Elfrieda H. Hiebert
Reading Today Online asked all of the institute chairpersons for IRA San Antonio to respond to three questions designed to give our readers and all of the prospective attendees a better understanding of the insights and benefits they will gain from attending these day-long programs. Below are responses from Institute 19 Chair Elfrieda H. Hiebert.
What is the professional urgency that this institute is designed to address?
In the school year of 2014-2015, a new generation of assessments will be administered to students from grades 3 to 12 in the majority of American states and schools. Questions are many about the content and consequences of these assessments.
What types of literacy professionals is this institute designed for?
This preconvention institute is designed to answer pressing questions of educational leaders in states, districts, and schools about the new assessments. The presenters include the primary architect of the Common Core, leaders in national assessment and reform efforts, leading researchers on issues of assessment and instruction of English Learners, and teacher educators/researchers and state leaders who are working on Common Core implementations.
The institute will support educational leaders in becoming knowledgeable about the Common Core assessments through five "formal" contexts and, we anticipate, innumerable informal contexts as teachers, district and state personnel, educational publishers, administrators, teacher educators, researchers, nonprofit leaders, community leaders, and parents interact with one another over the course of the day and, we hope, in social media venues after IRA.
How will attendance at this institute help those literacy professionals “make a difference” in their work?
The first formal context consists of plenary sessions. The institute will begin with a presentation by David Coleman, one of the primary architects of the Common Core. Other plenary speakers include long-time leaders in national and state assessment and reform projects—P. David Pearson, Karen Wixson, and Peter Afflerbach. Kenji Hakuta, director of a national initiative on Common Core and English Learners and David Francis who directed the national center for English Learners (CREATE)—will present a plenary session on English learners and special needs students.
Two "formal contexts" will follow the first two plenary sessions: Small-group workshops and Q-and-A sessions. Three topics are addressed in each of the workshops: (a) state implementations, (b) professional development, and (c) text complexity. Facilitators of the small-group workshops are leading teacher educators, state leaders, and researchers.
Q-and-A sessions will give participants the chance to hear answers to their questions. Freddy Hiebert, the preconvention institute's facilitator, will chair these sessions. Each of the two Q-and-A sessions will involve the plenary speakers from the previous sessions. In addition, each Q-and-A session will include representatives from groups involved in the Common Core implementation process. In the first Q-and-A group, plenary speakers will be joined by the co-chairs of IRA's CCSS Committee and its board liaison (Tim Shanahan, Brenda Overrturf, & Bill Teale). The directors of literacy of the two assessment consortia (Barbara Kapinus, Smarter Balanced, and Bonnie Hain, PARCC, and state liaisons) will join plenary speakers for the second plenary session.
The fourth format context involves the opportunity for participants to inform plenary and workshop presentations. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions both prior to the institute and during the institute. From March 12 through April 2, participants can send questions to the facilitator (email@example.com). Freddy will share these questions with plenary speakers and workshop leaders to aid in their preparation of presentations. During the institute, participants will be able to send the facilitator questions via email or on notecards. These questions will be the basis for the Q-and-A sessions.
The final formal context is the opportunity for participants to prepare for the institute through reading background materials. Presenters have been asked to identify materials which will give participants the background knowledge for their presentations. These materials will be available to participants on April 3 at www.textproject.org.
The interpretations and implementations of participants, ultimately, is the measure of the success of the institute. One of the means of facilitating dialogue among participants is through the provision of free lunches. A publisher has volunteered to provide box lunches free to participants. Freed from the need to forage for food, participants can spend the lunch hour interacting with colleagues from other states, districts, and schools.
Registration Information: This preconference institute will be held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 19 before the 58th International Reading Association Annual Convention begins on Saturday, April 20. Register online for this or another institute and/or to register for the annual convention. Call 888-294-9167 or 415-979-2278 to find out how to register by phone, fax, or mail. To learn more about convention events in San Antonio, visit the annual convention website and the online itinerary planner (iPlanner), or read more Reading Today annual convention articles.