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    These 2018 ILA Award and Grant Applications Are Now Available

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Aug 30, 2017

    ILA AwardsThe International Literacy Association’s (ILA) awards recognize excellence and showcase best practices in literacy research, instruction, and advocacy. Applications for the following awards and grants must be submitted by January 15, 2018—don’t wait until the deadline is looming!

    Applications are now open for:

    Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Awards: These awards are intended for newly published authors who show unusual promise in the children's and young adults' book field. Awards are given for fiction and nonfiction in each of three categories: primary, intermediate, and young adult. Books from all countries and published in English for the first time during the 2017 calendar year will be considered.

    Dina Feitelson Research Award: This US$500 award recognizes an outstanding empirical study published in English in a refereed journal, submitted by author or others. Publications from January 2016 through December 2016 are eligible for the 2018 award.

    Elva Knight Research Grant: ILA members apply for this US$5,000 grant for research in reading and literacy.

    Helen M. Robinson Grant: ILA member doctoral students apply for this US$1,200 grant to assist at the early stages of dissertation research in the areas of reading and literacy.

    Jeanne S. Chall Research Fellowship: ILA members apply for this US$5,000 grant to support reading research by promising scholars.        

    Jerry Johns Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading Award: This US$1,000 award honors college or university teachers of reading methods or reading-related courses. Applicants must be ILA members.

    Maryann Manning Special Service Award: ILA members apply or are nominated by peers for this award, given annually to a member who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment of distinguished service in the field of literacy.

    Nila Banton Smith Teacher as Researcher Grant: ILA member classroom teachers who undertake action research inquiries about literacy and instruction apply for this US$5,000 grant.     

    Outstanding Dissertation of the Year Award: ILA members who have completed dissertations in any aspect of the field of reading or literacy between May 15, 2016, and May 14, 2017, are eligible to apply for this award. Summaries of winning dissertations are published each year in Reading Research Quarterly, ILA’s leading global journal.

    Steven A. Stahl Research Grant: ILA member graduate students who have at least three years of teaching experience and who are conducting classroom research apply for this US$1,000 grant.

    William S. Gray Citation of Merit: ILA members who have made outstanding contributions to multiple facets of literacy development—research, theory, practice, and policy—apply or are nominated by a peer for this award.

    The remainder of our awards will open on October 1, 2017. Applicants are encouraged to read all criteria on our Awards & Grants page before applying. Questions about the application process should be directed to Wendy Logan at wlogan@reading.org

    Alina O'Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily. 
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    ILA Issues Brief, Announces Upcoming Blog Series on Overcoming the Digital Divide

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Aug 15, 2017

    Overcoming the Digital DivideThe International Literacy Association (ILA)  yesterday introduced an upcoming, four-part weekly blog series on overcoming the digital divide. Starting August 21, the series is an extension of ILA’s latest brief, which explores deficits in digital literacy as both a cause and a consequence of socioeconomic, racial, gender, geographic, familial, and other factors.

    The brief discusses two forms of digital divides: one of access to technology and the Internet, and another of implementation. Without strong instruction that supports “exploration, knowledge work, and connections between people,” students are not able to harness the academic potential and the social and economic benefits of these tools, according to ILA.

    ILA also recognizes limitations imposed by the types of devices available (e.g., students cannot perform the same functions on a smartphone as they can on an iPad); location (some devices are prohibitively expensive in parts of the developing world); gender inequality (male students tend to have more developed technology skills); and parenting behaviors (parents’ income, knowledge, and interest affect children’s digital skills acquisition).

    The brief ends with a call to action, identifying four critical steps educators can take to close the digital divide: increase funding, critically frame 21st-century skills, provide resources, and advocate for government support and policy changes.

    Each blog post in the series will serve as a how-to guide on how to tackle one of the four critical steps. The guides will be grounded in peer-reviewed research and firsthand conversations with experts.

    “We understand the systemic, underlying issues that are driving the divide. But now what? We wanted to take it a step further,” says Marcie Craig Post.

    “We can’t afford to wait for help from corporate funding, government subsidies, and policymakers. While we work toward solutions on a national and international plane, we can start by confronting the issue on a district level, a school level, a classroom level, or even a student level,” she adds.

    ILA hopes the guides will help educators embrace their role in leveling the playing field to ensure that students are being exposed to the same devices, using the same programs, receiving the same quality of instruction and support, engaging in the same mental activities, and gaining the same knowledge and experience.

    “There are small changes educators can make to help narrow the gap, inch by inch,” says Post. “These patchwork solutions can have life-changing outcomes.”

    Alina O’Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily

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    ILA Issues Statement of Solidarity with Charlottesville

    By Lara Deloza
     | Aug 14, 2017

    Charlottesville StatementThe International Literacy Association (ILA) extends its deepest sympathies to the family of Heather Heyer, who tragically lost her life this past weekend, and the dozens more who were injured in Charlottesville, Va.

    We also mourn the loss of Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M.M. Bates and offer our condolences to their loved ones.

    As a literacy organization, we rarely suffer from a lack of words, but in this instance, we find ourselves struggling.

    For now, we will say this:

    ILA stands with Charlottesville. We stand with those who have vowed to fight racism and xenophobia. We stand with those who denounce the violence fueled by both.

    We are committed to providing resources to literacy educators across the globe to help them fight injustice from the classroom. And we will continue the conversations within the education community that demonstrate how literacy can enact social change.

    We hope that you will join us in these efforts. 

    Lara Deloza is the senior communications manager at ILA.

