By Laura Beltchenko, Chairperson for the IRC Professional Learning Committee

Greetings IRC Colleagues!

This month the IRC Literacy Learning Links Padlet is going to focus on resources for Informational Text, Science and Social Studies as well as Inquiry.  As we become more aware of the new Illinois Social Studies Standards, 2021 (that focused on a more inclusionary view of history and civics) the Padlet Links associated with these topics will support classroom implementation and instructional improvement of the revised Standards. It is important to note that these revised Standards may also be taught in concert with the Reading for Informational Text of the English Language Arts Common Core Standards.

Of interest is the Illinois website that shares details of the revisions to the standards. Also, I want to thank one of our IRC members for contributing to the Padlet with Think Like a Historian. The Library of Congress is always a site to look to as you support your students with their inquiry-based learning. These are just a few of the many valuable quality resources available on the Padlet. Please take some time to explore these valuable sources as you continue to develop informational based literacy learning!

Do you have a website or resource that you have found to be of value for instruction, student engagement or your personal professional learning? IRC has a Professional Learning Padlet. We are continually seeking resources to share with our colleagues and the Padlet is one way to communicate quality information. Please use this link to Share a Resource for the IRC Professional Learning Padlet and your contribution will be posted and shared with IRC members!



By the Illinois Reading Council

The Illinois Reading Council is excited to present the online IRC Workshop Series that will feature 2-hour workshops on timely topics with the following outstanding literacy leaders in education.

  • October 18, 2022High-Impact Phonics Routines with Wiley Blevins

  • October 19, 2022Who's Afraid of Childhood? with Betsy Bird and Anastasia Higginbotham

  • October 25, 2022Structuring Your Dialogic Curriculum with Matthew R. Kay

All workshops will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 pm online via Zoom. Registered participants can earn up to 6 PD clock hours for the IRC Workshop Series.

Registered participants will have the option of watching the recorded workshops until November 30th for clock hours.

Registration for all 3 workshops is $125 for members or $170 for non-members which includes one year of IRC membership. There are also discounted registration rates for retired and preservice teachers. For school districts wanting to register multiple educators, you can use the Group Registration Form to submit by fax to the IRC Office. Otherwise, individuals can register via the following online link



By the Illinois Reading Council

Join educators from all over the state in the online FALL 2022 IRC BOOK CLUB that will begin on October 23, 2022! Choose one or two books!

Read, reflect on, and respond to Textured Teaching: A Framework for Culturally Sustaining Practices by Lorena Escoto German and/or a pairing of Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi along with Stamped (For Kids) adapted by Sonja Cherry-Paul. 

Beginning October 23, these seven-week online discussions will help you build traditional literacy skills while supporting students in developing their social justice skills and/or explore race and racism in America with hope for an antiracist future. Participants who complete all assignments will be eligible to receive 15 PD clock hours for each book club.

Register by October 15, 2022, to participate in the book club. Registration is FREE for IRC Members. The cost for non-members is $45, which includes IRC membership for one year.  PLEASE NOTE: The cost of book is not included.



By Amy D. Davis, Ph.D.

Equitable practices in an English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom are important for student achievement and language development. There are structures teachers can incorporate to assure English Language Learners (ELLs) are both acquiring and utilizing their second language. There are five stages of second-language acquisition: Preproduction, Early Production, Speech Emergence, Intermediate Fluency, and Advanced Fluency (Krashen and Terrell, 1983). The Preproduction stage is “the silent period,” where students are not producing language. In the Early Production stage, students begin to produce one or two words. As they enter the Speech Emergence stage, students can speak simple sentences, however they are still making grammatical and pronunciation errors. In the last two stages, Intermediate and Advanced Fluency, students increase the length and complexity of their sentences, and exhibit a near-native level of fluency.


When questioning students about text, teachers must take into consideration their students’ level of language acquisition. Cognitively, ELL students may comprehend, but not necessarily have the language to express this understanding. Even students in the Preproduction stage can think critically and express themselves nonverbally by using gestures such as pointing or completing an action like “circle” or “draw a picture.” As students begin to enter more advanced stages, you can use sentence frames and sentence starters to help them with English syntax, how they will arrange their words to answer your questions.


ELL students need opportunities to listen, speak, read, and write. Teachers should think carefully how they can incorporate these four domains into their literacy lessons. Strategically using cooperative learning strategies in literary discussions offers opportunities for ELL students to think critically and practice language. During read alouds, teachers can pair an ELL with a fluent-English speaker where they can listen and speak to each other. There is a wealth of children’s literature with diverse cultural themes. When selecting a read aloud book, make sure characters represent the cultural demographic of your classroom, it’s important for students to see someone who looks like them in print. Most importantly, make sure the selected book does not represent any cultural stereotypes.


