Update from ILA on COVID-19: We are committed to keeping you informed of all the latest developments, including the impact on the ILA 2020 Conference in Columbus, OH, and how ILA is helping educators during this period. Let us know what support you need and stay engaged using these free resources.

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    ILA Postpones Webinar

    By ILA STAFF
     | May 31, 2020

    Donalyn Miller webinar postponedThe International Literacy Association (ILA) will postpone tonight’s scheduled webinar amidst nationwide protests over the May 25 death of George Floyd.

    The webinar, “Making the Case for Reading Joy,” was to be led by Donalyn Miller. It will be rescheduled for a later date.

    Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis, MN, was killed at the hands of Dereck Chauvin, a white police officer who had Floyd’s neck pinned under his knee. Video of the incident, captured by a bystander, showed Floyd pleading for his life, saying repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.”

    Violent protests erupted across the United States, sparking solidarity protests all over the world.

    “What happened to Mr. Floyd is a tragedy,” said ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “Now is not the time to discuss the joy we can find in books, but instead to reflect on how we can promote positive change.”

    “Alongside ILA, I stand in support of the many school communities who are suffering right now and the need to share resources that directly address urgent needs,” says Miller. “Our children cannot experience reading joy without equitable literacy opportunities.”

    ILA is in the process of rescheduling the event and will announce the new date and time next week.

    “We know that reading has the power to heal,” Post said. “But there’s no way to begin healing when the trauma is this fresh.”


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    ILA Elects New Vice President and Members-at-Large to Board of Directors

    By ILA Staff
     | May 21, 2020

    The International Literacy Association (ILA) today announced the results of the ILA 2020 Board Election.

    Robert TierneyRob Tierney, dean emeritus and professor, University of British Columbia, Canada, honorary professor, University of Sydney, Australia, and distinguished scholar, Beijing Normal University, China, was elected vice president. His term on the ILA Board of Directors will begin July 1, 2020. He will then assume the presidency of the Board on July 1, 2021.

    Tierney has held professorships in Australia, the United States, and Canada and has published numerous books and scholarly articles focused on literacy education, teacher development, cross-national educational research, educational assessment, and equity. His recent projects include research on global epistemologies and cross-cultural research, digital literacy and meaning making, the nature of educational scholarship across countries, teacher development projects in China, and indigenous developments in Australia.

    Tierney has a long history of involvement with ILA. He has served as coeditor of ILA’s Reading Research Quarterly (RRQ) journal, as an editorial review board member for RRQ, and as a chair/member of several ILA committees. In 2003, he received the William S. Gray Citation of Merit, ILA’s highest honor for contributions to the field.

    He has also served as president of the Literacy Research Association and as a consultant for Children’s Television Workshop, Apple Computer, and UNESCO. He looks forward to bringing his expertise and global perspective to the Board and to helping guide the future of ILA.

    “My goal is to help ILA, its affiliates, my colleagues, and interested others to make positive and discerning contributions that are both transformative and sustainable,” Tierney said. “ILA has been and should be an agent for change and an ally to educators and communities seeking to make a difference locally and globally with initiatives that are visionary and forward thinking as well as credible, ethical, critical, creative, and beneficial. I see literacies as being at the epicenter of community development and societal advances that have been and will be key to our futures. I am excited by the various challenges and by what could be.”

    Three new Board members-at-large were also elected for the 2020–2023 term:

    Danielle V. DennisDanielle V. Dennis, a professor of literacy teacher education and director of the University of Rhode Island School of Education. Dennis served from 2014 to 2016 as a member of the ILA Literacy Education Reform Task Force that developed the Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform white paper. Since 2015, she has served as an editorial board member for ILA’s The Reading Teacher journal. Dennis served as a board member of the Florida Literacy Association and is currently chair of the Literacy Research Association’s Policy and Legislative Committee. As a literacy teacher educator, Dennis’s focus is on building strong school–university partnerships. Her research studies preservice and inservice teacher knowledge development through literacy coaching and curriculum development.

    Annette M. KiberuAnnette M. Kiberu,a librarian at GEMS Cambridge International School in Kampala, Uganda. Kiberu is the former president of the Reading Association of Uganda, a role in which she oversaw a primary literacy festival, six schools’ introduction of Book Week, three school librarians’ workshops, four national literacy conferences, and the 11th Pan African Literacy for All Conference. She is a board member for Lubiri Nabagereka and KinderKare schools. Kiberu chairs the International Development Committee for Africa, which is an affiliate of ILA. Other committees include the Uganda Multilingual Education Network, Uganda Children’s Writers and Illustrators Association, Peace Corps Education Committee Uganda, and Council of International Schools Library Committee. In 2018, she received the World Literacy Council Award for significant contributions to literacy by an individual.

