Featured Speakers

Opening Plenary, Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Robin Waterman2

Dr. Robin Waterman
Exec Director, La Conexion Comunitaria de Aurora

Co-author, Now we read, we see, we speak: Portrait of Literacy Development in a Freirean-Based Adult Class

“Breaking through invisible walls:  The role of socio-cultural knowledge and contextualized instruction in teaching ESL”

How can we help adult ESL students achieve genuine, meaningful learning?  Reflecting a passionate commitment to answering this question, Dr. Waterman will speak about her literacy work with impoverished women in El Salvador who had little to no formal education.  She will describe the experience of working with limited resources and her efforts to create literacy classes with no physical building or classroom and few instructional materials. She will then discuss the powerful role of combining balanced literacy instruction with a Freirean commitment to socio-political transformation. Dr. Waterman will add layers to the analysis by presenting her research in the U.S. on contextualizing adult ESL instruction in authentic purposes.  Similar to the context in El Salvador, participating students were low-income immigrants with very little formal education. Dr. Waterman will also share insights gleaned from her work as Executive Director of a family resource center serving low-income immigrants, aiming to guide adult education teachers to incorporate knowledge of students’ culture into their instruction.

Closing Plenary, Friday, August 9, 2013


Dr. Stephen Reder
Portland State University

“Expanding emergent literacy practices: Busy intersections of context, practice and cognition”

How do new literacy practices emerge and expand as cultures come into contact?   How do immigrants with little formal education and/or literacy in their native language engage in these emergent literacy practices?  How do learners draw on available cultural, linguistic and literacy resources as they engage with emergent literacy practices?  This presentation considers a number of case studies, suggests a theoretical framework for understanding the expansion of emergent literacy practices, and draws implications for enhancing the inclusion and support of LESLLA learners.


Featured speaker, Thursday, August 8, 2013, 9:00am


Victor Ekpuk

“Using Nsibidi, a traditional script from southwestern Nigeria”

Victor Ekpuk is a Nigerian born visual artist. His visual vocabulary is derived from Nsibidi, an age-old communication system among Ekpe secret society in Nigeria, where graphic symbols together with mime and placement of objects are used to convey ideas.

In Ekpuk’s compositions, the use of these arcane signs and invented “pseudo-writings” often evoke the interplay of art and writing, where legibility and illegibility are metaphors for contemporary expressions.


Featured speaker, Thursday, August 8, 2013, 7:00pm


Dr. Norma Guillard

University of Havana

“The life-changing experience of participating in the Cuban National Literacy Campaign”

Following her experience as a  volunteer “brigadista” in the Cuban Literacy Campaign of 1961,  Dr. Guillard has had a long illustrious career as  a sociologist at the University of Havana, and gay rights advocate. In this talk, she’ll describe the three months she spent in rural villages teaching adults to read, and how her participation in the campaign affected her choices and those of other young women volunteers portrayed in the film “Maestra.”

See the trailer for the film “Maestra” http://www.maestrathefilm.org/


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