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    Edcamp Literacy: The “Unconference” Within Conference

    Jacie Maslyk
     | May 24, 2018

    Edcamp LiteracyOften called an “unconference,” Edcamps do not have preplanned sessions, presenters, or subjects. Everything is created in the moment by those who gather to pursue new knowledge together. To start, the participants will often write topics of interest and lessons they are willing to facilitate on sticky notes, which are then displayed on a board.

    Edcamps are about the experience, not the experts, so the discussion values all contributions. The informal learning experience welcomes “new campers” as well as veterans. Edcamp Literacy at the ILA 2017 Conference & Exhibits was my fifth Edcamp experience and I continue to be a believer in this type of learning for two reasons: connections and collaboration. 

    I love the opportunity to connect with educators, especially those whom I’ve only “met” through social media. One of the moderators last year was Jennifer Williams. I’ve followed her on Twitter for several years and have engaged with her through Twitter chats, but meeting in person creates another layer of personal and professional connection. I met education professionals from across the country who served in various roles—from primary teachers through college administrators.

    Edcamp 2017Edcamp kicked off with each participant writing their name, location, and an interesting fact on a sticky note. Each note was then added to a board, allowing participants to make connections through educational roles, interests, or geography. The end product demonstrated the interconnected nature of the Edcampers; the diversity of participants only magnifies the excitement of the experience.

    Edcamps also provide opportunities for collaboration. In one Edcamp Literacy session on professional development, participants connected around the idea of online learning and planned to meet later in the conference to continue their conversation. Another group of educators learning how to use Sketchnotes talked about exploring Twitter hashtags like #sketchnote and #readsketchthink to gain new ideas and practice sketchnoting techniques. The makerspace group shared ideas on how to foster maker learning through partnerships between classrooms and other institutions,  such as universities, libraries, and museums.

    My fifth experience only reinforced my belief that Edcamps are a powerful way to engage in professional learning. Edcamp Literacy provided a great start to ILA 2017 by kickstarting connections and creating opportunities for collaboration. Learn more about the Edcamp model here.

    Edcamp Literacy will return to the ILA 2018 Conference on July 20 in Austin, TX. Read more about the event in the iPlanner and register here

    Jacie Maslyk is an educator, presenter, and the author of STEAM Makers. You can find her on Twitter @DrJacieMaslyk or on her blog, Creativity in the Making.

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    Invisibility: The Superpower of Literacy Leaders

    By Julie Scullen
     | May 22, 2018
    Pushing Glaciers

    For a very brief, shining moment recently I thought someone understood how difficult it is to be a literacy leader.

    One of the teachers I work with smiled at me and remarked, “Gosh, your job must be really stressful.” My heart leapt with appreciation.

    But before I could thank her for her thoughtful and generous insight, she added, “I mean, you have to keep finding all these different projects and things to do so they don’t send you back to the classroom.”

    She gave me a sympathetic head tilt, patted my shoulder, and walked away. I was having an out of body experience, but I’m fairly sure I just stared at her as she walked away, mouth gaping.

    Now, with the benefit of hindsight, this is what I wish I had said:

    Yes, as literacy leaders, we do often have to “find” things to do.

    We “find” SMART goals representative of the needs of thousands of students considered acceptable to teachers, administrators, and our community. We also “find” the data on which to base these goals, then analyze and track that data over years and months.

    We “find” professional development opportunities that meet the needs of hundreds of teachers—both new and seasoned professionals with a variety of training and experiences—and provide these opportunities within the scope of the mere three half-day sessions provided each year.

    We “find” ways to navigate, address, and communicate the conflicting philosophies of literacy instruction to ensure that thousands of students have their needs met and aren’t caught in the philosophical crossfire.

    We “find” ways to help teams of teachers write curriculum documents reflective of an overwhelming number of standards in ways that keep students in mind but don’t force teachers to skip through curriculum to guarantee coverage.

    We “find” ways to ensure that our students have authentic reasons to read and write in all disciplines.

    We “find” ways to carefully guide new teachers who don’t yet understand why they shouldn’t ask, “What happens if I don’t teach the curriculum?” Then we “find” ways to mentor these teachers to ensure they have a positive powerful teaching experience and decide stay with the profession beyond their first few years.

