Vermont Literacy Conference

Hello Everyone:

I wanted to let you know that we have made the decision to cancel the 2020 Vermont Literacy Conference. While it appears that the virus is slowing down in Vermont, the decision was based on the safety and the health of our participants and presenters. Please know that we appreciate all your efforts and expertise you brought to your topic as well as your advice on how to make this conference a foundation for professional learning in Vermont. Take care.

Mary K. Grace, PLL Executive Director

August 3, 4, 5, 2020

Reading Instruction: A Vital Balancing Act



  • 7:30-8:45 – Registration & Continental Breakfast
  • 9:00-12:00 – Welcome and Keynote by Nicole Law
  • 12:00-1:00 – Lunch & Round Table Discussions
  • 1:00-3:00 – Mini-strands
  • 3:15-3:30 – Course registration (Mandatory for those receiving graduate credit)

Tuesday & Wednesday

  • 7:30-8:30 – Registration & Continental Breakfast
  • 8:30-9:15 – General Sessions
  • 9:30-12:00 – Full Strands
  • 12:00-1:00 – Lunch & Roundtable discussions
  • 1:00-3:00 – Full Strands

MONDAY – August 3, 2020

Ready, Set, Refresh: The Balanced Literacy Framework with Nicole Law, Ph.D.

For decades, educators, researchers, parents, and policy makers have continually debated over the most effective methods to teach children how to read (Carson, 1999; Gambrell, Malloy, & Mazzoni, 2007; Rasinski & Padak, 2004; Spiegel, 1998).

Students learn to read and write best when their teachers balance literacy instruction. But how do you find the right balance of skills and knowledge, reading and writing, small and whole group instruction, and direct and dialogic instruction, so that all students can learn to their maximum potential? How are you supposed to balance all of your students’ learning needs while getting through all the curriculum you need to cover?

The answer is, by taking an approach to create the perfect balance of high-impact learning experiences that engage and excite students during literacy instruction to maximize reading, writing, and thinking.

In this keynote, we will focus on the following components to ensure that literacy instruction is balanced:

  1. foundational skills and knowledge
  2. reading and writing instruction
  3. direct and dialogic instruction
  4. narrative and informational texts
  5. whole class and small group learning that includes a range of instructional strategies
  6. the love and joy of literacy

Monday Lunchtime Roundtable Discussion Topics:

  • Balanced Literacy with Ellen A. Thompson
  • No More Fake Reading with Berit I. Gordon
  • Literacy Coaching at All Levels: What Works with Audrey Richardson
  • Struggling Middle School Readers with Lisa Driver

Monday Afternoon Mini-Strands

Building Better Readers
Ellen A. Thompson, Ph.D.
This workshop will consider some key teaching moves that will help build better readers. Ellen will share important information about fluency, comprehension and word study. This hands on workshop will get everyone involved in building better readers! Grades K-5

Strategies to Bring Back Joy to Teaching
Berit I. Gordon
How do we get to more joy and less struggle in a profession where people put in such tremendous effort and do such essential work? No matter what support you might have in your school or district, you can take charge of your professional growth and craft your own learning journey. This workshop will show that the expert is already in you, and will offer you some hands-on strategies/guidance you need and crave in order to become the high-impact teacher every student deserves. Grades K-12

Tier II literacy: strategies and systems for student growth and success
Audrey Richardson
This mini strand will explore diverse literacy strategies and innovative systems that support all students, especially students who struggle. Targeted literacy support can often be tricky to provide in a way that reaches all students in and outside of our classrooms; in this workshop we will investigate create and plan ways to reach students both in our classrooms and in intervention settings. The instructional methods and systems we will engage with will not only improve universal and Tier II level student outcomes, but also student-teacher relationships. We will also explore structures and systems in schools in line with new MTSS guidelines that improve and inhibit our ability to provide equitable environments for students. The issues of students who struggle are often times complicated by poverty and prejudice. This strand will immerse teachers, interventionists, coaches and administrators in modes of thinking and acting that not only level the playing field for historically marginalized groups, but allow these exceptional students to shine. Participants will walk away with an effectively refreshed instructional tools and awareness of how to help lead the change for equitable disciplinary literacy support systems in their schools. Grades 7-12

