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    #ILAchat: What Research Says About Phonics

    By Colleen Patrice Clark
     | Jul 09, 2019
    july-ilachatOur latest literacy leadership brief, Meeting the Challenges of Early Literacy Phonics Instruction, states that phonics is an essential component of early reading and writing instruction and becoming a fluent reader. Phonics has been at the top of many conversations lately, and we’ll dive in during our next #ILAchat on Thursday, July 11, at 8:00 p.m. ET, which focuses on the topic: What Research Says About Phonics.

    Guests for this Thursday’s chat include

    • Darl Kiernan, the pre-K–3 regional literacy facilitator with Nevada’s Northwest Regional Professional Development Program. Over her 24 years in education, she has served as a teacher, coach, and leader in professional learning. Her research interests include word study and vocabulary development. 
    • Jasmine Lane, an early-career high school teacher in Minnesota. Through ResearchED, a growing, grassroots, and teacher-led movement, she advocates for evidence-informed instructional approaches and strategies in the classroom. This November, she will be on a panel about reading instruction at the ResearchEd Philadelphia 2019 event moderated by Emily Hanford. She blogs at
    • Karen Vaites, a K–12 education entrepreneur passionate about education research and bridging research to practice. Vaites most recently served as chief evangelist, community development officer, and chief strategy officer for Open Up Resources, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting instructional equity. She blogs at

    Follow #ILAchat and @ILAToday this Thursday to join the conversation with Kiernan, Lane, Vaites, and ILA about phonics instruction and what role it should play in early literacy education.

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

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    Get to Know ILA's Incoming Vice President and Board Members-at-Large

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Jul 04, 2019
    In a recent blog series, we spoke with our incoming Vice President and Board members-at-large about their vision for the future of ILA, the experience they bring to the role, and what they hope to accomplish during their term. 

    Get to Know Incoming Vice President Stephen Peters
    Get to Know New Board Member-at-Large Kia Brown-Dudley
    Get to Know New Board Member-at-Large Rachael Gabriel
    Get to Know New Board Member-at-Large Laurie Sharp

    Alina O'Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of Literacy Daily. 
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    ILA Creates Framework for Crafting a Learning Culture

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Jul 03, 2019

    The lead learners and chief architects of culture and instructional programs at their schools, principals are uniquely positioned to promote equitable practices that nurture students’ self-efficacy and academic growth, according to ILA’s latest brief, Principals as Literacy Leaders.

    ILA presents a framework composed of three influences—challenge, clarity, and feedback—that are essential ingredients in a high-quality instructional program.

    • Challenge: When teachers provide students with challenging activities, students grow their capacities for learning, problem solving, and overcoming difficulties. These students feel a sense of accomplishment and are willing to try new things.
    • Clarity: When lessons are grounded in relevance—or an understanding of how the learning might connect to a larger purpose—students are more likely to “become attached to a learning goal and engage meaningfully in class activities and discussions.”
    • Feedback: Students who receive and act on feedback learn to monitor their own progress and identify gaps between what they currently understand and what needs to be learned next, instilling a strong sense of autonomy.

    Reform efforts are most effective when principals build the capacities of staff to work collaboratively toward a shared vision, says ILA.   

    “For so long, schools have maintained a hierarchical structure, in which one person—the principal—exercises exclusive decision-making power,” says ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “We hope to see more schools move away from traditional siloed, disconnected efforts and embrace a more cohesive approach to school leadership centered on a strong partnership between principals and teachers/classrooms.”

    This framework, coupled with a commitment to collaborative leadership, can help to bridge the academic divide and level the playing field for students, says ILA. The brief ends with tangible next steps for fostering collective action.

    Access the full brief here.

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

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    ILA Stands With ALA in Protecting Detained Children’s Rights to Read

    By Marcie Craig Post
     | Jun 28, 2019

    The International Literacy Association (ILA) is a global community of literacy educators and advocates with a common goal: literacy for all. It is at the heart of our Children’s Rights to Read initiative, the core tenet of which is that every child, everywhere has the basic human right to read.

    We at ILA will not tolerate the blatant disregard for the rights of the migrant children in border detention. In addition to having limited or no access to necessities such as hygiene products, sanitary living conditions, and basic health care, they are also being denied access to books, high-quality instruction, and recreational activities—all of which underscores the inhumane treatment the children are being forced to endure.

    This is why ILA stands in solidarity with the American Library Association’s (ALA) Resolution on Library Service for Children in Detention at Migrant Detention Centers in denouncing the dire conditions for minors detained on the southern border of the United States. The resolution calls on libraries and the larger literacy community to provide and share resources that support education and enrichment.

