CompCON 2021: a comprehension conference for K-12 educators

Chicago, IL – July 27-28, 2021


Two-day Summer Conference

Learn, Plan, & Rejuvenate

If you really want to accomplish something, you better put it on your calendar! This is true in life—and also in teaching. When educators start the year with a schedule for when and how they will roll out specific reading comprehension skills, whole-class instruction goes from good to great.

Led by Kristina Smekens, this two-day conference will help educators start the school year with a personalized calendar for delivering standards-driven comprehension mini-lessons all year long. This event includes the expert instruction you expect with the added support of afternoon work time when Kristina and her team will be available to help.

This BRAND NEW event is coming to Chicago on July 27-28, 2021, and will also be available as an On-Demand Conference beginning July 23. Choose the format that works best for you and register today!

Earn Completion Certificate

Earn Illinois PD Credit!

Thanks to a partnership with the IL ASCD, all Illinois teachers attending our July 27-28 conference in Chicago are eligible to earn state-approved continuing education credit for 11 hours of training. Illinois teachers who register for our on-demand conference and view all conference videos will be eligible to earn state-approved continuing education credit for 5.5 hours of training.

In-Person & On-Demand

Chicago conference has limited capacity.


Drury Lane Conference Center

July 27-28, 2021


Teacher learning at a virtual Smekens workshop


On-Demand Conference

Available July 23, 2021


Included with In-Person registration:


Personalized CompCON Kit


Support from Kristina Smekens and her team


Lifetime access to CompCON “Secret Site”


Illinois state-approved continuing education credit for 11 hours of training


Hot breakfast & lunch each day


Prizes, giveaways, and special touches!

Included with On-Demand registration:


Personalized CompCON Kit mailed to you


Voucher to enroll in one of our 5.5 hour on-demand workshops


Access to CompCON videos until 6/1/22


Lifetime access to CompCON “Secret Site”


Illinois state-approved continuing education credit for 5.5 hours of training

Groups of 10 or more, contact us for special pricing and arrangements.


Conference Details


Teach whole-class comprehension skills with explicit instruction

Kristina Smekens will kick off CompCON by casting a vision for leading whole-class comprehension instruction all year long. To further articulate that vision, participants will receive a suggested list of yearlong comprehension skills from retelling to synthesizing that honors grade-level standards and best-practice instruction.


Armed with this big-picture understanding, the primary focus of this first morning will be to learn the process for planning and teaching a single comprehension skill across an entire week.

During the morning session, Kristina will:

  • Provide attendees a list of instructional points per comprehension skill.
  • Model how to layer instruction across a multi-day mini-lesson series— targeting a new comprehension skill each week.
  • Define the essential facets of every whole-class mini-lesson, including how to make lessons explicit and honor the gradual release of responsibility (i.e., I do, We do, You do).


During the afternoon, participants will finalize their own list of 6-12 yearlong comprehension skills. Then they will drill down the order of instructional points to roll out each day of the mini-lesson series. While working independently or with a group, teachers will have access to Kristina and her team to ask questions, seek feedback, and troubleshoot concerns.


Map out a year of skills, texts, and writing

Knowing which comprehension skills to teach and how to teach them is the first step. The next hurdle is to determine when to teach these priority skills. The second day of CompCON will focus on creating a yearlong map of comprehension skills that honors developmental readiness and spiraled instruction— all in order to achieve grade-level mastery.


Participants will learn how to parcel out the numerous instructional points per comprehension skill and plot them within three mini-rounds across the year.

CompCON attendees will learn how to:

  • Launch the first weeks of their whole-class comprehension instruction.
  • Spiral their yearlong comprehension skills to build on one another.
  • Choose the texts that are best suited for individual skill instruction.
  • Layer writing-about-reading instruction to prepare students for standardized assessment expectations.


With this deeper understanding, teachers will spend their afternoon plotting and planning as they make decisions about their own yearlong calendars. The focus of this work time will be to create a week-by-week map of comprehension skills. As participants work independently or with a group, Kristina and her team will again be available to answer questions, provide feedback, and troubleshoot concerns.

