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Literacy Instruction: 2020 and Beyond
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ILA Next
Literacy Instruction: 2020 and Beyond
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    ILA Next: Week 2 Continues to Tackle the Challenges of COVID-19

    By Colleen Patrice Clark
     | Oct 16, 2020

    ILANext_680wIf there’s anything we’ve learned this year about remote instruction, it’s that learning opportunities designed with intention—particularly with equity and empathy in mind—are more critical now than ever before.

    As Nancy Frey said during her ILA Next Main Stage Session with Douglas Fisher: “It’s not the platform itself, but rather it’s what we do within that platform.”

    This idea has been a common thread among presenters throughout ILA Next, a monthlong learning event designed to meet the needs of educators and students in our virtual and hybrid environments.

    Building upon this theme, several speakers have also pointed to the need to reimagine education as a whole. Like the book title of Main Stage Session speaker Yong Zhao states: An Education Crisis Is a Terrible Thing to Waste.

    The following are just some of the messages shared during Week 2 about how we can rethink our teaching, maximize our impact, and maybe even change the concept of schooling altogether.

    Embrace mistakes

    An inevitable teacher moment in distance learning is making a mistake on a recorded video. Resist the temptation to rerecord, urged Fisher.

    “I would like to argue for three reasons not to do that,” he said. “No. 1:You don’t have time…No. 2: I think it sets up this false expectation that we have to be perfect every time. And No. 3: We rob the students modeling opportunities for self-correction. We need to normalize mistakes.”

    If we can show that, he said, students might just take a risk.

    Prioritize self-care

    Social-emotional learning and trauma-informed pedagogy are at the forefront of our practices—but don’t forget about caring for your own needs. Main Stage speaker Cornelius Minor referred to it as rationing.

    Educators strive to give 100% each day, but now is the time to give yourself a mental break and understand that it’s OK to give 100% on one day and then maybe 70% or 80% on the other days.

    “I want to acknowledge that this is not irresponsible or lazy. Rather, rationing…is what responsible people do in extreme situations,” Minor said. “I am choosing how I invest my energy and my time across my week, understanding that I cannot do everything. Giving 100% is going to fatigue me. And no kid, no community, needs a fatigued educator.”

    Fisher compared it to the phrase about putting your own oxygen mask on first.

    “You cannot fill the cup of another person if yours is already empty,” he continued. “You’re worth it. We need you. Don’t burn out. Please take care of yourself.”

    Intermediate Pathway Workshop presenter Lori Oczkus also took time to touch on self-care, quoting aphorist Mason Cooley: “Reading gives us a place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

    “That’s a great quote right now since we can’t go many places,” Oczkus mused, adding that the mental and physical benefits of reading are plentiful—for teachers and students alike.

    Connect with students

    Several presenters have focused on the importance of students taking the lead, even in distance learning. In Kenneth Kunz and Kia Brown-Dudley’s Primary Pathway Workshop, they discussed the power in storytelling and classroom conversations as both a window into the teacher’s world and a window into the students’ world.

    Brown-Dudley used the analogy of a volleyball game to illustrate how to practice classroom conversations. “I like to think of conversations as being more like a volleyball match than a tennis match,” she said. “When you play tennis, you hit the ball over the net, the person hits it back to you…But with volleyball, you hit the ball over the net and that ball or idea is passed around to other members on the team before it goes back over the net.”

    She added: “It’s really important that we’re hearing all voices, that we’re encouraging all of our students to speak.”

    “This storytelling for me, it just provides such a powerful way of connecting with students and building relationships, even in the virtual environment,” Kunz said.

    Return to better

    Minor declared that the path forward must be defined by individual teachers, school cultures, and pedagogies that grapple with the question: What if we didn’t return to normal? What if we returned to better?

    “This current pandemic and the shift to remote or hybrid or socially distanced learning has revealed what so many educators representing historically marginalized groups have been articulating for years, and that is the reality that there are profound inequities in schooling,” he said.

    Although there is no “one best way” forward, essential components include self-work, systemic awareness, active changemaking, and powerful teaching.

    Rethink schooling

    Main Stage speaker Zhao said COVID-19 presents the time to rethink the “what, how, and where of learning” in profound ways.

    Reforms of the past have focused on policy and pedagogy, he said, but not on the actual learning environment in ways that will encourage students to become owners of their learning.

    “We need to have students be responsible for their own learning and you, we all, [must] work to create that space,” he said. “Let’s not think about the curriculum. Let’s think about the child…Let’s not think about how to teach. Let’s think about how to support learning.”

    To accomplish this, this time of crisis can be “smartly used to invite innovations and big changes.”

    Chief among them—learning pathways for students, which should be created with them, not for them.

