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    Motivating Resistant Readers With PBL in the Reading Workshop

    By Jenny Gieras
     | Aug 23, 2019

    Although I’m sure it exists, I’ve yet to encounter that mythical class of students, the one where every student enters my classroom an avid reader, embraces every genre we explore within the course of our school year, and cheers when prompted to write about their reading. Rather, the norm seems to be that some students would spend their days reading only nonfiction texts or graphic novels if they could, others fight any type of assignment that requires them to write about their reading, and some would be content spending the workshop period not reading at all, just flipping through the pages of a glossy magazine filled with photos of their favorite athletes.

    Alhough I am a strong supporter of student choice for independent reading, the fact remains that, as a teacher of elementary literacy, I have a curriculum to teach that purposefully exposes my third graders to a variety of text genres (character fiction, mystery, expository and narrative nonfiction, etc.), affording them opportunities to strengthen decoding, fluency, and comprehension skills they need to be lifelong readers and thinkers, as well as—let’s face it—standardized test takers.

    This can be a tough pill to swallow for a kid who just wants to read about sea animals or laugh his way through comic books all day, use her reading notebook to draw cartoons, or in some cases, not read anything at all. That’s where I’ve found a motivator is helpful, and I’ve had great success motivating even my most reluctant readers with interest-driven, technology-enhanced, project-based learning experiences based on students’ in-class reading.

    Literary projects appeal to everyone because of the innate differentiation embedded in them, offering entry points for all learners. They capture the attention and motivation of even the most reluctant readers, giving them purpose as they read, and they provide extension opportunities for those kids who are intent on reading the entire classroom library in a school year. In addition, comprehensive projects like these nudge students to think more deeply about text to ensure what they are sharing or presenting will make sense and appeal to real audiences; they also provide authentic formative assessment opportunities, enabling teachers to monitor student comprehension as they plan, create, modify, and present their projects.

    Following are some of my favorite ways to shake up reading workshop, modifiable across genres, grade levels, tech accessibility, and ability levels.

    Character interviews

    After reading self-selected fiction books in partnerships, students choose a character from the book to critically analyze, citing text evidence to back claims about his/her motivations, traits, and interests. Then, they draft questions they might hypothetically ask the character in an interview. Working together, the reading partnerships write a script between the character and an interviewer, create one or more background(s) that made sense for the book’s setting, and use an app with green screen (we use DoInk) to record a “live” interview “on location.” My students are always eager to share their interview videos with others on sharing apps like SeeSaw, and they put great effort into generating thoughtful questions and answers that would accurately depict the character to their peers. They speak in character and borrow quotes from their books. It’s especially fun comparing interpretations when more than one group chooses the same character to “interview.”

    Book trailers


    In their reading partnerships (I love this for our Mystery unit), students select a favorite text, then create book trailers. (We always first watch a few current movie trailers to get a sense of what a trailer is.) Some kids use the easy-to-use templates in iMovie, others get crafty and create stop motion animations (my favorite tool is Stop Motion Studio Pro) with clay, paper, or drawings, and others write scripts, paint backdrops, and film themselves as characters from their books to entice others to read them. We roll out the red carpet and serve popcorn as a final celebration on our Book Trailer Premiere Day. Students also have the option to create book trailer posters to display in the classroom or school library, which can include a QR code that directs interested readers to the recorded book trailer.

    Comic books based on chapter books

    Graphic novels have been enjoying their moment in the sun. Comic book images not only appeal to our more visual learners, but also lend graphic support to often complicated storylines. Having the opportunity to create comic book versions of chapter books (usually just a portion, but for some more ambitious students, an entire, abbreviated, book) or short stories encourages many students to keep going during periods of marathon reading, such as during our mid-winter Test Prep unit. Some students love drawing their own comics to create homemade graphic novels; others digitize their work with basic drawing tools like Sketchbook which they import into slideshows using Apple Keynote or Google Slides, or by using cartoon creation tools in an app like Pixton. Once the comic books are “published,” we add them to our classroom library, alongside their companion books, for others to enjoy.