    We “find” and carefully read pages and pages of literacy research to ensure that our teachers and students have the most relevant and beneficial instructional resources boosting their learning.

    I wish I had that moment with that teacher again. Without meaning to, she made my work clearer than ever.

    Literacy leadership is hard work, but if it’s done right, it’s almost invisible. If it’s working, no one sees the magic happen.

    Julie Scullen, an ILA member since 2005, is a teaching and learning specialist for secondary reading in Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota, working with teachers of all content areas to foster literacy achievement. She teaches graduate courses at Hamline University in St. Paul in literacy leadership and coaching, disciplinary literacy, critical literacy, and reading assessment and evaluation.

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    History in Fact and Fiction

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | May 21, 2018

    People of all ages can learn important life lessons from history. In this week’s column we review recently published books, some nonfiction and some works of revisionist history, speculative history, and historical fiction, that inform and engage readers and encourage them to further explore topics of interest.  

    Ages 4–8

    A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women's Rights. Kate Hannigan. Ill. Alison Jay. 2018. Calkins Creek/Highlights.

    A Lady Has the FloorThis picture book biography introduces young readers to Belva Lockwood, who spent her life fighting for women’s rights. Despite personal and social challenges, she was one of the first women to study law in the United States and, in 1879, became the first woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court. In 1884, Lockwood accepted the National Equal Rights Party’s nomination for president, running on a platform supporting women’s suffrage and equal rights for all. Hannigan’s lively text is peppered with quotes incorporated into Jay’s signature, crackled, folk art-style illustrations. Back matter includes an author’s note; a timeline of key events in the women’s rights movement, from Lockwood’s birth to present day; a bibliography; and source notes.
    —CA

    Let the Children March. Monica Clark-Robinson. Ill. Frank Morrison. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    Let the Children MarchDebut author Monica Clark-Robinson’s free-verse picture book chronicles events around the May 1963 Children’s Crusade, following Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for participation in a nonviolent protest march in Birmingham, Alabama. When he urged the congregation to march, many adults were afraid of losing jobs, so young people offered to go. Although many of them were sprayed with water, arrested, and jailed, they persevered. The day after the march ended, Dr. King and white leaders negotiated a school desegregation agreement. Frank Morrison’s dramatic oil paintings offer a strong, emotional portrayal of events. A “Civil Rights and Children’s Crusade” timeline is displayed across front and back endpapers, and back matter includes an afterword, an artist’s statement, quote sources, a bibliography, and acknowledgments. 
    —NB

    Ruby in the Ruins. Shirley Hughes. 2018. Candlewick.

    Ruby in the RuinsRuby and her mum have survived the London Blitz and are awaiting Dad’s return from war. When they finally meet him at the train station, Ruby hardly recognizes him and doesn’t know what to say to him. But later, when Ruby is injured while playing with friends in a fenced-off bomb site, posted with “Danger! Keep Out” signs, and her dad comes to her rescue, Ruby knows exactly what to say: “Oh, Dad, I’m so glad you’re back!” Hughes’ detailed mixed-media illustrations beautifully set the scene for this gentle story of a family’s adjustment to life in postwar London.
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    Betty Before X. Ilyasah Shabazz (with Renée Watson). 2018. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2018.

    Betty Before XCowritten by her daughter, Betty Before X shares the childhood story of Betty Shabazz, wife of Malcom X. When her beloved aunt and guardian dies, 7-year-old Betty is sent to Detroit to live with her mother and stepfamily. Feeling uncomfortable in her new home, she finds support in the local church, where she meets activist Helen Malloy, who encourages Betty and her best friend, Suesetta, to join the Housewives' League of Detroit and participate in the organization's boycott of businesses that refuse to hire or serve blacks. During the tumultuous 1940s, Betty begins to develop her “voice” for equality, a foundational skill for her lifelong activism—and discovered unexpected allies in her community in the fight against discrimination and violence toward blacks. Back matter includes an author’s note; “Detroit in the 1940s,” “Bethel AME Church,” a “Meet the Characters” sections; and a timeline.
    —NB

    The Island at the End of Everything. Kiran Millwood Hargrave. 2018. Knopf/Random House.

