Katie Garner, M.Ed, (author of Secret Stories® Cracking the Reading Code with the Brain in Mind) is an international keynote speaker, author, and literacy consultant with 25 years of classroom experience and a passion for infusing neuroscience into phonics instruction. Her “backdoor to the brain” approach to fast-tracking phonics skills for reading shifts the paradigms associated with science of reading based instruction. Her fast-paced, dynamic presentations spotlight brain-changing, evidence-based strategies for boosting existing reading/phonics curriculum with the latest neural research showing how our brains actually learn best. Katie’s practical and proven methods have been the subject of numerous professional journal articles and publications, as well as the topic of both lecture and panel discussions at Harvard University and MIT.
Her Facebook Group, Science of Reading Meets Science of Learning is a popular learning hub for over 135K+ educators from around the world and provides free access to instructional resources in the group files.
For information on bringing Katie to your school, district or conference event, please submit a contact request.
Conference Bookings and Staff Development
To book Katie as a keynote or featured speaker at your conference or to inquire about bringing Katie to your school or district for staff development, please complete the contact request form.
My goodness, what an impression you made on my staff and I… Thank you so much! Our district has 12 ‘Pre/K- 6th’ elementary schools, with many of them attending the Dallas GT conference. My teachers returned to work today begging me to bring you to the school. Our librarian couldn’t wait to tell me about these “Secret Stories,” and she doesn’t get excited about workshops as such, but she and 2 others so far have been by to show me and tell me all about your presentation and resources. So…I know that you are highly sought after by my staff! Thank you so much for your inspiration and wonderful ideas about reading!
Linda, Elementary School Principal in Texas
What a mind altering session for me on improving phonics! Mrs. Garner was awesome, genuinely funny, and her presentation was very, very, informative. It helped to change my mindset on phonics. I can’t wait to get back to my classroom and try some if not all of the strategies she taught!
Lena, First Grade Teacher in Colorado
I thought I might share some of the messages I received after Katie came and trained our teachers to get them started. We have had a few collaboration sessions on how to implement what she taught us, and since then, I’ve received some of the following messages from other teachers in other schools in my county who I’ve helped implement this amazing tool….
—You can hear Secret Stories all over our building!
—Everybody has embraced the Secret Stories and they use them every single day….singing ‘The Better
Alphabet” Song’ and sharing Secrets, decoding their names and every word they see. They love it!
—I’m so thankful you introduced this [Secret Stories] to us! Thank you!
—They [Secret Stories] are so easily incorporated!
—I love it so much! Thank you!
—When I’ve been testing my kids on letter sounds, they use the sound cues to remember the short vowel
sounds (short & lazy) and their [superhero] arms for the long vowel sounds.
—Best part of my day is walking down the K-2 hallway and hearing the kids singing ‘The Better Alphabet
—Thank you so much for bringing this to our county!
And my absolute favorite was from a collaboration session with teachers about how using Secret Stories is going in their classrooms, now that they’ve had a chance to get started, and it’s from veteran kindergarten teacher, Deanna Bailey:
—When Katie came and showed us those writing samples, I was really intimidated! I’m just going to be
honest. I thought, there is no way I am going to get my kids there by the end of kindergarten! BUT…
after using them in my room with my students, I can now say to anyone who feels this way….
“The intimidation needs to go down and the expectations need to rise up…a lot!”
So there you have it! What a testament to the power of backdoor learning with the Secret Stories! Expectations are rising in Wyoming County, and with them, our reading levels, test scores, and most importantly, our enthusiasm for reading and writing!
Amy, Title I Teacher in West Virginia
Katie was amazing! She was so knowledgeable, and what she had to say was definitely a game changer in teaching phonics—just brilliant! So many great take aways that I can’t wait to implement immediately!
Ruth, Third Grade Teacher in Colorado
How do I begin to thank you for the fabulous job you did today! The staff has fallen in love with you! You had as much passion and energy at 3:00 as you did at 8:30! The feedback from the staff was amazing! Nearly every teacher thanked me for bringing you to the school, and they’ve already requested a follow-up training! I even have teachers requesting the book immediately so they can plan to implement their new learning over the summer! It is the highest honor when you are able to motivate a staff that has been working since the beginning of September, and has nearly run of steam at this time of the year. Thank you for a most informative and pleasurable day!
