About St. Louis Suburban Council of IRA

a professional organization of educators and individuals actively engaged
in the development of literacy throughout the Greater St. Louis Area.

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Message From the President


Message From the President

Greetings and Salutations my fellow colleagues, I would like to thank you for joining another thrilling year with us at St. Louis Suburban Council of the International Reading Association. I hope you all had a relaxing and rejuvenating summer! First and foremost, I would like to thank those for taking the time to fill out the survey I sent last school year. From this information, I was able find out some valuable information that helped guide me to planning this year’s events as your President.
We have a great year planned and hope to see you at one or all of our meetings. Now, I know we all have lives outside of our careers and thus we all understand my goal this year is “The Year of Me.” While I find great fulfillment with my career I want to start taking care of myself more, but that also means attending professional developments to ensure I have the most up-to-date information to take back and share with my colleagues. Remember, attending these meetings is two-fold. It’s not just for us, but it’s also for our kiddos. I’m sure your saying, “The school I work at already has me doing professional development.” Albeit true, but the passion and knowledge that you contain should be shared with others that do not work with you, that is why networking is another great asset. There are others in the field that could greatly benefit from the knowledge and advice that you bring to the table. This group is an invaluable resource for everyone.
Not to mention this year’s line-up of speakers. Part of the survey asked for what areas were you most concerned with and I was able to take this information and build an incredible line up. I cannot express to you about how excited I am, I know funny right, that the President of a literacy organization is lost for words.
Let’s start the year off right with a bang! Remember if you and another colleague join that’s a discounted rate! So, please encourage your colleagues to join our group. Your memberships help us provide the speakers you know and love. Without your membership, we can’t bring you these literacy opportunities.

Steve Baybo, President

Literacy Instruction and Positive Teacher-Family Communication


Literacy Instruction and Positive Teacher-Family Communication

William Kerns, Ph.D.,

College of Education,

Harris-Stowe State University


A child’s experiences in reading activities are foundational in helping or hindering future development of literacy skills. Partnerships between parents and teachers are linked to gains in early literacy development (Snow et. al, 2001). This brief article describes strategies for building positive communication between teachers and families to foster the development of reading skills.  The approach draws on positive psychology (Seligman Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), which stresses the importance of communication between teachers and parents related to the development of students’ strengths by “helping them find niches in which they can best live out these strengths” (p. 6).


Avoid deficit models of communication with families. Teachers need to strive to overcome deficit model approaches that inhibit communication with families. Many teachers view the families and home communities of their students as obstacles to their students’ success and therefore distance themselves from families and community members (Hyland & Meacham, 2004). Yet, increased student achievement is related to parent involvement (Davis-Kean, 2005; Galindo & Sheldon, 2012; Jeynes, 2005). A key obstacle to parent involvement in schools is that many teachers struggle to overcome negative attitudes toward working with families (Deslandes & Rousseau, 2007). The literacy skills of a parent, language or dialect can also be a significant obstacle to communicating with teachers (Dodd & Konzal, 2002). This gulf leads many families to feel reluctant to communicate with teachers.


Actively listen. Teachers foster positive communication by demonstrating compassion in responses when a parent or other family member

expresses concerns related to the education of a child. This form of compassion is often referred to as presence, or “a state of alert awareness, receptivity, and connectedness to the mental, emotional, and physical iterations of the individual and the group with the world and each other, and the ability to respond with a considered and compassionate best next step” (Rodgers & Raider-Roth, 2006, p. 266). The teacher who shows presence in communication with families is alert to the expressed needs and has a heightened sense of self-awareness. Dialogue that is open to an exchange of ideas is an important aspect of presence. The philosopher Martin Buber identified differences in dialogue between I-Thou relationships, I-You relationships, and I-It relationships. An I-It relationship with a parent would damage communication because the parent would feel “othered”, treated as an object or a thing, with nothing to add to the conversation of value to the teacher. An I-You dialogue is increasingly positive in that there is mutual respect and an exchange of ideas, but there is still an overall difference in the power dynamic. A parent would still dialogue with a clear sense of lacking power in the dialogue in relation to the teacher. Finally, in an I-Thou dialogue, there is a full exchange of ideas, an openness to learning from one another, and a sense of equality between those in communication. Buber recommended that people strive for an I-Thou relationship with one another to improve communication.


