Literacy Research Association Conference 2013

All five authors of this blog on literacy attended the Literacy Research Association’s 63rd Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas this past week. All of us are long time members of LRA, with my attendance dating back to 1992. This year’s conference theme was Transformative Literacy: Theory, Research, and Reform, a theme to which the five of us can really relate.

In our posts over the past three years, we have discussed many of these issues and contributed what we can to the discussion. The conference offered a broad spectrum of literacy research–from more traditional elements to the latest thinking in technology applications for literacy. The conference was amazing–the Omni Hotel is new, clean, elegant, and most important–FRIENDLY. There were numerous instances of kindness and care from the staff of the hotel that touched us–particularly as we all became somewhat “housebound” by the freezing weather front that swept down from the arctic.

When most of us arrived on Tuesday, December 3, the weather was a balmy 79 degrees Fahrenheit, but by Thursday, the temperature never rose higher than 27 degrees and by Friday, the high was 23 degrees with winds that exacerbated the cold. It was ironic to look out at the heaters on the outside patios and see icicles!  Contrast these two views  a view from the hotel. The first is Wednesday and a similar view on Thursday. Brrrr!

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Inside, it was another story. This conference was put together with wonderful sessions–thanks to all the Area Chairs and Reviewers who selected the sessions and to all the presenters for their literacy research!

A highlight of the conference included a Presidential speech by Rick Beach of the University of Minnesota on the possibilities and affordances of online literacies. In addition, the speech was broadcast live to YouTube and links were provided during the speech so the audience could follow along. http://tinyurl.com/pgnbp2u Log in an take a look at a very valuable resource for online and multimodal composing! If you want to try Google Hangouts, go to Ian O’Byrne’s test flight at https://plus.google.com/u/0/111576401886299659895/posts/aKsxDawviHA?cfem=1 

The President’s Reception was held on Wednesday evening and the Literacy Beat bloggers were there. In addition, many of the people who work hard to make the conference a success, such as Board members and committee chairs were in attendance. Ian O’Byrne and Greg McVery, both essential to the new technologies for communication at LRA and Andrea Boling (Chair of the Technology Committee and e-Editor at LRA) at the President’s Reception on Wednesday evening.

kThree Tech

The next picture is of the five of us–Literacy Beat authors:  from the right, is Bernadette Dwyers, Bridget Dalton, Jill Castek, DeVere Wolsey, and yours truly. We always treasure the opportunities to interact in the same space and time (as we mostly always communicate from afar) and this conference was no exception. It should be noted that Bernadette is on the Board of the International Reading Association and that DeVere is the incoming LRA Publications Committee Chair. photo(4)

We all made presentations at the conference, caught up with our colleagues, and participated in various interests group throughout the conference.

Because of the freezing conditions, getting out of Dallas was somewhat challenging. One group of colleagues from Vanderbilt University, their flights cancelled, rented a car and drove home–a trip of 12 hours! Almost everyone experienced a delay, a cancellation, or a complete disaster. One colleague went to the airport in the middle of the night, put herself on the standby list and waiting almost 12 hours, eventually making it home.

For those of our readers who attend conferences, we’d like to encourage you to attend next year, if possible–on Marco Island in Florida, December 3-6, 2014. Hope we won’t have snow and hope to see you there!

On the Beat at the 18th European Conference on Reading

A post from Bernadette

The 18th European Conference on Reading was held in in the beautiful town of Jönköping in Sweden from August 6th to the 9th. Over the space of four days delegates, from around the globe including, Europe, US, Canada, Russia, Asia, South Africa and Australia, met, listened, debated and forged collaborative links around issues relating to the conference theme of New Literacies, New Challenges. In this blog post I thought I would give you a flavour the wonderful keynote addresses presented during the conference. Local speakers provided stimulating and interesting keynote addresses to both open and close the conference. Professor Elsie Anderberg, from Jönköping University, addressed the issue of The Function of Language Use in Reading Comprehension in her opening address. Professor Stefan Samuelsson (Linköping University) provided intriguing insights from an international collaborative research project on Behaviour-Genetic Studies of Academic Performance in School Students.

Professor Jackie Marsh from the University of Sheffield provided a wonderful and thought provoking keynote address on Digital Futures: Learning and Literacy in the New Media Age addressing issues including family digital literacy practices and children’s use of virtual worlds. Jackie then provided fascinating insights from the Digital Futures in Teacher Education’ Project on aspects related to pedagogical strategies and design of curriculum. Rather than trying to ‘colonise’ children’s home practices with digital literacies, she urged us to try to build on and extend such literacies links; thereby bridging the dissonance between in-school and out-of-school literacies.

Digital Futures in Teacher Education

Digital Futures in Teacher Education

http://www.digitalfutures.org/

Professor Don Leu (University of Connecticut) delivered an engrossing keynote address entitled, The New Literacies of Online Research and Comprehension: Reading with a Lens to the Past and with a Lens to the Future. Don got to the “Heart of the Matter”, and effectively captured the feeling of most of us working in the area of digital literacies, when he quoted Don Henley from The Eagles, “The more I know, the less I understand.” Don addressed issues related to the ubiquitous nature of the Internet and other digital technologies in society and the deictic nature of literacy in the 21st century. He spoke convincingly on the need to ensure equity in, and equality of, access to digital literacies for all students regardless of SES. You can view the PowerPoint presentation in the link below.

The conference organisers, Ulla-Britt Person, Lena Ivarsson and other colleagues in the Swedish Council of International Reading Association (SCIRA), together with colleagues on the International Development in European Committee of the International Reading Association (IDEC) and the Federation of European Literacy Associations (FELA) are be congratulated for the successful organisation of a wealth of presentations and workshops across the four days of the conference.

Presentations and hand-outs from the conference will be available soon on the IDEC website.

So a truly great conference in a wonderful venue! Mark your calendar for the 19th European Conference on Reading to be held in Klagenfurt in Austria on 14th -17th July 2015.

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