ELL students come with a wealth of background knowledge and experiences that differ from their peers. A thoughtful teacher can capitalize on these experiences to develop both their receptive and productive new language while appreciating literature.


Krashen, S. D., & Terrell, T. (1983). The natural approach: Language acquisition in the classroom. Oxford: Pergamon.


By Bonnie Matheis, Illinois State Library, Illinois Center for the Book

Research shows that students gain greater understanding of what they have read when they are given frequent opportunities to respond to what they’ve read, especially through writing. The writing response, in turn, helps develop students’ critical reading and thinking skills. And so, the cycle goes—students who read, write better; students who write, read more. This reading-writing link is the very heart of the Letters about Literature (LAL) program.

Many students may complain that writing a letter takes too long, that it is an archaic form of communication. A topical Pew Survey noted that texting is the preferred form of communication among teens. Letter writing does what texting cannot—allows students to develop in detail their thoughts, to craft them with language that reflects their voices (rather than texting acronyms and symbols). Letter writing allows students to practice a very important writing skill—targeting a specific audience.

Readers enter LAL by writing a letter to an author—living or dead—explaining how that author’s work changed the reader’s view of the world or self. The program has three competition levels: Level 1 for grades 4 – 6; Level 2 for grades 7 – 8; and Level 3 for grades 9 – 12.

The LAL Teaching Guide has four lessons that take readers from prewriting discussions through writing and assessment. They are:

  • Lesson 1: Focus. Introduces readers to the concept that books can influence our perception of ourselves and our world.
  • Lesson 2: Inquiry. Provides activities to help readers explore the unique relationship between themselves, an author, and a book.
  • Lesson 3: Application. Provides writing tips to help readers shape informative, persuasive letters.
  • Lesson 4: Assessment. Provides a checklist for editing and rewriting their letters for grammatical correctness and originality.


Teachers have found LAL a valuable classroom project. Each year, the Illinois Center for the Book receives letters from teachers testifying how the program’s theme, guidelines and teaching activities dovetail with Common Core State Standards as well as the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Literacy Association Standards.

The deadline to enter is December 15, 2022. Class sets are welcome. One winner per level receives a cash prize and a plaque signed by the Illinois Secretary of State. Teachers of the winners receive a certificate and a cash prize for the school to purchase books for the school library. All Runners-Up receive certificates in time for end of the year programs.

For more information about LAL, go to: For questions, contact Bonnie Matheis at


By the Illinois Reading Council

Don't forget to take advantage of some upcoming PD opportunities planned throughout Illinois. 


  • October 1, 2022: Will County Reading Council will host The Great Big Book Swap from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm at Lewis University, De La Salle Halle, Room 250, 1 University Parkway, Romeoville, Illinois.

  • October 4, 2022: MID-State Reading Council will host The High Five Habit Book Study from 4:30 to 5:30 pm at Gill Street Bar & Restaurant, 3002B Gill Street, Bloomington, Illinois.

  • October 5, 2022: IRC Webinar on Creating Passionate Nonfiction Readers with Melissa Stewart from 7:00 to 8:00 pm via Zoom Webinar.

  • October 6, 2022: Sauk Valley Reading Council will host One-To-One with iPads and Chromebook -- Now What? with Sheila Ruh and Sherry Sejnost from 7:00 to 8:00 pm via online event.

  • October 11, 2022:  Suburban Council of IRA (SCIRA) will host the SCIRA Fall Conference with Rachael Gabriel from 6:00 to 7:30 pm via Zoom.

  • October 18, 2022:  IRC Workshop Series on High-Impact Phonics Routines with Wiley  Blevins from 6:00 to 8:00 pm via Zoom Webinar.

  • October 19, 2022: IRC Workshop Series on Who's Afraid of Childhood? with Betsy Bird and Anastasia Higginbotham from 6:00 to 8:00 pm via Zoom Webinar.

  • October 23, 2022: IRC Book Clubs will read, reflect on, and respond to Textured Teaching: A Framework for Culturally Sustaining Practices by Lorena Escoto Germán and/or a pairing of Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi along with Stamped (For Kids) adapted by Sonja Cherry-Paul.

  • October 25, 2022: IRC Workshop Series on Structuring Your Dialogic Curriculum with Matthew R. Kay from 6:00 to 8:00 pm via Zoom Webinar.

  • October 25, 2022: West Suburban Reading Council will host Book Gossip from 6:00 to 8:00 pm via Zoom.

  • October 28, 2022: East Central-EIU Reading Council will host Tales & Treats from 4:30 to 5:30 pm at at Eastern Illinois University Buzzard Hall, 1920 9th Street, Charleston, Illinois.

To view the full IRC Events Calendar, please visit the IRC Website.


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