Find constructive and strategic avenues of communication. Teachers improve communication with families by frequently reaching out in constructive dialogue, rather than waiting until there is a problem. In discussions with families, teachers should seek to identify the following qualities about a child’s way of learning to work in partnership with families to improve the child’s reading skills: (a) in what areas does the child exhibit confidence and competence? How can the child be provided with a sense of challenge within the child’s existing skill level? (b) What goals should be set? Focus on clear and immediate goals. (c) How can we provide ongoing meaningful feedback to the child? (e) What activities promote the possibility of the child being intrinsically motivated, focused, and engaged?

Set goals together. When families and teachers do not share a common vision of each other’s goals, it can lead to friction. Goals that are collaborative set with families should help the child reach his or her full potential even when the child may be experiencing a problem in school. The teacher and parent can then identify strengths of the child, and discuss how these strengths can be used to help the child improve in an area where there may be a weakness (Peterson, 2009).

Provide useful feedback based on data. Successful reading interventions share certain common characteristics that serve as guideposts for positive teacher communication with families, including: (a) regular, ongoing assessment that is tied to constructive feedback and goal-setting; (b) quality texts with natural language; and (c) balanced text and word level strategies, including instruction in phonemic awareness, repeated reading, fluency, and word identification strategies along with reading connected texts. Assessment that isn’t tied to useful feedback becomes merely an exercise in record keeping. Teachers should provide regular, ongoing feedback to families (and students) after assessment. This helps to forge mutual responsibility for improving the child’s learning. Teachers should employ regular and systematic assessment and use evidence as part of efforts to improve student performance. Feedback based on this assessment should then be regularly communicated with parents. Planning should be guided by reflection on changes that need to be made. Analysis is conducted on the effectiveness of the implemented plans. This assessment iteratively leads to further feedback and reflection on possible needed changes. Teachers can build communication with families that includes ongoing efforts to address the following question: Does evidence of learning outcomes align with and confirm learning goals? This way, teachers and parents collaborate to ensure that goals are met, implemented, and evaluated in an accountable and transparent manner (Walvoord, 2010).

Families and teachers can work together in the growing of a child’s mind. The approach detailed in this article shifts the focus of the teacher away from family deficits such as a lack of time for parent conferences, and toward finding avenues to take advantage of strengths that may exist. A teacher who has a positive relationship with a family – in the sense of encouraging and fostering growth and generativity for the child in a collaborative manner – is more likely to seek communication work within the family’s time constraints.  


Deslandes, R. & Rousseau, N. (2007). Congruence between teachers’ and parents’ role   construction and expectations about their involvement in homework.                International Journal about Parents in Education, 1, 108-116.


Davis-Kean, P. E. (2005). The influence of parent education and family income on child achievement: The indirect role of parental expectations and the home environment. Journal of Family Psychology, 19, 294–304.


Dodd. A. W., & Konzal, J. L. (2002). How communities build stronger schools Stories, strategies, and promising practices for educating every child. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


Galindo, C., & Sheldon, S. B. (2012). School and home connections and children’s kindergarten achievement gains: The mediating role of family involvement. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27, 90–193


Hyland, N., & Meacham, S. (2004). Community knowledge-centered teacher education: A paradigm for socially just educational transformation. In J. Kincheloe, A. Bursztyn, & S. Steinberg (Eds.), Teaching teachers: Building a quality school of urban education. New York: Peter Lang.


Jeynes, W. H. (2005). A meta-analysis of the relation of parental involvement to urban elementary school student achievement. Urban Education, 40, 237–269.


Peterson, C. (2009). Positive psychology. Young Children, 18 (2) 3-7.


Rodgers, C., & Raider-Roth, M. (2006). Presence in teaching. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 12, 265-287.


Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An          introduction. American Psychologist, 55 (1), 5-14.