Joanne, Elementary School Assistant Principal in New York
I learned more in Katie’s half day workshop than I did in quarter long graduate course on teaching reading!
The Secret Stories are just so easy to teach…. the stories, music, visuals, and movement engage students with the complex rules of phonics! Thank you for truly making me a better and much more effective teacher!
Lerline, Kindergarten Teacher in North Dakota
Needless to say, I have had numerous messages since Saturday and they are all very positive…
—Best session Mercer County has had in quite a while!
—Katie is FANTASTIC!
—Every K-5 teacher should hear her!
—Please bring her back in the Fall
—I am going to begin using what I learned on Monday!
…And that’s just a sampling of what I received!
Rick, Assistant Superintendent in Virginia
I have to tell you that the day our staff spent with you on Wednesday was the best in-service training I have attended. I was able to immediately start using the strategies- I am excited and so are my kids! My family at home thought I had be ‘abducted by aliens’ and was nuts because at dinner I was telling every ‘secret’ that I could remember! My teenagers were impressed that you had motivated all those teachers without any power points, videos, or ‘stuff.’ Your humor was wonderful. You are so accurate on the reality of a real classroom. Even one of my most struggling readers picked up the excitement of the first few ‘secrets’ I shared and was so excited about going home to tell them to her parents. Thanks so much!
Julie, First Grade Teacher in Tennessee
Katie was so engaging and I loved all the content that she shared! I would pay out of my own pocket to see her again and learn more! She was that fabulous!!!
Deanna, ESOL Teacher in Nevada
Thank you!! I was at the SoMirac conference in Hunt Valley, MD. You were an absolute inspiration for me!! I am/try to be a”singer” of songs to reinforce and cement concept attainment as well.. (even though I can NOT carry a tune in a bucket or anything else!) I find your creative style is almost strikingly similar to mine.. I am not comparing what you do with what I do ….but our approach to learning seems so similar. I was awestruck by your presentation and my reading teacher could NOT WAIT for me to see you present… As a matter of fact, I am presenting some little tidbits of your material at a faculty PD next week. I want to engage and motivate my staff to check out your blogs and also try to implement some of your awesome ideas!! Thank you so much for sharing your creative spirit and inspiring me to try new and innovative ideas!! :)
Meredith, First Grade Teacher in Maryland
I had the pleasure of sitting your session this morning at NAEYC and want you to know that it was a true honor! I am a former 1st grade teacher and current lead editor for the Literacy Team at “—–” Publishing House. I found you to be one of the best presenters I’ve ever seen. Your passion for and expertise for literacy left me wanting to give you a standing ovation at the end of your presentation! It’s not an easy feat to find people who really get the challenges students and early childhood/early elementary educators alike face on a daily basis!
Jamey, Educational Publishing Editor in California
I attended your workshop at VSRA, and wanted to let you know that Secret Stories was the talk of the weekend! Everywhere I went, people were raving about the ‘Secret Stories’ and how wonderful the workshop was! It’s the perfect ‘support’ to the strategies I use in Reading Recovery- I know my kids will love it!
Jill, Reading Recovery Coach in Virginia
I saw Katie at the ASCD Conference many years ago and LOVED her, and then, I was fortunate enough to see her again when my district brought her to present a workshop to all of our schools. It was, and still is THE BEST LEARNING EXPERIENCE I have ever had 15 years of teaching!
—Krystal, Second Grade Teacher in Illinois
It’s day 41 of the school year, and let me tell you a secret… Learning a new way to teach—or learn— is fun! Last week I had the privilege of attending a Vulnerable Readers Summit: When Struggling Readers Thrive. As an educator, it was valuable, engaging and yes, even fun. While I haven’t yet mentally unpacked all my professional learning, there was some great material I could take back and start using in my grade one classroom immediately.
Keynote speaker Katie Garner M.Ed, creator of The Secret Stories, shared a way, based on brain research, to explain all of the phonics patterns and exceptions that exist in written English. Her Secret Stories help students make sense of those times when they discover letters behaving unexpectedly and ask “Why?” Having these stories to teach is much more engaging that an abstract rule and having to answer, “we just have to memorize that word!”
