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Volume 35, Number 4 In This Issue: BOARD BRIEFS President’s Column . . . . . . . . 1, 4 IRA State Coordinator . . . . . . . 2-3 IRC ACTIVITIES 2012 Hall of Fame . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 2012 Awards and Grants . . . . . 8-9 Membership Feedback . . . . . . . . 9 2012 Conference Highlights . . . 13 FORMS 2013 Program Proposal for IRC Conference . . 10-12 FEATURES Farewell from Arlene Pennie . . . . 3 36th Day of Reading . . . . . . . . . . 5 Grant Makes Dreams Reality . . . 6 The Parent Project . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Heroes of the Holocaust . . . . . . . 7 Aging, Education, and Service Summit . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Burley School Wins Award . . . . 14 Reading Made Simple . . . . . . . . 15 ISLMA/LBSS Grant . . . . . . . . . . 16 IRCJ Teaching Tips . . . . . . . . . . 16 Newspaper in Education . . . . . . 16 Meet an IRC Researcher . . . . . . 17 ISLMA Awards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Illinois Authors’ Corner . . . . . . 18 Cool Studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19-20

2013 IRC Conference March 14-16, 2013

Registration and Housing will be available in the fall!

May 2012

This is my last Communicator article as President of IRC, so I thought long and hard about what I wanted to include in my last message to you. As luck would have it, it was right before my eyes, and it was a direct result of the latest IRC Conference, Literacy in the Land of Lincoln. Thanks to the wonderful planning of Pat Braun, IRC the constant diligence of the IRC office, and the dedication of all of the committee members, President Cindy Wilson volunteers, and countless others, once again we had a marvelous conference of which we can all be proud. And finally, we were fortunate enough to convince Gary Paulsen that he should be in Illinois instead of running the Iditarod. Even though I embarrassed myself by telling him that Hatchet had made me want to run away and live in a tree (wrong book, dopey), either he was kind enough not to correct me, or I mumbled and he didn’t hear me clearly and just smiled and nodded. But of course I bought Hatchet that day because I could get him to sign it, and I ran right home and started reading it. It was in that book that I realized what I wanted to include in this article, although many of you have probably heard this from me in one form or another already. Here’s the thing: we all go through revolutions throughout our lives, large revolutions and small and in-between ones, sometimes not even noticing until later that they’ve happened. In Hatchet, Brian is the survivor of a plane crash out in the wilderness, and he uses his hatchet to provide for himself. He has an epiphany one day when he realizes he has gone through one of these revolutions: “I am not the same, he thought. I see, I hear differently. He did not know when the change started, but it was there...” (page 105). A few pages later, another incident makes him repeat that “He was not the same and would never be again like he had been” (page 123). These words ring true for me and my experiences with the Illinois Reading Council. Although it has happened much more slowly for me than it did for Brian–over the course of about 11 years–I am not the same as I was when I first discovered IRC, and I will never again be the same. But I didn’t wake up one day and realize I had to figure out how to catch fish or flag down a rescue plane or I would die; fortunately the stakes weren’t quite that high. And I didn’t see it coming, didn’t expect it at all. I didn’t really realize there had been a transformation in my life until recently, and when I read Hatchet, I understood what had happened. I am new, and it is because of the Illinois Reading Council.

Continued on page 4

The Illinois Reading Council Communicator

IRA State Coordinator

You can achieve anything you want in life if you have the courage to dream it, the intelligence to make a realistic plan, and the will to see that plan through to the end. ~ Sidney A. Friedman

Roberta Sejnost

Here it is May, the end of another school year, and almost the end of our IRC year. And, what a great year it has been. The quote above truly summarizes what I have seen as I have joined IRC members in a myriad of activities and successes this year. Every council I visited and every event I attended bespoke great achievements that came through local council members who had the courage to dream, the intelligence to plan, and the will to carry the plan to success! One only needed to attend the conference in March to see this greatness in detail with so many IRC members and councils the recipients of awards. As IRA State Coordinator, it was a special treat to award 18 Council of Excellence awards. This award, similar to IRA’s Honor Council Award, is given to those councils who exhibit service in a variety of ways across the year. In addition to certificates, each council received a $100.00 check at the Presidents’ Breakfast at the IRC conference. This year’s winners were:

Congratulations to these councils. And more congratulations to Starved Rock, Two Rivers and Will County Reading Councils who placed in the Hall of Councils exhibition! In addition to these honors, it is my great pleasure to announce that 9 of our local councils were awarded Honor Council status by IRA. This is truly a great accomplishment, and these councils will be introduced at the Council Awards Ceremony at the IRA convention in Chicago in May. These councils are: Chicago Area Reading Association East Central-EIU Reading Council Lewis and Clark Reading Council MID-State Reading Council Northern Illinois Reading Council Prairie Area Reading Council South Eastern Reading Council Suburban Council of the International Reading Association Two Rivers Reading Council

“As IRA State Coordinator, it was a special treat to award 18 Council of Excellence awards.”

Black Hawk Reading Council Chicago Area Reading Association East Central-EIU Reading Council Illini Reading Council Illinois Title I Association Illinois Valley Reading Council Lewis and Clark Reading Council MID-State Reading Council Mississippi Valley Reading Council Northern Illinois Reading Council Northwestern Illinois Reading Council Prairie Area Reading Council South Eastern Reading Council Starved Rock Reading Council Two Rivers Reading Council West Suburban Reading Council Western Illinois Reading Council Will County Reading Council 2

And, we are not done: our Illinois Reading Council itself was awarded IRA’s Council of Excellence and the Advocacy Award.

In addition to all this, the dedication to dreams, plans and success is alive and well in Black Hawk, Fox Valley, MIDState, Lewis and Clark, and Western Illinois Reading Councils who were awarded Speaker Grants this year. We are, indeed, a collection of great councils!

Now we need to keep these dreams and plans growing. By the time you receive this issue, you will have elected your officers for 2012-2013. To assure that councils get off to a great start, 5 council leaders as well as IRC committee chairs, regional directors, and executive officers are invited to attend our Annual Leadership Retreat to be held July 11th–13th at Grand Bear Lodge. Registration forms will be available via an email message. This retreat provides councils with comprehensive training and team building and the time they need to have a successful, productive year. There will be breakout sessions for each office; training on developing programs, membership drives, available grants, council awards, Council of Excellence, Honor Council and much, much more. And, as at last year’s retreat, you will be given lots of time to meet with your council as well as other councils to plan, plan and plan! Finally, councils with five officers in attendance will receive a villa for just their council. And Continued on page 3

May 2012

The Illinois Reading Council Communicator IRA State Coordinator Message continued from page 2

this year we have a special treat in our keynote speaker, Josh Stumpenhorst, the 2011-2012 Illinois Teacher of the Year, who will share with us how the Common Core will impact literacy as it relates to the use of technology, especially in the content areas. I am confident you will come away from his message with new ideas on strengthening literacy across Illinois. Speaking of the Common Core, be sure to access the IRC website to complete the brief online survey to provide feedback on ways the RtI/Common Core Committee can provide support during the transition to the Illinois Common Core Standards. Have a marvelous end of the year; see you at Leadership! And, as always, thanks for all you do for IRC, your local councils and the children of Illinois. Yours, Bobbie Sejnost

Mission The mission of the Illinois Reading Council is to provide support and leadership to educators as they promote and teach lifelong literacy.


