Conference Overview

About the Conference

The Maryann Manning Family Literacy Center’s MidSouth Reading and Writing Conference and the Red Mountain Writing Project’s 21st Century Literacies Conference have joined together to co-sponsor a joint spring conference. The conference theme for this year is, “Critical Literacies: Building Bridges to Empower All Learners.” This conference brings together nationally recognized literacy researchers, practitioners and authors to offer professional development opportunities for PK-16 audiences—teachers, ESL teachers, literacy coaches and specialists, administrators, media specialists and teacher educators. The presenters cover a wide range of relevant topics that include reading and writing in content areas, literacy instructional strategies, technology, children’s and young adult literature, reading and writing process, mathematics, science, and culturally responsive pedagogy.

Professional Development Credit: 12 hours

When: Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9

Where: Hill Student Center, UAB Campus, Birmingham, AL

Parking: Free parking for the conference is located in the 12th Street Parking Deck on University Blvd. (8th Ave S.) between 12th and 13th Street. You are encouraged to enter the deck at the 12th Street entrance.


Early Bird (on or before February 1, 2019): $125
Standard (after February 1, 2019): $150
One Day: $75
Group of 10+ teachers: $100 per teacher
Student (Undergraduate & Pre-Service teachers only): $50
Presenter: $75

Lodging: Hilton Birmingham at UAB
808 20th Street South
Birmingham, AL 35205


Who Should Attend?

  • Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Teachers

  • Curriculum and Literacy Coaches

  • School, District, and State Administrators

  • University Students

  • Teacher Educators


Online registration is now closed. Please contact us for on-site registration information.

Extend your conference experience by downloading session materials.

Why Attend?
  • Affordable Cost of Attendance

  • Earn Continuing Education Credit

  • Meet Literacy Experts and Renowned Authors

  • Connect with Other Literacy Enthusiasts

  • Shop Outstanding Vendors

  • Learn New Literacy Strategies

Keynote Speaker Publications

  • Nell Duke
  • Liza Jessie Peterson
  • Don Tate
  • Leila Christenbury and Ken Lindblom
  • Leila Christenbury and Ken Lindblom
What Previous Attendees Say
  • "Plenty of relevant, interesting sessions from which to choose."

  • "Lots of books available to buy! The high school was a great location."

  • "Everyone was nice and helpful if you needed help! A great experience!"

  • "The facilities were fantastic. Great variety of sessions for various grade levels."

  • "Everything was very well organized. There were no long lines to sign in. The lunch was excellent."

  • "The presenters were highly knowledgeable, engaging, and progressive. They presented the information in a way that made me want to create connections with my students in order to better their comprehension."

  • "The sessions were excellent, as much of the information was new and the presenters had real life situations that they used to explain their rationale."

About Our Keynote Speakers
  • Nell Duke

    Nell Duke

    Nell Duke’s work focuses on early literacy development, particularly among children living in poverty. Her specific areas of expertise include development of informational reading and writing in young children, comprehension development and instruction in early schooling, and issues of equity in literacy education. She has served as Co-Principal Investigator of projects funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the George Lucas Educational Foundation, among other organizations. Duke has been named one of the 50 most influential education scholars in the U.S. in EdWeek. In 2014, she was awarded the P. David Pearson Scholarly Influence Award from the Literacy Research Association. She has also received awards from the American Educational Research Association, the Literacy Research Association, the International Reading Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the Michigan Reading Association.

    Duke serves as a consultant for a number of education and policy organizations, and speaks widely on literacy education. Duke is author and co-author of numerous journal articles and book chapters. Her most recent books are Inside Information: Developing Powerful Readers and Writers of Informational Text through Project-based Instruction and Beyond Bedtime Stories: A Parent’s Guide to Promoting Reading, Writing, and Other Literacy Skills From Birth to 5, Second Edition. Duke also has a strong interest in improving the quality of educational research training in the United States. Her Twitter handle is @nellkduke.

    Select Publications

  • Liza Jessie Peterson

    Liza Jessie Peterson

    Liza is an actress, playwright, poet, author and youth advocate who has been steadfast in her commitment to incarcerated populations both professionally and artistically for over two decades. Her critically acclaimed one woman show, The Peculiar Patriot, premiered at The National Black Theater in Harlem for two separate runs, was nominated for three Audelco Awards (Best solo performance, light design and sound design) and had a successful sold out run at Arts Emerson in Boston garnering rave reviews from both The New York Times, The Boston Globe and a five star review in Time Out NY. In June of 2018 The Peculiar Patriot was awarded a generous grant from Agnes Gund’s prestigious Art for Justice Fund and as a result of that funding is set to embark on a national tour. During the early years of the play’s uncanny trajectory and true to her artivist nature, Liza performed The Peculiar Patriot in over 35 penitentiaries across the country in a self funded prison tour spanning the course of four years.

