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    ILA Presents Updated Literacy Professional Preparation Standards to State ELA Consultants

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Oct 19, 2018
    SCASS Presentation

    Representatives of ILA addressed education agency consultants Wednesday at the State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS) Fall Meeting in Boston about improving and increasing the effectiveness of state literacy programs.

    Rita M. Bean, University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, and Diane E. Kern, University of Rhode Island, were invited by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to brief Collaborative members from across the country about ILA’s Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals 2017 (Standards 2017). Their message? The standards, although written for educator preparation programs, can—and should—be used to navigate decisions about curriculum and instruction.

    Kern, who along with Bean served as co-chair of the committee charged with updating ILA’s standards, says the presentation offered a platform for this broader application. They also shared how ILA can support states in the ongoing development and assessment of existing literacy programs.

    As Kern and Bean shared with attendees, Standards 2017 provides “a framework for thinking about their own initiatives and challenges, including the development of their state comprehensive literacy plans.”

    The presentation included an activity during which attendees divided into seven groups to analyze the content of and research behind a standard. The groups then shared their findings across the English Language Arts collaborative, a subgroup of the SCASS.

    Participants demonstrated interest in how ILA’s standards could inform schools’ disciplinary literacy and digital literacy practices and their professional learning initiatives.

    “We asked them to think about how [the standards] could offer solutions to their challenges,” says Bean. “[Attendees] were saying the standards would be a powerful and valuable tool for evaluating where they are and where they’re going.”

    Learn more about ILA’s Standards 2017 here.

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

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    #ILAchat: Ensuring Every Child’s Rights to Read

    Wesley Ford
     | Sep 11, 2018

    ILAchat_RightsToRead_300This Thursday, September 13, at 8:00 p.m. ET, #ILAchat and #globaledchat will join together for a single conversation focusing on the newly released Children’s Rights to Read, looking specifically at the role of educators in enacting and upholding these rights for students.

    As ILA President of the Board Bernadette Dwyer notes in the introduction of The Case for Children’s Rights to Read, “As literacy educators, we are responsible for delivering on the promise inherent in these rights. Whether we are working in the classroom or preparing the next generation of teachers, we have a responsibility for every student entrusted to our care. We must enact these rights in classrooms and schools and work with others to ensure the same in homes, communities, governments, and societies.”

    Alas, Dwyer could not be with us for this chat. Taking up the mantle in her stead, we have a few members of ILA’s Board of Directors—Juli-Anne Benjamin, Kenneth Kunz, Stephen Peters, and Jennifer Williams—and Heather Singmaster, representing #globaledchat, who are graciously letting us use their Twitter chat platform to expand the reach of this conversation.

    Benjamin is a veteran educator who has dedicated her life in the service of children, both nationally and internationally, having taught in South Africa and recently in New Delhi, India, at Delhi Public Schools. Benjamin loves to read and is devoutly committed to building culturally relevant and sustainable classroom libraries. She champions read-alouds in literacy lessons and grounds instructional practice in building and curating sound relationships with teachers and students and culturally aligning books that serve as windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors into the diverse experiences and worlds of children.

    Kunz began his career as an elementary school teacher in the New Jersey Public Schools after receiving his bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and English from Kean University. In 2007, he received recognition as an outstanding teacher through the New Jersey Governor’s Teacher Recognition Program. Passionate about literacy instruction, he holds a master’s degree in Reading Specialization and a doctorate in Teacher Leadership from Rutgers University.

    childrens-rights-to-read-posterPeters has been a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, and director of secondary education. Most of his experiences have been in schools that made significant growth in short periods of time, thus resulting in both National and State Blue Ribbon distinction. Currently, Peters is superintendent of schools for Laurens 55 School District and is founder of the nationally recognized Gentlemen’s & Ladies Club programs, which provide options for thousands of at-risk and honor students throughout the United States.

