2018 Literacy Retreat: Shipshewana

2018 Literacy Retreat: Shipshewana


The 2018 Smekens Literacy Retreat is a professional “getaway” for teachers…a time to rethink and recharge…a chance to learn best practice literacy strategies that can be applied right away. During six powerful sessions over two days, attendees will acquire both the tools and the motivation to address some of today's most pressing K-12 literacy challenges.



Literacy Retreat Session 1
Today’s college and career-ready reading standards require students to explain how individuals, ideas, or events are related to one another. Commonly referred to as the “relationship standard,” this type of thinking is new, unfamiliar, and gets complex quickly. The root of this standard asks students to analyze how story elements (literature) or ideas (informational text) interact, affect, impact, influence, shape, or relate to one another. To prepare students to think this way, teachers must understand the combination of necessary subskills.
  • Learn techniques to help students describe an isolated idea and track its development across a text.
  • Acquire strategies to trace the interaction between two ideas throughout a text.
  • Gain strategies to analyze how multiple facets impact other ideas over the course of the text.
Literacy Retreat Session 2
It’s easy to see how literacy instruction plays a role in language arts, science, and social studies, but it’s also a vital part of teaching math. Research shows that students tend to struggle more with reading and comprehending math problems than they do with the actual computation. Just because a student can “do the math,” doesn’t mean he can read or write like a mathematician.
  • Emphasize the understanding of math concepts, rather than just computation.
  • Address the difficulties of domain-specific vocabulary and technical language.
  • Learn how to guide students to closely read word problems and reveal their thinking on paper.
Literacy Retreat Session 3
Organization doesn’t just happen. It requires a specific process of determining where things fit best. The same process used to organize personal belongings and everyday tasks must be applied to grouping and sorting information before writing. With a sequence of small steps, students can confidently and independently reign in the chaos and create coherent and cohesive writing for any genre.
  • Identify the three most common approaches (and graphic organizers) for organizing any information.
  • Learn techniques to help students identify and organize “like” ideas by grouping points that go together.
  • Obtain a lesson sequence for building writers who can organize ideas for any piece.
Literacy Retreat Session 4
As educators prepare students to be informed citizens in the Digital Age, it is increasingly important to equip them with the skills needed to differentiate fact from fiction. While vast access to information has many benefits, new gray areas blur the lines between news, entertainment, and opinions. Students need to have the skills to analyze all types of information for accuracy, balance, and perspective.
  • Learn methods to strengthen students’ understanding of fact versus opinion.
  • Gain age-appropriate strategies to help students identify and debunk “fake news.”
  • Acquire mini-lesson ideas to strengthen critical analysis skills.
Literacy Retreat Session 5
Although narrative writing is the third writing mode listed in the standards, it does have a place in today’s classrooms and tomorrow’s careers. Within the real world, police officers draft accident reports, medical personnel write up health histories, case workers document client actions, and more. This session will dig into the two required elements and one desired component of all stories—problem, solution, and tension.
  • Obtain strategies to teach students to craft narratives by first focusing on the middle (the problem) and then the end (the solution).
  • Learn how to tweak traditional narrative units to align with the expectations of standardized tests (e.g., rewrite the story from a different character’s viewpoint).
  • Gain understanding of how tension adds interest and elaboration to stories.
Literacy Retreat Session 6
Educators at every level grapple with the challenge of how to engage students who seem apathetic and unmotivated. While the source of students’ disinterest may be rooted in a variety of legitimate obstacles, the challenge for teachers remains. Beyond cultivating an enthusiasm for learning in general, this session focuses specifically on how to nurture an interest in reading and writing.
  • Understand the difference among appropriately challenging, inappropriately difficult, and unnecessarily mundane activities.
  • Acquire ways to connect literacy skills to real-world concepts and pop culture.
  • Learn strategies to blend students’ love of socializing with content-area learning.

Why attend the Literacy Retreat?

It's Practical: This is no pie-in-the-sky, theory workshop. The Retreat offers down-to-earth, practical strategies that can be applied right away.
It's Relevant: Teachers will walk away with a clearer understanding of today's literacy standards and strategies to achieve those requirements in the classroom.
It's Applicable: Retreat topics apply to teachers from elementary through high school. Each session includes skills, strategies, and examples from a broad range of grade levels.
It's Inspiring: The Literacy Retreat inspires teachers and provides them with the tools and confidence to implement new ideas within their own classroom instruction.
Over the course of two days, attendees collect brand new strategies for teaching reading and writing during six distinct sessions. Each day will include a continental breakfast and a lunch buffet.

