• Summer Literacy Institute: 2012 Presenters

    Morning General Sessions

    Monday, July 16, 2012
    Sharon Taberski
    Comprehension from the Ground Up, K-6

    Sharon Taberski cuts through the strategy-overloaded, fluency-crazed atmosphere that surrounds reading instruction to lay out reading and writing workshop practices that are most effective in developing proficient and motivated readers. In addition to developing a repertoire of meta-cognitive comprehension strategies to use as and if needed, children also need to engage in real reading, writing, and talking experiences, and within that context, develop accurate fluent reading, acquire and use background knowledge, expand their oral language and vocabulary, and sustain reading-writing connections.  

    Sharon TaberskiBio: Sharon Taberski is a nationally recognized educator, author, and presenter. A teacher for 28 years, Sharon currently works in school districts throughout the country helping teachers set up reading and writing workshops, and think systematically about how to best accomplish their goals. She also presents keynotes and seminars throughout the US and Canada.

    Sharon’s newest book Comprehension from the Ground Up: Simplified Sensible Instruction in the K-3 Reading Workshop offers a calm landscape of literacy teaching and learning with reading and writing workshop practices that are most effective in developing readers in the primary grades. The companion DVD, Lessons from the Ground Up, shows Sharon in the classroom, modeling effective ways to develop comprehension in real-life classroom settings through exemplary teaching techniques. Sharon is also the author of On Solid Ground: Strategies for Teaching Reading K-3, a classic in the field of reading instruction.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012 
    Greg Tang  
    Literacy In The Digital Age

    Being literate in the 21st century means so much more than knowing how to read. It means being able to access and make sense of all the information that is available, no matter what form it's in. Join us as we see how technology can make best‑selling children's books even better, and how online gaming can be combined with social networking to make learning more fun and effective. This mind‑bending, spirit‑lifting, paradigm‑shifting session will show that good teaching combined with great technology can be the game changer our schools need.

    Greg TangBio: Greg Tang was tutoring math in his daughter's class when he noticed something interesting about the dominoes they were using. Each white dot had a pencil mark on it, which meant the children had been counting them one at a time. Mr. Tang taught them to look for patterns instead, and to add and subtract groups of dots in order to calculate the dominoes' value quickly. From there, he developed a new method of teaching arithmetic in a visual and spontaneous way. His method teaches both computational and problem-solving skills, and is so fun and challenging that children forget they are learning math! He believes that all kids are capable of doing well in math, and he has a mission to make math a natural part of every child's life. He has successfully taught his method to children from ages five to ten.

    Grapes of Math and Math for All Seasons are part of a series of books that will help children gain the range of skills needed for higher math. His books challenge and encourage children to use creativity and common sense to solve problems, rather than formulas and memorization.

    Greg Tang has an impressive mathematics background. He earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees in economics from Harvard, and he also holds an M.A. degree in Math Education from New York University. He has applied his problem-solving methods in building successful companies and products in a variety of industries. Greg Tang currently lives in Belmont, Massachusetts, with his family.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012 
    Katie Wood Ray 
    In Pictures and In Words: Teaching the Qualities of Good Writing Through Illustration Study

    Illustrators compose with pictures and writers compose with words, but writers and illustrators make many of the same decisions as they compose in these different mediums. In this session Katie will demonstrate how students can be taught about essential qualities of good writing — ideas and content, precision and detail, tone, wholeness of text, and layout and design — in the context of a study of picture book illustrations.

    Katie Wood RayBio: Between her passion for elementary writing instruction and a love of children’s literature, Katie Wood Ray found herself asking, “What if children were introduced to key qualities of good writing in the context of illustrations?” This question led to the research behind In Pictures and In Words. The answer was simple yet powerful: “The thinking students do while reading picture books can help them see the connection between what words and illustrations do to make meaning.” As an author of bestselling Heinemann books such as Already Ready, Study Driven, About the Authors, and What You Know By Heart and as a member of Heinemann Professional Development Services, Katie has always given teachers resources and PD that transform writing instruction and help children discover a lifelong love of writing.

    A former Associate Professor at Western Carolina University Katie is now a full time writer and researcher of the teaching of writing. With a particular focus on the study of writing craft, she leads teacher workshops and summer institutes across the nation related to the teaching of writing. Her professional background includes both elementary and middle school teaching experience and two years as a staff developer at The Reading and Writing Project, Teachers College, Columbia University. She was also the coeditor of the journal Primary Voices K–6, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English.

