Session Descriptions



Monday – March 11, 2019

 

9:00 am – 10:00 am Kickoff Sessions
 

Building Informed Partnerships: Tools for Families

Jeannine Brinkley

Families often “don’t know what they don’t know” regarding special education and alternative dispute resolution. In this session, the speakers will provide an overview of tools for families to get quick answers about special education and options for resolving special education disputes. ConsultLine, PEAL Center, Mission Empower, and HUNE, which are all organizations that work with families, worked together to develop these tools. With facilitation from CADRE (The National Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education), the partners developed go-to resources to help families identify who they can contact to get assistance and which Alternative Dispute Resolution process might work for their individualized education program (IEP) team.

 

Ethical Practice and Decision Making in Schools (Part 1)

Laurie Klose, Ph.D.

In Part 1 of this three-part session, Dr. Klose will facilitate thought-provoking discussion of ethical issues that educators involved in special education decisions and services face on a daily basis. Through real examples, participant discussion, and activities, the ethical principles involved, and their application, will come to life. Several case scenarios will be discussed, and the intersection of legal parameters, ethical constraints, and best practices will be discussed. A problem-solving approach will be used to weigh the various considerations and develop the best possible solutions. Be prepared to think, participate, and have some fun!
Must attend all three hours to receive any Ethics credit.

 

Increasing Graduation Rates and Decreasing Dropout Rates for Students with Disabilities

Laura Moran, Ph.D.

Schools in Pennsylvania are working to increase the graduation rate and decrease the dropout rate for students with disabilities. Participants will complete a planning document that guides them through five phases in how to increase graduation rates in their schools. The five phases include: 1) establishing a local leadership team and an Early Warning System (EWS), 2) analyzing attendance, behavior, and course performance data, 3) identifying target areas for interventions for students who are off-track, 4) developing an action plan, and 5) implementing and monitoring an evaluation plan.

 

Legal Considerations for Gifted Assessment of Diverse Students

Nanda Mitra-Itle, NCSP, ABD

The significant under-representation of culturally, linguistically, economically, and racially diverse students who have been identified as gifted remains a current need in our educational system. In this presentation, participants will examine the factors contributing to the under-representation in gifted programs through analysis of the screening, assessment, and identification process, with a focus on legal considerations.

 

The Social Construction of a Monster

Paul Hernandez, Ph.D.

In this workshop, Dr. Hernandez will focus on the understanding of race, speci´Čücally, and how the media plays into the social construction of reality, generally. This will be accomplished by using concepts recognizable to many and applying them to a unique subject material: the American Pit Bull Terrier. Join Dr. Hernandez as he discusses how to effectively work with diverse groups.

 

Using Classroom Diagnostic Tools to Grow All Students

Brian Stamford

Multiple measures of data, including the Classroom Diagnostic Tool (CDT), can illuminate student strengths and areas of need in core content areas. Based on the data, differentiated instruction can be planned for all students and specifically meet the needs of IEP and GIEP students. In this session, the CDT Core Team will model the process and lead group discussions for using the CDT to identify key data and trends to drive individual, small group, and whole class instruction.
 

10:30 am – 11:30 am Kickoff Sessions


Cultivating Trust With Students and Their Parents

Megan Tschannen-Moran, Ph.D.

Recent research has demonstrated the vital role that trust plays in schools; and, no aspect of trust is more predictive of student achievement than the trust between students and their teachers. Closely related to this is the trust parents hold for school personnel. In this session, participants will explore the dynamics that either foster or diminish trust in these key relationships in schools. An exploration of the five facets of trust in relationship to student trust in teachers, parent trust in school personnel, and teacher trust in students will raise questions as to how these relationships can be strengthened and sustained. In addition, issues related to student discipline policies and practices and their relationship to trust will be explored as will teacher aggression, meaning teachers' use of yelling, sarcasm, humiliation, and group punishments. Finally, the use of SOAR process, investigating Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Resources, will be presented as a possible framework for structuring individualized education program (IEP) meetings and parent conferences.

