FOCUS Newsletter Fall 2022
Georgia Association of Literacy Advocates (GALA)
In this ISSUE of the GALA FOCUS NEWSLETTER:
2. UPDATES from Local Councils
- GALA's Past President, Mrs. Davetta Grigsby, Retires after 34 Years at Cedar Grove Elementary School
- Henry Heritage Reading Council Hosts Local Authors
- In Memoriam, Dr. Oscar “Sammy” Holton
- The Science of Reading: A Reading Specialist's "Aha" Moment by Kristin Gigliotti
- The Science (and Art) of Teaching Reading by Robert A. Griffin
4. Call for New Editor or Co-editors of the FOCUS Newsletter
5. Book Talks!
- Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes (DiCamillo, 2011) by Sage and Tami Ogletree
6. Professional Development Resource Review
- Shifting the Balance: Six Ways to Bring the Science of Reading into the Balanced Literacy Classroom (Burkins & Yates, 2021); Reviewed by Jessica Morris
7. Author's Chair!
- Thoughts and Prayers by Candace Pence (Poem)
- The Real First Day: An Account of an Educator's Adventures in Educating by Amanda Smith (Personal Narrative)
8. Book Review
- We Are Wolves (Nannestad, 2022); Reviewed by Bethany L. Scullin
9. Literacy Conference Announcement
- The Story Garden ~ Hosted by Middle Georgia RESA and West Georgia RESA (December 6-8, 2022)
10. Relevant (& Free!) Resources
- Literacy Webinars Sponsored by hand2mind
- A Roadmap to Multisensory Literacy Instruction (September 6, 2022)
- Beyond Dyslexia: Empowering Students to Succeed with Multisensory Instruction (October 4, 2022)
- GET GEORGIA READING Campaign
1. CALL FOR GALA MEMBERSHIP & VOLUNTEERS!
The Georgia Association of Literacy Advocates is a State Association Affiliated with the International Literacy Association (ILA)
Our Mission Statement:
The Georgia Association of Literacy Advocates is a membership organization whose mission is Advancing Literacy Learning and Teaching for all of Georgia.
- Receive biannual issues of the Georgia Journal of Literacy, the official academic publication of the Georgia Association of Literacy Advocates
- Receive biannual issues of the FOCUS Newsletter, the official newsletter of Georgia Association of Literacy Advocates, which features Georgia literacy news, relevant literacy information for educators, and professional development resources.
- Qualify for Awards, Grants, Scholarships (more to come)
- Network across local, state, national, international literacy communities
- Leadership opportunities within the organization
- Publish, read, and share valuable information with colleagues
We are also seeking VOLUNTEERS who are interested in contributing their time and talent for a more literate society. We are looking for individuals to help with:
- The GALA Reader of the Year Award,
- Scholarships offered by GALA,
- Organizing the NEW GALA membership website (coming in January 2023!),
- The biannual FOCUS Newsletter, and
- Other GALA committees.
2. UPDATES FROM LOCAL READING COUNCILS OF GEORGIA
GALA's Past President, Mrs. Davetta Grigsby, Retires after 34 Years at Cedar Grove Elementary School
‘"We might get somebody to fill her position, but it will not be the same’"
For the first time in 34 years, Mrs. Davetta Grigsby will not be greeting bright-eyed students at Cedar Grove Elementary School with her trademark smile on the first day of school. A beloved and longtime staff member, Grigsby retired in June. By any measure, she made the most of all opportunities presented to her.
In what is a rarity in modern public education, all of Grigsby’s 34 years were at Cedar Grove Elementary School. Coming from a family of teachers, she started her career as a paraprofessional, worked her way to become a teacher, and then a literacy coach. Interestingly, education was a second career for Grigsby, who previously worked as a banker for 12 years.
Henry Heritage Reading Council Hosts Local Authors
Henry Heritage Reading Council in Henry County hosted a local authors night. They met at Kirby G’s near McDonough Square for a meal and fellowship. Details for the year’s local and international projects were discussed, and membership in the local and state organization, GALA. The evening was then turned over to three local Henry County authors who presented a few of their books. Book presentations were followed by a question-and-answer session and a time to purchase and have books autographed. Our authors included:
- Stephanie Chadwick – author and illustrator of Community Helper Day, Meeting Friends in History, and Hands of Hope. Ms. Chadwick used her experience as a teacher in elementary school to write for young children about community helpers and folk tale characters. Her book, Hands of Hope, was written to help raise cancer awareness among children and why we often have events to expand awareness and fund cancer research.
