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  • The Illinois Reading Council was recently awarded International Reading Association’s first Distinguished Council Award for its work in community engagement, teacher empowerment, and public awareness.
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    Illinois Reading Council Honored at 2014 Council Leadership Academy

    by IRA Staff
     | Sep 02, 2014

    Longtime IRA member and current president of IRC, Cindy Gerwin, said to receive the award was an honor.

    “Literacy teachers across the state know the Illinois Reading Council (IRC) is an organization empowering teachers, and raising community engagement and public awareness,” Gerwin said. “I am so excited and proud to be part of the incredible leadership team that has accomplished so much in a relatively short time, and of the energy for the direction we are heading as an organization.”

    Professional development is a high priority not only for the state council, but the local councils as well, Gerwin said. While IRC has an annual conference that is always well-attended and highly regarded, the local councils build on the conference’s theme through the year, offering professional development to supplement the state conference offerings or to give local teachers who cannot attend the main gathering as opportunity to participate in continuing education.

    “The council raises awareness and engagement statewide by funding grants for teachers and their learning communities,” Gerwin said. “IRC provides classroom libraries that are culturally diverse through the Obama Library Award and libraries that support rural towns through the Pamela J. Farris Library Award.”

    She said that, again, local councils augment statewide efforts in community engagement.

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  • The IRA and Rotary International SIG hosts a conference symposium and invite applications for the IRA-RI-Pearson Foundation Literacy Awards.
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    Expanding Your Literacy Opportunities through Collaboration

    by Judy Backlund
     | Mar 27, 2014
    Books Freeing Minds Rotary Project
    Books Freeing Minds IRARI Project: IRA Council
    members and Rotarians collect, sort, and fill
    shelves at the local jail.

    Book Mobile Rotary Project
    Book Mobile IRARI Project: IRA Council members,
    Rotarians, and school district members worked
    together to put this Book Mobile on the road
    last summer. Year 2 coming up!

    If your IRA Council/Affiliate is looking for a group to collaborate on educational projects in your school, community, or internationally, then look no further than joining together with a Rotary Club in your area. 

    Working with Rotary

    Rotary International works to provide education, in addition to their other local and international efforts to improve the lives of people around the world. I have been a teacher for 30+ years, an IRA member for about 20 years, and a Rotarian for 8 years. Since connecting these life components together, I feel that I have made a more positive contribution towards “teaching the world to read.”

    One of IRA’s Special Interest Groups is International Reading Association and Rotary International (IRARI). IRARI provides opportunities for IRA Councils and affiliates and Rotary Clubs to share resources, expertise, and a passion for literacy by collaborating on sustainable literacy projects locally and around the world. 

    IRARI Symposium in New Orleans

    We encourage you to attend the IRARI Symposium on May 11 at the IRA 59th Annual Conference in New Orleans to discover some ways your school or group can work with Rotary and how it can benefit your students or individuals locally or around the world. The symposium title is Expand Your Teachable Moments and Increase Your Volunteer and Financial Support:  Consider an IRA/Rotary (IRARI) Literacy Based Partnership Focused on Changing Lives.

    Highlights for this years’ symposium include:

    • Featured Speaker Pam Allyn, Executive Director of LitWorld
      LitWorld is a nonprofit organization fostering resilience, hope, and joy through the power of story. Their programs build self-confidence, promote leadership, and strengthen children and their communities. Pam will be inspiring us to work together in order to bring literacy to every child by empowering them to read and write, thus changing their world and the worlds of others. 
    • IRARI Project Presentations
      We will also hear briefly from some of the amazing IRARI projects occurring locally and around the world that will hopefully encourage all of us to seek opportunities to work with our local Rotary clubs to further promote literacy.
    • IRA-RI-Pearson Foundation Literacy Awards Discussion
      Lastly, we will be hearing about the IRA-RI-Pearson Foundation Literacy Awards. These three organizations work together to strengthen literacy in local and international communities. The Pearson Foundation will share about two $2,500 Literacy Awards for literacy service projects jointly undertaken by Rotary Clubs and IRA Councils and affiliates. The awards will be presented at IRA’s International Literacy Day celebration in Washington, D.C. on September 8, 2014. 

