2017 Speakers

Keynote Speakers


Yong Zhao is a Foundations Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas. He is also a professorial fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy, Victoria University in Australia. He previously served as the Presidential Chair and Director of the Institute for Global and Online Education in the College of Education, University of Oregon, where he was also a Professor in the Department of Educational Measurement, Policy, and Leadership. His works focus on the implications of globalization and technology on education.

He has published over 100 articles and 30 books, including Counting What Counts: Reframing Education Outcomes (2016); Never Send a Human to Do a Machine’s Job: Correcting Top 5 Ed Tech Mistakes (2015); Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization (2009); and World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students (2012). He is a recipient of the Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association and an elected fellow of the International Academy for Education.

Until December, 2010, Yong Zhao was University Distinguished Professor at the College of Education, Michigan State University, where he also served as the founding director of the Center for Teaching and Technology, and as the Executive Director of the Confucius Institute and the US-China Center for Research on Educational Excellence.

Noted poet and writer Nikki Giovanni first caught the public’s attention as part of the Black Arts movement of the late 1960s. Growing up in the Cincinnati area, she often visited Knoxville to see family, especially her maternal grandmother. After graduating with honors from Fisk University in 1967, she returned to Cincinnati and established the city’s first Black Arts Festival. She also began writing the poems that are included in her first self-published volume, Black Feeling, Black Talk (1968). By the mid-1970s, Nikki had established herself as one of the nation’s leading poetic voices. She won a number of awards, including Woman of the Year from Ladies Home Journal in 1973. During the 1980s, she continued to publish and spent much of her time touring for speaking engagements.

In recent years, Nikki has produced several new works. For children, she wrote Jimmy Grasshopper Versus the Ants (2007) and Rosa (2005), a picture book about legendary civil rights figure Rosa Parks.  Recent work includes Bicycles: Love Poems (2009) and Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid (2013). Also an accomplished writer of nonfiction, Nikki wrote On My Journey Now: Looking at African-American History through the Spirituals (2007).

Of herself, Nikki writes, “I am 73 years old.  I highly recommend old age; it’s fun.  I have been awarded an unprecedented seven NAACP Image Awards, which makes me very proud.  I have been nominated for a Grammy; been a finalist for the National Book Award.  I am very proud to have authored three New York Times and Los Angeles Times Best Sellers, highly unusual for a poet.  I am a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech.  I don’t have a lot of friends, but I have good ones.  I have a son and a granddaughter.  I like to cook, travel, and dream.  I’m a writer.  I’m happy.”



E. Lockhart (Emily Jenkins) is the author of We Were Liars,  Fly on the Wall, Dramarama, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and the Ruby Oliver quartet: The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book,  The Treasure Map of Boys, and Real Live BoyfriendsHow to Be Bad was co-written with Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski.

Disreputable History was a Printz Award honor book, a finalist for the National Book Award, and recipient of the Cybils Award for best young adult novel. We Were Liars is a New York Times bestseller. It won the Goodreads Choice Award and was Amazon’s #1 YA novel of 2014.

Emily has a doctorate in English literature from Columbia University (19th-century British novel).  She currently teaches creative writing at Hamline University’s low-residency MFA program in Writing for Children.

Want to know more? Follow the link to find out twenty-one things you don’t know about E. Lockhart. 

Since 1985, Kelly Gallagher has devoted himself to the teaching of reading, writing, listening, and speaking—first and foremost, as a high school ELA teacher in Anaheim, California, and also as an author/consultant who works with educators around the world.  Today, he is considered one of the leading voices in literacy education.

Always in search of a better way, Kelly honed his craft by taking on leadership positions in several key literacy programs, including the California Reading and Literature Project; the South Basin Writing Project at California State University, Long Beach; and the Puente Project, a University of California outreach program that prepares under-represented high school students for transition into universities.  Most recently, he served as the president of the Secondary Reading Group of the International Literacy Association (ILA).

Inspired by his classroom, mentors, and professional development experiences, Kelly has written six books for teachers, including Readicide: How Schools are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It; Write Like This: Preparing Students for Writing in the Real World; and In the Best Interest of Students: Staying True to What Works in the ELA Classroom. He is also a featured author for several ELA classroom textbooks and programs.

At least twice a month during the school year and throughout the summer months, Kelly travels to school districts and conferences around the world to share his thoughts and insights on literacy education and guide his colleagues toward more effective instruction.

Outside of his work with students and educators, Kelly loves watching baseball; playing with his dog, Scout; reading; hiking; and spending time with his family.



Kristin Ziemke celebrates innovative learning practices where thinking is at the heart of the curriculum. Author of Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom and co-author of Connecting Comprehension and Technology, Kristin pairs best practice instruction with digital tools to transform learning in the classroom and beyond.  A teacher and learning innovation specialist for the Big Shoulders Fund in Chicago, Kristin works with inner-city students to create classroom experiences that redefine school. A guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, and several network news programs, Kristin was named to the global team of Apple Distinguished Educators in 2013 and was selected as a featured speaker for the South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival for 2015 and 2016.

Kristin works with organizations around to the world to empower students and teachers and has keynoted conferences including: International Literacy Association, National Council of Teachers of English, EdTech Teacher, Building Learning Communities, and more. Chicago’s Tech Innovator of the Year in 2013, Kristin has also been awarded the prestigious Golden Apple Award for Teaching, the Chicago Foundation for Education Award, and is a National Board Certified Teacher. Kristin is an Academic All-American and was recognized for her athletic contributions at the University of Missouri as an All-Big 12 athlete.

Kristin has a variety of digital products available on the iTunes store, including Literacy in Action: Create to Learn, and Amplify! Digital Pedagogy for Today and Tomorrow. Interviews, articles, and snapshots from Kristin’s classroom have been featured on Scholastic, ILA Today, EdWeek, Talks  with Teachers, and IRA Reading Today Online. She has worked with school leaders and teachers in forty-four states and six countries. Kristin seeks opportunities to transform education through technology innovation and inspires educators around the globe as a staff developer, speaker, and writer.  To learn more about her work, subscribe to the Amplify Teaching Podcast on iTunes or follow her on Twitter @KristinZiemke.

Full-Day Workshop Speakers


John Schumacher (aka Mr. Schu) is a blogger and teacher-librarian at Brook Forest Elementary School in Oak Brook, Illinois. You could say every day is a giant book party for this teacher-librarian!  In fact, Library Journal named him “The Xtreme Librarian” for the high level of exertion—and some gears and stunts—he uses to get kids reading, and Instructor Magazine named him a Cool Teacher for redefining what it means to be a teacher-librarian.

John has served on ALSC’s Children and Technology committee, AASL’s Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, two Readers’ Choice award committees, and the School Library Month planning committee.  John also served on the 2014 Newbery committee, which named Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures “the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature.”

John blogs daily at MrSchuReads.com.

Poet. Author. Educator. Sara Holbrook is all of these.  The author of fifteen poetry books for children, teens, and adults, Sara is also the author of four books for teachers: Outspoken! How to Improve Writing and Speaking Skills through Poetry Performance (co-author Michael Salinger);  Practical Poetry: A Non-Standard Approach to Meeting Content Standards; High Definition: Unforgettable Vocabulary Instruction (co-author Michael Salinger), and High Impact Writing Clinics (co-author Michael Salinger).

An acclaimed performer, she is a frequent speaker at state, national, and international teacher conferences and guest lecturer at schools and universities providing writing and public speaking workshops for students and customized professional development courses for teachers, both in school settings and at conferences.

Her goal is to show teachers and students alike how to use writing and oral presentation exercises to help increase vocabulary and improve other literacy skills along with comprehension through collaboration, writing, and classroom performance across all grade levels and content areas.

You can contact sara at sara@saraholbrook.com or check out Sara’s blog.

“Sara does not speak a poem . . . she sticks her hand down the poem’s throat and pulls it inside out.” -Jane Yolen.



Michael Salinger has been writing and performing poetry and fiction for over twenty-five years. In this time, he has become a fixture in the performance poetry and education community, performing and teaching in over two hundred cities in thirty-five countries. His work has appeared in dozens of literary journals published across the U.S. and Canada. His publication, Stingray: New and Collected Poems, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, was published by Word Smith Press in 2007. A collection of humorous poems defining S.A.T vocabulary words titled Well Defined: Vocabulary in Rhyme is published by Boyds Mills Press. His latest collection, A Bear in the Kitchen, was published by Red Giant books in 2013. He has co-authored three professional books with his partner in rhyme, Sara Holbrook.

Michael has taught workshops in colleges, high schools, and middle schools, including Oberlin, Muskinghum, Kent State, Bowling Green, and Case Western Reserve Universities. He was a featured author at the Writer’s Week program of Fremd High School in Chicago and the instructor/coach for the Case Western Reserve University National College Poetry Slam Team.

He is a frequent presenter at international, state, and local teacher conferences, offering professional development K-12. He has presented at the NCTE and IRA Conferences numerous times, as well as internationally at EARCOS in Ho Chi Minh City; Kota Kinabalu Borneo; the Arabian Reading Association in Manama, Bahrain; and The Association of International Schools in Africa in Accra, Ghana. He has also done residencies at international schools in Shanghai, Singapore, Jakarta, Harare, Lagos, Kuala Lumpur and many more.

Michael has served on the board of directors of Cleveland Public Theatre; Poetry Slam Inc.; and The Lit, Cleveland’s Literary Center. He lives in Mentor, Ohio with poet and co-author Sara Holbrook.

You can contact Michael at salinger@ameritech.net or at www.michaelsalinger.com.

Nancy Frey, Ph.D., is a Professor of Educational Leadership at San Diego State University and a teacher leader at Health Sciences High & Middle College.  Before joining the university faculty, Nancy was a special education teacher in the Broward County (Florida) Public Schools, where she taught students at the elementary and middle school levels. She later worked for the Florida Department of Education on a statewide project for supporting students with disabilities in a general education curriculum.

Nancy is a recipient of the Christa McAuliffe Award for excellence in teacher education from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. She was a co-recipient (with Doug Fisher) of NCTE’s 2004 Kate and Paul Farmer Award for outstanding writing for their article, “Using Graphic Novels, Anime, And The Internet in an Urban High School,” published in The English Journal.  In 2008, Nancy received the Early Career Achievement Award from the Literacy Research Association.  Her research interests include reading and literacy, assessment, intervention, and curriculum design.  She teaches a variety of courses in school improvement and literacy leadership at San Diego State.

Nancy has published many articles and authored or co-authored many books on literacy and instruction, including Productive Group Work: How to Engage Students, Build Teamwork, and Promote Understanding; The Formative Assessment Action Plan: Practical Steps to More Successful Teaching and Learning; Guided Instruction: How to Develop Confident and Successful Learners; Rigorous Reading: 5 Access Points for Comprehending Complex Texts, and Visible Learning for Literacy: Implementing the Practices that Work Best to Accelerate Student Learning.

Her favorite place to be is Health Sciences High and Middle College, where she learns from teachers and students every day.

She can be reached at nfrey@mail.sdsu.edu.  To learn more about Doug, Nancy, and their work, please visit www.fisherandfrey.com.



Don Goble is an award-winning Multimedia Instructor at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis, Missouri.  The National Journalism Education Association named Don as their Broadcast Adviser of the Year 2015.

Don speaks internationally at education conferences, conventions, and professional development workshops, offering educators innovative ways to incorporate video, multimedia, and media literacy into the classroom.  Don was a part of the 2011 Apple Distinguished Educator class.

You can connect with Don on Twitter @dgoble2001.

Featured Speakers


Kristine Mraz is coauthor—with Alison Porceli and Cheryl Tyler—of the new Purposeful Play, the book that helps you make play a powerful part of your teaching. Her previous title is the bestselling A Mindset for Learning (coauthored with Christine Hertz), which provides practical and powerful strategies for cultivating optimism, flexibility, and empathy alongside traditional academic skills. She is also coauthor—with Marjorie Martinelli—of Smarter Charts and Smarter Charts for Math, Science, and Social Studies. Their popular blog chartchums keeps teachers in touch with ongoing and relevant classroom issues and ways to use charts as a support. Chartchums is also on Facebook and on Twitter @chartchums!

Kristi teaches Kindergarten in the New York City Public schools. In addition to writing and teaching, she consults in schools across the country and as far away as Taiwan. She primarily supports teachers in early literacy, play, and inquiry based learning. On the off chance she has free time, you’ll find Kristi reading on a couch in Brooklyn with her dog and her husband. You can follow all of her adventures on twitter @MrazKristine or on her blog: kinderconfidential.wordpress.com.

Ryan Goble specializes in creating joyful and collaborative learning experiences that “pop” for learners of all ages in formal and informal settings. He began his teaching career as a high school English teacher in Ann Arbor, MI. Since 1998 he has taught, consulted and presented for a wide variety of students, teachers, school districts, colleges, and educational organizations all over the United States. Ryan’s supervisory background includes working for the New York City Department of Education as a curriculum coordinator and professional developer at Banana Kelly High School in the South Bronx and as an Instructional Support Leader in Chicago Public Schools’ K-8 Fulton Network. Presently, Ryan works as the Teaching and Learning Coordinator for Glenbard High School District 87 in Glen Ellyn, IL.

Ryan’s teaching work has been featured in publications like Teacher Magazine, The Boston Globe and The Detroit News, and he has written for publications including the Journal of Staff Development, Journal of Media Literacy, The School Library Journal and The New York Times Learning Network.  His first book on literacy and collaborative learning, titled Making Curriculum Pop: Developing Literacies across All Content Areas (co-written with his mother, Pam), has been co-published by the National Council Teachers of English (NCTE) and Free Spirit Press.  In 2010, Ryan completed a seven-year term on the National Council of Teachers of English’s (NCTE) Media Collaborative and served as co-president of that organization from 2011-2013.

Ryan began his working life in the entertainment industry working in marketing for Virgin Records, DJing at NPR in Detroit and doing production work at E! Entertainment Television in Los Angeles.  His Hollywood background has allowed Ryan’s students to work with people like actors Robin Williams, Julianne Moore, rapper Ice-T, screenwriter William Goldman, and director Spike Jonze. He also taught and produced the “Teach, Think, Play: Popular Culture in the Classroom” conferences at Teachers College Columbia University from 2007-2009.

Ryan is the founder of Mindblue.com an educational consulting company that specializes in interdisciplinary teaching and learning that embraces popular cultures and media. In addition to consulting for school districts Ryan has worked with organizations like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Virgin Records and—at  present—NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. His NASA work includes the development of multimedia curriculum and professional development experiences for secondary teachers on climate change and sustainability. To complement all his work, Ryan shares teaching resources with 8,000+ educators all over the globe through his social network “Making Curriculum Pop,” mcpopmb.ning.com.



Pam Goble taught middle school for thirty years and has taught education, humanities, and literature courses for undergraduates and graduate students for the past fifteen years.  She has presented at numerous conferences, including the National Council of Teachers of English, the Association for Middle Level Education, and at Columbia University’s Teach, Think, Play workshops.  She also worked with NASA scientists at Columbia University to initiate development of an interdisciplinary curriculum on climate change for middle school.

Pam has published in the Journal of Staff Development and recently co-authored, with her son Ryan, Making Curriculum Pop, which was published by Free Spirit Press and NCTE.  She was also recently featured in the Tech Connect blog and just finished writing a section for an edited undergraduate text (as yet untitled) on writing, due out in 2016.  Another article, which she recently collaborated on for Social Studies for the Young Learner is also due out in 2016.  Pam specializes in interdisciplinary learning, gifted education, curriculum and instruction, leadership, literacy, humanities, and adult learning.  She lives in Long Grove, Illinois, with her husband.

Shanna Peeples, the 2015 USA National Teacher of the Year, took the road less travelled on the way to her classroom. She worked as a disc jockey, medical assistant, and journalist before teaching, as she says, chose her.

“My students, survivors of deep and debilitating trauma, have shaped the kind of teacher I am,” she says. “They have taught me to never make a promise I can’t keep because so many of them already have learned to view the world through suspicious eyes. To be the best teacher to them, I have to remember this and honor their background. I remember so I can gain their trust because I want them to read and write their way out of where they are.”

Shanna taught middle and high school English in low-income schools in Amarillo, Texas for fourteen years. Because Amarillo is a resettlement area for refugees, students as diverse as the Karen people of Myanmar and the Bantu people of Somalia make up classes in her former assignment at Palo Duro High School where students speak 27 languages and dialects.

Beginning this school year, Shanna is the ELA curriculum specialist for her district where she designs professional development experiences and co-creates curriculum with more than two hundred secondary English Language Arts teachers. She encourages them to be “The Lorax” for their classrooms and speak for those who have no voice in many policy making arenas: children. She believes in teacher leadership and teacher-led reform and champions that effort through her involvement with the National Network of State Teachers of the Year.

A former reporter for the Amarillo Globe-News, Shanna won awards for reporting on health issues, schools, and music criticism. She co-authored the book Best Lesson Series—Literature: 15 Master Teachers Share What Works. She continues to write professionally as a blogger for the Huffington Post, and as a contributor to education publications.



Over the past 20 years, Steve Peha has provided professional development in nearly 1,000 schools throughout the United States and Canada.  As the founder of Teaching That Makes Sense, he maintains a library of free teaching materials at his website, www.ttms.org, that has accounted for over one million downloads by teachers in more than 125 countries.  A specialist in writing, Mr. Peha also provides training in reading, assessment, and student engagement.  As an education columnist for The Seattle Times, he created The Effective Learning Series, writing more than 300 articles on best practice instruction, for which he won an Innovator in Education Award from The Newspaper Association of America.  His book, Be a Better Writer, a collection of tools, tips, and techniques for tweens and teens, won the Independent Publisher’s Association Gold Medal For Young Adult Non-Fiction.

Barri Bumgarner, the author of two thrillers and one YA book, is an Assistant Professor at Westminster College, a liberal arts college in Fulton, MO. The author of 8 Days, Slipping, and Dregs, Barri has also published seventeen short stories and hundreds of articles, both academic and teacher-education focused.

Barri published her first novel, 8 Days, a sci-fi thriller that was both the culmination of her love of writing and her interest in the future of technology, and it landed her on an FBI watch list. Since then, her teaching and writing have revolved around research, best teaching practices, and nonfiction projects. Her most recent published story, “Why Not Me,” is being developed as a full nonfiction manuscript to raise awareness about a single mother’s fight against stage 3 breast cancer to save not only herself, but her family as well.

Barri teaches teachers how to teach, but has less success with her canine children. When she isn’t teaching or writing, she loves to travel, watch sports, and read, as well as creating and playing with all things digital. Visit her author page at: https://www.facebook.com/BarriLBumgarner