 

Educational and Assistive Technologies to Engage Students with Learning Differences

Sharon LePage Plante

Today’s classrooms are gaining technologies, providing an ideal time to enhance learning opportunities for those with reading disabilities. This influx of technology allows educators to provide accommodations with greater ease to utilize tools that promote a more accessible learning environment for these learners. Following the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), we will investigate pedagogy across curricular areas while providing opportunities to engage with a variety of engaging tools for learning, remediation, and accommodation. This hands-on session will equip and empower educators with educational technology tools that enhance and support instruction to engage all learners, especially those with learning disabilities. In the areas of reading and writing, tools will be demonstrated that provide text-to-speech, speech-to-text, differentiation of content, and multiple means of input and output. For math, the technology tools can address the need for repeated practice, differentiation of skills practice, and provide assistive supports related to dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. Educational technology provides many tools that teachers can use in the classroom to deliver content by removing text barriers, differentiating instruction, and promoting student's voice.

 

Ethical Practice and Decision Making in Schools (Part 2)

Laurie Klose, Ph.D.

Part 2 of this session continues as Dr. Klose facilitates a thought-provoking discussion of ethical issues that educators involved in special education decisions and services face on a daily basis. Through real examples, participant discussion, and activities, the ethical principles involved, and their application, will come to life. Several case scenarios will be discussed, and the intersection of legal parameters, ethical constraints, and best practices will be discussed. A problem-solving approach will be used to weigh the various considerations and develop the best possible solutions. Be prepared to think, participate, and have some fun!
Must attend all three hours to receive any Ethics credit.

 

MTSS and Gifted: It's a Beautiful Marriage

Nanda Mitra-Itle, NCSP, ABD

In this presentation, participants will examine the factors contributing to the under-representation of diverse students in gifted programs through the analysis of the identification process and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). This is of importance to school psychologists as the increase in the number of students who are underserved, and their under-representation in the gifted population, indicates a greater need to determine and advocate for best practices in gifted assessment, identification, and retention. More specifically, this presentation will examine the factors contributing to the under-representation of diverse students in gifted programs through the analysis of the identification process and multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS). The presenters will review Pennsylvania case law and the need for systems-level frameworks that utilize a problem-solving model. This session is intended to provide participants with a greater understanding of the needs of underserved gifted students, as well as the processes and procedures for implementing MTSS in systems in order to better identify underserved gifted population.

 

Pedagogy of Real Talk

Paul Hernandez, Ph.D.

To successfully teach struggling students, connection and trust come first. Author Paul Hernandez, Ph.D., a former student at risk, is now a nationally recognized, award-winning educator and trainer. His Real Talk is a practical methodology that helps education professionals build rapport with students while creating learning experiences that are relevant…and life-changing. The results are transformed classroom and school environments, engaged students, and higher achievement. Join Dr. Hernandez as he discusses how Real Talk can help you make a difference in your students’ school experience, from your first classroom conversation to graduation day.
 
 

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Kickoff Sessions

 

Engaging Families in Career Readiness

Batya Elbaum, Ph.D.

What role do families play in supporting the Career Readiness Indicator for Pennsylvania’s “Future Ready PA Index” and Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Accountability? How can families assist their students in accessing career exploration experiences and guide them in discussions regarding career aspirations? This session will begin with an update on Pennsylvania’s performance on Indicator 8: Schools’ Facilitation of Parent Involvement and a brief tour of the evidence on parents’ contribution to students’ career planning and outcomes. Recognition of the importance of family involvement will lead to a focused conversation on resources and strategies to increase families’ engagement in preparing their students for life after high school, beginning in the elementary grades.

 

The Every Student Succeeds Act: Ensuring Students are College, Career, and Community Ready

Panel Discussion: Brian Campbell, Rosemary Hughes, Julie Kane, and Brian Truesdale

ESSA advances ESEA’s promise of ensuring that all students – from pre-kindergarten to postsecondary, including low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities, English Learners, and other historically marginalized students – have access to a world-class education that prepares them for college, career, and life. A panel of experts will discuss how, for Pennsylvania, ESSA presents two important opportunities – the chance to move away from the prescriptive policies and unintended consequences of NCLB, and toward state-level efforts that enjoy broad, bipartisan support, including more equitable and predictable funding for public schools and valid measures of school performance that look beyond standardized test scores.

