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49th Annual Elementary Literacy Conference

UNI’s College of Education will host the 49th annual Elementary Literacy Conference (ELC) on Friday, April 7, from 8:00 am- 3:30 pm in the Schindler Education Center. This year’s conference “Open Arms, Open Hearts, Open Minds: Inclusive Teaching and Classrooms that Welcome ALL! will include many general sessions on literacy and inclusion strategies.

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. 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 Schindler Education Center every 15 minutes between 7:00 – 8:00 am.

Anne O'brien

On Thursday from 5:00-7:30 you are invited to visit the Waterloo Center for the Arts for the 2017 Culture Fest preconference event. The evening will be a celebration of different cultures and will include activities for families. Anne Sibley O’Brien 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, encourages teachers to learn with and from one another. She 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. Many current educators developed relationships while enrolled in the educator preparation programs offered at UNI and are now teaching in communities across the state. They are able to reconnect at the annual conference and exchange new ideas. We must continue to make visible the intellectual and rigorous work involved in teaching. One way to do so is to come together with the common purpose of improving inclusive practices. 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. Additionally, our current undergraduates have a unique opportunity to learn from their soon-to-be colleagues across Iowa and envision new possibilities for their careers.”

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.

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 available. To register for the conference or for more information, go to