2019 Literacy Retreat: Shipshewana

2019 Literacy Retreat: Shipshewana


The 2019 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 the tools and the motivation to address some of today's biggest challenges in teaching reading and writing.

SHIPSHEWANA: JUNE 25-26, 2019 (Sold out!)


Session 1: Synthesize information from several sources
In an era when we are inundated with information, it’s essential that students know how to read multiple sources and conduct informal research in order to infer new insights. After recognizing the synthesis process that occurs in your everyday life, this session provides strategies students need to execute this task on standardized tests.
  • Differentiate between summarizing and synthesizing, as defined by standardized tests.
  • Decode the after-reading writing prompt in order to establish a reading purpose.
  • Organize and combine information pulled from multiple sources.
  • Develop a writing unit based on the essential lessons that build students’ synthesis skills.
Session 2: Provide writers with prompt & purposeful feedback
When students are offered productive feedback throughout the writing process, writers grow faster and grading becomes more efficient. While this session doesn’t promise to make assessment easy, it will equip teachers with the tools to provide support that is prompt, purposeful, precise, and personal.
  • Provide immediate feedback without extensive and excessive responses.
  • Utilize writer conferences and writing rubrics to provide meaningful feedback.
  • Incorporate both formative and summative assessments into the writing curriculum.
  • Shift your instructional focus from grading writing to growing writers.
Session 3: Tempt & tease reluctant readers with Booktalks
In order to turn the tide for our most reluctant readers, we have to entice, engage, and entertain! By implementing a fresh approach to “Booktalks,” teachers can abandon the traditional 15-second book bio and instead implement techniques that will tempt, tease, and turn students on to reading.
  • Identify the ingredients of powerful Booktalks after viewing multiple demonstrations.
  • Plan Booktalks that are effective and engaging.
  • Transition to student-led Booktalks that double as an assessment opportunity.
  • Utilize Booktalks in the content-area classroom as a means of motivating readers.
Session 4: Use annotation to activate & articulate understanding
Knowing students have to read and respond to complex texts, teaching them to engage in purposeful annotation can be a game-changer. When students intentionally code, mark, and highlight while reading, their after-reading responses inherently improve.
  • Scaffold age-appropriate codes and markings to build skills across all grade levels.
  • Annotate textual evidence based on specific reading purposes.
  • Progress from simplistic annotations that summarize to sophisticated thoughts that synthesize.
  • Troubleshoot common challenges in order to embed annotation strategies within every classroom.
Session 5: Model literacy lessons that move students toward mastery
The most effective reading and writing mini-lessons follow a gradual release of responsibility. This is the slow and deliberate transfer of knowledge and know-how from teacher to students. With scaffolded instruction, students learn to make decisions and solve problems as independent readers and writers.
  • Apply the phases of I-do, We-do, You-do within reading and writing mini-lessons.
  • Strengthen teacher modeling to go beyond telling what to teaching how.
  • Recognize when students need more (or less) support during a mini-lesson.
  • Increase student engagement during instruction in order to nurture greater independence after the lesson.
Session 6: Mix mediums to build a balanced reader & writer
Today’s real world demands individuals possess a broad set of literacy skills, including those with and without paper. The key to preparing students for this reality is to provide them explicit instruction utilizing both mediums.
  • Balance reading and writing experiences within various mediums across the year.
  • Teach students to successfully compose first-draft writing using both paper and digital mediums.
  • Vary instruction to fit the demands of reading on paper versus reading off a screen.
  • Apply popular Smekens strategies utilizing traditional paper and digital devices.

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 25-26, 2019

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.

Shipshewana Town Event Center
760 S. Van Buren Street
Shipshewana, IN 46565

Lodging Recommendation:

Blue Gate Garden Inn
Blue Gate Garden Inn
105 E. Middlebury Street
Shipshewana, IN 46565
(888) 447-4725 | (260) 768-4725
Discounted Room Rate:

The room block for the Blue Gate Garden Inn is full. If you still need to make a reservation, please contact the Essenhaus Inn.

Essenhaus Inn
Essenhaus Inn
240 U.S. 20
Middlebury, IN 46540
(800) 455-9471
Discounted Room Rate:
Information available soon.

Call to reserve your room. Mention Smekens Education and please make reservations at least 30 days in advance.


What teachers say about the Retreat

“This Retreat was a fabulous combination of new learning, abundant FREE resources, and fun!" Mona Romine, library media specialist at Woodford County High School, Versailles, KY

“Even after 21 years in the classroom, the Literacy Retreat continues to help me see literacy and teaching in new, deeper, and more exciting ways.” Becky Osterfeld, ELA department chair at Jacob Coy Middle School, Xenia, OH

“Kristina knows what it is like being a busy teacher in a classroom day to day. She sets realistic goals and gives helpful suggestions and ideas to get there.” Michelle Greco, teacher at Lace School, Darien, IL

“I am always touched by the sincerity of the presentations, the presenter, and the entire team.” Joy Yurk, teacher at St. Paul Lutheran School, Grafton, WI

“BA-BAM I have been Smekenized!” Abigail Suhre, teacher at Hope Elementary, Hope, IN

Call Smekens Education toll free to learn more.
(888) 376-0448


Join us in French Lick or Chicago!

What's included in the registration fee?
Beyond two days of dynamic instruction, attendees also receive a full-color binder 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 25-26, 2019

Conference Location:
Shipshewana Event Center

760 South Van Buren Street
Shipshewana, IN 46565

Day 1
7:05 – 8:05 a.m. Registration & breakfast
8:05 – 9:45 a.m. — Session 1, Part 1
9:45 – 10:05 a.m. — Break & book shopping
10:05 – 11:30 a.m. — Session 1, Part 2
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Lunch & book shopping
12:30 – 1:45 p.m. — Session 2
1:45 – 2:05 p.m. — Break & book shopping
2:05 – 3:30 p.m. — Session 3
3:30 p.m. — Day 1 conclusion
Day 2
7:05 – 8:05 a.m. — Breakfast
8:05 – 9:45 a.m. — Session 4
9:45 – 10:05 a.m. — Break & book shopping
10:05 – 11:30 a.m. — Session 5, Part 1
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Lunch & book shopping
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. — Session 5, Part 2
1:30 – 1:50 p.m. — Break & book shopping
1:50 – 3:00 p.m. — Session 6
3:00 p.m. — Retreat conclusion

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 2019 Literacy Retreat.


Cancellations & Substitutions

Cancellations occurring 10 days or more prior to the workshop will result in a refund, minus a $50 service fee. Cancellations occurring less than 10 days prior to the workshop do not qualify for any refund. Substitutions may occur at any time.
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-Level Credit

For an additional fee, educators who attend the Literacy Retreat are eligible to earn one, two, or three graduate-level university semester credits from the University of the Pacific, Center for Professional Development and Continuing Education. Please check with your district to determine course acceptability.


Smekens Education and the University of the Pacific/University College take pride in working together to make available the opportunity for educators like you, to earn graduate-level university semester credits/units. We understand that being an educator takes time, energy, and a lot of dedication, so we feel compelled to make this process affordable, practical, and at the same time rewarding.

For only an additional cost of $62 per credit, we can help you meet your salary advancement and/or recertification requirements. All University of the Pacific courses offered through Smekens Education are graded, graduate-level semester, professional development courses, designed as professional growth for educators.

The University of the Pacific is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and all Smekens Education workshops are graduate-level, professional development courses designed as professional growth for educators. They are intended primarily for the use of salary advancement and recertification. Graduate-level credit requires workshop attendance and additional coursework.