UMass Dartmouth hosts the 2016 Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning (AEPL) conference

The AEPL conference will explore layers of literacy−from immersion to reflection−in hopes of suggesting a shift in how schools approach teaching.

Jane Tompkins
Dr. Jane Tompkins

Between June 23 and 26, UMass Dartmouth will be hosting the Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning (AEPL) for a conference titled "Deep Reading: Reinventing Identity through Imagination." 

As an official assembly of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the AEPL will explore layers of literacy−from immersion to reflection−in hopes of suggesting a pedagogical shift and expanded ways of thinking about how individuals and schools approach teaching and learning.

Supported by the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA), the Associate Provost for Graduate Studies, and the Graduate Student Senate, the conference calls for a transformative education where reading, identity, and imagination offer hope to us all.

Keynote Speakers

From the UMass Dartmouth English Department, Dr. Robert Waxler will discuss the benefits of deep reading, the role of narrative in our lives, and how deep reading is integral to the Changing Lives through Literature (CLTL) program. Waxler co-founded the internationally known CLTL program, which has served young people around the world since 1991. His work exemplifies the power of language as a conduit for traveling inward to our most private selves and outward to our communities. He reminds us of the centrality of linguistic narrative to our personal and communal journeys towards understanding human identity. Waxler and Hall wrote a text, Transforming Literacy: Changing Lives through Reading and Writing (2011), which documents their work with deep reading in middle and high school classrooms.

Dr. Ricardo Rosa is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at UMass Dartmouth. His current research centers on emerging articulations of educational privatization and its effects on organizational behavior in educational settings and possibilities for transformative leadership. His research also focuses on curricular theory and praxis within and beyond the boundaries of normative schooling. Dr. Ricardo Rosa’s talk is entitled, “Literacy and High-Stakes’ Testing Disaster Education: The Detaining of Bodies and the Arresting of Minds.”

Nationally acclaimed educational leader Dr. Jane Tompkins, another keynote speaker for the event, is a former distinguished professor of English at Duke University and the University of Illinois-Chicago. She morphed from being a force for expanding the canon of American literature (Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, 1790-1860 and West of Everything: The Inner Life of Westerns) into being a force for bringing student-centered, experiential learning into democratic classrooms at all levels. Her latest book, Reading through the Night, is a record of how books kept her spirit going through a long illness. It tells how reading for her became a medium for self-discovery.

Dr. Vajra M. Watson is also participating as a keynote speaker. Watson, the Director of Research and Policy for Equity at UC Davis, seeks innovative ways to align people and systems that advance social justice. Much of her research focuses on holistic reform efforts for chronically under-performing schools in rural, suburban, and urban communities, and she specializes in supporting the success of so-called at-risk and high-risk youth alongside transformative culturally relevant professional development. Dr. Watson is the founder of the Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS), which is a dynamic literacy program that pairs poet-mentor educators and teachers together to create grassroots pedagogies. Her talk for AEPL 2016 is entitled, “Our Write to Heal: The Art, Science, and Soul of Transformative Classrooms.” 

Conference Schedule

Thursday, June 23

The opening reception is at the New Bedford Whaling Museum (18 Johnny Cake Hill), which begins at 5 pm. Two of the keynote speakers, Vajra Watson and Robert Waxler, will give their talks that evening in the beautiful auditorium of the Whaling Museum. A buffet dinner will follow. 

Friday, June 24

Jane Tompkins will make her keynote presentation entitled, “Deep Reading as a Medium for Discovery,” in the morning at Woodland Commons of UMass Dartmouth, followed by Dr. Ricardo Rosa’s keynote after lunch. Concurrent sessions (60-minute interactive presentations or 20-minute papers) will also be given throughout the day. That evening, AEPL participants will be dining at Ayur-Shri (387 State Road) in Dartmouth. 

Saturday, June 25

There will be a sunrise ceremony at Gooseberry Island, facilitated by Libby Jones and Maureen Hall. At 9 am, the conference venue will be Friends Academy in Dartmouth, where concurrent sessions will take place through noon. Participants will then move to the New Bedford Art Museum (608 Pleasant St.) where UMass Dartmouth Art Educators Kristi Oliver and Allison Cywin will facilitate a workshop from 1-3 pm entitled, “Deep Seeing: Using Visual Thinking Strategies to Inform Narratives.” After this, the AEPL participants will be attending an art opening for Meaghan Gates’ work at the Colo Colo Gallery in New Bedford (101 W Rodney French Blvd, New Bedford) from 4-6 pm. After this, there is a closing dinner and celebration at the Bayside Restaurant (1253 Horseneck Road) on the water in Westport, Massachusetts. 

Sunday, June 26

This post-conference workshop will start at 9am at New York Bagel (272 State Road) in Dartmouth and AEPL participants can debrief the most powerful takeaways from the AEPL weekend together. As a part of this workshop, Bruce Novak and John Creger will share how they have designed award-winning curricula that methodically tie literary meaning-making to the meaning-making of well-lived whole lives. 

More information about the AEPL conference


College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, News and Public Information