Captivating Keynotes

  • Rethinking the Balance of Reading in ELA
  • Reading habits do not emerge by accident, but through careful and purposeful modeling and instruction. We must meet children’s social and learning needs as we support their lives as readers. These needs are intertwined and interdependent and have more to do with reading success than school-centered standards do. We will consider classroom conditions grounded in the key principles for motivation: relevance, engagement, and success. We will show how we help readers construct identities of power and opportunity, to challenge themselves as readers, and to act with agency in our classrooms (and beyond) through meaningful talk and writing in core texts, book clubs, and as they craft independent reading lives.
  • Penny Kittle & Kelly Gallagher
  • Minds Made For Stories
  • Consider narrative as the central feature of all good, readable, sustained writing. There is sound psychological evidence to show that our natural mode of thinking is to create stories. Informational and argumentative writing is grounded in stories. The story is home base. If we are to engage readers and writers, we should not treat narrative as a distinct type of writing, but as the core of all good writing.

  • Tom Newkirk
  • Holding On: How to Help Learning Stay Meaningful
  • This fast-paced session will help us all think carefully about how to help students hold on to what they’ve learned as they develop as confident and effective readers and writers.
  • Kylene Beers and Bob Probst
  • Moving On: Shifting from Best Practices to Next Practices

  • Let us reconvene to think forward. We’ll consider how we help students be prepared for the demands of an-ever shifting world and how we help ourselves shift to next practices that make a difference and improve comprehension.
  • Kylene Beers and Bob Probst
  • Reading (and Writing) From the “Wrong Side of the Tracks”

  • Growing up in a working class, predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood, I didn’t view myself as a reader or even much of a student. I was obsessed with the game of basketball. And I quickly determined that basketball was my best chance at becoming the first in my family to go to college. And it worked. Once I set foot on my college campus, however, my mindset changed. I fell for words and story, and it was “diverse literature” that paved the way for what I do today.
  • Matt de la Peña
  • The Art of Teaching: Crafting Classrooms That Inspire & Challenge All Students
  • How do we decide what—and what not— to teach? With increased expectations and so little time to meet them, the time is right for teachers to reflect professionally on the balance between process and outcomes, or in the words of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Bob Seger, to carefully consider our “deadlines and commitments—what to leave in, what to leave out.” Positioning our students closer to reading and writing excellence begins with decisions we make before, during, and after today’s lesson. This session will explore those decisions, and how they form the basis of artful teaching.
  • Penny Kittle & Kelly Gallagher


Vocabulary: Helping Kids Learn Words

Presenter:Kylene Beers or Bob Probst
In this workshop, we’ll turn our attention to vocabulary issues. We’ll look at strategies that help students not only learn words, but more importantly, determine which words they most need to learn. This session is appropriate for both fiction and nonfiction texts.

Reading Nonfiction: What Matters

PresenterKylene Beers or Bob Probst
Join us as we look at how we help all readers, but especially our struggling readers, address nonfiction with greater understanding. You’ll leave with strategies that help you encourage students to think critically, read closely, and determine author’s purpose and bias.

Getting into the Text and Moving Beyond the text: Before- and After-Reading Strategies that Help Kids Comprehend a Text

Presenter:  Kylene Beers or Bob Probst
Comprehension improves when readers are engaged with the text they are reading. So, in this session we share several strategies designed to strengthen the students’ engagement with texts and with one another as they discuss their readings. These strategies encourage readers to be both more responsive and responsible in dealing with both fiction and nonfiction.

Notice and Note: Helping Kids Read Literary Texts

Presenter: Kylene Beers or Bob Probst

In this workshop, we’ll share six strategies that help all readers – but especially struggling readers – read literary texts with great attention and deeper understanding. These strategies encourage students to go beyond the words on the page to the meaning those words bring to their lives.

Where the Wild Things Are: Adolescents Write Fiction

Presenter: Tom Newkirk
The writing of fiction, inexplicably, tends to drop off in the middle and high school years. While we stress the reading of fiction, the focus of writing often shifts to informational or analytic tasks. Students may write about literature, but they don’t write literature, certainly not on a regular basis. In this session, we will look at the ways in which adolescent writers use fiction to explore extremes—fears, threats, anxieties, abandonment, cruelty, physical suffering—the great staples of literature, particularly the literature they choose to read. Paradoxically, there is pleasure in vicariously exploring these extremes, and how they can be
endured and transcended.

The Art of Slow Reading

Presenter: Tom Newkirk
Wendell Berry writes, “The faster one goes, the more strain there is on the senses, the more they fail to take in, the more confusion they must gloss over,– and the longer it takes to bring the mind to a stop in the presence of anything.” In this session we will look at practices that can help readers slow down, attend to the sounds of language, and locate words and phrases that seem central to a passage or poem. We will read the beginnings of texts slowly and patiently to frame expectations and get a feel for an author. We will also look at what it
means to read like a writer—as we look over the shoulder of F. Scott Fitzgerald making revisions to The Great Gatsby.

