2024 Presenters

Key Note Speakers

Hilderbrand Peltzer
Kareem Weaver
Dr. Tracy Weeden
Dr. Julie Washington
Dr. Shawn A. Robinson
(Dr. Dyslexia Dude)
Dr. Keith Magee
Winifred Winston & Lederick Horne
(Black and Dyslexic Podcast)
Ameer Baraka
Harvey Hubbell

Dyslexia Simulation with Dr. Kelli Sandman Hurley
CoFounder of the Dyslexia Training Institute

Breakout Sessions - Speakers & Descriptions

Teaching Comprehension through a Culturally Responsive Lens – Dr. Mitchell Brookins

Engagement, relevance, and rigor are critical to creating academic success in today’s classrooms. Teachers are tasked with honing students’ literacy skills while making them critically aware of the world. In this session, participants will learn the importance of providing explicit comprehension instruction in syntax and text structure and how that deepens students’ understanding of grade-level, complex texts. Also, participants will learn the tenets of culturally relevant pedagogy. In this session, the intersection between culturally relevant pedagogy and explicit comprehension instruction will be used as a lens for instructional planning and creating learning tasks. It is through this intersection that we will explore how to create literacy experiences that collectively empower and equip our students to navigate and transform an increasingly complex world.

Dyslexia Advocacy: Parents as Partners – DeJunne’ Clark Jackson

This presentation addresses the fundamental right of all students to be taught to read and the responsibility of the collective group to address struggles in reading acquisition. It questions the determinants of access to reading instruction and explores barriers to teaching reading effectively. The issue is often compartmentalized, hindering a comprehensive understanding. Through the lens of equality and equitable access to education, particularly in reading, the presentation emphasizes the importance of recognizing diversity in equity and inequity and building awareness around it to promote lifelong learning success. It stresses the adverse implications of lacking awareness, especially for diverse groups. Collaboration among parents, providers, community, and school leaders is highlighted as essential for making informed decisions to improve reading achievement. This presentation advocates for systemic change, emphasizing engagement and commitment at various levels, including state-level policies, teacher preparation, access to evidence-based curriculum and professional development, and bias training. The overarching goal is to prevent the emergence of struggling readers, underscoring the necessity of authentic change in reading achievement through holistic engagement and commitment to systemic improvements.

The Power of Books to Nurture Positive Racial and Ethnic Identities in Children – Jacqueline Douge

The Power of Books to Nurture Positive Racial and Ethnic Identities in Children explores literature’s transformative role in guiding parents toward fostering positive racial and ethnic identities in their children. Positive racial and ethnic identities are foundational to a child’s sense of self, impacting the mental, emotional, and social well-being of Black Children. The session will focus on practical approaches for utilizing books to initiate conversations, positively impacting children’s health and well-being, and cultivating a sense of belonging and pride in one’s racial and ethnic heritage.

When a School Does Not Offer Structured Literacy, What Next? – Diane Dragan

Many schools do not have appropriately trained teachers or evidence-based curriculum in their districts. What options do parents have when their child needs services the school can’t or won’t offer? How can a parent get outside tutoring services paid for or private placement at public expense? What is a state complaint? What is a due process hearing? When should parents consider reaching out to an advocate or an attorney to assist a family in getting services? Knowing your child’s rights is essential to getting FAPE.

Resources to Help Facilitate Families’ Understanding of Evidence-based Literacy PracticesRegina Frazier

How can you help facilitate families’ understanding of evidence-based literacy practices, including learning about, and supporting their child’s literacy development in and out of school? This session by the National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL) is intended to support the capacity of stakeholders to effectively engage and partner with families around evidence-based literacy practices. This session will: 1) explain the key roles educators and families play to support children’s literacy development; 2) overview free resources to support families in understanding and advocating for evidence-based literacy practices; and 3) provide examples of how to use the resources with families. Participants will engage in group discussion to connect key ideas to their experiences and interact with resource content, including effective communication channels between schools and families.