    “Children are the creators of the future,” Zhao said. “I don’t like it when schools and systems say, ‘We will get our children ready for the future.’ There is no future. The future is made by our children. We prepare them to participate, to create a better future for all of us.”

    Colleen Patrice Clark is the managing editor of Literacy Today, ILA’s member magazine.

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    Key Takeaways From Week 1 of ILA Next

    By Lara Deloza
     | Oct 09, 2020

    ILANext_680wTomorrow marks the start of the second week of ILA Next, the International Literacy Association’s new, monthlong professional learning event. Three of the four Main Stage Sessions scheduled for October 10, 9:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m. ET, speak directly to the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic has had on education, including effective, evidence-based instructional strategies for virtual and hybrid learning and why we should leverage the disruption to reimagine the schooling system overall.

    COVID wove a common thread through Week 1’s Main Stage keynotes, sessions, and workshops as well—everything from the practical implications of young learners wearing masks (“How do I support children in helping them figure out what facial expressions and feels are like when half of our face or most of our face is covered?” mused Kass Minor, in a Learning Lab she copresented with partner Cornelius Minor) to the long-term significance of the increased screen time that comes with distance and hybrid learning models.

    “How can we as educators move forward in a productive way to reframe our own stance toward the use of digital devices?” asked Troy Hicks, in his Secondary Pathway Workshop, citing the need for educators to work toward what he calls “digital diligence.” Teaching students to be intentional in their use of technology and alert to “how knowledge gets made” is crucial, he says,

    Here are some additional themes that emerged throughout the week.

    Poetry is a powerful means of expression…

    Anthony John Wiles, Jr., the 2020 National Student Poet for the Northeast region, read from his award-winning “American Dreaming,” in which he envisions a land where “the color of my skin would not jeopardize my right to breathe.” Later, Jasmyn Wright, a classroom teacher and founder of the Push Through Organization, debuted her “two-minute philosophy of education” in spoken word form:

    You’re can’ts will become I cans
    ‘I am not’ transforms to ‘I ams’ and <
    ‘I am not good enough’ replaced with
    I was birthed with a purpose and
    my purpose has a purpose so Imma push through

    …as well a valuable instructional tool.

    In the Primary Pathway Workshop, Tim Rasinski talked about how poems and songs make ideal decodable texts, demonstrating how their rhymes can be used to teach word families, fluency, and even writing. Over in the Middle Pathway Workshop. Kylene Beers and Bob Probst led participants through a writing prompt modeled after the poem “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyons, after which Beers reminded participants that writing is more than a way to show what we’ve learned: “Sometimes, like in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, we should probably use writing as a way through what we’re feeling.”

    Speaking of feelings…

    Debra Crouch, whose special presentation with Brian Cambourne closed out Saturday’s Main Stage Session, teared up as she shared Maya Angelou’s famous quote, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

    “More than anything, today, especially now, children need us to take these wise and kind words to heart,” Crouch said, “so that we are providing the kind of environment kids need to be able to be who they are.”

    Wright noted the “human-to-human connection” between educators and students. “We have to be able to take academics and infuse it here,” she said, pressing her fist to her heart. “We’re literally responsible for the future.”

    We need to reframe our thinking…about a lot of things.

    Hicks cited the media narrative around the use (often characterized as overuse) of screen time, which he says invokes fear-based responses instead of inviting deeper conversation around the tools students are using and the ways in which they’re using them.  

    Intermediate Pathway Workshop leader Molly Ness, for example, shared a strategy for fluency instruction that called for students to use iPads to record and reflect on their own oral reading, while in his Learning Lab, Ernest Morrell offered ways to engage students by critically analyzing and even creating their own video games.

    Kass Minor raised questions about school-mandated homework (“What does it mean to do homework when home is school?”) and standardized tests.

    “Aside from agility, stamina, and resource acquisition, what valuable information are we assessing?” she demanded, advocating instead for “kid-watching,” which she believes is “one of the strongest forms of assessment.”

    Several presenters took aim at deficit language and mindsets. Morrell, for instance, challenged the notion of cultural responsiveness as a negative topic. He sees it as an empowering one, pointing to opportunities for inclusiveness and dialogue in literacy instruction, adding, “I think of engagement and joy as the real outcomes.”

    On a similar note, Cornelius Minor guided his Learning Lab participants to push back on the idea that kids are somehow falling behind as a result of remote, hybrid, or socially distanced learning.

    Instead, he said, “I want to frame this as a conversation about the new literate opportunities that we can seize as a result of being forced into this new paradigm shift.”

    Expect to hear more of Minor’s thoughts on the COVID paradigm shift in his Main Stage Session this Saturday.

