Secondary Reading League

Leaders for Literacy in Grades 6-12

Current 2017-2018 SRL Events

  • Twitter Chat - November 5, 2017 - 7-8pm -
  • 41st Day of Reading, Tinley Park – November 10, 2017 – Penny Kittle Workshop
  • Spring Book Talk, Lou Malnati’s/Anderson’s Book Store, Naperville – April 24, 2018

*More information will follow

Letter From the President


As I reflect upon the demands of being a teacher today, I am amazed at the sea of teachers that attend conferences and other professional events to further their practices. The passion of my vocational colleagues is unparalleled in most every profession that I can consider. The amount of selfless hours spent to help other human beings become successes is a quiet and rewarding sacrifice, even when society questions the value of teachers. As I reflect on this, I am reminded of the words of Toni Morrison as she is quoted, “I get angry about things, then go on and work”. That is the heart of teachers. They go on a do what they do regardless of their own life circumstances. They walk through fire, not because they have to, but because it is who they are. Teachers are called to teach, regardless of the obstacles.

I see Secondary Reading League as nourishment for teachers. As Illinois’ premier professional association focusing on adolescent literacy, SRL is a support system that provides the newest thinking in literacy to enhance our professional practices. We offer a network of other secondary educators going through similar challenges while fostering unmatched opportunities for growth.

SRL offers incredible events such as the Day of Reading, our annual signature event where we spend a fall day with the most forward thinking educators in the country. Kelly Gallagher, Cris Tovani, and Penny Kittle are some names that come to mind. We have a significant presence at the annual Illinois Reading Council Conference where we host a secondary level literacy strand room, dedicated to those seeking new ideas in the world of middle and high school literacy. To stay current with the newest books available to our students, we host at least one annual YA Book talk and dinner. Our next one will be in the spring in Naperville, Illinois with Anderson’s Bookstores. The SRL Board meets regularly to brainstorm ideas for new programs that would be meaningful to our members. Our newest networking efforts have brought us to social media. We now have a monthly Twitter Chat designed for secondary literacy educators. We cater to new Twitter Chatters and meet on the first Sunday night of each month at 7pm CDT using #SRLedChat. Please consider joining us!

The SRL Executive Board is very serious about making the SRL membership experience valuable. We are sincerely open to new ideas for events and programming. We are also always looking for passionate people to push SRL forward whether you are interested in leading or helping with a committee, or running for one of our spots on the Board. We are fully committed to growing and leading the way in supporting the great secondary educators that we serve.

On behalf of the Secondary Reading League’s Executive Board, I hope that you have a wonderful 2017-2018 school year, which challenges you and brings happiness and success!

Kindest Regards,

Mark Levine, SRL President

Day of Reading Update

The workshop is full but we have started a waiting list for the 41st Day of Reading Conference. Contact in order to get your name on the waiting list. Please visit for the full agenda.
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IRC Conference

Once again, the Secondary Reading League sponsored its SRL Strand at this October’s Illinois Reading Council Conference. Each year, the Secondary Reading League selects a set of conference sessions, led by SRL members, that appeal to adolescent literacy needs. Judging by the reaction of session participants, the SRL Strand sessions strongly appealed to this year’s conference attendees.

The SRL Strand was kicked off on Thursday morning by SRL President Mark Levine (Lukancic MS, Romeoville, IL) who offered thoughts on how to Awaken the Adolescent Reader Using Standards. Mark addressed using standards-based rubrics as checkpoints for students while reading and responding to text. Attendees learned first-hand how students are given daily opportunities to reflect on their progress towards mastering specific standards and measuring their own growth using rubrics.

SRL membership Chair Angelica Kalat and SRL member Stephanie Moore (CUSD #203, Naperville) shared their work during Shift Happens: Small Changes, Big Difference. A noticeable shift in student learning happens when we slow down and study text deeply. Students learn more from what they read. Strategies for close reading, using textual evidence and developing text dependent questions to actively engage students and promote their comprehension of complex text were shared.