    Liza is author of ALL DAY; A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island (Hachette). She was featured in Ava DuVernay’s Emmy award winning documentary The 13th (Netflix) and was a consultant on Bill Moyers documentary RIKERS (PBS).

    Also known for her exceptional poetic skills, Liza began her poetry career at the Nuyorican Poets Café and was a vital member of the enclave of notable poets who were part of the “underground slam poetry” movement. It was this electric group of artists that inspired Russell Simmons to bring “spoken word” to HBO where Liza appeared on two episodes of Def Poetry.

    In addition to The Peculiar Patriot, Liza has written several plays which received development support from The Lark, Syracuse Stage, The McCarter Theater, Manhattan Theater Club and The Flynn Theater.

    Down the Rabbit Hole is currently in residency at The Flynn Theater in Vermont followed by SistahGurls and the Squirrel in development at both The Lark and Manhattan Theater Club in NY.

    As an actress Liza appeared in several feature films: Love the Hard Way (costarring with Pam Grier and Adrien Brody), Spike Lee’s Bamboozled, K. Shalini’s A Drop of Life, and Jamie Catto’s What About Me. She can be seen in an upcoming webseries, A Luv Tale produced by Sidra Smith and directed by Kay Oyegun (This Is Us, Blackish).

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  • Don Tate

    Don Tate

    Don Tate is an award-winning illustrator of numerous critically acclaimed books for children, including Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions (Charlesbridge, 2016); The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (Eerdmans, 2015); The Cart That Carried Martin, (Charlesbridge); Hope’s Gift, (Penguin), many others.

    He is also the author of Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (Peachtree, 2015); It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started To Draw (Lee & Low Books, 2102), both books are Ezra Jack Keats award winners, and most recently, Strong As Sandow: How Eugen Sandow Became The Strongest Man on Earth (Charlesbridge, 2017).

    New titles include Par-Tay! Dance of the Veggies (and their friends), written by Eloise Greenfield (Alazar, 2018), and Stalebread Charlie and the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band, written by Michael Mahin (Clarion, 2018).

    Forthcoming titles include No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas, written by Tonya Bolden (Knopf, Oct. 2018), and Carter Reads The Newspaper, written by Deborah Hopkinson (Peachtree, Feb. 2019).

    Don is a founding host of the The Brown Bookshelf – a blog dedicated to books for African American young readers; and a one-time member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature.

    He lives in Austin, Texas, with his family.

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  • Leila Christenbury and Ken Lindblom

    Leila Christenbury and Ken Lindblom

    Leila Christenbury is Emeritus Commonwealth Professor of English Education at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (Emerita) where she taught English methods, young adult literature, applied English linguistics, and the teaching of writing. For seven years she was director of the Capital Writing Project, a site of the National Writing Project. A past president of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and a past editor of English Journal, her research has been recognized by the David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English; the James N. Britton Award for Inquiry in English Language Arts; and the Edward B. Fry Book Award for Outstanding Contributions to Literacy Research. An active member of NCTE for over 40 years, she taught in Virginia schools and universities for most of her career. She is the author, co-author, or editor of 14 books and the author of approximately 100 chapters and articles on the teaching of English.

    Ken Lindblom is Professor of English and, until recently, served as Dean of the School of Professional Development, at Stony Brook University and led the university’s teacher and leader education programs. He currently teaches courses in English, rhetoric, and communication. A member of NCTE since 1989, Ken was editor of English Journal from 2008-13. He is co-author of three other books about teaching English and has published over two dozen articles, book chapters, and peer-reviewed blog posts on the subject.

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Conference Schedule

Friday, March 8

8:00-8:30 Registration and Vendors
8:30-8:45 Welcome Address
8:45-9:45 Keynote: Nell Duke
10:00-11:00 Concurrent Sessions
11:15-12:15 Lunch, Vendors, and Book Signings
12:30-1:30 Concurrent Sessions
1:45-2:00 Welcome Back
2:00-3:00 Keynote: Don Tate
3:00-3:15 Closing Remarks

Saturday, March 9

8:00-8:30 Registration and Vendors
8:30-8:45 Welcome Address
8:45-9:45 Keynote: Ken Lindblom and Leila Christenbury
10:00-11:00 Concurrent Sessions
11:15-12:15 Lunch, Vendors, and Book Signings
12:30-1:30 Concurrent Sessions
1:45-2:00 Welcome Back
2:00-3:00 Keynote: Liza Jessie Peterson
3:00-3:15 Closing Remarks