2018 Keynote and Workshop Speakers

Friday Morning Workshops • 9:00 am - 11:15


Anne Goudvis

Comprehension at the Core: Building Knowledge Through Thinking-Intensive Reading

We don’t reserve comprehension instruction just for the literacy block! When comprehension strategies are at the core of science, social studies, and language arts instruction, students learn and understand more deeply, engage more completely and build knowledge over time. The real world is rich, fascinating, and compelling, so let’s replicate it in our classrooms. In classrooms where content learning is on the front burner, voluminous reading, writing, and research happen all day, every day; students come to care about what they learn and even take action. Video snippets, examples of student work and projects, and practical lesson ideas for primary and intermediate grades will be shared. 

Anne Goudvis began her career teaching both primary and intermediate grades in Chicago. After graduate school at the University of Illinois’ Center for the Study of Reading, she worked as a staff developer with the Denver-based Public Education Coalition. She continues to work side by side with teachers in classrooms, and she conducts workshops and coaching sessions in schools around the country.


Alfred Tatum


Using Texts to Nurture Meaningful Literacy Exchange: A Focus on Reading and Writing

This engaging session will focus on using texts to nurture interdisciplinary reading and writing to advance students' intellectual and personal development. Specific attention will be given to boys in the intermediate grades.

Alfred W. Tatum is an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He also serves as Director of the UIC Reading Clinic where he hosts an annual African American Adolescent Male Summer Literacy Institute. He authored the award-winning books Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males: Closing the Achievement Gap and Reading for Their Life: Re(building) the Textual Lineages of African American Adolescent Males. He has written more than 25 publications on the topics of adolescent literacy, teacher professional development in urban middle schools and high schools, and the literacy development of African American adolescent males, particularly the impact of texts on their lives. He continues to support middle and high school teachers and administrators. He is active in several professional, national and international literacy organizations. He began his career as an eighth-grade teacher in Chicago, later becoming a reading specialist.


Leah Ames

Motivating and Engaging Students to Think Critically Through Close Reading of Complex Texts


Increase student achievement and meet the challenges of rigorous expectations through genre-specific, close reading strategies. Participants will analyze a rich variety of informational and literary texts, including media, for applying close reading strategies and for understanding how to engage students in multiple readings of texts. This hands-on approach to close reading allows participants to apply strategies that will help students consistently gain a deeper understanding of complex texts.

Leah Ames is an experienced educator and presenter with over 27 years of experience in secondary education. As a secondary English language arts teacher, she spent 13 years teaching students how to be effective readers, writers, speakers, and thinkers. As an educational consultant, she shares her passion for teaching through hands-on, research-based strategies for helping students achieve success in preparing for college and career readiness.


Gravity Goldberg

Five Teacher Decisions That Matter Most


Gravity Goldberg will help teachers filter through the thousands of decisions they make per day and avoid decision-fatigue by focusing on the ones that matter most. She will explain which five decisions about the teaching of reading really impact student growth and which ones just don't. Videos, student work, and lesson ideas will be shared. Attendees will be equipped with knowing where to focus their attention and what to look for as well as learn about key lessons for teaching both fiction and nonfiction reading. They also will leave with more self-confidence and trust in their decision-making process. 

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Gravity Goldberg is author of  Mindsets and Moves: Strategies That Help Readers Take Charge, Grades 1-8 and has authored many articles about reading, writing, and professional development. She holds a doctorate degree in education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a former staff developer at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and an assistant professor at Iona College’s graduate education program. She leads a team of literacy consultants in the New York/New Jersey area. She is the author of  Conferring with Readers: Supporting Each Student's Growth and Independence.

Friday Luncheon • 11:30-12:45


Guadalupe Garcia McCall 

Guadalupe Garcia McCall was born in Mexico and moved to Texas as a young girl, keeping close ties with family on both sides of the border. Trained in theater arts and English, she now teaches English language arts at a high school in San Antonio. Her poems for adults have appeared in many literary journals. She is an up-and-coming talent whose debut YA novel, Under the Mesquite, won the Pura Belpré Award, the Tomas Rivera Children's Book Award, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, and was named a William C. Morris Award Finalist. Her second novel, Summer of the Mariposas, won the Westchester Fiction Award and was an Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Finalist. Her third novel, Shame the Stars, is a Junior Library Guild Selection and received a Starred Kirkus Review. McCall lives with her husband and three pets in South Texas.

