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2016 WLU Summer Institute

Keynote Speakers - Previous Revision

Join us in reclaiming our joys and celebrating them in the wonderfully supportive forum that gathers each year under the whole language umbrella.

Thursday Opening Session

Isoke Titilayo Nia

Isoke Titilayo NiaIsoke Titilayo Nia has been an educator for over twenty-five years mostly spent in New York City’s schools. The first several years were spent in independent schools for children of African descent where she taught grades three through eleven. She began her quest for process teaching and learning as a teacher and staff developer in District 17 in Brooklyn before becoming Director of Research and Development at The Reading/Writing Project, Teachers College, Columbia University.

In September of 2001, Isoke founded All Write Literacy Consultants in Brooklyn, New York.  She now travels throughout the world learning, and sharing that learning with others who teach literacy instruction. She is known for her dynamic keynote speeches and engaging workshops where she presents on poetry, reading and the African American child, and literature in the writing workshop. She is also a writer of short stories. 

Join Isoke on Thursday evening, July 19 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. 


Friday, Opening Session

R. Joseph Rodriguez

R. Joseph RodriguezR. Joseph Rodriguez is a lecturer in the College of Education and research associate in the Center for Teaching and Learning at The University of Texas at Austin.  He works on projects directly associated with student learning, assessment, and achievement.  He teaches courses on language acquisition, content area literacies, pre-service teaching, and research methods.  He is serving on the English language arts–reading content coordinating team for the 2012 Series GED Tests, American Council of Education.   

Joseph earned a Ph.D. (2001) from the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education, a master’s degree (1999) in English from The University of Texas at Austin, and a bachelor’s degree (1997) in modern languages and literatures from Kenyon College.  He has taught English and Spanish language arts at various levels in public schools and at the university level.  He has worked in educational assessment and program evaluation since 2001.  He previously served as director of assessment and accreditation services in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Houston.  

Joseph is the recipient of NCTE Research Foundation’s Cultivating New Voices Fellowship (2002-2004).  He has published articles in the English Journal (2011), English Leadership Quarterly (2008), College Culture, Student Success: A Longman Topics Reader (2008), and Guide to College Reading (2003).  In 2005, Joseph joined the NCTE Conference on English Leadership (CEL) and served on the CEL 2009 Program Committee.  Currently he is serving a term as CEL member-at-large. 

Join Joseph on Friday morning, July 20 from 8:30-9:45 a.m.


Saturday Opening Session

Nikki Grimes

Nikki GrimesNikki Grimes does not consider herself a bona fide storyteller, but, as she told an audience at the Library of Congress, she is happy to own the title Poet.  Born and raised in New York City, Nikki began composing verse at the age of six and has been writing ever since.

An accomplished and widely anthologized poet of both children's and adult verse, Nikki is the recipient of the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children

A New York Times bestselling author and a prolific artist, she has written many award-winning books for children and young adults. Her distinguished works include ALA Notable book What is Goodbye?, Coretta Scott King Award winner Bronx Masquerade, the novels Jazmin's Notebook, Dark Sons, and The Road to Paris (Coretta Scott King Author Honor Books). Creator of the popular Meet Danitra Brown, Nikki lives in Corona, California.

Visit Nikki's website at

Join Nikki on Saturday morning, July 21 from 8:30-9:45 a.m.


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