Our Reading Toolbox: Bring Learning Alive through Thinking-centered Education


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Start Time: 

9:00 AM

End Time: 

10:30 AM
Iolani Suite 3, TAPA

Target Audience

  • Parents and Families
  • Postsecondary Educators
  • Primary Educators
  • Secondary Educators
  • Self-Advocates
  • Youth


We invite you to experience how you can create a “Culture of Thinking” in your classroom or workplace by using Our Reading Toolbox.  You will acquire tools and strategies that can stimulate students’ independent thinking so they can understand what they read and express their own ideas about that reading through writing.  Experience the use of effective thinking-centered tools designed to foster high-quality thinking and dialogue.  This Toolbox stimulates independent thinking, bringing deep, personal comprehension in reading, and expression of thoughts through writing. By creating this learning environment, more students will complete their course successfully when compared to departmental averages. Moreover, students will show a more favorable attitude toward learning because they find value and relevance in linking the course concepts to their real world applications.

These strategies are effective for students in K-12 and postsecondary education. In addition, tools and strategies can be used to facilitate discussions and group work among professionals.  These are particularly effective with English language learners, students disillusioned with school, students who learn differently, and professionals who want to encourage change. Teachers and administrators in several Pacific island nations are using the Toolbox.

OUR READING TOOLBOX Workshop Learning Outcomes 

  1. Utilize reflective learning strategies to improve professional practices.
  2. Apply the 12 tools from Our Reading Toolbox to acquire the ability to use these Tools to better understand what we read, in school, at work and in life.
  3. Create and evaluate ORT lessons using Our Reading Toolbox and Strategies to create a culture of thinking and to gain an in-depth understanding of what is read in specific content areas, which can easily be immediately implemented upon returning to your area of work.
  4. Implement Strategies for Teaching and Learning, such as "Discussion-oriented Seating" and "Call on Students," to maximize participants' involvement and attention in a class session.
  5. Lead, teach, and communicate ideas in ways that are considered clear and appropriate to diverse groups of participants through the use of ORT and Strategies so as to address issues surrounding your professional responsibilities or in contributing to the improvement of education with the purpose of better serving the needs of our diverse student population.


About the Seminar Leaders

Photo: Caren Sax

Caren Sax, PhD is Professor and Chair of the Department of Administration, Rehabilitation, and Postsecondary Education and Director of the Interwork Institute at SDSU. Dr. Sax teaches in the Rehabilitation Counseling Masters degree program and the Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership/Community College Leadership Concentration. She administers a post-baccalaureate Certificate in Rehabilitation Technology (with SDSU’s College of Engineering) and the Supported Employment and Transition Specialist Certificate. As Director of the Interwork Institute, Dr. Sax oversees more than $5 million dollars annually in grants and contracts funded through federal and state resources that address the following areas: removing barriers to employment and increasing self-sufficiency for persons with disabilities; technical assistance and continuing education for state vocational rehabilitation agency and community rehabilitation personnel; technical assistance for Disability Support Programs and Services (DSPS) in the CA Community College system; systems change efforts to improve school-to-work transition services for students with disabilities as they exit the K-12 school system; professional development activities related to assistive technology and universal design for non-traditional learners; and training and degree programs via distance education. Dr. Sax conducts training for rehabilitation counselors and administrators, community rehabilitation personnel, special educators, and disability organizations in the US and internationally and has published extensively in the disability field on these topics. She started her professional career as a special education and transition teacher in Tucson, Arizona.

Photo: Veronica Carranza

Veronica Carranza, PhD, has twenty years of experience as an educator in both the elementary and community college sectors.  She was a key provider in planning and implementing a Dual Language Immersion program in 2010 at Valley Vista School, which was recognized as a California Distinguished School in 2012.  In 2011, she began her career in higher education, teaching at Southwestern College in the School of Language, Literature, and Humanities.  She completed the Organizational Leadership Academy at Southwestern College in 2014, where she focused on developing her leadership skills.  Veronica holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies, a Multiple Subject Bilingual Cross-cultural Language and Academic Development (BCLAD) credential, and a Master of Arts in Education from San Diego State University. In addition, Veronica received a Special Education Advocacy Certificate from the University of San Diego. She obtained her Doctorate in Educational Leadership, centering her research on the experiences of college students on the autism spectrum.  Veronica has participated in numerous IEP meetings as both a parent and an educator. As a parent, she has continued to navigate through the educational system for the past ten years, advocating for her son who is on the autism spectrum. As an educator, she is familiar with the legal requirements of providing services to students with disabilities within both the K-12 and postsecondary educational systems. Her focus is on supporting students of diverse backgrounds in attaining their educational goals and serving as an advocate and mentor for other families with children on the autism spectrum.

Photo: Sylvia Garcia-Navarrete

Sylvia Garcia-Navarrete, PhD, is a Professor at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California, where she teaches developmental reading and English courses to students who come from diverse academic, socioeconomic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds.  She co-chairs the Student Equity Plan sub-committee and serves on the Student Success Steering Committee.  In her spare time, she teaches courses for ARPE at SDSU.  Dr. Garcia, a proactive leader the field of higher education, and is dedicated to cultivating a solid educational foundation that empowers individuals to discover and achieve their fullest potential within a safe learning environment.  Her passion stems from her personal challenges in attaining her academic goals.  Being a second-language learner, first-generation college student and growing up with limited educational opportunities, she is extremely sensitive to, empathic, and aware of students’ needs within higher education

Dr. Garcia co-authored OUR READING TOOLBOX (ORT), an innovative thinking-centered curriculum that builds the quality of students’ thinking to help them understand what they read.  This curriculum puts to practice John Dewey’s words, “The aim of education should be to teach student how to think, rather than what to think.”  She has presented at professional conferences at the local, state, national and international level.

She had the opportunity to carry out her internship in Palau, where she team-taught two developmental English/reading courses with the faculty from Palau Community College.  She co-taught the capstone course in educational leadership through distance education in Pohnpei, FSM.  In Palau, she co-taught the Capstone course for the BA program and an MA course in Public Administration and is currently teaching a Directed Teaching course for the new BA in Education cohort.  In November 2014, Dr. Garcia was invited as an honorary keynote speaker/presenter at an international conference in Morelia, Michoacán.  Dr. Garcia designed literacy curriculum which she teaches to formerly and currently incarcerated individuals who are preparing to integrate back into society.