23rd Annual Conference on Literacy: Family and Community Engagement: Strategies for Success

April 16, 2016 · Mount Saint Mary College Campus
Presented by the Collaborative for Equity in Literacy Learning (CELL) at Mount Saint Mary College
Register online today!

Keynote Speaker

Kathryn L. Roberts, PhD, is a teacher, author, researcher, and assistant professor of Reading, Language, and Literature at Wayne State University. A former kindergarten teacher, she currently teaches pre-service and graduate courses in literacy education. Her research interests include family literacy, visual literacy, and emergent literacy. Kathryn is the lead author of the series Engaging Families in Children’s Literacy Development, the family literacy program currently free to all families with young children in Newburgh.

Download the Keynote Presentation: “Beyond Bedtime Stories”


Author Luncheon

Conference participants are also invited to join us for lunch and listen to a talk by authors D. H. Figueredo and London Ladd for an additional $5.

D. H. Figueredo is the author of children’s books When This World Was New and The Road to Santiago, both of which have been translated into Spanish. His books for both children and adults focus on Latino history and culture. His latest book, Revolvers and Pistolas, Vaqueros and Caballeros: Debunking the Old West, compares historical facts with Hollywood’s depiction of the “Wild West”.

London Ladd has illustrated children’s books, including March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World, which received a Parents’ Choice award; Lend a Hand: Poems about Giving; and Oprah: The Little Speaker. Ladd lives in Syracuse, New York, with his family, where he plans to create an art center in which families can create art.

Download the CELL Conference brochure!

Conference Schedule

8:30-9 am Registration, Hudson Hall
Continental Breakfast
9-10 am Keynote Presentation
Kathryn L. Roberts, PhD
10-10:20 am Break and Book Sale
10:20-11:35 am Workshop Session I
11:35-11:45 am Break and Book Sale
11:45-1 pm Workshop Session II
1:15-2:15 pm Lunch with Author Talks


Register online today!

Download the CELL Conference brochure!

Session 1 Workshops

Exploring Diverse Families in Children’s Literature (PreK-3)
In this session we will learn about books that reflect all kinds of families of all kinds of ethnic heritages. We will explore these books in different ways, including arts-based strategies. A bibliography will be provided.
Jane Gangi, Associate Professor of Education, Mount Saint Mary College

Hands-On Literacy: No Paper or Pencil Required! (PreK-K)
Participants will explore literacy opportunities within an animal unit. Participants will learn how to use visual vocabulary boxes to teach content specific vocabulary, in addition to songs and transition activities to promote phonemic awareness. Be ready to get dirty, get involved, and share experiences!
Antonia Uszenski, Director/Owner, Little Harvard

Effective Communication Between Teachers, Parents and Students (K-8)
Successful teachers strive to build positive relationships between parents and schools to support student learning. Clear methods of communication are the foundation of this relationship and help create a sense of community between home and school. In these fast-paced times, teachers must continue to develop and expand their skills in order to communicate effectively with parents and students. Participants in this workshop will utilize traditional methods of communication as well as technology to foster greater communication. Tools addressed will include social media, student information systems, Edmodo, and blogs. Feel free to bring your own technological device.
Mrs. Nancy Benfer, Assistant Principal, Bishop Dunn Memorial School
Mrs. Donna Perk, Middle School Social Studies Teacher and Technology Liaison, Bishop Dunn Memorial School

School, Home, and Music: A Symbiosis for a Noteworthy Literacy Partnership to Enhance Foundational Skills in Early Literacy (K-3)
This action research project brings parents and children together in the singing of time-honored and inspirational songs. A music-infused curriculum in early literacy not only provides complementary support for teaching foundational skills from the CCSS in phonological awareness, but enhances oral language and vocabulary in universal appeal spanning the generations. Borrowing from shared reading pedagogy, this interactive presentation includes lesson plans, video clips, and artifacts of student learning. Bring your voices; we’ll bring the keyboard.
Karen Waters, Director of the Literacy Specialist Programs at Sacred Heart University
Jessica Nichols, 2nd grade Teacher at Geraldine Johnson Elementary School in Bridgeport, CT