- Kesha Muhammad Garrett – author of a series of books written to help children of color feel supported and proud of their ethnicity. The books include: Your Name, Your Story – a young boy learns to accept his unusual name as he learns to write it in school. Brown Girl, Brown Girl, What Do You See? and Brown Boy, Brown Boy, What Do You See? both follow a child as they experience different scenarios as they meet people or travel to new locations. What do You See? is a story about a young girl who meets people that are different from her and how she wishes for different hair from her natural hair but in the end learns to be happy with her own type of hair. Her latest book, If Kamala Can, details facts about Kamala Harris’s life and encourages readers to dream big.
- Dave Mayer – author of the early adolescent series, The Franklin Boys’ Story (Blue and White; Sunset, Sunrise; Cherry Trees) and most recently, The Franklin Girl’s Story: Roses. Mr. Mayer is a local high school teacher and writes for middle and high school students. His coming-of-age novels address issues teenagers often face at some point or another – relationships, acceptance, friendships, racism, the discovery of who they are, and what to do in life.
The authors also described what it was like to self-publish. All of their books can be purchased from the author or on Amazon. We enjoyed meeting our local authors and know others are out there to make it a yearly event.
Anita Beasley, President
Henry Heritage Council
In Memoriam, Dr. Oscar "Sammy" Holton
GALA is sad to announce the passing of our 2019-2020 Chairperson, Dr. Oscar “Sammy” Holton. He passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. Dr. Holton served as the first Chairperson after our reorganization from the Georgia Reading Association to the new Georgia Association of Literacy Advocates (GALA). He was an instructor with Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia and Swainsboro. He will be missed by family, friends, colleagues, and students.
3. FEATURE ARTICLES
The Science of Reading: A Reading Specialist's "Aha" Moment
By Kristin D. Gigliotti, M.Ed
The Science (and Art) of Teaching Reading
By Robert A. Griffin, Ed.D.
Assistant Professor of Literacy and TESOL
University of West Georgia
Much of the recent discourse surrounding effective literacy instruction has centered on the science of reading (SOR). SOR isn’t a new phenomenon; it’s been around for 20 years or more among researchers. But it has now trickled down (or maybe torrented down is a better verb) to practitioners—teachers and school leaders. SOR research has been instrumental in helping us better appreciate the role phonemic awareness and phonological awareness play in foundational reading skills, and for that, we should all be grateful. Explicit, systematic phonics-based instruction is vital and must be part of any effective literacy program, especially for early readers. But I also worry that with so much emphasis on the science of reading, we may lose sight of the art of teaching reading. I credit Drs. Chase Young, David Paige, and Tim Rasinski (2022) in their recent text Artfully Teaching the Science of Reading, which I highly recommend, for showing how there is no dichotomy between the scientific and artful teaching of reading.
Creative, artful teaching of reading does not mean neglecting what the research says; instead, it implies finding ways to apply the research to the specific needs of individual students in a highly engaging way that both promotes reading motivation and achievement. A science-only approach, however, may lead to instructional practices that are anything but artful and have the opposite effect of inhibiting motivation. Analysis of nonsense words in isolation, for example, could be supported by the research but doesn’t match real-life reading experiences. While fast reading speeds have been associated with increased fluency and comprehension in research studies, encouraging students to read as fast as possible is a misapplication of the research and could turn students off from reading altogether. Science-based tests measuring comprehension and reading achievement have been designed, but too often, some teachers have felt pressured to teach to the test, which is definitely not a research-based best practice. A singular focus on the science without the artistic ability to apply that science to classroom practice can be detrimental to student success and can even inhibit lifelong reading.
A scientific and artful approach to teaching reading involves both helping students reach proficiency and beyond in the literacy competencies of phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension, while simultaneously setting students’ “hearts afire with enthusiasm and appreciation for the rewards of reading” (Applegate & Applegate, 2010, p. 232). To set students’ hearts ablaze—I love that metaphor—is not an easy task, but at its core, it involves teachers being given the respect and freedom to make their own decisions about how to teach reading in their classrooms. To quote Drs. Young, Paige, and Rasinski (2022), “If you wish to be a truly effective teacher, you must be an artist as well as a scientist” (p. 5).
Applegate, A. J., & Applegate, M. D. (2010). A study of thoughtful literacy and the motivation to read. The Reading Teacher, 64(4), 226–234. https://doi.org/10.1598/RT.64.4.1
Young, C., Paige, D., & Rasinski, T. V. (2022). Artfully teaching the science of reading. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003218609
4. CALL FOR NEW EDITOR or CO-EDITORS OF THE FOCUS NEWSLETTER
Call for New FOCUS NEWSLETTER Editor!
The GALA Executive Board is seeking one or two members interested in serving as the Editor or Co-editors of the FOCUS Newsletter, published twice each year (fall and spring). The new Editor or Co-editors would collaborate with the current FOCUS Newsletter Editor, Bethany Scullin, to publish the upcoming Spring 2023, Issue 14 newsletter.
