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    Educators Share Their Responses to ILA’s 2020 What’s Hot in Literacy Report

    By ILA Staff
     | Mar 02, 2020

    What's Hot InfographicThe first assignment that Elizabeth LaGamba, assistant professor at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, gives to her Current Issues in Reading Research graduate students each semester is to read the most recent What’s Hot in Literacy Report from ILA. In addition to sharing their feedback with the class, one of the requirements is to send their response to ILA.

    We have enjoyed reading the thorough and thoughtful responses for the past several years, and so we recently asked LaGamba to write an article for Literacy Today, our member magazine, about why she includes this as an assignment in her class and what it is about the report that she finds valuable.

    You can find her article, “A Guide to Professional Growth: Using The ILA 2020 What’s Hot in Literacy Report to Frame Our Study of Current Issues in Reading Research,” in the March/April issue.

    Here we share the feedback we received from her students in January when the 2020 report was released.

    “An area that I feel needs more attention is the lack of resources and texts for literacy development. Technology makes it more challenging to engage students in real text. This can create a barrier when building an effective library. ESL students discussed in the report, specifically ages 15–18, truly suffer when it comes to library resources. However, as a secondary teacher, this continues to be a struggle for my [English-speaking] students as well. I hope to view additional research that aligns with supporting students with self-selecting texts. I also hope to learn more about expanding my personal literacy library within my classroom.” —Kaitlyn Foley

    “[An] area that caught my attention was how to support our students with social and emotional challenges through literacy. As an emotional support teacher, I am challenged to provide students with extreme social-emotional challenges quality reading instruction. Often times, these students’ behavior challenges must be addressed first before academics, which makes it very difficult to find ways to teach them reading effectively…. Teacher preparation programs should have a course dedicated to how to differentiate reading instruction to reach students with emotional and social challenges. In addition to that, I feel that resources need to be created that are social-emotional friendly. These could include books that are more relatable to things in their lives, shorter novels, writing guides so they do not become overwhelmed, etc. Hopefully with these suggestions, there will one day be a solution to some of these problems.” —Sarah Jones

    “I’m an elementary teacher in the U.S. Unlike neighboring districts, my school does not have a program for literacy instruction. Rather, we have a curriculum written by my coworkers, fabulous educators who have unfortunately not received training in curriculum writing. There are positives—a decent guided reading library and access to websites that provide culturally relevant texts—and many negatives to my situation—an incredible amount of time spent locating materials and writing lesson plans that may or may not be rigorous enough or suit student needs. It feels like many of my concerns go unheard, or that no one outside of my district could share them because of our unique situation. After reading about the top concerns in literacy education for educators around the world, I’ve never felt more heard by or connected to other educators.” —Anonymous

    “Something that stuck out to me as a classroom teacher, who is working on becoming a reading specialist, was the importance of independent reading. I was surprised that 40% of respondents thought independent reading was the best way to grow students into strong readers. I think that independent reading fosters an enjoyment for reading, but students need some kind of instruction or modeling of reading as well. I also found it interesting that so many responded by stating there is not enough time for independent reading. If you believe it is the best way to grow readers, don’t you think you would make the time? I set aside a 15–20 minute block of time each day for the students just to read. Although, yes, it takes away from other subjects, I feel that it is important for students to have that time to be alone with books.” —Anonymous

    “I was not surprised to see that early literacy was ranked the most important. In my district, we’ve recently discussed how much time we spend on developing great, effective interventions in third through fifth grade, but less time developing great, effective interventions in pre-K–2. We are spending much of our time trying to provide intermediate level interventions to students who do not have those phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, and on-level vocabulary skills mastered.” —Beth Freer

    “Teacher preparation programs need to ensure that they are providing soon-to-be educators with the skills needed for effective early literacy instruction and teachers need to stay up-to-date on effective, research-based practices related to literacy instruction. I will be forwarding this report to my administrator in hopes that we can start discussing what areas we need to continue to work on within our district to guarantee we are providing students at all grade levels with the tools and knowledge needed to be effective, literate learners.” —Jessica Miller

    “Ensuring teachers have time to learn from one another through meetings, observations, and trainings is critical…. I will be ensuring that as I interview for positions for this upcoming school year, I will question what system the school has in place for allowing teachers and other professionals the time to learn with and from one another on a recurring basis. Also, I will question the professional development opportunities that the school has in place.” —Melissa Gorham