    The Island at the End of EverythingTwelve-year-old Ami lives on Culion, an island in the Philippines for people who have leprosy. Under orders that all healthy children are to be sent to an orphanage on a nearby island, “clean” Amihan is separated from her mother, who is suffering from an advanced stage of the disease. When Amihan learns that her mother is dying, she is determined to return to Culion to say goodbye to her. With the help of Mari, the one friend she has made at the Coron Orphanage, Amihan makes the trip in a small boat to return to Culion (known as the “island of the living dead” or “the island of no return” by those who were fearful and uninformed about leprosy). An author’s note provides background for the story and Hargrave’s choice to call Culion “the island at the end of everything.”
    —CA

    A Sky Full of Stars. Linda Williams Jackson. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    A Sky Full of StarsIn this sequel to Midnight Without a Moon (2017), 13-year-old Rosa Lee Carter has decided to remain in 1955 Stillwater, Mississippi, where she and her younger brother, Fred Lee, are being raised on a sharecropper farm by a cruel grandmother and gentle grandpa. Emotions sizzle after Emmett Till’s killers are acquitted and as white renegades terrorize black families and those attempting to register blacks to vote. Cousin Shorty proposes they shoot at white folks’ windows to even the score, but Rosa is persuaded, instead, to participate in the first peaceful demonstration in town with her best friend Hallelujah Jenkins, the pastor’s son. Although actions exact great cost for all who protest, Rosa courageously forges her own path to be part of the movement for change. An author’s note provides an historical context.
    —NB

    Ages 12–14

    Hunger: A Tale of Courage. Donna Jo Napoli. 2018. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster.

    HungerSet during the Irish Potato Famine in the fall of 1846, 12-year-old Lorraine’s family members are tenant farmers for an English lord in County Galway, where their close-knit community is falling ill as potatoes, the staple of their diet, are blighted for the second year. While gathering wild greens, Lorraine encounters Susanna, the spoiled and lonely young daughter of the manse, who entices Lorraine to attend her dolly tea parties that comes with delicious treats. When Lorraine’s little brother, Paddy, becomes gravely ill, Susanna devises a plan for Lorraine to gather eggs for him (which she secretly uses to feed her family and community). While many Irish abandon their country to survive, Lorraine and her family stay to fight for their rights and rebuild Ireland. Back matter includes a postscript, glossary, bibliography, and timeline of famines throughout history. 
    —NB   

    The Night Diary. Veera Hiranandani. 2018. Dial/Penguin.

    The Night DiaryIn 1947 India, Hindu Nisha and her twin brother, Amil, have just celebrated their 12th birthdays. Nisha decides to write to her Muslim mother, who died giving birth to her, in the diary that Kazi, their beloved cook, gifted to her. Nisha chronicles the next three months as her comfortable life in Mirpur Khas (now a part of Pakistan) is turned upside down after her country gains independence from the British and is split into two separate countries, new India and Pakistan, based primarily on people’s religions (Hindu or Muslim). But what if you have both Muslim and Hindu relatives and friends and must choose between them? After violence breaks out, Nisha, Amil, their father, and their elderly grandmother, as Hindus, flee on foot to their newly designated homeland of India across the border. Back matter includes an author’s note on the historical background for the story and a glossary of commonly used Indian and Pakistani words used in the book.
    —NB

    Voices from the Second World War: Stories of War as Told to Children of Today. 2018. Candlewick.

    Voices From the Second World WarIn this anthology individuals share accounts of their experiences during World War II. Many of the stories, first published in First News, were collected by children who interviewed elderly relatives and neighbors. Entries (arranged chronologically from the outbreak of the war to the bombing of Hiroshima) include moving stories of suffering, survival, and heroism of individuals who served in the military, women who met the demand to fill jobs on farms and factories and on the front lines as nurses, radio operators, and support staff in the armed forces, as well as children, including some who were part of the Kindertransport or survived internment in concentration camps. Although most of the interviewees are British, some are citizens of other Allies and Axis countries. Biographical sketches and black-and-white photographs of both the interviewers and interviewees accompany the stories. Back matter includes a subject index, an index of interviewees, and a glossary.
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    Chasing King’s Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Assassin. James L. Swanson. 2018. Scholastic.