 

Ethical Practice and Decision Making in Schools (Part 3)

Laurie Klose, Ph.D.

Part 3 of this session continues as Dr. Klose facilitates a thought-provoking discussion of ethical issues that educators involved in special education decisions and services face on a daily basis. Through real examples, participant discussion, and activities, the ethical principles involved, and their application, will come to life. Several case scenarios will be discussed, and the intersection of legal parameters, ethical constraints, and best practices will be discussed. A problem-solving approach will be used to weigh the various considerations and develop the best possible solutions. Be prepared to think, participate, and have some fun!
Must attend all three hours to receive any Ethics credit.

 

Fostering a Culture of Collegial Trust

Megan Tschannen-Moran, Ph.D.

Participants in this session will explore how the five facets of trust inform their relationships with their colleagues and why it matters to student and school outcomes. Participants will learn about the dynamics of betrayal and revenge and how they play out in school contexts, as well as actions they can take to repair trust that has been damaged. Attention will be given to the special challenges of co-teaching and working in collaborative teams to meet the needs of students with special needs.

 

Technol-OGy: EdTech to Enhance Structured Literacy Instruction for Students With Dyslexia

Sharon LePage Plante

Structured literacy approaches have shown historically to be the most effective for remediating language difficulties, especially dyslexia. Many of those approaches, such as Orton-Gillingham, have traditionally been used in a 1-1 setting, but the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators has recently embraced a Classroom Educator model, in the hopes of providing more educators with the tools to deliver effective instruction to a greater number of students with dyslexia. The challenge becomes how best to provide that instruction in a small group environment. The use of technology can make structured literacy instruction a multi-sensory process that is engaging and explicit while maintaining the individualization and diagnostic-prescriptive aspects of the lesson that are its hallmarks. The session will focus on the use of various tools that can support differentiated, assisted, and individualized engagement during small group multi-sensory instruction.

 

Unified Sports Programming from K-12

Mike Bovino and Michelle Boone

Special Olympics Unified Sports starts with a simple premise: bringing together people with and without intellectual disabilities as equal peers for training and competition. Through these programs, school communities become more enlightened and inclusive, and individual students form new and deeper relationships with one another. The speakers will present the different types of Unified programs offered for schools, how they can be implemented, and the positive ramifications. Participants will learn about the following programs: (1) Special Olympics PA Interscholastic Unified Sports program, which is offered by 150 high schools in the state and has become part of these schools’ athletic culture; (2) Unified Physical Education, which can be incorporated in elementary, middle, and high school physical education classes that include students with and without disabilities; and (3) Young Athletes, an inclusive sport and play program for 2 to 7-year-olds, designed to develop motor skills, sports skills, and socialization.

 

2:30 pm – 4:00 pm Welcoming Remarks and Opening Keynote


Overcoming the Impossible

Paul Hernandez, Ph.D.

Join Dr. Hernandez as he reveals his personal journey from gang member to educational leader; and, find out how he used education as a source of empowerment to change his life. In this keynote address, Dr. Hernandez will offer practical tools and strategies for creating transformative programs for middle and high school students at-risk of dropping out of school.

 

Tuesday – March 12, 2019

 

9:00 am – 10:00 am Concurrent Sessions


Can Families Really Help Students Learn?

Jenni Brasington

Answering “YES” to this question is the easy part. Figuring out “HOW” is the challenge. During this session, participants will learn proven practices for building strong home-school partnerships including how to: welcome families as partners in learning; foster 2-way communication between school and home; share critical information about what students should know and be able to do; and, empower family participation in ways that support learning and healthy development.
 

Creative Tools for Uncovering Gifts and Values (Part 1)

Denise Bissonnette

In this highly interactive two-part session, Ms. Bissonnette will present five of her most popular exercises for uncovering student gifts, assets, and work values. The materials presented may be used in small or large groups, or in one-on-one situations. Past participants of this session have found it both personally and professionally rewarding!
 

