A First Timer’s Guide to Registering for the Literacy for All Conference

We’re excited to announce we’ve opened registration for the 28th Annual Literacy for All Conference, co-hosted with The University of Maine, and the University of Connecticut. This year the conference will be held October 22–24, 2017 in Providence, Rhode Island. While we know many of you are veteran LFA attendees, each year we have more and more new faces joining us in Providence. Welcome to all first timers!

We have made it even easier to register for the Literacy for All Conference! Simply visit www.regonline.com/lfa2017 and enter your email address to begin your registration process. We’ve put together a little guide to our online registration system to help make the process as quick and painless as possible.

An Important Note

We have created an online registration process that seamlessly guides you through the steps of registration. Please do not use your Internet browser’s “back” button if you want to go back and make a change, as it will cause errors and you will not be able to complete your registration. Instead, if you need to change something, complete your registration and then email us at literacy@lesley.edu, and we will make the changes for you.

Before You Register

First, you should make a list of all the sessions you want to attend. You can find the full list on our website. Each time block is listed with a letter, ie: LCA, LCB, etc. Then, each session within that time block is numbered. So, the full session code will read something like LCA-1 or LCC-4. You can only choose one session per time block, so you should have one LCA, one LCB, and so on.  Please note, that on our online registration system, RegOnline, the sessions are listed with only the code and the presenter name, not the session title, as shown below.

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The only variation is in the In-Depth sessions, which occur either in the C or F blocks. In-Depth sessions are three hours long, not the normal 90 minutes, so if you choose an In-Depth session for your C or F, you will not be able to choose a D or G, respectively, as the In-Depth session will run through that time.

If a session doesn’t appear on the drop-down menu that means it is sold out and you will have to choose another session. Sessions do sell out, so we recommend registering as early as possible to ensure you get all your first choices.

Second, know your method of payment. If your district will be paying for you with a purchase order, you don’t need to know the purchase order number to register. If your district will be paying for you with a credit card, you can still register yourself. When you get to the checkout screen, simply choose “Pay with Purchase Order” and then have your district call us with the credit card number, or fax or email us the PO within ten business days of registering.  Please note, if you are paying with a purchase order (PO), we require that you submit a copy of your PO to secure your registration.  If your PO has not been received by the opening of the institute, you will be required to provide a credit card in order to attend the institute.

We recommend that all attendees register themselves. The process begins with an email validation– you’ll receive an email with a secure link, which you’ll need to click on in order to continue your registration. Forwarding these emails can sometimes be tricky, so we recommend you register yourself to avoid confusion.

If someone else has to register for you, we recommend that you choose your sessions ahead of time and give the list of sessions, including session code and presenter name to the person registering you.

When entering in your personal information, please note that there are separate spaces to enter your school district and your school name, as shown below. When entering your district, please don’t use abbreviations like RSD or UFSD– if the district has a separate name (ie: Oxford Hills School District) please use that; alternately, please spell out the words Regional School District. This will help us keep uniformity in printing name badges, and help match up registrants to purchase orders when we receive them.

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Confirmation

When you’re done registering, you will see a screen confirming that your registration is complete. If you don’t see that screen, you haven’t finished registering yet! Once you get to that screen, be sure to read it thoroughly, as it contains details about which sessions have required readings and materials, a list of conference policies, your own detailed agenda based on the sessions you selected, and other helpful links.

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In addition to the confirmation page, a confirmation email will be automatically sent to the email address you provided. If it doesn’t appear within an hour of you registering, check your spam and junk folders, as some email providers mark emails from RegOnline as spam by mistake. In the past, many were not able to receive RegOnline emails, because many schools block emails from RegOnline, so if you have a personal email address, we encourage you to use it, instead of your school email, when registering.  If you don’t receive your confirmation email at all, please email literacy@lesley.edu and we will re-send it to you.

Please help us be environmentally conscious! Do not print out your confirmation message to mail in with your check or PO. Instead, just make sure your full name and district are written on the PO or in the item line of the check. That’s all we need to match up your payment with your record in the system.

Conference Events, Exhibit Fair, and Other Information

The conference registration desk hours are as follows:

  • Sunday, October 22, 2017: 10:00 am–6:00 pm
  • Monday, October 23, 2017: 7:00 am–5:00 pm
  • Tuesday, October 24, 2017: 7:30 am–9:00 am

The conference help desk will be open 7:00 am – 6:00 pm each day.

Literacy for All also includes an exhibit fair with booths showcasing classroom services and products for all grade levels and subjects. Exhibit hours are 4:00-6:00 on Sunday, 10:00–6:00 on Monday, with the Exhibit Fair from 5:00–6:00; and 7:30–3:30 on Tuesday. During the Exhibit Fair on Monday, you can enter to win something from our prize raffle, and get books signed by some of our featured and keynote speakers.