    Kids love creating their own news segments and teaming up with peers to create a broadcast. Typically during a nonfiction unit of study, students choose a topic and read several related books, collecting information as they hone their research skills. Creating short news clips provides a great opportunity for learners to demonstrate their understanding and share their learning with a broader audience. One or two students play anchor and introduce the segments, and the whole package can be streamed to the school’s broadcast system (if one exists), or recorded and shared on a learning management system (like Google Classroom), viewed by other classes in an assembly, or sent home to parents in a linked email. To prepare kids to make nonfiction book segments, we watch videos on National Geographic Kids, or perennial favorite The Kid Should See This. We add some snazzy sound bites to liven up the broadcast with snips from ZapSplat or StoryBlocks Audio. For fiction books, the news segments can be reports on what’s actually happening within books (“We interrupt this newscast to tell you that author Wallace Wallis had been reported missing!”), or, with a little imagination, an extension of a storyline. Kids love talking about their characters like they are real people!

    As literacy educators, we know that best practices include matching texts to readers, exposing students to a variety of genres, and differentiating assignments. We also know that, while literary writing is an essential academic skill our students need to develop, the fact is that there are multiple ways to demonstrate comprehension of text. Not every student will need a motivator to read, consider and comprehend, and respond to text across the school year. For those who may need a little motivation, literacy projects just might be what it takes.

    Jenny Gieras teaches third grade at Roaring Brook Elementary School in Chappaqua, NY. She is passionate about student-centered, technology-enhanced, inquiry-driven learning. You can find her on Twitter @JennyGieras.

    This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

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    The Research Address at ILA 2019: Talking the “Dos & Don’ts of Writing Instruction”

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Aug 21, 2019

    It’s often said that reading and writing are inextricably connected. They draw
    upon shared knowledge bases and work in tandem to help students learn across
    all content areas. Studies have proven that, when students practice reading, they
    become stronger writers—and the opposite holds true as well: As students write
    more frequently, their reading comprehension improves.

    Yet despite a large body of research establishing this connection, writing is an
    often overlooked tool for improving reading skills and content learning.
    The research address at the International Literacy Association (ILA) 2019
    Conference, “The Dos & Don’ts of Writing Instruction,” provides practitioners
    with research-based information about how writing improves reading while
    making the case for teachers, literacy specialists, and administrators to place
    greater emphasis on writing instruction as an integral part of school curricula.

    A new format

    This year’s format will maintain the traditional research address but add a
    roundtable discussion, creating a space for more participatory, engaged, and
    self-steering conversation. With a more intimate setting and focused content,
    the roundtable discussions will allow participants to connect with like-minded
    professionals, ask questions, bounce off ideas, and receive feedback in real time.

    The kickoff

    The event will kick off with opening remarks by Douglas Fisher, professor of
    educational leadership at San Diego State University and a past president of the
    ILA Board; Diane Lapp, distinguished professor of education in the Department
    of Teacher Education at San Diego State University; and David Kirkland, associate
    professor of English education in the Department of Teaching and Learning
    at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human
    Development. The session cochairs will provide a brief overview of today’s
    literacy landscape, mapping some of the challenges that prevent effective writing instruction in the classroom as well as potential avenues for growth and

    Writing as a powerful driver for reading comprehension

    Following is a keynote by Steve Graham, a leading expert on the educational psychology of writing. Graham, the Warner Professor in the Division of Leadership and Innovation at Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, has dedicated more than 30 years to the study of writing. His research focuses on identifying the factors that contribute to writing development and difficulties, developing and validating effective instructional procedures for teaching writing, and the use of technology to enhance writing performance.

