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    ILA Presents Updated Literacy Professional Preparation Standards to State ELA Consultants

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Oct 19, 2018
    SCASS Presentation

    Representatives of ILA addressed education agency consultants Wednesday at the State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS) Fall Meeting in Boston about improving and increasing the effectiveness of state literacy programs.

    Rita M. Bean, University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, and Diane E. Kern, University of Rhode Island, were invited by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to brief Collaborative members from across the country about ILA’s Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals 2017 (Standards 2017). Their message? The standards, although written for educator preparation programs, can—and should—be used to navigate decisions about curriculum and instruction.

    Kern, who along with Bean served as co-chair of the committee charged with updating ILA’s standards, says the presentation offered a platform for this broader application. They also shared how ILA can support states in the ongoing development and assessment of existing literacy programs.

    As Kern and Bean shared with attendees, Standards 2017 provides “a framework for thinking about their own initiatives and challenges, including the development of their state comprehensive literacy plans.”

    The presentation included an activity during which attendees divided into seven groups to analyze the content of and research behind a standard. The groups then shared their findings across the English Language Arts collaborative, a subgroup of the SCASS.

    Participants demonstrated interest in how ILA’s standards could inform schools’ disciplinary literacy and digital literacy practices and their professional learning initiatives.

    “We asked them to think about how [the standards] could offer solutions to their challenges,” says Bean. “[Attendees] were saying the standards would be a powerful and valuable tool for evaluating where they are and where they’re going.”

    Learn more about ILA’s Standards 2017 here.

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

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    How Our Teaching Can, and Must, Honor Our Students' Rights to Read

    By Jennifer Serravallo
     | Oct 17, 2018
    Honoring Students' Rights to Read

    Upon reading ILA’s Children’s Rights to Read, I got teacher goosebumps. And this is why.

    Children walk into our classrooms with all of themselves. They are the sum total of their experiences and their expectations. We cannot ask them to leave any part of themselves at the door when the bell rings, rather, we must embrace their entirety.

    So, how can we do this as reading teachers?

    We can carve out time every day for them to read (Right no. 1). And not just time, but a high volume of uninterrupted time (Right no. 7). We can curate a classroom library from which they are free to browse and select titles (Right no. 2).

    We can reveal to them what to watch for in the books they choose so they can deepen their comprehension, better understand the content, and have their own thoughts and interpretations about what they read. Comprehension helps make the reading experience enjoyable and fully realized (Right no. 5).

    As reading teachers, we know how important it is to do more than focus on the book; we have to focus on our readers. We talk to our students, we seek to understand them and their interests, passions, and reading histories. We make sure our classroom and school libraries are not only a mirror of their lives and identities, but also a window into parts of the world they have not yet ventured (Rights no. 3 and no. 4).

    Reading is social and thus we must give students the chance to recommend titles, react to their reading by talking with friends, and talk about how they’re living differently because of the things they have read (Right no. 8).

    And when students talk to us, they should know that we are helping them read any book better, not just the one book they have in their hands in the moment we confer with them (Right no. 6). Speaking of conferring, we must give students our individual time and attention as we guide them toward stronger reading habits and skills.

    And what is the point of reading anyway, unless it’s enjoyable? Reading helps us learn about our world so we can cultivate new thinking and share our ideas and opinions with others (Right no. 9). When we invest in developing our own knowledge around texts and engage as regular readers of children’s literature, we are better able to teach in a way that is generalizable book to book (Right no. 10).

    When our teaching is specific, clear, and transferrable, we can ensure that we are supporting our students’ reading lives well beyond the precious days we work with them in our classrooms. When we honor our students’ reading lives and tailor our instruction to meet them where they are, we are preserving not only their rights to read but also their right to lay claim to the world around them.