Please visit the conference website, www.lesley.edu/literacyforall, for information on hotels, parking, attendance policy and certificates of attendance, and sessions with required readings/handouts/materials.

Have questions? You can contact us anytime at literacy@lesley.edu or by phone at 617.349.8402.

Looking forward to seeing you all in October!

Originality—the Nonfiction Advantage

by 2014 Literacy for All Featured Speaker and Guest Blogger, Sneed Collard III

FireBird.finalCovOnly lo-resLike many people, I enjoy reading before going to sleep every night. Lately, a curious thing has happened. Despite a stack of novels next to my bed, I’ve found myself exclusively reaching for nonfiction books to wrap up my day with. Many factors could explain this phenomenon, but I think I’ve figured out the real reason. Nonfiction, unlike fiction, is more likely to offer me something I crave: originality.

I should explain here that I make my living as a writer, and have been writing both fiction and nonfiction children’s books for thirty years. And while I’m very proud of my novels, I’m the first to admit that the stories in them have been told before. Sure, I offer new characters, voices, plots, and twists, but the basic barebones stories are as timeless as storytelling itself. I recognize this in my favorite adult novelists, too. I enjoy their work, but I rarely encounter something fresh and original.

The same cannot be said of nonfiction.

Unlike fiction, nonfiction has the potential to offer readers almost limitless refreshing, thought-provoking, and often delightful experiences. In the past month, I’ve read three amazing books: Scott Anderson’s Lawrence in Arabia, Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat, and Mark Karlansky’s Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World. Each of these books provided pleasurable, surprising reading while inducing me to think about the world in a slightly different way. How can that be?

Simple.

The world is an astonishingly complex and fascinating place. Furthermore, it is filled with the myriad experiences of more than seven billion people. Almost every thing and every person has a fascinating story to tell—one that probably has never been told before. For the nonfiction writer, it’s not too difficult to come up with a story that breaks new ground. Nowhere is this more true than in my primary field of expertise, the biological sciences.

About two years ago, for instance, I got interested in woodpeckers and heard that Professor Dick Hutto, an ornithologist at nearby University of Montana, happened to work on them. I called him up and asked if I could buy him a coffee, and find out exactly what he’d learned about these birds. Our chat amazed me.

It turns out that, although Dick Hutto did know a lot about woodpeckers, what he knew even more about were burned forests. After the fires of 1988, he and his wife began poking around burn areas all over the West. All the press had been negative about the fires, and he wanted to see for himself if the fires really were the terrible, destructive force everyone was claiming.

Turns out, they weren’t.

In his first year of looking through burn areas, Professor Hutto observed more than 100 species of birds nesting in and using the burn areas. That launched him into studying the importance of burn areas not just to birds, but to thousands of other species of animals and plants, too. Over the next few years, in fact, Dick would discover that burn areas aren’t just important, they are essential for many species of life. In the West, for instance, dozens of bird species use burn areas, and 15 species use them more than any other habitat. These birds include American Robins, Mountain Bluebirds, and the ultimate “fire bird”, the Black-backed Woodpecker.

Not surprisingly, once I heard this story I knew that I had to write about it. I began reading scientific papers, going out into burn areas with Dick, and interviewing other scientists as well. The result is the book Fire Birds—Valuing Natural Wildfires and Burned Forests (Bucking Horse Books, Missoula, 2015). I’m very proud of this book, and not only because it’s a fun, engaging story. What I love about it is that the book offers young readers—and, I hope, adults—a topic that they’ve never seen before, one that has the potential to change how they think about our world.

And that’s the beauty and power of nonfiction. We humans still know so little about the world. What some of us do know often isn’t ever transmitted to the rest of the world. I am so excited when I discover a new interesting person or historical event or natural phenomenon, and children are too. Recently, there’s been a big push to incorporate more nonfiction books into classrooms and to me, this is a no-brainer. While fantasy and other fiction books are often shoved down young readers’ throats, I’ve never found one half as interesting as the real world around us.

If you are an educator, I encourage you to look beyond Common Core requirements in choosing the books to share with your students. Instead, embrace the remarkable complexity and diversity of our planet. When you start sharing real stories with your kids, you won’t need to force them to read. Instead, you’ll join them in a great journey of discovery.

