 2016 lists.)


If you work with students in grades Kindergarten through third, please take a look at the 20 Monarch Award nominees.  For grades third through fifth, please check out the 20 Bluestem nominees.  If you have older students (grades nine through twelve), please browse the 22 Lincoln Award nominees.  All three of these awards are sponsored completely by the Illinois School Library Media Association.  Information about registering your school or library to participate in these awards can be found on the left hand side of the page at www.islma.org.


If you have students in grades four through eight, you might also want to visit the Rebeca Caudill site at www.rcyrba.org.


Registration fee for each award is $10.00 and must be renewed each year to participate in the statewide voting in the spring. The books on each list are available through various book services as well as most book stores.

Indulge yourself and your students in some of these good reads. You'll be glad you did!

Danielson + Common Core + IRC = A Perfect Partnership:  Focus on Domain 4         
By Roberta Sejnost, IRA State Coordinator 

In our final focus on how the Common Core and the Danielson Framework for Teaching are intertwined, we consider Domain #4.  This domain reflects the professional aspect of our teaching lives, and evidence of this domain can be directly correlated to the impact our teaching of the new Illinois Learning Standards makes on our students' academic growth.


Domain 4:  Professional Responsibilities


Component 4a:  Reflecting on Teaching

This component asks that teachers assume the role of the reflective practitioner and regularly consider their teaching practices.  Evidence of this component can be seen when teachers and observers together:

  • Examine reflection notations and logs
  • Participate in professional reflective conversations during post observation conferences by replying to questions such as:
    • "Tell me how you felt about the lesson."
    • "What were you observing during your teaching?"
    • "Can you tell me what was different about yesterday's lesson?"
    • Model the practice that recognizes how we can all improve.

Component 4b:  Maintaining Accurate Records

To show evidence that several types of records are accurately maintained, teachers and observers together will:

  • Examine the organization and management of student portfolios, as well as teacher grade books or databases
  • Observe how paperwork, such as worksheets, tests, and records of homeroom tasks, permission slips, lunch, classroom inventories and reports, are maintained.

Component 4c:  Communicating with Families

Teachers who communicate effectively with families freely provide information about their students as well as the instructional program they follow by maintaining and utilizing:

  • Family contact logs with consistent phone calls, emails, letters home
  • Contact formats such as class newsletters; post cards
  • Conference records
  • Notations in student agendas
  • Parental responses to students inventories 

Component 4d:  Participating in a Professional Community

This component clearly shows the correlation between Danielson Framework and membership in the Illinois Reading Council and the International Reading Association because it focuses on how teachers work collegially with their peers to develop a culture of professional inquiry and maintain service to their school. Evidence of this domain can be seen when teachers:

  • Volunteer for school committees and extra-curricular responsibilities
  • Chair committees, teams, etc., or coordinate programs
  • Are involved in ways that extend beyond their own classroom

Component 4e:  Growing and Developing Professionally

This component also focuses on the value and need for quality professional development that is available through the Illinois Reading Council and the International Reading Association.  Here teachers must show evidence of how they enhance their content knowledge and pedagogical skill, react to and utilize feedback from their colleagues and show service to the profession of teaching as they:

  • Voluntarily examine and share research on class performance and best practice strategies
  • Take leadership roles and/or coordinate study groups and/or professional book clubs
  • Subscribe to professional/trade journals
  • Attend professional conferences and share with colleagues upon return

Component 4f:  Showing Professionalism

Finally, this component highlights the importance of professionalism by requiring teachers to show evidence of their integrity and ethical conduct, service to students, advocacy, decision-making, and compliance with school and district regulations.  Evidence of this component can be found when teachers:

  • Have daily interactions with students
  • Are helpful to needy students
  • Advocate for underserved students
  • Are open-minded and willing to adopt new approaches
  • Use data to support actions
  • Set long-term goals and take responsibility for their professional growth
  • Demonstrate high ethical standards through compliance with school/district codes and community expectations
In this last domain we see, more clearly than before, how teachers will not only meet a major requirement of the new PERA evaluation system but also foster their professionalism by maintaining active membership in the Illinois Reading Council and any of its 32 local reading councils as well as the International Reading Association.  These organizations provide a myriad of professional development opportunities, council meetings, and conferences.  Do take advantage of what IRC and IRA can offer you in their roles as vibrant partners to Danielson's Framework, the New Illinois State Learning Standards and Illinois' new evaluation system.
By Cindy Gerwin, IRC President


"What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make."  ~  Jane Goodall


Educators make a difference in the lives of the children they teach by inspiring their students to become lifelong readers/learners.  Once the school year has begun, teachers are entrenched in the day-to-day grind of teaching and it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain the level of energy, excitement and passion necessary to inspire students to become lifelong readers/learners.  Active involvement in a professional organization can help educators refuel and maintain the positive focus on learning necessary to impact on student growth.  But how does active involvement in a professional organization impact student achievement? And more importantly, why does this matter?


Changes to the teacher and leader evaluation systems are mandated through the PERA law (Performance Evaluation Reform Act) and Senate Bill 7.  Performance evaluations must incorporate professional practice ratings, a model like Danielson's Framework for Teaching (four domains with a four rating category system), and indicators of student growth.  For educators to receive the highest ratings in Domain 4 - 4a: reflecting on teaching, 4d: participating in a professional community, 4e: growing and developing professionally, and 4f: showing professionalism - active involvement in a professional organization is critical.  But active involvement is not enough; educators need to be able to include meaningful data that demonstrates an impact on student growth as a result of the professional development provided by organizations like the Illinois Reading Council.


The Illinois Reading Council's statewide Studies and Research Committee is beginning a longitudinal study in an attempt to answer the question, "How does active involvement in a professional organization impact student achievement?"  IRC understands that this is an important question that educator members must now be able to answer during their annual evaluations.  If you are interested in joining the statewide Studies and Research Committee or participating in the study, please contact the IRC Office for more details.  This study is one of several IRC Strategic Plans that will be highlighted throughout the year.  The Illinois Reading Council is committed to increasing membership value by focusing on topics that are relevant to both our members and the students and families they serve.