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    Then Comes Summer Reading

    Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | May 29, 2017

    As the school year ends, it is time to encourage students to include regular visits to their local libraries (and perhaps sign up for a summer reading program) over summer vacation. In this week’s column, we review recently published books, as well as some old favorites, for lazy days of summer reading.

    Ages 4–8

    And Then Comes Summer. Tom Brenner. Ill. Jaime Kim. 2017. Candlewick.

    and-then-comes-summerIn a series of reflections, a young boy considers the endless joys of summer. The smells, sounds, sights, and activities of summer are presented in lyrical text and cheery acrylic illustrations featuring the boy, his dog, and his friends. The activities the boy enjoys, including selling lemonade, marching in the fourth of July parade, and camping at the lake, will have young children thinking about their own anticipated summer pastimes.

    —CA

    The Jolley-Rogers and the Monster’s Gold (The Jolley Rogers #3). Jonny Duddle. 2017. Templar/Candlewick.

    Jolley RogersMatilda rejoins the Jolley-Rogers on another buccaneer adventure after finding a bottle with a treasure map inside. They set sail for the mysterious island, singing foreboding treasure hunting shanties. Mayhem erupts when Grandpa’s peg leg is stolen by a menacing sea monster, and their ship soon ends up at the not-so-deserted Banana Island with monkeys, a grizzly old pirate, and Banana Bill (a baker extraordinaire). When the Jolley-Rogers leave Matilda safely behind on the island and set out to find the sea monster, they find themselves in great peril. It’s up to Matilda to save the day with a plan—which may or may not include 99 retired old pirates and a boatload of bananas and gold pieces! Clever, black-and-white digital illustrations contribute to this great read-aloud for young swashbucklers.

    —NB 

    Little Pig Saves the Ship. David Hyde Costello. 2017. Charlesbridge.

    Little PigLittle Pig is too young to join his older siblings for a week at sailing camp, and must stay behind with Grandpa and Poppy. A book of sailors’ knots and a piece of rope from his oldest brother hold his interest until, one night, Poppy shows Little Pig a toy sailboat he’s building. The next day, Little Pig sews the sails and Poppy carves small figures to “man” the ship. They sail the ship every day until disaster strikes and Little Pig must put his rope-knotting skills to work. Ink-and-watercolor cartoon illustrations with speech balloons add to the fun of this charming adventure.

    —CA

    That’s What Friends Are For. Suzanne Chiew. Ill. Caroline Pedler. 2017. Tiger Tales.

    That's What Friends are forBadger and his friends enjoy splashing in a stream under the summer sun. When Mouse reports that the stream has slowed to a trickle, they all worrywill they have enough water to drink, swim, do laundry, and keep the flowers alive? Trekking upstream, they discover boulders blocking the stream and work together to move them. Colorful, detailed illustrations bring the community of clever critters to life in this gentle lesson on problem-solving and teamwork. 

    —NB

    There Might Be Lobsters. Carolyn Crimi. Ill. Laurel Molk. 2017. Candlewick.

    There Might be LobstersEleanor can’t coax her small dog, Sukie, from the stairs leading to the beach. Sukie has a list of reasons to avoid the beach, ending with “and, besides, there might be lobsters.” Eleanor carries Sukie and her stuffed toy monkey, Chunka Munka, down to the sand, and Sukie’s list of fears grows as she gets closer to the water. When Chunka Munka is washed out by the tide, however, Sukie puts aside her fears—including the possibility of encountering lobsters in the ocean—to rescue him.

    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    Blueberry Pancakes Forever (Finding Serendipity #3). Angelica Banks. 2017. Henry Holt.

    Blueberry Pancakes ForeverIn the final book of the trilogy, Serendipity Smith (the author of the popular Vivienne Small series) is stuck in a period of year-long grief (and writer’s block) after the death of her husband. Serendipity arranges for her friend Colette to watch over her daughter, young Tuesday McGillycuddy, so she can return to the Land of Story to heal and begin writing again. When a villain from her mother’s book kidnaps her friend Vivienne, Tuesday is swept into the Land of Story. She must dig deep inside herself to write her way out of this dangerous plot and back into a life filled with love, good memories of her father’s blueberry pancakes, and new stories.

    —NB

    Effie Starr Zook Has One More Question. Martha Freeman. 2017. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster.