Promoting Literacy in the Community: Literacy Alive Initiative (K-12)
Many teachers seek to connect their classrooms with families and communities. Gain strategies and resources to increase family involvement, student engagement and achievement, teacher proficiency and self-efficacy by using proven, Literacy Alive programs and events. Participants will be introduced to effectively designed and implemented “Gold Literacy Alive” programs from around the country. Additionally, the presenters, Literacy Alive award winners, will share their experience and lessons learned from the steps of organizing Literacy Alive! programs.
Matthew Cerasaro, Mount Saint Mary College, Kappa Delta Pi Sigma Tau Chapter 451 President
Ludmilla Smirnova, Professor of Education, Mount Saint Mary College

Using Presidential Politics as a Teaching Tool: Critical Media Literacy with Adolescents (7-12)
Come explore ways of teaching adolescents how to be more critically aware of the content they “gather” from the media. Learn how to use current presidential campaign media for guiding students to critically analyze texts in their everyday lives.
David Gallagher, Associate Professor of Education, Mount Saint Mary College
Matt J. Hollibush, Associate Professor of Education, Mount Saint Mary College

Session 2 Workshops

Family Storytelling (PreK-5)
To foster oral language, literacy and imagination, participants in this session will learn to tell personal and folkloric stories.
Laconia Therrio, Professional Storyteller and Chaplin, Stamford Hospital

Going Google: Easy Ways of Staying Creatively Connected with Students and Families via Google Drive (K-12)
Whether you are an elementary, middle or high school teacher, Google Drive can be used for easy collaboration among your students or with others outside the classroom. Participants will explore the benefits of using Google Drive tools for anytime, anywhere collaboration, learn how easy it is to use Google Drive, and be provided with examples of ways in which it can be used to engage students in productive collaboration, presentation and sharing.
Ludmilla Smirnova, Professor of Education, Mount Saint Mary College

Promoting Literacy and Global Awareness through Heifer International’s Read to Feed® (K-6)
Learn about Heifer International’s Read to Feed® Reading Incentive/Global Awareness Program and how to include families and the community to enhance the educational and social impact of this program.
Meredith Inkeles, Library Media Specialist at the Kinry Road Elementary School, Wappingers, NY
Mary Bish, Principal at Kinry Road Elementary, Wappingers, NY

Around the World in Stories: Exploring Your Global Community Through Books (K-6)
“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.” With a great book, a child can travel anywhere in the world. Come learn about the community literacy experience called Around the Word in Stories. Features of this program include anchor word instruction, multicultural books, and comprehension conversations. We will brainstorm ways to adapt Around the World in Stories to meet the needs of your school and/or community. You will leave this session with resources, research, and inspiration to start your own worldly program.
Nicole Zazzero, Graduate Research Assistant for the Collaborative for Equity in Literacy Learning (CELL), Mount Saint Mary College

Literacy Strategies for Gifted Readers (3-6)
This workshop discusses the characteristics and needs of advanced and gifted readers. In addition, it explains how parents and teachers can engage accelerated readers at their levels with helpful strategies and ideas.
Victoria Caruana, Assistant Professor of Education, Mount Saint Mary College

Who’s Missing Graduation? (4-8)
Over one million American students simultaneously qualify for reduced-price lunch and rank in the top quartile academically. Wyner, Bridgeland, and Diiulio assert these students fall into the “achievement trap”: the public assumes they will be “fine,” but research shows they are less likely than their higher-income peers to attend and graduate from college. This session will explore the barriers facing high-achieving low-income students, and brainstorm how families and schools together can help students breakthrough.
Lindsay Roe, Vanderbuilt University

TED Talks in the classroom: Engaging students in multimodal literacy activities (7-12)
The presenters will share aspects of the “Senior Talks” project (modeled after TED Talks). This project requires students to use a variety of multi-modal reading, writing, and communication skills to create and deliver their own “talks.” Participants will gain insight into how to implement all or part of the project in their own classrooms.
Matthew Freedman, English Teacher, Newburgh Free Academy
David Gallagher, Associate Professor of Education, Mount Saint Mary College
Matt J. Hollibush, Associate Professor of Education, Mount Saint Mary College

Registration Fee Schedule

On or before April 8: $40
Late registration (after April 8): $50
Full-time student: $20
Reading council members: $30
Lunch with authors: $5

Register online today or download the CELL Conference brochure.


Please contact CELL at 845-569-3431 or email cell@msmc.edu