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    Embracing the Unknown with ILA General Session Speaker Enrique C. Feldman

    By Colleen Clark
     | May 25, 2017
    Enrique Feldman

    Enrique C. Feldman’s goal was to develop his potential more fully when he left his position as professor of music and education at the University of Arizona (UA) in 1997. It was a comfortable, secure job, but he felt there was a greater purpose for him.

    That idea got its start when he took an early childhood music education class during his undergraduate time at UA and was enthralled by the energy of the 3- to 7-year-olds

    “That experience kept calling me over the years,” Feldman says. “I also became a dad, [which] completely immersed me into the world and the imagination of the child. I became fascinated with how young children learn.”

    And so a man with an undergraduate in music and two master’s degrees in music education and conducting and performance departed UA in search of ways he could get involved in education in a more holistic sense—going beyond teaching music to educating the whole child.

    The result: Feldman is now the founder and director of education for the Global Learning Foundation (GLF), a play-based and research-based organization that offers professional development for schools and organizations of all types. At GLF, Feldman has taken everything he’s learned over the years—from music and composition to improv and play—and channeled it into a literacy learning approach that values engagement, connection, energy, and community. He promotes trusting your instincts and knowing when to take risks, authentic learning and frameworks, and building what he calls “Possibility Culture.”

    Now, helping others develop their full potential is a large focus for Feldman, who already wears many hats, including music composer, producer, and author of Living Like a Child: Learn, Live, and Teach Creatively (Redleaf), Sam the Ant, a new children’s book series he’s cowriting with his 22-year-old daughter, and iBG, Intellectual Brainwave Games, which improve cognition and patterning and reduce stress.

    Come July, he’ll add a new title to the list: ILA 2017 Opening General Session speaker. And the theme of the session, Literacy Reimagined, couldn’t be more in tune with Feldman’s story.

    Read the open access March/April issue of Literacy Today for just a peek at what you can expect from Feldman, in his own words.

    Colleen Patrice Clark is the managing editor of Literacy Today.

    Enrique C. Feldman will speak at the Opening General Session of the ILA 2017 Conference & Exhibits on Saturday, July 15. Attendees can also experience more of his brain games and improv techniques at his session, “Preparing the Brain and Body for Learning and Literacy,” on Sunday, July 16, and at the ILA Power Hour Lunch on Monday, July 17. 

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    Future Farmers of America: Not Just for Future Farmers

    By Kip Glazer
     | May 24, 2017
    FFA Presentation

    One in four students in the United States lives and learns in rural areas. Having lived and worked in the California’s Central Valley for over 10 years, I am aware of the unique challenges and opportunities these students face. While earning my bachelor’s degree at California Polytechnic State University—a school known for its engineering programs—many of my classmates were studying math, science, and technology, with plans to work in agriculture. As a high school teacher, I have had the privilege of watching my students participate in Future Farmers of America (FFA), an intracurricular organization for students interested in agriculture.

    In the spring 2017 issue of New Horizons, Mark Moore reported on a $454,000 grant that provides precision agriculture technology to FFA members at North Newton and South Newton high schools in Indiana. Although the students still learn how to use traditional agricultural equipment (such as tractors and combines), they also learn how to operate drones to collect, analyze, and interpret real-time data from the field.

    FFA programs provide instruction for students who want to learn about the science, business, and technology behind plant and animal production and natural resource systems. For example, students in one agricultural entrepreneurship class learned how to create, implement, and present a business plan. For their final project, they designed visual presentations that included the product, the mission statement, relevant statistics, and descriptions of the technologies involved. Projects like this help build critical literacy skills that can be applied to any subject.

    2016 Honorary American FFA Degree recipient Julie Beechinor once said to me, “Many people still think agricultural is just about cows, sows, and plows. They have no clue how much technology is involved in agriculture. My students are trained to be scientists, and we need them to be. Because without smart agriculture, no one can live.”

    Having seen what her students do, I couldn’t agree more! 

    Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program. Her Purposeful Tech column looks at how classroom teachers can think critically about today's instructional technologies.

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    5 Ways to Reenergize Your Classroom

    By Clare Maloney
     | May 23, 2017

    JRe-energize Your Classroomune is almost here and, if you haven’t already, it’s a good time to revitalize your classroom. ILA has plenty of tips to help you declutter, reorganize, and breathe new life into your curriculum. Whether it’s reevaluating your assessment process or eliminating tired formats, these articles will help bring about refreshing changes for both you and your students.

    Burn the Worksheets: Fire Up Student Writers

    A Less-Is-More Approach to Assessing Readers

    Use Monthly Quiz Activities to Practice and Evaluate Critical Reading

    Bring New Energy to Your Springtime Classroom

    Taking Organized Thoughts to the Cloud

    Clare Maloney is a former intern at the International Literacy Association. She is currently seeking a BA in English from the University of Delaware.

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    Sleuths, Detectives, and Spies

    Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | May 22, 2017

    Readers of all ages are invited to uncover clues, identify suspects, gather evidence, crack codes, and solve crimes alongside the sleuths in these well-crafted mystery and detective stories.