    Effie Starr ZookEffie Starr Zook, an 11-year-old girl from a “well fixed” New York City family (thanks to Effie’s great grandfather, the inventor of the barf bag) is spending the summer with her aunt and uncle at Zook Farm in Pennsylvania while her parents tour the world on a test flight of a solar airplane. Expecting to be bored, she’s pleased to meet Moriah Yoder, whose family lives on the edge of the property. She quickly learns there’s “bad blood” between the Zooks and the Yoders. Effie, a pro at asking questions, wants answers but gets none from her evasive relatives. The more she learns about her famous great grandfather, Mr. Yoder (the founder of the Beards of America movement), and Mr. Odbody (a bookstore owner and the only African American in town), the more questions she has. Uncovering family secrets will keep Effie busy for the summer.

    —CA

    Tricked (Fairy Tale Reform School #3). Jen Calonita. 2017. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky/Sourcebooks.

    TrickedGilly Cobbler, former Fairy Tale Reform School (FTRS) student, worries that her younger sister, Anna—who was sent to FTRS for blowing up Red’s shop with her friends Hansel and Gretel— is in danger. The evil Rumpelstiltskin (Mr. Stilts), now in charge of FTRS, has a new school motto: If you can’t become a better person, become a better villain. Before Gilly can get Anna out of the school, she’ll have to get herself thrown back in. In this magical mashup of mermaids, fairies, pirates, and princesses, as Gilly and her crew work to banish Mr. Stilts, they learn that it’s not just important to be good, but to discover what they are good at.

    —NB

    Ages 12–14

    The Harlem Charade. Natasha Tarpley. 2017. Scholastic.

    Harlem CharadeSeventh graders Jin, Elvin, and Alex are researching class project ideas about their Harlem neighborhood when Elvin’s grandfather is mysteriously attacked. Elvin, locked out of the apartment, ends up living on the streets. The three friends work together to learn what happened to Elvin’s grandfather, who is in a coma. When their sleuthing uncovers a politician’s plan to build “Harlem World,” a nefarious money-making scheme that will cause some residents to lose their homes and businesses, they know they must follow the clues, even as they lead them into danger. Notes about the historical context, events, and locations in the book provide a background for this historical mystery.

    —NB

    When My Sister Started Kissing. Helen Frost. 2017. Margaret Ferguson/Farrar Straus Giroux. 

    When My Sister Started KissingClaire and Abigail had always loved spending a month each summer with their father at his cabin at Heartstone Lake. This year everything is different. Their father has remarried, and expecting a baby. And something between Claire and Abigail has changed. Claire is confused over the changes that are playing out this summer. In an endnote for this beautifully crafted novel in verse, Frost explains her use of different poetic forms to give voice to key characters: quatrains for Claire, free verse for Abigail, and acrostics for the Lake.

    —CA  

    Ages 15+

    Camp So-And-So. Mary McCoy. 2017. Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner.

    Camp So-and-SoLured by a glossy brochure, 25 girls find themselves at remote Appalachian Camp So-And-So. Once their parents leave, the girls realize that something’s not right; facilities and activities are not what the brochure promised, and there is a complete lack of adult supervision. The occupants of the cabins will need to ban together to survive challenges specially chosen for each cabin. McCoy weaves the story from cabin to cabin, across five separate plots, with comments from an omniscient narrator and a counselor-in-training. Readers won’t be able to put down this weird and totally absorbing horror story about a very dangerous summer at camp.

    —CA

    Zenn DiagramZenn Diagram. Wendy Brant. 2017. Loft/Kids Can.

    Reclusive 17-year-old math genius Eva has a special gift. When she touches another person, or anything that belongs to that person, she can instantly read them. This makes her a great math tutor; coaches know that she can be counted on to raise the GPAs of athletes sidelined by poor grades. Because she picks up pain through touch, Eva avoids direct contact with others. She senses an intense emotional “fractal” when she accidentally touches Zenn—a tutee—but as romance blossoms and they embrace, there is no physical agony. Just as Eva decides that it is time to break loose from her self-imposed prison and learn more about life, something happens that cracks her world apart.

    —NB

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English from Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California. Carolyn Angus is former Director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    What Federal Education Budget Cuts Mean for Professional Development

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | May 26, 2017

    professiona-developmentAmong massive cuts to science, arts, healthcare, and social welfare programs, President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, submitted to Congress on Tuesday, calls for a whopping $9.2 billion spending cut to education.