By Arlene Pennie, IRC Executive Director It is difficult to say good-bye to the wonderful organization that IRC is. I have spent 25 years working with outstanding volunteers who have such a strong interest in literacy. Each of you brings expertise and wonderment about the world of reading and reading education. Your awareness of the needs in reading continually span all ages from newborns to senior citizens. It is and has been gratifying to me each and every year to witness the strength of this organization because of the strength each of you brings to it. My 25 plus years have not been without challenges nor difficult situations. However, those things are quickly erased from my thoughts and are overshadowed by the excellence I witness on a daily basis. I have worked with a number of volunteer organizations but none parallel IRC. When we need volunteers to be officers of councils, you come forward. When we need volunteers to make the IRC Conference successful, you come forward. When we need volunteers to assist at IRA, you come forward. When we need volunteers for anything else, you come forward. It is truly YOU who have made my 25 years enjoyable and productive. One of the most difficult parts of retirement is dealing with the decreased connection with people who have become friends. I have developed friendships across the state that would never have been possible without IRC. I will cherish those friendships for the rest of my life.

Illinois Reading Council 203 Landmark Drive, Suite B Normal, IL 61761 Phone: 888-454-1341 Fax: 309-454-3512 E-Mail: Website: Ning: and join us on Facebook! May 2012

I may be retiring from my position in the IRC Office, but I am not retiring from working with Literacy projects in the future. I already have plans to promote the new and exciting “Illinois Reads� project through my Rotary connections. You have given me a lifetime membership in IRC and lifetime registration for the IRC Conference. Both of those things are dear to my heart and I will not only treasure them, I will use them. Once again, it has been an honor to be part of such a great organization. IRC is, without a doubt, the number one Reading Council in the world. And it is all because of each and every one of you. Thank you for being a part of my life that I will never forget. 3

The Illinois Reading Council Communicator President’s Message continued from page 1

I continued as Director of Membership Development, I had more opportunities to meet wonderful people, realizing that I had found people from all walks of life who were all about literacy, from many different angles.

Years ago, as a new teacher, someone took me to a local reading council event in Danville. I remember it being beneficial, but I was quite lost, and no one followed up with me, so I dropped it and never thought about it again. Then After participating long enough and quietly watching as I taught for over 20 more years, and no one ever mentioned different IRC Presidents went through the cycle of being the Illinois Reading Council or a local council to me elected, planning and running a conference, and then again. It wasn’t until I got to the University of Illinois running the Executive Board and Board of Directors at Springfield as a literacy professor that I discovered meetings, I wondered if there was any way I could ever the Illinois Reading Council Journal quite by accident do what they had done. Oddly enough, someone asked and knew I had to get my students involved. I called me if I were interested in running for President. So I the office in Bloomington, and they hooked me up with went out on a limb and took the plunge. Planning and Pam Nelson, the Director of Student Membership. She implementing the conference was a wonderful experience got me to the conference that year, and I helped with the for me, and opened doors to friendships that I previously Preservice Teacher Pizza Party. As it happened, this also would not have had the opportunity to pursue. I love meant that I had the opportunity to meet several wonderful dealing with details, I love planning, people who were kind, smart, funny, I love problem solving, and I love passionate, and dedicated to the same people: in this way, the conference things that I was. I would find out “Like Brian in Hatchet, I provided me with a veritable feast, later, of course, that these were the am not the same, and it is and I cherish every moment of the Executive Board members, but at the because of the opportunities planning and the conference itself. time, I had no understanding of the afforded me by the Illinois The only worrisome aspect of being structure of the organization. Reading have President was running meetings: What if I made a mistake? What if I At some point the following year, I had a profound impact on said something wrong? What if I did found myself at Leadership, and soon me, and I thank you...” things in the wrong order? What if after, when Pam was elected ViceI hit someone with the gavel? Once President, I was asked to take her place again, though, there is such a level of as Director of Student Membership. support in this organization that even running the meetings First of all, something with a title was almost a foreign was not a fearful situation for me. From the first “Now, concept to me, but I was game, and participated in that how do I open a meeting?” to my having to leave the capacity for a couple of years. Then the Director of last board meeting early, this has also been not only a Membership Development retired and moved to Arizona, painless job but a joyous one. I love seeing everyone at and suddenly, I was being asked if I would be interested in the Friday night and Saturday morning meetings: it is a taking that position. Me? Wait a minute. Another title? vacation for me. Bigger responsibilities? Hmmm. But at that point I had figured out that whoever was on the Executive Board, So as I take on new responsibilities as your Past President, I they were going to be supportive and helpful. Having that am emerging on the other side of being a new IRC member knowledge is what made me agree to the new position–not some 11 years ago to someone with an unparalleled a need for a title or glory or approval. I also discovered, appreciation for mentoring, friendships, professionalism, with this new position, that it was part of my responsibility and camaraderie. I have met people through my affiliation to volunteer to introduce speakers at the conference, and with this organization who will remain dear friends for although I had started out life as one of those kids who the rest of my life. Like Brian in Hatchet, I am not the got in trouble multiple times for being too shy, I found same, and it is because of the opportunities afforded me myself needing to face a Room With A Microphone. I may by the Illinois Reading Council and every member therein have embarrassed myself several times over, but the IRC –whether or not we’ve met yet, you have had a profound membership is quite forgiving, and no one showed up to impact on me, and I thank you, each and every one. lash me with wet noodles, so I breathed a sigh of relief. As 4

May 2012

The Illinois Reading Council Communicator

2012 Hall of Fame Award By Susan Cisna, IRC Past President

Roxanne Owens received the Illinois Reading Council’s 2012 Hall of Fame Award at the annual IRC Conference. As an active member of the IRC for many years, Roxanne has held numerous offices in the Illinois Reading Council, in the Illinois Council for Affective Reading Education (ICARE), and in the College Instructors of Reading Professionals (CIRP). She currently co-chairs the Author Autographing Committee for the annual IRC Conference and chairs the IRC Prairie State Award Committee. Roxanne also collaborates closely with ICARE to offer the annual book project titled ABC’s of Illinois: About the Beautiful Communities of Illinois–A Book For Illinois Students, By Illinois Students. This statewide literacy project has motivated children to read and write since 2008. Roxanne is highly respected by her peers at DePaul University where she is the Chair of the Teacher Education Department. Roxanne has received many honors and awards including the DePaul University Excellence in Teaching Award. She is a well-known presenter not only in Illinois, but also in other states and in Europe. She has keynoted several conferences as well as participated in panels focusing on reading and writing. In addition to her presentations, she has written professional articles in refereed and edited publications including the Illinois Reading Council Journal, Educational Leadership, Teaching K-8, Instructor, Reading Today, and a variety of other journals. Please join IRC in congratulating Roxanne Owens!

