CompCON 2021: a comprehension conference for K-12 educators

Virtual & Interactive Event | June 11-12, 2024

Virtual Reading Comprehension Conference

Preparing students to master the standards for reading comprehension requires explicit, skill-based instruction. During the 2-day virtual CompCON event, you’ll gain the methods, materials, and motivation you need to take your skill-based comprehension instruction from good to great.


Gain classroom-tested guidance on how to lead standards-based reading comprehension mini-lessons using strategies that are explicit and engaging.


Utilize guided work time to develop a deeper understanding of the reading comprehension skills for your grade level and how to teach those skills all year long.


Experience two days of fun and relevant PD that will equip you with strategies to start next school year with confidence—all from the comfort of your own home.

Attend CompCON virtually

Virtual & Interactive Event

Virtual conference

June 11-12, 2024


Groups of 10+ receive a 10% discount. Contact us to learn more.

Rather attend in person?

Join us in French Lick, Indiana on June 18-19, 2024.

How CompCON supports the science of reading

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Educational research surrounding the science of reading has heightened the need for teaching phonics and specifically decoding. But, as we know from the research conducted by the National Reading Panel, effective reading instruction requires a combination of direct, explicit teaching of all five pillars of literacy: phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

While each of these components is important and necessary, CompCON focuses specifically on the pillar of reading comprehension. CompCON attendees spend two days learning practical and engaging lessons to deliver explicit, standards-based comprehension instruction.

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Dr. Hollis Scarborough’s iconic Reading Rope reveals the essential strands for reading development. While many science of reading initiatives target the Word Recognition strand of Scarborough’s Reading Rope, CompCON addresses the Language Comprehension strand.

As important as it is that students learn how to decode words, they must simultaneously learn how to think about the words they are reading. This requires whole-class, teacher-led instruction on comprehension skills and strategies—and this is the focus of CompCON.

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According to the Simple View of Reading formula, both word recognition and language comprehension are necessary to create a proficient reader.

The Simple View of Reading provides an argument for teaching decoding and phonics with intentionality. Likewise, direct instruction on teaching language comprehension is imperative as well.

Consequently, K-12 educators need to have whole-class lessons that target grade-level comprehension instruction—and this is the focus of CompCON.

What you will learn during CompCON


Teach whole-class comprehension skills with explicit instruction

Kristina Smekens will kick off CompCON by highlighting the similarities between teaching reading and coaching an athletic team. Just as an athletic coach breaks down a new play, classroom teachers must provide explicit, whole-class comprehension instruction. Taking on the attitude of a comprehension “coach,” the teacher begins to equip students with a lifelong playbook of reading skills.

Professional Development Focus

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 first day, Kristina Smekens will:

  • Identify a set of comprehension skills from retelling to synthesizing that honors college and career-ready standards, grade-level expectations, and best-practice instruction.
  • Detail the explicit instructional points that must be told, taught, and modeled for every week’s comprehension skill.
  • Model how to use The Playbook to craft a week-long series of comprehension mini-lessons that honor the gradual release of responsibility (i.e., I do, We do, You do).
  • Explain the process for selecting text excerpts to maximize teaching time in every whole-class comprehension lesson.

Collaboration & Guided Work Time

During guided work time, you’ll study the print and digital resources for your grade-specific set of yearlong comprehension skills. Then you’ll practice pairing your own texts with Playbook lessons. During this focused collaboration time, you will have access to Kristina and her team to ask questions, seek feedback, and troubleshoot concerns.

Supporting Teachers at CompCON Reading Comprehension Conference

Get hands-on support

Ever been to a conference and wished you had time to process the content and plan out your instruction? At CompCON, that’s exactly what you’ll get. 

During the guided work times, we will lead you through the planning of your reading comprehension instruction. Plus, each day includes an opportunity for you to get personalized support by scheduling a 1:1 live video call with a member of the Smekens team.


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 reveal how to use a week-by-week approach to introduce new grade-level comprehension skills while continuing to practice skills previously taught.

Professional Development Focus

Whether you follow the provided scope and sequence or a district-required one, day two of CompCON examines when individual comprehension skills are taught across the year.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Launch the first weeks of whole-class comprehension lessons from The Comprehension Playbook while growing reader stamina and establishing independent routines.
  • Analyze your daily schedule to fit “everything” into the reading block or class period.
  • Spiral yearlong comprehension instruction to gradually release from I-do lessons to You-do assignments and assessments.
  • Weave into reading instruction a weekly write-about-reading lesson that complements the broader writer’s workshop and prepares students for standardized test expectations.

Collaboration & Guided Work Time

With this deeper understanding, you’ll utilize guided work time to identify beginning-of-the-year texts to read and essential reading-response skills to teach. In addition, participants will determine their most important takeaways and prioritize their next steps. While working independently or with a group, Kristina and her team will again be available to answer questions, provide feedback, and troubleshoot concerns.

