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    You Can Now Register for ILA West 2018: “Literacy: A Pathway to Equity”

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Nov 15, 2017
    ILA West 2018

    September marked the 60th anniversary of Little Rock Nine, a pivotal moment in the march toward educational equity in the United States. Yet, despite tremendous progress made over the last six decades, data show that racial gaps stubbornly remain. As we examine inequity across the United States, we know that literacy is the gatekeeper to overall academic success—opening a world of possibilities for students.

    As educators, what can we do to help close the achievement gap for minority and low-income students? And what role does literacy play in these efforts? With so many factors to consider—pedagogy, technology, assessment, teacher preparation, professional learning, and more—where do we begin?

    ILA will confront these questions head-on at ILA West 2018, to take place March 16–17 in San Diego, CA. With the theme “Literacy: A Pathway to Equity,” the inaugural conference will give attendees the tools they need to attain more equitable learning environments through general session talks, hands-on learning, and community building.

    “ILA believes that literacy is integral to leveling outcomes for kids,” said ILA President of the Board Doug Fisher, during an appearance on Education Talk Radio today. “[ILA West 2018] is a really powerful event to help us think about what do we need to do to ratchet up our learning expectations and our strategies to deliver on that promise.”

    Among 19 celebrated leaders in educational equity, keynote speakers Stephen Peters, superintendent of Laurens County School District 55, South Carolina, and CEO and president of the Peters Group; Glenn Singleton, founder of Pacific Educational Group Inc. (PEG) and author of Courageous Conversations About Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools; and Valerie Ooka Pang, professor at San Diego State University and author of Diversity and Equity in the Classroom and Multicultural Education: A Caring-Centered, Reflective Approach; will share their equity-based, literacy-driven, blueprints for reform.

    Attendees will also hear from Olivia Amador, founder of Few for Change, Jana Echevarria, internationally known researcher and codeveloper of the SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) Model, and Cornelius Minor, lead staff developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.

    Designed to deliver more focused sessions and to encourage a schoolwide approach, ILA West 2018 will feature three strands—teachers and coaches, early childhood educators, and administrators. All attendees will leave with culturally responsive pedagogical approaches; practical, proven “use-it-tomorrow” instructional strategies; administrative supports, and more.

    “Every student deserves a great teacher. Not by chance, but by design,” said Fisher. “A lot of our education is up to chance. We’re on a mission to reduce that variability.”

    Over the next few months, we’ll introduce some of the faces of ILA West 2018 and offer sneak peeks into programming. Stay tuned!  

    Learn more or register for ILA West 2018 here.

    Alina O’Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    ILA Issues Brief on Roles and Limitations of Standardized Reading Tests

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Nov 14, 2017

    Standardized Reading TestsThe use of standardized test scores to measure reading proficiency is a long-standing source of debate in education reform. Although these scores provide useful information that may contribute to students’ reading growth, they are often considered the “coin of the realm”—silencing other valuable indicators and assessments while disproportionately influencing important educational decisions. Furthermore, low test scores can have cascading, negative impacts on students, schools and their surrounding communities—leading to poor student morale, high staff turnover, lower real estate prices and more.

    According to ILA’s recent brief, the dominance of standardized reading tests “stems from an insufficient understanding of their limitations.” Without endorsing or negating their value, the brief explores the roles, uses and caveats of standardized reading tests to assess student achievement, compare students, evaluate programs, create educational policy and determine accountability.

    ILA advocates for a different weighting of standardized reading tests as well as a more thorough understanding of reading development that recognizes “an array of formative classroom-based assessments.” The brief ends with five salient considerations that teachers and administrators can use to inform internal decision making:

    • There is no research that supports a correlation between increased standardized testing and increased reading achievement.
    • Standardized reading tests do not fully reflect students’ reading achievement and development.
    • Standardized reading tests can impede the development of students’ self-efficacy and motivation.
    • Standardized reading tests confine reading curriculum and can undermine high-quality teaching.
    • Standardized reading tests are time-consuming and expensive—demanding resources that could be used to support students’ reading achievement in other ways.

    To read more, visit the brief here.

    Alina O'Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    Thousands of Caribbean Students Are (Still) Out of School

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Nov 01, 2017

    Nearly six weeks have passedElmore Stoutt High School since Hurricane Maria struck, just two weeks behind Irma, and, for several Caribbean islands, recovery is still in its infancy. In the wake of the storms, national media coverage has focused on the destruction in Puerto Rico—leaving other neighboring islands in the dark. The lack of media coverage, compounded by poor internet and cell phone service, means fewer donations and a longer recovery.  

    Several islands are still largely without power, food, and drinkable water. Most schools are still too damaged to reopen—worse, some are permanently shuttered.