Building Efficacious Readers
Nicole Law, Ph.D.
Research has shown us that the best way to help our students succeed is to build their motivation to read.  In this, we want to encourage our students to see themselves as readers, we want to create confident and skilled readers, and we want to foster a rich and robust literacy environment to sustain the love of reading.  As stated by Dick Robinson, President and CEO of Scholastic, “You are what you read.”

In this session, we will:

  • identify ways to help students establish their reading identities.
  • explore oral opportunities to engage students in literacy structures that challenge and deepen their thinking.
  • discuss approaches on building a culture of literacy to increase the skill, motivation, and the joy of reading.

Grades K-6

Spark Joy Through Conversation: Student- Led Book Clubs
Rebecca Cardone
When we intentionally plan, implement, and facilitate student-led book clubs we have the opportunity to spark joy in readers by promoting a love for literature and positive attitudes towards reading.  Student-led book clubs are an ideal framework for encouraging and supporting all learners to read widely and deeply, engage in authentic discussions about texts, and become more critical and inquisitive readers.  Student-led books clubs support a diverse range of responses to texts, nurture reflection and self-evaluation while also fostering interaction, cooperation, and collaboration.  Participants will leave with the tools and strategies to plan, implement, and facilitate student-led books clubs. Grades 3-6

TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY – August 4 & 5 2020

Tuesday General Session:

To See and Be Seen: The Intersection of Identity and Motivation
Christine Hertz Hausman
This general session will focus on the research behind motivation and engagement. We will explore how we can leverage students’ interests and identities to increase their drive, build relationships, and create a sense of belonging in our classrooms. We will learn ways to explore and affirm individual students’ identities and interests as readers, writers, thinkers, and people.

Tuesday Lunchtime Roundtable Discussions:


Wednesday General Session:

Be a Literacy Leader
Audrey Richardson
You don’t have to be a principal or superintendent to make equitable change in schools. The intention of this session would be to empower teachers, interventionists and coaches to promote new systems and push on old ideas of what literacy learning looks like.

Wednesday Lunchtime Roundtable Discussions:


Full Strands

Understanding the Ins and Outs of the Reading Workshop
Gayle Moskowitz
Reading Workshop is an ideal framework for literacy instruction that provides opportunities for whole group, small group, and one on one instruction while meeting the Common Core State Standards. Participants will delve into Reading Workshop by seeing models, viewing clips of classrooms and practicing the instructional techniques involved. Reflection and discussion in the group will enhance learning and understanding to provide teachers with the tools they need to establish a Reading Workshop in their classroom. Grades 2-6

Reading Instruction: A Vital Balancing Act!
Ellen A. Thompson, Ed.D.
We know that our students need to become literate adults, adults who can read and write, and also do read and write. We also know that teaching reading is not a simple one size fits all activity. This workshop will dig into the many areas of balance needed from literacy components, to types of instructional groupings, to types of reading by and with students and so much more. We will explore the book, This is Balanced Literacy by Fisher, Frey, and Akhaven. Grades K-6

Deeper Learning in Secondary Literacy Classrooms
Audrey Richardson
What is deeper learning? Deeper learning is based on the premise that the nature of work, civic, and everyday life is changing and therefore increasingly requires that formal education provides young people with mastery of skills like analytical reasoning, complex problem solving, and teamwork. What does deeper learning look like in a literacy classroom? This mode of education often includes but is not limited to project based learning and can take reading and writing to a new level by connecting students with the greater world outside their school walls. This hands-on workshop will explore the concepts and pedagogy behind deeper learning and how we can integrate it out literacy classrooms. Educators will leave with a workable understanding and curriculum ideas that allow them to make shifts in their instruction toward deeper learning. Grades 7-12

Struggling Middle School Readers
Lisa Driver, Ed.D.
This workshop addresses the needs of struggling middle school readers and how to best support them in middle school. The workshop will focus on the following questions.

