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    The Literacy Teacher Edit, Part 2

    By Katie Caprino
     | Jul 26, 2021
    kids at classroom library

    A fan of Netflix’s Get Organized With The Home Edit, I immediately thought about connections to literacy instruction. In Part 1 of this blog series, I discussed THE connections to writing. In this blog post, I share ideas about how to apply THE method to cultivating resources.

    The Library Edit 

    Here is how I recommend applying THE to curating your face-to-face or virtual classroom library.

    Edit: Take stock of the texts available to your students by asking the following questions:  

    • What topics are present and not present? 
    • What types of genres are present and not present? 
    • What student reading abilities can or cannot access these texts?  
    • In what media are books available and which are not available?  
    • Whose voices are present and whose are not present?  
    • What settings are present and not present? 
    • What cultures are present and not present? 
    • What perspectives are present and not present? 
    • What abilities are present and not present? 
    • What makes sense in terms of different (physical, virtual, or both) piles? How should books be organized (e.g., by spine colors, levels, genres, topics)? 
    • What organizational products (e.g., bins, shelves, virtual libraries, lists) work for my readers? 

    Depending on your students’ ages, you could have students edit their at-home libraries at the same time you edit the class library. Teachers of students working remotely can learn a lot about book access and the types of books that are more accessible than others. Consider what books need to be added to your library and which should be donated or be stored elsewhere.  

    Assembly: In this step, you put together your classroom library according to the structure determined in the editing phase. You may put physical books on particular shelves that make sense for students’ heights. Virtual libraries can be assembled on Google slides in ways that maximize accessibility. 

    Upkeep: You will want to make sure that students are a part of maintaining the books within the library. For example, if books are organized according to genre, students need to know genre characteristics. If new books come into the library, you and your students might think about which books to donate or put in a storage bin or another virtual library slide for now. 

    Applying THE process to classroom libraries is not a one-and-done event. As you acquire more physical books or find additional virtual libraries online, THE process will have to be continually applied. Having students edit the library each year or at the beginning of each quarter will reveal new steps for the library. Different groups of students may like certain topics more than others, for example. Make sure to allow your students’ reading interests and abilities to inform the editing of your classroom libraries. Students’ insight into your classroom library can be helpful and meaningful as we aim for our ultimate goal: cultivating lifelong readers. 

    The Technology Resources Edit

    And, finally, here is how I apply THE to the myriad technology resources I have come across during this period of remote teaching: 

    Edit: If you are like me, you have lists of technology resources that colleagues have created. My list was small at the beginning of the school year, but now it’s becoming quite long. Inspired by both Stephanie Affinito’s post “Organize, Collaborate and More With Google Keep” and THE process, I embarked on organizing my technology resources links so that they can be useful. 

    First I copied and pasted all of my URLs in one document. Then, I color coded my resources to create labels such as Early Literacy Resources, Virtual Classroom Backgrounds, Secondary Methods Resources, Children’s Picture Book Virtual Libraries, and Young Adult Virtual Libraries. Then I critically reflected on the quality of the resources and pared down each list to the top five resources. That was the hardest part for me!

    Assembly: Once I had my labels and top five resources, I used Google’s Keep function (Padlet is another tool that might work for this) and created sticky notes for each of my categories. I then created lists with the resources’ hyperlinks.

    Upkeep: Upkeep will be hard, especially considering that a quick look at social media can add more resources to my running list. But with every new resource I find, I consider whether this new resource should replace an old one or maybe be kept in reserve to switch in later. Either way, maintaining my resource lists will help me find my resources more quickly so that I can incorporate them into my teaching or recommend them to my students more easily. 

    Go Forth and Edit 

    I hope that these blog posts give you a few ways to think about applying THE to your classroom writing instruction, libraries, and technology resources. Please let me know how you applying THE method to your literacy instruction and professional development! 
    Katie Caprino is an assistant professor of PK–12 New Literacies at Elizabethtown College. She teaches and researches in the areas of children’s, middle grade, and young adult literature; technology integration in the literacy classroom; and the teaching of writing and blogs frequently at her blog
    Katie Reviews Books ( You can follow her on Twitter @KCapLiteracy.

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    The Literacy Teacher Edit, Part 1

    By Katie Caprino
     | Jul 16, 2021

    I always look for ways I can apply my passion for literacy to various media. So when I came across Netflix’s series Get Organized With The Home Edit, based on Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin’s company The Home Edit (THE)—which was started via social media, a fact I love as a professor of new literacies!—I couldn’t stop making connections between each episode I viewed and teaching literacy.

    In this blog post, I describe THE method and share how you can apply the tenets of Get Organized With The Home Edit to writing instruction. In a future post, I’ll detail how you can apply the method to your classroom library (in-school or virtual) and digital resource curation.

    THE process 

    Shearer and Teplin articulate three key elements of organization in their Netflix show and first book The Home Edit: edit, assembly, and upkeep. 

    When they meet clients who need organizational help, they ask them first to edit their material. Clients take everything out of a particular space and create groupings for analysis. Decisions are made about which items to keep and which need to be donated, stored elsewhere, or thrown out. 