An Exclusively Secondary Literacy Conference For All Teachers & Administrators of Grades 6-12 Tinley Park Convention Center, Tinley Park, IL

36th Day of Reading Saturday, November 3, 2012 Featured Speakers:

 GORDON KORMAN  Young Adult Author, TV Writer, Journalist  Author: Pop; The Juvie Three; Born to Rock; Son of the Mob; Schooled; Son of the Mob: Hollywood Hustle  ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers; IRA YA Choice; Notable Social Studies Books for Young People, ALA Best Book for Teens, ALA Popular Paperbacks for YA

 CAROL JAGO  Adolescent Literacy Expert  Director: California Reading & Literature Project at UCLA

 English teacher in middle and high school for over 32 years

 Past President NCTE  Author: With Rigor for All Papers, Papers, Papers Cohesive Writing: Why Concept is Not Enough Come to Class: Lessons for High School Writers Literature & Composition: Reading, Writing, Thinking

& four books on multicultural authors in NCTE’s High School Literature series.

Pre-Conference Workshop Friday, November 2, 2012 Come to a special all-day workshop with Carol Jago “Implementing the Common Core— From Standards to Practice” Workshop enrollment limited to 100

For more information contact:

Nominations for the 2013 IRC Hall of Fame Award are due November 1, 2012.

Barb Chrz-White Terry McHugh

To find out how you can nominate individuals from your area for IRC Awards, please visit the IRC Website at

Team Discounts Available CPS Vendor # 80827

May 2012


The Illinois Reading Council Communicator

IRC Grants Make Dreams Become Reality By Juanita Scott

What instructional scenarios do you visualize when you of setting was culminated by having the students reconstruct wander off into that dreamland of perfect classroom the Chicago skyline in the hallways of Churchill Junior High instruction? If you have not already travelled there please School. give yourself a little time to think about your personal what if I could dreams for your students. These dreams, more than While studying the books Sahara Special and Vive La Paris likely, will include expenses that schools simply do not have students in the 6th grade accelerated reading class completed the funds to cover. Why not take the time to write an IRC character maps. World History classes used material in Mrs. grant to help you bring your best instructional dreams into Codell’s book Vive La Paris as an introduction to genocide. reality? You do have the opportunity to bring that favorite Math classes used Mrs. Codell’s picture book Fairly Fairy author to your school or classroom, have the funds to buy Tales to design math problems complete with illustrations. books to start up that book club you have been dreaming Students wrote poems based on Frank O’Hara’s poem of for years, or make the family reading night actually Autobiographia Literaria used in Sahara Special. These are happen. IRC wants to help you offer the very best literacy a few examples of skills students studied during this event. experiences to Illinois students. IRC values our students and exceptional reading instruction as much The 6th grade teachers took advantage as you do. Write that grant to help fund of this unique opportunity to build an your dreams! It is possible that you exceptional interdisciplinary unit and “Write that grant could find your instructional dreams complete their yearly professional to help fund your becoming a reality. I did! growth requirement. This opportunity gave the teaching team time to examine dreams! It is possible Students at Churchill Junior High future Common Core Requirements that you could find School in Galesburg, Illinois had that will be implemented in the 2014an extra special learning experience 2015 school year. The team diligently your instructional thanks to a generous grant from the applied the standing Illinois State dreams becoming a Illinois Reading Council. Students Standards to this unit while aligning to were given the opportunity to meet future Common Core Standards. reality. I did!” with award winning author, Esme Raji Codell. They studied her novels and On top of all of this, IRC grants also short stories before getting to meet the author up close and helped fund the Churchill Junior High Book Club for parents personal. Mrs. Codell spent a February day at Churchill and students. The grant helped purchase books for parents Junior High School presenting to small groups. and students to read together. We held monthly meetings where our lively book discussions allowed adults and students Students in 6th and 7th grades participated in writing, revising, to share the thoughts, emotions, ideas, and life decisions that illustrating, and publishing their own hard back books. This are touched by reading. We had the very special opportunity project allowed the students to understand the process of to witness how the thoughtful reading of books at any age authentic publishing. Several students got to share their will make a difference in the way we look at the world, our choices, and the way we see others. books with Mrs. Codell during her visit. She even took the time to critique a few of the books with students. She had high praise for the wonderful use of literary tools used by these I would like to extend my gratitude to the Illinois Reading students. The opportunity to compare notes with a respected Council for making this literacy event possible for our students, parents, and faculty. I would also like to thank my author allowed students to experience a unique authentic learning environment that they will not soon forget. administration for the overwhelming support they provide. In all honesty, it is important to acknowledge that I learn th While preparing for this visit 6 grade students read Sahara as much as my students during these outstanding literacy Special by Mrs. Codell. They studied the literary devices events. I encourage you to write an IRC grant. Your dreams used by Mrs. Codell, characterization methods, and themes of just might become a reality. Thank you IRC for allowing her books. Students practiced answering extended response Illinois teachers and students to experience these amazing style questions using material from Codell novels. The study opportunities. 6

May 2012

The Illinois Reading Council Communicator

The Parent Project By Jennifer Schuh

How many times have we teachers bemoaned the fact that our students’ parents just don’t seem to understand what goes on in schools? They say they don’t know how to help their children at home, but we feel like we have given them all the information they should need at open house or parentteacher conferences. Where is the disconnect? Why do so many parents still seem so confused about what we expect of them? The idea for the Parent Project started with the goal of bringing parents and teachers together to create a nonthreatening space where we could have an open discussion about what goes on in schools. We wanted parents to feel encouraged to ask questions, share ideas with other parents, and develop a greater sense of community with others in our school. For four weeks, a group of parents met together at our school to hear presentations on different topics, including ideas for reading with their children at home, writing at home, fun ways to practice spelling words, and helping their children with math. Funds from an Illinois Reading Council Literacy Support Grant made it possible for us to provide several high-quality children’s books for each family each week that we met together.

By Mary Lindig

Never Give Up: A Holocaust Remembrance Unit funded by the Illinois Reading Council focused on the strength of the human spirit while empowering empathy within students. Until recently, students in our eighth grade literature classes only read The Diary of Anne Frank, the play. Callous comments revealed that more primary sources were needed to help students empathize with victims of the Holocaust.

Throughout the four-week unit all seventh and eighth grade students and staff read the selection, Sevek the Boy Who Refused to Die by Sidney Finkel, a Holocaust survivor from Champaign, IL. Students then wrote poems and letters to Mr. Finkel in preparation for his visit. Students and staff worked to generate a list of phrases to build an empathetic vocabulary that goes beyond, “I’m sorry.” In addition to reading Sevek, eighth grade students More information about also participated in literature circles IRC Literacy Support using the following titles: Because of Romek by David Faber, All But My Grants is available at Life by Gerda Wiseman Klein, and The Diary of Anne Frank, both the real diary and the adapted play version. under “Awards &


One of the unique aspects of the Parent Project was that we wanted to foster understanding by having parents actually do the things we were talking about rather than just talking about them. The IRC grant also provided a journal and pen for each participant, so parents were able to experience writing journal entries about our activities and responses to read-alouds. At the conclusion of the program, parents reported that their children loved the books provided by IRC and that they hoped we would offer this type of program again! What we expect from our students is much different than what was expected of their parents when they were students themselves. By being open and honest with parents and encouraging a collaborative relationship with them, we can set more students on the path to success. May 2012

Empower Empathy Through Heroes of the Holocaust

Students in the AP literature class then organized A Holocaust Remembrance Week in coordination with the National Days of Remembrance the week of April 16-20th. The activities raised funds to allow our school to make a donation to the United States Holocaust Museum. Activities included sales of links of love with personal messages of tolerance as well as sales of a Holocaust Remembrance United We Stand Wrist Band. Finally, students organized a book drive for Books for Africa as a way of ending acts of genocide in war torn areas. The unit culminated with a moving presentation by Sidney Finkel, the author of Sevek: The Boy Who Refused to Die. Students honored Mr. Finkel by reading their compassionate poems, heartfelt letters, and our choir even dedicated a song related to the Holocaust at the conclusion of his presentation. Staff and students were deeply moved by his first-hand account of the Holocaust. One reader wrote in a letter to Mr. Finkel, “to many of the students at my school you will remain in our hearts as a true hero.” 7

The Illinois Reading Council Communicator

Awards & Grants at the IRC Conference March 15-17, 2012

Adult & Family Literacy Grants Sarah Jecks – Black Hawk Reading Council

The IRC Adult and Family Literacy Committee will award up to $750 to develop and implement projects to help address adult literacy issues. Literacy projects that involve adults or adults with their children will be considered for funding.