    Ages 4–8

    A Case in Any CaseA Case in Any Case (Detective Gordon #3). Ulf Nilsson. Trans. Julia Marshall. Ill. Gitte Spee. 2017. Gecko.

    Detective Gordon, a toad and longtime chief detective, has taken an extensive leave (a retirement, perhaps). Buffy, a young mouse, is now Detective Buffy. She takes her responsibilities seriously but misses Gordon, especially at night when she hears scrabbling noises at the police station windows. When two kindergarteners (a squirrel named Evert and a rabbit called Karen) go missing on a class excursion to the forest, the police officers don their spiffy police hats, organize a search party, and set out to safely return the children. A smattering of silly songs and an abundance of soft illustrations add to the fun of this chapter book, which makes a great read-aloud choice.
    —CA  

    King & KaylaKing & Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats (King & Kayla). Dori Hillestad Butler. Ill. Nancy Meyers. 2017. Peachtree.

    King, a big golden dog, helps his owner, Kayla, figure out who stole the peanut butter dog treats she made for her friend’s new puppy. King is the chief suspect, but he didn’t take the treats…so who did? King does everything he can (in dog-speak, which Kayla doesn’t understand) to lead her in the right direction. While Kayla busily writes pages about what she knows—and doesn’t know—about the case, King follows his nose to the stinky culprit. This mystery for beginning readers, told from King’s point of view, is broken into five bite-sized chapters with clues in the pictures and storyline.
    —NB

    Olivia the SpyOlivia the Spy. Ian Falconer. 2017. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    Olivia’s know-it-all, free-spirited, self-assured behavior has gotten her in trouble. After overhearing her mother say that she wished to send her away “until she develops some sense,” Olivia decides to investigate. She then hears her parents agree that they should take her to an institution. Worried, Olivia asks her teacher, “What is an institution?” Her answer convinces Olivia she’s going to prison. Olivia (and young readers) learn a gentle lesson about eavesdropping, although Olivia still contends that she wasn’t eavesdropping. Welcome back, Olivia.
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    The Case of the Counterfeit CriminalsThe Case of the Counterfeit Criminals (The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency #3). Jordan Stratford. Ill. Kelly Murphy. 2017. Alfred A. Knopf/Random House.

    In this historical-mystery-steampunk mash-up, the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency—run by two young girls, Ada Byron Lovelace (the first computer programmer) and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (the author of Frankenstein)—takes on a new case that involves fossil hunter Mary Anning and her beloved missing dog. Fossil fakers are blackmailing Anning; to get her dog back, she must authenticate fake dinosaur bones at the British Museum within three days. With Ada orchestrating the case, clues come together with word games, logic puzzles, sinister doll-like minions, Charles Dickens, smoke bombs, and rollicking action. The book includes short character biographies. Readers who missed the first two books in this mystery series will want to catch up while awaiting the release of the fourth book.
    —NB

    The Goldfish Boy. Lisa Thompson. 2017. Scholastic.

    The Goldfish BoyTwelve-year-old Matthew Corbin (Goldfish Boy) is a different sort of sleuth. Blaming himself for his baby brother’s death five years earlier, Matthew has psychological problems that leave him unable to leave his house, fearful of germs, and obsessed with cleanliness. He spends his days peering out his bedroom window, watching the activity in the cul-de-sac neighborhood. When a toddler next door goes missing, Matthew investigates. Taking an everyone-is-a-suspect approach, and with two neighbor kids doing the legwork, he strives to solve the case of the disappearing child that has baffled the police.
    —CA

    The Impossible Clue. Sarah Rubin. 2017. Chicken House/Scholastic.

    The Impossible clueSeventh-grade math whiz Alice Jones is recruited to find Dr. Learner, a scientist who disappeared from a locked room while working on a top-secret invisibility suit. Using keen observation, logic, and common sense, Alice (assisted by classmates Sammy and Kevin) searches for clues to this seemingly insolvable mystery. Alice soon realizes she is not the only one looking for Dr. Learner. With screeching car tires and danger around each corner, Alice knows mysterious men are hot on her trail. This middle-grade mystery invites inquisitive readers to search for answers alongside these three young sleuths.
    —NB

    Ages 12–14

    First Class Murder (Wells and Wong Mysteries #3). Robin Stevens. 2017. Simon & Schuster.

    First Class MurderIt’s the summer of 1935, and schoolmates Daisy Wong and Hazel Wells take a European excursion on the famed Orient Express. Soon after boarding, they sense that the other passengers have something to hide. During dinner, a scream is heard coming from one of the compartments in the Calais-Simplon-Istanbul Carriage. When the locked door is knocked down, Mrs. Daunt, the wealthy wife of William Daunt (owner of Daunt’s Diet Pills), is found dead. A locked-room murder, a jewel theft, a suspected spy, forged documents, and a first-class car full of likely suspects are all elements of a case that the crime-solving Wells & Wong Detective Society duo cannot resist taking on. Readers may want to read Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express to compare plots.
    —CA

    Vampires on the Run (Quinnie Boyd Mystery #2). C. M. Surrisi. 2017. Carolrhoda/Lerner.

