Michigan Reading Association
Empowering all Michigan Students and Educators through Literacy

2017 Speakers

2017 Featured Speakers

2 sistersThe Two Sisters

Known to many as "The Sisters," Gail Boushey (left) and Joan Moser (right) are passionate educators who have collaborated throughout their careers with a single vision in mind: to find a replicable, reliable way to teach children how to be independent lifelong learners, starting in their earliest years. The 2 Sisters are the authors of the best-selling booksThe Daily 5: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades; and The CAFE Book: Engaging All Students in Daily Literacy Assessment & Instruction; more than a dozen professional development DVDs; and many, many articles available on this website.

Gail and Joan, who really are sisters, started their teaching careers in North America and now work with teachers and students throughout the world. They are elementary teachers with more than 60 years of combined instructional experience in grades K-6 and in Special Education. In addition to being classroom teachers, they have worked as a Reading Resource Specialist and a Literacy Coach. They established The Daily CAFE website as a resource for educators in 2008 and have continued to develop the knowledge base ever since.

Fletcher RalphRalph Fletcher

Ralph Fletcher has been a mentor to teachers and young writers everywhere. Ralph's latest Heinemann books continue this tradition. What a Writer Needs, Second Edition mentors teachers and writers in the elements and craft of writing. Mentor Author, Mentor Texts brings inspiration to teachers and students by sharing Ralph's own writing across numerous genres plus writer's notes that reveal his thinking. Ralph frequently works with young writers in schools, and speaks at education conferences in the U.S. and abroad, helping teachers find wiser ways of teaching writing. Ralph is the beloved author of many bestselling teacher professional books including Writing Workshop: The Essential Guide; Craft Lessons; and Breathing In, Breathing Out as well as the author offirsthand classroom materials such as Teaching the Qualities of Writing and Lessons for the Writer’s Notebook. Students know Ralph as the award-winning author of more than 20 books for children and young adults, including Fig Pudding,Twilight Comes Twice, The Writer’s Notebook, and Marshfield Dreams: When I Was a Kid.


Friesen JonathanJonathan Friesen

Jonathan Friesen is an international speaker and award-winning author, whose personal experience with Tourette syndrome and epilepsy inspired him to write the highly acclaimed novel Jerk, California (Penguin, 2008), winner of the American Library Association’s 2009 Schneider Award— “Best Book for Teens,” and the coveted “Editor’s Choice” award. He has also received four Higher Goals EPA awards for his short stories. He’s the author of seven novels including Rush (Penguin, 2010) and The Last Martin (Zondervan/HarperCollins, 2011), both of which explore mental health issues. Now Aquifer (Blink/HarperCollins, 2013) his dystopian release, is earning rave reviews for a stunning portrayal of relational hope amidst chaos.


Johnston Peter
Peter Johnston

Peter Johnston grew up and taught elementary school in New Zealand before coming to the United States to earn his Ph.D. at the Center for the Study of Reading at the University of Illinois. At the time his plans did not include staying in the United States let alone getting married and raising a family. Peter's research and writing spring from his fascination with children's learning and, no less, teachers' teaching. Perversely, he believes that education is not simply about delivering information to children. He thinks it is more about building a just, caring society and that doing so will not detract from our more obviously pragmatic educational goals. In his most recent Stenhouse book, Choice Words, he uses his fascination with the relationship between language and learning to show how this works moment to moment in the classroom.


Lester laminackLester Laminack

Lester L. Laminack is Professor Emeritus from department of Birth-Kindergarten, Elementary and Middle Grades Education, at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina where he received two awards for excellence in teaching [the Botner Superior Teaching Award and the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award]. Lester is now a full-time writer and consultant working with schools throughout the United States. He is an active member of the National Council of Teachers of English and served three years as co-editor of the NCTE journal Primary Voices and as editor of the Children’s Book Review Department of the NCTE journal Language Arts (2003-2006). He also served as a teaching editor for the magazine Teaching K-8 and wrote the Parent Connection column (2000-2002). He is a former member of the Whole Language Umbrella Governing Board, a former member of the Governing Board and Secretary of the North Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children, and a former member of the Board of Directors for the Center for the Expansion of Language and Thinking. He served as the Basic Reading Consultant to Literacy Volunteers of America from 1987 through 2001. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Our Children’s Place [www.ourchildrensplace.com].


mali taylor

Taylor Mali

Taylor Mali is one of the most well-known poets to have emerged from the poetry slam movement and one of the few people in the world to have no job other than that of poet. Mali is a vocal advocate of teachers and the nobility of teaching, having himself spent nine years in the classroom teaching everything from English and history to math and S.A.T. test preparation. He has performed and lectured for teachers all over the world, and his 12-year long Quest for One Thousand Teachers, completed in April of 2012, helped create 1,000 new teachers through “poetry, persuasion, and perseverance,” an achievement Mali commemorated by donating 12″ of his hair to the American Cancer Society. He is a four-time National Poetry Slam champion and the author of four books, including “What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World.”


messner kateKate Messner

Kate Messner is an award-winning author whose books for kids have been New York Times Notable, Junior Library Guild, IndieBound, and Bank Street College of Education Best Books selections. The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. was the winner of the 2010 E.B. White Read Aloud Award for Older Readers. Kate also spent fifteen years teaching middle school and earned National Board Certification in 2006.  She lives on Lake Champlain with her family and loves spending time outside, whether it’s kayaking in the summer or skating on the frozen lake when the temperatures drop.


morrell ernestErnest Morrell

Ernest Morrell is the Director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME) and Professor of English Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is also the Vice-President of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and will assume the presidency of this 50,000-member organization in 2013. For nearly twenty years Dr. Morrell’s research has focused on drawing upon youth’s interest in popular culture and participatory media technologies to increase motivation and to promote academic literacy development, civic engagement and college access. He is also recognized nationally for developing powerful models of teaching and learning in classrooms and non-school environments and for engaging youth and communities in the project of educational reform.


Richardson JanJan Richardson

Jan Richardson, Ph.D., is a literacy consultant and author who earned her Ph.D. studying struggling readers.  She has been a classroom teacher, reading specialist, Reading Recovery® teacher leader, and staff developer. Her book, The Next Step in Guided Reading and DVD and Guide, Next Step Guided Reading in Action, provide teachers with practical suggestions and lesson plans for increasing the power and impact of guided reading. Jan and co-author Maria Walther recently published a new assessment kit, The Next Step in Guided Reading Assessment for Grades K-2 and 3-6. Jan conducts customized in-services on balanced literacy, guided reading, and writing. Participants leave her workshops with a new awareness of what can be done to motivate, engage, and accelerate every student, especially those who struggle.


ripp pernillePernille Ripp

I am a passionate former 4th and 5th, now 7th grade teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA, proud techy geek, and honest to a fault. Mother of 4 incredible children and married to my soul mate. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, a global literacy initiative that has connected more than 500,000 students since 2010. Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I muse on education on my blog “Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension.” Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp. 

First book, second edition “Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” can be pre-ordered now from Routledge - Eyes on Education. Second book “Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.