Become a Knowledge Maker: The Craft of Teacher Research

Presenter: Tom Newkirk
The term “research” still carries the association with objectivity and statistical complexity; teachers are traditionally urged to apply research but not to create it. In this session we will explore ways for teachers to make knowledge by framing questions that matter, and by developing manageable ways of collecting and analyzing. As I argue in my chapter in The Teacher You Want to Be (Heinemann), teacher research is a natural extension of the actions good teachers do all the time. By the end of the session, participants will have a plan for
exploring a question that matters to their practice.

The Dark Emotional Underside of Learning: Fear, Shame, Embarrassment (and what we can do about it)

Presenter: Tom Newkirk
Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has written an essay with the arresting title, “The Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail.” His point is that emotions shape our more rational and cognitive activities. The current attention given to socio-emotional learning is recognition of that fact. In this session we will speak honestly about those self-conscious emotions that so often get in the way of being successful readers and writers—and look at practices that can allay these emotional blocks. This session will not simply apply to students, but to us teachers as well. We all hold ourselves back for fear, often unrealistic fear, of failing in the presence of others.

Conferring with Readers to Assess, Nudge, and Celebrate Growth

Presenter: Penny Kittle
To assess means to ‘sit beside.’ When we sit beside readers, listening well creates an opportunity for our best teaching. Let’s unpack the subtleties that make a reading conference work. We’ll look at short videos of conferences and the layers of teaching embedded there. We’ll consider what we learn and what we do next.

Writing Beside Complex Charts, Tables, and Graphs

Presenter: Penny Kittle

Daily writing practice in content areas can be playful, purposeful, and collaborative. Help students advance their arguments or develop their ideas for extended research by writing next to complex and interesting charts, tables, and graphs. We will lead students to write into an academic conversation of many voices with increased confidence by modeling our first draft writing and revisions for them.

Keeping the Reading and Writing of Poetry Central to Our Core

Presenter: Penny Kittle

Our students don’t just fall into reading and writing; we have to nudge them into possibilities. In this session I will show you ways that I spark writing in even my most reluctant students. The musical rhythm and richly crafted images in poetry help them make connections to others and lead them to the stories and ideas that will drive their best writing. We stand next to brave, beautiful words and we all write better. Come to write, think, and share with each other.

Portable Magic: Using Mentor Texts to Deepen Connections Between Reading and Writing

Presenter: Penny Kittle

As Stephen King said, “Books are uniquely portable magic.” The magic deepens when students begin studying passages from exceptional books. In this workshop we will study the craft and structure of texts together in order to recognize the qualities of voice and the rhythm of sentence structure, which help writers craft with intention and increasing skill.

Planning a Unit on Argument

Presenter: Kelly Gallagher

The reading and writing of argumentative texts is foundational to building literate lives. This session will examine how to plan a unit that deepens our students’ engagement with argumentative texts.

Deeper Reading of Challenging Texts

Presenter: Kelly Gallagher

This workshop will focus on proven techniques that enable students to move beyond surface-level comprehension and into deeper reading of difficult text.

Advocating for Speaking and Listening: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age

Presenter: Kelly Gallagher

The state and national standards — and the teacher observation checklists widely used to enforce them – consistently call for classrooms where kids engage in thoughtful, focused, and productive conversations with classmates (in partners, small groups, or larger teams). And new digital resources allow our students to take these conversations far beyond the school—or the country. In this workshop we will explore how to strengthen our students’ listening and speaking skills in a digital age.

Assessing and Grading Practices That Encourage Growth

Presenter: Kelly Gallagher

Teachers are in a tough spot: parents, students and administrators insist on lots of grading, yet the very act of grading often de-motivates young readers and writers. In this workshop, we will examine this delicate balance, and in doing so we will look at ways to strengthen our assessment practices while decreasing our over-reliance on grading.

The New Diversity

Presenter: Matt de la Peña
Most writers who feature diverse characters have at least one book that focuses on diversity. For me it was Mexican WhiteBoy. Now I aim to write diverse characters into storylines that aren’t overtly about race. In this session I will discuss the evolution of my approach to writing diversity.

The Power of Literacy in Working Class Neighborhoods

Presenter: Matt de la Peña
Guys growing up in tough neighborhoods are often taught that emotion is the enemy. We’ll talk about why that’s such a dangerous message and how reading can give tough guys a secret place to feel.

Writing What Matters

Presenter: Matt de la Peña
Kids are quick to learn the difference between writing for school and writing for real. We’ll look at some practices I use to help me get to the most truthful and vulnerable spaces in my work. And we’ll talk about why that’s where the art is.

The Story Behind the Story

Presenter: Matt de la Peña

I steal from real life. In this workshop I will reveal secrets about where some of my stories and characters have come from, and we will explore more generally how authors find inspiration