Connecting Dyslexic Youth and Young Adults to Mentors and Role Models – LeDerick Horne

Several strategies will be explored to help families and school staff develop mentoring initiatives within their districts. Role models from the present and past will be provided to help students build a meaningful connection to the disability community – With several examples of Black leaders with learning disabilities being cited. The audience will also explore the intersectionality of disability and race to help them create more inclusive schools and communities.

The Science of Reading: The Key to Black Children Becoming Competent Readers – Dr. David P. Hurford, Thomas E. Hurford & Michaela Ozier

Learning to read is a basic human and civil right, a right that must be realized for academic success, economic freedom, and prosperity. Children who are struggling readers are at greater risk of experiencing anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, school dropout, parental abuse, poor self-concept, involvement in the penal system, substance abuse, early parenthood, and public assistance. This session will provide an overview of the Science of Reading including the neurological and genetic underpinnings of reading failure, myths, successes, the English writing system and its contribution to reading failure, and how utilizing scientific findings will help eliminate the reading crisis. The session will also demonstrate how utilizing the Science of Reading will help children of color in particular to become competent readers.

Storytelling in the Classroom: A Tool for Building Synergy & Collaborative Work Spaces – Misha Jemison

Classrooms are meant to prepare the next generation of innovators, so we must consider the ways we do(n’t) compellingly create rationale for actively engaging in the work with our students as colleagues, fellow freedom dreamers, and partners in the work. As academic griots, we promote the value of pursuing learning and supporting each other with deepening our shared awareness of the world. Being that “the human mind seems exquisitely tuned to understand and remember stories,” this session will have participants reflect on their own intersectional stories and explore strategies for integrating storytelling into their learning spaces by evaluating stock and concealed stories they have curated about themselves and their communities (Sherrington 2018). In addition, session participants will engage in auditing their approaches to collaborative work and identify ways to be more culturally responsive via participation in small and whole-group discussions.

Dyslexia More than just an Academic Issue, Social and Emotional Effects of Dyslexia – Dr. Tracy Johnson-Rockmore

This presentation will discuss how negative emotions can affect a person with dyslexia. We will talk about how a person’s self-esteem can be damaged if feeling around their dyslexia is not handled in a healthy way. We will talk about  creating a safe environment where the individual with dyslexia feels open to share their feelings so that they have an outlet.  We will also go over how self-talk and internal dialogue can help change the perspective of a person living with dyslexia, increase or improve the way they feel about themselves.

The Black Code – How Culturally Responsive is Your ELA Instruction? – Sharice K. Lane

As school districts look to implement inclusive instructional materials and practices aligned to the Science of Reading, we need student-centered methods to interrogate authentic literary representation.  Using critical language awareness, Black educators use their language identities to identify curricular opportunities to provide linguistically inclusive literacy instruction using Black American English. In this session, BAE will be highlighted as not only a mechanism for building and maintaining rapport between Black educators and students, but as tool to identify and dismantle institutionalized racism.

Black Language and Literacy: Embedding Equity into Evidence-Aligned Assessment and Instruction – Dr. Dionna Latimer-Hearn & Kari Kurto

This presentation examines key features of African American English (AAE) and examines variations in sociocultural practices. Learners identify strategies to differentiate between typical and atypical AAE linguistic patterns across phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. The presenters will explore the strong link between language and literacy development, specifically as it relates to evidence-aligned assessment practices, by examining sample assessment questions to note areas of disconnect.  This presentation will support educators, reading specialists, and speech-language pathologists in promoting equitable assessment, intervention (where appropriate), and instruction for AAE-speaking students thereby mitigating the misidentification of AAE speakers for remedial programs.

Putting the Lit in Children’s Literature: Ways to Amplify Student Voices Through Read-Alouds – Yvette Manns

In this session, participants will apply oral language and vocabulary enrichment practices to a diverse set of children’s read-aloud books to promote language development and student engagement. Using strategies to introduce tiered vocabulary, educators will identify and employ opportunities for students to utilize their own expressive language and develop listening comprehension. Participants will learn hands-on strategies to implement interactive read-alouds and facilitate conversations that usher in the generation of empowered readers.