    Chasing King's KillerThe Foreword, writtenby Congressman John Lewis, clearly establishes the impact of the tragic event that occurred on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. “After the assassination [of Martin Luther King, Jr.,] something died in America. The sense of hope, of optimism, of possibility was replaced by horror and despair.” James L. Swanson’s meticulously researched and documented narrative focuses on the murder of Dr. King and the manhunt for his assassin, James Earl Ray. He also provides information on Dr. King’s childhood in Atlanta and his work as a leader in the civil rights movement as well as background on convicted felon Ray, his escape from prison, his planning of the assassination, and his eventual apprehension. The epilogue ends with thought-provoking questions: “Where do we go from here? How long will it take? How long?” The abundance of quotations and captioned photographs add interest to the accessible and engrossing account. The extensive back matter includes source notes, bibliography, and an index.
    —CA

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English from Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    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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    Team Up to Teach With Tech

    By Mary Moen
     | May 18, 2018

    Team Up Teaming up with your school librarian can be a great way for teachers to increase meaningful use of technology that strengthens student literacy development. Yet teachers may be unaware of all the ways school librarians can serve as instructional partners. A couple reasons for this could be that educator preparation programs rarely focus on collaboration with school librarians and, more significantly, the role of the school librarian has evolved so much that people’s understanding of their role may be outdated.

    How can school librarians help in a digital learning context?

    School librarians have always been information specialists, but they are especially attuned to helping teachers meaningfully use digital technologies in practice. One excellent go-to resource created by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) is the 2017 Best Websites for Teaching & Learning: a list of free websites that are useful for media sharing, digital storytelling, communicating through social media, curriculum collaboration, and more. Two popular websites are Buncee, a content creation website for students, and Wizer.me, a questioning and response curriculum tool that librarians have been using in blended learning station rotation activities.

    The AASL’s Best Apps for Teaching and Learning is another great resource that adds value to inquiry-based learning in content areas such as STEM, humanities, and reading. Two examples of these apps are Heuristic Shakespeare, a digital book app which pairs text with performance, and Disaster Detector, a game-based app from the Smithsonian Science Education Center that lets players make predictions and analyze and interpret data. The websites and apps on these lists are thoughtfully evaluated and selected by a committee of school librarians who value high-quality resources that encourage student interaction, higher level thinking skills, and increased literacy development.

    What can collaboration with a school librarian look like?

    School librarians are trained to be instructional partners so they are comfortable with all levels of collaboration. The following are examples of three types of collaboration—aligned, cooperative and conceptual—and what each can look like between school librarians and teachers.

    In the aligned phase, the classroom teacher identifies and communicates particular student needs to the school librarian. An example could be to address a weakness in reading comprehension of informational text for fourth graders. The teacher could use a digital resource for informational text developmentally appropriate for those students such as NewsELA. The school librarian can reinforce those same skills during library time by using a research database for upper elementary students such as PebbleGo Next. A benefit of aligned collaboration is that students learn the same skill across digital platforms and content areas.

    In the cooperative phase of collaboration, a little more time commitment and communication is necessary. The teacher and librarian get together and decide the best way to teach the same learning objective, such as using Google Keep for note-taking to answer a research question or problem. The teacher and librarian agree to help each other and/or teach jointly for this specific learning objective in the project.

    Conceptual collaboration is the most sophisticated type and requires teachers to combine their expertise. It usually occurs for a complex project-based learning activity and involves sustained, collaborative planning from start to finish. A great example of a more sophisticated collaborative project is a high school librarian who collaborated with 11th-grade ELA teachers on a literacy criticism assignment for Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother. The librarian used virtual meeting tools to bring the author and cyber security experts into the classroom. Students not only had access to primary sources but learned interview techniques and were exposed to career options. Although it takes time and planning, the possibilities for meaningful collaboration at this level are exciting.

    Connect with a school librarian today and make plans for real world collaborative projects that deepen student learning.

    Mary H. Moen is an assistant professor and coordinator of the School Media Program at the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Rhode Island. You can find her on Twitter @mary_moen.

    This article is part of a series from the International Reading Association Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

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    A Lit Lover’s Guide to Austin

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | May 17, 2018

    Philosophers' RockAs it turns out, Austin, TX, is more than live music, bat watching, and breakfast tacos. The city is home to one of the most prestigious writing programs in the country and a vibrant literary scene that attracts major book festivals, author meetups, and other literary happenings. As one native gushes, “the city is a book lover’s paradise.”