    Stop by the IRARI Symposium for fellowship, information, prizes, and snacks!

    Apply for the $2,500 Award

    The application deadline for the IRA-RI-Pearson Foundation Literacy Awards is June 15, 2014. For information, IRA members can contact irawash@/, and Rotarians can contact The IRARI webpage on the IRA website contains a short PowerPoint which shares more about the award, and information about the 2012 Literacy Award winners. It also provides more information about IRARI and how you can join.

    Judy Backlund is the Past President of Ellensburg Morning Rotary and the Chair of IRARI, an International Reading Association Special Interest Group, focusing on promoting joint literacy efforts between Rotary Clubs and IRA Councils, 

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  • IRA’s new District Literacy Leadership (DiLL) Special Interest Group invites you to their session at IRA 2014.
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    New SIG Addresses District Literacy Leadership Issues

    by Margaret-Mary Sulentic Dowell; Estanislado S. Barrera, IV; Bonnie L. Hoewing; Kim Skinner; and Tynisha D. Meidl
     | Mar 17, 2014

    Several years ago, a group of longtime International Reading Association members interested in and concerned about the literacy knowledge and dispositions of school district literacy leaders petitioned the International Reading Association for formal recognition of a new Special Interest Group (SIG). Unified by a common interest centered on the pivotal role of district-level educational administrators—principals, assistant principals, curriculum supervisors and directors, all levels of superintendents, and any individuals who typically make crucial literacy decisions for their districts—these founders used grassroots measures and social media to reach out to literacy colleagues in the effort to establish this new SIG. In March 2013 the originators of the new District Literacy Leadership (DiLL) SIG received validation of the significance of their endeavors with IRA Board of Directors’ approval of this new special interest group. Moving quickly, the founding members of DiLL sent notices to those who might be interested in meeting while in attendance at IRA 2013 in San Antonio. With little advance publicity, charter members and others interested in district literacy leadership convened for the first time in San Antonio, hosting an hour long informational meeting.

    The inaugural meeting on Sunday, April 21, 2013 in San Antonio was all too brief but absolutely inspiring. Thirty-two current IRA members (including an IRA member from Africa) affirmed interest in and exchanged ideas about the notion of reaching out to district literacy leaders, culminating the session by brainstorming about the future direction of the DiLL SIG. Results of the inaugural meeting's discussion included plans to create by-laws, build a website, and successfully submit a proposal for IRA 2014 in New Orleans. During this initial collaboration, several attendees also inquired about the likelihood of future SIG journal sponsorship, and others queried about the creation of an annual award to recognize an outstanding district literacy leader. These serious considerations are ongoing.

    Seeking to Collaborate and Inform

    The purpose of the DiLL SIG is to provide a forum for literacy educators, such as teachers, coaches, and specialists, who interact daily with building principals and district administrators to explore the skills sets and knowledge district level administrators such as principals, assistant principals, curriculum supervisors and directors, and all levels of superintendents, should possess in order to make informed literacy decisions. Margaret-Mary Sulentic Dowell, chair of DiLL, is also a former assistant superintendent of 64 elementary schools in Baton Rouge. Estanislado (Stan) Barrera serves as co-program chair of DiLL and was a former Title I administrator in Texas. 

    Sulentic Dowell articulated the need for a SIG: “Literacy leadership is vital in order for any educational entity to move forward; from a school campus to a district, the decisions district literacy leaders make impact children’s lives and those decisions need to be informed by research and practice.” 

    By providing a space for collaboration, literacy and educational leadership researchers and the public can present perspectives and engage in dialog about district literacy leadership concerns.

