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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    International Literacy Association Seeks Nominations For Next 30 Under 30 List

    By ILA Staff
     | Apr 02, 2020

    30 Under 30 logo
    The International Literacy Association (ILA) is accepting nominations for its next list of 30 Under 30 literacy leaders. Launched in 2015, the program recognizes young innovators, disruptors, and visionaries whose work is helping to shape the future of literacy education and advocacy.

    Previous honorees include Allister Chang, founder of Civic Suds and former executive director of Libraries Without Borders; Gerald Dessus, a Philadelphia, Pa.-based social justice educator; Marley Dias, founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks; and Francis Jim Tuscano, edtech coach at Xavier School in the Philippines and founder of the Online Global Innovation Camp.

    “At ILA, we are committed to investing in emerging leaders,” said ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “We share their stories because they demonstrate the impact this next generation has on the future of literacy and literacy instruction across the world.”

    Nominations are open to all whose work impacts the literacy landscape—including classroom educators, administrators, librarians, preservice teachers, nonprofit founders, volunteers, and more—who are under 30 years old (as of March 1, 2021) and are making outstanding contributions to the field.

    The 30 Under 30 Nomination Form must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. ET on June 1, 2020.

    The next 30 Under 30 class will be featured in the January/February 2021 issue of Literacy Today, ILA’s member magazine, and across ILA’s platforms. Each honoree will receive a complimentary ILA membership, be recognized at an ILA conference, and join a dynamic network of champions who are connected by their shared vision of advancing literacy for everyone, everywhere.

    Find more information about the program, including past honorees, on our 30 Under 30 website.

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    ILA Edcamp Online: Join the Conversation

    By ILA Staff
     | Apr 01, 2020

    Man listening to computer The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has made it necessary to close schools across the globe. It’s also led to widespread cancellation of professional learning events that had been slated for spring, leaving teachers with even fewer outlets to connect and collaborate.

    To help educators build community through conversation, the International Literacy Association (ILA) has created ILA Edcamp Online—a virtual adaptation of the popular unconference—scheduled for Tuesday, April 7, 5:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. ET.

    The goal: to create a space where educators can connect in real time, on a level deeper than even Twitter chats or Facebook Live broadcasts can provide.

    “Many teachers tend to be social creatures who find comfort and growth through their network of colleagues,” says Becky Fetterolf, director of program content and engagement at ILA. “The necessary distancing guidelines have limited activities substantially, so we wanted to create something that could meet those unfulfilled needs.”

    For those unfamiliar with the Edcamp experience, here's how it works: Attendees drive the agenda, participants facilitate on-the-fly sessions, and interactivity is key. The resulting collaboration leads to professional topics that feel far more personal than a traditional “stand and deliver” session.  

    ILA Edcamp Online will leverage Zoom, the video communications platform that’s been exploding as a result of shelter-in-place orders. but make no mistake: This won’t be a static webinar. Edcamps are characterized as “unconferences” founded on the idea that participants learn from one another.

    “We’re making every effort to preserve the Edcamp format as we adapt the event from in person to online,” Fetterolf says. This includes sourcing discussion topics directly from educators. An informal survey distributed through email and social media yielded three topics:  

    • Alternative Access: Connecting When Your Students Don’t Have Connectivity (session full)
    • Continuous K–5 Learning During School Closures: Techniques, Tips, and Tools (session full)
    • Supporting Struggling Learners: Instruction and Intervention in a Virtual Environment (session full)

    “There were clear front-runners,” Fetterolf says. “It made it easy for us to build the ‘rooms.’”

    Some Edcamp features won’t translate to the Zoom platform, however. One principle Edcamps employ is the “rule of two feet,” which encourages attendees who aren’t getting enough out of one discussion to move freely to another one. ILA Edcamp Online registrants can participate only in the session for which they register. However, notes from each discussion will be made public after the event for anyone to read.

    Facilitators will leverage Zoom features such as polling, virtual hand raising, and group/private chat functionality to encourage the dynamic conversation that drives in-person Edcamps.

    For this inaugural ILA Edcamp Online, space is limited. Fetterolf stresses the importance that educators who register commit to actively participate.

