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Workshops and Seminars

" Literacy has powerful consequences 
not the least is that it changes one’s views of oneself and the world."
…. M. Spencer

Readers Theatre: Reading Beyond the Words

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"Great stuff! - great ideas.  I'd love to have more time with Helen Raczuk.  I've seen her before, and I'd go again! ...."  Central Alberta Teachers Convention ... 2009

A student once made a comment, after listening to a 'less than acceptable' reading of a story by an adult, 'he can't read.  He knows how to read the words, but he doesn't know how to read the story'. That comment resonated deeply with me, and became the inspiration for this workshop.

Readers theatre is a strategy that encourages the frequent revisiting of text which ultimately strengthens literacy skills, communication skills, social skills.  Working with scripts from a wide range of reading competencies and content / interest levels, participants will explore and develop strategies to:

  • strengthen confidence

  • build fluency

  • work in a cooperative and collaborative environment

  • strengthen vocabulary and expressive oral reading

As readers work towards performance, additional benefits become apparent; authentic purpose exists to go behind the words, dig for meaning and find the VOICE for each character as they read beyond the words, experiencing and connecting to the real story. They learn to read the words, and more importantly - to read the story.

Who otter come? teachers, all levels

Presenter: Helen


Early Literacy … Stories, Strategies and Scripts

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 "Great presenter! Very well organized presentation - informative and easily adapted to the classroom.
Participant participation is done with ease..."
G. Resch, SEATCA '02

The session will stress the importance of sharing stories with children on a daily basis. Numerous ideas will be presented for extending and enhancing the themes and patterns found in primary picture books. Early reading strategies will be modeled through shared reading activities such as: pocket charting, overheads, big books, book in a can, mini-books, readers theatre. In addition, suggestions will be given for writing activities which support and extend the literature.
  • Explore children’s literature, with a focus on new Canadian titles, currently available for K – 3, and its place in a balanced literacy program
  • Build a repertoire of practical teaching ideas for introducing, developing and extending literature in the classroom
  • Explore individual titles, and collaborate in small groups to create appropriate activities, which utilize balanced literacy techniques.

Who otter come? – Early Literacy Educators

Presenter: Helen


An Early Invitation to Readers Theatre

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I enjoyed this.  I found this session specific and informative.  A delightful presentation, too! Bravo! (GETCA 2008)

In this session, participants will explore several strategies for introducing readers theatre into already existing balanced literacy programs.

Scripts used will be suitable for early and beginning readers and will be based on nursery rhymes, poetry, patterns, and familiar themes.

The workshop will 

  • present ideas for motivating & supporting reluctant readers, 
  • model different ways to introduce readers theatre while assessing and developing background knowledge / skills.
  • Introduce basic oral expression development activities
  • Give connections to picture books and cross curricular links where possible.
Instructional Level: grade k-3

Who otter come?– early literacy educators

Presenter: Helen

"I'm so glad there were so many examples to show each concept.  I can easily see how to implement this in my classroom! ...   

 R. Hall, SEATCA '02


An Otter Invitation to Readers Theatre

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"I was amazed at how much adults were engaged in these reading activities!
The amount of reading one does within a short time is amazing!
What other method actually has kids reading, rereading, following along for the entire reading block?"

K. Fisher, Eau Claire Wisconsin ... USA

In this session, participants will explore readers theatre as a tool to expand and strengthen literacy skills in readers of all ages. 

Scripts will be drawn from folk tales, stories and legends, which represent many cultural traditions within Canada, and North America which are suitable for more advanced readers.

The workshop will

  • present ideas for motivating & supporting reluctant readers, 

  • provide performance ideas, and 

  • offer tools to strengthen good oral reading

  • assessment guidelines


Who otter come? – educators, administrators, parents

Content focus – Upper elementary, Junior high



 Invitation to Munsch

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WOW! She really knows about teaching and learning.  Bring her back again!

Mighty Peace Convention ... 2009


Novel studies in grade one? Why not! This interactive session draws on three stories by Robert Munsch: Love you Forever, Mud Puddle and Mortimer.   Building on the concepts inherent in the stories, participants will see ways to extend picture books in the classroom to strengthen literacy skills, and build excitement for reaching.  The workshop will  include strategies for using mini books, readers theatre scripts, letter writing and much ore. Teachers who have worked with these materials report that students will come back a few years later, saying, 'remember when we did that Munsch stuff? It was the best!'


