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    Your Guide to Institute Day at ILA 2018

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Apr 05, 2018

    Institute Day 2018ILA institutes take an in-depth look at pressing issues facing literacy instruction with leaders in the field. These full-day courses unpack the latest research findings and explore best practices in leadership, curriculum, instruction, and more.

    At ILA 2018, attendees can choose from 10 institutes designed to accommodate a variety of audiences. Here’s your guide to choosing the one that best fits your goals, interests, and learning style.

    Set a high-level goal

    To make the most out of Institute Day, it is critical to set a goal. Whether it’s something general, such as to build your professional network, or something specific, such as to learn new read-aloud techniques, setting a goal will help you filter through the offerings and find the course that will benefit you most—even after the conference is over.

    Ask yourself, what do you want to take away from the experience? If you want to build specialized knowledge and expertise, look for a course that aligns with ILA’s conference tracks, such as Institute 01: ILA 2018 Research Institute: Best Practices in the Teaching of Reading, Institute 02: Principals’ Leadership for Literacy Instruction: It Matters, or Institute 03: Coaching for Comprehensive Literacy Improvement: A District-Wide Approach.

    Some courses, such as Institute 08: More Mirrors in the Classroom: Increasing the Effectiveness of Literacy Instruction with Culturally Relevant Texts will introduce new information, trends, and best practices while others, such as Institute 10: Rethinking Reading Instruction with Technology: Strategies for K-8 ELA Teachers, will yield more actionable tactics. Whatever the goal, make sure you’ll be able to apply what you learn to your daily practice.

    Seek out the people you want to connect with

    With a more intimate setting and focused content, institutes serve as a unique opportunity to engage with like-minded professionals, ask questions, bounce off ideas, and receive feedback in real-time. Institute presenters and copresenters include prominent scholars such as Maureen McLaughlin, John Guthrie, Douglas Fisher, and Ernest Morrell as well as inspiring educators and authors, such as Kylene Beers, Colby Sharp, Cornelius Minor, and Donalyn Miller.

    What goal is your institution, district, or classroom currently working toward? What practices or programs could you learn from or adopt? Identify presenters who have overcome similar challenges and can impart valuable insights and advice.

    Choose your learning format

    As an educator, you’re accustomed to offering students differentiated learning opportunities. Institute Day incorporates a variety of learning formats, from interactive workshops to all keynote formats.

    For those who learn by doing, Institute 05: Creating Engaged and Attentive Readers and Writers: Texts and Tools that Change How Kids Read and Write will integrate breakout sessions, group presentations, and other hands-on activities. At Institute 04: Changing Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction: Implementing Word Study in Classrooms, Schools, and Districts, presenters and group leaders, including Donald Bear, Latisha Hayes, and Kevin Flanigan, will work side-by-side with attendees to help them develop tailored word study implementation plans.

    For the experiential learner, several institutes offer strong case study content, relevant examples, and practical applications. During Institute 07: Let’s Talk About That! How Purposeful Conversation Improves Middle and High School Literacy and Learning Across Content Areas presenters will share classroom-tested “protocols, tips, and ideas” to promote productive student discussions.

    At Institute 09: Reframing the Gradual Release of Responsibility: Connecting Read Aloud, Shared, Guided, and Independent Reading for Deeper Comprehension, literacy consultants will present effective reading strategies and demonstrate "next generation" instruction.

    If you prefer to learn through words, Institute 06: Intentionally Planned Best Practices That Motivate Early Literacy Development presenters will drive a conversation around evidence-best practices for developing literacy for early learners.

    To learn more and register for Institute Day, visit literacyworldwide.org/conference/institute-day.

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

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    Reimagining Reading: Connecting and Promoting Lifelong Readers Through Book Clubs

    By Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher
     | Apr 04, 2018

    LT Book ClubsAlmost all of our students have abandoned the regular reading of books.

    Let us say this again: Almost all of our students have abandoned the regular reading of books.

    A strong statement, for sure, but not one we have come to lightly. We have reached this conclusion after surveying our high school students, many of whom have come from years of classrooms focused only (or mostly) on the whole-class reading of difficult texts. In these environments, they have found alternatives to actually turning the pages. They are practiced in participating in fake discussions spun from reading SparkNotes summaries. They have become experts in the art of hiding. And, sadly, we have found that this applies to all our students—even those at the honors level.

    If we do not alter our approach to the teaching of reading—if we don’t figure out a way for students to rediscover the magic of books—we will graduate a generation of nonreaders, fake readers, and unprepared-for-college readers.

