Ten Reasons You Have to Be in Boston in 2016 with ILA

This past week I was in St. Louis for the Annual International Literacy Association Conference.  The ILA was formally known as IRA, but we have rebranded our organization to champion literacy around the world.

Next summer our conference is in Boston!  Mark your calendars now:  July 9-11.  Here are 10 Reasons why you have to be in Boston next summer.

10. Explore a Great City

St. Louis was fun.  We were able to walk around and see the fantastic St. Louis Arch.  No, I didn’t go to the top.  We saw the Cardinal’s Stadium and unexpectedly were able to go inside the Ram’s Stadium.  (The doors were open and there were no guardsso we went in and looked around.  Next year, Boston will be amazing! 

9. Have Fun with Literacy Educators

Here are just a few moments of our trip that were funand that’s just inside the conference.  We also tried a new drink by the Cardinal’s Stadium.

8.  Get Global!

ILA has members from 75 countries.  There were presentations from across the world.  

7.  Walk 12,000 steps in a day...with a SMILE!

So much fun to see all over the downtown area and even in the convention center.

6.  Calories Don't Count on Vacation, right?

Ate at Carmine's, Ruth's Chris, Sauce on the Side and more.  But, the real St. Louis treat is Gooey Butter Cake, oh my.  What will the tasty treasure be in Boston?

5.  See Literacy Super Stars

It’s very surreal.  Where to begin:  Bill Teale, Jerry Johns, Carrice Cummins, Doug Fisher, Diane Barone, P. David Pearson, Rita Beane, Jack Cassidy, Tim Rasinski, Laurie Oczkus, Valerie Elleryand so many, many more.  You also get up close and personal with authors all over the place.  

4. Get the Real Deal from Real Teachers

I love attending sessions with and given by teachers.  Everywhere you go the conversations are about teaching and learning.  Everyone shares everything and conversations can take place in the elevator, in the line for autographs or while racing to the next session.  I presented a session on Emergent Writing (you know it's my favorite) and I hope I inspired something new is classrooms across the country.  Isn't that an amazing thought?

3.  Get Inspired!

We had the best speakers at our General Sessions.  The opening general session introduced the world to Shiza Shahid, a co-founder and CEO of the Malala Fund.  The fund is integral in championing for women’s rights.  We also talked to Shaq.  Well, truth is, I talked to Shaq.  Let me take a momentAHHHH!  It was AWESOME!  He was the nicest guy and we talked about what literacy means to him.  He has a BS from LSU, a MBA and a Doctorate in Education from Barry University.  He has also written a new series for kids, Little Shaq. It’s coming soon.  He also said teachers should get 60% raises every year, tax-free.  The closing session had the inspirational Stephen Peters addressing the crowd.  He had a great message of education for all.  Finally, Octavia Spencer was interviewed by 2 great middle school kids from St. Louis.  She was a struggling reader and gave a message to never give up.

2.  Twitter, Instagram, Facebook

Yepall of themall the time.  We tweeted and posted and uploaded all day! Using #ILA15, you can check out the great stream of fun on my Twitter and Instagram.  Check out the International Literacy Association Facebook page for information, as well.  Steven Layne told the story of a teacher of "considerable age" bragging to her colleagues how she had signed up for twitter in the last session and she had been "twitting" ever since.  Make sure you check out the posts from our conference...not just inspirational, but fun and informative.

1.  Change the World!

My first way to change the world was buying a shirt.  Check out this AMAZING t-shirt I purchased to support libraries in Guatemala.  It’s all hand sown and I am in love.  There were belts, bags, jewelry, shirts, and so many other things.  The money collected at this year’s ILA conference would be used to build 5 libraries in Guatemala.  That’s changing the world.

Then there's #800Mil2nil  There are 800,000 people in our world who are illiterate!  That is unacceptable.  We at ILA have a goal to bring that number to nil.  Join us using the #800mil2nil this year.  Help us celebrate International Literacy Day, September 8.  Join us for this amazing day of change by CLICKING HERE.

I hope I've convinced you...you need to make a plan NOW for next summer in Boston.  The weather will be great, the conference even better!  I am honored to have been elected as an ILA Board Member for the next 3 years.  It's amazing to be a part of this organization and I can't wait to see how I can serve in the name of literacy.

Stephen Peters, one of the most inspirational speakers of the week, said, "We are the best profession.  It starts with you. Do something.  You have been stamped with phenomenal."  Let's all be phenomenal and make a plan to be together in Boston.  

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