    “I found it helpful to see what connections I could make with other teachers around the world and how my thought processes differed from other teachers, reading consultants, administrators, and higher education professionals. One of the topics that stood out to me was time for independent reading. There is just not enough time in the day for students to enjoy the act of independent self-selected reading…. I wish they had more time to do this because I think it would encourage a love for reading.” —Caitlin Huden

    “I have been an educator for almost 19 years, 15 years as a special education teacher and the last four working in adult male corrections as a special educator and most recently an ABE/GED teacher. So many of the points that you made in your [report] ring true for adult students also. I teach ELL students, primarily Spanish speaking, in my morning classes, and I find it very difficult to find age-appropriate, authentic materials for them. I spend hours searching the internet for culturally diverse materials. I identify with the 37% of educators who find it to be a challenge to support these students.” —Gina Sleppy

    “I believe in building a solid foundation of early literacy skills. I am only in my fourth year of teaching, but I have learned, and continue to learn, that many reading difficulties stem from children not being solid in the cornerstones of reading like phonological and phonemic awareness…. My hope is that with this report and the number of respondents who deem these topics as critical and crucial, the education community can develop a plan to work on these areas and share in student success.” —Christina Lahr

    “One area that really resonated with me is teacher preparation. Although I was dual-certified in both elementary and special education, I found myself in need of additional preparation to successfully help every learner reach his or her full literacy potential. This inspired me to pursue a reading specialist certification. I was fortunate to have the financial means in the form of tuition reimbursement, but I wonder what can be done for those who do not have the resources to further their education in order to be better equipped to meet the literacy needs of all learners.” —Melissa Klug

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  • 2020 Design Contest
    • ILA News

    First ILA Design Contest Will Bring a Touch of Educator Creativity to ILA 2020 in Columbus

     | Feb 12, 2020

    Calling all artsy educators and researchers—the International Literacy Association (ILA) is looking for a poster design to be featured at ILA 2020 in Columbus, OH. Whether visualized as a meme, word cloud, or a hand-sketched work of art, ILA wants to know: What does literacy mean to you?

    Until February 24, submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis. Not only will the winner’s art be featured at ILA 2020, but the winner will also receive free Core
    Conference registration. 
    2020 Design Contest_Large
    “Columbus has a vibrant art scene and we thought, ‘What better way to get attendees excited about such a visually inspiring conference destination than to invite them to join in on the creativity and fun?’” Jean Wright, marketing associate at ILA, says. “Our goal with this contest is to get [attendees] to share ways in which they interpret and engage with literacy which, in turn, may spark new inspiration for others.”

    Designers are welcome to submit as many designs as they would like, Wright added. However, posters must be original work, with each submission separately uploaded to the contest form. Poster designs must be 11″ × 17″, submitted in .jpg, .png, .pdf, .ai, or .eps format, and be no larger than 10 MB.

    To view official rules and to enter, visit

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  • Editors
    • ILA News

    International Literacy Association Opens Call for Editors; Introduces New Editorship Model

     | Jan 31, 2020

    Interested in becoming an editor? ILA seeks editor teams for two of our leading, peer-reviewed journals: The Reading Teacher (RT), for teachers of students up to age 12, and the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy (JAAL), for teachers of learners 12 and up.

    Plus, the incoming editors for both journals will be the first to serve under a new model that includes shorter terms, larger teams (up five people), and an expense budget of US$25,000 per annum.

    We’re looking for visionary editors eager to explore how new media can deepen scholarly discourse, leverage social platforms to spark conversation, and expand the journals’ reach.

    More about JAAL and RT

    Founded in 1957 as the Journal of Developmental Reading, JAAL has evolved with the field to meet the needs of not only middle, secondary, and postsecondary teachers and higher education professionals but also researchers, administrators, and policymakers.

    RT has been a valued source of professional learning, offering educators practical applications of what current research tells us about effective, high-quality instruction for more than 70 years. Editorship of this journal offers the opportunity to impact literacy teachers and support them in strengthening their instructional practice.

    For both journals, the editor(s) will serve for a term of four years (previously six years), the first of which overlaps with the current editors’ term

    “Researchers no longer have to wait for print to disseminate their work,” said ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “Articles are available digitally months before they’re slated to officially publish. Today’s authors are not only sharing the early-view content but also generating substantial professional discourse on platforms such as Twitter.”

    By removing potential barriers, Post hopes to increase the candidate pool and make the commitment more tenable to researchers earlier in their careers.

