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  • At the IRA 58th Annual Convention in April 2013 in San Antonio, Texas, we recognized members and affiliates from around the world.
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    2013 International Awards and Grants

     | Jul 11, 2013

    At the IRA 58th Annual Convention in April 2013 in San Antonio, Texas, we gathered to celebrate our members from around the world. The following members and international affiliates were recognized for their service to the field of literacy. 

    Constance McCullough Award

    Carla Jean Raynor, A Growing and Developing Society— Intergenerational Learning with Families at the Core Bhutan

    Global Volunteer Award

    Dr. Anne Sustik, Illinois Reading Association

    Dr. Janet Condy, Reading Association of South Africa

    International Membership Development Awards

    Perhimpunan Baca-Tulis Masyarakat (PBTM), Indonesia

    Sindh-Balochistan Reading Council, Pakistan

    Literacy Projects in Countries with Developing Economies

    Beatrice Tafon Takeh, Children’s Book Club, Cameroon

    Dr. Apolonia Tamata, Evaluating the Information Text Awareness Project (ITAP) and Documenting Localized Teaching Practices in Fiji, Fiji

    Majidova Robiya Abduvalievna, Reading Club for Young Learners in Kairakkum, Tajikistan

    Dr. Pinheiro Angela Maria Veira, The Professionalization of Literacy Teachers in Brazil, Brazil

    Hadi Tabassum Samina, Teach for India, India

    Margaret Muthiga, Reading to Rebuild and Nourish, Argentina

    Melina Porto, Developing Critical Thinking Skills in Spanish Speaking Argentina, Argentina

    Geraldine Nanjala, Library Program in Ndege Primary Schools, Kenya

    United Kingdom Association Literacy Awards

    UKLA Book Award - Awarded every year. The only national book award judged by teachers, and shadowed by student teachers. Chair - Lynda Graham

    Iris & Isaac by Catherine Rayner
    3-6 years category
    Published by Little Tiger Press

    Sky Hawk by Gill Lewis
    7-11 years category
    Published by Oxford University Press

    A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
    12- 16 years category,
    Illustrated by Jim Kay, published by Walker Books

    UKLA/Wiley-Blackwell Research in Literacy Education Awards - Awarded every year.
    Shortlists drawn up by panel convened by editors of JRR (Clare Wood) and Literacy (Cathy Burnett and Julia Davies). Panel chaired by Jackie Marsh.

    Journal of Research in Reading (JRR)
    Melby-Lervåg, M., Lervåg, A. (2011) Cross-linguistic transfer of oral language, decoding, phonological awareness and reading comprehension: a meta-analysis of the correlational evidence.
    Journal of Research in Reading. Vol 34:1 pp.114-135

    Moss.G., (2011) Policy and the search for explanations for the gender gap in literacy attainment.
    Literacy. Vol 45:3 pp.111-118

    UKLA Academic Book Award - Awarded every two years

    2011 Winner: Margaret Mallett
    Choosing and using fiction and Non-Fiction 3-11

    UKLA Literacy School of the Year: A school where literacy thrives- This is a new award

    Frederick Bird School, Coventry

    John Downing Award - Awarded every two years. Awarded to inspirational, creative teachers of literacy.

    2011 Winner Jo Scott
    Rowley Lane Junior
    Infant and Nursery School, Huddersfield

    New Zealand Awards

    New Zealand Literacy Association Honour Council Awards

    Hawkes Bay

    New Zealand Literacy Association Marie Clay Literacy Trust International Literacy Conference Travel Award

    Jane Carroll, Otago Reading Association
    Awarded for travel to Spain for the International Workshop on Reading and Developmental Dyslexia

    International Reading Association Award for Innovative Reading Promotion in Europe

    Yvonne Mullan, Reading Association of Ireland (RAI)
    An Intervention to Improve the Literacy Skills of Deaf Children

    ira 2013 international awards

    For more information on awards and grants, visit the IRA awards webpage.


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  • council leadership academyCouncil Leadership Academy presenters share the hot topics they will discuss at the professional development event in Minneapolis in the end of June.
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    Leadership Tips and Expert Advice at Upcoming Council Academy

     | Jun 13, 2013

    Excitement is building for the 2013 Council Leadership Academy, the four-day professional development opportunity for International Reading Association (IRA) council leaders and future leaders entitled “Destination Success.”