    Williams is recognized as a transformational leader in education; she has dedicated herself for over 20 years to the field of education through her roles as a school administrator, literacy specialist, and classroom teacher. Her personal mission is to make literacy accessible for all and ultimately to bring about appreciation of shared stories and celebration of diversity of experience and perspective.

    Singmaster is associate director at the Center for Global Education at the Asia Society, where her work focuses on international benchmarking and integrating global competence into Career Technical Education (CTE) programs as well as state and national policy. She leads the project, Mapping the Nation: The Case for Global Competence and is host of Education Week’s Global Learning blog. Currently, she is working on a set of online professional development modules and resources to support the CTE field.

    We’re excited to hear from both the #ILAchat and #globaledchat communities jointly on Thursday, September 13, at 8:00 p.m. ET about these Rights, which resonated the most with you personally, how you plan to implement them in your classrooms and schools, and what support you think educators will need to ensure these Rights to Read for every student.

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    ILA Launches Children’s Rights to Read Campaign

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Sep 07, 2018

    Rights to ReadFifty-two years ago, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially declared September 8 International Literacy Day, with the goal of highlighting literacy as a human rights issue.

    But despite some gains made since then, a staggering 750 million people around the world today, two-thirds of them women, do not have a grasp of basic literacy skills.

    “Reading enables the individual to function in society,” says Bernadette Dwyer, president of the Board of Directors of ILA. “More important, reading enriches the personal, social, cultural, and aesthetic dimensions of the individual.”

    That’s one reason why, in 2018, the ILA Board of Directors convened a task force charged with developing the Children’s Rights to Read project. This task force incriluded literacy educators, researchers, and advocates from Australia, Ireland, Japan, Russia, and the United States.

    Together, they crafted a list of 10 Rights, of equal importance, that every child deserves. Among them: the right to read for pleasure; to access texts in print and digital formats; and to collaborate with others locally and globally.

    Children’s Rights to Read approaches literacy from a perspective of equity and social justice. It demands that every child have access to the education, opportunities, and resources needed to read. In short, it outlines a roadmap for empowering every child to reach his or her full potential.

    “We must continue to work toward the goal of an equitable education for all,” says Dwyer. “Issues of equity, equality of opportunity, quality of instruction, and social justice should permeate all that we do to ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn to read.”

    Children’s Rights to Read kicks off a global, yearlong campaign aimed at protecting these 10 fundamental Rights. Using social media as a launch pad, the campaign will galvanize educators, policymakers, and literacy partners to align for a common purpose.

    As part of the ongoing campaign, ILA will be developing and distributing practical resources that educators can use to enact these Rights in their classrooms, schools, and communities. The first, The Case for Children’s Rights to Read, is available now.  

    Using our combined voice and the strategic tools at our disposal, we can bring awareness to this cause, influence public policy, and create needed change.

    Visit to download the Children’s Rights to Read and sign on in support. To join the conversation, use the #RightsToRead hashtag.

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

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    Nell K. Duke Receives ILA’s William S. Gray Citation of Merit

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Sep 04, 2018
    Nell K. Duke
    Nell K. Duke, professor in literacy, language, and culture and in the combined program in education and psychology at the University of Michigan, School of Education, is the recipient of the William S. Gray Citation of Merit, recognizing ILA members who have made outstanding contributions to multiple facets of literacy development—research, theory, practice, and policy.

    For some, the road to literacy work is a long, winding path. For others, like Nell K. Duke, it’s a calling. Duke’s love of learning and passion for teaching was awakened at an early age by equally dedicated teachers.

    “I have been interested in language and literacy development since elementary school, actually, and I have read in this area ever since then,” she says. “As an undergraduate, my favorite topic in the teacher certification program was literacy development, and my undergraduate thesis focused on children’s writing.”

    Now a professor in literacy, language, and culture and in the combined program in education and psychology at the University of Michigan, School of Education, Duke brings her deep commitment to social justice to her day-to-day work. Her research focuses on early literacy development, particularly among children of poverty, the development of informational reading and writing in young children, comprehension development, and issues of equity and access in literacy education.