    “Our school is basically gone. We have several buildings still standing but they’re in no condition to be used,” said Kirima S. Forbes, president of the British Virgin Islands Reading Council. “Right now we are housed in a warehouse. “We’re working on a shift schedule. Grades 7–9 go to school in the morning, in the afternoon it’s 10–12.”

    Studies show that in the aftermath of a natural disaster, schools and libraries offer respite from chaos, providing security, social-emotional support, and stability as well as connections to important community resources.

    “School needs to be open so that the kids can get back to normalcy,” said Forbes.

    As these communities crawl toward recovery, we can all do our part to help. Here’s how:

    Support for schools and libraries: 

    • DonorsChoose launched a Hurricane Irma Recovery Fund to help teachers at damaged schools rebuild their classrooms.
    • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. is partnering with All Hands Volunteers to rebuild schools in communities devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Under the Hope Starts Here hurricane relief program, the company will match individual donations dollar for dollar, up to $1.25 million.
    • Dorina Sackman, the 2014 Florida Teacher of the Year, launched an initiative called "Materials for Maestros," which allows U.S. schools to adopt schools in Puerto Rico. The first to request supplies is the Thomas Alva Edison School. Read more here.
    • The National Parent Teacher Association’s Disaster Relief Fund was established to support school communities in their efforts to rebuild and recover.
    • This year, The Laura Bush Foundation for American Libraries is devoting its resources to helping disaster-affected schools rebuild their book collections.
    • The American Library Association is accepting donations to support library relief efforts in the Caribbean.

    Local rebuilding efforts

    • Funds raised for the BVI Recovery Fund will go toward rebuilding the territory, and to helping families and individuals who lost homes.
    • The St. John Community Foundation is using donations to “reach out to more people in need, assist more service providers, and direct more funds to specific priorities.” 
    • The government of Dominica is collecting donations through JustGiving, a crowdfunding website, to provide residents with basic materials such as temporary roofing, blankets, and non-perishable food.
    • 100% of donations made to the Fund for the Virgin Islands will support long-term community renewal efforts.
    • Unidos Por Puerto Rico, created by Beatriz Rosselló, the first lady of Puerto Rico, enlists the private sector help in providing aid to those affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
    • The Puerto Rico Community Foundation established the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund, which provide grants to affected communities through community-based organizations who are already active and working with the most vulnerable populations.

    National/global rebuilding efforts:

    • Among other actions, UNICEF is helping rebuild damaged schools and supplying educational materials to students and teachers, deliver emergency hygiene kits and drinking water in areas affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
    • GlobalGiving established a Hurricane Irma Relief Fund and a Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund, which support vetted local organizations.
    • Convoy of Hope continues to send food and relief supplies to the Caribbean region
    • Catholic Relief Services is accepting donations for families in the Caribbean Islands, Haiti, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic shelter, water, tarps, tents, kitchen kits, and more.
    • The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) is a regional, inter-governmental agency for disaster management in the Caribbean. Donations made to the CDEMA’s Relief Fund will be used to purchase relief supplies and support early recovery and rebuilding efforts. 
    • The Red Cross is distributing relief items, providing health services, meals, and snacks, and operate emergency shelters.

    Alina O’Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    One Month After the Earthquake: Mexico Still Needs Your Help

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Oct 30, 2017

    Mexico EarthquakeIt’s been one month since Mexico was hit by the strongest earthquake in over a century. Recovery has been slow in most areas, and incremental in others—in rural towns outside of Mexico City and Puebla, thousands of people remain homeless. Without power. Without phones. Without running water.  

    During times of crisis, schools and libraries can be a refuge for children, who benefit from the sense of normalcy provided by going to school, as well as a means of accessing the information and community resources needed to rebuild. 

    Unfortunately, repairing and rebuilding efforts are often hindered by slow systems and insufficient funding. While providing residents with shelter, food, and security, should be our priority, we can’t underestimate the role that education can play in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

    “School isn’t a priority for them. They have their homes, and often they have their business next to their houses. They have to ask: How do I use my savings, in rebuilding my business or in rebuilding my house?” said Mere Rivera, promotora de lectura at Consejo Puebla de Lectura, or Puebla Council.

