Literacy Promise Conference 2020

The Literacy Promise Conference has been postponed and will be held on March 23-25, 2022, at the Utah Valley Convention Center.

Register Online

Conference Information

Individual registration is:


For a team of 5 or more:


Utah Valley Convention Center
220 West Center Street Provo, Utah

Keynote Speaker Bios

Nancy Frey
Steven Layne
Debbie Silver

Nancy Frey, Ph.D., is a Professor of Educational Leadership in the School of Teacher Education at San Diego State University and a teacher leader at Health Sciences High & Middle College. She is a recipient of the Christa McAuliffe award for excellence inteacher education. She has co-authored several books on literacy and was a co-recipient (with Doug Fisher) of NCTE’s 2004 Kate and Paul Farmer award for outstanding writing. She teaches a variety of courses in elementary and secondary literacy in content-area instruction and supporting students with diverse learning needs.
Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher may be the two most prolific authors in the area of K-12 literacy education, with a following that includes tens of thousands of teachers and administrators. Across their more-than-a-dozen titles, they’ve addressed everything from how to raise rigor in reading, structure lessons with learning goals in mind, implement formative assessment, and teach content literacy to how to set up an effective PLC. Few educators can match Nancy’s breadth of expertise.
Steven L. Layne, PhD, serves as Professor and Chair of Graduate Programs inLiteracy Education at JudsonUniversityin Elgin, IL. Dr. Layne’s research and writing focus on the affective domain as it relates to literacy education as well as on public speaking.He is a fifteen-year veteran of public education—serving as a classroom teacherin grades two, three, five, six, seven, and eight.
Dr. Layne is a respected literacy consultant, motivational keynote speaker, and featured author who works with large numbers of educators and children during school visits and at conferences held throughout the world each year. His work has been recognized with awards for outstanding contributions to the fields of educational research, teaching, and writing.
Dr.Layne has authored 28 books includinga ward-winning titles in both the picture book and young adult genres. These include: The Teachers’ Night before Christmas; the teen thriller, This Side of Paradise; and the heartwarming picture book, Love the Baby.Dr. Layne’s first professional book for educators, Igniting a Passion for Reading: Successful Strategies for Building Lifetime Readerswas released to wide acclaim. Dr. Layne’s secondprofessional book, In Defense of Read-Aloud, was recently released. Hisnewest title is the picture book,Play with Puppy,the fourth title in his “Growing with Family” series of picture books.
Dr. Debbie Silver is a brilliantly funny, beautifully insightful, and boldly authentic speaker, author, and educator. She has dedicated her life to understanding learning and growth behavior. Through her research, her outreach, and her humor, Debbie seeks to help teachers find the joy in the daily job of teaching, so that children can embrace the satisfaction and pride of knowledge, growth, and self-worth. Through her research, her outreach, and her humor, Debbie seeks to help teachers find the joy in the daily job of teaching, so that children can embrace the satisfaction and pride of knowledge, growth, and self-worth.
With 30 years spent as a teacher, staff development instructor, and university professor, Dr. Silver doesn’t just know her way around the classroom–she is deeply familiar with the challenges educators face at every level, from kindergarten through college. This former Louisiana State Teacher of the Year has given presentations around the world.
Debbie’s best-selling books include: Drumming to the Beat of Different Marchers, Finding the Rhythm for Differentiated Learning, Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8: Teaching Kids to Succeed, Deliberate Optimism: Reclaiming the Joy in Education, Teaching kids to Thrive: Essential Skills for Success (co-author Dedra Stafford).

Featured Author

Tyler Whitesides

Tyler Whitesideswas born in Washington State. He developed a love of books from a very young age, and with that came a desire to write his own stories.

Tyler attended Utah State University, where he received a Bachelors in Music, specifically, Percussion Performance. While attending the University, Tyler got a part-time job at a middle school as a night custodian. Wandering the halls of the middle school each night sparked the ideas which eventually led to the JANITORS series.

Tyler lives in Northern Utah with his wife, Connie, and their son. He continues to practice percussion, performing in a garbage-can drum quartet aptly called, The Jammin’ Janitors.