    Graham is a past editor for leading journals such as Exceptional Children and Contemporary Educational Psychology and the author and editor of several books, including Powerful Writing Strategies for All Students (Brookes), Handbook of Writing Research (Guilford Press), and Best Practices in Writing Instruction (Guilford Press). In recent years, he has been involved in the development and testing of digital tools for supporting writing and reading through a series of grants from the Institute of Educational Sciences and the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education.

    Graham will share his insights into the connection between reading and writing and discuss a series of studies that have examined four factors—writing strategies, skills, knowledge, and will—that play an important role in writing performance and development. His keynote will make a compelling case for emphasizing writing in the classroom and across content areas.

    Deep dive into topics of interest

    Following the research address, attendees will have the opportunity to unpack, critique, and expand on the points put forth by Graham. Participants can choose to attend any of the 14 group discussions, facilitated by table leaders who are experts in specific aspects of writing.

    Each table leader will explore one contemporary topic on writing instruction. The leaders will approach all topics through a lens of equity with the goal of improving outcomes for all students.

    Following is the full list of table experts and topics:

    • "Emergent Writing Instruction," Sharon O'Neal, professor, Texas State University
    • “Elementary Writing Instruction,” Brian Kissel, associate professor, University of
      North Carolina, Charlotte
    • “Middle & Secondary Writing Instruction,” Kristen Campbell Wilcox, associate professor, SUNY Albany
    • “Scaffolding for ELs,” Danling Fu, professor, University of
    • “Preparing Writers for the Workplace,” T. DeVere Wolsey, professor, The American
      University in Cairo
    • “Self-Regulation,” Karen Harris, professor, Vanderbilt University
    • “Spelling While Writing,” Malatesha Joshi, professor, Texas A&M University
    • “Motivating Writers,” Zoi Philippakos, assistant professor, University of Tennessee
    • “Writing Assessment,” Margarita Gomez Zisselsberger, assistant professor, Loyola
    • “Technology: No Replacement for the Teacher,” Kay Wijekumar, professor, Texas A&M University
    • “Digital Writing,” Troy Hicks, professor, Central Michigan University
    • “Preparing Culturally Responsive Writing Teachers,” Marva Solomon, associate
      professor, Angelo State University
    • “Writing and Reading Connections Across the Disciplines,” Jennifer Serravallo,
      teacher, author, and consultant, New York City
    • “Inclusive Writing Instruction,” Sharlene Kiuhara, assistant professor, Utah University
    Tangible takeaways

    Kirkland, an ILA 2019 featured speaker who also serves as executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, will provide the closing keynote.

    A leading national scholar and advocate for educational justice, his transdisciplinary scholarship explores intersections among race, gender, and education, focusing on the relationship between literacy and incarceration.

    Kirkland’s presentation, “Gaining and Sharing Knowledge: Reading and Writing Joined Forever,” will outline key takeaways from the event as well as next steps educators can take to help students cultivate strong reading and writing skills in the 21st-century classroom. Participants will leave with easy-to-implement strategies and methods, grounded in culturally sustaining pedagogy, that promote academic achievement.

    For more information about the Research Address, as well as a list of other featured research sessions at ILA 2019, visit

    Alina O'Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of Literacy Daily.

    This article originally appeared in the open access July/August issue of Literacy Today, ILA’s member magazine.

    The Research Address at ILA 2019 will be held on Saturday, Oct. 12, 3:00 PM–4:30 PM. For more information, visit
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    Back-to-School Stories

    By Skye Deiter and Jennifer W. Shettel
     | Aug 19, 2019
    As students head to school—some for the first time—with their backpacks filled with new school supplies, it is time to round up some new school-themed stories for teachers, librarians, and parents to share with pre-K to sixth-grade students as they start the new school year.

    Ages 4–8

    Clothesline Clues to the First Day of School. Kathryn Heling & Deborah Hembrook. Ill. Andy Robert Davies. 2019. Charlesbridge.

