Update from ILA on COVID-19: We are committed to keeping you informed of all the latest developments, including the impact on the ILA 2020 Conference in Columbus, OH, and how ILA is helping educators during this period. Let us know what support you need and stay engaged using these free resources.

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    Update From Zambia

    By Edith Chisala M. Ng'oman
     | Mar 31, 2020

    We received this letter from Edith Chisala M. Ng'oman, the chair of ChildFund Zambia and the Literacy Association of Zambia, in which she details the efforts made by her organizations and the government of Zambia in promoting literacy education in the midst of managing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). We were inspired by these efforts and wanted to share them with our community.

    Greetings. I wish to give you an update on COVID-19 in Zambia.

    The Zambian government confirmed the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country on March 18, 2020, with two cases. The number increased to three on March 22 and escalated to 12 as of March 25. Eleven of the 12 cases concern returning Zambians who had traveled to affected countries while one person was infected in-country.

    Additionally, the Zambian government declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 17. Thereafter, all schools, colleges, and universities were closed as of March 20 until further notice.

    The government also limited the hours of church services to one with smaller groups of congregants. All bars, nightclubs, cinemas, gyms, and casinos have been closed. The government has also banned large gatherings such as workshops, weddings, and funerals or any event that may pull a crowd above 50 people. Restaurants are operating on take-away and delivery basis.

    As the number of cases increased to 12, the president also announced other measures of preventing the spread of the disease, which included the closure of the three international airports for 14 days.

    The Literacy Association of Zambia is working with ChildFund International and other partners in sensitizing children and their families and caregivers on the preventative measures announced by the government regarding COVID-19. These messages on prevention and hygienic practices were developed by the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health and have been translated into six local languages.

    The government is also using between 119 and 148 radio stations in the country and other media institutions to disseminate information on COVID-19 info. ChildFund, which is currently housing the Literacy Association of Zambia, is financially supporting the printing of materials and dissemination of information to ensure that it reaches every enrolled household.

    This is being done in conjunction with the Zambia News and Information Services, a government media institution and the district Health Management teams. Messages are being transmitted in the local languages using a public address system regarding the prevention, symptoms, response, and numbers to call in case one presents with the symptoms of COVID-19.

    In terms of literacy, it will be a challenge, especially for the children and teachers in rural areas where they have limited connectivity. In most cases, the children in rural areas come from economically challenged households and may not have any access to digital devices.

    For the children who have access to devices and the families and caregivers who may have computers and laptops, we are trying to share as many materials and resources as possible: We have received electronic resources from the IDC chair, the International Literacy Association, and the education department at our ChildFund. Positive feedback has come from families who are appreciating the initiative.  

    The Ministry of General Education also gave a directive to all schools to give enough work to the learners during this period of closure. Schools were given four days to do so before they were officially closed. 

    There is also a discussion for the Ministry of General Education, through the Department of Open and Distance Education, to work on supporting the children to continue learning during this COVID-19 closedown of schools. They are working on two systems to support the learners: primary schools (grades 1–7) will be supported through educational radio programs, and secondary schools will be supported through the National E-Learning portal, which is being launched as soon as everything is in place.

    Through this strategy, the Ministry of General Education will partner with a national mobile and internet service provider with the hope that, once it is done, learners will be able to access online educational materials and communicate with their teachers. Once this is concluded, the Literacy Association of Zambia will procure radios for the children who are in our areas of operation and where the Active Teaching and Learning Approaches in Schools training were conducted.

    We are looking forward to learning more about how we can help the learners during this period as we are not sure about how long schools will remain closed. 

    We would like to thank Edith for this update and to invite any members, chapters, or international affiliates to send us updates about the efforts being made by educators, schools, districts, or even larger government bodies.

    Stay connected. Share your successes. We’re all in this together.

