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    “He’ll Be Our Inspiration, Still”: Remembering Robert B. Ruddell, Former IRA Board Member and Influential Author

    By Colleen Patrice Clark
     | Mar 25, 2021

    Robert B. RuddellRobert B. Ruddell, professor emeritus at University of California, Berkeley, and a noted scholar of early reading comprehension, critical thinking, and motivation, died on March 14. He was 83.

    Ruddell was a prolific writer and editor perhaps most known for How to Teach Reading to Elementary and Middle School Students: Practical Ideas From Highly Effective Teachers (Pearson) as well as Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading, the first six editions of which were published by the International Reading Association (IRA, now ILA). It is now in its seventh edition as Theoretical Models and Processes of Literacy, published by Routledge.

    A past Board member of IRA, Ruddell also served as president of the Reading Hall of Fame, to which he was inducted in 1989. He was a recipient of the William S. Gray Citation of Merit, ILA’s highest honor reserved for lifetime achievement and leadership contributions to the field, as well as the Oscar S. Causey Research Award from the Literacy Research Association.

    “The news of the loss of Bob Ruddell, who has brought so much to us in the past, brings great sadness,” said Norman Unrau, professor emeritus at California State University, Los Angeles, and a coeditor with Ruddell on the latest editions of Theoretical Models. “During the years Bob and I worked together, I learned immeasurably from his approaches to problems in literacy research and to methods of presenting them to those in our field. And I know that there are countless educators who have benefited from his spirit and will be saddened by his loss.”

    Among those educators is MaryEllen Vogt, a past president of IRA, who was advised by Ruddell when she earned her doctorate in language and literacy from University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). She recalls the day she received her acceptance letter from him as life changing.

    “To be Bob’s advisee was the best of all worlds as a graduate student,” she said. “He seemed to know everyone in the reading world and pushed me to know them all, too….His jovial approach to life, his friendship, and his unwavering belief that all kids can learn to read have molded me into the reading teacher I am today.”

    Ruddell exceeded in academics early on, finishing high school at just 14 and becoming the youngest student ever to enroll at Morris Harvey College, now Charleston University, at 15. He went on to earn an undergraduate and master’s from West Virginia University, and his PhD from Indiana University.

    He was 26 when he joined UC Berkeley, his academic home for the next 35 years.

    During his time at UC Berkeley, Ruddell served as acting dean of education at Tolman Hall, directed the Advanced Reading-Language Leadership Program, and served as chair of the Language, Literacy, and Culture faculty group. He worked with 86 doctoral students, advising and directing their research and dissertations.

    “He has left a great legacy to the study of reading, not only through his scholarship, but also through his many books for teachers, his leadership in the International Reading Association, and—perhaps most of all—his intellectually rigorous and interpersonally generous mentoring of the next generation of PhD students at Berkeley,” said P. David Pearson, emeritus faculty member at UC Berkeley. “When the topic of language and literacy in the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley comes up, Robert Ruddell is the first name that comes to my mind.”

    His passing marks a great loss for the literacy world, but as Donna Alvermann, distinguished research professor of language and literacy education at University of Georgia and a coeditor on Theoretical Models said, his legacy will live on. “I know how hard he worked to support teachers and graduate students from across the country. My coeditors and I will miss working with Bob….He’ll be our inspiration, still.”

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

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    ILA 2021 Conference Canceled; In-Person Conferences Remain Paused

    By ILA Staff
     | Jan 04, 2021

    ILA2021Cancelled_680The International Literacy Association (ILA) announced last week that it is cancelling the 2021 Conference, scheduled to take place in Indianapolis, IN, October 12–17.

    The move came just as the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the United Kingdom. With the possibility of mass distribution to the general population as early as June 2021, some may see the call to cancel premature.

    Not so, says ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post.

    “At this time, there’s no way to ensure the health and safety of conference participants, including our exhibitors, vendors, and staff,” she says. “It’s a gamble we did not feel comfortable taking.”