Life After High School: Legally-Defensible Post-Secondary Transition Planning

Erin D. Gilsbach, Esq.

Are schools providing students with special needs with the skills they really need when transitioning from high school life, the work force, and post-secondary education? The answer from the courts is a resounding “no.” At a time when IDEA post-secondary transition plans are increasingly coming under fire in courts in Pennsylvania and across the nation, Atty. Erin D. Gilsbach, a nationally-recognized school law trainer, addresses the practical and legal transition needs of students and provides schools with the tools to begin re-thinking their transition programs.
 

No Matter Who Wins, Everyone Loses: Restoring Relationships After a Dispute (Part 1)

Candace Hawkins

Explore the promise restorative justice holds for restoring relationships during and after a dispute. In this session, Ms. Hawkins will identify basic restorative justice principles and processes that can be used across a continuum of practice to prevent disputes, intervene effectively in an active dispute, and use following a formal dispute resolution process, such as due process hearing, to restore relationships. She will work with participants to identify and apply restorative approaches that can be used to improve parent engagement and address parent and educator concerns in the moment and in the classroom.
 

STEM For All! Understanding STEM and Inclusive Engagement to Help All Students be Future Ready

Jeff Remington

STEM is not a fad! STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is an opportunity for “People of Determination” to plug into a labor market that promotes prosperity. With STEM education funding and advances in adaptive technology, possibilities are endless. Let's explore.
 

Understanding Balanced Literacy and Systematic Literacy Instruction and Why It Matters

Linda Farrell

Understanding the difference between "Balanced Literacy" and "Explicit, Systematic Early Reading Instruction" is valuable knowledge for teachers and administrators. After attending this session, participants will confidently know the attributes of the most effective approaches to early reading instruction. Additionally, they will be able to evaluate whether the methods being used in their schools and classrooms qualify as most effective, based on current research. In this session, the speaker will describe exactly what Balanced Literacy and Explicit, Systematic Early Reading Instruction are, including how they differ, with examples from reading programs using each method. The session also includes a brief review of the research associated with each of the instructional methods.
 

Using the VB-MAPP to Guide a Language Intervention Program (Part 1)

Mark Sundberg, Ph.D., BCBA-D

The Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) is a criterion-referenced language, learning, and social skills assessment that is based on Skinner’s (1957) analysis of verbal behavior. The VB-MAPP is designed to build a child’s early verbal skills to fluency, with the goal of developing the prerequisite and component skills necessary for more advanced and independent (e.g., generative) language learning. During this workshop, the speaker will describe how the results from a child’s VB-MAPP assessment can be used to establish and guide an individualized language curriculum for a child with autism. Following a brief overview of the VB-MAPP, sample protocols will be used to identify immediate intervention priorities, as well as long-term IEP goals.

 

10:30 am – 11:30 am Concurrent Sessions

 

Creative Tools for Uncovering Gifts and Values (Part 2)

Denise Bissonnette

In this highly interactive two-part session, Ms. Bissonnette will present five of her most popular exercises for uncovering student gifts, assets, and work values. The materials presented may be used in small or large groups, or in one-on-one situations. Past participants of this session have found it both personally and professionally rewarding!
 

Cyberbullying, Social Media, and FAPE: A Legal Analysis

Erin D. Gilsbach, Esq.

Studies have shown that students with disabilities are more likely to be victims of bullying. They are also more likely to display bullying behaviors and may be less likely to fully understand the consequences of their online actions. In an increasingly online world, what does FAPE require with regard to instruction in the areas of online speech and social media? What do we need to be teaching our students with special needs? In this session, Atty. Erin D. Gilsbach, a nationally-recognized school law trainer, examines the issue of cyberbullying and students with special needs. Through an interactive and engaging framework of scenarios, research, and law, she sets forth both the legal requirements schools have with regard to this issue, as well as the practical educational and pedagogical solutions for students with special needs.
 

Moving from Good to Great: Harnessing the Power of Families to Support Learning

Jenni Brasington

The research is clear; family engagement positively impacts student achievement. However, all types of family engagement do not affect student learning. During this highly interactive session, participants will categorize their family engagement activities, identify which strategies have the most impact on student outcomes, and understand how to construct and implement initiatives that build the capacity of families to support learning at home.
 

