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    Get to Know ILA 2018 Featured Speaker Matthew Kay

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Jul 18, 2018

    Matthew KayMatthew R. Kay is the founder and coordinator of the Philly Slam League, a nonprofit that hosts poetry teams from Philadelphia-area high schools in a five-month intellectual and artistic competition. A proud product of Philadelphia’s public schools, Kay is a founding teacher at Science Leadership Academy, where he teaches an innovative inquiry-driven, project-based curriculum. He recently published his first book, Not Light, But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Conversations about Race in the Classroom (Stenhouse).

    His answers were edited for clarity and length.

    What inspired you to write Not Light, but Fire: How to Have Meaningful Classroom Conversations About Race?

    “There’s a lot of good information about why we should be discussing race in the classroom. There are already many robust conversations about that. What we need more of is a clear how-to. I hear a lot of this from teachers: ‘I want to talk about race and I know I should, but when I do, my kids walk away feeling worse—what am I doing wrong? We’re reading the right books, were diversifying our books, were doing all the things they tell me to.’

    A great deal of success comes from being mindful about how you’re developing relationships with students. Not just between you and the students, but between the students and each other. How do you train the kids to listen to each other, and to be respectful of each other’s opinions and ideas? How do you, after establishing that environment, challenge the kids. A lot of times we bore students with race issues that should not be boring, because we haven’t let race conversations be intellectually rigorous. Or unique.

    In the book, I call [Black History Month] February soup—how most kids take in their black history. Everything is thrown into the same pot. They don’t know anything is different from anything else. A student, after nine years of schooling, will say that Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King grew up in the same neighborhood, they rode a bus with Rosa Parks. It’s all a big mess and they never really plug into a specific issue because it’s all bland.

    We keep having the same conversations over and over, we keep shedding light on things people already understand. How do you talk about racism in a way where students feel like they’re actually about to learn something new?”

    Can you give us a glimpse into the theme of your presentation at ILA 2018? What do you want attendees to take away from your presentation?

    “I want folks to reflect on how bad we are as a society about talking about race—on the left, on the right, everywhere—we’re just bad at talking about race. We’re going to reflect on what we are modeling for kids and what might be the impact of that. What are kids learning when they hear us talking about race? To the point of February soup—when we confine all of our race conversations to one month, what does that teach students about race? When we only discuss race in terms of white oppression, what does that do to people’s understanding of the depths of racial identity?

    I just want to reflect upon a lot of our bad habits—hopefully things that folks have never thought about.”

    You said that poetry has helped you to overcome your stutter by improving your confidence. What changes have you seen in your students?

    “There are big successes. I have a lot of alumni poets that are teachers now. I take a little pride in that; some of those kids would not have been teachers if they hadn’t formed those relationships with their coaches and teams.

    Most of Philly’s youth poet laureates have come through my league. There are those high-profile successes. But then there are a lot of micro successes. The league makes being a mentor cool. Before you called, I was talking to some alumni who were asking if they can come back and work with younger poets. Of all the things, I’m most proud about that. We have a lot of kids who might not ordinarily be living service lives, but now, they want to give back. And I think that’s good for the city, and it’s good for the kids.

    Some kids fall in love with it and become poetry lifers, and that’s fantastic. But I also celebrate the kids who started freshman year and didn’t have confidence, and afterward, gained the confidence to do something else.”

    The theme of ILA 2018 is Be a Changemaker. What is a changemaker to you?

    “Are you going to be a solution-finder or someone who just talks a lot? If there’s any one unifying characteristic of our race discourse right now, it’s that everyone is wordy. Everything is a speech contest. An interrupting speech contest. You have people going back and forth and back and forth, and sometimes both sides have good will—and if they would just shut their mouths and listen, they would realize how much they agree on.

    Listening is much harder. Someone who’s willing to change things is willing to sit down and listen. Then we can get to, “What are we going to do next?”

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

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    The ILA 2018 Cheat Sheet

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Jul 17, 2018

    ILA 2018 Blog Post RoundupWe’re just three days away from the ILA 2018 Conference! In case you’ve missed any conference news, here’s a roundup of all Literacy Daily blog posts previewing the ILA 2018 Conference in Austin, TX, this weekend.

