Instructional Practices

ILA's Instructional Practices is a new resource for use by teachers, school leaders, families and caregivers, and the general public as an access point about literacy research. This collection will always be a work in progress in the sense that the depth and breadth of the knowledge about literacy continues to grow. This project was initially proposed by Douglas Fisher during his term as president of ILA as another channel for making information about literacy practices available to a wide range of stakeholders. He drew inspiration from the European Framework of Good Practice in Raising Literacy Levels of Children, Adolescents, and Adults, itself an ongoing project that seeks to inform practitioners, policymakers, and the public about considerations for designing programs that seek to raise literacy levels in Europe.

Bridging Policy and Practice

In 2016, ILA's Literacy Education Reform Task Force produced Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform, a white paper outlining the importance of comprehensive policies that ensure robust literacy learning for all. The task force, cochaired by D. Ray Reutzel and Heather Casey, conceptualized this as a societal issue: "Crimp, deny, reduce, or thwart robust literacy acquisition and the prospects for achieving all other educational attainments are correspondingly diminished, resulting in serious social consequences that are known all too well" (ILA, 2016, p. 2).

Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform cautioned against the influence of "politics, ideology, and speculation" rather than research on literacy education practices. In doing so, it framed reform efforts in four broad categories:

  • Literacy Teaching and Teachers
  • Schools and Schooling
  • Student Support
  • Families and Community

These four policy categories serve as a springboard for the Instructional Practices collection. In doing so, we seek to bridge policy and practice by making information about these dimensions of literacy education available to a broader audience.

Design of Instructional Practices

The digital design of the Instructional Practices collection links ILA resources in ways that are responsive to the needs of a variety of audiences. This entry point is intended for those who seek an initial introduction to a particular topic and consists of practices that are written in user-friendly language. Whether a teacher, school leader, parent, or policymaker, these practices provide practical information in digestible form. They can also be used by schools to provide information to families, by journalists seeking an introduction to a topic, and by educators who are leading or participating in an initiative at their school.

This collection provides an overview of a practice and is not intended to be a detailed record of the research that underlies the practice. The vast stores of the ILA research database are linked to published research on the topic from The Reading Teacher, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, and Reading Research Quarterly. In addition, position statements written by other task forces and committees, and literacy leadership briefs developed by ILA's Literacy Research Panel are included. Thus, those who are seeking more detailed information about a particular practice are alerted to the existence of other resources to use.

Expansion of Instructional Practices

The Literacy Research Panel was charged with developing this resource, under the leadership of Diane Lapp, the panel chair, and Nancy Frey, a panel member. One of the first tasks was to examine Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform and catalog topics it addressed specifically. A working group (Dorit Aram, Dan Mangan [ILA's Director of Advocacy and Public Affairs], Donna Ogle, and Allison Skerrett) expanded the topics to include those not explicitly discussed in the original document. These additional proposed topics were shared with the Literacy Research Panel members and they assumed the task of category editors. This group comprised Dorit Aram, Diane Barone, Donna Ogle, Amy Wilson Lopez, Jo Worthy, Ruth Yopp-Edwards, and Hallie Yopp Slowik. They led the enormous effort to develop the 40 practices for this initial phase of the project.

We say "initial phase" because this collection is far from complete. In fact, it is our hope that the development of practices continues to evolve in the same way that ILA research, position statements, literacy leadership briefs, and the Literacy Glossary do. The Instructional Practices collection is intended to be a living digital platform to share effective practices in literacy with stakeholders. We look forward to your feedback.

Literacy Research Panel, Project Coordinators
Diane Lapp, Distinguished Professor of Education, San Diego State University, and Instructional Coach, Health Sciences High and Middle College
Nancy Frey, Professor of Educational Administration, San Diego State University, and Dean of Academic Affairs, Health Sciences High and Middle College

Literacy Research Panel, Category Editors
Families and Communities: Dorit Aram, Professor, Tel Aviv University, Israel, and Amy Wilson Lopez, Associate Professor, Utah State University
Literacy Teaching and Teachers: Ruth Yopp-Edwards, California State University, Fullerton
Schools and Schooling: Hallie Yopp Slowik, Professor, California State University, Fullerton, and Donna Ogle, Professor, National-Louis University, Chicago, IL
Student Learning: Diane Barone, Professor, University of Nevada, Reno, and Jo Worthy, Professor, University of Texas, Austin