CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The University of Northern Iowa will host the 49th annual Elementary Literacy Conference Friday, April 7, in the Schindler Education Center. This year's theme is “Open Arms, Open Hearts, Open Minds: Inclusive Teaching and Classrooms That Welcome ALL!"
The conference will feature best-selling author and illustrator Anne Sibley O’Brien, who has created 36 multicultural children’s books. Her most recent title, “I’m New Here,” is a picture book she wrote and illustrated about three immigrant children. Sibley’s keynote address will focus on what schools can do to help children and families of diverse backgrounds as they acclimate and adjust to a new country.
A preconference event will take place at the Waterloo Center for the Arts from 5 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 6. The evening will be a celebration of different cultures and will include activities for families. Sibley will give a short presentation about her books and be available for autographing books. The ELC preconference event will be held in partnership with Waterloo Community Schools and the Waterloo Center for the Arts.
“Our children - native and immigrant in schools - come from different walks of life," said Gaëtane Jean-Marie, dean of the College of Education. "They possess different abilities, speak different languages, and have different values and dreams. At a deeper level, the need to teach all students successfully ‘is connected to our ability to give each student, regardless of differentiated circumstances, permanent value and unconditional care.’ The work of Anne Sibley O’Brien illuminates how teachers can uphold their commitment to educate all learners. With a focus on immigrant children, she draws attention to how teachers can enhance their cultural knowledge, awareness and sensitivity to improve the educational experience of learners."
Sarah Vander Zanden, director of the UNI Literacy Clinic and program coordinator of the Literacy Education division remarked, “Practicing teachers have contributed as presenters to the ELC since its inception, and this valuable professional outlet is a great source of positive energy. At the ELC, participants will discuss problems of practice, share successful learning contexts and learn about multicultural literature - all of which support academic success for our diverse student populations."
Since the Beginning Reading Conference began in 1969, it has hosted more than 52 authors in 49 years. The conference was conceived and organized by Joan Duea and Delsie Charais Foreman, former elementary school faculty at Malcolm Price Laboratory School. Although the conference was originally intended for lower elementary teachers and their principals, attendance has grown to include all elementary grade level teachers. The conference has become increasingly popular over the years and currently is one of the largest conferences hosted on UNI’s campus.
General sessions will include literacy and inclusion strategies. Parking will be available in the West Dome parking lot. Shuttle buses will transport guests from the lot to the Schindler Education Center every 15 minutes between 7 and 8 a.m. The preconference and conference events are sponsored by the UNI College of Education. The conference is free to UNI students and faculty; continuing education credits are available. To register for the conference or for more information, visit www.uni.edu/elc.