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    #ILAchat: How Early Childhood Writing Instruction Can Help Improve Literacy

    ILA STAFF
     | Nov 12, 2019

    Thousands of educators and researchers converged on New Orleans, LA, last month for the ILA 2019 Conference. Interactive panels, casual conversations, and thought-provoking sessions led to new themes emerging from the conference that sparked fresh ideas. 
    NovemberILAChat _Graphics

    For our next #ILAchat, we will be discussing a theme that continues to generate

    Our special guests include conversation: how early childhood writing instruction can help improve literacy. Join us on Thursday, November 14, at 8 p.m. ET to chat with experts about how early writing instruction and practice impacts the future of literacy. 

    • Sonia Cabell, an assistant professor in the College of Education and the Florida Center for Reading Research at Florida State University. Cabell previously worked as a second-grade teacher and literacy coach. Her research focuses on early language and literacy intervention, with a particular interest in preventing reading difficulties among children living in poverty. Cabell has authored more than 30 articles in peer-reviewed journals, numerous publications for practitioners including articles on the topic of early writing, the book Emergent Literacy: Lessons for Success (Plural Publishing), a multitiered preschool language and literacy curriculum with classroom and home components, and a kindergarten writing curriculum. She currently serves as associate editor for the scholarly journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly. Cabell has served as principal investigator or coprincipal investigator on grant projects totaling approximately $6 million. She recently gave a TEDx Talk, “Writing Into Literacy,” on fostering early writing development in preschool.
    • Jennifer Albro, an ELA lecturer at Johns Hopkins School of Education and Lead Clinical Faculty for Literacy in the Urban Teachers DC program. She earned a PhD in literacy education from the University of Maryland and is a former reading interventionist for upper elementary grades and classroom teacher for early elementary grades. In her current position, she has the opportunity to work with colleagues who develop and prepare teachers in Washington, DC, to make changes starting in the classroom through rigorous coursework and supportive coaching. In collaboration with her former doctoral advisor, Jennifer D. Turner, she worked on a research project with novice teachers in the Urban Teachers program and published findings from their summer 2017 project. (Albro, J. & Turner, J.D. [2019]. Six key principles: Bridging students’ career dreams and literacy standards. The Reading Teacher, 73(2), 161–)

    Follow #ILAchat and @ILAToday at 8 p.m. ET this Thursday, November 14, to join the conversation with Cabell, Albro, and ILA as we discuss early writing instructing and connecting research and practice.

     

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    #ILAchat: Making the Most of Networking Events

    By ILA Staff
     | Oct 01, 2019

    OctILAChat _GraphicsWith the ILA 2019 Conference quickly approaching, we’re reminded of the numerous opportunities to connect with our literacy education peers. From the Welcome to ILA 2019 Event to Literacy Night at Mardi Gras World, attendees will have ample opportunity to tell stories, discuss literacy topics, share ideas, and make lasting connections and friendships.

    To gear up for the conference, we will be discussing how to effectively network with colleagues and build your personal learning network (PLN) during our next #ILAchat on Thursday, October 3, at 8 p.m. ET: Making the Most of Networking Events. 

    Our special guests for this Thursday’s chat are three experts who will be at ILA 2019:

    • Danny Brassell, a professional speaker, author, and professor at California State University who has taught students ranging from preschoolers to rocket scientists. Using humor, music, and games in his highly acclaimed presentations, Brassell has motivated teachers around the world to create their own reading programs that nurture lifelong reading. Brassell is presenting at #ILA19 on instructional comprehension strategies and vocabulary strategies for all students.
    • Kia Brown-Dudley, an ILA Board member who serves as the director of Literacy and Development for The Education Partners, the global consultancy division of GEMS Education. Brown-Dudley partners with educators and leading organizations to create and deliver transformational curricula, rigorous instruction, and professional learning opportunities to improve student outcomes through deeper learning experiences.
    • Stephanie Affinito, a literacy teacher educator in the Department of Literacy Teaching and Learning at the University at Albany in New York. She has a deep love of literacy coaching and supporting teachers’ learning through technology. Affinito creates spaces for authentic teacher learning that build expertise, spark professional curiosity, and foster intentional reflection to reimagine teaching and learning for students. Affinito is presenting at #ILA19 on using Twitter in teacher education and boosting teachers’ reading and writing identities.