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    Standards 2017: The CliffsNotes

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Jul 26, 2017

    Standards UpdateThe International Literacy Association (ILA) unveiled a revised draft of the Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals 2017 (Standards 2017) at the ILA 2017 Conference & Exhibits in Orlando, FL, incorporating feedback from the public comment period that took place earlier this year. The presentation was delivered by ILA 2017 Standards Revision Committee cochairs Diane Kern, associate professor at the University of Rhode Island, and Rita Bean, professor emerita, University of Pittsburgh.

    Standards 2017 establishes criteria for literacy professional preparation programs throughout the United States, and will also be a resource for states, policymakers, and those hiring literacy professionals. They are performance based and draw from professional expertise and research in the literacy field.

    Key shifts include the following:

    Title change: The title will change from Standards for Reading Professionals to Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals, reflecting the shift to incorporate all facets of literacy in ILA’s mission.

    Expanded and clarified roles: Standards 2017 delineates three roles of specialized literacy professionals: reading/literacy specialists, literacy coaches, and literacy supervisors/coordinators. The clarified roles intend to help preparation programs better meet candidates’ specific goals.

    The reading/literacy specialist’s primary role is to work with students who need specialized instruction or intervention and with peers to support tiered instruction; the literacy coach works with adults, leading adult professional learning at the team and school levels, supporting building-wide literacy learning. The supervisor/coordinator’s role is to lead the development and the evaluation of the school or district literacy program.   

    The other roles are classroom teachers, principals, teacher educators, and a new role, “literacy partners,” which includes allied professionals, teaching assistants, families, and community agencies. 

    More rigorous practicum experience: Standards 2017 will add a seventh standard: Practicum/Clinical Experiences. Candidates must engage with individual and groups of students across grade levels and also serve as “novice coaches” to support adult peers. They must work in at least one school-based setting, and receive observation and ongoing feedback by qualified supervisors.

    Greater focus on advocacy: Standard 4 is now named “Diversity and Equity” to reflect an increased focus on advocacy for learners from a wide variety of cultural, linguistic, and racial backgrounds, for inclusive and affirming classroom and school environments, and for equity at school, district, and community levels.

    Emphasis on digital learning: Standards 2017 aims to increase exposure to and use of digital technology in preparation program coursework. Candidates will be required to use a variety of print and digital materials and to integrate digital technologies in appropriate, safe, and effective ways.

    More support for collaborative learning: The word collaborative will appear often throughout Standards 2017 (e.g., “Candidates engage in collaborative decision making with colleagues to design, align, and assess instructional practices and interventions”). Programs may need to accommodate candidates engaging in and leading collaborative learning methods.

    Stronger partnerships: Several standards now have a component focused on fostering home–school and community partnerships. Coursework may incorporate more service learning projects while practicum experiences may incorporate community engagement activities.

    The revised Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals 2017 (Standards 2017) will go to Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) for feedback and, pending approval, will be published January 2018. All reading/literacy specialist educator preparation programs must adopt the new standards by spring 2020.

    Alina O’Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    What Federal Education Budget Cuts Mean for Professional Development

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | May 26, 2017

    professiona-developmentAmong massive cuts to science, arts, healthcare, and social welfare programs, President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, submitted to Congress on Tuesday, calls for a whopping $9.2 billion spending cut to education.

    The largest proposed cut—at $2.3 billion—would come from the elimination of the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants, or Title II of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Title II is the key federal funding stream that districts use to recruit, train, support, and compensate their teacher workforce.

    With such a huge loss of funding, districts would have to make difficult decisions about where to cut corners. Professional development, often viewed as a luxury instead of a necessity, is usually the first to go.

    During an appearance on EduTalk Radio this week, International Literacy Association (ILA) Associate Executive Director Stephen Sye explained that criticism of professional development often comes because it can be a vague term that can take on a myriad of forms, making it difficult to correlate with student achievement. 

    “There are a number of educators who feel that if the budget continues to be reduced, professional development will be eliminated. Unfortunately that does nothing but hurt our [future] workforce,” Sye said during the interview. “A less prepared teacher results in a less prepared student and ultimately a less qualified workforce.”

    Sye discussed the implications of the budget cuts with host Larry Jacobs. He said that as federal funding streams dry up, organizations like ILA will play an increasingly important role in ensuring that all students have access to current, prepared, high-quality teachers.

    “No matter what the climate, ILA is going to continue to advocate for making teachers better teachers because that’s what our students deserve,” said Sye.

    Budget cuts will hit some schools hard. Organizations like ILA can level the playing field by making professional development resources more accessible to all educators. ILA publishes journals, books, position statements, and other resources on evidence-based strategies that have been proven effective in classrooms.

    “If we as a nation are truly committed to quality education, then the cutting-edge practical resources on instruction that ILA provides are going to be more needed than ever,” Sye said. “What we offer in terms of knowledge is research based and is sound practice, no matter what the political climate brings.”

    The organization also offers free registration to the ILA 2017 Conference & Exhibits for undergraduate preservice teachers. Participants can attend presentations by literacy experts, hands-on curriculum-building workshops, TED Talk-style lunches, literacy research sessions, and the social justice and current events panel.

    But, Sye said, programming is only one part of the picture; having the opportunity for face-to-face networking and collaboration is the most valuable part of any conference. As districts start to reexamine and streamline their professional development budgets, Sye hopes they will continue to recognize these interactive learning events as a worthwhile investment.

    “Without investing in teachers and quality professional development, how are they going to be current and prepared, and how are our students going to be current and prepared?” 

    Alina O'Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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