    In addition to her research, Duke teaches preservice, inservice, and doctoral courses in literacy education; speaks and consults widely on literacy education; and has served as coprincipal investigator on projects funded by Institute of Education Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and Lucas Education Research, among other organizations.

    She is also the author and coauthor of numerous journal articles, book chapters, and books, including Inside Information: Developing Powerful Readers and Writers of Informational Text Through Project-Based Instruction (Scholastic) and Beyond Bedtime Stories: A Parent’s Guide to Promoting Reading, Writing, and Other Literacy Skills From Birth to 5 (Scholastic). She’s currently in the beginning phases of writing a book on developing literacy from birth to age 8.

    Of all her accomplishments, Duke says she’s most proud of an article she published in 2000, titled, “For the Rich It’s Richer: Print Experiences and Environments Offered to Children in Very Low- and Very High-Socioeconomic Status First-Grade Classrooms,” which has laid the foundation for her career in advancing equity in literacy education.

    “So often, people attribute educational inequity to homes and communities, but this article documents very specific ways in which schools perpetuate inequity from very early in schooling, even if unintentionally,” she says. “The article provides something of a roadmap of inequities in early literacy education on which I have worked over the course of my career.”

    When asked about her future goals, Duke says she hopes to continue to learn from and support practitioners and policymakers who have a positive impact on the literacy development of young children, particularly those living in poverty.

    “Some more specific goals include reducing the use of practices that are not effective in developing literacy, increasing the use of practices that are effective in developing literacy, developing new curriculum materials, and fostering the field’s understanding of pedagogy that provides civic as well as literacy education,” she says.

    Duke thanks ILA for creating an award that bridges theory and practice.
    “Especially meaningful to me is that the award considers practice and policy as well as research and theory,” she says. “It has always been my goal to have some impact beyond research and theory.”

    Alina O'Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of Literacy Daily.
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    ILA’s Awards Program Celebrates Excellence in Literacy Education

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Sep 04, 2018
    Each year, ILA’s Literacy Leaders Awards ceremony and Research Awards and Grants recognize educators and researchers who go above and beyond their job descriptions and embrace their roles as agents of change.

    A kindergarten teacher fosters student identity through writing workshops. A professor designs an open-access curriculum that drives achievement in low-income, historically underperforming districts. A literacy district educational specialist leads a literacy revolution in Hawaii.

    Although they encompass a diverse range of backgrounds, ages, and areas of expertise, the visionary leaders on this list share a commitment to driving positive change in literacy education. Whether through research, teaching, or advocacy, they use their talents to dismantle systemic oppression, promote equity, and drive achievement—work that is central to ILA’s mission of literacy for all.

    These 2018 award winners are:

    forzani-blogElena E. Forzani, assistant professor in literacy education at the Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Human Development, is the recipient of the Timothy & Cynthia Shanahan Outstanding Dissertation Award, given annually for a dissertation completed in reading or literacy.

    After working as a first-grade teacher for two years, Elena Forzani realized that, although she loved teaching, she was more interested in the nuts and bolts of literacy learning.

    “I just loved the process of learning—not just comprehension, but actually just decoding and binding words together,” she says. Today, Forzani is a professor of literacy education at Boston University, where her research focuses on the use of digital technologies for literacy learning, specifically the comprehension of online disciplinary texts, including the critical evaluation of online information. Through her work, she seeks to understand how to design and implement assessment and instruction that targets the needs of different kinds of learners within digital contexts.

    Forzani’s dissertation, “How Well Can Students Evaluate Online Science Information? Contributions of Prior Knowledge, Gender, Socioeconomic Status, and Offline Reading Ability,” explored how seventh-grade students assessed the trustworthiness of science information found online.

    Forzani recalls some of the highlights of her career, most notably the opportunity to work on ORCA (Online Research and Comprehension Assessment), a five-year research project to develop valid, reliable, and practical assessments of online reading comprehension for U.S. schools, with her advisor, Donald Leu.