    We asked Rivera how the ILA community can best support rebuilding efforts in affected schools, libraries, and surrounding communities. Here’s how you can help:

    Support for schools and libraries

    • Mexico City-based librarian Verónica Juárez Campos keeps track of libraries that need assistance in her blog post, “Las bibliotecas también necesitan ayuda,” or, “Libraries also need help.” She provides contact information and lists of requested supplies, when available.
    • Libraries in the state of Morelos were among the hardest hit. Contact the coordinator of Morelos’ network of public libraries, Jesús Reyes Posadas, to inquire about donating.
    • Among many other initiatives, UNICEF is working to establish temporary schools, promote school safety guidelines, train teachers in psychosocial support, and distribute education supplies and early childhood development kits to teachers and caregivers.
    • The American Library Association (ALA) is supporting response and recovery efforts for libraries damaged by the earthquake through the ALA Disaster Relief Fund.  

    Local rebuilding efforts (sites in Spanish)

    • Casa de la Ciencia (Atlixco) accepts in-kind donations to support community education around natural disasters. Contact Jade González Minutti to learn more.
    • Donations made to Brigada Comunitaria por la Mixteca Poblana will go towards reconstruction projects and to restoring emotional, economic, cultural and social well-being in rural regions. Learn more about the brigade and how to donate here.
    • Nonprofit Avima AC’s Proyecto Epatlán is focusing on rebuilding with safer structures in the small town of Epatlán. Contact Gabriela Domínguez Gálvez for more information.
    • Fondo Unido México, part of the United Way network, has created an emergency fund to focus on the reconstruction of schools and community centers as well as training and preparation for future emergencies.

    National rebuilding efforts

    • New York City-based nonprofit Project Paz is raising funds specifically for earthquake relief.
    • Donations made through charity crowdfunding site GlobalGiving’s Mexico Earthquake Relief Fund will be used exclusively for local relief and recovery efforts.
    • The International Community Foundation has established an earthquake disaster relief fund to help local organizations meet short-term basic needs, and to assist in long-term recovery efforts.
    • Cruz Roja Mexicana, the Mexican Red Cross, is accepting direct donations online and has set up an Amazon Wish List for necessary items.

    We will continue to update this resource as we learn of new initiatives.

    Alina O’Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    Two Months After Hurricane Harvey: Four Schools That Need Your Help

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Oct 24, 2017
    Rockport SchoolThe average U.S. educator spends $600 decorating his or her own classroom each year.

    For teachers in schools affected by recent natural disasters that number is likely to be much, much higher. In the two months that have passed since Hurricane Harvey, affected school districts have reported millions of dollars in damage.

    ILA council the Texas Association for Literacy Education (TALE) has adopted the following four schools—all of which have suffered extensive or major damage—to support their post-Harvey recovery efforts with a donation toward literacy resources. Read on to find out how you can join TALE in helping these schools to rebuild their classrooms and libraries.

    Hilliard Elementary School
    Principal
    : Edrick Moultry
    Board coordinator
    : Malene Golding
    Address
    : 8115 East Houston, Houston, Texas 77028
    Phone
    : 713.635.3085
    Email
    : emoultry@houstonisd.org
    Donate supplies
    : Needs include spiral composition books (wide rule), pens (black, blue, red), scissors, pocket folders, notebook paper (wide rule), and more—full list available here
    Donate money:
    Mail check to the address above, to the attention of Bathsheba Nash

    Thompson Intermediate School
    Principal:
    Dr. Melissa Allen
    Board coordinator
    : Kamshia Childs
    Address
    : 11309 Sagedown Ln., Houston, Texas 77089
    Phone
    : 713.740.0510
    Email
    : meallen@pasadenaisd.org
    Donate supplies
    : The school has requested instructional supplies (visit this staff-curated Amazon Wish List) and appropriate books for students ages 12–15
    Donate money:
    Donate online here

    Rockport-Fulton High School
    Principal
    : Scott Rogers
    Board coordinator
    : Matthew Panozzo and Robin Johnson
    Address
    : 1700 Omohundro, Rockport, Texas 78382
    Phone
    : 361.790.2212
    Email
    : srogers@acisd.org
    Donate supplies
    : No supplies needed at this time
    Donate money
    : Donate through the school’s GoFundMe page, or mail a check to:
    Kathy Henderson, ACISD CFO
    ACISD Library Recovery
    PO Box 907
    Rockport, Texas 78381

    Lemm Elementary School
    Principal
    : Kathy Brown
    Board coordinator
    : Alida Hudson
    Address
    : 19034 Joanleigh Dr., Klein, TX 77388   
    Phone
    : 832.484.6300
    Email
    : kbrown@kleinisd.net
    Donate supplies: For each book donated to Lemm Elementary library through this site, Bound to Stay Bound will donate four more
    Donate money
    : Donate online here

    Don’t miss our previous posts, “Here’s How You Can Help Libraries and Schools Affected by Hurricane Harvey” and “Back to School After a Natural Disaster: Teaching Hurricane Harvey.”

    Alina O’Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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