FVRC Spring Newsletter

March 2021

Note from your Co-Presidents

Hello you special teachers!

Are you excited that the snow and cold weather will soon be around the bend and the school year will be over? We are so proud of all you have done to get your students through this year. We think you will be like Rip Van Winkle when you are done and sleep for a very long time!

Here at Fox Valley Reading Council, we have continued to work on professional development and helping kids. We held our IL READS book giveaway at The Santori Public Library in Aurora. It was inspiring to see students coming to the library even during the cold and Covid. We stood outside and handed out as many books as we could, even stopping some boys on bikes!

Our event with Maria Walther and Karen Biggs-Tucker in November was amazing! Those women are extraordinary educators and had so much to share virtually. Thanks to you who gave up some of your Saturday to be with us and soak up their many years of incredible teaching expertise. We also gave away three copies of their new book, The Literacy Workshop: Where Reading and Writing Converge.

Unfortunately IRC will be postponing their Spring IRC conference. I know you are not surprised. It seems we all have to adjust to our new normal for this year. They have been hard at work to secure many of the same authors for this year in October and to provide a wonderful experience. You can register now at www.illinoisreadingcouncil.org.

We look forward to our latest Spring event. Sara K. Ahmed and Cornelius Minor were the most popular authors voted for in our survey. Our time table and author are still unknown. Both are exactly what we need during this time of heightened awareness of diversity. Cornelius is an educator in Brooklyn known for his support of equitable literacy reform. His bio states that "his latest book, We Got This, explores how the work of creating more equitable school spaces is embedded in our everyday choices-specifically in the choice to really listen to kids." Sara is the author of Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension and has also coauthored with Harvey "Smokey" Daniels. She is an international speaker.

Watch the mail for your postcard to register and listen to one of these great authors and their remarkable insight.

Finally, we want you to know... WE APPRECIATE YOU!

Your co-presidents,

Dawn Lutz

Camille Lutz

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Book Review

Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy by Dr. Gholdy Muhammad

Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy by Dr. Gholdy Muhammad presents a four-layered equity framework that is grounded in history and connects the excellence of the past and Black literary societies to how we need to teach our students today. The framework is essential for all, but specifically for students of color who have been traditionally marginalized in school policies, learning standards, and classroom practices. Dr. Muhammad’s four-layered equity framework consists of the following goals: identity development, skill development, intellectual development, and criticality. When these four aspects are taught together through a historically and culturally responsive framework, it is then that all students receive profound opportunities for intellectual, academic, and personal successes. In the book, Muhammad provides self-reflective, probing questions to educators and leaders as well as practical approaches, that include samples of culturally and historically responsive lesson plans and text sets, that can be immediately implemented into any classroom. This powerful, essential text offers lenses for teachers and leaders to critically question all literacy practices.

Reviewed by Kristen Walsh

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Do you want to be involved with like-minded, passionate about literacy individuals? Have you been wanting to be more involved with Fox Valley Reading Council? Here is your chance! We hold Board elections each Spring and now is the opportunity for you to volunteer! We are in need of a secretary and a social media person. The secretary would take notes during our meetings and take part in producing the newsletter. The social media person is responsible for posting on our platforms weekly and being involved in our monthly meetings. You must also be a member of IRC and ILA. We would be glad to walk you through the process for both commitments. The positions are only for a year unless you decide to stay on longer. You'd get to be part of a fun group who help further teachers' professional development and who get in for free to all events we host! The Board right now consists of: Co-Presidents Dawn Lutz & Camille Lutz, Vice-President Katina Kastrantas, Treasurer Diana Wilke, Membership Kristen Walsh, Past-president Denise Mitchell, and International Projects chair Karen Masus. Please email us at illinoisfvrc@gmail.com if you are interested in becoming a part of this awesome group! Then watch for the election vote to come out later this month!

Helping others

2020 Global Project by Diana Wilke

The Fox Valley Reading Council completed their 2020 Global Project by sending school supplies to the southern Caribbean island, Dominica.

The children were very excited to receive supplies from the council. Since I have been phasing out supplies from my kindergarten teaching position, I sent handmade, laminated reading centers that had not been used yet. My heart was overflowing with happiness to find out that these items have been some of their most favorite. The teachers in this remote village were especially thankful for the Hooked on Phonics programs and new books. So many times the books they receive are of a very poor & much-used quality. Since we here at FVRC have been so blessed, we feel grateful to be able to support literacy in other areas of the world that do not have the same resources.

A note from teacher Suzette Nelson: “I must say on behalf of Trafalgar Primary School a very special thank you for the thoughtfulness and kind gesture of you and your organization. We are truly thankful.”

We are so grateful to be able to help where we can and make a difference in a child's education.

videomp4 0 Global thank you

Writing Blog Recommendation for Online Book Creator

I excitedly saw Pernille Ripp's writing blog for kids where she recommended an online writing book creator and thought you would love it! Check them both out!

