Table Turned

May 26, 2016

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Carol Varsalona

As a co-moderator of #NYEDChat I have had the opportunity to interview various educators at the different Long Island EdCamp events but on May 24th the table was turned. I was an interviewee.

It was a surprise to be contacted by the @ILAToday team of the International Literacy Association to speak about the upcoming conference, #ILA16, in Boston this summer. Prior to yesterday's interview, I had the opportunity to prep with April Hall and communicate with the broadcaster, Larry Jacobs. It is always a wonderful experience collaborating with those who are like-minded and enthusiastic.

Since I am a member and have been attending International Literacy Association's conferences years before it switched over from being called the International Reading Association (IRA), I was asked to give my perspective on the upcoming conference. I was pleasantly surprised by Larry Jacob's humor that immediately brought a light-hearted touch to the interview. At the onset, Stephen Sye, ILA Associate Executive Director, was asked to describe the differences between IRA and ILA. He noted that ILA is expanding its reach to include parents and community members along with educators. It is directing its attention to literacy around the world. He added that the conference this year, titled Transforming Lives Through Literacy 2.0, will have between 6,000 to 7,000 educators and exhibitors attending from July 9-11, 2016. On July 8th, EdCamp Literacy will be held and I will not only attend but hope to participate as a presenter.

Besides the usual academic influence at the conference, there will be social events to keep the energy level high. Lit Night at Fenway Ball Park and the Inaugural Steps to Literacy 5K are highlights of the festivities. Another bonus feature is that pre-service teachers can sign up for free registration to the conference and first timers can join a session on how to make the most of the conference experience.

Besides attending amazing sessions with literacy experts, I will be presenting a workshop with my team, colleague Dr. Michele Haiken and poet Laura Purdie Salas. In our hands-on session, Transforming Writer's Lives with Digital Tools as Powerful Agents to Impact Literacy Instruction, Authenticate Voice, & Present Positive Perspectives, we will present a series of creative and collaborative activities to explore the power of digital tools to affect change in literacy instruction, engage learners as writers, and create agency in classrooms. In addition to presenting and attending sessions, I will be pleased to network with colleagues across the country and meet up with long-time conference friends, literacy experts, and poets, make face-to-face contact with Twitter friends, and be passionately caught up in the learning experience.

As a Wonder Lead Ambassador for Wonderopolis, I will highlight the inquiry/noticing and wondering process in my presentations and hope to connect many educators with the wonders of the Wonderopolis free site. You can find me tweeting from the conference floor and blogging about #ILA16 when I return home.

Am I excited for this experience? I certainly am and hope that my passion for learning and being an ILA member was heard throughout the interview. You can access the archive of the interview here.

With the table turned, I was able to experience what it takes to be a good listener and responder during an interview. I also found out just what a small world this is. During the interview, Larry Jacobs asked me if I knew a Twitter colleague, Tom Whitby, here on Long Island. It just so happens that I not only know Tom, a fellow connected educator and author, but I have interviewed him. Larry has known Tom for years so after the interview both Larry and I notified Tom of our meeting on air.

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I thank both April Hall and Larry Jacobs for partnering to highlight the International Literacy Association's 2016 Conference and including me as an interviewee and spokesperson.

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