    This resolution speaks to the principles at the heart of our Children’s Rights to Read initiative: equity, access, and inclusion. We stand resolutely behind the idea that every child, everywhere, deserves these 10 rights, which include the right to access books and materials, to read texts that mirror their experiences and languages, and to read for pleasure. Furthermore, we believe that literacy educators must take responsibility for delivering on and protecting the promise inherent in these rights.

    Our work is rooted in the belief that literacy empowers. That literacy has the ability to transform lives. That being able to read represents the difference between inclusion in and exclusion from society. That it allows people to develop their potential and participate fully in their communities and society.

    We urge our network of educators to help us ensure the rights of these vulnerable members of society. Regardless of your political leanings, if you are committed to the mental health and well-being of children, you, too, must stand for ALA’s resolution and for ILA’s Children’s Rights to Read. 
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    Get to Know New Board Member-at-Large Laurie Sharp

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Jun 11, 2019

    get-to-know-sharp-2A member since 2004, Laurie Sharp has spent 15 years in roles of increasing responsibility and visibility at ILA—she’s attended various ILA committees; held leadership positions in two special interest groups (Professors of Literacy and Teacher Education and Specialized Literacy Professionals); served as a Board member, vice president, president-elect, and chair of ILA’s Texas chapter, the Texas Association for Literacy Education; and in July, she starts a new chapter as Board member-at-large. 

    In addition to her many contributions to ILA, Sharp is a former classroom teacher, a teacher educator, and a prolific scholar, having contributed more than 80 publications to the literacy community. She recently accepted a new role as associate professor and assistant dean of undergraduate studies for first- and second-year experience at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, TX.

    We spoke to Sharp about the value of professional associations, cultivating effective partnerships, and what it really means to be a literacy leader.

    On what ILA means to her

    “I’ve been an ILA member since 2004 during my enrollment as an undergraduate preservice teacher at the University of Central Florida. Dr. Donna Camp was one of my mentor professors, and she encouraged us to become involved in a professional organization. I chose ILA and have not regretted it since.

    “Throughout my entire career, both as a classroom teacher and a teacher educator, ILA is my go-to for both evidence-based research and high-quality professional learning. I’ve gained so much from going to the professional conferences each year. But most of all, ILA has given me is a valuable network of professional colleagues. I’ve made professional and personal connections with literacy professionals from all over the world. I’m so excited to give back to an organization that has given me so much.”

    On her hopes for the future of literacy education

    “One of the areas that I’ve really become attuned to is literacy leadership. Rita Bean and Diane Kern have done quite a bit of work in this area, especially for specialized literacy professionals. In today’s schools, it’s equally important that classroom teachers are literacy leaders. Classroom teachers must be equipped to advocate for all students, high-quality literacy practices, and increased support for continuous professional learning.

    “ILA has been such a strong voice for effective literacy instruction among literacy professionals. In moving forward, I see great opportunities to invite other literacy stakeholders into the fold. Cultivating strong partnerships with administrators, policymakers, community members, parents and caregivers, and so many others is a vital step to advance literacy learning and teaching.”

    On promoting ILA’s mission of literacy for all

    “In both my practice and research, equity is always a concern at the forefront of my mind. Every learner should have access to highly qualified teachers who create culturally responsive, inclusive learning spaces. However, schools are currently experiencing teacher shortages and a lack of teacher diversity. To achieve literacy for all, it is essential to recruit, develop, and retain diverse literacy professionals of the highest caliber.

    “In terms of literacy teacher education, all things are not equal. There are great differences across teacher education programs, such as size, funding, and access to diverse school contexts. ILA is well positioned to provide literacy teacher educators with the resources and support needed in their work with preparing teachers for the world of literacy.”

    On the most valuable experience she brings to the role

    “Definitely my experience as a classroom teacher. I am a teacher at heart, and I see great value in maintaining strong connections with those who are closest to students: the teachers. I really admire that ILA has embraced practitioner-oriented research within its journal publications. Essentially, practitioners can read these articles and easily say, ‘I can implement that tomorrow.’

    “It’s about staying closest to where the magic is happening, which is in the hands of teachers.”

    What most excites you about this new opportunity?

    “Everyone I’ve interacted with through ILA and the Texas Association for Literacy Educators is so passionate about literacy and committed to excellence. Through these interactions, I have learned and grown tremendously. As a Board member, I look forward to meeting many more amazing literacy professionals from all around the world to further enhance my understandings of literacy learning and teaching.

    “I have to tell you, this is really just a surreal experience. ILA has been so good to me. To be involved in professional service as a contributor and a learner is just so exciting.”

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

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