    Early response to the decision has been positive, with many expressing gratitude for the proactive approach.

    ILA plans to expand its robust slate of digital events in 2021. It’s also exploring new ways for educators to present outside of the conventional conference setting and to share their work with a wider global audience.

    The pandemic forced us to rethink how we teach, learning, and engage,” Post says. “Now we need to make sure we embrace what worked and not simply return to the old way of doing things.”

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    Celebrating the Literacy Champions We Lost in 2020

    ILA Staff
     | Dec 23, 2020

    As the year comes to a close, reflecting back on the last 12 months is natural. For many people, 2020 was a particularly challenging year. As we at ILA look to a brighter future in 2021, we want to recognize and honor the literacy champions to whom we said goodbye this year. These teachers, researchers, and literacy leaders dedicated their lives to the advancement of the field of literacy, and we are grateful for their service and commitment to transforming lives through literacy.

    ConnerCarol McDonald Connor, chancellor's professor of education at the University of California Irvine School of Education, whose life’s work centered on studying language and literacy development


    DurkinMary Dolores Durkin, professor emerita of Education in the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education of the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and a recipient of ILA’s William S. Gray Citation of Merit Award, which honors ILA members who have made outstanding contributions to multiple facets of literacy development


    EdwardsWilliam L. Edwards, professor of Teacher Education at Missouri Southern State University, and a longtime member of ILA who traveled to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mauritius, and Malawi in his efforts to extend the mission of the International Literacy Association

    KennethGoodman_w140Kenneth S. Goodman, professor emeritus at the University of Arizona and a past president of the International Reading Association (now International Literacy Association), who has been referred to as “the founding father of the whole language approach to reading”


    Indrisano_w140Roselmina “Lee” Indrisano, professor emerita at Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education & Human Development and a past president of the International Reading Association, whose work around issues related to early literacy development and enhancement of struggling readers and their families was widely recognized

    MacGinitieWalter H. MacGinitie, a noted educator recognized for his groundbreaking research in reading comprehension, who not only received the Reading Teachers’ Award for contributions to the field of reading from the New York State Reading Association but also served as a president of the International Reading Association.


    Judy Redman, educator, administrator, and matriarch of the Palmetto State Literacy Association, who has been honored with the creation of the Judy Redman Lifetime Achievement Award, which is presented for outstanding literacy service

    SamuelsS. Jay Samuels, whose may accomplishments and contributions to the field of literacy include coauthoring alongside Alan E. Farstrup the International Reading Association’s What Research Has to Say About… series of book


    SchmeltzBonnie Schmeltz, reading teacher, principal, and former president of State of Maryland Literacy Association (SoMLA), and a dedicated advocate for literacy instruction who ensured all children had access to books


    Strickland_w140Dorothy S. Strickland, state of New Jersey professor of reading, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor professor of education, emerita, at Rutgers University, a past president of the International Reading Association, and a renowned advocate of equitable literacy instruction and of improving the quality of teacher education programs and professional development


    Judith Thelen, professor, literacy advocate, and a past president of the International Reading Association, whose work in reading received national and international recognition


    WellsGordon Wells, educator emeritus at University of California Santa Cruz, whose work focused on sociocultural theories of learning


    We know this is far from a comprehensive list of the great many literacy leaders who have passed away this year. Our hearts go out to the friends, families, and communities affected by their passing. The world is a better place for their efforts, and their example serves as an inspiration to us in our own work.

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    ILA Partners With #KidLit4BlackLives Community

    By ILA Staff
     | Jun 15, 2020

    KidLit4BlackLives logoThe International Literacy Association (ILA), in partnership with Kwame Alexander, award-winning children’s book author and founding editor of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint Versify, announced today “How to Raise and Teach Anti-Racist Kids,” a Facebook Live event starting at 7:00 p.m. ET this Thursday, June 18.