    Clothesline Clues“High on the clothesline / hang clue after clue. / It’s the first day of school! / Who wants to meet you?” This picture book features rhyming riddles about the people children may encounter on their first day of school such as different teachers, the custodian, the crossing guard, the cafeteria worker, and fellow students. Double-page spreads featuring a clothesline hung with colorful clothing and items associated with each individual and a riddle offer children visual and textual clues to answer the recurring question “Who wants to meet you?” With a turn of the page, they see if their answer was correct.

    Did You Burp?: How to Ask Questions (or Not!) April Pulley Sayre. Ill. Leeza Hernandez. 2019. Charlesbridge.

    Did You Burp“Questions are the beginning of learning about the world. So be brave. Be bold. Ask questions!” This ask-out-loud story is perfect to teach young, curious children how to formulate questions. The book is divided into sections with headings like “Why ask questions?” or “How to ask a question” that teach effective question-asking strategies. April Pulley Sayre explores question words—who, what, when, where, how, and why—and helps readers know the right time to ask (or not ask) their questions. She even addresses what a question is not (for example, a story or comment). Leeza Hernandez’s digitally created illustrations feature children asking and responding to questions in accompanying speech bubbles.

    The King of Kindergarten. Derrick Barnes. Ill. Vanessa Brantley-Newton. 2019. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin.

    The King of Kindergarten 2It’s the first day of kindergarten and enthusiasm is high for a little boy who is headed off to school for the first time. The second-person narrative invites the reader to feel like the little boy in the story—a young “prince” (as his mother calls him) ready to make his mark on the world, confident in his ability to be “the King of Kindergarten.” Filled with royal-themed phrases, this book takes the reader on a joyful journey into the “Kindergarten Kingdom” while details in brightly colored mixed-media illustrations keep the setting in a modern classroom and school. 

    Linus The Little Yellow Pencil. Scott Magoon. 2019. Disney-Hyperion.

    Linus the Little Yellow PencilLinus the Pencil is determined to win the grand prize at the family art show, but his eraser, Ernie, is complicating matters. Ernie didn’t like a single mark Linus made. “Rubba-dubba-rubb went Ernie, and Linus’s lines were gone.” Scott Magoon’s artistic puns bring an inanimate protagonist to life as jealous Linus sees other supplies creating their artwork. While watching Brush paint, he bristles with envy and thinks, “Must be nice to brush those cares aside.” The humor continues as Linus and Ernie struggle to create their own masterpiece. Frustrated, Linus is “drawn to the very edge” where, feeling “dull,” he enters a cave he has spied. Linus leaves the cave (a pencil sharpener) feeling much “sharper” with an artistic idea that just might work!

    Lola Goes to School (Lola Reads). Anna McQuinn. Ill. Rosalind Beardshaw. 2019. Charlesbridge.

    Lola Goes to SchoolIn Anna McQuinn’s latest book, charming, book-loving Lola is starting school. First-time school-goers will relate to Lola’s feelings of excitement and anticipation as she packs her school bag, picks out her first-day outfit, and walks to school with her mom. During the day, Lola reads books, participates in group activities, and goes outside to play with her new friends. At the end of the day, mom arrives to walk her home and after a having a snack, a happy but tired Lola falls asleep. A simple text and brightly colored acrylic artwork perfectly depict the school setting and Lola’s diverse group of classmates.

    Nugget & Fang Go to School (Nugget & Fang #2). Tammi Sauer. Ill. Michael Slack. 2019. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin.

    Nugget & Fang Go to SchoolIn this story about an unlikely ocean friendship between Nugget, a mini minnow, and Fang, a vegetarian shark, Nugget and the other minnows, who are thankful to have Fang as a friend, want him to attend Mini Minnows Elementary with them. Fang has his reservations. “What if I yawn and accidentally swallow someone? What if a whale accidentally swallows me?” Nugget tells him, “You’ll be fine.” As Fang struggles in every subject at school, his small friend is there to offer reassurances and shows him how special it is to have a best friend. Young readers will delight in the ironic twists of Tami Sauer’s first-day-of-school story and the warm humor of Michael Slack’s colorful, digitally created cartoon illustration.

