Literacy Daily

Latest Posts
From Striving to Thriving
McGraw Hill Education
From Striving to Thriving
McGraw Hill Education
    • Job Functions
    • Literacy Coach
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Librarian
    • Teaching With Tech
    • Digital Literacy
    • Literacies
    • 21st Century Skills
    • Foundational Skills
    • Topics
    • Teacher Educator
    • Other/Literacy Champion
    • Digital Literacies
    • Literacy Education Student

    Enhance Comprehension and Collaboration Skills With Breakout EDU Games

    By Mary Beth Scumaci
     | Oct 20, 2017
    7 C's

    Have you heard of the popular trend that’s taking K–12 classrooms and faculty meetings by storm?  Breakout EDU is a collaborative “immersive learning games platform” where students are faced with challenges that unlock combinations needed to open the Breakout EDU box. In addition, there is a competitive beat the clock component that keeps students (and faculty) motivated. Challenges are engaging and interactive—like breaking into, rather than out of, an escape room. I haven’t met anyone that I have shared the activity with who hasn’t enjoyed it, including adults.  

    Games range from early elementary to high school and in many cases, are suitable for higher education students.  My graduate education students love the excitement of completing the Breakout EDU games and collaborating, communicating, critical thinking, and creative problem solving. Opening a variety of locks on the Breakout EDU box leads to a gratifying experience and is enhanced by holding one of the “We Broke Out” or “We Rock!” signs in front of the stopped timer.  I love helping my students explore their curiosity of children’s literature while working in engaging and active. 

    Currently, one of the games being spotlighted is The Dot, based on author Peter H. Reynolds' book. The Above and Beyond video representation of the book is used to help students learn about the Partnership for 21st Century Learning’s (P21) four C's of 21st century learning: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. When I teach this lesson with my teacher candidates, we discuss the importance of what we refer to as the “fifth C:” curiosity, the spark that makes the learning personally meaningful and self-motivating. 

    Recently, I came across an infographic poster on Twitter, created by “sketchnoter” Julie Woodard, titled “The 7 C’s of an Innovative Environment.” This poster builds on P21’s framework to include curiosity, cultural sensitivity, and community—all skills important for maintaining a healthy classroom environment. In addition, these skills support STEM and STEAM initiatives.

    There are many games in the areas of seasonal fun, computer science, art, math, social studies, science as well as mysteries and social skill development. Create an account and explore the possibilities. Then “Break Out” for some engaging and highly interactive collaborative game excitement that develops life skills needed in and out of the classroom!

    Mary ScumaciMary Beth Scumaci is a clinical associate professor and technology coordinator with the Department of Education at Medaille College in Buffalo, NY. She designs and instructs technology and online courses in addition to facilitating technology trainings for students, faculty, and staff.

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

    Read More
    • Literacy Leadership
    • News & Events
    • Topics
    • Grants
    • Professional Development
    • Administrator
    • Teacher Empowerment
    • Job Functions
    • Leadership

    Celebrating Literacy Leadership: David Wilkie

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Oct 19, 2017

    dave-wilkieWilkie, principal at McVey Elementary in Newark, DE, is the first recipient of ILA’s inaugural Corwin Literacy Leader Award, which honors a district or school administrative literacy leader who has worked to increase student literacy achievement by advancing professional development, instructional resources support, and the development of literacy programs. To learn about 2018 award and grant opportunities, visit our Awards & Grants page.

    At McVey Elementary School, books are everywhere. They are hidden under desks as students read surreptitiously during class, displayed on decorative bulletin boards in the hallways, tumbling out of lockers, and even strewn throughout the cafeteria, having strayed from the “borrow and return” pile.

    But it hasn’t always been this way.

    “We knew that we had to change what literacy looked like at McVey. Our students did not show a love of reading and writing—they saw it more as a chore. A lot of reading instruction was being done in the classroom, but there wasn’t a lot of reading being done by the students,” says principal David Wilkie.

    McVey’s literacy transformation began in April 2016 when ILA received a grant from an anonymous donor as part of the Delaware Community Foundation’s Fund for Children’s Literacy. The grant was to be used at a public elementary school in Delaware to build a culture of literacy through professional learning opportunities for staff, schoolwide reading programs, and family engagement.

    ILA chose to use the funds at McVey on the basis of the school’s history of high staff retention and strong leadership. In its first year, ILA decided to focus on professional development; the grant covered the cost of Wilkie and seven other staff members and teachers to attend the ILA 2016 Conference & Exhibits in Boston, MA.

