On February 12th and 13th, I was able to attend the Literacy Summit at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. This conference was co-sponsored by TALE (Texas Association of Literacy Education),the University of the Incarnate Word, and the Specialized Literacy Professionals. It was one the the most well organized and productive conferences that I have attended to date. I enjoyed being able to be in an environment in which it truly felt as if the conference information and sessions were applicable to anyone with a stake in education, at any level.
The opening keynote sessions were divided into several sections in which speaker discussed what is considered “hot” and what should be “hot” in literacy within their specialization areas. English language learners, New and Digital Literacies, Literacy roles and employment, teacher training, motivation, and state and national standards were addressed. The keynote addresses were followed by a wine and cheese reception (a very nice touch, and much needed, in the middle of a Friday afternoon). While the festivities kicked off with the wine and cheese reception, poster presenters were present to share some great ideas, research, and literacy methods. Having the poster sessions during this time also allowed the poster presenters the opportunity to come in contact with more of the attendees- rather than them becoming an afterthought while presenter sessions, and speaker presentations were taking place.
On Saturday morning, I attended part of Dr. Donald Leu’s presentation on New Literacy. He had a wealth of information on the use of digital literacy in our classrooms to reach out to learners in all parts of the world (epals.com). His discussion on 1 to 1 computers for all students being a tool that allows students to explore and grow in the area of literacy at a rate more rapidly than their counterparts, confirmed the session in which I presented at the conference (Digital Minds: Writing Instruction for Students who HATE Writing). Unfortunately, I had to leave Dr. Leu’s keynote a bit early, due to having to present during the first sessions at 9:00am.
I presented “Digital Minds” to a nice sized crowd of people, who were a group that consisted of diverse educational experiences and backgrounds. My thirty minute session was a bit rushed, however, I hope that I provided the “spark” that everyone in attendance needed to enrich their students’ literacy learning. I am hoping that they use the ideas presented as a resource, and build upon them. I also encouraged them to use me as a resource in the future for collaboration. If you attended my presentation, I THANK YOU!
The remainder of the conference was spent attending sessions on e-books, vocabulary, selection of non-fiction texts for students. All of the sessions were exceptionally helpful, because they were relevant and could be applied in most educational settings. It was also great to see a fellow Kansas State alumna (and current professor) presenting a session in which I attended. The closing keynote, by young adult author Guadalupe Garcia McCall was a personal story about the power of words in her life, and also the educators that pushed and inspired her to be where she is today. It was a powerful testimony, and a great way to close out the day.
In closing, I must rave about the lunch options–the San Antonio food trucks! Whoever came up with this idea, kudos to you! Many conferences require you to make lunch a separate option, or settle for the “banquet style” lunch. At this conference, having the food trucks present provided convenience, choice, and it allowed for a flexible schedule. Might I add that the weather was perfect!
It was my first time in attendance at the Literacy Summit, and as with any new thing, it can be a bit intimidating to be around others that you do not know. However, our common goal of making literacy a tool to enhance students’ lives brought us all together quickly. I appreciated the opportunity to learn from others, as well as present my ideas. I definitely plan on being in attendance again next year!