    All registrants have on-demand access to over 36 hours of recorded sessions, workshops, discussion groups, and more through January 31, 2021. Registration is just $99 for ILA members. Learn more and register at ilanext.org.

    Lara Deloza is the Director of Communications at the International Literacy Association.

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    ILA Next Pathway Workshops and Office Hours: What to Expect

    By Colleen Patrice Clark
     | Oct 02, 2020

    Woman at computer
    ILA Next—ILA’s professional learning event tailored to the unique needs of educators in today’s digital and hybrid environments—kicks off on Saturday with the first of four weeks of Main Stage Sessions. Your registration gives you front-row access to these 90-minute presentations and keynotes; watch one live each week and access another nine on demand (13 in all).

    ILA Next includes access to one Pathway Workshop series and accompanying Office Hours discussion groups, personalized according to the age of your students. When you register for the monthlong event ($99 for members; $249 for nonmembers), you’ll select from four pathway options: Primary (ages 5–8), Intermediate (ages 9–11), Middle (ages 12–14), or Secondary (ages 15+). These are organized by age of learner, ensuring that the PD in each series is relevant to the students with whom you work.

    Unlike Main Stage Sessions, Learning Labs, and the Exhibitor Showcase, which are open to all attendees, the workshops and discussion groups are exclusive to those registered in each particular pathway.

    These workshops and informal gatherings bring together two of the most valued components of an in-person conference: powerhouse speakers and face-to-face learning opportunities. There’s no need to arrive early, no seat savers to compete with, and no “Session Full” signs. You are guaranteed a front-row seat.

    Workshops will focus on what’s critical for literacy educators in our evolving COVID landscape. Because the ILA Next program was designed to be relevant and responsive to teachers’ needs, speakers will address distance and hybrid learning, equity and access, social-emotional development, and/or trauma responsiveness.

    Timely topics include exploring identity and the world through reading and writing, cultural and linguistic diversity, and teaching with digital diligence, while more timeless topics include reading fluency and why it matters, optimizing classroom time (in both digital and in-person contexts), and increasing disciplinary literacy.

    These 90-minute workshops are held every Tuesday (6:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m. ET) during the month of  October—and don’t forget that if you can’t access them live, every single event of ILA Next included in your registration will be available to view on demand, as many times as you want, through January 31, 2021. A benefit of joining live, however, is the opportunity to interact with attendees and discuss and share resources through the event platform’s chat feature.

    Office Hours are held Thursdays (6:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m. ET). They give you a chance to get valuable face-to-face time with other ILA Next participants to discuss what you’ve learned that week or throughout the event, ask questions, and network. Each week’s Office Hours will have facilitators, but don’t be surprised to see workshop leaders there as well!

    There’s no doubt that face-to-face conferences aren’t the same as virtual events. That’s why ILA opted not to move its annual meeting to an online setting; too much gets lost in translation. Designing ILA Next specifically for a digital platform allowed the organization to marry some of the best of an in-person conference experience with the best of online learning. Pathway Workshops and Office Hours create a more intimate, cohort-like setting that allows you to engage with the same group of participants week to week—and all from the convenience of your home, at your own pace, and on your own time.

    Visit ilanext.org for more information about ILA Next and how to register.

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    What Is ILA Next? A Virtual Walk-Through of ILA’s New PD Event

    By Wes Ford
     | Oct 01, 2020

    Man at computerWith the spread of the novel coronavirus rendering in-person professional development all but impossible, PD providers scrambled to move planned face-to-face events onto an online setting. Unfortunately, most organizers failed to leverage the potential of the virtual space or even truly adapt the program to fit the platform.

    Instead of trying to shoehorn the traditional ILA 2020 programming into an online format, ILA opted to cancel the conference altogether. The decision paved the way for ILA to rethink what PD could—and should—look like in the age of COVID-19. The result: ILA Next.

    From the beginning, ILA Next was designed for a digital environment. Conferences that take place in the physical space often schedule a multitude of sessions into a few short days to minimize the time educators spend away from their jobs and families. Virtual events, on the other hand, eliminate the need for sunup-to-sundown programs and networking opportunities.

    To combat online meeting fatigue, ILA put together a program that spans four weeks, with sessions, workshops, and learning labs running 90 minutes or less and spread across the entire week at times meant to minimize disruptions to educators’ day-to-day responsibilities.

    To get a sense of what this type of event looks like in practice, we’ve put together a walk-through of the basic program.

    Main Stage Sessions—every Saturday (over 18 hours of PD)

    The weekly schedule for ILA Next starts on Saturdays with a Main Stage Session. From 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. ET, you can select to participate in one live Main Stage Session. During week 1, there is only a single Main Stage Session; however, in the weeks that follow, you will have four options from which to choose. But don’t worry if you are having a difficult time deciding which to attend: You will have on-demand access to all the Main Stage Sessions within five businesses days of the live broadcast.

