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    Get to Know ILA 2018 Featured Speaker Matthew Kay

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Jul 18, 2018

    Matthew KayMatthew R. Kay is the founder and coordinator of the Philly Slam League, a nonprofit that hosts poetry teams from Philadelphia-area high schools in a five-month intellectual and artistic competition. A proud product of Philadelphia’s public schools, Kay is a founding teacher at Science Leadership Academy, where he teaches an innovative inquiry-driven, project-based curriculum. He recently published his first book, Not Light, But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Conversations about Race in the Classroom (Stenhouse).

    His answers were edited for clarity and length.

    What inspired you to write Not Light, but Fire: How to Have Meaningful Classroom Conversations About Race?

    “There’s a lot of good information about why we should be discussing race in the classroom. There are already many robust conversations about that. What we need more of is a clear how-to. I hear a lot of this from teachers: ‘I want to talk about race and I know I should, but when I do, my kids walk away feeling worse—what am I doing wrong? We’re reading the right books, were diversifying our books, were doing all the things they tell me to.’

    A great deal of success comes from being mindful about how you’re developing relationships with students. Not just between you and the students, but between the students and each other. How do you train the kids to listen to each other, and to be respectful of each other’s opinions and ideas? How do you, after establishing that environment, challenge the kids. A lot of times we bore students with race issues that should not be boring, because we haven’t let race conversations be intellectually rigorous. Or unique.

    In the book, I call [Black History Month] February soup—how most kids take in their black history. Everything is thrown into the same pot. They don’t know anything is different from anything else. A student, after nine years of schooling, will say that Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King grew up in the same neighborhood, they rode a bus with Rosa Parks. It’s all a big mess and they never really plug into a specific issue because it’s all bland.

    We keep having the same conversations over and over, we keep shedding light on things people already understand. How do you talk about racism in a way where students feel like they’re actually about to learn something new?”

    Can you give us a glimpse into the theme of your presentation at ILA 2018? What do you want attendees to take away from your presentation?

    “I want folks to reflect on how bad we are as a society about talking about race—on the left, on the right, everywhere—we’re just bad at talking about race. We’re going to reflect on what we are modeling for kids and what might be the impact of that. What are kids learning when they hear us talking about race? To the point of February soup—when we confine all of our race conversations to one month, what does that teach students about race? When we only discuss race in terms of white oppression, what does that do to people’s understanding of the depths of racial identity?

    I just want to reflect upon a lot of our bad habits—hopefully things that folks have never thought about.”

    You said that poetry has helped you to overcome your stutter by improving your confidence. What changes have you seen in your students?

    “There are big successes. I have a lot of alumni poets that are teachers now. I take a little pride in that; some of those kids would not have been teachers if they hadn’t formed those relationships with their coaches and teams.

    Most of Philly’s youth poet laureates have come through my league. There are those high-profile successes. But then there are a lot of micro successes. The league makes being a mentor cool. Before you called, I was talking to some alumni who were asking if they can come back and work with younger poets. Of all the things, I’m most proud about that. We have a lot of kids who might not ordinarily be living service lives, but now, they want to give back. And I think that’s good for the city, and it’s good for the kids.

    Some kids fall in love with it and become poetry lifers, and that’s fantastic. But I also celebrate the kids who started freshman year and didn’t have confidence, and afterward, gained the confidence to do something else.”

    The theme of ILA 2018 is Be a Changemaker. What is a changemaker to you?

    “Are you going to be a solution-finder or someone who just talks a lot? If there’s any one unifying characteristic of our race discourse right now, it’s that everyone is wordy. Everything is a speech contest. An interrupting speech contest. You have people going back and forth and back and forth, and sometimes both sides have good will—and if they would just shut their mouths and listen, they would realize how much they agree on.

    Listening is much harder. Someone who’s willing to change things is willing to sit down and listen. Then we can get to, “What are we going to do next?”

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

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    The ILA 2018 Cheat Sheet

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Jul 17, 2018

    ILA 2018 Blog Post RoundupWe’re just three days away from the ILA 2018 Conference! In case you’ve missed any conference news, here’s a roundup of all Literacy Daily blog posts previewing the ILA 2018 Conference in Austin, TX, this weekend.