    Thursday, July 19, 2012 
    Lester Laminack 
    Bullying Hurts 
    Working Toward a Culture of Kindness Through Read Aloud and Guided Conversations

    Over 160,000 children in the US stay home from school each day because they fear being bullied.  The past several years have seen an increase in the number of children choosing to end their own lives rather than face the daily onslaught of bullying behaviors. It’s time to reconsider our reactions and become proactive.  Lester will speak from the work in his forthcoming book on how to build a culture of kindness in our classrooms and schools in an effort diffuse bullying behaviors

    Lester LaminackBio: Lester L. Laminack is Professor Emeritus  at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina where he received two awards for excellence in teaching [the Botner Superior Teaching Award and the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award].  Lester is now a full-time writer and consultant working with schools throughout the United States.  He is an active member of the National Council of Teachers of English and served three years as co-editor of the NCTE journal Primary Voices and as editor of the Children’s Book Review Department of the NCTE journal Language Arts (2003-2006). He also served as a teaching editor for the magazine Teaching K-8 and wrote the Parent Connection column (2000-2002). 

    His academic publications include several books including Learning with Zachary (Scholastic), Spelling in Use (NCTE), Volunteers Working with Young Readers (NCTE), and his contributions to The Writing Workshop: Working Through the Hard Parts (NCTE), Learning Under the Influence of Language and Literature (Heinemann) Reading Aloud Across the Curriculum (Heinemann) and two books from Scholastic Cracking Open the Author’s Craft (2007) and Unwrapping the Read Aloud (2009) from Scholastic. In addition he has several articles published in journals such as The Reading Teacher, Science and Children, Language Arts, Primary Voices, and Young Children. Lester is also the author of six children’s books: The Sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins, Trevor’s Wiggly-Wobbly Tooth, Saturdays and Tea Cakes, Jake’s 100th Day of School, Snow Day! and, Three Hens and a Peacock all from Peachtree Publishers. His newest book, Once there was a Bully: Teaching Kindness through Read Alouds and Guided Conversations will be released this fall from Heinemann.  He has two new titles under contract including, Sam Loves Pink (Peachtree), and The Writing Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide (Heinemann).

    Break-Out Sessions/ Symposiums

    Break-out and symposia sessions will be facilitated by general session presenters, area practitioners and notable children's authors during the week. Featured sessions by general session presenters include:

    Sharon Taberski 
    Background Knowledge, Comprehension, and Differentiated Instruction, K-3

    Background knowledge is one of the most important aspects of reading comprehension and has everything to do with how well students understand what they read. This session will demonstrate why background knowledge is central to reading comprehension and examine ways to differentiate students’ access to it. Participants will view and process related videos, and consider practical and effective ways to provide children with background knowledge about topics they’re reading and learning about.

    Greg Tang 
    The Art of Smart

    Should good readers be good in math? Yes! The critical thinking skills that make students proficient in one are the same skills they need for the other. Join us as we explore the similarities and differences between words and numbers and gain important insights into teaching both reading and math. Developing abstract, generalizable thinking skills just may be the secret to great teaching and smart students. Our goal isn't children who are good in reading or good in math, it is smart kids who are good in everything and happy in life.

    Katie Wood Ray 
    Using Literature to Support Conferring in the Writing Workshop

    Conferring with student writers is the most challenging teaching in the writing workshop, but teachers need not meet this challenge alone. Carry good writers with you — in your head and in your hands — and let them help you show students the way. This session will use video to show how literature is used to support writers in conferences.

    Lester Laminack 
    Writing as a Passion

    Have you ever considered the role of passion and focus, imagination and wonder in a writing life?  As the author of several articles, professional books, book reviews, monthly columns, poetry and children’s books Lester recognizes the importance of noticing and noting, wonder and play, observing and reading and tuning in to the sensual details of the world around us.  Come explore what we can do to feed the writing lives of our students. 

    Additional Session Titles


  • 2013 INSTITUTE

    JULY 15-18, 2013



    Parking is free in all university lots during the summer. Please observe the restricted or no parking spaces. Street parking is available on the side streets adjacent Snelling.

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  • HSE News


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