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    Literacy Education for a Changing World

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Feb 22, 2018

    Educators, and especially literacy educators, are uniquely positioned to be changemakers. Alongside tangible reading and writing skills, literacy educators can teach social awareness and critical reflection—powerful tools for personal and social change. These skills and mindsets empower children to question the world inside and outside their classrooms, to stretch their thinking and broaden their understandings, and to take action toward a more equitable society.

    Although educators are the face of these conversations, they cannot lead positive change alone. To do this difficult work, they need support from scholars, administrators, and school-based specialists and professionals who are passionate, knowledgeable, and advocates for literacy. This is the focus of the International Literacy Association 2018 Conference, where research, policy, and practice will converge to deliver strategies for fostering positive change in literacy education.

    As we gear up for ILA 2018 with its theme of Be a Changemaker, we want to know, “How do you define a changemaker in literacy education?” We posed this question to our Twitter community, and their responses gave us a window into what literacy education for a changing world looks like.

    Brianna Maxwell“To me, being a changemaker means being mindful of my actions and understanding how interconnected our school community is to the world outside our gates. It means taking the time to understand and process the issues my children face and being supportive.” —Brianna Maxwell, third-grade teacher, China

    “When reading a text about an African American boy whose father was put in prison for decades, I discussed with my students about breaking generational curses—poverty, addiction, incarceration, teenage pregnancy. It got real!” —Frankie Santoro, eighth-grade ELA teacher, North Carolina

    Siaffa Korkoyah  “A changemaker is that person who applies the acquired knowledge and skills or who initiates a new idea geared towards making a difference. To be a changemaker means to see a need and decide to respond to that need. In literacy circles, it means to apply the skills and knowledge we have acquired in our classrooms, neighborhoods, and communities to bring about a difference in developing the reading and writing skills of our children.” —Siaffa Korkoyah, president of Liberia Reads - Association of Literacy Educators, Liberia

    “Being a changemaker means being comfortable with asking tough questions, standing up for what is right, daring to be different, making mistakes, and believing that fighting the good fight is worth it!” —Kristin Rice, fourth-grade teacher, California 

    Mary Kramer“Literacy teachers ARE changemakers! We model it and expect it of ourselves, our students, and our colleagues. Literacy is ever-changing and ever-fulfilling. We must challenge ourselves, our students, and colleagues to continue pushing for literacy growth and a love of literacy for life, which definitely requires the attitude and heart of a changemaker.” —Mary Kramer, third-grade ELA teacher, Mississippi

    “It means finding ways to help students become critical consumers of the waves of information available to them. Read, think, and intelligent responses through multiple means of expressions. Need to go way beyond reading and answering questions.” —Kimberly Kuhlman, reading specialist, Pennsylvania

    Muthoni Kibandi“Having the courage to do new, positive, creative, and beneficial activities for the benefit of your library users and colleagues or community at large.” —Muthoni Kibandi, university librarian, Kenya 



    The ILA 2018 Conference, with the theme Be a Changemaker, will take place July 2023 in Austin, TX. Learn more and register here.

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

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    Resources to Celebrate Digital Learning Day 2018

     | Feb 21, 2018

    Digital Learning DayEach year, states, districts, schools, and classrooms across the United States and around the world hold thousands of events to celebrate Digital Learning Day (DLD). Created by the Alliance for Excellent Education in 2012, DLD offers educators an opportunity to collaborate with peers, exchange ideas, experiment with new digital tools, and showcase innovative practices that are improving student outcomes.

    At the heart of Digital Learning Day is an emphasis on equity—ensuring equitable access to high-quality digital learning opportunities. The event was started as a way to “actively spread innovative practices” to all schools and students.

    The event website provides digital tools, resources, lessons, and webinars to power your DLD activities. For more ideas, check out the links below:

    • ILA’s Technology in Literacy Education-Special Interest Group contributes weekly blog posts on topics in technology and literacy.
    • ReadWriteThink houses a collection of classroom activities, websites, lesson plans, and related resources to help classrooms celebrate DLD.
    • Edutopia published a piece on why and how we can engage parents in DLD.
    • Common Sense Media’s K–12 Digital Citizenship Program features lesson plans, student-facing videos, interactive games, and teacher-training and family education materials. Use the "Scope & Sequence" tool to find the perfect lesson.
    • ILA published several resources, including a brief, blog series, and Twitter chat, that explore how educators can foster digital equity for all students.
    • The Teaching Tolerance Digital Literacy Framework addresses seven key areas in which students need support developing digital and civic literacy skills.
    • Digital Tools Aim to Personalize Literacy Instruction,” an article published by Education Week, shares edtech tools that are “rapidly expanding the ways in which teachers can differentiate their literacy and reading instruction.”

    Follow @OfficialDLDay on Twitter for updates and learn more at digitallearningday.org.

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

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    ILA's Latest Brief Helps Educators Explain Phonics Instruction to Families

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Feb 20, 2018

    Explaining Phonics InstructionDespite ongoing debates over how to teach reading, research has proven that phonics instruction is an essential element of a comprehensive literacy program, according to ILA’s latest brief, Explaining Phonics Instruction: An Educator’s Guide. Phonics helps students to learn the written correspondences between letters, patterns of letters and sounds, leading to word knowledge.

    “Because phonics is often students’ first experience with formal literacy instruction,” states the brief, “families might be anxious about their children’s learning.” Educators can assuage these concerns by answering families’ questions and by providing effective at-home learning activities.

    The brief shares research-based insights to explain the what, the when and the how of phonics instruction to noneducators, providing guidance on phonics for emerging readers, phonological awareness, the layers of writing, word study instruction, approaches to teaching phonics and teaching English learners.

