Vermont Literacy Conference

Vermont Literacy Conference 2024

Stoweflake Resort and Spa - Stowe Vermont

July 30, July 31, August 1, 2024


Tuesday only: $325.00 per person
Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday: $895.00 per person 

  • Submit registration by July 29, 2024. 
  • A separate registration form is required for each individual and must be accompanied by a check or purchase order.
Additional Option: Three Graduate Credit Option– Attend the 3 days of the VLC conference and take the course The Vermont Literacy Conference: Engaging our Students with Responsive Literacy Practices – 3 credits through Saint Michael’s College – Total Cost $1,750
Course Details: LINK
For additional information about the course, contact

Register online and mail checks or purchase orders to:
Partnerships for Literacy and Learning
250 Main Street, Ste 202
Montpelier, VT 05602


8:00                  Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:30                  Welcome and Introduction
8:30-11:15     Keynote with Cris Tovani
11:15-12:00   Hot Topics
12:00-1:00      Lunch
1:00-3:30        Keynote with Wiley Blevins
3:40                  Course Registration Meeting 

Wednesday & Thursday
8:00                   Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:30-11:15      Strand Sessions
11:15-12:00    Wednesday – Hot Topic | Thursday – Author Talk                                              with Kenneth Cadow
12:00-1:00       Lunch
1:00-3:30         Strand Sessions

Hotel Information:
Stoweflake Resort and Spa
1746 Mountain Rd, Stowe, VT 05672
Conference Rate Booking Reservation LINK

Vermont Literacy Conference Confirmations and Cancellations:
A $50 cancellation fee will apply to all registrants who cannot attend.  Notice of cancellation must be given by July 15, 2024. Cancellations after that date will be charged 100% of the registration fee. No refunds will be granted after that date.  The same policy applies to purchase orders.  If paying with a purchase order, please be sure to obtain permission from the school district to register. If the school district does not come through with the purchase order, the conference attendee will be responsible for the conference fees. No-shows will be invoiced and subject to collection for the total amount. A substitution of a registrant may be made at any time.  Returned checks will be charged $35. You will receive confirmation by email.  If you do not receive a confirmation, please contact the PLL office to ensure that you are registered at

TUESDAY | July 30, 2024

Cris Tovoni

KEYNOTE: Removing the Masks of Disengagement: Strategies to Hook Our Most Reluctant Learners

The best reading strategy in the world won’t work if students are disengaged. Now, more than ever before, students want compelling reasons to read, write, and discuss.  When students are behaviorally, emotionally, and cognitively engaged, learning happens.  During this keynote, Cris Tovani will give participants a taste of the planning structures she uses to meet the needs of challenging post-covid students.  Using the 6Ts of: Topic, Target, Task, Text, Time, and Tending, Cris finds new ways to hook our most reluctant learners. 
We are excited that Cris will be staying and leading a 2-day strand on Wednesday and Thursday for the Vermont Literacy Conference 2024!

Cris Tovani is an internationally known consultant who focuses on issues of disciplinary reading and writing instruction. She was awarded the 2017 Thought Leader Award from the International Literacy Association. Cris has been an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado and the University of Denver. She is the author of five books, most recently, Why Do I Have to Read This? Cris has taught students from grades 1–12 and continues to study the “knowing-doing gap” by investigating how best practice research can be practically applied to a variety of instructional settings.

Wiley Blevins

KEYNOTE: Wiley Blevins

In his keynote presentation, Wiley Blevins will share insights and tools from his newly published book, Differentiating Phonics Instruction for Maximum Impact: How to Scaffold Whole-Group Instruction So All Students Can Access Grade-Level Content.  His talk will cover topics including how to provide whole-class phonics instruction in a responsive way by strengthening differentiation, incorporating high-impact routines, and progress monitoring.  Participants will see examples of fun multi-modal games, guidelines for creating small, skill-based groups, and other tools for to support students at every skill level, multilingual learners, and upper-grade students. 

Wiley Blevins, Ed.D., studied at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Bowling Green State University. He is an author, educational consultant, and researcher and has taught both in the United States and South America. Wiley has written over 17 books for teachers, including A Fresh Look at Phonics, Phonics From A to Z, Differentiating Phonics Instruction for Maximum Impact, and Choosing and Using Decodable Texts. He has authored several phonics and reading programs and wrote the phonics brief by the International Literacy Association (Meeting the Challenges of Early Literacy Phonics Instruction). Wiley’s current focus is on adaptive technology, differentiated professional development, and children’s literature. Wiley has written over 100 children’s books and is SVP and Associate Publisher at Reycraft Books, a new imprint focused on publishing books by authors and illustrators from under-represented groups.