    Pencil: A Story With a Point. Ann Ingalls. Ill. Dean Griffiths. 2019. Pajama Press.

    Pencil A Story With a PointYoung Jackson loves Pencil! They draw, sketch, and doodle all day until Tablet moves in and tries to take Pencil’s place as Jackson’s new go-to tool. When Pencil is banished to the dreaded Junk Drawer, he meets up with other discarded tools like Scissors, Eraser, Ruler, and Marker. What will it take for Pencil to make his mark and win his way back into Jackson’s heart? Dean Griffiths’ digitally rendered cartoon illustrations featuring animated school supplies complement Ann Ingalls’ clever, pun-filled story which has a point to make: New tools are not always better than old ones. 

    The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! Mo Willems. 2019. Disney-Hyperion.

    The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!“WAIT! Don’t read that title! / Too late. Rats . . . / Why do I have to go to school?” The hilarious pigeon returns with his notorious excuses and rebuttals to convince young readers that he doesn’t need to go to school. After all, he already knows EVERYTHING! “Well, I know almost everything,” he admits. Readers can expect the usual format of Pigeon front and center on bright backgrounds, surrounded by wildly shaped speech bubbles. Mo Willems also adds lines, loose feathers, and other symbols to his illustrations to capture Pigeon’s frantic emotions, adding to the fun of the reading experience. The front endpaper features empty desks and chairs, while the back endpaper shows all kinds of birds (including Pigeon) sitting at desks, ready to learn.

    When Pencil Met Eraser.Karen Kilpatrick & Luis O. Ramos, Jr. Ill. Germán Blanco. 2019. Imprint/Macmillan.

    When Pencil Met EraserDid you ever wonder how Pencil and Eraser came to be linked with each other? This humorous picture book takes a stab at explaining how the two friends started out as separate entities and eventually paired up to become the handy writing tool we all use. Readers of this imaginative story (with illustrations drawn in pencil, of course) watch the drama of this fortuitous meeting unfold as Pencil’s drawings are changed and improved upon with the help of Eraser.

    Ages 9–11

    Bigger, Badder, Nerdier (Geeked Out #2). Obert Skye. 2019. Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt/Macmillan.

    Bigger, Badder, NerdierIn this sequel to Geeked Out (2018), Tip and his nerdy friends Owen, Mindy, and Xen return with their secret vigilante group, the League of Average and Mediocre Entities (aka LAME) to save their school, once again, from the evil secretary, Mrs. “Darth” Susan. With their world facing semi-apocalyptic conditions after the release of a terrible movie, the foursome must use their “mediocre” powers—super hearing and glowing eyes (Owen), deadly claps (Mindy), destructive burps (Xen), and electronic mind control (Tip)— to unveil Darth Susan’s mysterious plan and out-geek an imposter LAME group, before their school is doomed! Obert Skye uses spoof tactics in his text and graphics, transitioning smoothly between the two, to poke fun at the comical similarities of occurrences in the book and the real world.

    The Friendship War. Andrew Clements. 2019. Random House.

    The Friendship WarSixth grader Grace returns home from a visit with her grandfather right before the start of the new school year with boxes of buttons from an old mill he is planning to renovate. When her teacher announces that they will be studying the Industrial Revolution, Grace brings a few buttons into school to show her classmates. Her friends are intrigued by the buttons and before you know it, Grace has inadvertently started a new fad of button collecting, causing the sixth graders to go bonkers for buttons! Swept up in a button-trading frenzy, Grace finds herself in a feud with her best friend, Ellie, while also making a new friend named Hank, who shares her love for data collection and history. Upper elementary readers will enjoy finding out how Grace discovers a way to stop the fad and save her friendship in Andrew Clements’ newest school story.

    Parker Bell and the Science of Friendship. Cynthia Platt. Ill. Rea Zhai. 2019. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin.