The importance of text selection in planning instruction is often overlooked. SRL member Christy Rush-Levine (Lukancic MS, Romeoville, IL) shared a variety of texts and paired texts to inspire middle and high school students to think and talk, in her session Teaching with Texts that Generate Talk. The texts shared generate talk about the basics, deeper meaning, craft, and facts. Discussion evaluation tools and rubrics were also shared to drive classroom talk to the next level.

To close out day one of the conference, Liz Strejcek (Downers Grove, IL) enthralled attendees with Vicariously Volumizing Vocabulary in the Classroom, a presentation of a wide array of vocabulary strategies intended to both engage students and promote wider vocabularies.

The strand resumed Friday morning with another powerful set of conference sessions.

SRL Past-president and IRC Professional Development Chair Gail Huizinga (Tallula, IL) explored higher order questioning strategies in her session, H.O.T. Questions to Set off and Explosion of Student Thinking The session focused on questioning characteristics and effective techniques, as well as ways to empower learners to take on more leadership and ownership of their own questioning while engaging with text and content.

In So Many Gurus, So Little Time SRL members and colleagues Erik Borne and Lindsey Jensen (Dwight Township HS, Dwight, IL) shared how IRC 2016, specifically presentations by Steven Layne, Kelly Gallagher, Jeffrey Wilhelm, and local IL Social Studies and English teachers, inspired them to rethink their curriculum and start from scratch. Erik and Lindsey shared the revitalizing journey of building a curriculum aligned with the “best” recent research beginning with determining 10 priority skills, creating essential questions relevant to students today, and choosing to deliberately teach with a focus on active reading, critical thinking, and authentic writing.

IRC Region 10 Director and SRL member Cindi Koudleka (Fieldcrest CUSD 6, Wenona, IL) shared out her ongoing work in Teaching for Humanity: Using Young Adult Literature to Promote Social Justice and Student Agency. Cindi demonstrated how she engages her students with a variety of current literature, collaborative experiences, and authentic projects while empowering them to think critically, practice tolerance, and become upstanders in our global society.

SRL members Kimberly Hollis and Brenda Englehardt (Geneva School District 304, Geneva, IL) brought a renewed focus to academic vocabulary in their session Words Matter: Teaching Academic Vocabulary Their session provided an engaging mix of current research and hands-on participation to strengthen attendees knowledge of vocabulary tiers while building their vocabulary strategy tool box.

Across both days, the SRL Strand offered wonderful professional learning and opportunities for networking with others that share an interest in adolescent literacy.

Want to be a part of the SRL strand at next year’s IRC, simply submit an IRC conference program proposal. As part of the proposal indicate a secondary focus (grade 6-12). Members of the SRL Executive Board work with IRC staff and Conference Chairs in selecting presenters to include in the strand. While you don’t have to be an SRL member to attend strand sessions, we do look for program proposals in which at least one presenter is a current SRL member.

Of course, you can always visit the SRL web site for additional information. Visit us at

Last Call

The Secondary Reading League (SRL) has established two (2) $500 Literacy Grants to be awarded to SRL members. This monetary award is intended to support educators in developing new or supporting existing innovative literacy projects in their schools or classrooms.

Interested Secondary Reading League members are encouraged to complete the two-page application form. A committee of SRL members will evaluate the projects using the rubric included with the grant application and select one or more projects to be awarded funding. Those members receiving Literacy Grants will be asked to share a brief, written narrative of the project for a future SRL newsletter. Grant winners will be notified by e-mail and announced at SRL’s Day of Reading Conference. Previous SRL Literacy Grant winners must wait one grant cycle before submitting another grant application.

Please note that the deadline for all applications is tonight, October 30th.

If you have questions, contact a Secondary Reading League Board Member or me at any time.


Terry McHugh

SRL Treasurer/Grant Committee

Membership Updates Needed

Please contact our Membership Chair, Angela Kalat at if you have a change of address, phone, name, or email address. We want to keep our information as current as possible.