Shipshewana Event Center—June 26-27, 2018

Located in the heart of Indiana's Amish country, the Shipshewana Event Center is also at the heart of over 150 retail shops. The small town of Shipshewana attracts half a million visitors a year and is home to one of the largest flea markets in the country.
Lodging at the Blue Gate Garden Inn, located right next door to the Shipshewana Event Center, includes all the amenities you'd expect, along with old-fashioned Amish country charm. All overnight guests may choose to enjoy the indoor pool and hot tub, fitness center, arcade, basketball court, and outdoor patio and fire pit. The Inn features an expansive breakfast buffet that includes a made-to-order omelet option. In the evening, guests can find a sweet treat at The Ice Creamery located in the lobby. Each room includes a television, coffee maker, microwave, refrigerator, iron and ironing board, hairdryer, full length mirrors, and free wireless internet.

Shipshewana Town Event Center
760 S. Van Buren Street
Shipshewana, IN 46565
Blue Gate Garden Inn
105 E. Middlebury Street
Shipshewana, IN 46565
(888) 447-4725 | (260) 768-4725
Discounted Room Rate:

To secure discount room rates, reservations must be made at least 30 days in advance.

“I felt like I was an honored guest from the moment I arrived.” ~ N. Murray
“I mean, really, the whole 2 days rocked.” ~ N. Hoffmeister
“I knew the date from last year’s Literacy Retreat! I mark my calendar early!” ~ C. Kramer
"You have this down to a science! I leave impressed each year!” ~ D. Toussaint
“No words! In awe each and every time. This is my fourth conference and it amazes me how well you keep us engaged, informed, inspired, & entertained. Can’t wait for 2017!” ~ C. Kenney
“I’m so impressed with every part of this Retreat! The content is full of ideas I can use starting Day 1! I’m usually never someone who wins giveaways, so the freebies are a super bonus for me!” ~ J. Walsh
“Very practical—we had 25 teachers attend and they ALL loved it!” ~ A. Schellenberg
“I am pretty sure I learned more in these 2 days than in 4 years of college.” ~ T. Almond
“I took something away from every session that was useful and I have been teaching 30+ years.” ~ E. Stone
"Each time I have attended, I leave feeling equipped, inspired, and committed to my craft & my kids’ learning. I’m sincerely appreciative of the work & the joy that is put into preparing this conference. Thank you.” ~ J. Turk

Call Smekens Education toll free to learn more.

(888) 376-0448
Why attend the Literacy Retreat?

Standard Registration - $479

But don't worry...all the same sessions are offered in French Lick and Chicago!

Discounts available!

  • For teams of 3+: Save $9 per person.
  • For teams of 10+: Contact our office for a 10% savings.

What's included in  the registration fee?
Beyond two days of dynamic instruction, attendees also receive a full color packet of materials, private access to exclusive web resources, fun prizes, plus breakfast, lunch, and snacks each day.

NOTE: Lodging fees and tuition for graduate credit are not included with registration.



Destination: SHIPSHEWANA, IN

June 26-27, 2018

Conference Location:
Shipshewana Town Event Center

760 South Van Buren Street
Shipshewana, IN 46565

Lodging Recommendation:
Blue Gate Garden Inn

105 East Middlebury Street
Shipshewana, IN 46565
(260) 768-4725
(888) 337-4725

To secure discounted room rate, provide group name "Smekens Education" and make reservations at least 30 days in advance.
Single or Double: $110.98/night
Triple/Quad: Add $15 per person

Remember the fun?

Target Audience
2-6 Classroom Teachers
6-12 Language Arts, Social Studies, & Science Teachers
2-12 Special Education Teachers
Literacy Coaches
Title I Teachers
ELL Teachers
Literacy Coordinators
Gifted & Talented Teachers
Principals & Assistant Principals

Who benefits the most?
English/Language Arts Teachers—grades 2-12!

Letter to Your Administrator
Download a template to share with your administrator the benefits of attending the Literacy Retreat.


Continuing Education Credits

Retreat attendees will receive a certificate of participation at the conclusion of the event and may utilize it to demonstrate participation in 11 hours of professional development (in Indiana, 11 PGPs). More information about how this workshop fulfills your state’s unique continuing education requirements can be found on our continuing education page.

Graduate Credit

For an additional fee, attendees may earn three nationally accredited graduate-level credits from the Midwest Teachers Institute and their university partners, Colorado State University-Pueblo.

Course: MTI 539 Best-Practice Literacy Strategies (Download syllabus)

These non-degree credits are designed for professional certification renewals and salary step increases. (Check with your district for approval prior to making a commitment.) Attendance at the Retreat, additional coursework related to the Retreat, and tuition of $375 is required for credit.

Register for graduate credit now.