Session Descriptions

Monday – March 9, 2020


1:00 pm – 2:30 pm Welcoming Remarks and Opening Keynote

Relationships That Work: The Four Must-Have Readiness Skills for Every Educator
Adam Saenz, Ph.D., D.MIN.
Most of us already know that relationships matter in any field, but particularly in education. The question is: how? How do I build life-impacting relationships with students? How do I build resourceful relationships with my colleagues on campus? How do I build supportive relationships with my students’ parents? There is a framework—the practice of four essential skills that will posture and position any educator to a place of relational readiness. 1) Reflecting (on why I am here); 2) Directing (the fuel of my emotion); 3) Connecting (building relational bridges across differences) and 4) Protecting (my mind, my heart, and my body from toxic, hurtful people). Join us to delve into these four essential skills!


2:50 pm – 3:50 pm Concurrent Sessions

Creating a Vertical Mindset Using the Super Powers of Math
Marilyn Zecher

We may consider literacy instruction as a linear incremental acquisition of skills and structures, but math is more a vertical hierarchy of concepts. It is time for us to begin looking at the foundation skills of math the way we look at the foundation skills of literacy, including the existence of a core deficit which may impact learning. Early recognition and intervention can prevent instructional casualties. At all levels of mathematical learning and reasoning, language plays an essential role. Trace foundation skills from early childhood to algebra as we explore the multisensory world of mathematics and its intersection with language domain.
Developing a STEM Identity in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students with Disabilities
Temple Lovelace, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Over the last few years, STEM learning has become a mainstay in schools across the nation; however, students with disabilities do not participate in STEM learning at the same rate as their peers. As educators move towards broadening participation, it is important that they understand the role that identity plays in a student understanding and benefiting from the content that is available. In this session, participants will explore the role of STEM identity in learning spaces, identify opportunities for STEM identity development in their students, and examine how their current practice supports STEM identity development in students with disabilities.
Introduction to Universal Design for Learning
Nicole Tucker-Smith
We know from experience and neuroscience that individuals learn in varied ways. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides educators with a framework to ensure that all learners can meet high expectations, such as the Common Core State Standards. In this introductory session, participants learn the research basis for UDL, a process for applying UDL to design learning experiences and environments, and practical tools that support flexible, inclusive instruction.
Practical Strategies to Increase Capacity Building for Family Engagement
Magda Rodriguez
In this session, participants will have the opportunity to explore practical strategies for building individual and organizational capacity to implement sustainable and effective family engagement practices.  This workshop is aligned with The Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnership.
Turning Noncompliance, Escalations, and Breakdowns Into Teachable Moments
Adam Saenz, Ph.D., D.MIN.
Stressful events do not necessarily have to destroy relationships. In fact, when handled appropriately, stressful—even traumatic events—can deepen and strengthen relationships. We’ll explore the stages of student escalation and the appropriate staff responses at each stage. Then, we’ll analyze the obstacles that most frequently keep us from resolving conflict in a relationship-honoring manner. Finally, we’ll identify the self-awareness skills that will allow us to avoid the obstacles.

4:10 pm – 5:10 pm Concurrent Sessions

Linear Functions: Prove by Construction
Marilyn Zecher
Using an inverted instructional sequence, the study of linear algebra begins with word problems. During this session, participants will learn how to teach students to construct models using concrete materials.  This multi-sensory model allows students to identify the constant rate of change and the starting value as well as to begin to generate equations of lines.

steAm: Activism in STEM Learning
Temple Lovelace, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Southwestern Pennsylvania has had a major impact in how we conceptualize STEM learning across the country. However, for some, the connection of STEM to their context and community has not been reflected in their learning environments. In this session, participants will have the opportunity to rethink the A in STEAM and how it can be used for introducing concepts of activism and self-determination so that students can truly connect to content and have it reflect their personal lives in meaningful ways. Introducing several new approaches to STEM learning from the national landscape, even some from close to home, this session will highlight how educators from across the nation have been intentional in having STEM learning reflect the identities of the students they teach every day.

Designing with Universal Design for Learning
Nicole Tucker-Smith
Universal Design for Learning helps to make classrooms more inclusive and effective. This session will provide models and tools to apply UDL to your own context to begin reducing barriers and fostering expert learning in any learning environment.

The Importance of the Use of Data to Promote Successful Family Engagement Practices
Magda Rodriguez
Participants will be able to review the continuous improvement framework and dive into the use of data and participatory evaluation to develop and implement family engagement strategies that address the most relevant family engagement challenges.

Social and Emotional Learning: Empowering Everyone for Peak Performance
Adam Saenz, Ph.D., D.MIN.
The research is clear on two important points regarding social and emotional learning (SEL).  First,  students who practice SEL demonstrate less aggression, develop more positive peer relationships, and gain in academic achievement.  Second, the most effective SEL interventions begin with adult SEL.  We'll explore the core facets of adult SEL, including self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and interpersonal skills.  We will also discuss how to model these skills to students; adults who live emotionally intelligent lives become the ideal Tier 1 living intervention for every student on campus.