    Vampires on the RunThirteen-year-old Quinnie Boyd suspects that Ella’s Aunt Cecil and Uncle Edgar (writers of the popular Count La Plasma series), who are visiting for the summer, are real vampires, killing animals and wreaking havoc in the small Maine town of Maiden Rock. Why else would they avoid sunlight and cover mirrors? And who are the two unknown fishermen lurking around Ella’s home, apparently stalking the writers in the middle of the night? Quinnie, Ella, Ben (a sailing expert), and Dominic (a technology surveillance geek) decide to investigate, leading to two stolen boats and a high-speed chase. These fearless teens could end up grounded for the summer, or much worse. This adventurous, spooky, funny mystery is an engaging read for middle-grade readers.
    —NB

    Ages 15+

    Missing. Kelley Armstrong. 2017. Crown/Random House.

    MissingLike most teens, 17-year-old Crane Winter can’t wait to leave Reeve’s End, KY—her depressed, coal-mining hometown in Appalachia. Her only regret will be leaving the wilderness that she loves and where she spends much of her time to escape her abusive, alcoholic father. When she rescues Lennon Bishop, a stranger who has been attacked in the woods, she learns that he is trying to find out what happened to a missing friend. When Lennon also goes missing, Crane begins to question what really  happens to teens who leave Reeve’s End. The menace of an elusive stalker and a pack of feral dogs prevails throughout this fast-paced, suspenseful thriller.
    —CA

    Splinter. Sasha Dawn. 2017. Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner.

    SplinterWhen 16-year old Sami’s mother disappeared 10 years ago, Sami was convinced that she had deserted her, even though the police suspected foul play. When Sami was found wandering, no amount of questioning could restore her recollections of that day and no investigation turned up answers—or a body. Each November on the anniversary of her mother’s disappearance, Sami still receives a postcard that she turns over to the local sheriff. When new evidence surfaces that involves another missing person, a box of stained clothes, and old photographs, her father is back in the spotlight as a suspect. With the new investigation underway, her dad and stepmother separated, and the neighbors’ teenage nephew in town for the summer, Sami’s world becomes splintered in ways she could never have imagined.
    —NB

    You Don’t Know My Name. Kristen Orlando. 2017. Swoon Reads/Feiwel and Friends.

    You Don't Know My NameSeventeen-year-old Reagan Hillis changes names and identities constantly as her parents—top-secret spies—move around the world. She’s been trained to follow in their footsteps as a spy. This year in New Albany, OH, Reagan finally begins to feel like a normal teenager as she gets to know Luke, a neighbor and classmate, who is in Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) with plans for a military career. When Reagan’s parents are kidnapped in retaliation for a murder, Reagan barely escapes being taken, too. Both she and Luke, who was with her, are put in protective custody. In a whirlwind of intrigue and suspense, Reagan and Luke head to South America to rescue her parents before they are killed. This fast-paced thriller delivers on action, hooking readers into the sequel.
    —NB

    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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    Reversing Readicide

    By Karin Kroener-Valdivia
     | May 18, 2017

    Reversing Readicide“This will be the first book I ever read,” shouted one of my seniors. I had left him little choice; he could either read or not graduate. A week earlier, a 10th grader made the same comment. When asked how she made it through so many years of school without reading a book, she explained, “English teachers ask for quote analysis, and it’s really easy to do that without reading the book.”

    I’ve heard many similar confessions throughout my 18 years of teaching. Many of my students are reading five to six years behind grade level. I have seniors about to graduate high school who do not meet the literacy demands needed to fully function in society.

    Kelly Gallagher (2009) defines readicide as “the systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools.” He attributes this genocide to two main factors: high-stakes testing (which often leads teachers to value test-taking skills over reading proficiency) and limited authentic reading experiences.

    Gallagher’s theory echoes observations and experiences from my own teaching career. I’ve seen English classrooms with no books, or only tattered copies of classic titles. The urban high schools where I teach in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) are becoming book deserts.

    Even when books are available, some administrators and educators do not allow students to read during class out of fear of losing valuable learning time. I believe that when students are allotted time for free voluntary reading, they become better readers, score higher on achievement tests, and expand their content knowledge.

    Teachers can use free reading time to supplement textbook learning. For example, when studying the Holocaust, students might choose to read Elie Wiesel’s Night: a teen’s account of his survival from the Nazi death camps. Another example is Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan’s Sir Cumference and the First Round Table, which offers creative explanations for geometry concepts.

    I understand that building a strong classroom library can be difficult with budget restrictions. Teachers can try borrowing a class set of novels from the public library, browsing secondhand bookstores, or applying for grants from education nonprofits. I have received $1,000 in book grants from donorschoose.org every year for the past five years.

    Ray Bradbury captured the importance of voluntary reading when he said, “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

    Concerned educators—it’s time to take action. Let’s reverse readicide.

    Karin Kroener-Valdivia is an 18-year English teacher with the Los Angeles Unified School District in California. She is also National Board Certified and a UCLA Writing Project Fellow.

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