Pernille's blog from October is https://t.co/kdUViuK115.

The site she recommends is www.WriteReader.com.

Helping Students Everywhere and Teachers too!


Have you heard that there is a place where you can go to browse through used books and supplies? Scarce provides books and school supplies to public school teachers and non-profit organizations. Educators can visit SCARCE's Reuse Center year-round to select books and supplies for their students. One teacher I know said she was given a bag for $5.00 and was able to fill it with what she wanted. Many teachers don't have enough books or supplies for their class, so SCARCE fills the gap.

To see for yourself, look at their website: www.scarce.org or go to their physical address at:

800 Rohlwing Rd (Route 53) Unit D in Addison, IL 60101

What Is Collected At SCARCE

SCARCE is committed to finding a way to keep “stuff” out of a landfill by finding a way to reuse or recycle as much as we can!

  • Books
  • Eyeglasses
  • School and Office Supplies
  • Corks
  • Crayons
  • Holiday Lights
  • LP Records
  • Electrical cords
  • Keys

Member Spotlight

Deb Hays

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Fox Valley Reading Council is honoring its members this year. It is our pleasure to highlight Deb Hays this spring.

  1. What grade level do you teach/have you taught?

  • Third grade for 17 years

  • K-6 Title 1 for 4 years

  • K-6 literacy staff developer for 3 years

  • K-12 curriculum district administration for 8 years

  • Higher education/reading specialist preparation for 5 years

  • ROE for 2 years

  • Special projects for state and national initiatives and independent consulting for 8 years

Note: Some of these experiences were concurrent so they don’t add up to a total number of years as an educatoror else I started at age twelve.

  1. Briefly describe yourself, including personal information. I never know what to say about myself, but it seems that I’ve always been in the classroom as a student or an educator. I feel instantly “at home” in a school, (although I could also say that about a mall). I have been fortunate to have opportunities to meet and learn from people that have enhanced my life in both small and major ways throughout my career. I’m inspired by the many students and educators that have let me into their classrooms and conversations. I’ve found it rewarding to mentor others and see their impact on their students and colleagues. I don’t know that I thought much about leaving a legacy when I was in the classroom day-to-day, but it was beyond amazing to meet a former student over 20 years later and learn that she recently finished her graduate degree to become a reading specialist and is working with students and teachers to inspire and encourage them. Shout out to Rosie! IRC has also played an important part of my professional identity. I’m not sure how many years I’ve been an IRC member since it seems that I’ve always looked forward to and attended council meetings and the annual conferences. Currently, I co-chair an IRC committee dedicated to supporting professional learning and the Illinois Reading Council Professional Development Cadre. There have been, and always will be, so many initiatives that affect teachers and students. I think it is important that we look for ways to strengthen literacy learning and connections between other initiatives through sharing resources and expertise within our membership.

  2. What are you reading personally or professionally? I’m currently reading whatever audio book I have in the car. I began enjoying audio books during eight years of hour long commutes. I read digital, paperback, and hardcover texts, but audio books are my favorite companion if I’m traveling solo. I look forward to the latest releases of my favorite mystery authors. Professionally, I’ve been reading Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions from the Right Question Institute which supports questioning in classrooms, as well as reading lots of articles and blogs for the development/facilitation of online professional learning workshops for onlineIMPACT (Close Reading a Read Aloud for K-2 and Planning a Close Reading Lesson for grades 3-6)

  3. What are some of your students’ favorite books? It’s been fun to see primary students engage with digital texts from the Formative Instructional Tasks, Wangari’s Trees of Peace, The Giant Pacific Octopus, and Me, Jane (Jane Goodall’s biography) so I think informational texts have become new favorites for the primary students I’ve been working with recently.

  4. What strategy or instructional tip do you love and why? Collaborative Conversation is a powerful interaction that is useful in primary grades through graduate education. Fisher & Frey have written articles about collaborative conversation for over four years now and you can find video demonstrations of students purposefully talking about a text or topic online. It’s not a once and done strategy, but with intentional instruction and release of responsibility, students can work and talk together to make meaning and develop effective speaking and listening habits, which both students and teachers come to value.

  5. Why is reading a passion for you? Enjoyment and advocacy are the two words that come to mind. Enjoyment, because I have always enjoyed reading and I wanted my students to be able to read for enjoyment. Advocacy, because I have always felt a sense of responsibility for helping students access text. All students deserve that passionate persistence to help them become literatewhether it be to learn something from a literary or an informational text, promote self-efficacy or empathy, or serve as a window or mirror, reading allows students to find both an identity and community.

Thank you for being an Illinois Reading Council and Fox Valley Reading Council member! We are thankful to have you!

If this doesn't sum up our year, we don't know what does!

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