Barack Obama Literacy Fund Award Christine Keller, Centerville Elementary School, Cahokia Amy Orvis, Maria Montessori Public School, Rockford

This award was established from a $40,000 donation from Senator Barack Obama. An endowment was established with the interest allocated to an annual literacy award given to create classroom libraries for African-American middle-school students to have access to “culturally relevant” books. Cahokia and Rockford, Illinois were chosen as this year’s target area.

Runner-up Libraries were awarded to: Lisa Allen, Huffman Elementary School Diane Chalberg, Centerville Elementary School Crystal Haselhorst, Triad Middle School Angie Limestall, Lalumier Elementary School Erin Andrist, MacIntosh Elementary School Nicole Gasparini, West Middle School Calla Stroh, Steward Elementary School Sherry Swain, Lincoln Middle School Michaele Till, Lathrop Elementary Christopher Watts, Washington Academy Katie Wolff, Rolling Green Elementary School

Gene Cramer ICARE for Reading Award Michelle Goodwine

The Illinois Council for Affective Reading Education recognizes an educator who has performed in an outstanding manner to show concern for the affective domain and who has promoted lifelong reading habits among students.

Hall of Fame Award Roxanne Owens

This award recognizes significant contributions to reading or reading education.

Illinois Reading Educator of the Year Award K-5: Sarah Rabe 6-12: Valerie Cawley Reading Specialist: Todd Hartman College Instructor: Linda Reven

This award recognizes outstanding teachers who make contributions in promoting literacy among students, colleagues, and school communities.

IRC Service Award Carol Owles Cheryl Walker

This award recognizes the most deserving individuals who have made outstanding contributions for IRC.


Legislator of the Year Award Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon Representative Roger L. Eddy, District 109

This award recognizes outstanding contributions toward advocating literacy and education in Illinois.

Parents & Reading Award Jeanette Brosam

This award recognizes an IRC member who promotes and supports parent involvement in children’s reading.

Prairie State Award for Excellence in Writing for Children Carolyn Crimi

This award recognizes an Illinois children’s/young adult author whose body of work demonstrates excellence, engenders a love of literature, and promotes lifelong literacy.

Council of Excellence Award Black Hawk Reading Council Chicago Area Reading Association East Central-EIU Reading Council Illini Reading Council Illinois Title I Association Illinois Valley Reading Council Lewis and Clark Reading Council MID-State Reading Council Mississippi Valley Reading Council Northern Illinois Reading Council Northwestern Illinois Reading Council Prairie Area Reading Council South Eastern Reading Council Starved Rock Reading Council Two Rivers Reading Council West Suburban Reading Council Western Illinois Reading Council Will County Reading Council

This program recognizes local and special interest councils that organize and conduct well-rounded programs serving the council members, the community, and the state association.

Councils Awarded Speaker Grants Black Hawk Reading Council Fox Valley Reading Council Lewis and Clark Reading Council MID-State Reading Council Western Illinois Reading Council Councils Awarded Legislative Liaison Award South Eastern Reading Council Southern Illinois Reading Council

May 2012

The Illinois Reading Council Communicator Hall of Councils 1st Place – Starved Rock Reading Council 2nd Place – Will County Reading Council 3rd Place – Two Rivers Reading Council

The Hall of Councils at the conference allows the councils an opportunity to advertise their activities and accomplishments and to promote membership with a display.

Council Anniversaries 55 Years: Chicago Area Reading Association MID-State Reading Council 50 Years: Northwestern Illinois Reading Council 20 Years: Prairie Area Reading Council Static Stick Decal Design Contest 1st Place – Sara Stehlik, 6th Grader, Columbia Middle School, Columbia, Illinois 2nd Place – Anna Hulstedt, 4th Grader, Washington Academy, Belvidere, Illinois rd 3 Place – Holden Elardi-White, 6th Grader, Murphysboro Middle School, Murphysboro Students in grade 4, 5, or 6 are encouraged to create an original design promoting reading. The winning design is printed on static stick decals.

Honorable Mention Winners were: Nikki Menig, 6th, Zion Lutheran School, Marengo Luke Watson, 6th, Columbia Middle School, Columbia Melissa Martinez, 6th, Gregory Middle School, Naperville Mallory Martin, 6th, Our Saviour School, Jacksonville Abby Hendrickson, 6th, Bernotas Middle School, Crystal Lake Oliver Mate, 5th, St. Joseph Catholic School, Manhattan

Other Awards Announced 2012 Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award The Maze Runner by James Dashner 2012 Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ (4-8) Book Award Powerless by Matthew Cody 2012 Bluestem 3-5 Readers’ Choice Award 1st Place – Adventures in Cartooning by James Sturm 2nd Place – Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar rd 3 Place – World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney 2012 Monarch K-3 Readers’ Choice Book Award 1st Place – Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton   2nd Place – Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krause Rosenthal 3rd Place – Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein IRA Exemplary Reading Program Award Augustus H. Burley Elementary School, Chicago, Illinois

The IRA Exemplary Reading Program Award recognizes outstanding reading and language arts programs at all grade levels (elementary, middle, and high school). Each state or province can choose one winning school.

WANTED: Council Membership Feedback The IRC RtI/Common Core Ad-Hoc Committee is looking for feedback on ways the committee can provide support during the transition to the Illinois Common Core State Standards and implementation of RtI. The committee would appreciate IRC members completing a brief survey via IRC’s website or directly at The information gathered will assist the committee in providing strong needbased support to IRC membership.

May 2012


2013 PROGRAM PROPOSAL Illinois Reading Council Conference March 14-16, 2013


Proposals may be submitted for small group sessions. • SMALL GROUP SESSIONS will be scheduled for 60 minutes. Presenters desiring more time may request a double session.


• Proposals that emphasize interaction across disciplines, interaction across roles, new issues or topics, innovative or novel ways of viewing traditional issues, topics, materials or methods and evidence of familiarity with current practice and/or research will be given priority. • Proposals that promote commercial materials or programs will not be accepted. • Proposals that contribute to the achievement of an overall program balance in the range of topics, the grade levels covered, and the professional and geographic distribution of the participants will be given priority. • Proposals must be typed, legible, and complete. The Program Committee reserves the right to disqualify incomplete or late proposals.