    Parker BellParker Bell loves all things science and hopes to be a famous scientist someday, just like her idols Jane Goodall and Mae Jemison. She even has a Mad Science Lab in her house to create fantastic contraptions and conduct experiments. So, when her teacher announces that they are going to participate in the Science Triathlon, Parker’s enthusiasm level is through the roof. She’s excited to pair up with her best friend, Cassie, but isn’t sure what to think when Cassie invites Theo to join them. Will Theo prove to be a valuable partner in their quest for the gold medal? Readers find out in this story about friendship, teamwork, and the scientific method.

    President of Poplar Lane (Poplar Kids #2). Margaret Mincks. 2019. Viking/Penguin.
    President of Poplar LanePoplar Lane neighbors Clover O’Reilly and Michael Strange find themselves running against each other for class president, but are they each running for the right reasons? Clover, whose family of seven is about to include yet another sister, likes the idea of having an office to decorate since she must continue sharing a bedroom. Alternating chapters reveal Clover’s and Mike’s points of view. Mike “the Unusual” prefers performing magic over playing sports and hopes a presidential win will please his disapproving father and boost his Magic Camp application. Occasional inserts provide additional context in the storyline such as daily online posts from blogger Mel Chang as she follows the week-long election campaign.

    Skye Deiter is an elementary classroom teacher in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and a recent graduate from Pennsylvania State Harrisburg’s Masters in Literacy Education Program.Jennifer W. Shettel is a professor at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in literacy for preservice and practicing teachers. Prior to joining the faculty at Millersville, she spent 16 years as an elementary classroom teacher and reading specialist in the public schools.

    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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    Where Will I Store This? Using a Digital Repository to Curate and Share Collections

    By Nicole Timbrell
     | Aug 16, 2019
    timbrell-wakelet-2 copy

    One of the great benefits of being future-focused educators is the ability to connect with fellow professionals and education networks on a wide range of digital platforms. In such places we acquire ideas and resources for our students, teaching, and professional learning. Yet, the sheer volume of potentially useful material we encounter as we scroll through these platforms is also one of its greatest challenges. On an average day, a connected literacy educator may encounter streams of potentially useful educational content such as TED talks, news articles, or videos which they may wish to save and use later. Consequently, it is worth sharing ideas for approaches to capturing and organizing such content, especially during the summer vacation when many educators are engaged in self-directed professional learning and preparing resources for the school year to come.

    Although most digital platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, and TED have options for saving posts and resources, such an approach results in a series of disparate collections on multiple platforms, often leaving users wondering, Now, where did I save that? Managing and sharing digital resources is an expected skill of our contemporary world. Therefore, as educators and school leaders, we are called to model for our students and colleagues efficient and collaborative ways to do so. While there are many methods educators could use for this purpose, none seem as user-friendly and visually appealing as the digital curation tool provided by Wakelet.

    Wakelet helps users to quickly store, organize, and share digital content that is relevant to them. Once a free account is set up, the user can curate collections to group together similarly themed digital resources, or find collections curated by other users. Collections can include a mix of weblinks, text, photos, videos, images and files, all of which are able to be titled, annotated and reordered. By downloading the app and adding the web browser extensions, saving digital content to a collection is a matter of a few quick clicks. Wakelet collections can be kept private or made public, are easily shared via a single URL. Additionally, the ability for users to collaborate on collections together amplifies the possibilities for use with students in the classroom.

    Students could use Wakelet to track source material for an independent research task, or as a digital writing portfolio to showcase their best compositions with a college admissions office. Teachers could use the tool for group work requiring the curation of a themed collection (ie: concept, genre, writer), or to have a class co-construct a collection of book reviews and book trailers to inspire each other’s independent reading. School leaders might compile a resource list of educational research articles centered around the school’s professional development goals, or share a collection of resources to promote digital citizenship in the home with their parent community. Visit the Wakelet blog to read more about the ways educators are using this digital curation tool in the classroom.