Snow, C., Barnes, W., Chandler, J., Goodman, I., & Hemphill, L. (2001). Unfulfilled expectations: home and school influences on literacy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


Walvoord, B. E. (2010). Assessment clear and simple. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Message From The President




Greetings and happy spring!  At the moment, we are having another day of snow showers, but by Friday, we should be close to 70!  If you don’t like the weather in St. Louis, wait five minutes!  But, the weather is always perfect to write in your journal or pick up a good book.  St. Louis Suburban ILA is here to help you learn more about supporting your kiddos and building your support network. Whether you are in a new position, a new seasoned veteran, it’s revitalizing to attend high quality professional development.  My wish for you is that you find a comfortable balance of learning, teaching and taking great care of yourself.  We’re here for you!

We continue to work hard to provide you some helpful and inspiring programs and resources to help you be successful during your schoolyear.  It’s the time of year to begin to look forward to summer, but without help and guidance, some students don’t read daily and some slip backwards in academic skills.  This is called the summer slide.  Our next evening is on Thursday, April 20th, featuring Kelli Westmoreland and Kim Favaza, from Booksource.  They will be sharing information and strategies for helping teachers and students prevent summer slide.  Sounds so helpful, right?  Check out the rest of the newsletter to see the amazing programs planned, and please let us know any other suggestions for PD needs you or your school may have. We are here to be of service to you.

One of our goals is to increase membership. Please try to encourage your colleagues to join us. When teachers join professional organizations, you gain the latest literacy information from our local organization, as well as Missouri Reading Council, not to mention the networking opportunities, lots of chances to meet other like-minded people in the area to network with and learn alongside. You’ll grow as a professional and have a great time in the process!  Again, we are excited to serve you and I look forward to another evening of learning and networking with you!


Leslie McKinstray,


Legislative Update: March 2017


Legislative Update

Mary Eileen Rufkahr


The campaign season has ended which means state leaders are now in the process of delivering action on the promises they made during the most recent election.


The Missouri House gave final approval to HCS/HB 138 (Spencer) on February 23rd  by a vote of 124 – 31.  This bill would establish a new course access program by revising the current MoVIP.  The program is available for students enrolled full-time in a public school.  The House adopted HA 1(Wood) to remove the two course limit on the number of virtual courses a student may enroll in under the program.


The Senate Economic Development Committee heard SB 406 (Wasson) on February 21st.  The bill would establish adult high schools to be operated by a Missouri nonprofit organization.

The Senate Education Committee heard three bills on February 21st:

SB 98 (Emery) would require all school restrooms, locker rooms, and shower rooms accessible for use by multiple students shall be designated for and use by male or female students only.

SB 313 (Koenig) proposes to create a new 100% state tax credit capped at $25 million per year for taxpayer contributions to third-party organizations that will use some of the proceeds to fund accounts that parents can use to pay private school tuition and other expenses for their students. The bill is currently limited to students with disabilities, whose parents are active military personnel or who are wards of the state.

SB 362 (Hummel) will provide instruction in Braille reading and writing as part of a student’s  individualized education plan unless instruction in Braille is determined not appropriate for the child.

The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee heard seven bills on February 20th:

HB 67 (Ruth) proposes to appoint a non-voting teacher representative to the State Board of Education.

HB 257 (Pfautsch) would require each school district to establish a policy allowing acceleration for certain students.

HB 310 (Vescovo) plans to require superintendents and assistant superintendents to be employed by school districts only by written contracts. The bill also specifies that such contracts shall allow no more than one year’s pay if the superintendent is dismissed, essentially reducing the maximum contract length from three years to two years.

HB 670 (Sommer) asks that districts with a state-approved gifted education program have a process which allows parents or guardians to appeal a determination that their child does not qualify for gifted services.

HB 675 (Dohrman) plans to reduce State Board of Education terms from eight years to four years and enact term limits of eight years for board members.

HJR 29 (Dohrman) proposes a constitutional amendment to reduce State Board of Education terms from eight years to four years.

HB695 (Pfautsch) would allow students to satisfy the physical education requirement for high school graduation by participating in two sports within the same school year.