    The Conference App Guide: Part 2

    Discover ILA 2018: The Conference App Guide
     

    ILA 2018 Exhibit Hall and ILA Central Happenings

    The ILA 2018 Conference: Know Before You Go

    Standards 2017 Cochairs Share Their Can’t-Miss Sessions at ILA 2018 (Continued)

    Standards 2017 Cochairs Share Their Can’t-Miss Sessions at ILA 2018 (Continued)

    Standards 2017 Cochairs Share Their Can’t-Miss Sessions at ILA 2018

    Five Reasons You Should Attend Institute Day at ILA 2018

    Get to Know the ILA 2018 Equity in Education Program Panelists

    ILA 2018 Research Institute: Our All-Keynote Format Is Back!

    Marley Dias on Inspiring Activism, Diversifying Children's Literature, and Her Latest Reads

    Edcamp Literacy: The “Unconference” Within Conference

    A Lit Lover’s Guide to Austin

    ILA 2018 Featured Speaker Colleen Cruz on Anticipating Barriers, the Reading-Writing Connection, and What it Means to be a Changemaker

    Seven Powerful Lessons About Reading From ILA 2018 Featured Speakers Kylene Beers and Bob Probst

    Defeating Decision Fatigue With ILA’s Conference Tracks

    Your Guide to Institute Day at ILA 2018

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

    Literacy Education for a Changing World

    Hope to see you there!

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

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    The Conference App Guide: Part 2

    By Wesley Ford
     | Jul 16, 2018

    At this point, you’ve downloaded the ILA 2018 Conference app (right?) and started making your schedule. This time, we’re going to look at some features you might have yet to explore.

    That three-line icon thing

    I never know what that icon is called. Oh, it’s called a hamburger button. Thanks, Google!

    As you may have noticed, it’s quite easy to get a few menus deep looking for things, going from session to speaker to session to exhibitor and the like. The hamburger button offers you quick and easy access around the app and a whole lot more.
    07-Hamburger menu
    • Home: Brings you back to the Discover tab.
    • Map: Takes you right to your choice of maps, either the Exhibit Hall Floor Plan and the Conference Floor Plan.
    • Near Me: This helps you find nearby exhibitors in the Exhibit Hall to help optimize your time.
    • Agenda: This takes you to your personal conference schedule.
    • My Show: This opens the My Favorites page. More on that later.
    • Inbox: Here, you will find messages you have sent to and received from other attendees and the show news, which are the messages sent through the app to you. If rooms change or sessions are canceled, you’ll receive the notification right to your phone through the app—which is why we recommend keeping notifications on.
    • App Info: This contains info about the app. (I think that was well named.)
    • Settings: Here, you can check for app updates and change if and how you receive notifications from the app.

    The Connect tab

    The Discover tab contains all information about the show, including your schedule, whereas the Connect tab helps you track your individual information and connect with other attendees.

    • 09-ConnectMy Profile: From here, you can add and edit your profile image, email, website, and social media profiles, which other app users can find through the attendee directory. You can also remove yourself from the attendee directory, if you wish.
    • My Contacts: This lists the people with whom you’ve connected via the app.
    • My Messages: Here, you will find all the messages you have sent and received through the app.
    • My Favorites: All starred sessions and exhibitors are listed here as well as any added notes.
    • Attendee Directory: This is the list of all attendees.
    • Social Media: These buttons will open your social media platform and take you directly to ILA’s accounts to easily see what is being shared about conference.

    So how best to make use of these features? I have a couple ideas:

    Update your profile

    Make sure your profile is up to date, has a recognizable picture, and lists the information you are comfortable sharing, and then use the ILA 2018 app to connect with other attendees. Perhaps you had a great conversation with someone next to you at a session or several speakers really impressed you and you want to follow them on Twitter. Just search for their names in the attendee directory and click Add Contact, and you’ve saved their information for later.

    You can even message others through the app, which is a great way set up impromptu meetings or schedule a lunch with people you just met.