    The free event is a follow-up to June 4’s overwhelmingly successful KidLit Rally for Black Lives, hosted by advocacy group The Brown Bookshelf. Alexander, a frequent ILA conference keynoter, organized the rally with fellow authors Jacqueline Woodson and Jason Reynolds in less than 48 hours—a “roll of thunder” call to action in response to the killing of George Floyd in late May.

    “Teachers and parents must educate and empower students to imagine a better world,” said Alexander. “For that to happen in the classroom and at home, they’ve got to be better prepared. The rally, this town hall, are all small efforts to get them ready for this paramount work.”  

    “How to Raise and Teach Anti-Racist Kids” is a perfect example of “the work we [at ILA] should be doing,” said ILA Vice President of the Board Dr. Stephen G. Peters, who will deliver opening remarks.

    “ILA is an anti-racist organization that stands for justice and equality,” Peters asserted in a joint statement issued by ILA leadership earlier this month.

    The first half of Thursday’s event will be a panel discussion moderated by Alexander, followed by a 45-minute Q&A. Panelists include educators Cornelius Minor, author of We Got This: Equity, Access, and the Quest to Be Who Our Students Need Us to Be; Tiffany M. Jewell, author of This Book is Anti-Racist; Pam Allyn, global literacy expert and coauthor (with Dr. Ernest Morrell) of Every Child a Super Reader; and Dr. Noni Thomas López, head of school at The Gordon School in Providence, R.I., in addition to Karyn Parsons, author and founder of Sweet Blackberry, a nonprofit with a mission “to bring little known stories of African American achievement to children everywhere.”

    Parsons is best known for playing Hilary Banks on the 1990s NBC sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” but hers is just one familiar face: Minor is a longtime ILA collaborator and an important figure in the organization’s social justice work.

    At the ILA 2016 Conference, which took place in Boston, MA, literally days after police shootings claimed the lives of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, Minor facilitated an on-the-fly session modeling how teachers could talk about emotionally charged and controversial issues in the classroom.

    The following year, Minor delivered powerful remarks at ILA’s inaugural equity panel—inspired by his session at ILA 2016—which also featured Pulitzer Prize winner Nikole Hannah-Jones.

    Thursday’s event marks an important next step in the #ILAequity movement, said Peters. He added, “This is just the beginning of much more to come.”

    WHAT: How to Raise and Teach Anti-Racist Kids
    WHEN: Thursday, June 18, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m. ET

    HASHTAGS: #KidLit4BlackLives; #ILAequity

    The live event will have an ASL interpreter, available through the support of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Closed captioning will be available on the archived recording.

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    International Literacy Association Names New Editor Team for Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy

    By ILA Staff
     | Jun 10, 2020

    The International Literacy Association (ILA) announced today the appointment of five literacy scholars from Salisbury University in Maryland as the incoming editors of the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy (JAAL), the leading peer-reviewed journal for educators of literacy learners ages 12 and older. Their four-year term will begin on July 1, 2020.

    The new editors are as follows:

    Judith FranzakJudith Franzak, Senior Editor

    Laurie HenryLaurie Henry, Associate Editor

    Koomi KimKoomi Kim, Associate Editor

    Heather PorterHeather Porter, Associate Editor

    Thea WilliamsonThea Williamson, Associate Editor

    “We couldn’t be prouder to welcome this team to the ILA journal family,” said ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “They represent an impressive group of visionaries who are dedicated to shaping the future of literacy research and elevating new voices.”

    Among the team’s goals: increasing contributions from scholars outside of North America and a heavier emphasis on family and community-based applications. They also hope to expand the journal’s reach through social media.

    JAAL, the only literacy journal published exclusively for teachers of older learners, reflects current theory, research, and practice in support of effective literacy instruction. In addition to middle school, secondary, and postsecondary classroom teachers, its readership includes university researchers and scholars, literacy consultants, administrators, and policymakers.

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