Although we are just beginning with the Secrets, my students can already tell you why only vowels can say their own names—they are Superheroes! Why Letter Y has three sounds? He’s “sneaky” and he stole the superhero capes of E and I, but will only wear them in the middle or end of words where he won’t get caught! I’ve already heard students telling the stories to each other, singing “The Better Alphabet” that we learned, and using alphabet bingo cards to test each other on the sounds.Lisa, First Grade Teacher in Edmonton, Canada
I had the pleasure of coming to your session at our state reading conference last year and it was AMAZING! I was extremely excited to start implementing your “secrets” from the beginning of the year, and they are working huge miracles in my Kindergarten classroom! My kids are writing more than they ever have before, and they had their vowel sounds down within a month of introducing the “secrets!” Thank you for understanding children and developing these awesome tools!
—Amanda, Kindergarten Teacher in Maryland
Our teachers saw your workshop at the National Title I Conference and couldn’t stop talking about you! The students absolutely LOVE the stories that have been introduced so far! Much Appreciation from our entire team!
Tasha, First Grade Teacher in Louisiana
My teachers just returned from the workshop you presented at our state El. Ed. Conference and were very excited. I am the Title I coordinator for the district, and I have never seen my teachers this excited about anything before! Congratulations on such an inspirational presentation, and we look forward to using the SECRETS soon!
Joanne, Title I Coordinator in North Carolina
I could listen to her for a very long time. I love how she used every minute to give us the best information she could. Also very comical! Her ideas make such sense and she provided amazing free resources as well. I enjoyed it immensely!
Tabitha, Literacy Coach in New York
Thank you for the fabulous workshop you presented in Santa Clara, California. You certainly wowed me! I have been an elementary grade teacher more years than I can count, and the strategies you shared were of more use to me, and more beneficial to my students than anything I have ever brought to my classroom
Thank you for ‘revitalizing’ my year!
Carolyn, Kindergarten Teacher in California
Thank you for your presentation of “Secret Stories” in our district. The school was ‘buzzing’ the following day…”Was there enough money to purchase ‘Secret Stories’ for all the grade levels?” Nobody wanted to be ‘left out!” Our principal was so thrilled that so many teachers were interested, she assured us that every K-5 teacher would be able to have the “Secret Stories” for their classrooms—that she would ‘find the money from somewhere!’ Every one of our teachers has placed an order for “Secret Stories” and now we are all anxiously awaiting their arrival. The ‘secrets’ are like a breath of fresh air!! We can’t wait to begin “cracking the reading code” with our students!
Marie, Reading Coach in Florida
As a newer teacher, I am so grateful to have had the chance to see Katie a couple of months ago at our state reading conference! I learned more in just that one hour session than in all of my teaching classes combined! I love how the Secrets provide such strong framework for instruction while still allowing the flexibility to adjust to individual student needs and my own creative teaching style. I feel like a new door has been opened for me and my students! THANK YOU!!!!
Carrie, Kindergarten Teacher in Michigan
Everyone at my ‘new’ school just raved about the Secret Stories, so while at the National IRA conference, I attended one of your workshops….THEY WERE RIGHT!!!! It is sooooo easy, even with my ‘intermediate’ background! I love how it fits with whatever I am teaching, in any subject! I even dragged my husband in over the weekend to help me hang up all the posters so I could begin first thing Monday morning!!! I am very excited, as I truly believe this is not only helping my students tremendously in reading, but in their written expression, as well!
Elise, Fourth Grade Teacher in Florida
I ran into a teacher who attended one of your institute presentations at Harvard University, and has spoken of nothing else since! She described your workshop as ‘life-changing,’ and couldn’t wait to try some of the strategies with her students! Well, we wanted you to know that having attended your workshop wasn’t just ‘life-changing’ for her, but for all of our students, as well!!! Just watching their faces as everything started to ‘come together’… WOW!!!
Edie, Fourth-Fifth Grade SLD in Massachusetts
I learned more in Katie’s half day workshop than I did in quarter long graduate course on teaching reading!
Leanne, Reading Specialist in Texas
I saw your workshop at KRA, as my teachers had actually told me about you before I attended the conference. In fact, they INSISTED, in a very nice kind of way—“WE WANT HER!!” The teachers are so excited because of the ‘buzz’ going around the school about you. Apparently one teacher heard about you in a class she was taking- She came back, and you have been the “thing” ever since!! (Your workshops must have had a very beneficial impact on some other school districts in Kentucky as well!) The teachers want you as soon as possible—I have never seen them this excited over anything before!!!!