    Favorites and how to use them

    08-MyFavoritesI’ve played around with these for a bit, and I’ve come up with three ways I think they work best:

    • Preplanning: Go through the sessions, speakers, and exhibitors and star everything you are interested in doing. Go to your My Favorites page and refine your agenda from your selection.
    • Sharing: The Export My Show feature lets you create a text-based list of everything you have starred or added notes for. If you are going to ILA 2018 as a team, you can star all the events you plan on attending and then text or email that list to your team so they know where you will be.
    • Tracking: Use the stars to note the sessions and exhibitors that you liked the most so that when ILA 2018 is over, you have a record of your favorite events.

    Sharing My Schedule

    10-ExportAgendaI’ve discovered another way to share your LA 2018 agenda. If you go into My Schedule and hit the three dots at the top right, there is an option to Export Agenda. This will push your current agenda items to your device’s calendar. I exported my agenda to my Google Calendar, which I have shared with my colleagues. They can now access my calendar and see exactly where I’ll be throughout ILA 2018.

    I haven’t had the chance to test it yet, but I believe an entire team could share a calendar, export their agenda to it, and have a team-wide account of where everyone will be during the show.

    I hope these tutorials have helped you become comfortable with the various features available on the ILA 2018 Conference app. Remember, if you have any questions or issues, you can contact customerservice@reading.org or tweet to @ILAToday and use the tag #ILA18App. Or you can come to the App Demo in ILA Central on Saturday, July 21, at 10:00 AM and ask me. I’ll be the guy in the hat.

    See you in Austin!

    ConferenceVeteranWesley Ford is a conference veteran and the resident ILA 2018 Conference app expert. He is presenting a demo of the app in Austin on Saturday, July 21, at 10:00 AM in ILA Central. Add it to your schedule and add him as a contact as practice.


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    Adventure Stories

    By Lesley Colabucci and Leigh Kaliss
     | Jul 16, 2018

    Summer is a great time for stories of adventure, big and small. In the books featured in this column, readers will encounter characters who take on all sorts of challenges; some require them to go on long journeys while others happen close to home. These stories involve eager risk-takers, stubborn survivors, and curious adventurers.

    Ages 4–8

    Night Out. Daniel Miyares. 2018. Schwartz & Wade/Random House.

    Night OutThis nearly wordless book opens with a young boy in a boarding school who eats separately at dinner and lies awake while his peers sleep. After receiving an invitation with the words “the honor of your presence is requested,” the boy looks out the window at a full moon, trying to decide if he will accept the invitation or not. Who could the invitation be from? What kind of adventure awaits? Should he follow the enclosed map? The boy exits the window and takes off on his bike under the moonlight. The gouache and colored pencil illustrations capture the mystery of nighttime as the boy travels across the countryside. The color palette changes as he meets new friends and enjoys a party at his destination. The story unfolds much like a dream, allowing children to bring their imaginations to the narrative as they wonder what adventures they might have on a night out.
    —LC

    Otis and Will Discover the Deep: The Record-setting Dive of the Bathysphere. Barb Rosenstock. Ill. Katherine Roy. 2018. Little, Brown.

    Otis and WillThis nonfiction picture book tells the story of two men obsessed with the sea. Otis Barton, an engineer, and Will Beebe, a naturalist, both wondered what the deep ocean looked like. In the 1930s they worked together to build a diving tank called the Bathysphere that would allow explorers to go deeper than ever before. The dramatic text and mixed-media illustrations chronicle their record-setting dive in increments of 100 feet. A wordless double gatefold captures the blue-black beauty of the ocean at the depth of 800 feet. Roy’s lush illustrations portray the time period, the technical details, and action of the underwater world. Sea life is featured on the endpapers with labels. Readers will not be disappointed in the accuracy and depth of content. The ample back matter includes archival photographs as part of the author’s and illustrator’s notes.
    —LC

    The Treasure of Pirate Frank. Mal Peet & Elspeth Graham. Ill. Jez Tuya. 2018. Nosy Crow/Candlewick.

    The Treasure of Pirate FrankA boy and his faithful dog set out to find the fabled treasure of Pirate Frank, but the unexpected appearance of the treasure’s owner turns out to be the truly priceless discovery. Readers meet the intrepid explorers while traveling to the island of spice and gold. Once there, the pair hunt high and low and follow clues to Pirate Frank’s treasure. Children will be delighted by the rhythmic quality of the cumulative text and the charming digital illustrations. The emphasis on the journey is good news for readers who will thoroughly enjoy returning to the pages of this amusing adventure again and again.
    —LK

    Ages 9–11

    The Last Grand Adventure. Rebecca Behrens. 2018. Aladdin/Simon & Schuster.