• Teachers, researchers, librarians, administrators, and others interested in promoting reading and related literacy areas are encouraged to submit program proposals. • As a professional, nonprofit organization, the Illinois Reading Council is unable to provide honoraria to program participants or to reimburse for materials, travel, meals or hotel expenses. • All presenters whose program proposals have been approved must pre-register and pay conference fees no later than the last day designated for pre-registration (February 1, 2013). If not, name and presentation may be removed from the final 2013 Conference program due to printing deadlines. • The person submitting the proposal must receive advance consent from each listed presentation associate. • Each presentation room will be set with either an overhead or LCD projector and screen. All other audio-visual equipment is the responsibility of the presenter(s). • Proposals must be submitted online at or postmarked no later than September 1, 2012. Each person submitting a proposal will be sent an acknowledgment by email when the proposal is received. Future correspondence will also be sent by email. • All applicants will be notified of the Program Committee’s decisions by December 1, 2012. It is the responsibility of the person submitting the proposal to relay the committee’s decision to each presentation associate listed on the program. Individuals seeking conference information should contact:

Illinois Reading Council 203 Landmark Drive, Suite B Normal, IL 61761 Phone: 309-454-1341 Email: Toll Free: 888-454-1341 Web: Fax: 309-454-3512 Ning:

Submit Program Proposals Online at!

2013 PROGRAM PROPOSAL Illinois Reading Council Conference March 14-16, 2013

Please type or print all information.



Name (Last)___________________________________ (First)_________________________________________


City________________________________________ State______________ Zip_______________________

Telephone: Work____________________________ Home________________________________________

Position and/or Title___________________________________________________________________________

School/District/Professional Affiliation____________________________________________________________

Work Address______________________________________ City___________________ State___________




Name (Last)____________________________________ (First)__________________________________________

School/District/Professional Affiliation____________________________________________________________

City__________________________________________ State______________ Zip_________________________

Phone______________________________________ Email________________________________________

Name (Last)___________________________________ (First)_________________________________________

School/District/Professional Affiliation____________________________________________________________

City__________________________________________ State______________ Zip_________________________

Phone______________________________________ Email________________________________________


STRAND NUMBER ________________________ All proposals should relate to one of the strands below:


Please list the names, complete addresses (including zip code), telephone numbers, and institutional affiliations and addresses of the presentation associates. Please secure advance permission from each individual. A separate sheet with this information may be attached.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Literacy Skills (fluency, word identification, comprehension, vocabulary) Literature Studies Extending Literacy through Speaking and Listening Extending Literacy through Writing Technology in the Classroom Diversity (multicultural, multiple intelligences, gender issues, ELL, gifted, at-risk) Coordinating/Administering a Reading Program Adolescent Literacy

9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.

Literacy Initiatives (inclusion, teaming, literacy coaching, RtI) Research-Based Practice Standards (CCSS), Assessment, and Evaluation Early Childhood and Emergent Literacy Literacy Across the Curriculum Administration Title I Adult and Family Literacy Library Instruction Visual and Critical Literacy


SESSION LENGTH: Sessions will be 60 minutes in length. Presenters desiring more time may request a double session.


INTENDED AUDIENCE (Check each category that applies.) _______ Educators of Pre-Schoolers (PreK-K) _______ Educators of Special Needs Students _______ Educators of Primary Students (K-3) _______ Educators of Adults _______ Educators of Intermediate Students (4-6) _______ University Professors/Adjunct Instructors _______ Educators of Middle/Junior High Students (6-9) _______ Administrators _______ Educators of High School Students (9-12) _______ Librarians _______ Educators of English Language Learners _______ All


SPONSORSHIP: If a conference exhibitor is sponsoring the presentation, please indicate the name of the company.


AUDIO VISUAL EQUIPMENT: Check AV preferences below. Each presentation room will be set with either an overhead or LCD projector and screen. Other equipment must be supplied by the presenter.

_______ LCD Projector/Screen _______ Table and Chairs

Please remember that all sponsored presenter(s) must be registered through the exhibitor registration packet and that your session may not promote specific products or packaged programs.

_______ Overhead Projector/Screen _______ Display Table

_______ Internet Connection _______ No AV Needed

VIII. TITLE OF PRESENTATION (as you wish it to appear in the program book; please be succinct) IX.


Describe the content of the program in 20-35 words. The abstract must be clearly stated and reflect the actual presentation.

In accordance with IRA and IRC policy, program participants will not be reimbursed for any expenses by the Illinois Reading Council. I understand that presenters must pre-register for the conference by February 1, 2013. If not, names and presentation may be removed from the final IRC conference program due to printing deadlines. I also understand that only one projector (LCD or overhead) and screen will be provided and that the printing of handouts is the responsibility of the presenters.

Signature of Person Submitting Proposal




Proposals may be submitted online at or mail one copy of completed proposal postmarked no later than September 1, 2012 to: Illinois Reading Council 203 Landmark Drive, Suite B Normal, IL 61761 To help prevent scheduling conflicts, please identify all presenters listed in this proposal who are also included in other proposals.


____________________________ ____________________________

Person Submitting Other Proposal

____________________________ ____________________________

The Illinois Reading Council Communicator

Literacy in the Land of Lincoln Becomes Reality By Pat Braun, 2012 Conference Chair

The 44th Annual Illinois Reading Council Conference began as a dream: a dream that teachers, librarians, professors, book lovers, lovers of book lovers, sellers of books, authors, illustrators, and all people interested in literacy would gather in Springfield, Illinois, the capital of the Great State of Illinois. They would gather in order to read, write, listen, talk, think, plan, collaborate, learn, share, motivate, inspire and celebrate literacy in the great land. It was a dream come true.

Inspired by one of the greatest readers, writers, and speakers of all times, the plan for the conference included collaboration with the Lincoln Museum and Library, the Vachel Lindsay Home, the Springfield Convention Center, the Hilton, the Abraham Lincoln Hotel, and many others.

Art work for the conference was inspired by the minting of the special Lincoln pennies, and designed by Joel Heintz.

2,700 conference attendees went to over 400 presentations. Special highlights of this year’s conference included the poetry coffee house at the Vachel Lindsay Home, Storytelling with Donna Stone and Linda Tammen, the Illinois Authors Luncheon, author visits, The Lincoln Banquet and Those Funny Little People.

What started out as a dream, a dream to gather adults interested in the literacy development of young and old, became a reality because volunteers and staff worked hard getting the conference ready, exhibitors and presenters prepared materials and ideas, Springfield’s finest hosted the conference, and so many Illinoisans and friends of Illinoisans participated in the events of the March conference.

For sure, President Abraham Lincoln would be proud and pleased with the level of Literacy in the Land of Lincoln.