Suzanne, Reading First Literacy Specialist in Kentucky
As a newer teacher, I am so grateful to have had the chance to see Katie a couple of months ago at our state reading conference! I learned more in just that one hour session than in all of my teaching classes combined! I love how the Secrets provide such strong framework for instruction while still allowing the flexibility to adjust to individual student needs and my own creative teaching style. I feel like a new door has been opened for me and my students! THANK YOU!!!Leslie, First Grade Teacher in New Mexico
I attended a district-wide in-service with you last week and absolutely loved the workshop! I came back to my 2nd grade room and introduced some ‘secrets’ immediately. My kids are in love with them, and are so ‘into it,’ just like you said they would be! Thank you so much for such a rewarding, & enjoyable day!!!
Grace, Second Grade Teacher in Charleston, South Carolina
I love Secret Stories, and have been singing YOUR praises since I saw you present a workshop 5 years ago at FRA when I was a Title I teacher. I was so thoroughly impressed by your presentation, and would love to see it again! The ‘secrets’ just make so much sense! Please let me know when you’ll be in our area, as if there is anything I can do that will allow our teachers to experience your wonderful workshop, I would love to do it!
Sharon, Elementary School Principal in Florida
We really enjoyed having you come out to our district for the staff workshop! I have already had many positive comments about the ‘secrets’ you shared, and my teachers are already asking for more!!!! Thanks so very much!
Donna, Elementary School Principal in Texas
I thought of you while doing observations in my primary classrooms, as I attended a workshop with you about 7 years ago and have since implemented the SECRET STORIES Strategies in two schools. I intend to make it part of our ‘woodwork’ here as well! We are hoping to be Title I next year, which would allow for some additional Professional Development, and include the Secret Stories. I think they are wonderful, and can’t wait for the rest of my teachers to experience the incredible learning you have in store for them!
As the kids would say- ‘You Rock!!’
Danielle, Assistant Principal in Florida
My intermediate teachers that attended your workshop at a neighboring school were amazed at the ‘common sense’ approach of the SECRETS to ‘explain away’ all of the inconsistencies in our language……simply telling learners the ’secret’ behind the pattern. It’s just so simple!
Barbara/ Reading First Literacy Coach in Pennsylvania
I have not seen so much excitement from our teachers in the four years that I have been the assistant principal here! They all LOVE the secrets!
P.J., Assistant Elementary School Principal in Georgia
I have been an elementary grade teacher more years than I can count, and the strategies you shared at workshop were of more use to me, and more beneficial to my students, than anything I have ever brought back to my classroom!
Thank you for ‘revitalizing’ my year!
Carolyn, Second Grade Teacher in California
I share this information with EVERY teacher I meet because I know the difference it makes!
Heather, Second Grade Teacher in Florida
These ‘secrets’ have even make their way into the office! I have actually created a ‘Wall of Secrets’ outside my door for students to share with myself and my assistant principal. Only one of my fifth grade teachers had attended your workshop at a neighboring school, and he liked it so much that he shared the information with his team members, and now they want kits for their classrooms! I am thrilled to see staff so ‘rejuvenated’ about teaching reading!
Charlotte, Elementary School Principal in Texas
Since your workshop, I’ve seen these strategies in action in many schools, and the SAI/Reading Teachers have all been praising the results with their students throughout this year. I’ve recommended you to several principals, and just wanted to let you know what a ‘hit’ the ‘Secret Stories’ were becoming here! Thanks so much!
Sandra, S.A.I Director/ Supplemental Educational Services in Florida
I was meeting with our Primary Curriculum Coordinator about having you come and train our entire district, and when I told her about you, she said that SHE was actually trained by you in another district she had been in prior to ours! She couldn’t stop singing your praises!! All this to say…We want you to come!!!! And soon!!
Stephanie, Elementary School Principal in Virginia
First, on behalf of our school, I want to thank you SO MUCH for sharing all the awesome tricks you have created with the Secret Stories!!! We all feel like we couldn’t absorb enough of the wonderful things you had to tell us about. What an absolutely amazing experience!
Shawna, Kindergarten Teacher in Texas
I am listening to Katie Garner talk about Cracking the Reading Code. OMG, she’s soooo good. I LOVE her!!!
Scott, a Principal in Texas TEPSA Committee Member
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