Summer Literacy Conference begins June 16

Ofelia Garcia and Wayne E. Wright
Ofelia Garcia and Wayne E. Wright

NIU will host its 42nd annual Summer Literacy Conference titled “Beyond the Common Core: Taking All Educators to the Head of the Class” from Tuesday, June 16, through Thursday, June 18, at NIU-Naperville.

Topics will address ways the Common Core impacts educational policy and instruction for English Learners (ELs), raises the bar for ELs’ academic literacy across the content areas and supports biliteracy in ELs.

The conference will feature two distinguished keynote speakers:

  • Wayne E. Wright, professor and Barbara I. Cook Chair of the Department of Literacy and Language at Purdue University; and
  • Ofelia Garcia, professor of urban education and of Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian literatures and languages at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

The conference will also include experts from NIU’s Department of Literacy and Elementary Education along with a teacher panel of NIU graduates.

In the 21st century, Garcia said, professionals in schools are dealing with educational policies that are very restrictive yet good. For example, Garcia explained that today’s teachers are under far too many constraints given the implementation of the Common Core Standards; they are overwhelmed with what they should teach and how to teach it.

“Teachers will gain a new lens from this conference that enables them to be liberated from the constraints, so they can teach to the Common Core in ways that enhance their ability to make good educational outcomes,” Garcia said.

Garcia also said conference participants will learn how to tap into “translanguaging” skills, which bilingual learners can use to learn and teachers can use to teach.

Photo of a tall stack of books in a library“Translanguaging is the act of languaging between two systems that have previously described as separate, and going beyond them. It also involves tapping into the child’s linguistic strengths and repertoire to develop English language competencies,” Garcia said.

“For a child who is becoming bilingual, the idea is to really educate them well and to build on their strengths, which involves teaching them how to use their own linguistic resources to engage in learning, and to develop a strong identity,” she added.

Ultimately, conference attendees will walk away inspired with new skill sets, new tools and new ways of rethinking education and bilingualism in the classroom.

“We are bringing the children back into focus; we will give (conference participants) tools to be more creative in the classroom, more conscious and more critical of their sense of students, their sense of bilinguals and their sense of learning.”

Those attending the conference have the option of earning PDUs or enrolling for graduate-level credit. Both options require conference registration.

For those wishing to use this conference to earn three hours of graduate-level credit, participants must be admitted to the NIU Graduate School, attend all conference sessions and complete and submit all required assignments via email. All conference attendees must pay the conference registration fee as well as tuition and fees for graduate-level credit. The total cost of the conference is $1,340.54.

For more information, call (815) 753-0277 or (800) 345-9472.

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