    The Academy features presenters who are highly-experienced literacy educators and business professionals with backgrounds in council governance and outreach issues including strategic planning, finance, advocacy, communications, and marketing.

    Expert presenters include East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania Reading Department Chair and IRA President Maureen McLaughlin, New Jersey City University Professor and IRA President-Elect Jill Lewis-Spector, Judson University Professor and IRA Board Member Steven Layne. Also presenting are IRA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post, IRA Director of Government Relations Richard Long, IRA Director of Business Linda Marston, IRA Director of Marketing Stephen Sye, IRA Senior Writer and Content Strategist Lara Deloza, and IRA Leadership Development Associates Rayann Mitchell and Tiffany Sears.

    Jill Lewis-Spector and Richard Long will be presenting in-depth sessions on current education legislation and policy and how to interact with government officials on local, state, and federal levels.

    “We can see that the combination of budget cuts, de-professionalization of teachers, and new policy directions for public schools have negatively impacted literacy programs and instruction, and have ultimately harmed students’ literacy progress,” says Lewis-Spector. “We must advocate for change to bring more positive results for ourselves, our students, and our schools. Council leaders and, in fact all educators, should realize how they, their students, and their profession can benefit from being education advocates. Advocating together can bring positive results and contribute to building new, rewarding, and exciting professional communities.”

    Council members challenged with reaching their membership or confused by all of the social media options will benefit from the communications session with Lara Deloza and Tiffany Sears.

    “The most important thing about our session is that communication plans are not ‘one size fits all.’ That’s why our session isn’t either,” says Sears. “Attendees will leave with a practical plan developed with their specific needs in mind.”

    Deloza adds, “Participating in social media is no longer optional. The good thing is that social media provides various avenues by which councils can engage and grow membership. [A common] misconception is that developing a communication plan that includes social media is hard. Another misconception is that it costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time to implement these programs. The session will demystify social media and provide attendees with practical tools to craft a solid communication program.”

    Council Leadership AcademyRayann Mitchell leads a strategic planning session on Friday and teams with the other presenters throughout the Academy for strategic planning sessions and roundtables. Council leaders in attendance will be close to finalizing their strategic plans by the end of the Academy.

    “The session ‘Oh the Places You Will Go’ on Friday is on strategic planning, focusing on big priorities, and utilizing the leadership team to accomplish wildly important goals,” Mitchell says. “Participants will take away both a one-word inspirational focus for the year and a four step plan for executing strategy within their councils to achieve success.”

    The presenters will help council leaders discern their challenges and develop clear objectives during several interactive sessions throughout the Academy.

    “We can't keep doing things the way we've always done them and expect different results,” Mitchell explains. “If we are going to survive and thrive, we have to create a new model of functioning—one that is responsive to our members’ needs and respects the values, skills, and talents of a new generation of leaders. The type of [strategic] planning that we are suggesting still contains long-range goals and short-term objectives, but it utilizes the acronym SMARTEST (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely & tangible, engaging, shifting, and team effort) to give leaders the flexibility to adjust as needed.  Participants will learn the power of laser-light focus on a few wildly important goals and the achievement that results.”

    See the complete program schedule on the Council Leadership Academy webpage.

    Space is still available for the Council Leadership Academy, which will be held June 27 to 30, 2013, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Find more information and register on the Council Leadership Academy webpage.


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  • CLAThe International Reading Association hosts a Council Leadership Academy with the theme “Destination Success” from June 27 through 30 in Minneapolis.
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    Council Leadership Academy: Destination Success

     | May 28, 2013

    In response to the operational challenges faced by literacy councils in recent years, the International Reading Association hosts a Council Leadership Academy from June 27 through 30 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

    Non-profit associations have been hit hard by a tsunami of challenges. Membership levels are eroding, revenues are declining, and conference attendance is suffering. Leaders of most non-profit educational associations are struggling to find a path to turnaround and survival.

