Session Descriptions

Wednesday – March 11, 2020

8:30 am – 9:30 am Concurrent Sessions


Avoiding Under- and Over-Identification of Students Receiving 504 Accommodations
Perry Zirkel, Ph.D., J.D.
This session will provide the latest available rates for Pennsylvania of students receiving 504 accommodations (i.e., those who are eligible under Section 504, but not the IDEA); the current legal standards, including a usable form, for eligibility under Section 504; and the practical reasons and strategies for avoiding systematic false negatives and/or false positives in school and district rates of students receiving 504 accommodations.

Being Caring Adults: Defining Developmental Relationships
Kent Pekel, Ph.D.
When people talk about what children and youth need to succeed, a connection to at least one caring adult is usually at the top of the list. New research from Search Institute is demonstrating that while caring is absolutely necessary, it is nowhere near sufficient if the goal is to build truly developmental relationships that help young people learn and grow. During this breakout session, the speaker will introduce participants to the five essential actions that characterize relationships that help young people be and become their best selves. He will also lead participants through an exercise that will help them identify a relationship-building strength they want to build upon and an area for improvement and growth.
Culturally and Linguistically Responsive MTSS for ELs: Preventing Disproportionality
Cristina Sanchez-Lopez
In this session, the presenter will share various frameworks that school teams may use to  make existing MTSS processes more culturally and linguistically responsive. Participants will look at observable classroom behaviors from a language learner as well as an exceptional learner lens and consider the implications for problem-solving with bilingual  learners. The presenter will review seven integral factors that impact achievement and well-being  for bilingual learners and apply these factors in a case study example. Participants will receive take away tools and resources for use with school-based teams.

Language Structures and Verbal Reasoning: Missing Links in Close Reading Lessons
Carol Tolman, Ed.D.
Gough and Tunmer’s Simple View of Reading (SVR) identifies two major components to reading comprehension: word recognition and language comprehension. The speaker’s presentation focuses on language comprehension; specifically, on the areas of language structures and verbal reasoning, two often-ignored components of reading comprehension lessons crucial to the success of reading deeply. Increasing teachers’ awareness of how to analyze sentence types, develop sentence sense, and predict complex sentence structures is key to supporting students' understandings of what they read and hear. In addition, marking text to identify pronouns and their references, along with analyzing the cohesiveness of an author's work, provides a deeper understanding of written discourse. Language structures and verbal reasoning are the focus of this interactive, hands-on session, abolishing the common, ineffective practice of testing, testing, and more testing.

Your Leadership Journey
Hamish Brewer
Are you an aspiring leader, a new leader, or a leader who just wants to rethink the work you are doing? The speaker will provide a session that will walk you through how to get it right from the beginning and ensure you do not fall into the trap of making mistakes from which you cannot rebound. Come on a journey that will help grow and develop your leadership skill set: from talking to others, decision making, and building a vision and mission that helps create an award-winning school.

Moving Beyond Poverty: Building Classrooms of H.O.P.E.
Shauna King
Poverty does not mean a student is unable to succeed. It does mean that students often have experiences that can impact them in the classroom. Research demonstrates that brains can change, and knowing how to impact positive brain changes should be a goal of every educator. In this highly interactive session, school leaders and staff will gain powerful strategies to boost engagement, improve behavior, and foster student success.

PA’s Parent Survey Data are Talking: Are They Telling a New Story, or One We’ve Heard Before?
Batya Elbaum, Ph.D.
Pennsylvania, like all states, is required to report annually to the federal government on the extent to which schools are facilitating the involvement of parents of students with disabilities in their child’s education. What have we learned from over a decade of surveys tied to the federal accountability system? What complementary perspectives are provided by research and by state and local parent-focused initiatives? This session will begin with the results of the 2019 PA Parent Survey and will then zoom out to examine the national picture of parent engagement.

9:50 am – 10:50 am Concurrent Sessions

Advancing Equity Through Developmental Relationships
Kent Pekel, Ph.D.
Can the relationships that adults build with young people in schools and youth programs be an engine for equity? During this breakout session, the speaker will guide participants through a case study in which a slight change in the relational interaction between a group of white teachers and African-American middle school students had strikingly positive short- and long-term effects on student behavior. The speaker will also share evidence from studies being conducted at Search Institute and elsewhere that suggest a troubling relationship gap exists in the lives of a significant group of young people in the United States today. Participants will consider ways that they can use the ideas discussed during the session to advance equity in the schools and other youth-serving organizations where they work.

Assessment and Instruction Through the Lens of the Hourglass Figure
Carol Tolman, Ed.D.
Gough and Tunmer's Simple View of Reading identifies two major components to reading comprehension: word recognition and language comprehension. Join the speaker as she focuses on word recognition, including an outline of the “what” and “why” of basic assessment tools and instructional practices. Appropriate for educators and administrators supporting students in K-6, this discussion will center on Tier 1 word work and spelling skills, as well as how best to identify and address student weaknesses in phonology, basic phonics, and/or advanced word study.

Implementation of RTI and MTSS: Legal Sources and Issues
Perry Zirkel, Ph.D., J.D.
This session will canvass federal law, including agency policy interpretations; state laws, with emphasis on Pennsylvania's regulations; and, case law specific to RTI and MTSS. The coverage will culminate with professional recommendations, as distinguished from legal requirements, with regard to effective implementation in public schools.

Optimizing Outcomes for Multilingual Learners with Special Educational Needs
Cristina Sanchez-Lopez
In this session, the presenter will provide an overview of key components in classroom-based research on instruction and intervention for multilingual learners with special educational needs: peer interaction, oral communication, and comprehension. The speaker will share accumulating research that illustrates how learners with special educational needs benefit from bilingualism. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with evidence-based strategies and multilingual resources.

Take-Aways, Run-Aways, and Give-Aways: A Collaborative Discussion of Family Engagement
Batya Elbaum, Ph.D., with Luz Hernandez (HUNE), Ali Hrasok (PYLN), Diane Perry (PEAL/SEAP), and Marguerite Vasconellos (BCIU 22)
Directly or indirectly, parent engagement affects the work of every PDE Conference attendee. In this session, we invite family members, teachers, administrators, advocates, researchers, state officials and community representatives to come together to share important ideas gleaned from conference sessions, successes of current initiatives, and new ideas worth considering. This session will include a diverse panel of discussants.

Promoting Generalization of Skills in Children with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities
Barry Morgenstern, Ph.D.
When children with autism or other developmental disabilities are successfully reduce problem behaviors or learn important skills, that is often a reason for celebration. A common problem with this success is that often children do not generalize these skills to novel people, places, situations, or examples. In addition, often these skills do not maintain over time. This presentation will demonstrate a variety of practical strategies for promoting generalization of skills with the goal of producing truly meaningful outcomes for students.

What We Say Matters: Language to Support Learning and Behavior
Shauna King
An educator’s choice of words can be a help or hindrance in the school and classroom environment. Through a review of neuroscience discoveries, participants will gain skills to maximize feedback, promote equity and build positive relationships. Participants will walk away with practical language tools that boost Student Learning and improve classroom culture.


11:15 am – 12:15 pm Closing Keynote Address

Hamish Brewer
Sometimes you have to hear the things you don’t want to hear in order to move forward, to be better, and to get results. In this closing keynote address, the speaker will take you on a hard-hitting journey that will challenge to rethink your practices, to disrupt the norm, and to change the game. Find out whether are willing to go one more round, if you’re willing to advocate for every single person and child. Find out if you’re willing to take your school or organization to the next level.