    “When you register, you’re holding a seat for yourself,” she says. “But that also means another educator can’t fill that seat. So, we’re really hoping that everyone who registers and attends is prepared to engage.”  

    ILA Edcamp Online isn’t the only new digital offering from ILA; for the month of April, educators can register for the ILA 2019 Replay, which delivers free access to six recorded sessions from last year’s conference in New Orleans, LA. Presenters include Pedro Noguera, Renée Watson, Donalyn Miller, David Kirkland, Tricia Ebarvia, and Dave Stuart Jr.

    Also included in the ILA 2019 Replay: “What Research Really Says About Teaching Reading—and Why That Still Matters,” the wildly popular panel discussion led by P. David Pearson, Nell K. Duke, Sonia Cabell, and Gwendolyn McMillon that managed to fill a large session room and attract more than 150 livestream viewers at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday—an audience that continued to grow when the archive was shared.

    Within days of registration for the ILA 2019 Replay opening, more than 2,000 educators signed up.

    Those numbers, Fetterolf says, underscore the current need for quality digital programming. “So many educators tell us that ILA conferences are where they go to recharge and reconnect. To be able to bring some of that PD magic into their homes is our privilege.”

    As for ILA Edcamp Online, if early social media buzz is any indication, registration is likely to max out quickly. (Edit: Sessions reached capacity in a matter of hours.)

    “If this event is as successful as we’re anticipating, you can expect to see more of them from ILA in the future,” promises Fetterolf.

    Links to register for both ILA Edcamp Online and the ILA 2019 Replay are available on the ILA Digital Events page.

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    Update From Zambia

    By Edith Chisala M. Ng'oman
     | Mar 31, 2020

    We received this letter from Edith Chisala M. Ng'oman, the chair of ChildFund Zambia and the Literacy Association of Zambia, in which she details the efforts made by her organizations and the government of Zambia in promoting literacy education in the midst of managing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). We were inspired by these efforts and wanted to share them with our community.

    Greetings. I wish to give you an update on COVID-19 in Zambia.

    The Zambian government confirmed the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country on March 18, 2020, with two cases. The number increased to three on March 22 and escalated to 12 as of March 25. Eleven of the 12 cases concern returning Zambians who had traveled to affected countries while one person was infected in-country.

    Additionally, the Zambian government declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 17. Thereafter, all schools, colleges, and universities were closed as of March 20 until further notice.

    The government also limited the hours of church services to one with smaller groups of congregants. All bars, nightclubs, cinemas, gyms, and casinos have been closed. The government has also banned large gatherings such as workshops, weddings, and funerals or any event that may pull a crowd above 50 people. Restaurants are operating on take-away and delivery basis.

    As the number of cases increased to 12, the president also announced other measures of preventing the spread of the disease, which included the closure of the three international airports for 14 days.

    The Literacy Association of Zambia is working with ChildFund International and other partners in sensitizing children and their families and caregivers on the preventative measures announced by the government regarding COVID-19. These messages on prevention and hygienic practices were developed by the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health and have been translated into six local languages.

    The government is also using between 119 and 148 radio stations in the country and other media institutions to disseminate information on COVID-19 info. ChildFund, which is currently housing the Literacy Association of Zambia, is financially supporting the printing of materials and dissemination of information to ensure that it reaches every enrolled household.

    This is being done in conjunction with the Zambia News and Information Services, a government media institution and the district Health Management teams. Messages are being transmitted in the local languages using a public address system regarding the prevention, symptoms, response, and numbers to call in case one presents with the symptoms of COVID-19.

    In terms of literacy, it will be a challenge, especially for the children and teachers in rural areas where they have limited connectivity. In most cases, the children in rural areas come from economically challenged households and may not have any access to digital devices.

    For the children who have access to devices and the families and caregivers who may have computers and laptops, we are trying to share as many materials and resources as possible: We have received electronic resources from the IDC chair, the International Literacy Association, and the education department at our ChildFund. Positive feedback has come from families who are appreciating the initiative.  

    The Ministry of General Education also gave a directive to all schools to give enough work to the learners during this period of closure. Schools were given four days to do so before they were officially closed. 