    “That work was very meaningful to me,” she says. “It taught me a lot of things in terms of how to work on a big project with multiple people collaborating and contributing different pieces.”

    When asked about her current projects, Forzani spoke about her interest in creating a tool that helps educators better understand how readers evaluate information within an online research and comprehension task, specifically for younger readers. “Many students sort of know the kinds of things they’re supposed to look for, but don’t really know how to do that well,” she says. “They seem to know what to look at and I think that’s something we can build on.”

    walpole-blogSharon Walpole, professor at the School of Education at the University of Delaware, is the recipient of the Jerry Johns Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading Award, honoring an outstanding college or university teacher of reading methods or reading-related courses.

    A former high school history teacher, Sharon Walpole switched to the literacy field to gain insight into her students’ reading practices.

    “I wanted to understand why my students couldn’t comprehend what they were reading,” she says.

    Today, Walpole is a professor in the School of Education at the University of Delaware and director of the University of Delaware’s Professional Development Center for Educators, where she works with literacy coaches, reading specialists, and administrators to build schoolwide systems to support teachers, especially those working for children at risk.

    In 2016, Walpole copublished with Mike McKenna of the University of Virginia a free, open-access, elementary ELA curriculum with more than 1,100 lesson plans. Dubbed “Bookworms,” it is unique in using “real,” tangible books rather than the large collections of books and lessons plans that come only with expensive reading packages. Now in its fifth year, there is promising evidence that the curriculum improves student achievement.

    When asked about her future plans, Walpole says she hopes to broaden the scope of her work to include writing instruction.

    “In my center, we’re designing resources for teachers who want to deepen their understanding of writing,” she says. “We’re trying to make sure that writing isn’t a stepchild of reading.”

    conley-blogMark Conley, professor of instruction and curriculum leadership at the University of Memphis in Tennessee, is the recipient of the inaugural Leaders Inspiring Readers Award, sponsored by Achieve 3000, presented to a researcher or practitioner who has contributed significantly to advancing the knowledge base and instructional efficacy of educators in the focus area of struggling readers.

    “The thing that impressed me very early in my career was how much knowledge and skill teachers had,” he says. “And recently, I think about how much our field really needs to take advantage of that knowledge and skill.”

    Conley’s extensive portfolio of research centers on teacher education policy and practice, adolescent literacy, assessment, and human and artificial intelligence tutoring. Last year, Conley took a sabbatical to work with the National Center on Education and the Economy, researching educational systems in countries that are top-performing in reading, mathematics, and science on the Program for International Student Assessment.

    Recently retired, he continues to elevate teacher expertise in his community and beyond. He says his goal is to develop a physical space that’s dedicated to building teacher leadership capacity.

    “Throughout my whole career, teachers have always appreciated being able to talk to each other. We want to make that easier,” he says. “Identifying the great teachers in our community and engaging them in conversations about what they know and what needs to happen—that’s my first goal.”

    carini-blogEsmeralda Carini, literacy district educational specialist for the Windward District, Kailua-Kalaheo Complex Area, Hawaii Department of Education, is the recipient of the Corwin Literacy Leader Award, given annually to an administrator who has recognized the importance of building a culture of literacy within a school or district by offering literacy professional development, instructional resource support, or developing specific literacy programs to build capacity and increase student literacy achievement.

    A first-generation U.S. citizen, Esmeralda Carini learned the power of language and literacy at a young age. A former EL student, she is grateful to the teachers who helped her develop the skills for language and literacy she has today.

    “I’m a big advocate that barrier in language has nothing to do with intelligence and everything to do with giving [students] the power of language. I think literacy changed my life,” she says. “I am where I am today because of my investment in my own literacy practice, and I want to give that opportunity to all kids—no matter where they grow up and what families they come from.”

    Currently, Carini is the creator and facilitator of the Hawaii Lab Cohorts, which are teacher learning communities within districts and schools that offer an effective approach to professional growth, supporting schools’ efforts in growing their literacy practices. Carini continues to grow the lab across content areas, schools, and complex areas by mentoring other Lab Cohort facilitators.