    Helen J. PerkinsJ. Helen Perkins, a professor of literacy at the University of Memphis in Tennessee. Perkins has served on several ILA committees. Most notably, she served as coeditor of The Reading Teacher and as a lead writer for the Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals 2017. In addition, she is currently chair of the Advocacy/Legislative Committee and conference diversity advisor for the Literacy Association of Tennessee. She is also the advisor to the University of Memphis Student Chapter of the Literacy Association of Tennessee. Her research focuses on urban literacy.

    Tierney, Dennis, Kiberu, and Perkins were elected by ILA’s membership during the ILA 2020 Board Election, which was conducted online between March 30, 2020, and May 11, 2020. The new vice president and members-at-large will begin their terms on July 1, 2020.

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    ILA’s Road Ahead

    By Marcie Craig Post
     | May 13, 2020

    Important AnnouncementThis column will be appearing in the May/June issue of Literacy Today, ILA’s member magazine, set to publish on Friday. Please visit the ILA 2020 Conference site for more information.

    We’re living in an unprecedented rate of change with the world at a standstill.

    What you knew to be true before you went to bed on Monday is likely to have shifted by the time you woke up on Tuesday—or was it Wednesday? For those of us confined to our homes due to shelter-in-place orders or self-imposed isolation, the days seem to blend into one another. (If it wasn’t for Outlook reminding me of conference calls and Zoom meetings, I’m not sure I’d automatically remember which day it was either. One of those round-robin social media posts asked what movie best describes how you’re feeling right now. My response? Groundhog Day.)

    Education as we know it has been upended. School closures that were initially thought to be short term have been extended indefinitely. Some school systems have already taken the action to close through the rest of the school year. As of mid-April, UNESCO was reporting that more than 1.5 billion learners—that’s 91.3% of all enrolled students across 191 countries—have been impacted. Some universities are preparing for the possibility of campuses remaining closed long term and are expecting at minimum a 15% drop in registration for fall 2020.

    Long term, there is no way to predict how this global pandemic will impact the way we teach and the way students learn.

    Short term, there’s urgency to address some very specific challenges around equity and access. These areas of weakness “exposed” by the coronavirus aren’t novel to educators. In our 2020 What’s Hot in Literacy Report, released in January, we shared that both ranked in the top five most critical issues in literacy education. We also found that the top professional development need of survey respondents was on using digital resources to support literacy instruction.

    What is new is the urgency we’re seeing to shore up those weaknesses. And the big question on everyone’s mind is how.

    At ILA, we’re focusing on what we can do to meet your needs—not only the ones you have today but also the ones you’ll have in the future during the post-COVID-19 recovery phase. Here are some of the steps we’ve taken so far:

    • We launched the ILA 2019 Replay. For the months of April and May, we are offering open access to six of the top sessions livestreamed from last year’s conference.
    • We held the first ILA Edcamp Online. Registration for the inaugural event, held on April 7, sold out within hours of going live. Look for more of these live, participant-driven events in the future.
    • We accelerated the timeline on our digital events program. This includes interactive webinars with literacy leaders such as Timothy Shanahan (May 3) and Donalyn Miller (May 31). Each are free for members and available to nonmembers for $45.

    Sensing a trend?

    Streaming recorded sessions and delivering live webinars are standard practices for a professional organization. Adding online peer-to-peer learning and virtual networking opportunities help round out the mix.

    And in the coming months, you’ll see more and more organizations either launching or augmenting collections like these. The value of high-quality content that’s accessible with a device and a reliable Wi-Fi connection has never been greater.

    But for us, the work doesn’t end there. In fact, it’s only just beginning. Each challenge we’ve encountered has given rise to a new way of thinking about what we do and how we do it.

    This magazine, for example. We announced in April the decision to discontinue the print version of Literacy Today. There are several reasons for this, but one of the driving factors is that a number of members receive their subscriptions at their schools or universities—buildings they won’t be entering again for an indeterminate amount of time.

    Innovation was another factor. For the past few issues, we’ve been testing features for the digital version, such as adding exclusive online content and embedding links to videos. We asked ourselves what we could do if we weren’t limited by print. How could we increase value to members by shifting our efforts in this other direction? The possibilities excited us.

    Around the time we were having discussions, we received word from Wiley, the publishing company that prints and distributes our journals, that they would be shifting to a digital-only format until COVID-related restrictions eased and operations could resume as normal. Although this didn’t directly influence our decision about Literacy Today, it did underscore for us that there were definite advantages to a digital publication that didn’t depend on print presses and postal service.

    We applied this kind of thinking to other areas as well, such as our conference, set to take place from October 15–18 in Columbus, OH. From the beginning, when early reports of this devastating virus surfaced, our staff has been in close contact with key officials from the city of Columbus, the Ohio Department of Education, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We have been tracking guidelines and recommendations from the CDC and the World Health Organization. Even though the event wasn’t scheduled until October, we knew from the start we did not want to put on a conference that wasn’t safe for our attendees, exhibitors, and staff.

    Safety has been a top concern of ours from the start. On March 1, ILA suspended travel for staff and members of the Board of Directors. Not long after, we went to a 100% remote work environment. We also increased the flexibility of our workday to ease the burden on families impacted by sudden and wholly unexpected closures of schools and childcare facilities.