    The International Reading Association (IRA) developed this intensive multi-day program with the theme “Destination Success” to equip council leaders with the strategic vision and tactical skills that their organizations will need to prosper in this climate. The Council Leadership Academy promises to help council leaders to conduct an operational assessment; learn strategies for turning challenges into opportunities; gain insight on effective ways to utilize social networking; and discover new ways of thinking about and improving governance, organizational management, advocacy, communications, member recruitment and retention, leadership development, and more.

    Inspiration and Networking on Thursday

    maureen mclaughlin
    Maureen McLaughlin

    marcie craig post
    Marcie Craig Post

    steven layne
    Steven Layne

    Jill Lewis-Spector
    Jill Lewis-Spector

    richard long
    Richard Long

    The Academy begins at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 27 with an opening session featuring IRA President Maureen McLaughlin and IRA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post, who will unveil the IRA plan for strategic improvement and how it impacts the work of IRA’s vast network of councils. A networking reception is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., followed by a 6:30 group dinner with inspirational speaker Jodi Hills, author of I Am Amazed. Hills operates a Minneapolis design studio named Studio J which features her collection of “visual verse.”

    Wit and Wisdom on Friday

    Friday, June 28 begins with an 8:00 a.m. group breakfast and general session with IRA Board Member, author, and speaker Steven Layne. With trademark wit and wisdom, Steven Layne presents “The Success Story Nobody Else Can Write,” an address that outlines four basic tenets that lead to effectiveness and inspiration for all of the key players.

    At 10:00 a.m. attendees begin a strand that includes four sessions: organizational management with IRA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post and IRA Director of Business Operations Linda Marston, council network & communications with IRA Leadership Development Associate Tiffany Sears and IRA Content Strategist and Senior Writer Lara Deloza, council leadership with IRA Board Member Steven Layne and IRA Leadership Development Associate Rayann Mitchell, or membership development with IRA Director of Marketing Stephen Sye. There is a mid-morning break, a group lunch, and a mid-afternoon break. The program schedule has more information about the timing of each session and takeaways from each of these strands.

    Part I of the mentorship program orientation begins at 4:45 p.m. The mentorship program is a voluntary partnership opportunity for new and experienced council leaders to develop an ongoing relationship to consolidate knowledge, share effective practices, and provide support through feedback and coaching. Friday evening ends with a networking reception at 5:30 and a group dinner at 6:30.

    Advocacy and Strategy on Saturday

    IRA President-elect Jill Lewis-Spector and IRA Director of Government Relations Richard Long lead the general session at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 29. Lewis-Spector presents “Why Advocacy is Important for IRA, State Councils, and Literacy Teachers,” and Long discusses “What Are the National, Federal and State Issues Impacting Literacy Teachers?”

    IRA Director of Marketing Stephen Sye

    After a short break, the learning tracks begin at 10:15 a.m. There are two learning tracks, each with three sessions. (Breaks and lunch are scheduled between sessions.) The Council Leadership Track features Lara Deloza, Steven Layne, Linda Marston, Rayann Mitchell, Marcie Craig Post, Tiffany Sears, and Stephen Sye. Expanding on the previous day’s curriculum, the team presents more in-depth content tailored to individual attendees to assist them in refining their knowledge of organizational management, membership activities, social media tactics, networking, and leadership development. The Advocacy Track features Richard Long, who proposes answers to the question, “What can state councils do about the big federal and state literacy issues impacting literacy Teachers?” Building from the general session, Long’s sessions will focus on how to look at the intersection of advocacy and professional issues and how an IRA state council can organize to effectively communicate, make decisions, and reach out to legislators and state officials to make a difference that will impact students.

    Lara Deloza discusses communications and social media

    The first strategic planning session is scheduled at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, after a short break after the final learning track sessions. At the planning session, Lara Deloza, Steven Layne, Rich Long, Linda Marston, Rayann Mitchell, Marcie Craig Post, Tiffany Sears, and Stephen Sye facilitate small group meetings to review the rubric, continue council self-analysis, and begin strategic planning and goal setting. The second mentorship program orientation is scheduled for 4:45 p.m., followed by a reception at 5:30, and a group dinner at 6:30 featuring Steven Layne’s speech “Confessions of a Reading Arsonist.” Layne’s charismatic blend of anecdotes and practical suggestions for engaging struggling readers in the classroom are sure to fan the flame of literacy into a raging inferno, inspiring teachers as well as their students to keep the bedside lamp on just a little bit later into the night.