Conference Schedule

Wednesday, March 25
5:00 p.m. Conference Registration
6:30 p.m. Keynote: Tyler Whitesides
Thursday, March 26
7:00 - 8:30 a.m. Conference Registration
8:30 - 9:45 a.m. Welcome and Opening Keynote: Nancy Frey
9:45 - 10:00 a.m. Break
10:00 - 11:15 a.m. Breakout Session I
11:15 - 11:30 a.m. Break
11:30 - 12:45 p.m. Breakout Session II
12:45 - 1:30 p.m. Lunch
1:30 - 2:45 p.m. Breakout Session III/Closing Keynote
Friday, March 27
7:30 - 8:30 a.m. Conference Registration
8:30 - 9:45 a.m. Welcome and Opening Keynote: Steven Layne
9:45 - 10:00 a.m. Break
10:00 - 11:15 a.m. Breakout Session I
11:15 - 11:30 a.m. Break
11:30 - 12:45 p.m. Breakout Session II
12:45 - 1:30 p.m. Lunch
1:30 - 2:45 p.m. Closing Keynote: Debbie Silver

Keynote Sessions

Session 1 Breakouts

Session 2 Breakouts


Wiley Blevins is a writer and educational consultant living in New York City. He has written several books for teachers, including A Fresh Look at Phonics, Phonics from A to Z, Phonics and Word Study in the Intermediate Grades, Building Fluency, Teaching Informational Text, Teaching Students to Read. He has conducted educational research and worked with districts to transition to the Common Core State Standards and evaluate the mismatch between their test scores, instructional materials, and teaching practices. Wiley travels internationally training teachers and has aspecial interest in differentiated PD and the use of adaptive technology in classrooms.
Dr. Margarita Espino Calderón, professor emerita at Johns Hopkins University, has worked on numerous research projects.
She was co-principal investigator with Robert Slavinon the five-year randomized evaluation of English immersion, transitional bilingual, and two-way bilingual elementary programs. She developed the Bilingual Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (BCIRC) program, which is included in the What Works Clearinghouse.
Dr. Calderón was principal investigator in a study called Expediting Comprehension for English Language Learners (ExC-ELLTM), which developed a program to train math, science, social studies, and language arts teachers on integrating academic language, reading comprehension, writing skills, and content knowledge. Her program Reading Instructional Goals for Older Readers (RIGOR) was developed for Newcomers with Interrupted Formal Education.
As president and CEO of Margarita Calderón & Associates, Inc., Dr. Calderón and her team continue to implement ExC-ELL in many schools, districts, and statewide institutes throughout the country and internationally. Currently, Dr. Calderón and faculty from the Graduate School of Education, George Washington University are recipients of a USDOE-OELA Title III five-year grant to implement and further study “A Whole-School Approach to Professional Development with ExC-ELL” in Virginia schools. She has over 100 publications, and is an international speaker.
Deborah Dean taught junior high and high school before moving to BYU to teach pre-service teachers. She is the author of Strategic Writing, Revision Decisions, What Works in Writing Instruction, and Genre Theory. Her scholarly interests include helping to develop student writers and supporting teachers who can help students along that path.
Kelly Gallagher teaches English Language Arts at Magnolia High School in Anaheim, California, where he has worked fornearly 35 years. He is the former co-director of the South Basin Writing Project at California State University, Long Beach,and the former president of the Secondary Reading Group for the International Literacy Association. Kelly is the author of several books on adolescent literacy, most notably Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It and Write Like This. Kelly’s latest book, co-written with Penny Kittle, is 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents. Follow Kelly on Twitter @KellyGToGo, and visit him at