    It makes sense, when you think about it; Austin has a reputation as an incubator for creative, inclusive, forward-thinking industries, and its book scene is no different. Amid challenging times, small-but-mighty presses continue to crop up and generate a new wave of publishing in Austin—one that elevates underrepresented voices, lesser-known talents, and niche tastes. The success of this countermovement is a testament to the city’s thriving literary community.

    Make the most of your time in Austin by visiting a few of these local literary lures before, during, or after the International Literacy Association’s (ILA) 2018 Conference, July 20–23.

    Literary landmarks

    The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin: Literary quotes are etched on the windows of this world-renowned humanities research library and museum. In addition to its rotating exhibits, the museum houses millions of literary artifacts, including extensive manuscripts of James Joyce, Anne Sexton, and David Foster Wallace; three copies of the First Folio of William Shakespeare’s plays; and a journal kept by Jack Kerouac while writing On the Road.

    The Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection: Also at the University of Texas at Austin, this library holds the largest university collection of Latin American materials in total number of volumes in the United States. The collection features more than a million volumes along with a wealth of original manuscripts and media, including the papers of prominent literary figures such as Américo Paredes, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Rolando Hinojosa.

    The O. Henry Museum: A memorial to one of Austin’s most famous writers, the museum offers visitors a look at his colorful life, period furniture, and personal belongings, which include unpublished manuscripts. The museum is free and open to the public Wednesday through Sunday and often hosts literary events (including an annual “pun-off”).

    Philosophers’ Rock at Barton Springs: Created by sculptor Glenna Goodacre in 1994, this bronze statue depicts authors J. Frank Dobie, Roy Bedichek, and Walter Prescott Webb, who used to gather at the pool for “Austin’s first literary salon.” Today, Philosophers’ Rock welcomes visitors to Barton Springs, a popular swimming hole (and ideal reading spot).

    Events

    The 21st Annual ILA Poetry Olio: Join us on Saturday, July 21 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for an evening of verse and skits performed by featured poets and surprise guests, interspersed with audience participation readings and skits, a poetry contest, and valuable prizes.

    ILA’s Informal Storytelling Gathering: Listen to factual and fictional stories or share one of your own at ILA’s annual Informal Storytelling Gathering, taking place on Sunday, July 22, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. During Part 1, featured storytellers will present a mixture of story types, including historical stories, ballads, and folktales that are appropriate for use in classrooms from preschool through secondary classes. Any audience member who wishes to speak may sign up to tell his or her story during Part 2 of the event.

    Austin Poetry Slam: Occurring every Tuesday night at the Spider House Ballroom, the raucous competition showcases 13–15 local and touring artists, whose performances are judged by members of the audience. Previous participants include award-winning poets such as Andrea Gibson, Sister Outsider, and Ebony Stewart.

    Shops and eats

    BookPeople: The largest independent bookstore in Texas, BookPeople is known for its friendly atmosphere, extensive inventory, handwritten recommendations, and almost daily events. The building’s stairwells are filled with pictures of well-known visitors, including Hillary Clinton, David Sedaris, and George Saunders. 

    Smaller independent bookstores: Save time to explore the city’s scattering of brick and mortar bookstores, most of which double as communal spaces to hold book readings, open mic nights, author presentations, book clubs, and more. The eclectic lineup includes Resistencia Books, a bookstore, small press, political forum, and performance venue that highlights Chicanx, Native American, and Latinx voices; BookWoman, a long-running feminist and queer bookstore; Malvern Books, which specializes in emerging voices and translated works; and Monkeywrench Books, an “all-volunteer, collectively-run, radical bookstore” that carries titles focused on social and economic justice.

    Academia: A thinking bar, the owner describes Academia as “a figurative faculty lounge for late, great literary icons.” The space is decorated with custom-designed banners that pay homage to Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Hunter S. Thompson. Each banner features a crest with unique iconography and symbolism representing the author and his or her works, personality, trademarks, and drink of choice. Projected animated graphics spotlight entertaining quotes from other famous writers.

    Bennu Coffee: This 24-hour coffee shop offers signature drinks named after iconic literary works. Popular orders include The Scarlet Letter, made with ancho chile-spiced chocolate and barista chips; The Raven, a dark chocolate mocha topped with whipped cream; and Don Quixote, an Azteca d’Oro spiced chocolate mocha.

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

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