    Jennifer Serravallo is a literacy consultant, speaker, and the author of several popular titles including The New York Times bestselling The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers (Heinemann) and The Writing Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers (Heinemann). Her latest publication, Understanding Texts & Readers: Responsive Comprehension Instruction with Leveled Texts (Heinemann), connects comprehension goals to text levels and readers responses. Upcoming publications include A Teacher's Guide to Reading Conferences(early 2019) and Complete Comprehension, which is a revised and reimagined whole book assessment and teaching resource based on the award-winning Independent Reading Assessment (due in spring 2019). She was a senior staff developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and taught in Title I schools in New York City. Tweet her @jserravallo.

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    ILA Advocates for Student-Centered Model of Data Collection and Interpretation

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Oct 16, 2018
    Beyond the Numbers

    Rather than being shaped by accountability policies and requirements, student learning goals and needs should be the driving force behind what data are collected and how they are used.

    When centered on students’ unique needs, data can serve as a portrait, a highlighter, and a springboard to enhance student learning and inform instructional decision making, according to ILA’s latest brief, Beyond the Numbers: Using Data for Instructional Decision Making.

    Educators should view students as key sources of their own learning data, asserts ILA.

    “We’re moving away from the idea that data equal obligatory test scores and percentages,” says ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “The most powerful sources of data are the unique experiences students have in the classroom.”

    Snapshot data, such as test scores, are often used incorrectly to categorize or label students by their abilities, according to ILA. Data should include a wide range of information, such as formative assessments, student engagement observations, student oral responses, and knowledge of students’ backgrounds, to provide a fuller portrait of students’ strengths and needed areas of support.

    Examining discrepancies and patterns across multiple forms of data can illuminate equity concerns and allow for a more truthful picture of student learning. When analysis leads to uncertainty about next steps or solutions, data act as a springboard, prompting further inquiry and investigation.

    The brief concludes with five actionable steps for using data to support instructional improvements.

    Access the full brief here.

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

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    Key Ingredients for a Successful ILA 2019 Conference Proposal

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Sep 24, 2018

    Conference Proposal GuideILA’s annual conference is a great forum to share your research and findings, network with prominent individuals in your field, and put your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in literacy education. Because of this, our proposal submission is a highly competitive process, with only an estimated 30% of submissions accepted each year.

    That kind of competition puts means that those looking to get on the peer-reviewed program have to step up their proposal game. After all, the proposal is the one shot you have to “sell” your idea and secure your place in the ILA 2019 Conference program.

    Here are some tips for putting your best proposal forward:

    Educate yourself on what reviewers are looking for. Carefully review the submission guidelines and five-point scoring rubric and be aware of expectations.

    Ground your proposal in research. Reviewers are looking for proof that your proposal is powered by research and evidence-based practice. Include references and citations where needed.

    Show the applicability. Don’t just summarize your research; emphasize its larger significance. What are the implications of your findings? How might this be implemented into practice? What will attendees know by the end of the session?  Clearly state the takeaways.

    Be fresh but relevant. While you want to contribute to what’s trending, you also want to offer fresh perspective and insights. Choose a topic that’s timely, relevant, and important to the field, but still brings a unique angle to the conversation. This will help your proposal stand out.

    Punch up your title. Your title is often the first (and sometimes only) thing attendees will look for when choosing sessions. Give your session a provocative title that piques the reader’s interest while accurately describing the session. For example, “‘That Never Happens at Home!’ Cultivating Collaboration Between Educators and Families of Students With Special Needs” accomplishes both objectives.

    Don’t bury the lead. A well-written session description has two goals: entice the reviewers into accepting your submission and get attendees into the seats. A person should be able to skim the description and feel confident about what will be covered. The fundamental “why” should be clearly articulated.   

    Pitch yourself. Generally speaking, proposals that make reviewers want to attend the session are scored more favorably. Imagine your session is on the schedule, but the presenter is someone else. You’ve decided to go, and you really want your colleagues to join. How would you convince them to go?  

    Set the tone. Delivery matters. Couch your content in a way that conveys your enthusiasm for the topic without compromising formality. Avoid specialized jargon and make sure your prose is clear, straightforward, and engaging.