    Then the organizers think about a sustainable organizational scheme that meets form and function. As much as they want a pretty ROYGBIV-colored bookcase, they also want kids to find their books or games more easily. The beautiful labels on bins, baskets, racks, and rotating organizers are aesthetically pleasing, but they also help clients maintain the devised organizational structure.

    Then the assembly step comes in. Shearer and Teplin set up the space with their labeled organizational product in ways that are beautiful and that make sense with a room’s function and the flow of activities that will take place there.  

    The last element in the process is upkeep. Clients’ abilities to sustain the organizational design is essential to maintaining a calming lifestyle in which everything has a place. Shearer and Teplin recommend a one-in, one-out policy; that is, replacing an already-there item with a newly acquired one. They also recommend getting other people involved in the space’s organizational structure. 

    Applying THE to writing instruction

    I was excited when Shearer and Teplin discussed how their organizational process related to the writing of their book

    Organizing a book is no different from organizing a space: You have to take inventory of everything you want in there, clean out what you don’t, sort items by type, identify how   to make those items as accessible as possible, and then make the whole thing look nice. (p. 22) 

    Here are my ideas for applying THE to your writing instruction. 

    Edit: Invite students to take a piece of writing and highlight (with physical highlighters or in a computer program) like parts in the same colors. For example, if they are writing a piece about dinosaurs, have them highlight information about the time period in which the dinosaurs lived in green, information about their size in pink, information about their diet in blue, and so on. Then have them cut their paper or copy and paste sections so that they can organize like elements into groups. Student writers may also decide about sections to keep or get rid of here. 

    Assembly: Now that the organizational structure has been determined, students can articulate to you or to their writing group about how their paper sections are organized. They can have meetings with their writing group to make sure that the paper flows in this new organizational structure and to check if any sections need to be shortened or lengthened for balance. Students can then write a new draft of their piece. 

    Upkeep: Students can meet with you or with their writing group members to discuss how the organizational structure exercise improved their writing and how their peers were able to give them suggestions for their writing. Here is also where I would suggest that you engage students in conversations about how they might use strategies learned in this experience to future writing assignments so that they are reflecting on how they will “upkeep” this writing skill. 

    [Note: This UNC Writing Center color-coding video inspired my writing tip.] 

    The next time you find yourself watching Get Organized With The Home Edit, consider how you can apply its ideas not only in your home but also your classroom as well. I would love to see how you’re incorporating THE in your literacy instruction, so feel free to share your ideas with me!

    And if you want a few more ideas about how I applied THE method to editing resources, look out for my second blog post in this series coming soon.

    Katie Caprino is an assistant professor of pK–12 New Literacies at Elizabethtown College. She teaches and researches in the areas of children’s, middle grade, and young adult literature; technology integration in the literacy classroom; and the teaching of writing and blogs frequently at her blog Katie Reviews Books ( You can follow her on Twitter @KCapLiteracy.

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    Kwon Joins The Reading Teacher Editorial Team

    ILA Staff
     | Jul 15, 2021

    Kwon JungminJungmin Kwon, an assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University, has been named associate editor of The Reading Teacher, ILA’s peer-reviewed journal for literacy educators working with learners up to age 12.

    Kwon’s research engages with language and literacy practices of immigrant children and families, and her interests include exploring how bilingual parents support their children's language and literacy learning locally and globally. She has published in journals such as International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, Bilingual Research Journal, Language Arts, and Language and Education.

    Kwon fills the vacancy left by departing associate editor Lucia Cardenas Curiel. She will serve alongside of fellow Michigan State University educators Tanya Wright, senior editor; Patricia Edwards, coeditor; Laura Tortorelli, associate editor; and Shireen Al-Adeimi, associate editor, through June 30, 2024.

    “We are so excited for Dr. Kwon to bring her expertise to our editorial team,” said Wright.

    The July/August 2021 issue of The Reading Teacher—the first produced under the direction of the new editorial team—is will soon be available as an open-access publication.

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    The Joys of Teaching Literature

    By Adrienne Lynch
     | Jul 13, 2021

    Can you remember when you fell in love with reading? Was it a book that was read to you such as Where the Wild Things Are or The Snowy Day? Was it a book you read to yourself such as The Great Gatsby or To Kill a Mockingbird? Whatever the book may have been, think back to that moment when reading felt less like a requirement and more like a special prize just for you.

    As a teacher, I always want to realign myself with my why: Why am I teaching? My why is that moment when a student falls in love with reading, whether that love comes from a series, a specific author, or just one simple book.

    My love of reading

    I can remember being obsessed with reading as a child. I could never get enough of it. I remember completing the entire series of The Boxcar Children and The Baby-Sitters Club. No one could tell me I was not part of The Baby-Sitters Club! In my mind, I was an official member.

    As I got older, I became the high school student who preferred to spend my free time reading rather than hanging out with friends. I worked in a bookstore because, in my adolescent mind, that was the dream job. I ended up spending most of my paycheck there.

    I was also the high school student who looked forward to the required readings. There wasn’t a book I was required to read that I didn’t love. Well...except Beowulf. I struggled with Beowulf for many reasons, mainly because it was difficult for me to comprehend. I spent so much time trying to comprehend what I was reading that I was left with little time to enjoy the actual art of storytelling.  