    The Conference App Guide: Part 2

    Discover ILA 2018: The Conference App Guide

    ILA 2018 Exhibit Hall and ILA Central Happenings

    The ILA 2018 Conference: Know Before You Go

    Standards 2017 Cochairs Share Their Can’t-Miss Sessions at ILA 2018 (Continued)

    Standards 2017 Cochairs Share Their Can’t-Miss Sessions at ILA 2018 (Continued)

    Standards 2017 Cochairs Share Their Can’t-Miss Sessions at ILA 2018

    Five Reasons You Should Attend Institute Day at ILA 2018

    Get to Know the ILA 2018 Equity in Education Program Panelists

    ILA 2018 Research Institute: Our All-Keynote Format Is Back!

    Marley Dias on Inspiring Activism, Diversifying Children's Literature, and Her Latest Reads

    Edcamp Literacy: The “Unconference” Within Conference

    A Lit Lover’s Guide to Austin

    ILA 2018 Featured Speaker Colleen Cruz on Anticipating Barriers, the Reading-Writing Connection, and What it Means to be a Changemaker

    Seven Powerful Lessons About Reading From ILA 2018 Featured Speakers Kylene Beers and Bob Probst

    Defeating Decision Fatigue With ILA’s Conference Tracks

    Your Guide to Institute Day at ILA 2018

    What to Expect from ILA’s Inaugural Children’s Literature Day

    Literacy Education for a Changing World

    Hope to see you there!

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

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    The Conference App Guide: Part 2

    By Wesley Ford
     | Jul 16, 2018

    At this point, you’ve downloaded the ILA 2018 Conference app (right?) and started making your schedule. This time, we’re going to look at some features you might have yet to explore.

    That three-line icon thing

    I never know what that icon is called. Oh, it’s called a hamburger button. Thanks, Google!

    As you may have noticed, it’s quite easy to get a few menus deep looking for things, going from session to speaker to session to exhibitor and the like. The hamburger button offers you quick and easy access around the app and a whole lot more.
    07-Hamburger menu
    • Home: Brings you back to the Discover tab.
    • Map: Takes you right to your choice of maps, either the Exhibit Hall Floor Plan and the Conference Floor Plan.
    • Near Me: This helps you find nearby exhibitors in the Exhibit Hall to help optimize your time.
    • Agenda: This takes you to your personal conference schedule.
    • My Show: This opens the My Favorites page. More on that later.
    • Inbox: Here, you will find messages you have sent to and received from other attendees and the show news, which are the messages sent through the app to you. If rooms change or sessions are canceled, you’ll receive the notification right to your phone through the app—which is why we recommend keeping notifications on.
    • App Info: This contains info about the app. (I think that was well named.)
    • Settings: Here, you can check for app updates and change if and how you receive notifications from the app.

    The Connect tab

    The Discover tab contains all information about the show, including your schedule, whereas the Connect tab helps you track your individual information and connect with other attendees.

    • 09-ConnectMy Profile: From here, you can add and edit your profile image, email, website, and social media profiles, which other app users can find through the attendee directory. You can also remove yourself from the attendee directory, if you wish.
    • My Contacts: This lists the people with whom you’ve connected via the app.
    • My Messages: Here, you will find all the messages you have sent and received through the app.
    • My Favorites: All starred sessions and exhibitors are listed here as well as any added notes.
    • Attendee Directory: This is the list of all attendees.
    • Social Media: These buttons will open your social media platform and take you directly to ILA’s accounts to easily see what is being shared about conference.

    So how best to make use of these features? I have a couple ideas:

    Update your profile

    Make sure your profile is up to date, has a recognizable picture, and lists the information you are comfortable sharing, and then use the ILA 2018 app to connect with other attendees. Perhaps you had a great conversation with someone next to you at a session or several speakers really impressed you and you want to follow them on Twitter. Just search for their names in the attendee directory and click Add Contact, and you’ve saved their information for later.

    You can even message others through the app, which is a great way set up impromptu meetings or schedule a lunch with people you just met.

    Favorites and how to use them

    08-MyFavoritesI’ve played around with these for a bit, and I’ve come up with three ways I think they work best:

    • Preplanning: Go through the sessions, speakers, and exhibitors and star everything you are interested in doing. Go to your My Favorites page and refine your agenda from your selection.
    • Sharing: The Export My Show feature lets you create a text-based list of everything you have starred or added notes for. If you are going to ILA 2018 as a team, you can star all the events you plan on attending and then text or email that list to your team so they know where you will be.
    • Tracking: Use the stars to note the sessions and exhibitors that you liked the most so that when ILA 2018 is over, you have a record of your favorite events.