  • How are we identifying students and providing intervention as early as possible?
  • What are the specific intervention programs/approaches available for struggling readers?
  • Who is trained to administer these programs? What kind of training/resources are available to support teachers as they work with students with varying reading profiles in their classrooms?
  • What kind of structures/supports are in place to provide consistent, structured instruction across grade levels and within grade levels for struggling middle school readers?
  • How do we develop systems of communication that will allow all educators working with students (classroom teacher, interventionist, special educator) to share information and practice.
  • How are we supporting parents?

Grades 5-8

Writing Workshop is for Everyone: Helping all students build independence and thrive
Christine Hertz Hausman
In this workshop, teachers will learn the latest in cutting edge research to support all types of writers. Accessible and easy to implement strategies will be shared to overcome the multitude of challenges a writing workshop can present in an early elementary classroom. Teachers will get to the core of the problems that arise and see how individualized schedules, tools, and adaptations can support each learner. The importance of components like interactive writing, storytelling, and play will be covered to support each learner’s growth. Participants will leave with a toolkit of possibilities to refuel their writing workshop with joy, play, and rigor for every writer. Grades K-3

Creating Joyful Writers: The Writer’s Workshop in the Upper-Elementary Classroom
Rebecca Cardone
The Writer’s Workshop provides an ideal framework for providing students with a predictable and structured time for writing and writing instruction.  Participants will learn how to establish and manage a Writer’s Workshop in their classroom. Topics such as launching a Writer’s Workshop, writer’s notebooks, using mentor texts within the workshop, and using assessment to drive instruction will be covered.  Ongoing discussion, reflection, and planning will allow participants to leave with a toolbox full of strategies and ideas for establishing a Writer’s Workshop in their own classrooms. Grades 3-6

Exploring Our World Through Nonfiction
Melinda Robinson
In this full strand, we will investigate the value of helping our students explore their world through nonfiction reading. We will examine how powerful questions can drive powerful research. We will also discover how to maximize nonfiction reading in our curriculum. The ultimate goal of the strand is to develop a year-long plan for implementing a nonfiction readers workshop into our classrooms. Grades 2-12



  • Monday only: $250 per person
  • Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday: $750 per person One Graduate Credit from Saint Michael’s College: $280
  • A Team of 5 Registrants from the same school or district will be given a team rate of $725/person.
  • All registrations must be received at the same time to qualify for the group rate. Please fill out a separate registration form for each registrant. Use PROMO code TEAM.
  • Registration Includes continental breakfast, lunch, and all materials.
  • Return registration forms by July 31, 2020.
  • A separate registration form is required for each individual and must be accompanied by a check or purchase order.
  • One graduate credit will be available for an additional $280. Two additional graduate credits are available for participants interested in a three credit course.

For more information on graduate credit, please contact

Registrations and checks or purchase orders can be mailed to:
Partnerships for Literacy and Learning
250 Main Street, Ste 202
Montpelier, VT 05602


A $50 cancellation fee will apply to all registrants who cannot attend.  Notice of cancellation must be given by July 15. Cancellations after that date will be charged 100% of the registration fee. No refunds will be granted after that date.  The same policy applies for 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 full amount. A substitution of a registrant may be made at any time.  Returned checks will be charged $35. You will receive confirmation by e-mail. If you do not receive a confirmation, please contact the PLL office to ensure that you are registered at


The Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain offers two convenient ways for attendees to reserve their overnight accommodations:

Overnight rooms are not included in your conference fee.  You will need a credit card to make a reservation. For additional accommodation options and information, visit