    The Last Grand AdventureIt is July 1967, and 12-year-old Bea is not looking for adventure. She struggles with anxiety and feels safer experiencing adventure through the pages of National Geographic. However, her grandmother Pidge, whom she barely knows, is taking her on a cross-country expedition. Pidge has a suitcase full of letters from her sister, Amelia “Meelie” Earhart, all inexplicably written after the pilot’s disappearance in 1937. The last of the letters hints at a possible reunion for the sisters on what would be Amelia’s 70th birthday. With Meelie’s letters in hand, the duo has four days to travel more than 1,000 miles to the rendezvous point on the banks of the Missouri River. Their journey is long, hard, and rife with disappointment, but Bea blossoms during their trip.
    —LK

    Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea. Lynne Rae Perkins. 2018. Greenwillow/HarperCollins.

    Secret Sisters of the Salty SeaA family road trip to the beach may be a common summer adventure for some, but for Alix and her younger sister, Jools, it’s exciting because it is their first time seeing the ocean. Readers get to know Alix best in this story, which is accompanied by black and white drawings highlighting key elements in the text. While on the beach searching for periwinkles for dinner, Alix discovers sea glass and then learns to make jewelry. On a visit to a wildlife refuge, Alix holds an injured peregrine falcon and later gets to release it back into the wild. From small challenges like flat tires to drifting too far from their beach umbrella to taking risks in a variety of ways, Alix’s first beach vacation will be a memorable one for readers as well.
    —LC

    Wed Wabbit. Lissa Evans. 2018. David Fickling/Scholastic.

    Wed WabbitWhat if you found yourself transported into the world of your favorite children’s book? In Wed Wabbit, Fidge finds herself in her little sister Minnie’s favorite book, The Land of Wimbly Woos, where Minnie’s stuffed rabbit has taken over control of the Wimblies. When Minnie gets hit by a car and is hospitalized, Fidge is sent to stay with her anxiety-ridden cousin Graham. After a fall down the stairs, the two find themselves in Wimbly Land and set out to save the Wimblies, recover Minnie’s stuffed rabbit and other toys, and return home. This action-packed story will have readers on the edge of their seats as Fidge and Graham, along with friends they make in Wimbly Land, figure out how to overthrow Wed Wabbit and restore Wimbly Land to peace. Ella, the stuffed elephant, and Dr. Carrot, Graham’s comfort object, add humor to the story, and various Wimblies surprise themselves and their friends with their bravery. The heroes in the story all bring different strengths to the challenge of getting everyone home safe again.
    —LC

    Ages 12–14

    The Book of Boy. Catherine Gilbert Murdock. 2018. Greenwillow/HarperCollins.  

    The Book of BoyBlending elements of historical fiction and fantasy, this story takes place in Medieval France and involves a long and dangerous journey. The main character, known only as Boy, is a servant in a manor in France who is mistreated because of the hump on his back. Boy travels across Europe with a mysterious and questionable man named Secundus. The land has been ravaged by pestilence, and Secundus is on a mission to find seven relics in order to be reunited in the afterlife with his wife and son. Boy believes that when he arrives in Rome, he will be transformed from a hunchback to a real boy by a miracle. Boy and Secundus have a contentious relationship as they journey to find and steal the relics. While historical and religious vocabulary may challenge some readers, the Indiana Jones-style heists to secure the relics make this an exciting read. The ending is especially satisfying as both Boy and Secundus discover much more about who they really are.
    —LC

    The Boy from Tomorrow. Camille DeAngelis. 2018. Amberjack.