General Session • 1:15-2:30


Jocelyn Chadwick 

Our Students and Us—New Space, New Place, New Time: Thriving and Progressing Together

So much has occurred to us and our students and the world since we gathered in Ft. Worth one year ago. While English language arts teachers, PreK to graduate, have always been pivotal and critical in exposing, immersing, and engaging our students in social and cultural and political history, critical in preparing our students with lifelong literacy through critical reading, writing, thinking, speaking, listening, and viewing, we find ourselves at this moment in time at a critical and ever-morphing juncture. Now, we and what we do are the very nucleus of the modeling and teaching of equality, equity, and ethics through what and how we teach all of our students. In this Herculean effort, we and our students symbiotically energize, sustain, motivate, and yes, instruct one another. 

Concurrent Session A + Committee Meetings • 3:00-4:00

Concurrent Session B • 4:15-5:15

Friday Afternoon Workshops • 3:00-5:15


Gravity Goldberg

Supporting Truly Independent Readers

It’s time to develop clear, incisive pictures of student readers who are self-directed, passionate, and working with a full sense of agency. In this session, Gravity Goldberg applies the work of Dweck, Hattie, and Johnston to help you put in place a strong plan for cultivating independence in students’ reading processes. She reveals how we can use her framework from Mindsets and Moves called the 4Ms to lean on. When you are a miner, a mirror, a model, and a mentor, you are taking on roles that bring about students’ agency, responsibility, and authority as readers.


Jocelyn A. Chadwick

Just How Do We Refuel? Life-Balance, Scholarship, Impact, and Innovative Resources to Sustain Ourselves and Our Mission

This session identifies why and how we should create innovative space, place, a personal/professional sense of who we are, what we do, and how to maintain our intellectual and teacherly edge in a variety of milieus: school, classroom, home. This session will also include “testimonials” from both adults and students in different disciplines—outside of our circle—whose careers and daily living have been affected by English language arts teachers. Having “in real time” primary sources and opinions, illustrating how they either use the lifelong literacy skills we teach and/or how they presently reference what we teach, is an essential component to refueling our physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual energy.

Saturday General Session • 8:30-10

Passionate Learners: How to Engage and Empower Your Students


Pernille Ripp

Would you want to be a student in your own classroom? In this session, based on the book Passionate Learners: How to Engage and Empower Your Students, 7th-grade teacher Pernille Ripp will help both novice and seasoned educators create a positive, interactive learning environment where students drive their own academic achievement. You’ll discover how to make fundamental changes to your classroom so learning becomes an exciting challenge rather than a frustrating ordeal. Attendees will discover practical strategies for how to build a working relationship with your students based on mutual trust, respect, and appreciation, be attentive to your students’ needs and share ownership of the classroom with them, and break out of the vicious cycle of punishment and reward to control student behavior.  Whether you are just beginning or well on your way in your teaching career, this session is meant to inspire you, help you take some risks, and eagerly pursue your journey toward a classroom filled with passionate learners.

As a child growing up in Denmark, Pernille Ripp knew she wanted to work with kids. She began her journey in education as a math resource teacher, and then transitioned into the classroom as a fourth and fifth grade teacher, and has now found her home as a seventh grade English teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin. She is also a speaker, author, blogger at pernillesripp.com, mom, and passionate advocate for education. She is an award-winning expert in literacy and technology integration and dedicates her life efforts to uplifting engaged and empowered students. She is also the founder of The Global Read Aloud that has connected more than two million students in 82 countries. Pernille's books and blogs are sources of inspiration and insight for teachers, parents, and educators around the world. Her newest book is Passionate Readers: The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child.

Concurrent Session C • 10:30-11:30

Saturday Luncheon • 11:45-1:00


Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honor-winning, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award-winning, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award Finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, and many, many fun and rollicking picture books. She is a member of the faculty at and former chair of the Vermont College’s Master of Fine Arts program in writing for children and young adults.



Cynthia Leitich Smith is the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestselling, award-winning YA author of the Tantalize series, the Feral trilogy, and several acclaimed children’s books. She was named a Writer of the Year by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers in recognition of Rain Is Not My Indian Name. Cynthia is on the faculty of the VCFA MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She also serves on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. The Austin chapter of SCBWI has instituted the Cynthia Leitich Smith Mentor Award in her honor. 