    There is also a discussion for the Ministry of General Education, through the Department of Open and Distance Education, to work on supporting the children to continue learning during this COVID-19 closedown of schools. They are working on two systems to support the learners: primary schools (grades 1–7) will be supported through educational radio programs, and secondary schools will be supported through the National E-Learning portal, which is being launched as soon as everything is in place.

    Through this strategy, the Ministry of General Education will partner with a national mobile and internet service provider with the hope that, once it is done, learners will be able to access online educational materials and communicate with their teachers. Once this is concluded, the Literacy Association of Zambia will procure radios for the children who are in our areas of operation and where the Active Teaching and Learning Approaches in Schools training were conducted.

    We are looking forward to learning more about how we can help the learners during this period as we are not sure about how long schools will remain closed. 

    We would like to thank Edith for this update and to invite any members, chapters, or international affiliates to send us updates about the efforts being made by educators, schools, districts, or even larger government bodies.

    Stay connected. Share your successes. We’re all in this together.

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    ILA 2020 Board Election Opens

    By ILA Staff
     | Mar 30, 2020

    BoardElection_w300The International Literacy Association (ILA) has commenced its annual election for its Board of Directors. Eligible ILA members are encouraged to vote for three at-large candidates and one vice president candidate. You can read about the candidates here.

    The ILA 2020 Board Election will be conducted entirely online. Individual ILA members with an active membership and a valid email address will receive email reminders with a link to the online ballot. Eligible ILA members who do not have valid email addresses will receive instructions by mail for how they can vote online.

    If you haven’t received your email ballot, please confirm your membership is in good standing and that the email address connected to your membership is accurate by signing into your membership account or by phoning ILA’s Constituent Services Team at 800.336.7323 (U.S. and Canada) or 302.731.1600 (all other countries). 

    For assistance signing into your ILA membership account, please contact Keith Wier, account manager for Intelliscan, kweir@intelliscaninc.com.

    The newly elected Board members will begin their terms on July 1, 2020.


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    COVID-19: What ILA Is Doing to Support Educators During This Time of Disruption

    By Marcie Craig Post
     | Mar 23, 2020

    Marcie Craig Post headshotThere’s no way to know at this time how lasting an impact the coronavirus outbreak will have on our lives, let alone our classrooms. More and more schools across the globe are closing their buildings to help slow the spread of the virus. To minimize the disruption to education, many institutions are transitioning to virtual learning environments.

    This makes sense, in theory. But as those in the education community know all too well, lack of equipment and/or access introduce a fresh new set of challenges. The same can be said for teachers asked to make the move to online learning without formal training or practice.

    On behalf of the International Literacy Association (ILA), I want to let you know that we are here to support you in any way possible. As a first step, we are creating a series of virtual professional learning events that will be open and free to all—both members and nonmembers.

    The first, Edcamp Online, will take place April 7 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET. Our goal is to create a space where educators can connect in real time, on a level deeper than even Twitter or Facebook Live can provide. Social isolation may be necessary, but it’s also linked to adverse health consequences. We’re hoping this will, in some small way, help combat that.

    We’re also increasing the number of free resources available. The most significant of these: We’re reopening access to select sessions from the ILA 2019 Conference. Beginning April 1, you’ll once again be able to learn from Pedro Noguera, David Kirkland, Tricia Ebarvia, Donalyn Miller, and more.

    On a separate note: We’ve received a few inquiries regarding the ILA 2020 Conference, which takes place in Columbus, OH, October 15–18, 2020. As of today, we are proceeding with the conference as planned.

    Rest assured that the health and safety of our participants is our primary concern. We are in daily communication with key officials regarding the latest developments of the virus, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the city of Columbus, and we will continue to follow and implement the government-recommended health and safety guidelines for planning the event and conference operations.

    Earlier this month, we made the decision to close our headquarters office in Newark, DE, and we have asked staff to work remotely until further notice. But operations continue, and we will continue to develop new avenues of support.

    I also want to encourage you to share with us the work you’re doing in your schools and communities by sending an email to social@reading.org. We are eager to celebrate the extraordinary ways in which you’re responding to what is a most extraordinary situation.

    From all of us at ILA: Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay in touch.

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

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