Who otter come? – educators, administrators, parents

Content focus –Primary, Elementary



Strengthening Literacy Skills through Readers Theatre

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"What an inspiring workshop! I have used readers theatre but didn't know the potential for excitement and engagement!" - Anita Nordby, Vancouver BC

This session is adaptable for either primary or upper elementary grades.  Focusing on reader theatre scripts (both rhyme and prose), participants will learn ways to use scripts to focus on specific skills for reading and writing.  

This highly interactive session supports teachers in all curriculum areas and offers materials ready to use on Monday morning!


Who otter come?

  • primary educators

  • elementary educators

  • consultants

  • administrators

  • parent educators

Consider booking this session for a full day - AM for primary, and PM for upper elementary / junior high.  Share expenses and resources with other schools for maximum benefit of PD time and funding.

Content Focus - primary, middle grades

Presenter: Helen

"Excellent presentation – lots of very useful and creative ways to get kids reading. I'm going to try this with my special education kids. I've been to a lot of workshops but this is the first time I've seen something new!" - S. McKenzie, SEATCA


Poetry, Patterns, Pockets and Scripts

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"I think the workshop was excellent with practical, easy to use ideas to develop phonemic awareness through nursery rhymes. "

GETCA 2011

This interactive workshop is designed to explore strategies for strengthening and enhancing literacy skills in young readers.  Working with poetry patterns, pocket charts and reader theatre, participants will
  • explore strategies for guiding readers to play with words in a secure and creative environment
  • discuss ongoing assessment through observation and self-assessment
  • explore strategies for encouraging writing based on familiar patterns
  • explore literature and scripts which build on familiar patterns


Who otter come?

  • primary educators

  • elementary educators

  • consultants

  • administrators

  • parent educators


Content Focus - K-3

Presenter: Helen

"I found this workshop to be a great addition to the Reader's theatre I already do in my classroom.  The info. was great and the pace was perfect for a full day! Thank you."  ... Sandi .... Kelowna, BC 2007


Slide into Rhymes

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"Great session! Great ways to get students reading.  So glad I made it in! Thanks!"

GETCA 2011

This session explores the value of incorporating nursery rhymes into our playschool, kindergarten and early childhood programs.  Knowledge of rhyme strengthens early phonemic awareness skills, building a foundation for early reading skills.

Participants will work with a number of nursery rhymes using music and rhythmic activities. They will also work with text reconstruction experiences, pocket charting, word families, and so much more.

For schools booking this full day workshop, please note: all paid participants (minimum 25, maximum 40) will receive a free copy of Slide Into Rhymes and a Pocket Chart. Please contact Helen to discuss details regarding fees.  

Who Otter come?

  • Educators - Pre K,  K – 2

'This was better than I expected! All new ideas from what I'd heard before.

 I like the variety of ways you can read one story."  ... Toni ... PITA 2008


The Literate Child

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'I found this workshop to be a great addition to the readers theatre I already do in my classroom.  The information was great and the pace was perfect for a full day! .... Vernon, 2005

This Full day workshop is available to districts wishing to provide a more in-depth professional development experience for their teachers.

Topics will include:

  • Early Literacy strategies for working with rhyme and rhythm, leading to early writing and reading experiences.  Based on 'Slide into Rhymes'.

  • Introduction to Readers Theatre; strategies for introducing readers theatre, identifying skills within the scripts leading to mini-lesson development, assessment and cross curricular links.

  • For more information, click on this link to see a typical full day schedule.

Fees for this full day are different.  Please call to discuss details and needs of your Professional Development Event.


Thanks for the day.  I enjoyed the flow and the participation level.  I will USE this in my class.  It really hit home that fluency in reading will be enhanced by these types of activities.  Thanks!

.... Vernon, 2005


Imbedded Professional Development

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Helen works with schools in a number of different scenarios: PD with teachers, demonstration lesson with children while teachers observe.  ANy of

Helen presented an extended ProD in Singapore where teachers were engaged in an intensive 2-day  workshop.  Teachers, primary through secondary, all agreed the benefits to their literacy programs are limitless.

Consider combining sessions with other schools or districts, to develop a two - three day residency. Requirements are different than teacher workshops - please call for fee schedule, and additional set up requirements.

Sessions are also available for home schooling support. Please call to set up a session for your parent home schooling support group.  


U-Otter-Read-It is always looking for team members! 

Are you interested in presenting Workshops?

Would you like to join the U-Otter team?

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