    Given the importance and complexity of literacy and language learning, literacy leadership at the school, district, state, national, and international levels requires current literacy knowledge. The DiLL SIG will provide opportunities for individuals to explore the knowledge and skills that literacy leaders should possess, including but not limited to: 

    • literacy content knowledge
    • knowledge of best practices spanning developmental age ranges
    • knowledge of school structures that support literacy 
    • the importance of access to print (literature)
    • knowledge of instructional strategies used by educators, librarians, coaches, and
    • skills required to supervise, lead, and evaluate literacy teaching, coaching and learning 

    An Open Invitation

    Join the effort that established the need for this SIG. Our first formal conference session will be at the 59th IRA Annual Conference in New Orleans, scheduled for Saturday, May 10, 2014, from 3:00-4:00 p.m. At the session, titled District Literacy Leadership (SIG): Recognizing, Acknowledging, and Operationalizing Literacy Expertise at the Elementary Reading Level, a panel of district leaders and literacy experts from Louisiana, Arizona, and Missouri will share experiences as district literacy leaders. Aligned with the conference theme, the teachable moment "happens" in elementary schools when a quality teacher, engaged students, families, communities, and a principal with literacy expertise coalesce. Elementary principals need to be skilled in ways to supervise & evaluate literacy educators, understand the complexity of literacy processes, be mindful of the myriad instructional strategies used by great coaches and educators, and balance the demands of leadership and supervision to promote consistent, high-quality literacy instruction. In this session, panelists will explore the quality of school-level leaders and the practices they engage in, as part of the district literacy leadership continuum. All interested attendees are encouraged to attend. 

    For information on joining the DiLL SIG, contact any of the authors/officers listed below or visit the DiLL webpage

    Margaret-Mary Sulentic DowellMargaret-Mary Sulentic Dowell, Ph.D.,is Associate Professor of Literacy and Urban Education at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, and Director of the LSU Writing Project,

    Estanislado S. BarreraEstanislado S. Barrera, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of reading and literacy at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge,

    Bonnie L. HoewingBonnie L. Hoewing, Ph.D., is a reading faculty member at the Maricopa Community College District in Phoenix, AZ,

    Kim SkinnerKim Skinner, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of reading and literacy at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge,

    Tynisha D. MeidlTynisha D. Meidl, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of teacher education at St. Norbert College, DePere, WI,


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  • The 2014 IRA Council Leadership Academy will be July 10-13 in Tampa, Florida.
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    Registration Open for Council Leadership Academy in Tampa

    by Sara Long
     | Mar 12, 2014

    SheratonRegistration is open for the 2014 International Reading Association Council Leadership Academy from July 10-13 in Tampa, Florida. This  event is a unique opportunity for council leaders—and council members looking to make more of a difference in their communities—to learn the ins and outs of nonprofit management and to network with peers from across the U.S. and Canada. Attendees will learn best practices in membership marketing, finances, governance, communications, advocacy, and more.

    Professional Development Program

    The program begins on the evening of Thursday, July 10 with a keynote address from IRA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post followed by a networking reception. On Friday, “learning track” sessions begin. Attendees will be assigned to one of two tracks based on leadership experience. The “Strategic Planning 101” track is for beginners, and the “Organizational Management 201” track is for intermediate. Both tracks will attend sessions with Marcie Craig Post and IRA Director of Finance Linda Marston and with IRA Council Advisors Angela Rivell and Tiffany Sears.

    Lunch on Friday features speaker Fred Wheeler, Assistant Vice President of Forrest T. Jones & Company. Forrest T. Jones & Company is the administrator for the Trust for Insuring Educators (TIE), through which the IRA Member Insurance Program is offered. The TIE insurance program consists of more than a dozen insurance plans, including life, accident, disability, health, long-term care, auto and professional liability coverages underwritten by some of the nation's leading insurance companies. Many plans are specially designed for educators, with features, benefits, and rates not readily available elsewhere in the market.

    Programming continues after lunch with “Role-Alike Sessions,” where attendees can network and learn with council members with similar responsibilities and job positions. Attendees are asked to choose one role that is most closely related to their current or desired Council board position/activity on the registration form. There will be sessions for Council Presidents and Vice Presidents, Council Treasurers, State Coordinators, Legislative Chairs, and Directors of Membership Development.

