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Van Riper lectures address language, literacy connections

Sept. 10, 2007

KALAMAZOO--The connection between language and literacy will be explored during the 25th Annual Van Riper Lecture Series Sept. 13-14 at Western Michigan University.

A special presentation for the general public takes place the day before the lecture series begins, when visiting scholar Dr. Margaret A. Gallego of San Diego State University delivers a free lecture at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, in WMU's Fetzer Center. Her presentation will address multiple literacies used by children from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, as well as ways that educators can utilize these various literacies to support learning in the classroom.

Gallego, a professor in San Diego State's School of Teacher Education, has focused her research on the socio-cultural influences within learning environments, including schools and after-school clubs that support second language learners' English literacy development. She also has published in the areas of teacher staff development, heterogeneous classrooms, writing and learning disabilities, multiple literacies and feminist and action research.

Gallego, along with other featured speakers, will make several presentations during the lecture series, which runs from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13 and 8:15 a.m. to noon Friday, Sept. 14. Additional authorities on literacy and language who will address attendees include Drs. Alan G. Kamhi and WMU graduate Maureen Staskowski.

Kamhi is a professor in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. His early research focused on linguistic and cognitive abilities of children with specific language impairments and mental handicaps. His later research explored language-learning disabilities, culminating in a book co-edited with Hugh Catts on language and reading disabilities. The second edition of his book was published in 2005.

Kamhi also has two other books that were published last year, one on phonological disorders, co-edited with Karen Pollock, and one on the connections between language and reading, co-edited with Catts. He currently is co-editing a book on clinical decision making in developmental language disorders with Julie Masterson and Kenn Apel.

Staskowski is a consultant for the speech-language impaired services at the Macomb Intermediate School District. She obtained bachelor's and master's degrees in speech-language pathology from WMU as well as a doctorate from Oakland University. She was a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's committee that produced the policy documents on reading and writing and served as editor for the 2007 Michigan Guidelines for the practice of speech-language pathology in the schools. She has published chapters and articles on school policy affecting interfaces between general education and special education, including response to intervention initiatives.

Titles of presentations they will make during the series include "Language and Reading: Convergences and Divergences;" "Converging Policies and Knowledge: Forging New Collaborative Roles for Literacy;" "Improving Reading: Beautiful Hypotheses and Ugly Facts;" "What Counts? And How to Count It: Assessment Issues in Literacy Development;" and "Creating Education Infrastructures to Achieve Literacy for Every Student."

The Van Riper Lectures are named in honor of the late Dr. Charles G. Van Riper, who was instrumental in establishing WMU's Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, which sponsors the annual event. Gallego's public presentation is co-sponsored by the College of Education and an award from the University.

For more information, including attendance fees, or to register for the lecture series, call Paula Armstrong in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at (269) 387-8045, fax (269) 387-8044 or e-mail paula.armstrong@wmich.edu.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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