Saturday, July 9, 2011

professional organizations: literacy organizations

Throughout the year, I'll have plenty to write about literacy resources, teaching ideas, research and such, since that is my area of specialty.  But I want to start with the professional organizations that you might start looking into to join. There are both national and local organizations that are great groups to join.

Let's look at reading focused organizations first. At the national level, there is the International Reading Association or IRA.  I've been to their convention several times, and it is crazy and super fun. There are often close to 15,000 reading teachers from all over the country in attendance, all looking to hear fabulous research, teaching strategies, meet authors, and network. The organization itself has several top journals published regularly with research about effective reading instruction. My favorite when I was teaching was The Reading Teacher, which I always found helpful.  Many of the articles are written by teachers themselves about their own teaching triumphs and pitfalls, and I really enjoyed this resource. I really like Reading Research Quarterly and Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy too, and read them regularly.  IRA also regularly publishes reports and position statements around literacy issues of interest to reading teachers, students, and researchers. I also really like their Choices Reading Lists, lists compiled of Children's, Teachers', and Young Adults' favorite book choices of the year. They also have a Career Center, posting literacy positions around the country. Many of these positions will require an additional reading teaching license, but something to keep in mind and check out.

At the local level, we have the Minnesota Reading Association, MRA, which is the local chapter of the International Reading Association.  MRA has several councils, both geographical and interest-based.  MRA sponsors an annual conference, which is coming up on August 11, this year with keynote speakers Kylene Beers, Bob Probst, and Jim Burke, as well as breakout sessions with local teachers and reading specialists, and local author panels and book signing. Throughout the year, MRA sponsors state-wide and local events; for example, this fall, a symposium is planned to unpack the new MN LA standards, paying particular attention to the new media and critical literacy standards and those devoted to MN American Indian texts.  It's a great local organization (and in full disclosure, I am currently secretary of the organization).

For more writing-focused organizations, the big national one is NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English), charged with the mission of improving English and language arts at all levels of education.  NCTE has resources for elementary, middle level, secondary, and college level teachers.  NCTE also has position statements on key literacy issues, everything from class size and asessment to diversity and intellectual freedom. NCTE has a great annual convention, this year being held in Chicago in November. NCTE publishes many high-quality journals. As a middle school teacher, I relied on Voices from the Middle for ongoing professional development, and I loved reading the submissions from middle school writers. I also regularly read Language Arts, as well as several other NCTE publications.  NCTE also has lots of advocacy resources available, and helps sponsor Literacy Education Advocacy Day in Washington DC each year. And there are some great student writing contests sponsored by NCTE for young writers.

Locally, there's the Minnesota chapter of NCTE, which is the Minnesota Council of Teachers of English or MCTE.  MCTE publishes the Minnesota English Journal yearly, which you can access online, even as a nonmember. MCTE also offers a fall workshop, this year being led by Deborah Appleman, a fantastic local professor and teacher of English. The workshop site also contains info from past workshops, including handouts and activities. They also regularly sponsor a spring conference. 

These organizations are wonderful resources for teachers learning about literacy development and instruction. Take a peek to see all they have to offer!

Next post: math organizations

What do you want to know more about literacy instruction and development?


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