The House Pensions Committee voted to approve the following bills on February 20th:

HCS/HB 304 (Pike) will create a divorce popup for PSRS and other school retirees, provided the divorce decree grants sole retention by the retired person of all rights in the retirement allowance. The HCS makes only technical corrections to the wording of the bill.

HB 305 (Pike) plans to provide that PSRS retirees who are teaching part time in school districts and employed by a private agency, must also abide by the 550 restriction.

The Senate Health and Pensions Committee heard two bills pertaining to school retirement on February 22nd:

SB 394 (Romine) would create a divorce popup for PSRS and other school retirees, provided the divorce decree grants sole retention by the retired person of all rights in the retirement allowance.

SB 409 (Koenig) creates a second tier for the St. Louis Public School Retirement System.   SB 409 reduces the benefit factor for new hires and for new creditable service for existing staff, gradually increases the employee contribution rate from 5% to 9% and changes from a Rule of 85 to a Rule of 80 for retirement.

The House Higher Education Committee heard three bills on February 22nd:

HB 733 (Chipman) will prohibit public institutions of higher education fromrequiring students to live on campus, except for first-year freshman who may be required to live in campus housing for their first year.

HB 814 (Chipman) requires each public college and university to post on its website information for each course offered at the institution, including the course syllabus, reading list, attendance requirements, extra credit opportunities, and a description of required assignments and projects.

HB 832 (Chipman) would  require public institutions of higher education to post certain information on their public websites.

Since coming into office in mid-January, Governor Eric Greitens has been focusing on Missouri’s budget.  Higher education funding cuts topped $82 million, with Harris- Stowe State University losing over $101,000 for graduate programs and Southeast Missouri State University also losing over $101,000 for a cybersecurity training program.

Greitens cut $14 million on various school programs, including $8.6 million for busing and $194,000 for teacher training and development programs.  Another $2.9 million was cut for the urban teaching initiative.






A Novel Approach for Integrating Literacy and STEM


A Novel Approach for Integrating Literacy and STEM

Sarah Valter

NBCT, Mentor Teacher

Sappington Elementary &

Dan Rocchio, Ed.D.

Professor Emeritus

Maryville University


If you’ve checked out ILA’s “What’s Hot in Literacy 2017 Report,” you may have noticed “Disciplinary Literacy” showing up in several key places. With a growing emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) this is not surprising. While teachers have always worked to effectively integrate literacy into content area instruction, an increased emphasis on critical thinking, teamwork, and problem solving is pushing teachers in new directions. One instructional approach that specifically integrates STEM and literacy into the classroom is called Novel Engineering (NE)

As a Mentor Teacher, I have had the opportunity to witness firsthand the growing impact of NE in the classroom setting this school year. At Sappington Elementary in the Lindbergh School District, our teachers have spent the past several months experimenting with this instructional approach in second, third, and fourth grade classes. After listening to a teacher read aloud a high-quality piece of literature, our students begin the NE process by engaging in a discussion to identify the key problems in the story. Once these specific problems have been pinpointed, children team up in cooperative groups to apply the engineering design process by building a model to solve one particular story problem.  This team of intermediate level teachers specifically emphasizes the “4 Cs of Design Thinking”: collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication.

Most recently, I had the privilege of experiencing a fourth-grade NE lesson from the book Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming. In this book, Mr. McGreely’s eager anticipation of a garden full of vegetables is continuously threatened by a group of hungry rabbits. As students teamed up to begin applying the design process in groups of four, both enthusiasm and engagement were high. Students excitedly discussed which problem would be their focus, and how they could begin to design a solution. They thought about perspective as they determined if they would solve Mr. McGreely’s problem by keeping the rabbits out of the garden, or if they would focus on the rabbits’ problem by helping them get in. Solutions were varied and creative. One group developed a bunny trap, complete with an iPhone taped inside so they could use video monitoring to track the garden’s invading rabbits.  Another team designed a wall around the perimeter of the garden that the bunnies would not be able to penetrate. A third group enthusiastically planned how they could set dishes of melatonin around the edges of the garden so the bunnies would fall asleep and no longer eat the vegetables inside. What struck me most as I watched these children work is how the skills they were applying in this setting were preparing them for a future of collaborative work. Natural leaders stepped up in each group. Communication was critical for success. Students had to be strategic in using their resources effectively and accurately, referring back to the story often.  As the teacher facilitated, I watched in wonder as these kids took complete ownership of their learning by applying their own background knowledge, understanding of the story, and creative thinking to help their team design a possible solution.