    So how can we reconnect kids to reading? We believe the answer lies in providing our students with a balanced reading diet. In our classrooms, “balanced” means a rich foundation of independent reading, regular book club opportunities, and the study of a few core texts in a school year.

    Though independent reading and whole-class study of texts are critical, we have found that creating vibrant book club experiences are particularly helpful in reestablishing reading habits in our students. Specifically, book clubs do three kinds of important work:

    • Book clubs allow our classrooms to be responsive. This year, we selected book club titles around the topic of equity. Students picked from a wide range of fiction and nonfiction titles, from below–grade-level to college-level texts, thus meeting the needs of the diverse reading abilities found in our classrooms. (Check out the sidebar for the list of books we used.) We picked equity as a theme because it is a vital part of discourse today. Our students need a part in the conversation. Charlottesville, “Take a Knee,” DACA, and Black Lives Matter are dominating headlines, and they demand to be studied in the moment. Our unit was responsive to the times, and relevancy motivates our students to read.
    • Book clubs raise reading volume. One thing we are sure all students need—and too many students will graduate without—is a deep volume of reading. What should college freshmen expect in the first year? Five thousand pages of reading (according to reDesign, an organization that specializes in teaching and learning practices) and 75 text-based discussions with students who come from many parts of the world and from religious traditions and family cultures unlike their own. We must create opportunities for our students to practice the speaking and listening, the reading and responding, and the thorny thinking that can result from examining current issues with peers. Book clubs increase the volume of reading because students are responsible to their peers. Having an audience beyond their teacher brings a renewed energy for reading.
    • Book clubs connect students to other readers. We build conversations around books to engage more students in productive talk. Students are too often alone together, as MIT professor Sherry Turkle named the isolation that is caused by a devotion to screen time. You know this. Our classes are quiet when we come in from hall duty. Most students scroll through likes and posts or are animatedly texting. Their friend groups are larger than ever, but less intimate. In the awkwardness of adolescence, it is easier to cultivate a presence online than to make eye contact and to speak, or to actively listen as others respond to your thinking. Small-group conversations are less natural and occur less frequently outside of school today, so they must become an essential part of our classrooms.

    We used Flipgrid to connect our students across the United States, from New Hampshire to California, and then to education majors at Miami University in Oxford, OH. We included college students in our book clubs this year because many young adults find the adjustment to college in the first year difficult, particularly those who are the first in their family to attend. We teach those students, so we used book clubs to build a bridge from our students to college readers.

    Both of us teach students from the working class. Their parents want them to rise above financial struggle, but they don’t know how to prepare their children for the demands of college or the workplace. They depend on us—teachers in the local public school—to know what their kids need. It is a sacred trust. We stand on the front line of preparing students for the future, and motivating them to read is a crucial part of this preparation.

    When we recognized that almost all of our students had abandoned regular reading, it was time to reimagine our teaching of reading. We look forward to sharing more thinking on motivating young readers at the ILA 2018 Conference in Austin, TX, this July. We hope you will join us.

    Penny Kittle, an ILA member since 1999, teaches English at Kennett High School in New Hampshire. She is coauthor of 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents with Kelly Gallagher and author of Book Love: Developing Depth, Passion, and Stamina in Readers (Heinemann).

    Kelly Gallagher, an ILA member since 2003, teaches at Magnolia High School in California. He is the author of several books, most notably Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It (Stenhouse).

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

    Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher will be featured speakers at the ILA 2018 Conference, July 20–July 23, in Austin, TX. To learn more, visit literacyworldwide.org/conference.

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    What to Expect from ILA’s Inaugural Children’s Literature Day

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Mar 28, 2018

    CLDEach year, thousands of literacy educators, professionals, advocates from across the world gather to attend ILA’s annual conference. The event attracts attendees of varying backgrounds, expertise, and experiences, who share and connect over a love of the written word.

    Feedback from postconference surveys, #ILAchats, and social media activity consistently indicates that conference attendees value author interactions. As a result, ILA will now offer an entire day of programming dedicated to children’s and young adult literature, to debut at the ILA 2018 Conference, taking place in Austin, TX, from July 2023.

