Raise Achievement in Reading & Writing
Spend two days at the Literacy Retreat and you'll acquire the tools and the motivation you need to address some of today's biggest challenges in teaching reading and writing. This professional "getaway" provides an opportunity to relax and recharge while learning best-practice literacy strategies that will make a direct impact in your classroom.

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2020 Literacy Retreat

Six Powerful Sessions


Boost comprehension by targeting inferring skills all year long
When students struggle on standardized reading assessments, it’s often because they lack the skills to draw an inference using evidence from the text. Too often, kids scour the reading, looking for right-there answers they can plug in as a response. In this kick-off session to the Literacy Retreat, attendees will identify a yearlong scaffold to move students from simple answers to complex inferences to multi-text syntheses.
  • Apply inferring instruction to all comprehension standards & units throughout the entire school year.
  • Help students to figure out the answer to any inferential question.
  • Support students who lack background knowledge to make an inference.
  • Scaffold a comprehensive set of inferring strategies, including those previously shared by Smekens with brand-new techniques, to teach this crucial reading skill.

Analyze author moves with explicit instruction in reading and writing
Virtually every educator has heard the term “literary analysis,” and most teachers are probably addressing this standard in some fashion already. But this elusive skill tends to baffle teachers and students alike. In this two-part session, first learn how to look at text through the lens of a writer. Then gain concrete techniques for teaching students to write a literary analysis.
  • Teach students to conduct a literary analysis that goes beyond simply labeling the facets of plot exposition or naming literary devices.
  • Identify common “author moves” within popular literature and informational texts.
  • Equip students with the skills to analyze and question author intentions in craft, technique, and structure.
  • Advance from analysis to evaluation as students argue the impact author choices make in the work as a whole.
  • Teach after-reading writing skills that allow students to construct a thorough, well-crafted literary analysis.

Evaluate the impact of visuals and videos
Smartphones and social media have changed the rules of visual literacy, raising the bar for how educators teach students to analyze and evaluate information. What students need now are the skills to read and interpret the meaning and message conveyed through illustrations, photos, videos, and sound. This timely session provides actionable techniques for building successful and discerning readers in the digital era.
  • Use targeted reading mini-lessons to address the subskills of the media literacy standard.
  • Equip students with the skills to identify the advantages and disadvantages of various mediums in conveying meaning.
  • Prepare students to respond to standardized test questions that require the interpretation of photos, charts, graphs, videos, and more.

Target essential writing skills within the content-area classroom
Let’s face it—simply assigning more writing does not produce better writers. In order to build strong writers, teachers need to deliver explicit instruction about how to write well. And while this type of teaching is a natural fit during language arts, there are a myriad of skills that can be taught in the content areas as well. All educators will feel at home during this session that merges the best of discipline-specific content with essential writing skills.
  • Equip students with the writing-after-reading skills to demonstrate understanding of content-area learning.
  • Identify the most universal and high-priority skills for strong content-area writing.
  • Utilize ready-to-use mini-lessons provided during the session to teach important elements of informative, persuasive, and argumentative writing.

Foster resilience through reading and writing workshops
Achieving expectations for social-emotional learning can sometimes feel like another weight on an already heavy load. However, resilience is a core SEL skill that can be cultivated during the reading and writing workshops. Whether analyzing the grit of characters in literature or nurturing writers who persevere through the process, reading and writing workshops are ripe with opportunity for an intentional focus on resilience.
  • Establish a workshop environment that supports all types of learners and grows achievement simultaneously.
  • Deliver student-centered minilessons that honor the struggle involved in learning new content.
  • Select tasks and assignments that build strong habits while allowing for independent decision making and even activism.
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Each year the strategies get better and better and make me feel confident going back into the classroom to teach reading and writing.
Erica Shadley, teacher at Ada Elementary School (OH)

Attending the Literacy Retreat each year gives me a boost of enthusiasm and excitement to start the next year. I feel rejuvenated as a professional.
Barb Mahnesmith, teacher at Prairie Trace Elementary (IN)

Attending a Retreat with Kristina is like no other PD I've ever experienced. The entire presentation is professional, fast-paced, and fun.
Maureen Wehmeier, teacher at Greenwood Middle School (IN)

As I enter classrooms and see these strategies implemented, I frequently see the light bulbs above students' heads turn on and brightly shine.
Candy Kramer, Principal at Sward School (IL)

Meet Your Guide

Kristina Smekens
President & Lead Consultant
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!
Kristina Smekens

Relevant Strategies for Your Classroom
✔ 2-6 Classroom Teachers
✔ 6-12 Language Arts Teachers
✔ 2-12 Special Education Teachers
✔ ELL Teachers
✔ Literacy Coaches/Coordinators
✔ Curriculum Directors
✔ Title I Teachers/Directors
✔ Principals & Assistant Principals
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Pricing and Group Rates

1 Registration


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3+ Registrations


Save $10 per person.

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10+ Registrations


Contact us to receive 10% discount.

Contact Us (888)376-0448
Above rates reflect Early Bird pricing through April 1, 2020.
Beginning April 2, the standard rate will be $525/person.

Frequently Asked Questions
How can I convince my principal to let me attend?

How can I convince my principal to let me attend?

Download this template to share with your administrator the benefits of attending the 2020 Literacy Retreat.

What is the cancellation policy?

What is the cancellation policy?

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.
Will I receive Continuing Education Credits?

Will I receive 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.
Illinois Continuing Education Credit Available!
Thanks to a partnership with the Regional Office of Education #19, all Illinois teachers attending our June 25-26 session in Chicago are eligible to earn state-approved continuing education credit for 11 hours of training. Smekens Education is an approved subcontractor for ROE #19.
Can I earn Graduate-Level Units?

Can I earn Graduate-Level Units?

University of the Pacific

For an additional fee, educators who attend the Literacy Retreat are eligible to pursue one, two, or three graduate-level university semester units 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/Benerd College take pride in working together to make available the opportunity for educators like you, to earn graduate-level university semester units.

For an additional cost of $62 per unit, 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. (These are post-baccalaureate professional development semester units of non-degree graduate level and are not applicable to a degree at University of the Pacific.)

The University of the Pacific is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Units are intended primarily for the use of salary advancement and recertification. Graduate-level units require workshop attendance and additional coursework.

Have a Question?
Fill out this form or call (888) 376-0448.