A New, Phonics-Based Method for Teaching High Frequency Words

Linda Farrell

High frequency words are traditionally taught separately from phonics. They are introduced to students in the order of their frequency, or sometimes grouped by subject (colors, numbers, etc.) While this approach may work for many students, struggling readers often have difficulty reading and spelling high frequency words such as saw, was, where, were, etc. In this session participants learn to organize and teach the words in any high frequency list (Dolch, Fry, etc.) using a phonics-based instructional sequence, including techniques for teaching students to read and spell the 50 or so high frequency words that don’t fit into phonics instruction because of their irregular spellings. Teachers who have used this approach to teaching high frequency words say that all students, not just struggling readers, read and spell high frequency words with much higher accuracy than using the traditional approach.
 

No Matter Who Wins, Everyone Loses: Restoring Relationships After a Dispute (Part 2)

Candace Hawkins

Explore the promise restorative justice holds for restoring relationships during and after a dispute. In this session, Ms. Hawkins will identify basic restorative justice principles and processes that can be used across a continuum of practice to prevent disputes, intervene effectively in an active dispute, and use following a formal dispute resolution process, such as due process hearing, to restore relationships. She will work with participants to identify and apply restorative approaches that can be used to improve parent engagement and address parent and educator concerns in the moment and in the classroom.
 

STEM for All! Applying Inclusive STEM Engagement by Creating a Toolbox for Implementation

Jeff Remington

In this session, Mr. Remington will facilitate the exploration of tools and techniques that will help deliver STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) for all, wherever that may be. Participants will leave this session energized with resources and a plan to elevate the lives of “People of Determination.”
 

Using the VB-MAPP to Guide a Language Intervention Program (Part 2)

Mark Sundberg, Ph.D., BCBA-D

The Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) is a criterion-referenced language, learning, and social skills assessment that is based on Skinner’s (1957) analysis of verbal behavior. The VB-MAPP is designed to build a child’s early verbal skills to fluency, with the goal of developing the prerequisite and component skills necessary for more advanced and independent (e.g., generative) language learning. During this workshop, the speaker will describe how the results from a child’s VB-MAPP assessment can be used to establish and guide an individualized language curriculum for a child with autism. Following a brief overview of the VB-MAPP, sample protocols will be used to identify immediate intervention priorities, as well as long-term IEP goals.

 

12:45 pm – 1:45 pm Keynote Address
 

The Leadership Test: Six Questions that Transform People and Organizations

Drew Dudley

“How many of you are completely comfortable with calling yourself a leader?”

Leadership author and educator, Drew Dudley, has asked that question to thousands of audiences around the world, and in fewer than 1 percent of those audiences were the majority of people willing to call themselves leaders. That’s a problem, and this session will focus on how to solve it. In this engaging and empowering keynote, Mr. Dudley aims to demonstrate that there is a form of leadership to which we should all aspire: one that is driven by a daily commitment to acting on six key leadership values: impact, courage, growth, empowerment, class, and self-respect. Mr. Dudley will provide six simple questions that comprise “The Leadership Test,” and while the questions may be simple, the behavioral changes they generate build better careers, stronger organizations, and more fulfilling lives. A commitment to passing “The Leadership Test” turns those six values into more than just words, and changes how you treat yourself and the people around you. Sharing stories from small town Canada to the deserts of Qatar, and insights from leaders of all types—CEOs, elite athletes, cab drivers, custodians and everyone in between—this presentation will change the way participants think about leadership in their lives and workplaces.

 

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Concurrent Sessions

 

Cultivating the Spirit to Work: Inspiring Change

Denise Bissonnette

In this mind and heart-shifting workshop, Ms. Bissonnette will offer a unique and compelling model of the human spirit, focusing on practical ways to inspire change, even with those motivated by fear, low self-esteem, and/or lack of vision for their future. Participants will walk away with a new perspective on "motivation", and tools to put the concepts into practice in their classrooms or one-on-one counseling sessions.