    Then attendees choose from the following topics for two “Choice Sessions:” advocacy, leadership, meeting planning, and IRA/ILA information. The same content will be given in Session #1 and Session #2, so we recommend choosing a different topic for each. The sessions are presented in a lecture format with short break-outs.

    Friday afternoon concludes with presentations on IRA council updates from Rivell and Sears. After that, attendees are free to go out to dinner with their colleagues and to network with other attendees.

    After we serve breakfast on Saturday morning, attendees launch into learning track sessions with IRA Associate Executive Director Stephen Sye and IRA Senior Writer and Content Strategist Lara Deloza. Each session will be a combination of lecture and break-out/small group activities.

    After a group lunch, attendees continue with “Learning Labs,” where they participate in hands-on activities in strategic planning, financial planning, membership, communications, governance, and advocacy. Learning Labs are 100% hands-on, with no lecture. Bring your Council issues—areas of concern, questions, and problems. Facilitators will provide face-to-face, hands-on problem-solving assistance. Attendees may choose the same topic for both Learning Labs if they want to focus on a single issue over two hours. 

    The weekend concludes with the Council Academy Awards including a group dinner and presentation of several new awards for councils.

    Enjoy the Benefits of a Brand New Facility

    The Council Leadership Academy will be held at the recently renovated Sheraton Tampa East Hotel. All traditional guest rooms feature an outdoor balcony, and the hotel amenities include tennis courts, a fitness center, a pool, and the Panfilos Restaurant.

    Reserve your room by June 18, 2014 to receive the special CLA rate of $109/night. Call 1-888-627-8169 and provide group booking code IRJ09A or reserve online at /CLA14hotel.

    How to Register

    Visit /cla14 for more details, the registration form, and a flier to share with colleagues. The registration form asks you to choose your two Choice Sessions and two Learning Labs in advance, so that IRA can plan room sizes and amenities. Registration forms can be faxed to (302) 737-0878 or mailed to CLA, International Reading Association, 800 Barksdale Road, Newark, DE 19711. For more information, call (800) 336-7323 or e-mail customerservice@/.

    Sara Long is an editor/content manager at the International Reading Association.

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  • The CARE (Concern for Affect in Reading Education) Special Interest Group calls for journal submissions through March 1.
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    Affective Reading Education Journal Requests Submissions

    by Janet Finke
     | Feb 06, 2014

    Affective Reading Education Journal (AREJ) is a peer-reviewed journal published once or twice a year by CARE (Concern for Affect in Reading Education), a Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association. The Journal accepts articles pertaining to the affective domain of reading and other facets of literacy, including experimental and descriptive studies, literature reviews, theoretical papers, and descriptions of innovative teaching practices. Submissions for peer review are adjudicated by editor Janet Finke. Submissions must be received no later than March 1 for consideration in the 2014 AREJ

    CARE Membership

    Membership in CARE is open to all members of the International Reading Association and other interested persons. Authors need not be members of CARE to submit manuscripts for review. However, membership in CARE will be required of authors whose manuscripts are accepted for publication. When the manuscript is accepted, non-members will be given information about joining CARE. Membership dues are currently $15.00 per year.

    Manuscript Form and Style

    All manuscripts must be submitted via e-mail. Authors should use the guidelines for style and format given in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th Edition). Text should be double-spaced in 12-point font using Microsoft Word and any images should be submitted in tif or jpg format. Manuscripts should be no longer than 12 pages (including tables, figures, and images) in length.

    Submissions should include:

    • Cover letter, including your name and affiliation (as you would have them published) and your mailing and e-mail addresses. Any coauthors should be listed in preferred order, with name, affiliation, and contact information.
    • Abstract of 150 words, written in the third person and without citations.
    • One blinded copy of the manuscript.
    • Tables and figures in separate file(s) 

    The editor/s reserves the right to edit papers for style without author preview.

    Janet FinkeDr. Janet Finke is the editor of the Affective Reading Education Journal and a professor at Central Washington University,

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