    When asked about her future goals, she says she hopes to continue to nurture and grow Hawaii’s burgeoning literacy community and to help design better PD and professional learning opportunities.

    “If I could leave that mark on the field of education, I would be so thrilled,” she says.

    garvert-blogKeith Garvert, a teacher at Highline Community School, Denver, Colorado, is the recipient of the Regie Routman Teacher Recognition Grant, which honors an outstanding K–8 classroom teacher dedicated to improving and enriching the teaching and learning of purposeful reading and writing across the curriculum.

    Keith Garvert remembers the exact moment that defined his teaching philosophy. He had just read Katie Wood Ray’s About the Authors: Writing Workshop With Our Youngest Writers (Heinemann) and, riding a wave of inspiration, he decided to embrace a new method of writing workshop in his classroom.

    “The following year, my whole writing workshop changed, and my first graders just blossomed into these writers. I didn’t know I could nurture that ability within them. I saw their eyes sparkle with the accomplishment of writing their first books,” he says. “That was when I learned that you have to teach kids instead of programs.”

    Garvert has dedicated his career to exploring the connection between children’s identity and their performance as readers and writers. His practice is centered on sparking curiosity and learning through play.

    In 2014, Garvert took a break from classroom teaching to serve as the district’s elementary literacy coordinator. When he returned to teaching at the kindergarten level last year, he says the short hiatus opened his eyes to the ways in which his lens of privilege impacts his teaching. Over the past two years, he’s been working to curate more mirrors and windows in his classroom, starting with the library.

    “Winning this award, to me, means the opportunity to give back to children who haven’t had the opportunity to see themselves in literature,” he says. “I’m empowering kids to be the owners and curators of their classroom libraries.”

    coiro-blogJulie Coiro, associate professor of reading in the School of Education at the University of Rhode Island, is the recipient of the Erwin Zolt Digital Literacy Game Changer Award, which honors literacy game changers in online collaboration who are making an outstanding and innovative contribution to the use of technology in literacy education.
    “There’s a real danger that an entire generation of children will be unable to tell fact from fiction online,” says Julie Coiro.

    A professor, researcher, writer, speaker, and advocate, Coiro seeks to examine the changing nature of technologies and how that intersects with literacy theory, students’ literacy development, reading comprehension assessment, professional development, and classroom instruction. Currently, her research focuses on developing a series of assessments to measure online reading comprehension proficiency in ways that inform classroom instruction.

    Coiro has been published widely in venues such as Reading Research Quarterly, Journal of Literacy Research, The Reading Teacher, Educational Leadership, and Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. Her upcoming book, Planning for Personal Digital Inquiry in Grades K–5 (Stenhouse), will provide a framework for how teachers might use technology to their students’ advantage in inquiry-based learning.

    “Inquiry-based learning can flexibly move from teachers using technology for giving information and prompting understanding toward students actively using technology to make, assess, and act on new content,” Coiro says.

    Most recently, Coiro collaborates with researchers in both the United States and Finland to develop and test learning spaces designed to facilitate productive inquiry, social deliberation, participation, and reflection. With colleague Renee Hobbs, Coiro also codirects the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy, a six-day institute focused on how literacy is changing as a result of emerging media and technologies.

    The Maryann Manning Special Service Award was presented to Diane Barone, foundation professor of literacy at the University of Nevada, Reno. This award is given annually to an individual who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment of exceptional and distinguished service to the field of literacy. For this award, ILA members apply or are nominated by peers.

    barone-blogDiane Barone will never forget her first longitudinal study: a four-year study of literacy development in children prenatally exposed to crack/cocaine. Though this study took place more than two decades ago, it continues to motivate her day-to-day work.

    “For me, that really shattered a myth that these children weren’t going to do well in school,” she says.