    Sharing My Schedule

    10-ExportAgendaI’ve discovered another way to share your LA 2018 agenda. If you go into My Schedule and hit the three dots at the top right, there is an option to Export Agenda. This will push your current agenda items to your device’s calendar. I exported my agenda to my Google Calendar, which I have shared with my colleagues. They can now access my calendar and see exactly where I’ll be throughout ILA 2018.

    I haven’t had the chance to test it yet, but I believe an entire team could share a calendar, export their agenda to it, and have a team-wide account of where everyone will be during the show.

    I hope these tutorials have helped you become comfortable with the various features available on the ILA 2018 Conference app. Remember, if you have any questions or issues, you can contact or tweet to @ILAToday and use the tag #ILA18App. Or you can come to the App Demo in ILA Central on Saturday, July 21, at 10:00 AM and ask me. I’ll be the guy in the hat.

    See you in Austin!

    ConferenceVeteranWesley Ford is a conference veteran and the resident ILA 2018 Conference app expert. He is presenting a demo of the app in Austin on Saturday, July 21, at 10:00 AM in ILA Central. Add it to your schedule and add him as a contact as practice.

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    ILA 2018 Exhibit Hall and ILA Central Happenings

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Jul 12, 2018

    Exhibit Hall HappeningsOften cited among conference highlights, the ILA 2018 Exhibit Hall connects attendees with cutting-edge classroom tools, technologies, and solutions. Those joining us in Austin, TX, July 20–23, will have access to more than 130 vendors, book signings, giveaways, photo ops, product demonstrations, and more education than ever before.

    A short walk from the Exhibit Hall, in the first-floor atrium, lies ILA Central, your one-stop shop for all things ILA.

    To ensure you make the most of your time, review the list of offerings in both locations and create your plan of attack beforehand. Here are some we recommend.

    • Take advantage of the Friday preview: Stop by the Exhibit Hall on Friday, July 20, from 3:00 PM–6:00 PM for a special preview of the space.
    • Shop ILA merchandise: Show your ILA pride with the latest collectible ILA 2018 Conference T-shirts, notebooks, water bottles, tote bags, and more.
    • Explore your ILA membership: Membership staff will be on hand to help you sign up to be an ILA member or to renew or update your current membership. Take advantage of our conference-only special: a free, one-year subscription to an online ILA journal of your choice.
    • Get involved: Learn about ILA's literacy projects from the ILA staff members who lead them, including Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals 2017, the What’s Hot in Literacy report, and the Choices project.
    • Meet your favorite authors: Browse a broad selection of titles and get them signed by attending authors, such as Megan McDonald, Carole Boston Weatherford, and Peter H. Reynolds.
    • Stock up on swag: Leave extra room in your suitcase for the endless free books, classroom supplies, and “swag bags” from vendors such as Scholastic, Fountas & Pinnell, and American Reading Company.

    This year’s Exhibit Hall will feature more than 30 PD sessions on topics such as emerging digital literacy strategies, effective phonics instruction, and creating inclusive learning environments.

    For full Exhibitor Session descriptions, visit the iPlanner or download the ILA 2018 Conference app. View the Exhibit Hall floor plan and full list of vendors here.

    Register for the ILA 2018 Conference at and receive Standard rates through July 18. 

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

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    Standards 2017 Cochairs Share Their Can’t-Miss Sessions at ILA 2018 (Continued)

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Jul 05, 2018

    Standards-Related SessionsSeveral sessions at the ILA 2018 Conference, taking place in Austin, TX, July 20–23, tie to Standards 2017 in terms of its topics or roles. In this three-part blog series, Standards 2017 project cochairs Rita M. Bean, University of Pittsburgh, PA, and Diane E. Kern, University of Rhode Island, identify sessions you don’t want to miss:

    Add these Sunday offerings to your schedule*:

    Don’t miss Bean and Kern’s workshop, ILA/CAEP Reading/Literacy Specialist Program Writers and Reviewers. Alongside researchers, teacher educators, and CAEP representatives, they’ll provide an overview of standards and the key changes; review model assessments, rubrics, and scoring guides; and share the most recent developments from CAEP. Attendees are encouraged to bring sample assessments and questions. Individual 30-minute consultations will be available.

    *Please note
    : Both Institute Day and the ILA/CAEP Workshop require an additional fee and are not included in the cost of registration for Core Conference.

    Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals 2017 
    is available here.
    Alina O'Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of Literacy Daily.

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