    Finally, given that it is currently summer break, let’s take a moment to consider the opportunity that digital curation provides to organize our lives for the better. Now you finally have a central place to save and share recipes, travel destinations, and reviews of all those films you’ve been meaning to see. Go forth and (digitally) curate!

    Nicole Timbrell is the assistant head of secondary school at Australian International School in Singapore, where she also teaches English. Formerly, Nicole was a graduate student and a research assistant at the New Literacies Research Lab at the University of Connecticut. She has no affiliation with the Wakelet team. You can find her on Twitter at @nicloutim.

    This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

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    Creating a Culture of Literacy at ILA 2019

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Aug 14, 2019
    ila2019_themeSchools that prioritize literacy as a central mission of the school have greater retention, more proficient readers, and higher levels of overall academic achievement. But what does that mission look like in practice, and how can we get there?

    As we count down to the International Literacy Association 2019 Conference with its theme of Creating a Culture of Literacy, we asked our Twitter community, “What is something often overlooked when working to create a culture of literacy in learning environments?” Their responses remind us that there’s no one-size-fits-all blueprint; the exact formula is unique to each school and classroom. 

    “Authenticity. Don’t get so caught up in teaching lessons that you lose sight of teaching kids through responsive teaching within a cohesive literacy environment.”
    —Kristen Babovec, educational consultant, Texas

    “When creating a culture of literacy, don't overlook local knowledge and traditions. These can be marginalized in the haste to conform to mainstream norms. Be sure to adopt a broad definition of literacy to promote inclusion.”
    —Salika A. Lawrence, associate professor of literacy and teacher education, New York

    “Educators are so caught up in teaching the skills and strategies of reading education, not to mention TDA’s, that we neglect to discuss the deeper concepts and themes within the text. Ask, ‘What are we reading?’ and ‘Why are we reading it?’ Bring back collaborative conversations.”
    —Kimberly Kennedy, gifted support (fifth grade), Pennsylvania 

    “My colleagues and I have found that people often think of literacy culture as a classroom, but the best literacy culture is schoolwide and community-wide. It involves everyone: teachers, crossing guards, administrative assistants, ELA and non-ELA staff, bus drivers...EVERYONE!”
    —Kenneth Kunz, K–12 supervisor and ILA Board member, New Jersey

    “Student culture.”
    —Aleshea Jenkins, teacher, literacy specialist, instructional coach, Missouri

    “Involving parents in that learning environment/learning culture beyond using ‘reading logs.’ More work needs to be done so that parents know what is expected, and so that they may contribute.”
    —Kristopher Childs, national mathematics content specialist, Florida

    “Community perspective towards literacy.”
    —Federico Brull, Mexico

    “Something that is often missed on our rush to address gaps in literacy is explaining to students what literacy is for and that one of its most overlooked purposes is enjoyment. We must show and practice with our students the sheer fun of reading by offering choice, knowing what is available for students and helping them access it by building their own libraries, having library cards, access to audio books and a teacher modelling a love of reading on a daily basis from K–12 and across all subject areas.”
    —Dia Macbeth, assistant principal, Canada

    “A community of stakeholders who actually read for pleasure and enjoy reading. No one has all of this mysterious time to read, but we who value reading get it done. Besides the modeling aspect, enthusiasm for reading comes from adults who are actually enthusiastic readers.”
    —Shalonda Archibald, ELA Response to Intervention teacher and literacy coach, New Jersey

    “I think we often overlook how important pre-K literacy is and its capacity (if done right and effectively) to create a culture of eager readers and writers ready at kindergarten and beyond. Pre-K should be every child's right and not just for those who can afford it.
    —Oluwaseun “Seun” Aina, founder of Magical Books, Nigeria

    How do you work to create a culture of literacy in your workplace? Do any of these statements resonate with you? Join the conversation on Twitter.

    Alina O’Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of Literacy Daily.
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