Author Talk with Kenneth M. Cadow - Thursday

Kenneth Cadow is an educator and writer. He is the father of three remarkable adults and lives with his wife and their dog, Quinnie, in Pompanoosuc, Vermont. 
Throughout his multiple careers as student, taxi driver, naval officer, grocery store owner, editor, and high school and middle school art teacher, one thing has remained constant: he has always been a writer. For several years, he was editor of The Upper Valley Parents’ Paper, a parenting magazine that served New Hampshire and Vermont. He is currently a co-principal at Oxbow Union High School in Bradford, Vermont. 
His novel Gather is his first young adult novel and was a 2023 National Book Award Finalist. About this book, he says, “In my teaching career, I have encountered dozens upon dozens of stories like Ian’s: kids whose spirits are threatened to be crushed by societal disregard. The kids who are able to pull through by the ingenuity of their skill set and the strength of their character, as well as the care of their larger communities, are some of the strongest people I have even had the pleasure of meeting.”


(Tuesday and Wednesday)

Exploring Sound Walls

Heather Gebo
Learn about Sound Walls and how to transition from a word wall to a sound wall. The presentation covers ways to use a sound wall and a discussion about related articulatory gestures (basic) and engaging students with the sound wall. (Grades K-6)

A Comprehensive Approach to Literacy Instruction

Rebecca Cardone
The recent spiral back towards the Science of Reading Approach has left many educators feeling like they have been “doing something wrong” when it comes to teaching children to read.  In addition, the scrutiny of proponents of the Balanced Literacy Approach and the instructional materials many educators have come to rely on has contributed to the idea that one approach is better than the other.  What we have come to learn is that the best approach is a combination of the two.  Come to this hot topic session to discuss with your colleagues how we can develop a comprehensive literacy approach, providing the necessary foundational skill instruction while also ensuring that we are creating communities of readers and writers that allow for rich and meaningful conversations. (Grades K-8)

Reading, Technology, and the Brain

Ellen Thompson
We’ll have a discussion of what a heavy dose of technology has on how reading looks and feels like now.  What can we do as educators to help our students get back to a deeper comprehension of texts? (Grades 3-8)

Using Your Data to Support a Healthy Core and Prevent the Overidentification of Students with Disabilities

Heather Willis-Doxsee
How are you using your benchmark data to inform key changes to your core reading program? Do you find that your school has a high percentage of students identified as in need of specialized instruction? Let’s talk about what our data is telling us and how to look at what systemic changes may need to happen during core instruction. (all grades)

No Time to Waste: Structured Literacy with Young Adults

Julie Brown
*What does “literacy” mean to struggling adolescent readers?
*Can foundational skill instruction respect the dignity of young adults?
*What does such a program actually look like, and where could my high school begin?
Join us in this Hot Topic as we seek answers to these questions and share successful instructional approaches explicitly designed to meet older students’ unique social and emotional needs. Reflections from adolescents highlight the central role reading plays in building belonging — inspiring educators and administrators to meet the needs of struggling older students with urgency, expertise, compassion, and joy. (Grades 7-12)



(Select one STRAND to attend)

Young Learners, Big Thinkers: Launching a Year of Powerful and Playful Literacy

Christine Hertz Hausman
This strand will help teachers prepare for a new year of joyful literacy learning. Educators will learn how to couple instruction in foundational literacy with curiosity and play through the intentional study of children, developmental continua, and research-based practices. On the first day, we will explore how to incorporate the latest reading research and strategies into a child-centered classroom culture where joy and learning go hand-in-hand. Participants will learn practices to weave foundational reading skills into the interests and identities of the children in their class. Educators will explore how small changes to shared reading, interactive writing, and group lessons can help contextualize and personalize children’s new literacy learning and build a sense of agency, excitement, and purpose. On the second day, teachers will learn the latest in cutting-edge research to launch their writing workshop. We will investigate how interactive writing, storytelling, and play can support each learner’s writing growth and what effective formative assessment strategies and tools can support this work. Both days will incorporate plenty of time to collaborate and plan for the upcoming school year. (Grades K-1)

Shifting Literacy Practices (Grades K-2)

Heather Gebo
This strand leans on recent research in the sciences of reading and how we apply this knowledge as teachers and learners. We will use the focus text, Shifting the Balance, by Jan Burkins and Kari Yates, to learn how shifts in our practice can be both subtle and highly impactful. Topics include phonemic awareness and learning letters, ways to enhance sound-spelling/phonics instruction, teaching high-frequency words, choosing texts for young readers, and building language comprehension and vocabulary. Group members will share their journeys and reflections to create goals they can bring back to their classrooms.  (Grades K-2)