This NE model holds great promise for helping our team of intermediate teachers plan an efficient way to integrate engineering units into busy teaching schedules. In turn, this integrated literacy and engineering model has the potential to improve engineering thinking, speaking, listening, and the deep reading comprehension skills of our intermediate level students. We have not yet gathered systematic data on this work, but in partnership with Dan Rocchio we have applied for funding that will help us with continued professional development and data collection.

Our work has been informed by the research of Watkins, Spencer, & Hammer (2014) who found that NE can promote the deep reading of fiction and nonfiction, and that teachers play a significant role in coaching students to apply deep reading strategies and high level problem solving strategies.  Lopez-Wilson & Gregory (2015) have provided examples of problems, texts, design challenges, and disciplinary connections to help teachers plan instruction using the NE model.  A cohort of Sappington teachers hopes to continue professional development by attending a summer STEM workshop offered by Maryville University.  This program of STEM certification has been designed by Dr. Steve Coxon of Maryville University and leading STEM educators in the St. Louis area.  See this link for more information. https://www.maryville.edu/ed/stem-education-certificate-program/.

For further information about NE please check out the website developed by Tufts University  https://www.novelengineering.org/.  In addition Tufts University has developed a challenge to teachers and children across the country.  See the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1Ix0Axa-LQ&feature=youtu.be.

We welcome your responses to these ideas on our website: https://www.stlsuburbanreading.org./ Please click on the “continue reading” link and you can respond at this site.


International Literacy Association. (2017). What’s hot in literacy:2017   report. Retrieved from https://www.literacyworldwide.org/docs/default- source/resource-documents/whats-hot-2017-report.pdf?sfvrsn=4

Lopez-Wilson, A. & Gregory, S. ( 2015).  Integrating literacy and engineering Instruction for young learners. The Reading Teacher. 69(1), 25-33.

Watkins, J., Spencer, K., & Hammer, D. (2014). Examining young students’ problem scoping in engineering design. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research, 4: (1), 42-53.

Literature Cited

Fleming, C. (2002). Muncha!muncha! muncha! New York, New York: Athenium Books for Young Readers.




WEB Wonders By MaryEileen Rufkarh


Booktrack provides a new way for students to study and enjoy reading and writing. Users to this site can synchronize audio with text to create an immersive reading experience. Students can combine their own writing with a soundtrack chosen from over 20,000 professional-quality audio files.  Once the masterpiece is completed, students can share this multi-dimensional experience with their classmates.

Booktrack also functions like an e-reader, with hundreds of stories, for all age groups (including adults), in numerous genres, already downloaded to the site.  Readers can add a pre-selected audio background to the book or custom design their own soundtrack.  Musical genres range from Blues to Folk to Orchestral to Reggae and much more in-between.

You can find Booktrack at: https://booktrackclassroom.com/content/intro



“READ: Read, Eat, and Discover” Update

by Jody Rozbicki

Chairperson of MSC’s “Read & Feed” Committee

Each month, Glenda Nugent, MSC Coordinator, and I have a phone conference with our national committee composed of the National Title I Association, the International Literacy Association, and the states participating in “Read & Feed.”  In January 2017, we found out that ILA and Title I had changed the name of our project.  The project is now known as “READ: Read, Eat and Discover.”  The name change occurred because another organization in the United States has the same name.

This year two corporate partners have joined the “READ: Read, Eat and Discover” project.  They are Ruby Tuesday and Jet Blue Airlines.  They will participate through monetary donations. This is a new occurrence and more information will be available later.

The National Title I Association Conference is in Long Beach, California on February 22-25, 2017.  Stephen Sye, International Literacy Association, and Julie Cowell, DESE, will be giving a presentation about “READ:  Read, Eat and Discover.”  Stephen’s and Julie’s presentation will include St. Louis Suburban Council’s “Read & Feed” project, which was a partnership between Harris-Stowe University and the Ferguson-Florissant School District in June 2016.