    Goal-setting and Farewells on Sunday

    After a continental breakfast on Sunday morning, the second strategic planning session begins at 8:30 a.m. Facilitators Steven Layne, Rich Long, Linda Marston, Rayann Mitchell, Marcie Craig Post, Tiffany Sears, and Stephen Sye continue to meet with attendees in small groups to review rubrics, continue council self-analysis, and begin strategic planning and goal setting.

    The closing general session features “Honoring the Past, Building the Future” with Marcie Craig Post at 10:15 a.m. She reviews what was learned during the Academy, summarizes the long- and short-term goals of IRA and of councils, and shares progress that has been made so far and plans for the future. A “grab-and-go” lunch will be provided.

    How to Attend

    The Council Leadership Academy is geared towards council leaders as well as council members who are interested in extending their impact on literacy through council involvement. The ultimate goal of the Academy is to create more robust operating exchanges between and among IRA and its affiliated councils, and to strengthen the channels for continuous long-term support.

    The Academy will be held at the Hilton Minneapolis at 1001 Marquette Avenue South in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The registration fee is $249, and all sessions, materials, and group meals are included.

    Register by e-mailing customerservice@/, calling (800) 336-7323, faxing the registration form to (302) 737-0878, or mailing the registration form to CLA, International Reading Association, 800 Barksdale Road, Newark, DE 19711.

    Cancellations received before June 1 will receive a 50% refund. After June 1st, no refunds will be made for cancellations. Substitutions are permitted. Registration closes June 25.

    The special lodging rate for the Hilton Minneapolis, the conference site, is $159. In order to secure this price, reservations must be made by June 13, 2013. To reserve, call (800) HILTONS (445-8667) and provide group name “IRA” or reserve online at /CLAhotel.



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  • Judy Backlund tells the story if how Rotary members and IRA council members created clothing and collected books to send to children in South Sudan.
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    IRA Council and Rotary Collaborate on South Sudan Literacy Project

     | May 09, 2013

    by Judy Backlund

    After I traveled to South Sudan to train teachers in 2011 with fellow Central Washington University professors Phil Backlund and Janet Finke, I wondered how we could do more to help the children there.

    South Sudan gained its independence in July 2011 after a long-running civil war. The adult literacy rate is 27 percent, and 63 percent of the population above the age of six has never attended school, according to a U.S. State Department fact sheet.

    Clothe the Body

    The three of us saw the poverty the South Sudanese children lived in and their need for clothes. Since Phil and I are IRA members and Rotarians, and Janet is an IRA member, we knew just whom to call. We joined with Ellensburg Morning Rotary Club, Rotaract (young Rotarians), and the Central Washington University (CWU) group of the Washington Organization of Reading and Development (WORD) IRA state council to provide clothes for girls and boys at an orphanage in Juba, South Sudan. 

    The members of the two organizations met every Sunday night for three months, between January and March, 2012. Together they made 50+ pillowcase dresses and turned 50+ inexpensive t-shirts into cool shirts for kids. This was the “clothe the body” part of our project.

    clothe the body

    Feed the Mind

    To “feed the mind,” we selected one book to go with each article of clothing. For the very small (size 2-4) pillowcase dresses or shirts, we chose board books. As the sizes of clothes increased so did the types of books we selected for each article of clothing. The WORD members carefully selected fiction and nonfiction books as well as only including those that were culturally appropriate for the children. We then packaged one book and an article of clothing in a large Ziploc bag. We put together 136 bags.

    “The Clothe the Body, Feed the Mind project was a wonderful experience bringing in CWU WORD and seeing their enthusiasm working with people (Rotarians) they had just met and their passion for not only helping children on the other side of the world but wanting to learn about these people," said Jack Carpenter, Past-President, Ellensburg Morning Rotary Club."[It was a] great sharing of resources, hearts and minds.” 