    Key takeaways include the following:

    • Students should have acquired phonological awareness, concepts of print, concepts of word of text and alphabetic principles before beginning to learn phonics.
    • Most phonics programs incorporate both analytic and synthetic activities.
    • Word study is an approach to teach the alphabetic layer (basic letter–sound correspondences) and pattern layer (consonant–vowel patterns) of the writing system by including spelling instruction that is differentiated by students’ development.
    • Phonics instruction depends on the characteristics of a specific language; students who learn to read in multiple languages apply phonics that fit the respective letter–sound, pattern, and meaning layers.
    • Emergent bilingual readers and writers use their knowledge of one language to learn other languages.

    To read more, visit the brief here

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

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    Registration Opens for the ILA 2018 Conference

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Feb 12, 2018
    ila-2018-reg

    Registration is now open for the ILA 2018 Conference, which will be held in Austin, TX, July 20–23. Thousands of literacy educators, professionals, and advocates from around the world will gather to connect with and learn from leaders in the field.

    Amid widening socioeconomic disparities, changing student demographics, and an increasingly technology-driven workforce, equity in literacy education has never been more important. With the theme “Be a Changemaker,” the conference will focus on strategies for fostering positive change in literacy education.

    This year’s conference is comprised of three components: Institute Day on Friday, July 20, the Core Conference on Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22, and Children’s Literature Day on Monday, July 23. Registration packages offer discounts and special incentives for bundling events.

    ILA 2018’s new format is designed to deliver a more customized learning experience. Three learning tracks will be offered: Administrators as Literacy Leaders, Literacy Coaching, and Literacy Research.

    The two-day Core Conference kicks off Saturday with an ILA General Session fueled by the changemaker theme. Three keynotes will draw on their own experiences of overcoming adversity, sharing stories of impact about how they’re changing the system from within.

    Nadia Lopez, the founding principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, will discuss how administrators must serve as literacy leaders for their schools and districts. Lopez’s story went viral when the popular Humans of New York (HONY) blog featured one of her students, who cited Lopez as the most influential person in his life. A fundraising campaign ensued, collecting more than $1.4 million  for Mott Hall, a middle school in one of the poorest and most violent neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Lopez’s vision for the school—which she says she opened to close a prison—was to give the youth in her community a way up and out.

    Frequent ILA speaker and lead staff developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Cornelius Minor takes the main stage at ILA 2018. In previous years, Minor has moved and inspired conference attendees with his talks on digital literacy and access, confronting difficult topics in the classroom, and literacy as a social and political tool for building equity in education. This year, Minor will continue to speak frankly on issues of race and educational equity, challenging attendees to confront their own biases and work toward creating truly inclusive schools and classrooms. 

    Finally, there’s Adan Gonzalez, the son of Mexican-American immigrants living in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Dallas, TX. Gonzalez, the recipient of a Gates Millennium Scholarship that funded both his undergraduate and graduate degrees, created the Puede Network when he was a sophomore at Georgetown. The organization’s charge is to mentor students and break cycles of under-education. After earning a master’s from Harvard Graduate School of Education, Gonzalez returned to his childhood school, James Bowie Elementary, to teach third grade.

    Learn more and register for the ILA 2018 Conference here.

    Alina O’Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of Literacy Daily. 
     
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    Advocate, Leader, Humanitarian: ILA Mourns the Loss of Dr. William H. Teale

    By Lara Deloza
     | Feb 05, 2018

    teale-headshotToday the literacy field is reeling from the loss of an influential educator, tireless advocate, and dear friend, Dr. William H. Teale.

    Teale, the Immediate Past President of the International Literacy Association (ILA), passed away unexpectedly Saturday, in his home in Evanston, IL. He is survived by his loving wife, Junko Yokota, and two children, Alyssa and Jeremy, among other family members and friends.

    He was a professor of education, university scholar, and director of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Literacy (CFL), a public service and research center that works to improve literacy education, policy, and research at the local, state, and national levels. As part of his role at the CFL, he headed projects that provide economically underresourced families with services that facilitate their children’s early development and school readiness.

    Teale’s body of work focused on early literacy learning, the intersection of technology and literacy education, and children’s literature. One current project centered on the implementation of a networked improvement community focused on principals' instructional leadership for literacy in eight Chicago public schools. He authored more than 150 professional publications and traveled constantly, presenting conference papers and colloquia in over 25 countries around the world.

    He served as a consultant to school districts and libraries across the United States, as well as to Children’s Television Workshop, Head Start, public television, Reach Out and Read, and NGOs in developing programs focused on literacy learning and teaching. In review and advisory capacities, he worked for entities such as the National Academy of Education, the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    The contributions he made to the field are immeasurable and led to his induction into the Reading Hall of Fame in 2003.

    teale-action-shotDuring his tenure on the Board of Directors of ILA, including his 2016–17 term as president, Teale led several initiatives, including cochairing the ILA Global Task Force, a group that worked to emphasize a global agenda and matching model of governance in the organization. He was an integral member of the ILA/National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Task Force on Literacy Teacher Preparation. He also helped guide the organization during its transition from the International Reading Association to ILA.

    Although his list of professional accomplishments and honors are plentiful enough to fill a book, the hole he leaves in the literacy community runs so much deeper.

    Teale was incredibly passionate about early literacy and the importance of diverse, quality children’s literature, and he decried the inequities across the globe that denied access to both. He was the very definition of a literacy leader.

    “These are trying times,” he said in his keynote address at the ILA 2017 Conference. “And there’s nothing more important than what we as educators do to help develop readers and writers who have the knowledge and the imagination and the self-reflection and the empathy to make the times better.”

    He leaves behind a legacy as a staunch early literacy advocate, a devoted mentor, and an incredible human being.

    Lara Deloza is the senior communications manager at the International Literacy Association.

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