    Follow #ILAchat and @ILAToday at 8 p.m. ET this Thursday, October 3, to join the conversation with Brassell, Brown-Dudley, Affinito, and ILA as we discuss building your personal learning network, preparing for conference events, and the importance of in-person networking in the age of virtual PLNs.

    Visit our conference website for more information about ILA 2019.

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    Sharing Successes in the Keystone State: Inspiring Literacy Initiatives Across Pennsylvania

    By Aileen Hower
     | Jul 11, 2019
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    The Keystone State Literacy Association (KSLA), the Pennsylvania affiliate of
    the International Literacy Association (ILA), is celebrating 50 years of literacy
    leadership across our state this year. At our fall statewide leadership meeting, we
    took the time to share about the wide variety of chapter projects and initiatives
    currently being implemented. There was a great deal of positive energy around
    widespread sharing of ideas.

    After a gallery walk, chapters were able to elaborate on some of the most
    innovative ideas. Chapter leaders enjoyed hearing about similar and new ideas
    for how to serve our members and communities. It was an awe-inspiring time of
    collaboration and connection.

    A few commonalities emerged from the ideas shared. Most ideas fell into the
    following categories: professional learning, advocacy, and engaging with families
    and communities.

    Professional learning

    • Throughout the state, KSLA chapters hold "Teachers as Readers" events to
      talk about and promote the reading of current children's, middle grade, and
      young adult books. Many councils invite the coordinators of the Keystone to
      Reading Book Awards to present on the current books that students can read
      and vote for. The Keystone to Reading Book Awards is a yearly recognition
      of a current picture, poetry, or chapter book, awarded annually at our state
      conference. The awards are chosen entirely by Pennsylvania students.
    • Across the state, especially in chapters such as Central Western, online and
      in-person professional book clubs are being held with members, other local
      teachers, and teachers from other parts of the state.
    • At times, such as with the Brandywine Valley Forge and Delaware Valley
      chapters, miniconferences are held to engage with teachers in specific areas
      and at times outside of our annual conference. This year, topics include
      "Building Community With Social Justice Poetry," "How to Talk About Race
      in Your Classroom," and "Raising Social Awareness Through Conversations
      and Mentor Texts."
    Advocacy

    • A few chapters, such as Franklin County, share literacy information and
      establish partnerships with local doctors' offices, as well as provide books to
      children during wellness checks.
    • Franklin County was also recognized by Pennsylvania’s deputy secretary of education for their work in collaborating with the local intermediate unit to service students who attend a migrant education summer program in their area.
    • We continue to host department of education representatives at our annual conference as well as invite a “standing” member, who focuses her work on language arts, to attend our biannual leadership/statewide meetings.
    • Various chapter leaders attend department of education meetings to share the latest research about literacy with various divisions and statewide initiatives.
    Engaging with families and communities

    • Our Lancaster-Lebanon chapter gives their Celebrate Literacy Award to local literacy initiatives such as "Police, Read to Me."
    • Susquehanna Valley holds “Read to Me Please” summer reading programs for preschool students at a local playground.
    • Many of our chapters participate in laundromat library projects. Books are collected throughout the year at chapter events and baskets are placed in local laundromats so children have something to read while their family is there. In some chapters, books are also donated to women’s shelters or in places where children wait while their parents attend a court hearing.
    • A number of chapters, such as Schuylkill, have established Story Walks through local parks.
    • Across the state, chapters are partnering with other community organizations such as Kiwanis, Salvation Army, the United Way, and local libraries.
    The ideas shared at our meeting were as diverse and unique as each of our local chapters. Most recently, chapters have been holding casual get-togethers for networking and have even been offering painting, massage, and relaxing coloring events to boost teacher morale.