Literacy, Dyslexia and Equity 101: A Presentation without Jargon – Debbie Meyer

Translating the Science of Reading and the elements of Evidence-Based Instruction to novices and parents is often a conversation left out of conferences. Educators need to communicate with parents where they are, and not with edu-speak terms. Similarly, to build support for a shift to evidence based practices, leaders must find a community of other leaders, and be able to speak about why we need to shift in plain terms, with convincing arguments. The workshop will be interactive with Kahoot!

Beyond Relevance and Responsive to Cultural Responsibility through Understanding Representational Balance in Curriculum – Dr. Tanji Reed Marshall

Curriculum is the conveyor belt of information in school and evidences who matters and who will be relegated to the margins. In this session, participants will be able to differentiate between cultural relevance, responsiveness, and responsibility by interacting with literature to understand the role of representational balance as a means of ensuring complex presentations of Black students in ways that defy harmful and limited stereotypes.

Transformative Practice: Low-Cost, High-Impact Reading Intervention – Dr. Shawn A. Robinson

This presentation emphasizes the crucial role of dictionary proficiency in language learning, particularly for adolescents and adults. It introduces a Word Analysis approach merging linguistic theory with teaching methods to enhance reading skills and promote effective dictionary use. Employing a Simultaneous Multisensory Instructional Procedure, it engages students in auditory, visual, and tactile learning to grasp American English phonetics. Emphasizing Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 11th edition, the approach integrates phonological insights and decoding strategies, aligning with evidence-based reading principles. It underscores the importance of mastering pronunciation symbols, facilitating nuanced language comprehension and acquisition.

How to Teach Spelling Using Structured Literacy Strategies – Dr. Kelli Sandman Hurley

Have you ever caught yourself saying (or thinking) ‘English is crazy’ or we just have to memorize that word? Are there certain spelling patterns your students find particularly difficult to remember? If so, this webinar will demonstrate how to use structured literacy strategies to teach spelling. Participants will learn how to use the English language as their data bank and use that data to help students identify patterns, rules and maybe a few exceptions. Practical activities will be shared so that you can incorporate them into your teaching right away.

It’s Not On My Sleeve: Not a Label, an Identity – Shakela Y. M. Strawberry

How often have you suggested to a minority parent about possibly having their struggling learner evaluated for learning differences? Most of the time, the first thing said is, “They are not gonna label my child!” When I was going to do my Ph.D. in theology, my dissertation topic would be “It’s not on my sleeve; it’s in me.” Sleeves are like labels: they can be taken off. Would you label someone as Black or a Woman or a Giraffe? Or would you call them that because that is what they are? “Wearing it on your sleeve is also used as a negative, meaning a person is “too vulnerable.” More importantly, it assumes that “it will go away,” or my child won’t “have a disability anymore,” or “they will grow out of it.” Having a learning difference doesn’t go away, so therefore, it’s not like labels that can be removed. When we start looking at it like its identity, we can work with it and address it and why we even need to talk with the language of “labeling.” Why does SpED have a negative connotation or stereotype? How can we be a part of that change so that our students can learn precisely the way they need for their success?

Unlocking Potential: Tackling the Literacy Crisis Through Systemic Change by Educators of Color – Catina K. Taylor

The session begins by shedding light on the current literacy crisis, with a focus on its disproportionate impact on communities of color. It emphasizes the unique position and potential of educators of color in understanding and addressing these challenges. The core of the presentation revolves around actionable strategies for systemic change. This includes curriculum redesign to incorporate culturally relevant materials, advocating for policy changes, and effective community engagement to support literacy development.

Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL): The Possibility of Intersectionality – Brandon C. S. Wallace

This session will enhance researchers’ and practitioners’ lenses to understand Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) and the ways in which they might be used together to enhance literacy skills in secondary educational contexts. Additionally, participants will be able to witness the convergence between the aforementioned frameworks to build, and, then, practice opportunities to develop materials to use within the classroom setting, particularly for culturally diverse students, particularly African American students. In this step-by-step, lecture-turned- interactive workshop, learners will be able to understand the basic tenets of UDL and CRT and practice developing tools to ensure that the cultural contexts of students are being embedded into the classroom.