    “Most of us had never attended an ILA conference before. We didn’t really know what we were walking into,” says Wilkie. “We were reenergized; we came with so many ideas. We met as a team every night at dinner. Our dinners were about two to three hours long because we were sharing information and talking about what we could do at McVey.”

    At one of their dinners, the group decided that the theme of the school’s literacy makeover would be “wonder.”

    “We felt that our students had lost that sense of wonder at an early age,” says Wilkie. “They were all about asking questions in the early years, but by third grade, they start losing that.”

    The once-plain walls at McVey are now vibrant “wonder walls,” covered in questions—some content related, some general—written by students. Every “Wonder Wednesday,” the questions are read aloud and answered by teachers, students, or Wilkie himself during morning announcements. Wilkie says plans for “wonder centers” and “wonder windows” are in the works.

    Over the past year, ILA and McVey have collaborated on a series of initiatives to help build a culture of literacy at the school. The grant also covered support from Carrice Cummins, professor at Louisiana Tech University, who is working with Wilkie to identify the school’s main challenges and to establish a long-term plan. With her assistance, McVey has set up four professional development experiences related to interactive read-aloud training.

    Wilkie believes that everyone at McVey—from the cafeteria servers to the P.E. teachers—needs to be involved in the project, excited by the mission, and committed to a set of shared goals.

    “A big part of this is shifting the mind-sets of teachers from teaching stories to teaching a love of reading and the importance of reading,” he says.

    Cummins helped to implement interactive read-aloud, independent reading time, and schoolwide and gradewide author and book studies. Last year, all the fifth graders read Bridge to Terabithia (HarperCollins), which culminated in a Skype session with author Katherine Paterson.

    Wilkie says his approach to literacy education is grounded in choice; he wants the students to feel a sense of ownership over their reading habits.

    “One class took a survey about what they enjoyed this year that they hadn’t in the past, and the majority made comments like ‘Thank you for giving us more time to read books and to choose books we like to read,’” he says.

    This year, 23 teachers and staff members attended the ILA 2017 Conference & Exhibits in Orlando, FL.

    When asked about next steps, Wilkie says they are looking to get parents and the community more involved. Since starting the project, he says several parents have noticed a shift in their child’s attitude toward reading. One even said it’s a challenge to get her child to stop reading long enough to hold a conversation over dinner.  

     “He was always a reader but he wasn’t always this passionate about reading,” says Wilkie. “But now, he can’t put the books down.”

    Alina O'Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

    Read More
    • Professional Development
    • Grants
    • Literacy Leadership
    • Leadership
    • Topics
    • Teacher Empowerment
    • Networking
    • News & Events
    • Mentorship

    Two Versions of Myself: What It Means to Win an ILA Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Award

    By Lindsay Eagar
     | Oct 17, 2017

    Lindsay EagarI spend my days oscillating between two versions of myself.

    The first is Lindsay, the mother. My two daughters are seven and one, and they are willful, brilliant, demanding little tyrants. As a stay-at-home mom, much of my time every day is spent with my daughters, feeding them, dressing them, teaching them, and generally making sure they are happy and healthy.

    No small task.

    Most nights I collapse into bed, desperate for a few hours’ rest before the morning breaks and the exhausting, isolating task of caretaking begins again. I have always known I wanted to be a mother, but oh, I was not prepared for how hard it can be to give and give and give, and wonder if it will ever be enough.

    But this is the experience of being a mother.

    The second is Lindsay, the writer. I am a daydreamer, a silly heart, a creator of worlds and places and characters as dear to me as if they were real. As a child, I hoped that I would one day be a published author, and when I saw my debut book, Hour of the Bees, on shelves in bookstores, a new fire was lit—to tell every story I have inside me. To write, to be fearless with my pen, to illuminate with my words, to bring honesty and beauty and searing, sparkling magic to readers, and to stop only when I am dead.

    No small task.

    Most nights I fall asleep immediately, already plotting what sentences I will write when I wake—sometimes the words tease me out of sleep when it is still dark, whispering to me across the shadows. I have always known I wanted to be a writer, but oh, I was not prepared for how it feels to give and give and give, and wonder if it will ever be enough.

    But this is the experience of being a writer.

    And on most days these two versions of myself feel at odds—they battle for my attention, for my energy. They fight to be the defining Lindsay, but every once in a while I have a day where the two of them melt into one.

    The day when I opened the email telling me I was an ILA Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Award winner in the category of intermediate fiction? That was one of those days.