If you are interested in sponsoring this project please submit an application to MSC’s “READ: Read, Eat and Discover” committee.  We have over 3000 books to distribute and we would love to get the books in the hands of our Missouri students.  Special note:  one member organizing your “READ” project must be an International Literacy Association member and the school you select must be a Title One feed school. Please contact Jody Rozbicki, (jrozbicki@ladueschools.net) for an application form and to determine if your partner school is a Title One feed school.  If MSC’s “READ” committee approves your application, Jody will contact you for the next steps in receiving the books for distribution.



Please Join The St. Louis Council of the International Literacy Association



Jody Rozbicki, Membership Director

St. Louis Suburban Council of International Reading Association is a professional learning community.  Today, we are asking you to join and encourage your professional friends to join too.  Joining as a Literacy Team is a savings.   

Congratulations to our membership for recognizing the benefits of  our organization.

About the St. Louis Suburban Council

  • Members represent more than twenty-five public school districts, many archdiocesan and other parochial and private schools, seven universities, and representatives of textbook and trade book publishers/ distributors.
  • Members include administrators, classroom teachers, librarians, reading specialists, literacy coaches, special education teachers, ESOL teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, and university faculty.
  • Educators and administrators who work with students from kindergarten through university levels are represented.
  • Averaging nearly 200 plus members each year, we are one of the largest local councils of the International Reading Association of Missouri.
  • Our council has won awards at state and national levels for the quality of our programs and the service we provide to our members and community.
  • We provide material to support family literacy, both locally and internationally.
  • We support international efforts to improve literacy across cultures by donating funds.
  • We are participating and sponsoring the International Literacy Association, Legacy Project, “READ: Read, Feed and Discover”, along with Missouri State Council.
  • We offer a mini-grant of $250-$500 for a member to implement a literacy-focused project in the classroom.
  • We provide networking opportunities for educators throughout the Greater St. Louis Area.

Top 5 Benefits of IRA Membership

  • Practical teaching tools you can use in the classroom
  • Access to top-rated journals, innovative research, and best practices
  • Being part of a community of reading professionals
  • Discounts on IRA publications and other professional development resources
  • Reduced conference registration rates
  • Information on IRA membership (https://www.reading.org)

Information about Membership

Remember that if you join as part of a team of two or more from your school building or district or university, you will be considered a Literacy Team and pay only $16.00 per person.  To be considered a Literacy Team, you need to mail the membership forms to Jody in the same envelope.  Single membership is $20.00.  If you are a full-time student or retired, you may join for $10.00.  In addition, your local council membership gives you automatic membership in the Missouri State Council of International Reading Association.  You will receive their benefits of website newsletters and state journal, The Missouri Reader.  The advantage of professional networking will allow you to meet and share ideas with educators from all over the St. Louis suburban area, while developing lasting and valued friendships.

Membership forms for July 2016 – August 2017 are posted in the right-hand column of website home page. Please print and mail in today.  If you need further information contact Jody Rozbicki at (jrozbicki@ladueschools.net)





Multimodal Literacy: A New and Expanded Definition: February 2017


Multimodal Literacy-A “New” and Expanded Definition
Thomas Cornell, Ed.D.


Webster University

As literacy educators, we are expanding our definition of what it means to be literate in this digital age.  One term that has expanded the definition of being literate is multimodal literacy and is “relatively” new.  Some have defined multimodal literacy as the dynamic convergence of two or more communication modes within the same text and where all modes are attended to as part of meaning-making (The New London Group, 1996).  Picture books, comics, and graphic novels also fall into this category as they juxtapose pictures with text. Interpersonal communication, visual literacy, digital literacy, and writing literacy are also terms that we hear. Rather than expound on multimodal literacy in depth however, I thought you might find the following resources helpful as you plan your instruction.  I wish you the best in your search for developing exciting and rewarding lessons that integrate various modalities so that you and your students can produce motivating and thought-provoking experiences for learning.