Sneed Collard will be presenting at the 2014 Literacy for All Conference in Providence, RI:

LCB-2 — Common Core Canines: Great Dog Books to Use in K–8 Curricula (Grades K–8)

LCD-3 — Exploring the Frontier of Children’s Literature (Grades K–8)

In addition to Sneed’s sessions, there are two other sessions at the conference that will focus on nonfiction literature:

LCF-11 Best Nonfiction Literature (Grades K–2) with Catherine Desjardins, Julie Connors, Julie Murray, and Nicole Daly

LCD-14 The Reality Is: Nonfiction Books Kids Will Want to Read (Grades 3–6) with Susannah Richards

The Power of Engaging in Genre Study as Readers

by Toni Czekanski, Intermediate/Middle School Trainer

Noticing, sorting, and classifying.  We start doing this when we are toddlers: putting red blocks in one pile and blue in another.  We call the piles by their names:  “the blue blocks,”  “the red blocks.”  Later on we notice that there are some letters of the alphabet that have tails and some that have stems.  Some have neither, and we sort them into groups as we learn to copy them and name them.  When people read to us, we begin to notice that some books have similarities, and understand that there are happy endings, villains, heroes, and magic.  We come to expect these things and even predict who will appear next or what the outcome will be.  We know it will be a happy ending no matter what.

Genre study is like that.  You collect many examples of texts within a genre and each day read one aloud to your students, allowing them time to enjoy the text and talk about what they are thinking about it.  Later, you come back to consider what they have been noticing about the books they’ve heard.  What are the similarities?  What are the differences?  You begin to create a list of common traits.  Once they begin to notice these characteristics, you provide even more texts within the genre that they can explore on their own.  They cannot help but notice even more.  You have activated their thinking and together you work to form a working definition of what a particular kind of text is.  Together, you define the genre.  How is this helpful to them as readers?

9780325028743In their text, Genre Study: Teaching with Fiction and Nonfiction Books, Fountas and Pinnell say, “Through experience with texts, readers recognize common elements, as well as ways that texts in the same genre can vary.  They use their knowledge of the predictable elements as a road map to anticipate the structures and elements of the text they are reading”  (2012, p. 11).  Think back to your own experiences as a reader.  If you loved mysteries and read a lot of them, it was not long before you were spotting clues and differentiating between those that mattered and those that were potential red herrings designed to lead you off the track.

Readers who are hooked on one genre and read many texts come to learn the bones of that genre and anticipate what they will encounter even before they begin to read.  Being able to anticipate the structure or other elements of a text frees the mind to look more closely at other aspects of the text.  For readers, this is a helpful tool that can enhance not only what the they understand about the author’s message or meaning, but also how the author crafted the text to support and develop that meaning within the structure of the text.

If you make time in your reading instruction to delve into genre study, you will be helping students to investigate texts more closely.  This close reading and rethinking will help them consider how and why authors write books.  “Knowing these features helps you begin to comprehend a text even before starting to read.  You have expectations and a kind of in-the-head graphic representation of what the text will be like – how the information will be presented and organized” (Fountas and Pinnell, 2012, p. 11).  These expectations are not only applied to this text, but to other similar texts.

When studying genre in the classroom, many teachers do so through inquiry as outlined above.  This process of inquiry in itself teaches students that they can apply these steps to analyzing other genres as well.  Students learn that if they examine several texts from a particular genre, they will begin to notice characteristics that are true across the genre.

Even without your help, they will form conclusions about how the genre works and what to look for and expect as they read other texts that are similar.  “Taking an inquiry stance enables students to learn how to learn.  They become empowered and develop a sense of agency…they believe in themselves and their ability to find out, and the process itself is inherently pleasing to human beings” (2012, p. 5-6).

Learning about genre with your students can have far-reaching benefits.  As readers it helps them to look at texts more closely, and have meaningful discussions with one another about how the author’s decisions affect the way the text works.  Students can use specific examples to support their thinking about the text as they write about it.  As a teacher, you build the confidence in understanding the genre that will help you take your students deeper through your modeling and prompting as you engage in the work together.

Professional Development in Genre Study For Teachers

If you are interested in learning more about genre study, consider attending the four-day Summer Literacy Institute, Genre Study: Teaching With Fiction and Nonfiction Books in a Reader’s Workshop, Grades K–8 with Irene Fountas and Lesley University faculty from July 15–18, 2013 in Cambridge, Mass. This is a process-oriented, hands-on literacy professional development event. The format and structure of this institute will be very different than previous summer institutes. You will leave this institute with a genre study plan that you created, ready to use in your classroom.

The Sharing of Amazing Books

by Helen Sisk, Intermediate/Middle School Trainer (our new trainer from Fairfax, Virginia)

* blog post from Friday, March 8th (when it was snowing here in Cambridge, Massachusetts!)

It’s snowing, again, and this southern transplant is fascinated with the uniqueness found in each storm – never the same old, same old. One storm, Nemo, created mounds of snow, yesterday it snowed all day and never accumulated, today’s surprise storm left traffic in a snarl. Schools aren’t closed and I’m in awe of the hardiness of my neighbors. All winter long, the changing weather keeps things interesting.

Isn’t that also how we want to keep our teaching – fresh and exciting?