    On March 23, Delaware Governor John Carney issued a shelter-in-home order for the state (where our headquarters is located) to remain in effect until May 15. At the time, it was one of the more conservative measures taken. Carney told reporters, “I don’t want Delaware to be the example of what not to do in this crisis.”

    We can say the same for ILA: We do not want to be an example of what not to do. And so in the end, we made the heartbreaking but necessary decision to cancel this year’s conference.

    Many organizations facing similar scenarios have opted to relocate their in-person events to virtual platforms or create hybrid conferences with both face-to-face and digital components. We considered those options but ultimately decided to go in a different direction.

    At this time, we are working on a new model for professional learning—one that allows us to be incredibly responsive to what is going on in your classrooms, your schools, your communities, and the world at large.

    It takes some of the best of what an ILA conference traditionally offers and combines it with new, progressive formats that provide a deep, personalized learning experience. In addition, we’ll be launching new members-only benefits in the coming months, including digital resources informed by responses received from the 2020 What’s Hot in Literacy survey.

    Right now, when everything is or feels at least a little new, we at ILA are embracing the opportunity to turn to a blank page. What we were is no longer as important as who we can, should, and will be.

    In the eight years since I became the executive director at ILA, I don’t know that I have ever felt so much possibility and promise. I sincerely hope that each and every one of you joins us in forging this new path and, in the process, help us be better in service to you and our profession.

    Marcie Craig Post is the executive director of the International Literacy Association.

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    Literacy Today Transitions to Digital-Only Format

    By Marcie Craig Post
     | May 07, 2020

    Literacy Today cover imageIt’s never been clearer that everyone—students and educators—need additional and improved access to digital learning opportunities.

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the sudden and unprecedented transition to remote learning, ILA made relevant digital content from our library of resources available free to both members and nonmembers.

    But we wanted to do more. We wanted to institute positive, meaningful change to help meet your needs not just now but also moving forward indefinitely.

    In April, we reopened access to six of the most popular sessions livestreamed from the ILA 2019 Conference. We launched our first ILA Edcamp Online. We introduced ILA at Home, a new series of webinars free for ILA members, that kicked off on May 3 with Timothy Shanahan. A second with Donalyn Miller is scheduled for May 31.  

    Our next change: Literacy Today, your member magazine, is going all digital. This will begin with the May/June issue, scheduled to publish next week.

    Why this change?

    In this period of challenges, ILA recognizes the need to expand and improve upon the digital assets we already offer. By transitioning Literacy Today to a digital-only magazine, we can strengthen this member resource and unlock its potential. We won’t be limited by page counts or postal service. We can begin to experiment with embedded videos and other features. Perhaps most important: We can further extend the reach of the magazine into regions where print isn’t possible.

    Literacy Today, in its 30-plus–year history, has helped build the community that is ILA. That will not change. This is still your magazine. It is driven by your needs, your feedback, and your content contributions. That also will not change.

    In addition to the digital events mentioned previously, ILA is developing new, high-quality resources in line with today’s needs. This includes new member benefits designed to help keep you current on what’s going on in the field. Look for more information on those in the coming months.

    In the meantime, I invite you to continue to let us know what additional resources you’d like to see—the topics, the formats, and everything in between.

    We will get through this time of uncertainty together, and we will be stronger because of it.

    Together, we will shape the future of literacy.

    Marcie Craig Post is the executive director of the International Literacy Association.

    For those whose membership included a subscription to the print version of the magazine (Regular Members, Student Members, and Retired Members), ILA is extending your membership. Those with a one-year membership will receive two complimentary months. For those with a two-year membership, you will receive four additional months, and for those with a three-year membership, you will receive six additional months.
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    ILA Releases 2020 Choices Reading Lists

    By ILA Staff
     | May 01, 2020

    Choices Combined CoverThe International Literacy Association (ILA) released today its much-anticipated Choices reading lists, composed of titles selected by students and educators across the United States as the most outstanding books published in 2019.

    The release coincides with Children’s Book Week, a yearly celebration that encourages children to embrace the power of reading for pleasure. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s program has been reimagined to ensure the celebrations continue at home and online.

    “In a time where teachers, families, and students are all hungry for ways to stay engaged in literacy and learning, reading provides the perfect outlet,” says ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “Reading for pleasure is something we can all do.”

    Each Choices project is run by volunteer team leaders who distribute thousands of newly released books to classrooms; recruit participants to read, review and vote on their favorites; and annotate the final selections.

    Across projects, approximately 25,000 children and young adults are involved in the process of selecting the books that had the biggest impact on them as readers.

    In turn, hundreds of teachers, librarians, and reading/literacy specialists choose books that help to inform curricula; build strong classroom libraries; introduce their students to new, high-quality works; and impart a lifelong love of reading.

    The 2020 Choices reading lists, including titles and annotations, can be found and downloaded for free at literacyworldwide.org/choices.

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