    The largest proposed cut—at $2.3 billion—would come from the elimination of the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants, or Title II of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Title II is the key federal funding stream that districts use to recruit, train, support, and compensate their teacher workforce.

    With such a huge loss of funding, districts would have to make difficult decisions about where to cut corners. Professional development, often viewed as a luxury instead of a necessity, is usually the first to go.

    During an appearance on EduTalk Radio this week, International Literacy Association (ILA) Associate Executive Director Stephen Sye explained that professional development is a vague term that can take on a myriad of forms, making it difficult to correlate with student achievement.

    “There are a number of educators who feel that if the budget continues to be reduced, professional development will be eliminated. Unfortunately that does nothing but hurt our workforce,” Sye said during the interview. “A less prepared teacher results in a less prepared student and ultimately a less qualified workforce.”

    Sye discussed the implications of the budget cuts with host Larry Jacobs. He said that as federal funding streams dry up, organizations like ILA will play an increasingly important role in ensuring that all students have access to current, prepared, high-quality teachers.

    “No matter what the climate, ILA is going to continue to advocate for making teachers better teachers because that’s what our students deserve,” said Sye.

    Budget cuts will hit some schools hard. Organizations like ILA can level the playing field by making professional development resources more accessible to all educators. ILA publishes journals, books, thought leadership pieces, and other resources on evidence-based strategies that have been proven effective in classrooms.

    “If we as a nation are truly committed to quality education, then the cutting-edge practical resources on instruction that ILA provides are going to be more needed than ever,” Sye said. “What we offer in terms of knowledge is research based and is sound practice, no matter what the political climate brings.”

    The organization also offers free registration to the ILA 2017 Conference & Exhibits for undergraduate preservice teachers. Participants can attend presentations by literacy expert, hands-on curriculum-building workshops, TED Talk-style lunches, literacy research sessions, and the social justice and current events panel.

    But, Sye said, programming is only one part of the picture; having the opportunity for face-to-face networking and collaboration is the most valuable part of any conference. As districts start to reexamine and streamline their professional development budgets, Sye hopes they will continue to recognize these interactive learning events as a worthwhile investment.

    “Without investing in teachers and quality professional development, how are they going to be current and prepared, and how are our students going to be current and prepared?” 

    Alina O'Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    How to Help Students Interpret Digital Texts

    Carolyn Fortuna
     | May 26, 2017
    How to Help Students Interpret Digital Texts

    Even in our increasingly digital world, some of my students still have difficulty interpreting digital texts; they seem to summarize main points rather than interpret underlying meanings and messages.

    How can we help students to move beyond summary and toward interpretation? I’ve found that a combination of digital popular culture modeling, heuristics, and choice—along with digital composition—can initiate that process.

    Interpretation combines summary, synthesis, and analysis. We take a whole text and break it into its parts. Those parts, when reassembled, create a more powerful whole than would any individual element. This concept is known as gestalt.

    Digital Culture Modeling

    Let’s take the example of the Chrysler Eminem Super Bowl Commercial in which the rapper protagonist is set against an increasingly revitalized Detroit.

    I showed this video to high school and college students and asked them a series of questions:

    • Identifying details: Who is driving the car? What do you know about him? What’s the camera’s perspective? Name what he sees as he drives.
    • Deciphering symbolism: What does a clenched fist represent? Why did the artist choose an image of workers pulling in unison? What could a statue with a Golden Globe symbolize?
    • Determining overarching thematic meanings: Why was it important, socially and culturally, for Eminem to stand below the chorus? What role do people of color have in Detroit? Who’s paying for this commercial, and why would they want these particular messages portrayed in these particular ways?

    I have found that the fluid and dynamic questioning process involved with this kind of modeling helps students connect the digital dots.

    Heuristics That Lead to Meaning-Making

    I also encourage students to use a step-by-step Digital Visual Analysis Protocol as they attempt to deconstruct digital texts. This protocol arose from my research into the work of Gunther Kress, the National Association for Media Literacy Education Association, and Renee Hobbs’ innovative methodology around digital media text analysis, including her Mind over Media interactive platform.

    Choice + Digital Composition= Interpretation

    William Glasser’s Choice Theory inspired me to let my students choose their own digital texts whenever possible. When they choose which digital texts to interpret through their own original digital compositions, their interpretation skills rise to entirely new heights.