    Little did I know that would be my first encounter with one of the reasons students have a hard time finding the joy in reading. Many years later, as an adult studying to become an educator, I reflected on my encounter with Beowulf, and it was then that I realized even though it wasn’t enjoyable, I was able to overcome it and still find joy because I was already invested in the joy that comes from reading. The many years I’d spent enjoying other books gave me the power to continue to enjoy reading even though Beowulf wasn’t enjoyable for me at all. It was at that moment that I vowed that I would help my students capture that invested joy for reading as soon as they entered my classroom. 

    Finding and creating joy

    So how do you find and create that joy for your students? There are so many ways it can be done: book talks, read-alouds, and author studies to name a few. Each of these techniques appeals to students differently. In my classroom, book talks are just that; we all read the same book and then just talk about it. There’s no task or assignment that needs to be completed, just good old fashion conversation. I learn so much about my students through these conversations, not only their understanding of the book but also insights into them as a reader. 

    Interactive read-alouds are another great way to build a love of reading. They allow me to steer and guide the conversation in an intentional and purposeful manner. I can get in much needed content and skill while also exciting my students about reading. My students enjoy the book without the worry of decoding or getting the right answer. They can listen to the story and analyze via discussion. I love the moment when the classroom is alive with a buzz about one single book and listening to students think out loud and question not only the characters in the book but also each other. That’s the joy! 

    Author studies are another great idea for creating a love for reading. Every year, I choose a few authors, and we spend about a week reading books by only that author. It’s great to see the students go to the school or public library and come back to show you the books they have checked out by that author. Another moment of joy occurs not only for me but also for the students when they all gather together to look at a book they found by that particular author or when they swap books with each other because they think their classmate might like the book that they read.

    I often wish I could bottle up these moments and send them home with each student. I want every student who steps into my classroom to be able to leave with at least one joyful reading moment, a lasting memory when they can remember enjoying a piece of literature. I want them to remember that reading is more than just reading to answer questions about the text. It is also—dare I say—fun.

    Adrienne Lynch is an elementary teacher in Tampa, FL. She has been in the classroom for 10 years. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in elementary education. She is also certified in teaching students with exceptionalities and is endorsed in reading and English as a second language. Her passion is all things literacy and learning. She shares her experiences on Instagram @learningwithlynch.

    This post is a companion piece to the July/August/September issue of Literacy Today, ILA’s member magazine, which focuses on the theme of Joy in Literacy Instruction.

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    International Literacy Association Names Steve Graham Recipient of 2021 William S. Gray Citation Of Merit

    ILA Staff
     | Jul 01, 2021
    Steve Graham

    The International Literacy Association (ILA) today announced the recipients of its 2021 awards and grants, including the William S. Gray Citation of Merit—ILA’s highest honor—which was awarded to Arizona State University’s (ASU) Steve Graham.

    The William S. Gray Citation of Merit honors a nationally or internationally known individual for their outstanding contributions to multiple facets of literacy development—research, theory, practice, and policy. Past recipients have included P. David Pearson, Roger Farr, and Jeanne Chall.

    Graham, an ILA member since 2007 and the Mary Emily Warner Professor in the Division of Educational Leadership at ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, is a leading expert on the educational psychology of writing and the connections between reading and writing. His research, spanning over 30 years, focuses on identifying the factors that contribute to writing development and difficulties, developing and validating effective instructional procedures for teaching writing, and the use of technology to enhance writing performance.

    “The news that I was awarded the William S. Gray Citation of Merit came the way that news so often comes today—over the web, and in this case, through email. I looked once, and then a second time, and finally on the third look, I was literally dancing on the moon,” Graham said. “I learned to read with Dick and Jane books, which Gray played a part in developing, and I have always admired his careful and methodical approach to research and instruction. I am honored to be a member of the impactful group of scholars who previously received this recognition.”

    Along with being a current member of ILA’s Literacy Research Panel, Graham is a frequent conference presenter and contributor to ILA’s journals. He is coauthor of the Handbook of Writing Research, Handbook of Learning Disabilities, Powerful Writing Strategies for All Students, and more. He is the former editor of several journals, including Exceptional Children, Journal of Writing Research, and the Journal of Educational Psychology.

    Graham has also served as an advisor to a variety of organizations, including UNESCO, National Institutes of Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and National Writing Project. He was elected to the Reading Hall of Fame in 2018.

    “Steve’s work is influencing veteran and emerging scholars, classroom teachers and school administrators, policymakers and legislators,” said ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “We are thankful for his service to our organization and the field, and we are honored to present him with this award.”

    Joining Graham in this year’s ILA awards and grants program are nine other educators and literacy leaders, including Yukie Toyama, University of California, Berkeley. Toyama received the Timothy & Cynthia Shanahan Outstanding Dissertation Award for her dissertation, “What Makes Reading Difficult? An Investigation of the Contribution of Passage, Task, and Reader Characteristics on Item Difficulty, Using Explanatory Item Response Models.”

    Other award recipients include the following:

    The full list of awards/grants and recipients can be found here.

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