What you get when you attend the virtual CompCON

Professional Resources


CompCON Kit mailed to you, containing everything you need for two days of fun & learning


A grade-specific copy of The Comprehension Playbook and access to a website of digital resources to support implementation


Access to the conference video recordings for a full year on Smekens Education’s online platform


A completion certificate reflecting 11 hours of professional development


Lifetime access to the CompCON “Secret Site” on Smekens Education’s online platform

CompCON Kit
CompCON French Lick fruit

A fun learning experience


Learn from the comfort of your own home—or register with colleagues and hold a “Watch Party”


Live access to Kristina Smekens and her team with real-time chat and guided work sessions


High-energy presentations with special surprises designed to rekindle your passion for teaching


Opportunity to get recharged and rejuvenated after a long school year


A special 15% discount when you buy books and resources from

Virtual CompCON Schedule

All times listed are Eastern Time

Day One – June 11

9:00 a.m. - 9:10 a.m.

Live opening session

9:15 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Grade-level skills

10:45 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Lesson planning

11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Guided work time

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Lunch break

1:30 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.

Text selection

2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Guided work time

4:05 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Live closing session

Day Two – June 12

9:00 a.m. - 9:10 a.m.

Live opening session

9:15 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

First lessons

10:45 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Schedule adjustments

11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Guided work time

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Lunch break

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Read-write instruction

2:45 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Guided work time

3:35 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Live closing session

Benefits of attending CompCON virtually


With no travel required, you can attend CompCON from anywhere that has a good internet connection.


Whether you attend the live event or watch the recordings afterward, you will get on-demand access for one full year.


Attending virtually means no need to pay extra for travel, lodging, or other expenses.

CompCON Virtual attendee

Who should attend CompCON?

A group of teachers at CompCON Reading Comprehension Conference

CompCON is for everyone who teaches comprehension!

K-6 General Education Teachers

Literacy Coaches & Coordinators

6-12 Language Arts Teachers

High-Ability Teachers


Principals & Assistant Principals


K-12 Curriculum Directors

K-12 Special Education Teachers
ELL Teachers

CompCON Presenter: Kristina Smekens

Your comprehension coach

A celebrated educator, author, and literacy consultant, Kristina Smekens has built a reputation for using enthusiasm, humor, and common sense to equip K-12 educators with simple and effective strategies for teaching reading and writing.

As president and lead consultant for Smekens Education, Kristina is constantly developing new strategies to help teachers meet the demands of today’s College and Career-Ready Standards. She shares those strategies with teachers across the United States and beyond through on-site professional development, seminars, and an always-growing pool of print, digital, and video resources.

See what past virtual attendees had to say.

Tina Stimpson, Teacher
Lancaster Middle School – Lancaster, WI

Tricia Stanley, Principal
Granville Wells Elementary – Jamestown, IN

Sha Calhoun, Teacher
Pui Tak Christian School – Chicago, IL

Dr. Danielle Hickerson, K-5 ELA Coach
Clay Elementary School – Marbleton, GA

Allison McCormick, Teacher
Shaw Elementary School – Beavercreek, OH

Kimberly McClure, Teacher
Atkinson Elementary School – Louisville, KY

Mike Kosty, Teacher
St. Teresa Elementary – Windsor, Ontario

Barbara Shepphard, Teacher
R.J. Baskett Middle School – Gas City, IN

Dena Jones, Teacher
Sedway Middle School – North Las Vegas, NV

Frequently asked questions

What's included with my registration?

Beyond two days of fun, high-energy sessions, CompCON Virtual attendees will also receive:

  • A CompCON Kit shipped to you containing everything you need for two days of fun & learning. (No extra shipping charge for U.S. residents. International registrants will incur additional shipping charges).
  • Grade-specific Comprehension Playbook with digital resource site
  • Support from Kristina and her team during the afternoon work sessions
  • On-demand access to the recordings of every CompCON session through June 1, 2025
  • A completion certificate reflecting 5 – 11 hours of professional development, depending on participation
  • Lifetime access to the CompCON “Secret Site”
Can I earn Continuing Education Credit?

With prior approval from the attendee’s school district, participants may receive professional development credit for participating in CompCON (In-person: 11 hours, Virtual: up to 11 hours depending on participation). After the conference concludes, attendees will be awarded a Certificate of Participation which can be used to verify attendance.

Visit our Continuing Education Credit page for more information about how this workshop fulfills your state’s unique continuing education requirements.

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?

Are you interested in attending CompCON this summer but need help convincing your administrator?

We’ve made it easier than ever with a pre-written template explaining how CompCON directly supports your school’s science of reading initiative.

Simply download, edit, and send it to your administrator.

I attended before. Should I attend again?

We would love to have you back! Whether you attended in person or virtually before, hearing Kristina present the information again may be just the thing to support your continued implementation. Plus, you’ll gain access to all of the session recordings for a year, allowing you to revisit some of the more difficult concepts. As before, you’ll have the opportunity to schedule a one-on-one video conference with a Smekens team member during the guided work times.

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.

For virtual/interactive registrants, cancellations can occur at any time prior to the shipment of the CompCON Kit. In such cases, a refund, minus up to 5% transaction fees, will be available. After the Kit has been shipped, cancellations do not qualify for a refund.  Substitutions may occur at any time.

If you need to cancel your registration, please submit your request to [email protected].

CompCON Reading Comprehension Conference

Don’t miss the biggest event of the summer!

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