Visual Resources

Foto.com is an extensive, easy to use CC image repository which provides “ready to paste” attribution information for use with the photograph.

Pixabay Image (pixaby.com) provides free public domain images.  Check the usage terms of CC license before downloading.

Wikipedia Commons (commons.wikipedia.org) is a free media repository.  Check the type of CC license and its usage before downloading.

Wikipedia: Public Domain Images

(en.wikipedia.org) lists many sources for images which lists several public domain images on the web.  Users are responsible for checking the copyright status of images before using them.

Audio Resources

Audio Library YouTube: (youtube.com/audiolibrary/music) offers a growing library of music for use in video making.   This is a very simple download process and music can be searched by genre, mood, instrument and duration.

ccMixer (ccMixer.org) is a community music remixing site featuring remixes and samples licensed under CC licenses.  You are free to download and sample from music on this site and share the results.  Some songs might have certain restrictions, depending on their specific license. Each submission is clearly marked with the license that applies to it.

Five Great Sources For Free-To-Use Audio: Clips & Sound Effects (makeuseof.com):Provides five different options for finding sound effects.

Comics and Graphic Novels Resources


Comics and graphic novel formats can be used to tell new stories, to retell old stories, and to inform and instruct as in information reports, book reports, text analysis, character studies, diaries, and even instructional manuals.

In conclusion, our continuing advances in technology require us to use multimodal methods of communication within our society and around the world. At Webster University, we now offer an online MA in Multimodal Literacy for a Global Impact.  If you are interested, please contact me for further information.

*(CC stands for Creative Commons) A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work. A CC license is used when an author wants to give people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they have created.


Web Wonders: Nov. 2016


Web Wonders

Trying Something Different

 By Mary Eileen Rufkah

No argument, a teacher’s day is busy from sun-up to sundown (and more than likely outside of those hours as well), and it’s easy to rely on the tried and true, the tools that work well for you and your students.  But every once in a while, it’s a good mental exercise to branch out, to take that risk, to look at something you may not have noticed before.  Included below are some relatively new education-oriented web sites that teachers may find useful.

Figment is an online community and self-publishing platform for young writers.  Figment’s target audience is teen readers and writers.  Educators can tap into exclusive author programming, writing prompts, and private group functionality, where teachers can create a virtual writers’ workshop for the classroom.

Figment currently has over 300,000 registered users and over 440,000 ‘books’, or pieces of writing.  Figment also offers writing contests to help budding young writers hone their skills. Many of the contests focus on themes and issues presented in popular and upcoming young adult books.  Figment can be found at:  https://figment.com/.

Tackk is a free, simple way to create and collaborate in the classroom. Teachers can use Tackk for assignments, presentations, blogs, discussions and more. Tackk is easy to embed, email and share on various social media networks.  Geared for grades six on up, Tackk allows you to create, publish and send quickly and hassle-free.

Tackk users can incorporate photos, videos, buttons, maps, media, and other digital resources into their work.  Teachers can post their successful lesson plans on Tackk and browse units from other educators as well.

Ideas for utilizing Tackk in the classroom include:  lesson planning, persuasive writing projects, parent communication, peer critiques, Skype classroom collaboration, student ePortfolios and book reports.

Check Tackk out at:  https://tackk.com/.

Pear Deck is an interactive presentation tool used to actively engage students in individual and social learning. Teachers create presentations using their Google Drive account. Students log into the presentation with unique access codes and interact with questions while teachers monitor individual student progress and whole-class progress.

Teachers can use Pear Deck to create interactive presentations that allow students to work independently to respond to various questions throughout the ‘deck’.  During each session, teachers can see the presentation as well as the students participating. Student responses appear on the teacher screen in real-time.  Teachers can have their students demonstrate their understanding through drawing, multiple choice answers, essay or whatever meets a student’s individual needs.

Pear Deck supports inquiry based learning, rather than relying on teacher recited facts.  All learners are engaged, not just those raising their hands.  Since the teacher is constantly receiving real-time results from student responses, it is easy to evaluate a lesson’s success on the spot, move on, or re-teach the concept. Look for Pear Deck at:  https://www.peardeck.com/.