Saturday, June 11, 2016

Who actually gets summer off?

I once had a friend who commented that it must be nice to be a teacher because I get my summers off. I politely smiled and joked, but I also felt the need to clarify for her that I do not ever actually have a summer "off", nor am I ever really done working at 3:30 during the school year. After a little "schooling", she laughed and mumbled an apology, but I wondered if she really understood the dedication educators have to our careers.

What so many people outside of education do not understand is that teachers may be working with students between 8:00 and 3:30, but our time away from them is just as filled with all the tasks that make that time productive. My own son once told me he would never be a teacher because it is too much work! Yikes. Don't get me wrong, I love teaching, and the outside work doesn't bother me. It only hurts my soul when we get vilified in the press or when people make thoughtless comments because the outside world doesn't see how fortunate I am to work with such amazing people who work hard to build tomorrow's leaders.

Many educators use the summer to take classes and attend workshops, and we are fortunate to live in a time where we can take advantage of these opportunities with webinars, online coursework, as well as face to face events. 

Several local councils throughout Illinois will be hosting a plethora of professional development opportunities to help teachers in the classroom improve their literacy practices. Check out for a full calendar!

Judson University is offering Literacy in Motion June 21 - 24 a 4 day conference featuring Chris Lehman, Ellin Oliver Keane, Tim Rasinski, Karen and Brian Tucker, Mary Casanova, and Gary Schmidt.

Still not enough...well of course...don't forget about International Literacy Association's Annual Conference in Boston from July 9 - 11. I can't even begin to list the HUGE opportunities to learn about literacy and meet some of the world's best authors and researchers. 

Although the IRC book club is underway, it isn't too late to hop on board and read and reflect to Reading Nonfiction: Notice & Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst.  Even if you don't participate in the book club, it is still a great summer read that will kick off your schoolyear with new ways to help students think critically while reading nonfiction.

Finally, it isn't too early to start preparing for next year! International Literacy Day is September 8 (you can find more information at the ILA website) and Pernille Ripp has announced the books for the Global Read Aloud to begin this October. Check out her site, join the event and start reading! You can find information for GRA at

Speaking of prepping....don't forget to fill out your paperwork to attend the Illinois Reading Council's annual conference.

Reading:  Unlocking Opportunities
September 29-October 1, 2016

Peoria, Illinois

Thousands of literacy advocates, educators, and researchers will gather from September 29-October 1, 2016 for the 49th Annual IRC Conference, Reading:  Unlocking Opportunities, at the Peoria Civic Center and Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette Hotel in Peoria, Illinois.   

Friday, February 5, 2016

Free Webinar

The Illinois Reading Council and the Wisconsin State Reading Association are pleased to offer the FREE Webinar series for IRC and WSRA members in 2015-2016.  This year's topic is Culturally Responsive Instruction.  Register today for the next webinar at the following link: 
7:00 p.m.   
Teaching for Social Equity in the Literacy Classroom
with Althier Lazar   
  • Description:  Social equity literacy teaching is a model that fuses literacy teaching with concepts of social equity. The webinar will explore each dimension of social equity literacy teaching and will profile teachers whose work reflects this model.
  • Bio:  Althier M. Lazar is professor of Teacher Education at Saint Joseph's University.  Her research focuses on the ways teachers and teacher candidates evolve in their understandings of culture, literacy, and language, and how these understandings translate to social equity literacy teaching.  Her books include: Reconceptualizing Literacy in the New Age of Multiculturalism and Pluralism, 2nd Edition with Patricia Ruggiano Schmidt (2015), Getting to Know Ourselves and Others Through the ABCs:  A Journey Toward Intercultural Understanding, co-edited with Claudia Finkbeiner (2015), Bridging Literacy and Equity: The Guide to Social Equity Teaching (2012), with co-authors Patricia Edwards and Gwendolyn Thompson McMillon, Practicing What We Teach:  How Culturally Responsive Literacy Classrooms Make a Difference (2011), with co-editor Patricia Ruggiano Schmidt and Learning to Be Literacy Teachers in Urban Schools: Stories of Growth and Change (2004). She has published numerous articles and book chapters on the topics of teacher growth and urban literacy teaching. Dr. Lazar received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.  
Register today for the upcoming webinar!
Best wishes,
Illinois Reading Council
203 Landmark Drive, Suite B
Normal, IL 61761
Phone: (888) 454-1341 FREE
Fax: (309) 454-3512

Friday, August 28, 2015

Welcome to Our New Blog

As we kick off another school year, teachers make up to 2,000 decisions a day in an effort to meet all of their students' needs. The joy of technology is that we have access to a plethora of resources that will help us make all those decisions. The challenge though is weeding through the glut to find the right resource for the right standard and student need. Many of us have found that lesson planning has gotten more complicated as we look for material that is not only engaging, but also research based strategies addressing Common Core Standards.   Never fear....IRC is coming to your rescue!

Illinois Reading Council's Educational Initiatives and Professional Development is tasked with promoting understanding of and advocating for effective literacy practices. As the committee members worked together, we realized that we could add another layer of support for educators by creating a blog as a repository for resources, book reviews,  and timely topics. Our goal is to help do some of that weeding for you. We will share a variety of articles, links, videos, and websites to help you integrate effective literacy instruction and assessment into your classrooms, districts, and communities.

With that in mind - here are a few "cool tools" for the teachers who are making the switch to a one-one environment or just looking for ways to incorporate technology skills with literacy activities

Edublogs -
Kidblog –

Blogging can improve students’ writing skills and build their confidence as writers. Students are often more conscientious as writers because their writing is public (or at least partially public depending on how you set your privacy settings) and take ownership of their pieces. Both of these sites offer free or paid versions and are very user-friendly.

News ELA

Finding informational texts that are engaging and at the reading level of your students can be challenging. News ELA not only has a great variety of current news articles, but you can adjust the lexile levels so you can differentiate for your students while having them read the same content. Izzit offers a variety of articles, videos, activities, and kid zone for students to explore. Wonderopolis offers articles on a variety of topics (great for STEM) with support for vocabulary work and extension opportunities.

No Red Ink
 Vocabulary Spelling City

Both of these sites use games and practice in spelling and conventions as well as building vocabulary.

 Speaking and Listening

Do you have kids who love to hear themselves? These sites are great resources for students to record themselves making a presentation. Teachers can also use it as part of a flipped classroom or to use in differentiated stations. These are very useful for building vocabulary, background knowledge, and many other literacy skills embedded with speaking and language.

We hope you enjoy our new blog and add to it by leaving comments and sharing your own resources or questions.

Thank you for your dedication and passion to our children.