    The Boy from TomorrowTwelve-year-olds Josie and Alec meet and form a bond while using the same Ouija board in the same house on Sparrow Street although they are living 100 years apart. Through late night “discussions,” Josie and Alec solidify their friendship and their commitment to helping each other resolve their respective predicaments. When Josie finds new ways to communicate with Alec after her mother takes away the Ouija board, it gives him strength to deal with the pain of his parents’ divorce and the stress of starting over in a new town. Bolstered by Alec’s research and encouragement, Josie finds the courage to plot her escape from her mother’s abusive ways. This fast-paced story stays with the reader long after the book’s conclusion.
    —LK

    Chasing Augustus. Kimberly Newton Fusco. 2018. Knopf/Random House.

    Chasing AugustusRosalita, who prefers to be called Rosie, was abandoned by her mother. Her mother also gave away her dog, Augustus, to a stranger. Rosie is determined to find Augustus despite being told repeatedly to give up. Rosie lives with her grumpy grandfather because her father is in a rehabilitation center after suffering a stroke. While he works, Rosie is supposed to help their neighbor, who is mothering a handful of foster kids. Instead, Rosie sneaks out on her bicycle in all kinds of weather, manipulates friends into helping, and even comes up with a complicated plan involving snakes in one of her attempts to rescue Augustus. Rosie is a stubborn risk taker who is fully convinced she will find her dog. Readers will enjoy going along with Rosie on her adventure to find Augustus.
    —LC

    Ages 15+

    The Summer of Broken Things. Margaret Peterson Haddix. 2018. Simon & Schuster.

    The Summer of Broken ThingsThere are two sides to every adventure. Take, for example, Kayla and Avery, the two teenage narrators thrown together in The Summer of Broken Things. Kayla, who comes from a disadvantaged family, is excited about spending the summer in Spain. For the privileged Avery, accompanying her father on an international business trip interferes with plans to attend soccer camp with her friends and being chaperoned by Kayla adds insult to injury. The reader slowly discovers there is more at stake than a quintessential summer adventure as the girls experience the complicated emotions that come with their evolving relationship. When Avery is not sulking, she is somehow managing to always say or do the wrong thing, an exhausting combination, though a realistic personality trait of a spoiled 14-year-old. Kayla makes the best of the situation. In the end, it is a brush with death that brings the girls together when their surprising shared history cannot.
    —LK   

    Time Bomb. Joelle Charbonneau. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    Time BombA high school is bombed, trapping six students inside. All six have their reasons for being at the school during summer break, but only one of them is there to blow it up. The students manage to find each other amid the wreckage and hole up in a classroom on the second floor. Bit by bit, Charbonneau reveals potentially incriminating details of each student’s backstory, a tactic that keeps the reader on their toes. Time is running out. Bombs continue to detonate, and the students realize they must work together to survive. However, the students do not trust each other and infighting threatens to thwart their tenuous escape plan. Although some readers may guess the bomber’s identity early on, it is a compelling story of survival that is part adventure, part thriller, and part mystery.  
    —LC

    Lesley Colabucci is an associate professor of early, middle, and exceptional education at Millersville University, Millersville, PA. She teaches classes in children’s literature at the graduate and undergraduate level. Leigh Kaliss is the volunteer and outreach coordinator at Lancaster Public Library in Lancaster, PA.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    Checking Our Bias at the Door

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Jul 13, 2018

    Kids on BusIn an ideal world, every teacher would approach every student like a blank slate of potential. But the truth is, despite teachers’ best efforts, prejudices and assumptions get projected onto students. A recent study in the Social Science Research journal found that teacher bias has a profound impact on students’ own expectations and achievement.

    As a pre-K–12 trainer for educational equity with her organization, Seed the Way, Rebecca EunMi Haslam dismantles systemic bias for a living. Although she acknowledges that none of us are immune to bias, she says we can all do our part to “try to be aware and increase our capacity to question our assumptions, to recognize when our perspectives might be influencing our judgments and expectations of others, and to check our bias at the classroom door with the goal of aligning our stated core values with our actions.” 

    In the July/August issue of Literacy Today, ILA’s member magazine, Haslam makes the case that speaking openly about racism, bias, and inequity makes for better teaching and learning. She unpacks bias and self-assessment, schema theory, values-based teaching principles, personal politics and religious beliefs, and implications for student outcomes. 

    As an organization that strives to bring equity issues to the forefront of literacy education, we feel that this is a must-read for all educators—which is why we’ve decided to make this article open-access.

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