May 2012


The Illinois Reading Council Communicator

Aging, Education & Service Summit By Pat Braun

On September 26, 2011, the Summit on Aging, Education and Service connected younger, older and middle generations to discuss the preparation of a five-year plan for mobilizing older generations. This plan is to help address community needs for all ages including how ordinary people in communities and neighborhoods throughout Illinois can contribute to reading and literacy. Many aging, education and service leaders shared information from across the State of Illinois. Cindy Wilson and Pat Braun from the Illinois Reading Council were among these representatives. They described the IRC services available that support reading and literacy in Illinois as well as the state of reading in Illinois. During the summit, Illinois organization representatives in attendance worked together to explore specifics on the issue of career and college readiness and set goals for addressing the needs of our aging population who wish to be valued. The summit participants also met to begin to develop recommendations for the Five-Year Plan. The workshops targeted education, healthy aging, intergenerational efforts, faith-based organizations, and the media. Preliminary recommendations target three priorities in Illinois: education success, healthy lifestyles, and independence of older generations, so they can continue to contribute their talents, resources, and wisdom. The driving force behind the FiveYear Plan is service. The action steps for the Five-Year Plan include: 1) Building Awareness of the Needs and Resources of all Generations; 2) Getting Involved and Getting Others Involved; 3) Building Collaborative Partnerships to Connect Needs and Resources; and 4) Supporting Intergenerational Policy. For more information about the summit and recommendations given, please visit the Generations Serving Generations website at

L to R: Cindy Wilson, President and Pat Braun, Vice President, Illinois Reading Council; Jennifer Foster, Director, Adult Education, Illinois Community College Board; Cyndy Colletti, Director, Illinois State Library Literacy Office; Jason Leahy, Executive Director, Illinois Principals Association; and Susie Morrison, Illinois State Board of Education.


Burley School Wins Award By Helen Bryant, IRA Exemplary Reading Program Award Committee Member

Augustus H. Burley Elementary School wins the 2012 International Reading Association’s Exemplary Reading Program Award for the state of Illinois. IRA’s goal for the award is to recognize and promote outstanding reading programs in schools throughout North America. It is the mission of Augustus H. Burley School to develop and nurture readers who will continue to lead literate lives beyond the doors of the school. All students experience literature-rich instruction that is intentional in fostering a love of reading and the habits of real readers. Burley’s self-authored curriculum selection of authentic, global texts, and ongoing professional development create a program that reaches every reader. Literacy outcomes are aligned with their goals, continuously assessed and analyzed and adapted to students needs. As students develop their identities as readers, technology plays a critical role. Burley teachers have developed purposeful strategies for integrating technology thoughtfully and effectively into literacy instruction. Through the study of literature, students grow as individuals and find their own voices. Students become effective and affective readers, writers, critical thinkers, and responsible members of society. Conversation, collaboration, and meaningful inquiry provide students with tools necessary to build deep understanding of literature and doing so, to explore their humanity. They believe literature is much more than a subject to be studied: it is the lens through which the themes of community, society, and civilization are revealed and examined. Burley is a 115-year-old school located in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. Sixteen years ago, Burley was a failing school with 350 students, of which 25% were reading at or above grade level. After intense reflection and data analysis, Burley teachers and administration developed the Foundation for Literacy: Language Arts Curriculum, and the transformation began. Currently, 91.5% of the students are reading at or above grade level, with 53.3% exceeding the standard including special needs students and English language learners. More importantly, all 570 students in the diverse pre-kindergarten through eighth grade population are avid readers. Burley is a dynamic and thriving school. May 2012

The Illinois Reading Council Communicator

Reading Made Simple

By Heather Harder, President of IRC College Instructors of Reading Professionals (CIRP) and Associate Professor at Concordia University Chicago

Einstein was known for his brilliance and for his ability to take very complex concepts and make them simple and understandable. Reading is a complex process, but in order to help students and teachers understand the essence of reading it helps to break it down to its simplest form. Here is my easy 1-2-3 version of reading. “Reading is the complex process by which we (1) look at print symbols (graphemes), (2)connect it to a sound system (phonemes), and (3) draw meaning (comprehension) for purpose and/or pleasure.” Each of these first three steps in the reading process requires many sub-skills but they do not constitute reading in and of themselves. They are reading skills and are important to the act of reading but they should not be considered reading. Only when a student is reading for purpose or pleasure can authentic reading occur. But to understand the process of reading let’s take a closer look at these three steps and what is required from them. Recognize the print: In order to look at print and use the experience, a student must be able to have an understanding of the alphabet, print concepts, punctuations, and other print conventions. They must employ visual memory, visual discrimination, and even understand basic writing processes. Students must understand and use a print code. Understanding print code begins at birth (May, 1998) and happens naturally when children grow up in a print rich environment. In studies of early readers, it was found that the vast majority were born to parents who enjoyed reading and writing and who loved to share a good book with their children. In general, these parents shared reading and writing as a natural part of the children’s world and not something to be taught. They allowed children to play at and with reading and writing without correcting them. (Davis & McCaul, 1990; Sulzby, 1985; Teale, 1986). But if children weren’t lucky enough to be born into a natural world of literacy, they must be systematically introduced to a print world. After understanding that there is a print code as step one requires, it is time to move on to the next step. Connect print to sound: After recognizing print the child must connect that print code to sound system. They must be able to use and relate to both phonemes and our phonics sound system. In this step children are asked to forget the names of the letters and conjure up a sound system which includes not only the sound each letter makes, but the new sounds of various letter combinations. Even then, this auditory code May 2012

is often just correct a portion of the time. Auditory memory and discrimination are mandatory in order to remember what they hear over time and be able to tell the difference between sounds. Thus, a solid foundation in phonemic awareness is vital. But the act of connecting the sound to a letter or letter combination requires knowledge of phonics and other word attack skills. This is also where fluency begins to make its presence known. As readers read sounds, connecting them to both the rhythm and tempo of language also plays a role in gaining meaning. Adams (1990) contends that “programs which include systematic instruction on letter-tosound correspondences lead to higher achievement in both word recognition and spelling, at least in the early grades and especially for slower or economically disadvantaged students.” When the print letters connect to sounds, students are ready for the next step. Connect sound to meaning: This is where real reading occurs, for the true essence of reading lies in comprehension. Without connecting to meaning, real authentic reading cannot be achieved. Like the other steps, this one also has several components. First and foremost, the reader must be able to connect to the meaning of the sounds, so a strong oral and even print vocabulary is necessary. An oral working vocabulary is key to being able to read and understand and this background is often related to the child’s environment and life experiences. A student may be able to look at “b-a-t” and even change it to the correct sound system of /b/ /a/ /t/ but if they can’t connect to the meaning of bat (either the baseball or Halloween type), then even sounding the word correctly has no value. They haven’t connected to the meaning behind the sounds and thus no reading can possibly take place. Meaning must be present in the reader’s mind to connect to the words being read. This is why comprehension is so crucial for real reading. These three steps of reading don’t necessarily happen in a systematic orderly way. Children will work with sounds before, during, and after mastering print conventions. The code of reading and writing will continue to spiral and expand allowing children to revisit these component skills and strategies at varying levels of difficulties. Instead the steps represent a variety of experiences and accomplishments which weave in and out of a child’s life creating a magnificent tapestry. Indeed, each word, letter, and experience acts as a fine thread which when carefully assembled creates a successful confident reader. 15

The Illinois Reading Council Communicator

ISLMA/LBSS Endowment Fund Grant By Lou Ann Jacobs

The Illinois School Library Media Association/Library Book Selection Service will issue its third annual book grants this year. Public and private school libraries as well as public libraries registered in any of the Illinois Readers’ Choice awards programs—the Monarch Award, the Bluestem Award, the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Book Award, and the Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award—are eligible to apply.

Newspaper in Education

By Leslie Forsman, NIE Committee Co-Chair Nearing the end of the school year? Beginning to finish and close the textbooks? What’s left to teach with? Now might be a good time to visit your local newspaper.