    I looked up from my notebook, up at my sweet girls, and the connection was forged—the immense privilege I have of writing for children, of shaping their world, of opening a window of magic into their lives—that is celebrated with this award, which I share with the teachers who work with young children in classrooms and encourage their imaginations through literacy.

    There is a Lindsay who gets to mother my darling girls, and a Lindsay who gets to write books that children read with their teachers, books that hopefully develop a lifelong love of reading and learning for these minds. I am so, so grateful to the International Literacy Association for highlighting Hour of the Bees. This is such a great honor, to be recognized by an organization that looks at stories for children, every day, and to be seen as enough. I am delighted that my second novel, Race to the Bottom of the Sea, was released this month—it affirms that not only does writer Lindsay belong in this world, she thrives.

    Lindsay Eagar won the ILA 2017 Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Award for Intermediate Fiction for Hour of the Bees.

    Read More
    • Job Functions
    • Literacy Coach
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Professional Development
    • ~9 years old (Grade 4)
    • Teacher Preparation
    • Curriculum Development
    • Classroom Instruction
    • ~15 years old (Grade 10)
    • Literacies
    • Topics
    • Librarian
    • ~8 years old (Grade 3)
    • ~7 years old (Grade 2)
    • ~6 years old (Grade 1)
    • ~5 years old (Grade K)
    • ~4 years old (Grade Pre-K)
    • ~14 years old (Grade 9)
    • Book Reviews
    • ~13 years old (Grade 8)
    • ~12 years old (Grade 7)
    • ~11 years old (Grade 6)
    • ~10 years old (Grade 5)
    • Student Level
    • Volunteer
    • Tutor
    • Teacher Educator
    • Special Education Teacher
    • Reading Specialist
    • Other/Literacy Champion
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Children's & YA Literature

    B Is for Biographies

    Jennifer W. Shettel
     | Oct 16, 2017

    B is for biographies! Readers will learn about the lives and works of both well-known historical figures, such as Marie Curie and Jackie Robinson, and lesser known people, such as John Deere and Sophie Blanchard, in the recently published books reviewed this week. Fascinating stories of accomplishments, at times of hardships and discrimination, abound in this bunch of biographies.

    Ages 4–8

    Alexander Graham Bell Answers the Call. Mary Ann Fraser. 2017. Charlesbridge.

    Alexander Graham Bells Answer the Call Fraser’s picture book biography of Alexander (“Aleck”) Graham Bell (1847–1922) begins with his childhood in Scotland and how he became interested in the science of sound. Bell’s mother was partially deaf, and his father was a speech therapist. Throughout his life, Bell experimented with sound, eventually partnering with Thomas Watson on his famous invention, the telephone.  Lively cartoon-style multimedia illustrations complement the accessible text. Text boxes inserted throughout the book give readers short bursts of related information. Back matter includes information about Bell’s many inventions, a timeline, and a note from the author on her inspiration for writing a biography of Bell and using a photographic collage technique in the illustrations. Fascinating photographs on the endpapers provide a visual timeline of the evolution of the telephone from 1876–1989.

    John Deere, That’s Who! Tracey Nelson Maurer. Ill. Tim Zeltner. 2017. Henry Holt.

    John Deer, That's WhoDid you know that John Deere did not invent the big green tractors that many people associate with his name? It’s true. This biography introduces young readers to John Deere (1804–1886), the young blacksmith who invented a new type of steel plow that could handle the thick, sticky soil of Illinois fields. Illustrations, rendered with acrylic paint on plywood, evoke an old-fashioned feel to this biographical account of the inventor and manufacturer. Back matter includes a glossary, a list of facts about John Deere and the manufacturing company that bears his name, a detailed bibliography, and acknowledgments from the author.

    Lighter Than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot. Matthew Clark Smith. Ill. Matt Tavares. 2017. Candlewick.

    Lighter Than AirIn this picture book biography, readers learn about the life and dreams of Sophie Blanchard (1778–1819), a French woman who was married to famous balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard. She yearned to go up into the air by herself and did so, becoming the first female to pilot a hot-air balloon in 1805. Later she was named chief air minister of ballooning by Emperor Napoleon. Ink-and-watercolor illustrations depict each scene in fine-line, colorful detail. Back matter includes brief notes from the author and the illustrator and a list of selected sources.

    Long-Armed Ludy and the First Women’s Olympics. Jean L. S. Patrick. Ill. Adam Gustavson. 2017. Charlesbridge.