CompCON will conclude with the last piece of this planning puzzle—a vision for assessing students’ individual comprehension skills under this approach.

Build a yearlong calendar of comprehension instruction

Build a yearlong calendar for teaching reading comprehension strategies.

Learn to scaffold any skill across multiple days of whole-class instruction.

Apply reading instruction to a wide variety of text types.

Incorporate meaningful writing-about-reading experiences all year long.

Why Chicago-Area Educators Smekens Conferences

“As I enter classrooms and see these strategies implemented, I frequently see the lightbulbs above students’ heads turn on and brightly shine.”

Candy Kramer

Sward School – Oak Lawn, IL

“Kristina’s expertise is at the top of the Literacy Food Chain and YET she is the only guru that SHOWS HOW explicitly. “

Beth Mouw

Brook Forest Elementary – Oak Brook, IL

“I feel more prepared to start/launch teaching on the 1st day of school this year—no matter how it will look.”

Anne Pacion

Holy Family Catholic Academy – Inverness, IL


Meet Your Guide

After learning from Kristina, you’ll feel excited and ready to apply new ideas in your own classroom. This is because she has a gift for making the complex seem simple. You will learn how to meet the needs of readers and writers by bridging the gap between education research and practical classroom-tested strategies that get results!

Who attends CompCON?

K-6 General Education Teachers
K-12 Special Education Teachers

Literacy Coaches & Coordinators

6-12 Language Arts Teachers
ELL Teachers

High-Ability Teachers


Principals & Assistant Principals

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the CompCON itinerary?

July 27-28, 2021
Drury Lane Conference Center – Oak Brook, IL

7:00-8:00 – Registration & breakfast
8:00-9:30 – Session 1
9:30-9:45 – Break
9:45-10:30 – Session 2
10:30-10:45 – Break
10:45-11:30 – Session 3
11:30-12:30 – Lunch
12:30-3:00 – Worktime / planning / collaboration
3:00-3:30 – Closing session

7:15-8:00 – Breakfast
8:00-9:30 – Session 4
9:30-9:45 – Break
9:45-10:30 – Session 5
10:30-10:45 – Break
10:45-11:30 – Session 6
11:30-12:30 – Lunch
12:30-2:30 – Worktime / planning / collaboration
2:30-3:00 – Closing session

Can I earn Illinois PD Credit?

Thanks to a partnership with the IL ASCD, all Illinois teachers attending our July 27-28 conference in Chicago are eligible to earn state-approved continuing education credit for 11 hours of training. Illinois teachers who register for our on-demand conference and view all conference videos will be eligible to earn state-approved continuing education credit for 5.5 hours of training.

Can I earn Graduate-Level Units?

For an additional fee of $62 per credit/unit, CompCON attendees are eligible to pursue 1-4 graduate-level university semester credit units from the University of the Pacific, Center for Professional Development and Continuing Education. Please check with your district to determine course acceptability.

Do you offer a group discount?
Yes! For groups of 10 or more, take 10% off the current registration fee. Contact us for special pricing and arrangements.
How can I convince my administrator to let me attend CompCON?

Download and edit this Word Document to share with your administrator the benefits of attending CompCON!

What are the COVID-19 precautions for in-person sessions?

The health and safety of CompCON attendees is our #1 priority. With this in mind, in-person sessions will honor all local health guidelines, including social distancing and the wearing of masks.

General protocols:

  • Attendance will be limited in order to ensure capacity for social distancing of at least 6 ft.
  • All staff and attendees will be required to wear a face covering while indoors unless eating or drinking.
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided for every attendee.
  • High-touch areas will be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
What is the cancellation policy?

Cancellations of in-person attendance can occur up to 10 days prior to the workshop. In such cases, a refund, minus up to 5% transaction fees, will be available. Cancellations occurring less than 10 days prior to the in-person workshop do not qualify for any refund, unless cancellation is related to COVID-19 restrictions.

For virtual/interactive registrants, cancellations can occur at any time and a full refund, minus up to 5% transaction fees, will be paid.

Substitutions may occur at any time.

If you need to cancel your registration, please submit your request to

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Have a Question?

Complete the form below or call (888) 376-0448.