Grant recipients will be awarded one set of the 2013 reading campaign books for the award program indicated on their application. The titles in each book award set are determined by the individual committees in charge of the reading award programs. Sets include one copy each of the 20 or 22 books, depending on the award program selected.

Our local newspaper used to provide a booklet of Newspapers In Education (NIE) activities. One of the programs was called “Target Date.” Target Date provided a list of newspapers (that had agreed to provide a copy, usually free of charge) that students could write to and request a copy of their newspaper for a given date. As the newspapers come in, the students can compare the coverage of the stories of that date from different regions of the country. They could discuss the importance of the story (as judged by placement), the coverage with respect to proximity, and the significances of the events to various communities. (Examples could include weather events, elections, etc.)

Information about the grant is available at the ISLMA/LBSS Endowment Fund website ( The online application form will be available at the website beginning March 15, 2012. All grant applications must be submitted by May 15, 2012. Applicants must also be registered for the appropriate 2013 Reader’s Choice program by May 15, 2012 (a separate process). Questions may be sent to, by fax to 309/649-0916 or by phone to 309/649-0911.

Another discussion could revolve around the time frame of events—an event might occur too late for the east coast papers, but in time for west coast coverage. An event that is headline news in one area might not even be covered in another. This provides so many opportunities to teach our children about the nation, about journalism, importance of the story, and so much more. It also provides an opportunity to teach our students how to format and write a business letter, and how to address an envelope.

Funds for the endowment fund were received by the Illinois School Library Media Association when the nonprofit Library Book Selection Service was dissolved in June of 2005. A stipulation of the agreement between LBSS and ISLMA was that the assets be invested in order to fund grants to encourage student reading of quality literature in Illinois. Book vendors interested in bidding for the contract to provide books for this grant will find information at the same website. This is a competitive bid.

If time is an issue (since we are close to the end of the school year), ask your friends and family (or have your students ask their friends and family) to send a copy of their local newspaper. Maybe they can send a link to an electronic version of their local newspaper so that your students can read it online. Maybe each computer in the lab could be set to a different newspaper so that the students could rotate to compare them. Maybe a new list could be created in a favorites tab so that students can select one that interests them. This could be an extension activity to be used after students complete their other assignments. Students could be asked to read articles about a selected (by you or by them) event from multiple papers for purposes of comparing the coverage, importance, bias/slant, timeliness, etc.

The ISLMA/LBSS Endowment Fund’s mission is to “Promote reading in Illinois.” The fund has awarded over 400 sets of books to school and public libraries since 2008. The IRC Journal’s Teaching Tips column is looking for the best ideas for teaching reading. To submit your idea, please visit the homepage of the IRC website to download a form. 16

Another thought might be to ask the students to bring a newspaper from anywhere they happen to travel over the summer to share in the fall. If you happen to travel, you can bring newspapers back too. Enjoy your summer! Read some good books, and some good newspapers too! May 2012

The Illinois Reading Council Communicator

Meet an IRC Researcher

By Boomer Crotty, Studies and Research Committee Member All Hail Gail! That is the consensus of the IRC Studies and Research Committee. The 2012 Illinois Reading Conference is over in time but the knowledge, applications, friendships and confidence gained will continue ad infinitum through the care and concern of those attending. There were numerous high points with the programs, speakers, presentations, exhibition displays, friendships and overall camaraderie. Counted among these was the hour spent interviewing Gail Huizinga on her current ongoing research project. A vibrant individual and fascinating conversationalist, Gail is the Co-chair with Suzanne Picchi of the IRC Intellectual Freedom Committee, Grants Chair for the Secondary Reading League, a conference presenter and valuable member of the IRC Speakers Bureau. Currently she is the Curriculum Coordinator for Homewood School District 153. As a result of a grant, Gail was able to implement the current research project in professional development. Using the Japanese model of merging both academic and behavioral goals Gail selected a cadre of five teachers, two third grades, two fourth grades and a special education teacher. As research facilitator Gail spearheads the cadre through this yearlong research, noting the manner the threestep process is employed and evaluating data every step of the program. The Japanese prototype centers its process on the education of children through their cultural engagement, exchange of thoughts, ideas and conclusions recorded by the presenting educator and the cadre of professional observers. In this way the children develop habits of self-reflection and critical thinking. The three-step process will be repeated three distinct times in the yearlong research. First is the planning where the entire cadre cooperatively creates a subject to be presented with identification of the particular research goal. Second is the random selection of the one person to adapt the research to the children, teach the lesson and with the remaining members of the cadre observe the students’ responses and collect data. The final part is sharing the results with the entire May 2012

cadre, noting positives as well as complications, analyzing all data, discussing conclusions and implications, and finally reflecting on the learning taking place both academically and behaviorally. In this way all members take ownership of the entire process just as all children take ownership of their reflections and lifelong learning. In a realm where positive directed child-centered change is not always as prevalent as would be desired, Gail and her cadre are making a difference. The old adage has been validated–a child doesn’t care how much you know until she/ he knows how much you care.

ISLMA is introducing a new online registration and voting procedure for the Monarch, Bluestem and Lincoln awards. The new registration form will allow libraries to register for more than one award program and use a credit card or purchase order to pay for the registration. Once a registration is submitted and payment received the participant will receive their registration number and a password via email. The registration number and password will then be used for voting in the spring on a secure website. If a person loses or misplaces their registration number, a simple request form is available to retrieve the information. With the new registration form and voting procedures ISLMA hopes to make the entire process more user friendly. To access the new registration form go to the ISLMA website and click on one of the award programs on the right and look for the registration form. If you have any questions please contact us at


The Illinois Reading Council Communicator

Welcome to the “Illinois Authors’ Corner,” showcasing new releases from our fabulous Illinois Authors and IRC members. If you’d like to include your new release, please visit the IRC website to find out how to submit information.

Pugs in a Bug Written by Carolyn Crimi Illustrated by Stephanie Buscema Dial March 2012 Category: Picture Book Ages: 3 - 8 Jack and Larry: Jack Graney and Larry, the Cleveland Baseball Dog Written by Barbara Gregorich CreateSpace January 2012 Category: Nonfiction Ages: 10-Adult Calli Be Gold Written by Michele Weber Hurwitz Wendy Lamb Books April 2011 Category: Middle Grade Ages: 8-12 Dear Frank: Babe Ruth, the Red Sox, and the Great War Written by W. Nikola-Lisa Illustrated by Hugh Spector Gyroscope Books February 2012 Category: Historical Fiction Ages: 10 and up Set in 1918, Dear Frank offers the reader a glimpse of life in the Boston area during the waning days of World War I. Young Andrew, writing to his older brother Frank, a serviceman fighting overseas, is intent on keeping his brother abreast of all that is going on around him, especially the rising fortunes of the Boston Red Sox, led by the young, hard-hitting Babe Ruth. 18