    Long Armed LudyLucille “Ludy” Godbold (1900–1981) was born in South Carolina, at a time when women were not permitted to do many of the things that men could do, including participate in the Olympics. However, Ludy was selected as one of fifteen American women to participate in the 1922 Women’s World Games, the “First Women’s Olympics,” a world-class event organized by Alice Milliat of France.  Ludy went on to become a world-champion athlete who excelled in many events including the shot put, which is the featured event in this picture book biography.  Bright and whimsical oil paintings capture the time period and depict Ludy as the tall and lanky athlete she was. Back matter includes an author’s note and two photographs of Ludy Godbold.

    Marie Curie (Little People, Big Dreams). Isabel Sánchez Vegara. Trans. Emma Martinez. Ill. Frau Isa. 2017. Frances Lincoln.

    Marie CurieThis picture book biography gives young readers a sense of the accomplishments of Marie Curie (1867–1934), the scientist who discovered radium and polonium and is the only female to win two Nobel Prizes, one for physics and one for chemistry. Spare text and colorful stylized illustrations offer a child-friendly inspiring account of how Curie, who as a young child declared her determination “to be a scientist, not a princess,” overcame much discrimination, as many people believed that women should not be educated—especially in the field of science—in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Back matter includes a timeline of Marie’s life, photographs, and an author’s note with more details of Curie’s life and work.

    Ages 9–11

    Newton’s Rainbow: The Revolutionary Discoveries of a Young Scientist. Kathryn Lasky. Ill. Kevin Hawkes. 2017. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

    Newton's RainbowThis illustrated biography of Isaac Newton (1642–-1727) gives a detailed account of his early life as a curious but not-so-good student and, later, as a college scholar. Lasky addresses the legendary apple-falling story related to Newton’s explanation of the forces of motion and gravity as well as his other contributions to science, including the “secret” of the rainbow— the discovery that white light is actually made of colors. Ink-and-watercolor paintings add interesting details for younger readers. A bibliography is included.

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality. Jonah Winter. Ill. Stacy Innerst. 2017. Abrams.

    Ruth Bader GinsburgThis picture book biography of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (R.B.G.), who was born in Brooklyn in 1933, begins with her childhood as a determined young girl who refused to be daunted by discrimination for either her religion or gender. The text opens with readers being asked to serve as the jury in “the Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality.” Presentation of the facts of the case include “exhibits” of how R.B.G. pursued her dream of going to law school and overcame obstacles to have a successful legal career, eventually becoming the second woman ever appointed to the Supreme Court. The muted tones of the illustrations, rendered in gouache, ink, and Photoshop, complement the text. Back matter includes a glossary and an author’s note.

    Ages 12–14

    42 Is Not Just a Number: The Odyssey of Jackie Robinson, American Hero. Doreen Rappaport. 2017. Candlewick.

    42 is Not Just a NumberJackie Robinson (1919–1972), one of the best baseball players in history, is most remembered as the man who broke the color barrier in major league baseball when he took the field as first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. This biography covers Robinson’s early years, beginning when Jackie was eight years old and one of five siblings being raised by his mother in California. Jackie’s baseball career began in the Negro Leagues in 1945. He was recruited the next year by Brooklyn Dodgers Manager Branch Rickey, who envisioned Jackie and another player becoming the first African Americans to play on a major league team. The road to this eventual victory was not easy, as Jackie faced seemingly insurmountable challenges along the way. Today he is viewed as an American hero for his brave stance against discrimination. Back matter includes an author’s note, a timeline, extensive source notes providing details to support the quotes and statements in each chapter, a selected bibliography, additional resources, and an index.  

    Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush. Peter Lourie. Ill. Wendell Minor. 2017. Henry Holt.

    Jack LondonMost people know Jack London (1876–1916) as the author of Call of the Wild, one of the most well-known animal adventure stories of all time. But people might not know that London got the inspiration for that story—and many others that he wrote—from his time as an adventure-seeker during the Alaskan Gold Rush of 1897. London helped his financially struggling family by joining thousands of others hoping to “strike it rich” in the Klondike. Jack and the men in his group had to carry their own gear and traverse over 600 miles, most of it by walking. The journey was long and arduous, and many men died along the way. London spent two years in Alaska mining for gold, but was largely unsuccessful and had to leave the wilderness to be treated for scurvy.  Instead of gold nuggets, London found the nuggets for stories, and would eventually go on to publish several books, many short stories, and articles based on his days in the Klondike. Back matter includes an afterword, notes from the author, notable places, London’s writings, an illustrated timeline, a glossary, a bibliography and sources, and an index. Minor’s expressive black-and-white illustrations and captioned archival photographs provide additional historical context.

    Ages 15+

    Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism. Marc Aronson & Marina Budhos. 2017. Henry Holt.