    “It was great to see people of different generations sharing a passion for improving the world through literacy and clothing,” said Lisa Toedtli from Central WORD.


    South Sudan Special Delivery

    In March 2012, two Rotarians who were also IRA members and another IRA member took the bags of clothes and books to the Confident Children Out of Conflict and Crisis Street Orphanage in Juba, South Sudan. While there we spent time with the girls and the director and have developed a lasting friendship.

    Scholarship Project

    In addition, Rotaract and WORD raised money for three scholarships to cover the costs for three of the girls to attend school for one year.

    "Clothe the Body, Feed the Mind was a great joint project that gave us the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the children in South Sudan, while having an impact on literacy internationally,” said Jackie Robertson, President of Central WORD.

    Another part of the Ellensburg project is raising money for $250 scholarships to send one South Sudanese girl to school for a year. A year later and through our connections, other scholarships for additional girls to attend school are being raised.

    For information and photos about the Clothe the Body, Feed the Mind Project or ways that you can support Confident Children Out of Conflict and Crisis please feel free to contact me.

    Judy Backlund is the Past President of Ellensburg Morning Rotary and the Chair of IRARI, an International Reading Association Special Interest Group, focusing on promoting joint literacy efforts between Rotary Clubs and IRA Councils, backlundju@cwu.edu.


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  • bangladeshAround 500 teachers from primary, secondary, and other educational institutions participated in the conference in Dhaka.
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    Bangladesh Reading Association Hosts National Conference on Literacy

     | May 06, 2013

    by Nafiz Uddin Khan

    The National Conference of the Bangladesh Reading Association (BRA) was held in Dhaka October 5-6 with the theme of “Problems and Practices of Teaching in Bangladesh.” The conference was jointly organized by the Bangladesh Reading Association and Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM), in cooperation with the International Reading Association (IRA) and Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE).

    Mr. Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, PhD, Secretary, Ministry of Education, Government of Bangladesh, was the Chief Guest in the inaugural ceremony of the conference. Carrice C. Cummins, President of IRA, was the Special Guest for the occasion. Prof. M. Eltasuddin, Vice Chairman of BRA, welcomed the participants. Mr. Kzai Rafi qul Alam, Chairman of the Bangladesh Reading Association, chaired the inaugural ceremony.

    Around 500 teachers from primary, secondary, and other educational institutions participated in the conference. There were three plenary and ten parallel sessions in the conference with a variety of topics relevant to the theme of the conference.

    Since its inception, BRA has been organizing activities to improve the capacity of teachers in different areas of professional development. BRA targeted October 5, World Teachers Day, to hold this national conference. The main objectives of the conference were:
    • To bring quality in educational delivery to primary and secondary schools;
    • To explore the current problems and good practices of teaching and learning processes in primary and secondary schools in Bangladesh;
    • To encourage teachers and educators to document and research good practices in teaching-related topics;
    • To develop an action plan for conducting, publishing, and disseminating research on teaching and learning processes, curriculum, creative learning materials, etc;
    • To encourage teachers and educators to become pro-active for their professional development.

    Prof. Dr. M.M.Safiullah, Vice Chancellor, Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology, Dhaka, presented the keynote paper on Education and Problems of Education Practice in Bangladesh. This keynote focused on the overall problems and practices of teaching in the primary and secondary level in Bangladesh. It showed the education system, policy of primary and secondary education, and teachers’ motivation and practices in the classroom.

    At the closing session of the conference the participants opined that this was a successful event that should be organized every year. They also suggested the idea of publishing a teachers’ journal to share their problems, practices, and experiences with teaching.

    Nafiz Uddin Khan is the Project Manager at Bangladesh Reading Association, Nafiz1966@gmail.com.


    The Chief Guest Mr. Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, PhD, Secretary, Ministry of Education speaks


    International Reading Association President (2012-2013) Carrice Cummins speaks


    Attendees at the conference

    This article was originally published in the December 2012/January 2013 issue of Reading Today. IRA members can read the interactive digital version of the magazine here. Nonmembers: join today!

    <a href="http://engage./directory/communitydetails/?CommunityKey=1e1d0278-6be6-4fac -a1be-a119ce8ca58b">
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