Saturday Afternoon Workshop • 1:30-3:45


Pernille Ripp

A Picture Book Taught Me This

While picture books are a staple of the elementary classroom, there often is no place for them with our older students, yet these are the students that need picture books the most.  Discover how picture books can help all students close read, conquer complex message, become stronger writers, as well as spark their love of reading again all through the use of carefully selected picture books.

Concurrent Session D • 1:30-2:30 

Concurrent Session E • 2:45-3:45

Concurrent Session F • 2:45-3:45

Poetry Reading • 7:30-8:30


Deborah Mouton

Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton an internationally-known Poet, Singer, Actress, Photographer, Wife, Mother, and the current Poet Laureate for the City of Houston. She is a native-Californian who now resides in Houston,TX.

Formerly ranked the #2 Best female Poet in the World, D.E.E.P. has established herself as a notable force in the Performance and Slam Poetry World.

She published her first collection of poetry at the tender age of 19. From there, she went onto compete at CUPSI as a member of the 2004 University of Michigan Slam Team while simultaneously touring with the WordWorks Poetry Troupe across the Midwest.

On stage, she has been a 2015 Finalist for the Individual World Poetry Slam, a 2016 Finalist for the Texas Grand Slam,  and has served as a Final Stage Sacrificial Poet for the 2016 Women of the World Poetry Slam. Off stage, she has had the honor of serving as a Juried Poet for the 2012 Houston Poetry Fest. Her work can be found in The Houston Chronicle, The Houston Press, Wicked Banshee Press' Survival Issue, Houston Noir by Akashic Press, the 2012 and 2017 Houston Poetry Fest Anthologies. She was most recently appointed the Houston's third Poet Laureate by Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Sunday Sessions • 9:00-12:00


JAN BUrkins and KIM Yaris 

Who’s Doing the Work? How to Say Less So Students Can Do More


Educators everywhere are confounded by students who face challenging texts without applying the strategies they have been taught. When such problems arise, our inclination as teachers is to do more.  However, when we summarize text before reading or guide students when they encounter difficult words, are we leading students to depend on our support? Small adjustments to instruction can lead to powerful shifts in student engagement and empower students to persevere in doing the work of becoming better readers. Learn practical ways to get students “unstuck” by shifting the language of reading instruction, adjusting conventional prompts, and reframing scaffolding.


Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris are the authors of the celebrated book from Stenhouse Publishers Who’s Doing the Work?: How to Say Less So Readers Can Do More and of Reading Wellness: Lessons in Independence and Proficiency . Both titles provide practical ideas for teaching students to become increasingly independent and proficient in an age where heavy teacher talk is the status quo. They are also the writers and thinkers behind Burkins and Yaris—Think Tank for 21st Century Literacy, where their blog and their instructional resources have attracted an international audience and made them thought leaders in the field of literacy instruction. Drawing on their more than 50 combined years of experience in education, they are passionate about helping teachers navigate, understand, and implement standards-based instruction without sacrificing their inner teacher. In their current role as staff developers, they work closely with schools and districts, facilitating professional learning, conducting in-class demonstrations, and developing curriculum. 


Chris Lehman

Closely Reading Our Communities, Our World, and Ourselves to Fuel Change

Literacy has the power to fuel change, justice, kindness, and care. There is no greater gift to give our students than the knowledge that their words, ideas, and reflections can directly shape the world around them while also shaping who they are within the world. In this session, Christopher Lehman, Founding Director of The Educator Collaborative and co-author of the bestselling Falling in Love With Close Reading, shares inspirational examples and practical strategies for helping students dig deeply into texts, media, and the world around them. You will leave with not just lessons, but a vision for supporting the "future adults" you serve into becoming energized citizens capable of making change.

Christopher Lehman is an international speaker, education consultant, and New York Times bestselling author. He is also the Founding Director of The Educator Collaborative, a think tank and educational consulting organization working to innovate the ways educators learn together. His books include: Falling In Love With Close Reading with Kate Roberts; Energize Research Reading and Writing; Pathways to the Common Core with Lucy Calkins and Mary Ehrenworth; and A Quick Guide to Reviving Disengaged Writers. His articles and interviews have appeared in many publications and popular blogs including Voices from the Middle, SmartBrief, EdWeek, Choice Literacy and Talks with Teachers.