    Eyes of the WorldIn this well-researched and meticulously documented biography, readers learn about husband-and-wife photography team Robert Capa (1913–1954) and Gerda Taro (1910–1937). Capa and Taro are recognized as pioneers in photojournalism for their outstanding photographing of modern warfare during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. Later, Capa would capture some of the most iconic scenes from the World War II D-Day invasion in 1944. This biography is told with photos, primary source documents, and text that fully immerses the reader in the time period in which Capa and Taro lived. Back matter includes a “cast of characters” providing further information on key people, a timeline, chapter-by-chapter notes, a list of web resources, and an index. Additionally, Aronson and Budhos discuss their collaboration on this project which was an important endeavor for them.

    Jennifer W. Shettel is an associate professor at Millersville University of PA where she teaches undergraduate and graduate course 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.

    Read More
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Job Functions
    • Teaching With Tech
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Literacy Coach
    • Digital Literacy
    • Literacies
    • 21st Century Skills
    • Foundational Skills
    • Topics
    • Tutor
    • Teacher Educator
    • Digital Literacies
    • Reading Specialist

    Rethinking Literacy in 2017

    By Verena Roberts and Susan Noble
     | Oct 13, 2017

    Literacy in 2017In a 2012 Journal of Literacy Research article titled, "Rereading 'A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies'," authors Kevin Leander and Gail Boldt urge educators to move from a perspective on literacy as passive consumption of texts to understanding and enacting intentional literacy practices. How students communicate and access meaning in 2017 is not always demonstrated by reading a text or writing a sentence.

    How do students experience multimodal literacies throughout the day, every day? Let’s follow the usual morning routine for one 12-year-old student, Will.      

    Will was nervous about the first day of seventh grade. His school had emailed his parents a welcome letter along with his schedule, list of required school supplies, and first day reminders. The night before school started, Will’s mom read this on her computer. Across the table, Will watched a fellow student’s YouTube channel, where she video blogged, or “vlogged,” about her first day nervousness. He looked up from his iPhone to share what his fellow student said with his mom, and to say how relieved he was that others felt the same way.

    Will’s mom noted that there would be no school buses for seventh grade. Together, Will and his mom used a public transit app to configure his journey on the first day of school. While Will checked out four possible routes, his mom connected to a social media group that was created to support the parents and caregivers of seventh graders. That night, Will went to sleep knowing what to expect, how to get to school, and that everyone else was feeling anxious as well.

    Will wakes up to his iPhone playing a popular song. As he walks to the kitchen for breakfast, he reads over the weather alerts, Buzzfeed notifications, and texts from his friends. Will laughs as his friend John sends out a musical invite encouraging his “fans” to watch him comb his hair on the first day of school. Will types a quick comment to his friend telling him that he looks great and will see him at school.  As he sits down to eat breakfast, his phone reminds him that his citizens are going to revolt if he doesn’t get more food. Will jumps into his SimCity app to keep his virtual society happy for the day. Will finds his Fitbit as he has a soccer practice after school and wants to ensure he reaches 10,000 steps by dinner time. He has been tracking his steps as well as his heart beat at soccer practices, as he thinks his coach is making them run too much.

    When Will gets on the bus, his friend John pulls out his phone to show Will pictures of possible new hairstyles. John had already posted various remixes of “possible John with this hair” images on Instagram and Snapchat, and he was watching to see which photos were getting the most likes. Sandra (the vlogger) introduces Will to her cousin from Mexico, and Will quickly uses a translator app on his iPhone to welcome her to Canada.

    Finally, Will arrives at school, throws his bag in his locker and rushes to class. As he enters his classroom his teacher greets him with a warm hello, then asks him to put his cell phone in a basket. He will get it back at the end of class. The teacher then starts the class by saying, “Take out a piece of paper, and write a 500-word paragraph that describes who you are.” Will looks longingly over at his phone and considers the photos, videos, texts, games, apps that help describe who he is. Then he turns back to his paper and dutifully writes his paragraph. As the bell rings for the class, Will hands in his assignment and takes his phone out of the basket.  

    Did Will’s teacher miss out on an opportunity to learn more about the “real” Will? How can we, as educators, best integrate text focused and multimodal literacies in our learning environments? What are you doing?

    Verena RobertVerena Roberts is a doctoral student at the University of Calgary and an educational technology learning specialist at Rocky View Schools.



    Susan NobleSusan Noble
    is a master’s student at the University of Calgary and a literacy learning specialist at Rocky View Schools.


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

    Read More
Back to Top

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives