2018 Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Friday and Saturday, Feb. 16-17

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and the New York Times Bestselling author of 24 books, including The Crossover, which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American literature for Children, the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor, The NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and the Paterson Poetry Prize.  Kwame writes for children of all ages.  Some of his other works include The Playbook: 52 Rules to Help You Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game of Life; the picture books, Animal Ark, Out of Wonder, and Surf’s Up; and novels Solo, Booked, and He Said, She Said.

Kwame believes that poetry can change the world, and he uses it to inspire and empower young people through his writing and publishing program.  A regular speaker at schools and conferences in the U.S., he also travels the world planting seeds of literary love: Singapore, Brazil, Italy, France, Shanghai, and recently, Alexander led a delegation of 20 writers and activists to Ghana, where they delivered books, built a library, and provided literacy professional development to 300 teachers, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an International literacy program he co-founded.  In 2015, Kwame served as Bank Street College of Education’s Inaugural Dorothy M. Carter writer-in-residence.  The Kwame Alexander Papers, a collection of his writings, correspondence, and other professional and personal documents is held at the George Washington University Gelman Library.

Kwame will deliver the Opening General Session keynote on Friday, February 16, at 8 am.

Pernille Ripp is an expert in literacy and technology integration who dedicates her research and practice to developing engaged and empowered students and communities.  She is a teacher, speaker, author, blogger, and passionate advocate for education.  She is a Skype Master Teacher; recipient of the 2015 WEMTA Making IT Happen Award; and the 2015 ISTE Award for Innovation in Global Collaboration.

In 2010, Pernille founded The Global Read Aloud, a global literacy initiative that began with a simple goal in mind: one book to connect the world. From its humble beginnings, the GRA has grown to connect more than two million students in 60 different countries.

She is the author of Passionate Learners–How to Engage and Empower Your Students (Routledge), now in its second edition; Empowered Schools, Empowered Students (Corwin); Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration (Solution Tree); and the forthcoming Passionate Readers—The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child (Routledge), focusing on creating learning spaces and communities where students thrive and all stakeholders are empowered and passionate about learning. Her work has also been featured by many print and online journals including Entersekt, Literacy Today, The New York Times, School Library Journal, The Guardian, and MiddleWeb.  Pernille’s current research interest is in creating passionate literacy environments within the restriction of our current educational systems to help students fall in love with literacy again.

You can follow Pernille’s work on her personal blog, Blogging Through The Fourth Dimension, which is a frequent Teach100 top rated education blog.  With her mentoring, her own students blogs’ have had more than 600,000 unique views since they began.

Pernille will deliver the mid-day keynote address at noon on Friday, February 16.

Carmen Agra Deedy is the author of eleven books for children, including The Library Dragon, The Cheshire Cheese Cat, Martina the Beautiful Cockroach, and 14 Cows for America, a New York Times Best-seller.  Her personal stories first appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered; funny, insightful, and frequently irreverent, Deedy’s narratives are culled from her childhood as a Cuban refugee in the all-but-sleepy Southern town of Decatur, Georgia.  She is also host of the four-time Emmy-winning children’s program, Love That Book!

An award-winning author and storyteller, Ms. Deedy is also an accomplished lecturer, having been a guest speaker for both the TED and TEDx Conferences, the Library of Congress, Columbia University, The National Book Festival, Kennedy Center, among other distinguished venues. In the fall of 2016, she opened the Art of the Book Lecture Series, for the Smithsonian Libraries, and was a keynote speaker at the Association of International Baccalaureate Schools of Costa Rica Conference.

A new picture book, The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! (Scholastic Press) was released earlier this year. The Book of Unintended Consequences (Peachtree Publishers), a young adult novel, is scheduled for release in 2018.

Carmen will deliver the evening keynote at 7 pm on Friday, February 16.

Harvey “Smokey” Daniels has been a city and suburban public school teacher, a university professor, a classroom consultant, writer, and book editor.  He is the author or co-author of 20 books (and associated videos) on literacy, language, literature, and school change, published by Heinemann, Stenhouse, Corwin, and NCTE.  All of Smokey’s work aims to bring the joy of learning to schools–making classrooms places of curiosity, engagement, collaboration, knowledge-building, caring, and taking action for social justice.  In 2012, Smokey was given the Exemplary Leadership award from the National Council of Teachers of English.  He also received the President’s Award from the Wisconsin Reading Association in 2011.

Smokey’s newest title is The Curious Classroom: Ten Structures Teaching with Student Directed Inquiry. The book arose from his four-year partnership with a set of schools that had committed to build their instruction around students’ curiosity, interests, and choices.  The remarkable lessons developed by teachers in these schools yielded a ten-step model that helps both willing and wary teachers get started with inquiry.

Among Smokey’s other well-known titles are: Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles for Curiosity, Engagement and Understanding; Upstanders: Reaching Middle School Hearts and Minds with Inquiry; Subjects Matter: Every Teacher’s Guide to Content-Area Reading; The Best Kept Teaching Secret: How Written Conversations Engage Students, Build Knowledge, and Grow Fluent Writers; Teaching the Social Skills of Social Interaction; Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups; Minilessons for Literature Circles; and Best Practice: Bringing Standards to Life in America’s Classrooms.

 When he is not researching and writing, Smokey serves as a guest teacher and coach in classrooms around North America.  To support schools and teachers, he offers workshops, long-term consultancies, multi-day national institutes, conference sessions, classroom demonstration lessons, webinars, literacy coach training, and administrator events.  He has carried on this work in 44 states and seven provinces of Canada.

Smokey will deliver the Saturday morning keynote address, as well as a breakout session and Saturday afternoon’s post-conference session.

Full-Day Workshop Speakers

Thursday,  Feb. 15

Eric Litwin is a song singing, guitar strumming, # 1 New York Times Best Selling author who brings early literacy and music together. He is the original author of the Pete the Cat series as well as the author of The Nuts and Groovy Joe. Eric’s books have sold over 8.5 million copies, been translated into 13 languages, and won 18 literacy awards including a Theodor Geisel Seuss Honor Award.

Dr. Gravity Goldberg is an educational consultant and author who partners with districts to support meaningful learning opportunities for teachers and students. She specializes in student-centered literacy practices, building independence, and instructional decision-making.

Gravity’s work ranges from demonstrating lessons and leading workshops to developing curriculum and customizing professional development programs. Dr. Goldberg was a former staff developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and an assistant professor of education at Iona College, where she was awarded the Excellence In Teaching honor.

She is the author of Mindsets and Moves: Strategies That Help Readers Take Charge (Corwin, 2015) and co-author of the What Do I Teach Readers Tomorrow? series (Corwin, 2017) and Conferring With Readers: Supporting Each Student’s Growth and Independence (Heinemann, 2007).

She blogs at drgravitygoldberg.com and she can be reached at gravity@drgravitygoldberg.com and @drgravityg.

Steve Peha is the Founder of Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc.  He is the author of several books, including the recently published, Be a Better Writer, winner of nine awards, including a Parents’ Choice Recommended Award and three Benjamin Franklin Awards from the Independent Book Publishers’ Association.

Steve’s teaching ideas are used in over 120 countries, and more than two million teachers have downloaded materials from his website, www.ttms.org.  His writing has also appeared in The Washington Post, Psychology Today, The National Journal, Edutopia, Getting Smart, Education Post, and in numerous other publications.

Willy Wood is an educational consultant, speaker, author, and expert on brain-compatible teaching techniques who delivers engaging and informative professional development experiences for teachers nationally and internationally.  Willy specializes in such topics as increasing engagement, maximizing on-task attention, teaching for long-term memory, using music in the classroom, and raising test scores.  No matter the topic, Willy “walks his talk,” using music, movement, and frequent processing activities to engage his audiences and to model the brain-compatible teaching strategies he covers in his workshops.  You can learn more about Willy’s presentations at www.willywoodteaching.com.

Willy is the co-author, with Rich Allen, of The Rock ‘N’ Roll Classroom: Using Music to Manage Mood, Energy, and Learning (Corwin, 2013) and the e-books Seven Deadly Sins of Teaching and Teaching That Sticks: 7 Secret Memory Hacks from Cognitive Science that Massively Increase Your Students’ Learning While Simultaneously Boosting Test Scores, due out on Amazon this year.  Willy also runs two annual teachers’ conferences—the Write to Learn Conference for K-12 language arts teachers and the Missouri Early Learning Conference for pre-K through third grade teachers.  These two conferences annually bring some of the best educational speakers in the world to Missouri to share cutting-edge teaching strategies with teachers from the region.

Willy began his journey in education as a high school and university level English teacher  for 14 years before serving as the Language Arts Consultant for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for five years.  For the past sixteen years, Willy has been a full-time educational consultant, classroom coach, and presenter at numerous national conferences and in school districts across the country.

He lives in Columbia, Missouri with his wife, Debbie, who teaches kindergarten.  They have three sons—Mikael, Rory, and Jordan—and two golden doodles—Maizy and Scully.

Barry Lane is a writer, folksinger, filmmaker, and comedian.  He has written several popular books on writing instruction, including After THE END: Teaching and Learning Creative Revision; the Reviser’s Toolbox; Discovering the Writer Within; and 51 Wacky WeSearch Reports, to name a few.

In his 25-year career, he has presented to students and teachers in all 50 states and ran courses in prisons, colleges, and adult literacy programs.  Barry’s presentations include music, comedy, and many practical ideas to help teachers discover the true power of writing.

Follow him @barrylane or visit www.barrylane.com.

Featured Speakers

Friday and Saturday, Feb. 16-17

Lynne R. Dorfman was a literacy coach for the Upper Moreland School District where she taught for 38 years.  She serves the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project as a Co-director and is an adjunct professor at Arcadia University.  Together with Rose Cappelli, Lynne has authored three books on the teaching of writing published by Stenhouse.  She has a fourth book with Diane Dougherty, Grammar Matters: Lessons, Tips, and Conversations Using Mentor Texts, K-6.  Their newest book, published September 2017, is A Closer Look: Learning More About Our Writers with Formative Assessment, K-6.

Lynne is a 1989 fellow of the Pennsylvania Writing Project and a 1990 fellow of the Philadelphia Writing Project.  She serves as an editor for KSRA’s journal, PA Reads, and is also President of Eta Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa.  Lynne has conducted staff development workshops on various topics related to literacy learning for districts across the United States, and has presented at many state, regional, and national conferences, including NCTE and ILA.

Jan Richardson, Ph.D., America’s leading expert in guided reading, is a former teacher (K-college), reading specialist, Reading Recovery teacher leader, and designer of staff development.  She is currently an educational consultant, providing schools across the U.S. and Canada with customized workshops and classroom demonstrations.   Jan’s best-selling Next Step Collection began with the publication of Next Step Guided Reading (Scholastic, 2009).  The updated collection now includes The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading; The Guided Reading Teacher’s Companion: Prompts and Discussion Starters; Next Step Guided Reading in Action; and Next Step Guided Reading Assessment, co-authored with Maria P. Walther.  Jan also worked with Michele Dufresne from Pioneer Valley Books to develop Literacy Footprints: A Complete System for Supporting Guided Reading, which has lesson cards that follow Jan’s “Next Step” framework.  With electrifying wit and wisdom, Jan leaves audiences informed, motivated, and inspired.

Pam Withers is an award-winning young-adult/middle-grade author of 19 adventure books especially popular with teenage boys, including reluctant readers.  She’s also a boys’ literacy advocate, speaker, mother, and blogger on parenting boys and more.

Pam co-authored Jump-Starting Boys: Help Your Reluctant Learner Find Success in School and Life with her Minneapolis-based educator/therapist sister.

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, raised in North and South Dakota, Pam is a former outdoor guide, journalist, and editor who lives with her husband in Vancouver, Canada.  You can learn more about her work at www.pamwithers.com.