- Create and email Call for Submissions for upcoming newsletter issues
- Learn how to navigate the newsletter platform
- Correspond with authors who submit material for potential publication
- Read, review, and edit each submission for relevance, accuracy, and readability
- Work and correspond with the FOCUS Editorial Reviewers before final draft of each FOCUS issue is published
If you (or you and another member) are interested in serving as the FOCUS Newsletter Editor (or Co-editors) or would like more information, please email the current FOCUS Newsletter Editor, Bethany Scullin (email@example.com). Thank you!
5. BOOK TALKS!
Sage and Dr. Tami Ogletree discuss the author, Kate DiCamillo, and the book Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes (2011).
6. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT RESOURCE REVIEW
Shifting the Balance: Six Ways to Bring the Science of Reading into the Balanced Literacy Classroom by Jan Burkins & Kari Yates (2021)
Reviewed by Jessica Morris, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Teacher Preparation (Reading and Literacy Specialization)
College of Coastal Georgia
Are you currently teaching K-2 children to read?
Are you in search of EASILY incorporating the Science of Reading (SOR) into your current teaching practice?
If so, Shifting the Balance is a must-read!
The surrounding school districts in Southeast Georgia primarily use a balanced-literacy approach to support classroom literacy instruction but are moving toward incorporating the Science of Reading based on current research. As a result, we have incorporated Shifting the Balance: Six Ways to bring the Science of Reading into the Balanced Literacy Classroom (Burkins & Yates, 2021) as a required text for teacher candidates to better prepare them for practical, research-based K-2 literacy instruction.
This teacher-friendly resource evaluates existing classroom practices and gives teachers easy, practical ideas to help refine instruction to better align with the Science of Reading research. Shifting the Balance does not disregard all balanced-literacy approaches to reading instruction but allows teachers to evaluate their current reading practices and refine them for student success!
The text is an easier read and is divided into six sections which outline simple, practical ways educators can “shift” their current practices to mirror the Science of Reading research. Common misconceptions about reading instruction are also explained in brief excerpts throughout this resource.
One of the most eye-opening shifts for our teacher candidates was Shift Five: Reinventing the Ways We Use MSV (Three Cueing Systems). The Three Cueing-Systems model (a common diagram representing the three ways in which readers make sense of text) was revisited, and Burks & Yates (2021) suggested a more-effective, sequential cueing routine for K-2 students when they come in contact with an unknown word. The Look Before You Leap Routine (on left) advises initially using only the visual cues in words for decoding (and promoting orthographic mapping) and then implementing meaning and structural cues for support in cross-checking the new word.
In addition to this text, free downloads (like the one above), resources, podcasts, and online courses can be found on their website: https://thesixshifts.com/. Don’t walk; run to use this resources with your teachers!
7. AUTHOR'S CHAIR!
Please take a minute to read...
By Candace Pence (Poem)
- Candace Pence is a graduate student in the Reading Instruction master’s program at the University of West Georgia. The poem was written in response to the Uvalde, Texas shooting and all the shootings that occur daily throughout the U.S.
By Amanda Smith (Personal Narrative)
- Amanda Smith is a graduate student in the Reading Instruction master’s program at the University of West Georgia.
8. BOOK REVIEW
We Are Wolves by Katrina Nannestad (2022)
Reviewed by Bethany L. Scullin, Ph.D.
University of West Georgia
Associate Professor of Literacy
As a new committee member of ILA’s Notable Books for a Global Society Committee, I have the pleasure of reading and reviewing over 600 of the most recently published children’s and adolescent literature each year. Recently, I was sent a copy of We Are Wolves, written by Katrina Nannestad (2022) and originally published in Australia (2020). I set this book aside because I was captivated by the front cover illustration of three children, two walking hand-in-hand while the third is being carried. The shadows of these three children project one large wolf.
Initially assuming the story might be a mystery, I opened the cover to read the book flap and was caught completely off-guard by the first words,
WE MUST GO! YOU CAN’T BRING ANYTHING! WE MUST GO!
These are the words that Liesl Wolf, a 12-year-old German girl, hears her mother shout to her and her two younger siblings as they must flee their home in East Prussia as the Russian army advances at the end of the Second World War.
We Are Wolves (Nannestad, 2022) brings to light the little-known victims of World War II, the Wolfskinder, or wolf children. In early 1945, as the Red Army marched towards East Prussia, millions of Germans, including children, fled their homes; however, many adults were wounded or killed as they traveled through war zones, enduring bombing raids and harsh winters without any shelter or food. Consequently, thousands of these children, now orphans, were left behind and fled into the surrounding forests as they were forced to fend for themselves.
Through disastrous events, 12-year-old Liesl Wolf, her brother, Otto, and her baby sister, Mia, become Wolfskinder.
Their number-one priority is survival. Survival from starvation, exposure, and harsh reprisals if caught by invading Russian soldiers.
With a recommended audience age of 10-14 years, I had a tough time setting this book down. We Are Wolves (Nannestad, 2022) is a powerful yet delicate story of determination, sacrifice, family, and identity as it examines the ethics of war and the ones that are left behind. I learned so much from Liesl, Otto, Mia, and the other Wolfskinder featured in this moving piece of historical fiction; I urge you to walk with the Wolf children and other Wolfskinder as you gain insight into the intelligence and steadfastness of these forgotten victims of war.
9. Literacy Conference Announcement
The Story Garden: 1st Annual Literacy Conference ~ December 6-8, 2022
Middle Georgia RESA and West Georgia RESA are partnering to host their First Annual Literacy Conference, “The Story Garden.” The conference will focus on 4 learning strands: Wonder, Imagine, Create, and Celebrate.
TARGET AUDIENCE: K-12 Literacy Teachers; Media Specialists, Instructional Coaches, & APIs
WHEN: December 6-8, 2022
WHERE: Callaway Resort & Gardens (Call 855-777-5671 or Use Booking Link HERE).
Follow THIS LINK for more information and conference registration.
Please see below for more information about the Conference Keynote Speaker, Jen Jones, and the Dinner Keynote Speaker, Shanda McCloskey.
Conference Keynote Speaker: Jen Jones
We are excited to announce our keynote is Jen Jones, noted reading specialist, ELA staff developer, blogger, and author. In Jen’s 23 years as an educator, she has taught 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th & 8th grade. She is trained in Reading Recovery, Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures, and Common Core for ELA. She is a K-12 Reading Specialist and holds a Bachelor’s degree in English, a minor in Psychology from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and a Master’s in Reading Education from East Carolina University. Jen is also an adult educator with five years of experience teaching and training teachers on best practices for 21st-century instruction, curriculum, assessment, student motivation, and digital literacies. Jen works with schools and districts all over the United States, Canada, and Australia to train teachers on how to put these best practices into measurable action. Jen is a dynamic, enthusiastic, and captivating presenter. She is the founder and CEO of Hello Literacy®, Inc, and inspires teachers everywhere with her motivational spirit and passionate personality.
Dinner Keynote Speaker: Shanda McCloskey
Georgia children’s author, Shanda McCloskey, will offer our dinner keynote address. Shanda (rhymes with panda) comes from a whole family of different kinds of artists and entrepreneurs! She studied art in Atlanta and New York City. But before writing and illustrating children’s books, she taught art to high-schoolers. Shanda now lives in Ball Ground, Georgia, with her husband, daughters, and dog. She is also co-creator of the Author Visit Podcast and Author Visit Central.
Shanda’s award-winning STEM-friendly picture books (DOLL-E 1.0 and T-BONE THE DRONE) have taken her to wonderful places and people!
10. RELEVANT (& FREE!) RESOURCES
Literacy Webinars Sponsored by hand2mind
A Roadmap to Multisensory Literacy Instruction
September 6, 2022 @ 4:00 PM CDT (5:00 PM EST)
- Literacy is widely known as the ability to read and write but additionally, it is the gateway for all other learning. Developing and mastering key literacy skills in the primary grades is critical to students’ mastering other skills. So, what is the best approach to this when your classroom has a diverse range of learners? Join us for a free webinar to learn how to respond to learning gaps with effective research-based strategies and multisensory tools to accelerate growth for all students in your classroom! (More information & Webinar Registration)
Beyond Dyslexia: Empowering Students to Succeed with Multisensory Instruction
October 4, 2022 @ 4:00 PM CDT (5:00 PM EST)
- We know Dyslexia affects the areas of the brain that process language. Because of this, students facing Dyslexia are processing things differently, they are interpreting information differently, and they are often struggling with recalling and retaining. This is where hands-on learning comes in. Did you know that hands-on learning stimulates every part of the brain which builds stronger connections? Did you know when students are in an active, hands-on environment that they retain more than 75% of the information? Hands-on learning is IT! Join us for a free webinar discussing engaging, multisensory instruction using tools that will enable students to build deeper connections and empower them to succeed! (More information & Webinar Registration)
GET GEORGIA READING Campaign
The Get Georgia Reading Campaign is designed to nurture and facilitate collaboration so that, together, we create the conditions necessary for each and every child in Georgia to be on a path to reading proficiently by the end of third grade.
We aim to provide partners and stakeholders with useful resources to learn more and take action. These videos, partner links, and publications are aimed at helping parents, teachers, community leaders, and organization partners spread the message, share ideas about programs and strategies, and take action in your community. (Link to Resource Page)
FOCUS: A Newsletter of the Georgia Association of Literacy Advocates (GALA)
FOCUS Editorial Reviewers
Dr. Jennifer K. Allen
Dr. Robert A. Griffin
Dr. Tamra W. Ogletree
Location: University of West Georgia, 1601 Maple Street, Carrollton, GA, 30118