    Interpretation isn’t easy for any of us. But, with guidance and protocols, students can interpret digital texts in ways that move beyond the classroom and into the real world. That’s where the important work of digital text interpretation takes place.

    Carolyn FortunaCarolyn Fortuna, PhD is a retired secondary school English teacher whose next career centers around producing events for the University of Rhode Island’s Media Education Lab and teaching in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at Rhode Island College. You can contact her at c4tuna31@gmail.com.

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    Embracing the Unknown With ILA General Session Speaker Enrique C. Feldman

    By Colleen Clark
     | May 25, 2017
    Enrique Feldman

    Enrique C. Feldman’s goal was to develop his potential more fully when he left his position as professor of music and education at the University of Arizona (UA) in 1997. It was a comfortable, secure job, but he felt there was a greater purpose for him.

    That idea got its start when he took an early childhood music education class during his undergraduate time at UA and was enthralled by the energy of the 3- to 7-year-olds

    “That experience kept calling me over the years,” Feldman says. “I also became a dad, [which] completely immersed me into the world and the imagination of the child. I became fascinated with how young children learn.”

    And so a man with an undergraduate in music and two master’s degrees in music education and conducting and performance departed UA in search of ways he could get involved in education in a more holistic sense—going beyond teaching music to educating the whole child.

    The result: Feldman is now the founder and director of education for the Global Learning Foundation (GLF), a play-based and research-based organization that offers professional development for schools and organizations of all types. At GLF, Feldman has taken everything he’s learned over the years—from music and composition to improv and play—and channeled it into a literacy learning approach that values engagement, connection, energy, and community. He promotes trusting your instincts and knowing when to take risks, authentic learning and frameworks, and building what he calls “Possibility Culture.”

    Now, helping others develop their full potential is a large focus for Feldman, who already wears many hats, including music composer, producer, and author of Living Like a Child: Learn, Live, and Teach Creatively (Redleaf), Sam the Ant, a new children’s book series he’s cowriting with his 22-year-old daughter, and iBG, Intellectual Brainwave Games, which improve cognition and patterning and reduce stress.

    Come July, he’ll add a new title to the list: ILA 2017 Opening General Session speaker. And the theme of the session, Literacy Reimagined, couldn’t be more in tune with Feldman’s story.

    Read the open access March/April issue of Literacy Today for just a peek at what you can expect from Feldman, in his own words.

    Colleen Patrice Clark is the managing editor of Literacy Today.

    Enrique C. Feldman will speak at the Opening General Session of the ILA 2017 Conference & Exhibits on Saturday, July 15. Attendees can also experience more of his brain games and improv techniques at his session, “Preparing the Brain and Body for Learning and Literacy,” on Sunday, July 16, and at the ILA Power Hour Lunch on Monday, July 17. 

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    Future Farmers of America: Not Just for Future Farmers

    By Kip Glazer
     | May 24, 2017
    FFA Presentation

    One in four students in the United States lives and learns in rural areas. Having lived and worked in the California’s Central Valley for over 10 years, I am aware of the unique challenges and opportunities these students face. While earning my bachelor’s degree at California Polytechnic State University—a school known for its engineering programs—many of my classmates were studying math, science, and technology, with plans to work in agriculture. As a high school teacher, I have had the privilege of watching my students participate in Future Farmers of America (FFA), an intracurricular organization for students interested in agriculture.

    In the spring 2017 issue of New Horizons, Mark Moore reported on a $454,000 grant that provides precision agriculture technology to FFA members at North Newton and South Newton high schools in Indiana. Although the students still learn how to use traditional agricultural equipment (such as tractors and combines), they also learn how to operate drones to collect, analyze, and interpret real-time data from the field.

    FFA programs provide instruction for students who want to learn about the science, business, and technology behind plant and animal production and natural resource systems. For example, students in one agricultural entrepreneurship class learned how to create, implement, and present a business plan. For their final project, they designed visual presentations that included the product, the mission statement, relevant statistics, and descriptions of the technologies involved. Projects like this help build critical literacy skills that can be applied to any subject.

    2016 Honorary American FFA Degree recipient Julie Beechinor once said to me, “Many people still think agricultural is just about cows, sows, and plows. They have no clue how much technology is involved in agriculture. My students are trained to be scientists, and we need them to be. Because without smart agriculture, no one can live.”

    Having seen what her students do, I couldn’t agree more! 

    Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program. Her Purposeful Tech column looks at how classroom teachers can think critically about today's instructional technologies.

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