Welcome to 2019

Strategies for Struggling Learners

Mary Wennersten, M. Ed. [bio] [3:15 session]

Description of Session --

Active Engagement for Effective Reading Instruction

This session is appropriate for parents and professionals.  It will provide the research on how students learn. They must be involved in the learning through action and reflection. This active and engaging session will provide participants engaging strategies and activities they can take back and use with their students during structured literacy lessons and parents may use them with their students during homework times.

To engage students, the teacher and parents must do more than lecture. While teaching the concepts and skills, they must build a "scaffold" on which students can "hang" new ideas. Anita Archer calls this the “I do, we do and you do”. When students are actively engaged, they focus on what is being taught and draw on their own experience and knowledge to better process new information.

Learning Outcomes:
At the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  1. Explain the meaning of “Active Engagement”.
  2. Identify the three qualitative responses for active engagement.
  3. Provide examples of engaged activities for each of the elements of effective reading instruction.






Mary Wennersten, M. Ed. [bio] [1:45 session]

What Every Educator Needs Know About Reading and Spelling

This session is appropriate for teachers, parents are welcome.  This engaging session will provide participants the current information on “how” the brain learns to read, why some students have difficulty learning to read.  Participants will also develop their understanding “what” it takes to teach K-5 students the foundational reading skills to be a successful reader and speller.
The Purpose of reading is to comprehend text, but there are numerous influences on text comprehension. To comprehend, a reader must be able to accurately read the text with automaticity, make sense of the words and language strictures used in the text, context the content of the text with prior knowledge, and use strategies to monitor and repair comprehension. The National Reading Panel (NRP) report in 2000 focused on five critical elements of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, or decoding, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Each of these five elements has a strong evidence base demonstrating its importance. This session will provide educators with the research and engaging strategies to use when instructing the five essential elements for reading instruction.

At the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Describe what we know about how the brain learns to read.
  • Identify the elements of the foundational reading skills.



Mary’s bio:

Mary has over 30 years working in public education. She has been a classroom teacher, a special education teacher, an instructional coach, Arizona Department of Education (ADE) program specialist for K-3 literacy and the ADE Director for K- 5 Literacy. Mary has helped in developing resources and professional development for teachers, coaches and administrators in the areas of reading, spelling, foundational writing, grammar, data analysis, instructional leadership, instructional coaching, comprehensive assessment system and RTI/MTSS. While with ADE, Mary supported work with other agencies like early childhood, school improvement, English learners and special education.  She has spent her career improving instruction for all students. Mary is the past-president of the Arizona International Dyslexia Association (AZ-IDA), currently is vice-chair for the national IDA, a Certified Dyslexia Therapist and a Structured Literacy Consultant.