Educators are invited to attend Concordia’s 4th annual Summer Literacy Institute to learn effective routines and strategies for making small-group instruction work.

Small-group instruction offers an opportunity to target students’ unique needs by providing scaffolding, feedback, and guided practice. Despite the benefits, planning for effective small-group instruction demands a carefully orchestrated classroom management system and requires conscientious planning.

The Literacy Institute promises to equip educators with helpful teaching tools and strategies. Participants will explore ways to use small-group instruction in a manner that will lead to growth for all students.


The 2019 Summer Literacy Institute will run from June 13-14.


The Summer Literacy Institute is now underway. We'd like to hear from our participants! Please help us as we strive to provide the best possible experience for future event participants. Click on this link to offer feedback on your Summer Literacy Institute experience.


Thursday, June 13 | 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

  • 8:30-9:00 | Registration, Continental Breakfast
  • 9:00-9:30 | Welcome, Opening Prayer
  • 9:30-10:45 | Breakout Session 1
    • Session A: Enhancing Emergent Literacy Skills Through Small-Group Interactive Writing | Target audience grades PK-2 educators | Presented by Professor Stacy Gray | Room C
    • Session B: Small Group Instruction: Word Study | Target audience grades K-3 educators | Presented by Mr. Dean Sleger | Room A
    • Session C: Conferring with Readers | Target audience grades K-5 educators | Presented by Dr. Steven Witt and Professor Cheryl Cario | Room B
  • 10:45-11:00 | Break/Transition
  • 11:00-12:00 | Breakout Session 2
    • Session A: Guided Instruction Within the Reading Workshop Framework | Target audience grades K-8 educators | Presented by Dr. Steven Witt and Prof. Cheryl Cario | Room B
    • Session B: Relevant Reads and Professional Collaboration | Target audience grades K-8 educators | Presented by Prof. Kristen Braatz and Prof. Stacy Gray | Room C
    • Session C: Writing to Learn Within Small Group Instruction | Target audience graduates 3-8 educators | Presented by Prof. Sid Larson | Room A
  • 12:00-1:15 | Lunch on your own
  • 1:15-3:30 | Breakout Session 3
    • Session A: Conferring with Readers | Target audience grades 3-8 educators | Presented by Dr. Steven Witt and Prof. Cheryl Cario | Room B
    • Session B: But What Are the Other Kids Doing? Strategies for Incorporating Goal-Setting and Student Agency to Power the Small-Group Instruction Format | Target audience grades K-5 educators | Presented by Professor Kristen Braatz | Room C
    • Session C: Text-based Close Reading Discussions in Small Groups | Target audience grades 3-8 educators | Presented by Prof. Sid Larson | Room A
  • 3:30-4:00 | Closing Reflection and Next Steps

Friday, June 14 | 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

  • 8:30-10:30 a.m. | Keynote presentation | Jennifer Arenson Yaeger—"Transforming Small Group Instruction"
  • 10:30-10:45 a.m. | Break
  • 10:45-11:30 | Jennifer Arenson Yaeger, Q&A
  • 11:30-12:00 | Questions, Wrap up, Evaluations
  • OPTIONAL* 1:00-2:30 p.m. | Jennifer Arenson Yaeger will provide a Foundation of Reading Test (FORT) study session


Jennifer Arenson Yaeger has over 20 years of experience in the field of education as an elementary teacher, literacy coach, graduate school instructor, and coordinator of school reform initiatives. A graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Administration, Planning and Social Policy, Jennifer brings together a background in education policy and school change with her practical experience in classrooms in Boston and Plymouth, Massachusetts.

For the past 10 years, Jennifer has also served as a district literacy coach with the Plymouth Public Schools in Plymouth Massachusetts, where she is part of the leadership team responsible for designing and implementing the district's elementary literacy program. As a staff-developer, she works side-by-side with teachers during individual coaching sessions in their classrooms; provides demonstration lessons and debriefing sessions with individuals and teams of teachers; and offers district-level professional development sessions on best practices in literacy.

In addition to her work in elementary classrooms, Jennifer has also developed a model for preparing teachers for the Foundations of Reading (FoR) test and has served as a national consultant to schools of education who are preparing students for similar FoR tests in their states.

Jennifer's work has given her unique insight into the complexity of teaching in today's schools and an understanding of the ways in which schools must nurture and support teachers' ongoing professional learning so crucial to raising student achievement.

Jennifer is the proud mother of two teenage children, Annie and Ben, whose reading lives provide regular inspiration for her teaching. Her husband, David, shares her love of teaching and teaches AP Physics for high school students.