    This finding set the precedence for Barone’s long career in literacy research, which has centered on young children, especially those in high-poverty schools, and how they develop in literacy.
    In addition to teaching courses in literacy and qualitative research methods, Barone, a past president of ILA, has published articles in journals such as Reading Research Quarterly, The Reading Teacher, and Journal of Literacy Research and has written several books including Teaching Early Literacy: Development, Assessment, and Instruction (Guilford), Narrowing the Literacy Gap: What Works in High-Poverty Schools (Guilford), and Children’s Literature in the Classroom: Engaging Lifelong Readers (Guilford).

    Today, Barone is examining how children interpret different genres and how they relate to and make meaningful connections with texts. She is also interested in media literacy as well as children’s understanding of social justice issues, specifically interpretations of power and understandings of right versus wrong.

    She thanks ILA for the award.

    “Because it’s attached to the name Maryann Manning, it means a lot to me; I respected her a lot,” she says. “Having an award named after her is really special.”

    fountas-pinnell-blogIrene C. Fountas, a professor in the School of Education at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, and Gay Su Pinnell, a professor in the School of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University, are the first recipients of the Diane Lapp & James Flood Professional Collaborator Award, which recognizes an ongoing professional collaboration between two or more people who regularly contribute to the professional knowledge base of literacy educators.

    United in their goal to equip educators with the tools to teach children with reading challenges, Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell have coauthored dozens of books, articles, and online resources that are now considered standards in the fields of literacy instruction and staff development. Their collective portfolio includes a cohesive classroom literacy system (Fountas & Pinnell Classroom), an intervention system (Leveled Literacy Intervention), an assessment system (Benchmark Assessment System), the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Community, and an extensive professional book base. They are currently developing The School Leaders’ Literacy Handbook, a publication that will help school administrators create literacy opportunities for every child.

    “I think we learn a lot from each other, and I think we have a lot of common perspectives around literacy and professional development,” Fountas says in a press release. “We’ve had a good friendship and a good professional relationship.”

    Fountas, who studied under both Lapp and Flood (the latter passed away in 2007), says she considers them both mentors.

    “To receive an award from people who played a significant role in my professional development was quite moving,” says Fountas. “They were two very brilliant and wonderful collaborators who made enormous contributions to the field.”

    ILA recognized the outstanding achievements of all 2018 award winners during the ILA 2018 Conference in Austin, TX, in July. The full list of award categories and recipients can be found at, but below are some additional highlights:

    Primary Fiction Book Award
    Winner: The Book of Mistakes. Corinna Luyken. 2017. Dial.
    Honor: Little Fox in the Forest. Stephanie Graegin. 2017. Schwartz & Wade.

    Primary Nonfiction Book Award
    Winner: This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids From Around the World. Matt Lamothe. 2017. Chronicle.

    Intermediate Fiction Book Award
    Winner: Train I Ride. Paul Mosier. 2017. HarperCollins.
    Honor: The Notations of Cooper Cameron. Jane O’Reilly. 2017. Carolrhoda.

    Intermediate Nonfiction Book Award
    Winner: Martí’s Song for Freedom. Emma Otheguy. 2017. Lee & Low.

    Young Adult Fiction Book Award
    Winner: Words on Bathroom Walls. Julia Walton. 2017. Random House.
    Honor: The Hate U Give. Angie Thomas. 2017. HarperCollins.

    Young Adult Nonfiction Book Award
    Winner: Obsessed: A Memoir of My Life With OCD. Allison Britz. 2017. Simon & Schuster.

    Constance McCullough International Research Grant
    Alan Crawford, California State University, Los Angeles
    Charles Temple, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY

    Dina Feitelson Research Award
    Maren Aukerman and Lorien Chambers Schuldt, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

    Elva Knight Research Grant
    Laura Tortorelli, Michigan State University, East Lansing

    Helen M. Robinson Grant
    Jungmin Kwon, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY

    Jeanne S. Chall Research Fellowship
    Shuling Yang, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

    Steven A. Stahl Research Grant
    John Strong, University of Delaware, Newark

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