Literacy First

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Literacy First has gathered together a group of the best and brightest in literacy and leadership to guide and advise our product and services development. Each member of the Literacy First Advisory Board brings extraordinary professional credentials to their work on the Board. Their rich experience as researchers and practitioners benefits every Literacy First implementation. We value their guidance and expertise as they assist us in molding each aspect of Literacy First’s growth and presence in schools throughout the United States.

Timothy Shanahan, Ph.D.

Timothy Shanahan

Timothy Shanahan is Professor of Urban Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he is Director of the UIC Center for Literacy. He has been director of reading for the Chicago Public Schools, serving 437,000 children. His research focuses on the relationship of reading and writing, school improvement, the assessment of reading ability, and family literacy. He has published more than 150 research, articles, chapters, and books on literacy.

Professor Shanahan is President of the International Reading Association, and he is on the Advisory Board of the National Center for Family Literacy. He was appointed to the Board of the National Institute for Literacy by President George Bush in 2006, and in that role he advises the U.S. government on literacy policy. He served on the White House Assembly on Reading, and the National Reading Panel, a group convened by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the request of Congress to evaluate research on effective ways of teaching reading. He has chaired two other research review panels for the federal government, one on preschool literacy and one on the literacy of English language learners.

Shanahan received the Albert J. Harris Award on reading disability from the International Reading Association, and he has been inducted into the Illinois Reading Council Hall of Fame. He is a former first grade teacher.

Cynthia Shanahan, Ph.D.

Cynthia Shanahan

Cynthia Shanahan is a professor of Literacy, Language and Culture and Executive Director of the Council on Teacher Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She taught for eight years in K-8 schools in California, Guam, Colorado, Arizona, and Georgia as an elementary teacher, special education teacher, and reading specialist. She received an EdD in Reading Education from the University of Georgia in 1984, and taught at Georgia State (1984-1986) and the University of Georgia (1986-2000). At the University of Georgia she was a principal investigator in the National Reading Research Center, an OERI-funded center for the study of literacy. Her research and teaching interest are in content area reading and comprehension of informational text. Specifically, she studies how reading strategies and text characteristics influence students’ comprehension and critical thinking. She has extensive publications, including the book Learning from Text Across Conceptual Domains (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates). Currently she is working on a project funded by the Carnegie Corporation to create discipline-based strategies to help students learn from history, mathematics, and science texts.

Cathy Collins Block, Ph.D.

Cathy Collins Block

Dr. Cathy Collins Block has served on the Graduate Faculty at Texas Christian University since 1977. She has taught at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, served as Research Assistant at the Wisconsin Research and Development Center for Cognitive Development, and taught kindergarten through high school-aged students in private and public schools. She has directed five nationally-funded research projects and presently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Reading Association. She has served or is serving on standing committees for the American Educational Research Association, International Reading Association, National Council for Excellence in Thinking Instruction, and National Reading Conference.

She has written more than 90 articles for several professional journals including Reading Research Quarterly, National Reading Conference Yearbook, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Reading, The Reading Teacher, The Elementary School Journal, Teaching Thinking and Problem Solving, Instructor, and Teaching K-8. She has authored Literacy Difficulties, Teaching Comprehension, Teaching the Language Arts: Expanding Thinking Through the Language Arts, Improving Comprehension Instruction, Comprehension Instruction: Research Best Practices, Creating a Culturally Enriched Curriculum for Grades K-6, 126 Strategies that Build the Language Arts, Time Management for Teachers, The Acting-Out Child, and the Stanford Early School Achievement Test.

She is listed among the World’s Who’s Who of Women in the World, Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, International Book of Honor, She earned her doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Psychology in l976.

Timothy Rasinski, Ph.D.

Timothy Rasinski

Dr. Timothy Rasinski is a professor of education in the Department of Teaching, Leadership, and Curriculum Studies. Dr. Rasinski teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in literacy education. His major interests include working with children who find reading difficult, phonics and reading fluency instruction, and teacher development in literacy education. He has published over 100 articles and 10 books on various aspects of reading education.

A past editor of The Reading Teacher, the most widely read journal in reading education in the world, Dr. Rasinski is currently an editor for the Journal of Literacy Research. Rasinski has served as president of the College Reading Association and he currently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Reading Association. He earned bachelor degrees in economics and education at the University of Akron and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. His master’s degree in special education also comes from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Dr. Rasinski was awarded the Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.