    Those chapters that serve regions that are large in square footage work to host regional or online events. Chapters that represent more diverse populations or urban centers stay committed to serving those communities, ensuring children receive books and families and caregivers learn helpful ideas for promoting literacy in the home. Especially in a time when teachers find attending large conferences difficult, but still desire to keep their literacy teaching skills sharp, all chapters serve their members by hosting authors and professional development speakers, and studying the latest in literacy research.

    We are so proud of all of our members and thankful for our local leaders for their tireless love of and commitment to promoting literacy throughout a lifetime.

    Aileen Hower, an ILA member since 2008, is president of the Keystone State Literacy Association.

    This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of Literacy Today, ILA’s member magazine.
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    Read to Me: A Campaign to Make Reading a Regular, Family Routine Across Croatia

    By Marina Meić
     | Jun 05, 2019
    lt366-croatia2-ldThe Croatian Reading Association (CroRa), an affiliate of the International Literacy Association, was established in 1991. Since then, CroRa has participated in many campaigns that advocate for reading and literacy. One of them—the biggest such campaign in Croatia—is Read to Me!, which started in 2013.

    Read to Me! is coorganized with the Croatian Library Association - Children and Youth Services Commission, Croatian Paediatric Society, and the Croatian Association of Researchers in Children's Literature, with support from UNICEF.
     
    Read to Me! aims to encourage families, caregivers, and other adults to start reading to children as soon as they are born. In that way, reading can become a part of their daily routine. It also helps create special emotional bonds. The aim of the campaign is to include all families and children and to make reading for at least 15 minutes a day a habit. 

    The campaign also aims to encourage families with young children to come 
    to their local library as soon as possible. There they will get information on early read-aloud benefits, how and when to start reading to children, lists of quality picture books, and how to choose age­-appropriate books. Picture books are typically the first contact a child has with literature and the written word in general, which is why paying special attention to the quality of picture books is so important. 

    The Read to Me! campaign sends the message that picture books should take precedence when choosing toys from the earliest age, and that families and caregivers can change the lives of their children by their own example by fostering good reading habits. In addition to the family, children's libraries, preschools, and pediatricians are viewed as key factors affecting the development  of early and family literacy. One of the campaign's aims is to encourage cooperation among libraries, kindergartens, and doctor's offices to raise awareness of their institution's important role in creating a culture of reading. 

    Over the past six years, there have been more than 1,000 events organized as part of the campaign, and more than 50,000 children have participated. The campaign has included picture book exhibitions; read-alouds in public libraries, squares, pediatrician's offices, and children's hospitals; and presentations for families about the importance of reading to children. Many activities have also involved local celebrities and well-known leaders ­including actors, singers, writers, and doctors. Stories and books have traveled in bookmobiles around the country to places where children don't have library access. 

    The first anniversary of Read to Me! was celebrated on International Children's Book Day, April 2, 2014, in the Cvrcak kindergarten, with a play in which the campaign organizers, actors, and children presented in a fun way the excellent results of 
    the campaign, which has united the whole country with the aim of making reading a daily habit for all families. Every year, the campaign continues to celebrate its birthday in a different town in Croatia. 

    Through this campaign, CroRa also celebrates International Book Giving Day each February 14 with an activity called I Read, I Give, and I'm Very Happy. People are invited to donate picture books to libraries, which then forward the books to children's hospitals, foster homes, children's SOS villages, and other charity organizations. In the last three years more than 9,000 picture books have been distributed across Croatia. 

    Thousands upon thousands of children and families have been impacted by this campaign in the past six years, and we look forward to seeing the campaign's impact continue to grow in the years to come. 

    For more information about Read to Me!, visit citajmi.info/uvodna.

    Marina Meić, a new ILA member, is a Montessori educator and vice president of the Croatian Reading Association's Split branch. She is an ILA 2019 30 Under 30 honoree. 
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