Gravity Goldberg is an international educational consultant and author of five books on teaching. Mindsets & Moves (Corwin Literacy, 2015) put her on the world stage with its practical ways to cultivate student agency, leading to speaking engagements and foreign translations of her work. She has almost 20 years of teaching experience, including positions as a science teacher, reading specialist, third grade teacher, special educator, literacy coach, staff developer, assistant professor, educational consultant, and yoga teacher. Gravity holds a B.A. and M.Ed. from Boston College and a doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She serves as a coach for Seth Godin's altMBA and is the founding director of Gravity Goldberg, LLC, a team that provides side-by-side coaching for teachers.
Barry Hoonan teaches, writes, consults and doodles. He works with teachers both in the U.S. and internationally. His experience has included appointments as a three-time Fulbright Teaching Exchange teacher in the United Kingdom, a teaching fellow at Harlem Village Academy in NYC, and as a teacher-consultant at the American School of Brasilia. Barry is a co-author of Beyond Reading and Writing: Inquiry, Curriculum, and Multiple Ways of Knowing (NCTE, 2000), What Are You Grouping For? (Corwin, 2018) and is a recipient of NCTE’s Edward Hoey Award and of the Bonnie Campbell Hill Washington State Literacy Award.
David A. Kilpatrick, PhD is a professor of psychology for the State University of New York College at Cortland. He is a New York State certified school psychologist with 28 years experience in schools. He has been teaching courses in learning disabilities and educational psychology since 1994. David is a reading researcher and the author of two books on reading, Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties, and Equipped for Reading Success, and is a co-editor of a third, Reading Development and Difficulties: Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice.
Lori Oczkusis a literacy coach, author, and popular speaker across the United States and internationally. Lori has extensive experience as a bilingual elementary teacher, intervention specialist working with struggling readers, and staff developer and literacy coach. She works with students in classrooms and really knows the challenges that teachers face in teaching students to read! Lori has been inducted in theCalifornia Reading Association Hall of Fame for her many contributions to the field of reading in California and internationally.
Lori’s best-selling books include: Reciprocal Teaching At Work, Powerful Strategies and Lessons(ASCD, 2018), Literacy Strong All Year Long Powerful Lessons for 3-5(ASCD, 2018), with Tim Rasinski and Valery Ellery,Close Readingwith Paired Texts K-5 series (Shell, 2015), with co-author Tim Rasinski, Just the Facts: Close Reading and Comprehension of Informational Text (Shell Education, 2014), Guided Writing: Practical Lessons, Powerful Results (Heinemann, 2007), Talk About Books/ Guided Reading Series K-3 (2017), coauthor Maria Nichols.

Jennifer Serravallo is a literacy consultant, speaker, and the author of several popular titles including the NY Times Bestselling The Reading Strategies Bookand The Writing Strategies Book, and Understanding Texts & Readers. Her latest book, A Teacher’s Guide to Reading Conferences,takes a closer look at the purposeful, responsive instruction that takes place while conferring. Her latestpublications include Complete Comprehension, which is a revised and reimagined whole book assessment and teaching resource based on the award-winning Independent Reading Assessment. She was a Senior Staff Developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and taught in NYC public schools. Twitter:@jserravalloInstagram: @jenniferserravallo.
Marisol Thayre is a presenter and author whose topicsinclude Close Reading and Text-Dependent Questions. She currently conducts trainings on the Gradual Release of Responsibility, Differentiation, Collaboration, and Assessment. She is a contributing author to Teaching Literacy in the Visible Learning Classroom and Preparing Students for Writing Beyond School. She is currently an 11th and 12th grade English teacher at Health Sciences High and Middle College, an urban high school in San Diego, California.
Janet Wong is a graduate of Yale Law School and a former lawyer who switched careers to become a children’s author. She is the author of more than thirty books for children and teens on a wide variety of subjects, including writing and revision (You Have to Write),diversity and community(Apple Pie 4th of July),identity (A Suitcase of Seaweed & MORE), peer pressure (Me and Rolly Maloo), chess (Alex and the Wednesday Chess Club), and yoga (Twist: Yoga Poem). Wong has served as a member of several national committees, including the NCTE Poetry Committee and the ILA Notable Books for a Global Society committee. Her two main interests now are publishing anthologies (with her colleague Sylvia Vardell) to make it easy for teachers to share poetry with students and encouraging children and teens to publish their own writing using affordable new technologies.You can find more info about Janet Wong at and read about her work with Sylvia Vardell at