Full Day Seminar Sessions by Dr. Mary Howard

Each seminar session described below integrate current research on literacy with practical application in order to link research (WHY?) with practice (WHAT?) through varied instructional strategies described across a wide range of settings and experiences (HOW?).  Sessions are scheduled only as a full day seminar (six hours of actual lecture time), although extended two-day experiences will offer deeper learning opportunities. Every session is designed for the elementary grades although some topics may be expanded to include middle school grades with prior arrangement.

COMMON SENSE COMMON COREDr. Mary Howard: Meeting the promise of the ELA Standards

Schools across the country are working diligently to initiate the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in literacy. While CCSS affords us an opportunity to make the changes that will elevate our teaching, a myriad of misconceptions also exist that threaten to narrow our view of high quality literacy practices and ignore the central role of professional decision-making. Mary discusses the implications and potential of these changes and tackles the misconceptions with cautions and tips to avoid the roadblocks that can thwart our efforts. Learn the guidelines for CCSS implementation with best literacy practices in mind with strategies, procedures, and activities designed to raise instructional rigor while keeping students at the very core of our every effort. Learn how to initiate flexible learning opportunities that actively engage students in learning through a gradual release of responsibility model as you ensure the success of every child with a CCSS instructional lens for thoughtful instruction based on deep knowledge of literacy and students.


Guided ReAding in the Age of Standards: Maximizing Small Group InstructioN

Dr. Mary Howard

Guided reading is a powerful small group instructional context that allows us to target specific learning needs as we build strategic knowledge and promote independent problem-solving. These flexible homogeneous groups offer students individualized support through carefully selected texts that support their movement up the ladder of text complexity. Each group accommodates the unique learning needs of those students involved through authentic literacy experiences designed to intensify learning based on student need. Learn how to maximize small group instruction as you organize, orchestrate and implement guided reading across the curriculum in more efficient and effective ways. Mary will describe the components of an effective guided reading lesson with key recommendations to reinforce and extend learning across the curriculum. Develop a clear understanding of the central features of small group learning as you create a flexible instructional design to accommodate specific learning needs with robust instruction that will accelerate progress.


Response to Intervention is a powerful literacy framework using a tiered system of instruction that will ensure the success of every learner. RTI begins with high quality general education with more intensive support options offered at higher levels. This framework builds a culture of instructional responsiveness through differentiation from the ground up by creating a foundation for learning in the general education setting while offering more intensive support options for instructional acceleration when student needs cannot be met exclusively in the general education setting. Each tier is carefully coordinated so that students can receive the more they need within and across tiers as we accelerate progress and close the learning gap. Mary will illustrate the key principles of the RTI framework with a detailed description of tiers with essential tools and instructional activities that will maximize success from a schoolwide and individual level. (based on Mary’s book, RTI from All Sides)


Focusing on the Literacy Work that MatterS: Moving from Good to Great Teaching

With limited time in each day, we must use every minute wisely. Making the best use of this limited time is always the goal, whether our literacy framework is based on an RTI Model or Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This requires us to reallocate time so that we can spend that time in the most efficient ways. Learn how to provide robust instruction and targeted learning opportunities within a renewed sense of responsive differentiation. Mary will describe seven critical guidelines of an effective literacy design with the essential principles to elevate instruction to maximum levels of excellence with simple recommendations and instructional routines. These guidelines will support schools and teachers as they move from good to great teaching to focus on the literacy work that matters (based on Mary’s book, Good to Great Teaching)


Instructional Strategies to Maximize Achievement for Struggling Readers

A high quality literacy program is grounded in a differentiated view that is inclusive of all students. Meeting the needs of struggling readers is not about doing something ‘else’ - often a diluted form of instruction based on isolated skill and drill. Rather, our struggling readers must be immersed in the very instructional approaches that are afforded our most proficient readers. Mary will share powerful instructional strategies that give struggling readers the “more” they need – intensity, depth, support and acceleration. Learn how to build strategic knowledge and independent problem-solving in ways that will ensure transfer of learning with instructional activities and approaches that can be immediately implemented across the curriculum . You will leave this session with a new sense of purpose as you fill your instructional toolbox to brimming in this strategy rich session.




Fluency is the ultimate goal of any meaningful reading experience, but it has been inaccurately promoted as a separate component of effective reading instruction. Fluency must be viewed through a wider instructional lens of comprehension rather than a narrow view of faster reading. Fluent reading must focus on far more than speed, with accurate and expressive reading even more important aspects of proficient and skilled reading. You will learn a smorgasbord of high-impact, easy-to-implement strategies that will embed fluency across the entire school day. Develop a deeper understanding of the role and function of fluency by learning the critical principles of effective fluencyand what it looks like and sounds like. You will walk away with a wide array of specific strategies and instructional recommendations designed for a broader view of fluency.