    Choose your format carefully.  As an educator, you’re accustomed to offering students differentiated learning opportunities. Submissions must be made in one of five session types: preconference institute, hands-on workshop, session, panel, and poster presentation. Take a thoughtful look at the format descriptions and think about how your topic and findings might most effectively be shared with your audience. This also applies to picking a category, strand, and target audience for your session.

    Be concise. A successful proposal will clearly and succinctly answer the basic questions of Who? What? Where? Why? How? Active words are key.

    Proofread, edit, and double-check. Mechanical errors can be distracting and may lead reviewers to question your commitment or competence. The presenter and all copresenters should take time to screen the proposal for spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors. Afterward, ask colleagues to proofread, not only for errors but also for confusing statements. Give them enough background about the conference, the expected audience, and your topic, so that they can deliver actionable feedback.

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

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    #ILAchat: Ensuring Every Child’s Rights to Read

    Wesley Ford
     | Sep 11, 2018

    ILAchat_RightsToRead_300This Thursday, September 13, at 8:00 p.m. ET, #ILAchat and #globaledchat will join together for a single conversation focusing on the newly released Children’s Rights to Read, looking specifically at the role of educators in enacting and upholding these rights for students.

    As ILA President of the Board Bernadette Dwyer notes in the introduction of The Case for Children’s Rights to Read, “As literacy educators, we are responsible for delivering on the promise inherent in these rights. Whether we are working in the classroom or preparing the next generation of teachers, we have a responsibility for every student entrusted to our care. We must enact these rights in classrooms and schools and work with others to ensure the same in homes, communities, governments, and societies.”

    Alas, Dwyer could not be with us for this chat. Taking up the mantle in her stead, we have a few members of ILA’s Board of Directors—Juli-Anne Benjamin, Kenneth Kunz, Stephen Peters, and Jennifer Williams—and Heather Singmaster, representing #globaledchat, who are graciously letting us use their Twitter chat platform to expand the reach of this conversation.

    Benjamin is a veteran educator who has dedicated her life in the service of children, both nationally and internationally, having taught in South Africa and recently in New Delhi, India, at Delhi Public Schools. Benjamin loves to read and is devoutly committed to building culturally relevant and sustainable classroom libraries. She champions read-alouds in literacy lessons and grounds instructional practice in building and curating sound relationships with teachers and students and culturally aligning books that serve as windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors into the diverse experiences and worlds of children.

    Kunz began his career as an elementary school teacher in the New Jersey Public Schools after receiving his bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and English from Kean University. In 2007, he received recognition as an outstanding teacher through the New Jersey Governor’s Teacher Recognition Program. Passionate about literacy instruction, he holds a master’s degree in Reading Specialization and a doctorate in Teacher Leadership from Rutgers University.

    childrens-rights-to-read-posterPeters has been a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, and director of secondary education. Most of his experiences have been in schools that made significant growth in short periods of time, thus resulting in both National and State Blue Ribbon distinction. Currently, Peters is superintendent of schools for Laurens 55 School District and is founder of the nationally recognized Gentlemen’s & Ladies Club programs, which provide options for thousands of at-risk and honor students throughout the United States.

    Williams is recognized as a transformational leader in education; she has dedicated herself for over 20 years to the field of education through her roles as a school administrator, literacy specialist, and classroom teacher. Her personal mission is to make literacy accessible for all and ultimately to bring about appreciation of shared stories and celebration of diversity of experience and perspective.

    Singmaster is associate director at the Center for Global Education at the Asia Society, where her work focuses on international benchmarking and integrating global competence into Career Technical Education (CTE) programs as well as state and national policy. She leads the project, Mapping the Nation: The Case for Global Competence and is host of Education Week’s Global Learning blog. Currently, she is working on a set of online professional development modules and resources to support the CTE field.

    We’re excited to hear from both the #ILAchat and #globaledchat communities jointly on Thursday, September 13, at 8:00 p.m. ET about these Rights, which resonated the most with you personally, how you plan to implement them in your classrooms and schools, and what support you think educators will need to ensure these Rights to Read for every student.

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