    Children’s Literature Day 2018 will include keynote speeches, educational sessions, book signings and giveaways, and more. Here’s a snapshot of what’s included with registration:

    • Keynote speeches by Marley Dias, 13-year-old founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks and the youngest person on Forbes 30 Under 30 list; Colby Sharp, fifth-grade teacher and cofounder of Nerdy Book Club; and Kwame Alexander; poet, educator, and New York Times bestselling author of 24 books.
    • A plated lunch during the afternoon keynote (Sharp) and the presentation of ILA’s Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Awards.
    • One Author Meetup of your choosing. Four categories (Early Reader, Middle Grade, Early Young Adult, and Older Young Adult) feature a mix of up-and-comers and well-established veterans.
    • Free titles from each featured author in the selected Meetup.
    • Hands-on workshops (also spanning four age-level categories) where you’ll create title-focused classroom materials alongside the authors who wrote the books and gain practical, teacher-generated ideas for incorporating those books into your curriculum.

    Learn more and register for ILA 2018 at ilaconference.org.

    Alina O’Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    Nadia Lopez, ILA General Session Speaker, on Setting Her Scholars up for Success

    By Lara Deloza
     | Mar 19, 2018

    Nadia Lopez

    You probably don’t know Nadia Lopez by name. You might not even recognize her face. Her story, though? That’s another thing entirely.

    On Jan. 19, 2015, Brandon Stanton’s popular Humans of New York (HONY) blog featured a 13-year-old boy who cited his school principal as the most influential person in his life.

    “When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us,” the boy told Stanton. “She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.”

    Intrigued, Stanton did some digging that led him to Mott Hall Bridges Academy (MHBA), a New York City public school, and its founder—an inspirational educator determined to offer children living in the underserved, marginalized neighborhood of Brownsville a way up and out.

    Now do you know who Nadia Lopez is?

    Taking her message from Brownsville to the world

    The initial HONY post went viral (to date, more than 1.2 million people have liked it on Facebook and more than 170,000 have shared it). It changed everything.

    Before HONY, Lopez was on the verge of burnout. She was considering quitting altogether.

    Afterward, there was an outpouring of support—and cash. A fundraising campaign started by Stanton brought in more than $1.4 million. Half of the proceeds were earmarked to send incoming sixth graders at Mott Hall on an annual trip to visit Harvard. The other half became a scholarship fund for graduates of MHBA.

    There was an appearance on The Ellen Show. There was a trip to the White House. There was a TED Talk that has been viewed more than 1 million times. There’s a book—The Bridge to Brilliance: How One Woman and One Community Are Inspiring the World (Penguin)—that shares the story of MHBA and the woman whose vision brought it to life.

    Lopez hasn’t shied away from the spotlight, and she’s certainly enjoyed the attention she’s received (when asked the most surprising thing that happened after her story went viral, she cites getting to meet Michelle Obama when both were honored at BET’s Black Girls Rock celebration). But the work that she’s done was never about her. It was always about the kids.

    Serving them is what drives everything at Mott Hall, including the expectations set for its teachers. Lopez believes in the power of the team; at MHBA, educators collaborate on planning and preparation. She sees the staff as a village created to support the success of the school’s scholars.

    “Leadership is not easy,” Lopez says, “but it’s worth it.”

    Setting her scholars up for success

    Leadership will be just one of the themes of Lopez’s General Session keynote at the ILA 2018 Conference.

    “Everything begins with our leaders,” she says. “Administrators must be the example of what they want to see in their team members….What you choose to prioritize, those who work for you will understand it mandatory to follow.”

    For Lopez, this means cultivating a culture of literacy in the STEAM-focused Mott Hall.

    “Reading and writing are paramount in learning,” Lopez says. “Our incoming scholars range from a K–3 reading level in the sixth grade, which is unacceptable. If they will ever be successful, my scholars must be able to build their literacy skills before they graduate MHBA.”

    Brownsville lays claim to some of New York City’s lowest literacy rates, but her vision behind Mott Hall—to create a school that sets children up for college and career—makes literacy education a top priority.

    “A child who can read can learn beyond the limitations set upon them in this world,” Lopez says. “Opening a book, reading a blog or newspaper can give you a worldview from someone else’s perspective. It also levels the field by building knowledge that makes you not only competitive but marketable.”

    There’s still much work to be done. Lopez puts in long hours, seven days a week. Her concern for her students and their future never wanes. Her responsibility to them and the community weighs heavily on her shoulders.

    And yet…

    “I love what I do,” she says. “Each day I am grateful for the opportunity to impact the lives of children.”

    Lara Deloza is the senior communications manager at ILA.

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

    Nadia Lopez will be a keynote speaker during the General Session at the ILA 2018 Conference, July 20–July 23, in Austin, TX. For more information visit ilaconference.org.

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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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