April 2015 - In This Issue:
Photo: "Paperback Bookshelf" by Rob Brinkman (altered)
(discount for ICE members)
May 8, 2015

May 8-9, 2015

May 9, 2015

May 9, 2015

May 28, 2015 8:00-9pm

(discount for ICE members)
June 11-12, 2015
June 12, 2015

June 28-July 1, 2015

Upgrade Early Literacy with iPads

By Richard Colosi

One of the primary responsibilities of any early childhood educator is to foster the development of early literacy. The importance of mastering reading and writing skills for students of this population cannot be underestimated; studies have shown that students who do not read on grade level by the time they reach the third grade very rarely recover. Today's generation of students learn differently than their predecessors. The facilitation of technology integration into any learning curriculum can be an effective way to maximize student achievement.


Two years ago, in an effort to build and refine student literacy skills through cognitive engagement, I conducted an iPad pilot program in my district, specifically targeting reading skill development. Through utilizing the touch-based operating system of iPads in daily center-based activities, I was able to discover procedures and workflows employing educational apps that supported progress in reading and writing. Below are three apps used at various points throughout the year to address phonemic awareness, reading fluency, and writing.


Phonemic Awareness

Apps in My Pocket ABC Pocket Phonics

ABC PocketPhonics is a great starting point for students familiar with the alphabet and letter sounds.  There are two options with this app: letter writing to practice letter formation, and letter sounds to provide opportunities to build words.  Feedback on the accuracy of student performance is provided through a star rating. In addition, the company released an option that allows multiple user logins, as well as an opportunity for an instructor to review student progress.  There are also customizable features for both options which can further help address areas of individual student needs. 

Read, Reflect, Respond
By Michael Johnson, Co-Editor
Blogging may arguably be the most versatile digital tool to be introduced into the classroom. The concept seems simple enough: write what you'd like and comment on what others have written. Though basic, this framework opens up a world of possibilities for developing literacy skills. 

A blog gives students a platform to analyze texts, demonstrate understanding, pull evidence to support their claims, and write on central themes from within a text. In a post, students can mix in multimedia and link to additional resources to both demonstrate a depth of understanding and offer readers additional learning opportunities. In this process, students are not only building on what was read, but also curating their knowledge.

The other key component of blogging is the ability to comment on what others have posted. Students can now add to the conversation, ask questions, and even politely disagree. Though seemingly simple, students are analyzing and evaluating their peers' writing, comparing their ideas and building new ones in the process. 

ICE Leader You Should Know: Deb Balayti
Deb Balayti provides instructional leadership and support for the ongoing professional development, improvement and evaluation of the district's instructional and assessment programs in Palos School District 118. She provides augmented training to teachers and oversees technology improvements in the classrooms. She facilitates the new teacher induction program and professional development for teachers.

Deb Balayti earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Northern Illinois University. She has a Master's Degree in Reading and an additional degree in Educational Leadership from Lewis University. Currently, she is completing coursework to earn her doctoral degree. You can connect with Deb on Twitter at @dbalayti


The #AgeofLiteracy
Charlene Chausis, ICE President

On April 14, 2015, the International Literacy Association 

celebrated Leaders for Literacy Day. On that day, an international panel of literacy advocates and practitioners set out to "address the crisis that nearly 800 million adults around the world are illiterate. Including illiterate children, it adds up to 12% of the world's population. Using the hashtag #AgeofLiteracy, advocates have already shared on social media what they will do to further literacy around the world." Click here to see more.

According to Wikipedia, "Literacy is traditionally understood as the ability to read and write." However, the concept of literacy has expanded beyond the written word. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Framework for 21st Century Learning mentions that "schools must promote an understanding of academic content at much higher levels by weaving 21st century interdisciplinary themes into core subjects: Global Awareness, Financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial literacy; Civic literacy; Health literacy and Environmental literacy."