Recently, I read the book Moonshot by Brian Floca to a group of educators. We were fascinated to learn about the first trip to the moon from a technical perspective interwoven with narrative and wonderment. And, we loved it – wanting to talk about it, to look closely at the pictures, and to reread it.  We searched the award it won – The Sibert Informational Book Medal, and discovered new nonfiction titles. We went to Brian Floca’s website and learned why and how he created this book. We couldn’t wait to return to our classrooms to share MMoonshotoonshot with our students.

We became engrossed with this book. How do we generate similar responses with our students? Are we sharing books that are new and amazing? Do our students clamor for them? Are WE engaged? We need to continue honoring classic picture books such as Owl Moon and Big Mama, but intentionally add books by different authors and novel topics that our students find captivating to expand their repertoire.  Constantly mixing it up engages us, too. It’s a teaching perk we need to tap.

We are all looking for the next great book. Please comment below on titles of books you and your students discovered this year. We’d love to hear from you!

Content Area Learning Comes Alive in Beautiful Picture Books- Part 2

By Irene Fountas

Today’s nonfiction is not simply dry facts presented as dense material. Rather you will notice that today’s high-quality nonfiction picture books are quite different from textbooks.  They are pieces of literature and often beautiful works of art.   They are more up to date, contain less overwhelming vocabulary, and dig deep into interesting topics.

Consider some of these wonderful picture books to read aloud and engage your students in real-world learning:

  • Almost Gone: The World’s Rarest Animals by Steve Jenkins
  • My Season With Penguins: An Antarctic Journal by Sophie Webb
  • An Egg is Quiet by Sylvia Long
  • A Seed is Sleepy by Sylvia Long
  • A Platypus Probably by Sneed Collard III
  • Bat Loves the Night by Nicola Davies
  • The Mary Celeste: An Unsolved Mystery from History by  Jane Yolen and Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple
  • Little Lost Bat by Sandra Markle
  • Move by Steve Jenkins
As a follow up to your beautiful picture books, expand your students learning by creating a classroom library filled with informational texts. Consider filling your classroom with baskets of children’s nonfiction magazines such as
  • Cobblestone
  • Muse
  • Ranger Rick
  • Zillions
  • National Geographic News for Kids

Also consider collecting series books that are informational for your classroom library.

  • Let’s Read and Find Out
  • Rookie Read About
  • Coming to America
  • Animal Predators
  • True Books

You can make nonfiction come alive for all of your students and set them up for success across the grades with the range of extraordinary nonfiction materials available.

Want more information on using nonfiction texts in the classroom? Come to our Summer Literacy Institute this July and hear international nonfiction children’s book author Nicola Davies and others speak on this very subject.

Enhancing Our Science Teaching through Talk

“Talk is central to how science is practiced and should be considered an important component of elementary science instruction.”

“Despite the important roles of debate, argument, and other forms of oral communication in science…discussion tends to be overlooked in the elementary science classroom.”

––Jeff Winokur, Karen Worth, and Martha Heller-Winokur from the article “Connecting Science and Literacy Through Talk,” in the journal Science and Children published by the National Science Teachers Association

Jeff Winokur and the NSTA have graciously allowed us to share this article [pdf] containing tips for elementary teachers on connecting literacy and science lessons through class discussion.

Jeff is a science education instructor and contributing author to The Young Scientist Series. He is one of many experts and authors who will be joining us for our 2011 Summer Literacy Institute, “Nonfiction Reading and Writing: Meeting the Common Core State Standards,” this July.

Jeff is presenting these two, three-hour workshops at the institute:

  • Connecting Science and Literacy: The Role of Discourse and Writing in Grades 3–5 Inquiry-based Science
  • The Role of Talk and Writing in Inquiry-based Science: Grades K–2

We hope you will join us!

For more information about this year’s Summer Literacy Institute, scheduled for July 11-14, 2011, please visit our website.

Nonfiction Books for the Classroom

This summer, the Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative at Lesley University is having children’s book author Nicola Davies from England speak at our Summer Literacy Institute. We are so excited to have her because she has written wonderful nonfiction books to use in the classroom and hasn’t visited the U.S. in 30 years! In addition to being a writer, she is also a professional zoologist and one of her first jobs as a zoologist was at the BBC Natural History Unit first as a researcher and later as a presenter on the children’s wildlife program The Really Wild Show.

Her book titles include:

Surprising Sharks

Big Blue Whale

One Tiny Turtle

White Owl Barn Owl


She also has two other books in the works:

Dolphin Baby (Fall 2011)

Just Ducks (Spring 2012)

In addition to nonfiction picture books, she has written some nonfiction books for 8-12 year olds and is working on a new series of fiction/nonfiction books for 10-12 year olds. She just finished the first book in that series. It’s entitled The Lion Who Stole My Arm. She told us that next February she is co-leading a tour into the Amazon jungle for some research for future books!

Candlewick Press here in the U.S. publishes her books.