The Camping Trip that Changed America Written by Barb Rosenstock Illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein Dial January 2012 Category: Picture Book Ages: 5-10 Caldecott medalist Mordicai Gerstein captures the scale and grandeur of Yosemite in this little known story about a camping trip taken by President Theodore Roosevelt and naturalist John Muir in 1903. The two men saw sights and told stories that would stay with them for the rest of their lives and forever change the face of our nation’s landscape. Month-by-Month Reading Instruction for the Differentiated Classroom Written by Maria Walther and Katherine Phillips Scholastic May 2012 Category: Professional Grades: K-2 Veteran teachers Maria Walther and Katherine Phillips share their Month-by-Month comprehensive approach to teaching Reading reading in the K-2 classroom. A Instruction for the Differentiated Classroom menu of mini-lessons for the first 25 days of school helps teachers establish routines and introduce reading habits and behaviors. A month-by-month chart organizes a year’s worth of mini-lessons in selfmonitoring and decoding skills, comprehension strategies, vocabulary development, writing about reading, and genre awareness. Complete with morning message ideas, book lists for read-alouds and genre studies, mini-lessons for every aspect of reading, interactive whiteboard activities, and strategies for supporting struggling readers and challenging more advanced ones, this book is everything teachers need to help children grow into confident readers! Grades


Maria P. Walther & Katherine A. Phillips

A Purposeful Approach With Comprehension Mini-Lessons, Vocabulary-Building Activities, Management Tips, and More to Help Every Child Become a Confident, Capable Reader

gy CD With Strate s Dozen Songs and of Student Forms! Response

May 2012

The Illinois Reading Council Communicator

Cool Studies: Dynamic Tripods By Lou Ferroli

I actually once said to one of the best teachers I’ve ever known, “You teach first-graders to write, and you hold your pencil like that!” Addie put her pencil down and wouldn’t pick it up again until I left. There’s a little guy at church with a weird pencil grip. Brian sits in front of me on Sundays and is perfectly behaved week after week because he is busy reading and writing non-stop. I am enamored of his advanced literacy skill, but I have been dying to help him with his pencil grip. He has the thumb wrapped all around with the pencil jammed way back into his hand. I read a study a few years ago by Selin (2003) who was trying to establish a link between pencil grip and writing skill. She called pencil grips that have the thumb positioned atop the pencil “precision” grips, while those with the thumb wrapped around the pencil are “power” grips. I have wanted to say to Brian, “Let me show you the ‘precision’ grip rather than the ‘power’ grip.” I’m afraid, though, that as a good healthy American boy, he’ll like the sound of “power grip” so much that we’ll never get him to change.

grip a name. Imagine having photos of all your students’ pencil grips and having to give them names. That could be a lot of fun. What pencil grips did they use? And how did these grips compare on scores of handwriting legibility and speed? The most common type of grip (38% of the kids used it) was the dynamic tripod–the one that schools generally teach (if they teach one at all), where the pencil rests on the middle finger and is held in place by the tip of the thumb and the index finger. Three other grips were about equal to each other in popularity (18-22%). Of the six categories, there was just a single student who used the four-finger grip. Likewise, there was just one student who used an interdigital grip. Those two categories were excluded from statistical analysis. From there, a simple one-way ANOVA was used to see if there were any differences among the four groups in their Letters Correct per Minute scores.

“Imagine having photos of all your students’ pencil grips and having to give them names. That could be a lot of fun.”

Some recent research on pencil grips comes from two sources who want to know if pencil grip influences speed and legibility of handwriting. In the literacy community, the interest focuses on the evidence that getting automatic at handwriting facilitates development of students’ overall writing skills. The other source of interest comes from the occupational therapists, who seek to help students with everyday activities that will help them succeed in school. In this spirit, Koziatek and Powell (2003) were interested in furthering the work on the Evaluation Tool of Children’s Handwriting–Cursive, or ETCH-C. Specifically, they examined fourth graders’ performances on speed and legibility relative to their pencil grips. They administered the ETCH-C to 101 fourth-graders from four schools. “While the students were copying the upper and lower case alphabets, the researcher took a photograph of each student’s pencil grip.” They then used a pencil grip classification system that had been developed in previous research using younger children. With these fourth graders, they found six categories of pencil grips; and they gave each May 2012

The dynamic tripod did not do the best. None of the other grips did the best either. There was no best. There was no difference in writing speed or legibility across the pencil grips. I’m so disappointed. I really wanted to be able to say a sentence that begins, “The research says that the best pencil grip is.…” How can you really like a particular study even though you dislike the result? The answer is that “Method” and “Results” are different things. Literacy research methods do not often include photos. This study did, and the photos made it easy to figure out that the grips were named “dynamic” or “lateral” based on whether the tip of the thumb was on the pencil or if it was wrapping around holding the pencil further back toward the palm. Likewise, “tripod” vs. “quadrupod” was determined by how many fingers were used in the grip. And that’s how I discovered something cool. I was at a meeting and seated next to my department chair. I looked down and said to myself, “Goodness! The boss Continued on page 20


Illinois Reading Council 203 Landmark Drive, Suite B Normal, IL 61761

Non-Profit Org. US Postage PAID Permit No. 800 Springfield, IL

Cool Studies continued from page 19

uses a lateral tripod.” From there I went around the table identifying the pencil grips of many of my colleagues. Because of the Method section, I can name the pencil grips I see. The system works. The little guy at church uses a lateral quadrupod. The lady at the Blood Center uses a lateral tripod, probably so she can keep her inch-long fingernails and still be able to use the keyboard for data entry. And President Obama signs legislation with his left-handed over-the-top sort of a hook. It’s awful, but from there he’s textbook “dynamic quadrupod.” (And you thought he was merely a democrat.)

Figure A.

What’s wrong with the pencil grip in Figure A? Looks perfect, exemplary dynamic tripod; but it belongs to someone whose 7 th-grade report grade showed four quarters of straight A’s, except for the four D’s in Handwriting. A good grip does not ensure good handwriting. What’s right about the pencil grip in Figure B? It is so extraordinary it cannot be classified according to the research discussed here. What’s right about it is that it does not belong to a teacher. Its owner does not have to be a good model for kids.

Figure B.

The researchers concluded:

“Findings suggest that therapists and teachers need to recognize that although a student’s pencil grip may be considered atypical, such a grip is not automatically less functional than the dynamic tripod.” “Atypical.” I love it. Addie’s pencil grip is not a mess, it is atypical. My wife’s pencil grip (Figure B) does not defy classification, it’s atypical. And both might be faster and more legible than mine. I’ve recently read quite a bit about handwriting in general and pencil grips in particular. This might sound crazy, but based on that reading, I’m going to suggest a pencil grip curriculum for grades K through 8. I refuse to call these “standards.” These are not common core standards, not common bore, and not common snore. This is just an attempt to identify what we might try to accomplish at each grade. In the pre-high stakes assessment, pre-“standards” days, school districts used to call this a curriculum. • Kindergarten – Introduce a comfortable pencil grip that facilitates legibility and automaticity. • 1st Introduce or monitor development of a comfortable pencil grip that facilitates legibility and automaticity. 2nd-3rd – Review pencil grip options seeking a comfortable pencil grip that facilitates legibility and automaticity. 4th-6th – Diagnose and help students reflect on their grips. Encourage small changes in grips that might be working against a comfortable pencil grip that facilitates legibility and automaticity. • 7th and above—Habits and resistance to change are almost certainly in place. Diagnose and help students who are seeking to change to find a comfortable pencil grip that facilitates legibility and automaticity. You can find the study with the pictures at Koziatek, S., & Powell, N. (2003). Pencil grips, legibility, and speed of fourth-graders writing in cursive. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 57, 284-288.

IRC Communicator May 2012  

IRC Communicator May 2012

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