    Interested in applying? Applications for JAAL and RT are due March 1, 2020, with terms beginning June 1, 2020, and concluding May 31, 2024!

    Qualified applicants must be recognized experts and leading researchers in the field of literacy education for learners in this age group of the journal, as well as passionate about elevating the work of both established and up-and-coming scholars of the literacy field.

    To learn more about RT, visit

    To learn more about JAAL, visit


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  • WhatsHot2020_140x140
    • ILA News

    2020 What's Hot in Literacy Report Finds Barriers in Education, Support Needed for Teachers

     | Jan 22, 2020

    A new report released today by the International Literacy Association (ILA) reveals that only 34% of teachers surveyed felt equipped by their teacher preparation programs with the skills needed for effective early reading instruction. The differences in how teachers are prepared carries a price tag, according to respondents; the majority point to the variability of teacher knowledge and effectiveness as being among the greatest barriers to equity in literacy education.

    The ILA 2020 What’s Hot in Literacy Report provides a snapshot of what 1,443 literacy professionals from 65 countries and territories deem the most critical topics to advancing literacy worldwide over the next decade. In addition, it identifies top challenges and supports needed by those in the field.

    page 5 respondents (002)

    Early literacy skills and equity emerged as top critical topics from those surveyed; access to high-quality books and content, professional learning opportunities and effective instructional strategies for struggling readers rounded out the top five.

    The findings regarding teacher preparation and the variability of teacher knowledge and effectiveness relate directly to current conversations in the field regarding which instructional methods are included in preservice programs—and how much emphasis they are given. This lack of effectiveness also points to the need for more ongoing professional learning opportunities, a critical topic cited by respondents throughout the survey.

    For example, though the majority of teachers reported that both phonics and phonemic awareness were covered in their preservice programs, the percentage who said their program did an “excellent” or “very good” job of preparing them to use these methods was low—27% for phonics and 26% for phonemic awareness. In addition, 30% of those surveyed indicated a desire for more professional development and/or a greater understanding of explicit and systematic phonics instruction.

    Teacher prep graph

    More than a quarter of teachers said they need support in both creating a professional learning network and pursuing professional learning opportunities. In addition, 50% of respondents believe the topic of ongoing professional learning needs more focus and attention from education policymakers.

    “Overwhelmingly, we learned that educators in the literacy field are in need of support,” said ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “This survey helps us to identify where that support is needed so, as a professional organization, we can provide solutions.”

    Another area in which the majority of respondents expressed the need for support is research. A whopping 93% cite research as the backbone of effective literacy instruction, and staying current on research was cited as a top three responsibility of literacy educators by 50% or more of teachers, literacy consultants and higher education professionals. In addition, 44% said this is an area in which they needed more support. And most—85%—agreed that academic experts and professional associations should provide that support.

    The full survey findings are available in the ILA 2020 What’s Hot in Literacy Report, available at Join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #ILAWhatsHot.

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  • 2019 Blog
    • ILA News

    The Year in Review: Looking Back on the Top Blog Posts of 2019

     | Jan 07, 2020

    As we leave 2019 behind and enter the new decade, we look back on the top read content on Literacy Daily that had our readers engaged, informed, and entertained. Out of hundreds of posts, the top read covered a wide range of hard-hitting topics—from the celebration of literacy events to exploring research-based literacy instruction. Enjoy the top 10 most visited blog posts below—just in case you missed them!

    10. Affirming Individuality and Identity Through Picture Books and Storytelling

    9. #ILAchat: The Power and the Promise of Independent Reading

    8. A Marie Kondo Approach to Literacy Instruction

    7. Rethinking Assessment in Word Study: Five Ready-to-Go Ideas

    6. How and Why to Include Word Solving in Intermediate Grades

    5. Student Choice Is the Key to Turning Students Into Readers

    4. Ten Resources for Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of World Read Aloud Day

    3. Creative Assessments for Independent Reading

    2. Research-Based Literacy Instruction Strategies

    1. What Research Really Says About Teaching Reading (Even Beyond ILA 2019

    In addition to the top blogs, we’ve also compiled the top keyword searches from 2019:

    • Making sense of what research says
    • Vocabulary
    • Phonics
    • Diversity
    • Fluency
    • Sight words
    • Personalized professional development
    • Writing
    • Assessment
    • Comprehension

    We look forward to bringing our readers more content and resources on Literacy Daily in 2020!

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