Understanding and Intervening with Trauma in the Classroom

James Calhoun
In this strand, we will explore how trauma and stress can influence the component of Duke and Cartwright’s The Active View of Reading model that focuses on Self-Regulation. In particular, we will consider how trauma and stress can impact academic learning and the ability to develop a solid teacher-student relationship. We will build on our understanding of the foundations of trauma/stress from neurobiological, transgenerational, relational, and resilience lenses. Additionally, the discussion will include how to support students exhibiting trauma and stress in school-wide and individual classroom environments.  We will also address the implications for instruction, relationship building, and collaboration to navigate the inevitable issues that arise. (Grades K-6)

Teaching Readers: High Leverage Literacy Instruction across the Day

Ellen A. Thompson
The research is clear. We know what our readers need from our instruction and their time reading. This workshop will explore the need for quality literacy instruction that moves beyond the reading classroom. Participants will explore the research to develop high-leverage moves that will compel their students forward in their literacy journey as readers, writers, and thinkers within and across content. These high-leverage moves can be used within any classroom setting that strives to increase student agency. We will read Jennifer Serravallo’s newest book,
Teaching Reading Across the Day, Grades K-8: Methods and Structures for Engaging Explicit Instruction, published by Corwin Press in April of 2024. (Grades K-8)

For the Joy of Writing! Fostering Writing Engagement Through “Low-Stakes” Writing and the Writing Workshop

Rebecca Cardone
Learn how to establish and maintain a Writer’s Workshop, which includes writing routines that give students the time, space, and autonomy to engage with playful, low-stakes writing. You will discover how this low-stakes writing can lead to high levels of engagement and growth. Learn strategies for carving out time for this type of writing and ways to implement robust writing routines and rituals that allow students to explore their creativity and express themselves in new and exciting ways. As Ralph Fletcher reminds us in his introduction to Joy Write, by the time students reach middle or high school, their attitudes about writing and their identity as writers and readers have become fixed. We have a rare opportunity to instill in our students positive attitudes toward writing and reading in their elementary years. Are we taking advantage of that sweet spot, or are we squandering the opportunity? (Grades 3-6)

Why Do I Have to Read This: Planning Strategies for Student Engagement

Cris Tovani
Now, more than ever before, teachers face the daunting challenge of getting and keeping students engaged. Readying themselves by anticipating students’ needs can help them be prepared for the dreaded question, “Why do I have to read this?” 
When students wear the mask of disengagement, it’s often because they claim boredom or they are truly stuck.  During this two-day workshop, Cris Tovani will dive deeper into how to plan for full engagement.  She will share ways to help teachers anticipate students’ learning roadblocks and provide strategies to support striving readers so they can remember and reuse what they read.  Participants will leave with concrete ideas to plan for engagement and re-engage those hard-to-hook students. (Grades 5-12)

Topics that will be addressed over the two days:

  • Teaching students to be metacognitive and the strategies to help them repair meaning
  • Triangulating our beliefs with practices and finding the researchers who “have our back”
  • Creating compelling topics to cradle the required standards  
  • Building text students so that all students can access content  
  • Using learning targets and matched tasks to get and give feedback  

Universal Design for Learning (UDL): Using a Multisensory Approach to Meeting Diverse Readers' Needs When Teaching Foundational Reading Skills

Heather Willis-Doxsee
During this strand, participants will learn how to use multisensory teaching strategies to address foundational reading skills. These strategies can be used during whole or small group instruction when skills are being introduced or used in small group reading instruction and/or intervention to address specific skill deficits. Participants will learn about the universal design for learning framework and how the use of multisensory strategies can benefit students with varying needs. Specific strategies will be shared to target the following foundational reading skills: phonological awareness, oral language, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. Target Audience: Elementary Educators, Reading Coaches, Special Educators, Reading Interventionists, Curriculum Leaders (K-12)

Getting SPDG-Y with It! A SPDG Learning, Collaborating, and Planning Workshop for Cohorts 1+2

Audrey Richardson
This dynamic strand is for current SPDG/NEXIS participants.  You know who you are, and we hope you take advantage of this two-day strand as a feature of the continued grant-funded systems improvement work we have done and continue to do! 
We will spend the first part of the workshop deep-diving into rich learning modules, including literacy, math, MTSS, assessment, and improvement science approaches.  All of these offerings are provided with the intention of supporting and deepening the goal work that SPDG/NEXIS participants are already engaged in.
The second day of this strand will be spent on systems design and the 2024-25 school year planning for implementation. This part of the strand will allow our network to plan ahead and map out this vital work for the coming year. 

We hope you and your team will join this workshop strand and continue to build on the collective efficacy we have established thus far with a great mix of individualized and cross-district learning, collaboration, and planning time.  We are better together, and so are our systems.  

Please select SPDG Participant when you register and choose this strand to receive free entrance to the conference.  Not a SPDG participant but intrigued? Contact PLL Executive Director Mary Grace at for more information on future cohorts.  

We are grateful to our 2024 Vermont Literacy Conference sponsors!