    Interactive Exhibitor Showcase—every Saturday

    If you’ve ever been to an ILA conference, you know the exhibit hall is one of the highlights of the event. It’s a quick and easy way to keep apprised of the latest products, meet book authors, and explore new technology available in the education field.

    We are bringing a bit of that exhibit hall experience into ILA Next. Each of our exhibitors has a virtual booth at which they can share product overviews, resources, contact information, and a variety of other info. Participants have 24/7 access to the space, but each Saturday there’s also an hour after the Main Stage Sessions dedicated to interactive experiences with exhibitors. Corwin Press, for example, is offering a live Q&A with best-selling authors Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey, coauthors of The Distance Learning Playbook, a #1 bestseller, immediately following their October 10 Main Stage Session.Virtual Exhibitor Showcase

    Be sure to check out the ILA Next coupon booklet before making any purchases from the Exhibitor Showcase to make sure you’re maximizing savings.

    Learning Labs—every Saturday (eight hours of PD)

    Two 40-minute Learning Labs round out the day, offering additional opportunities to learn from speakers such as Ernest Morrell and Cornelius and Kass Minor. Some weeks there will be concurrent Learning Labs, but just like the Main Stage Sessions, all Learning Labs will be available on demand within five businesses days of the live broadcast. That’s another eight hours of on-demand professional development.

    Pathway Workshops—every Tuesday (six hours of PD)

    ILA Next is anchored by a workshop series organized by age of learners. During registration, participants pick one of four pathways from the following options:

    The Pathway Workshops will be streamed live every Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET, but if you can’t make it to the live session—you guessed it!—you’ll have on-demand access within five business days, but only for the Pathway selected during registration.

    Office Hours—every Thursday (six hours of PD)

    Office Hours complement each week’s workshop and also run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET. Come to these informal, small-group sessions to pose questions to speakers, share ideas from your mid-week reflection, or just to meet with other educators in your field. Grow your personal learning network and develop professional contacts. And, yes, these too will be recorded and available on demand within five business days.

    Four weeks of professional learning; four months of on-demand access (over 36 hours of PD!)

    ILA Next attendees can access nearly six hours of live professional learning each week (factoring in the extra on-demand sessions, that’s more than 36 hours of professional learning in total). Once the event ends, though, the learning doesn’t stop; registrants retain access to all content through January 31, 2021.

    ILA members pay just $99 to register. Nonmembers who join before registering to get the lower rate save more than $100 over standard pricing.

    Register now for ILA Next—and don’t miss catching the opening Main Stage Session live this Saturday, October 3.

    Wes Ford is the social media strategist for ILA.
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    Important Announcement: Change in ILA Next Registration Rates

    Stephen G. Peters & Marcie Craig Post
     | Sep 14, 2020

    ILANext_680wTo our valued members, and to the vibrant community of literacy educators around the world, we extend our sincerest gratitude for your service.

    We know the toll the current global crisis has had on you and our profession, and we know that you are being asked to perform Herculean feats daily. So many of you have shared the need and desire for professional development that addresses the challenges you’ve been facing. And because of the economic devastation COVID-19 has wrought, you have been clear that this professional development must be affordable.

    Please know that we hear you—and that we are taking action.

    The registration rate for ILA Next, our upcoming multiweek professional learning event for literacy educators, has been reduced by half for ILA members.

    This means that all members can gain access to the high-quality, evidence-based professional learning that ILA Next provides for just $99. Nonmember pricing remains the same, but those who join ILA before registering will still see savings of more than $100 total.

    Registration to ILA Next includes:

    • Programming offered in 90-minute segments, spread out over four weeks
    • Convenient Saturday sessions with established and emerging speakers representing a diverse range of roles, experiences, and areas of expertise
    • Weeknight workshops and informal discussion groups designed for live interaction with speakers and fellow attendees
    • Closed-captioned recordings available for on-demand viewing within five business days of live presentations
    • 24/7 access to an Exhibitor Showcase, plus additional Learning Lab sessions each week
    • Unlimited access to recordings through January 31, 2021, which equals nearly four months for the first week’s programming
    • Letter of attendance awarding clock hours for participation

    Members who registered for ILA Next previously will receive a refund for the price difference. Please look for an email later this week confirming that the refund has been processed.

    Our goal for ILA Next has always been to provide you with a program that is responsive to your ever-evolving needs--one that not only acknowledges the unique circumstances that educators currently face but also provides practical solutions that can be implemented immediately.

    Stephen G. Peters
    President, ILA Board of Directors

    Marcie Craig Post
    Executive Director, ILA

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