Establishing Generative Language Learning for Children With Autism

Mark Sundberg, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Typically developing children demonstrate an explosion of language skills between the ages of 2 and 3. During that period, many aspects of a child’s verbal abilities expand rapidly, such as vocabulary size which may grow from 100 to 1000 words. Many children with autism struggle with or fail to make this linguistic leap. Dr. Sundberg will explain how a child’s inability to demonstrate generative learning could be the source of the problem. Generative verbal learning occurs when existing verbal skills enable the acquisition of other verbal skills, without direct teaching or reinforcement. Several types of generative learning will be described along with suggestions for assessment and intervention. For example, incidental (observational) learning requires a cluster of prerequisite and component skills, some of which may be missing or impaired for a child. Procedures for establishing these missing skills will be described, along with other methods to establish generative verbal learning for children with autism.
 

A Legal Look at the Confused, Complex, and Just Plain Confounding Reality of Today's SDIs

Erin D. Gilsbach, Esq.

Courts are starting to look critically at specific specially designed instruction (SDI), and schools should be afraid…The results are not encouraging. In this ultra-practical (and often humorous) session, nationally-recognized attorney and trainer Erin D. Gilsbach urges special educators and administrators to take a hard look at their students’ SDIs and make some meaningful changes. Through a review of common, real-life SDIs and recent caselaw, she provides an essential, critical appraisal of the problems with today’s SDIs. She also offers simple, meaningful solutions that can make a huge difference in legal defensibility and can be implemented immediately. Don’t miss this practical, lively session!
 

School Improvement: Conditions for Sustained Improvement

Karen Deery

With the passing of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), state and local education agencies have a more pronounced role and increased flexibility in making decisions about how to identify supports needed to build and sustain capacity for school improvement. A substantive evidence base that identifies explicit conditions and practices that are most critical for improved teaching and learning for all students guides Pennsylvania’s system for support and improvement under ESSA. In this session, participants will learn the conditions within which change and innovation can flourish and the practices that lead to successful outcomes for all students. Concrete examples of genuine implementation of high-leverage strategies and procedures will illustrate the cycle of improvement that serves as a foundation for rapid and sustained improvement.


Supporting Students with Mental Health Needs in Rural Pennsylvania

Eric Briggs, Ed.D.

This session will highlight how the Canton Area School District used Action Learning through the Pennsylvania Superintendents’ Academy to support students with complex mental health needs. In this session, Dr. Briggs will explain how increased non-instructional time creates high quality teacher leadership and ultimately increases student learning and academic performance for students with mental health needs. Participants will learn how non-teaching time is enhanced through a peer-to-peer observations model that supports teachers' continuous growth and advancement and develops a structure to support teacher collaboration. In addition, Dr. Briggs will share how a regional educational effort by seven school districts has developed into a professional learning network of teachers and administrators that are supporting each other through teacher learning leaders and other educational professionals.


Understanding Balanced Literacy and Systematic Literacy Instruction and Why It Matters

Linda Farrell

Understanding the difference between "Balanced Literacy" and "Explicit, Systematic Early Reading Instruction" is valuable knowledge for teachers and administrators. After attending this session, participants will confidently know the attributes of the most effective approaches to early reading instruction. In addition, they will be able to evaluate whether the methods being used in their schools and classrooms qualify as most effective, based on current research. The National Reading Panel's meta-analysis and a number of other research studies conclude that explicit, systematic phonics instruction yields the strongest results, especially for students with low socioeconomic status and  students with learning disabilities. This session describes exactly what Balanced Literacy and Explicit, Systematic Early Reading Instruction are, including how they differ, with examples from reading programs using each method.


Wednesday – March 13, 2019

 

9:00 am – 10:00 am Concurrent Sessions


Appreciative Leadership

Amy Armstrong, Ph.D.

Drawing upon the framework of Appreciative Leadership and positive organizational development, Dr. Armstrong will share how to increase organizational vitality and wellbeing, thereby increasing our own flourishing. Participants will become familiar with characteristics of engaged leadership and the models of positive psychology and appreciative inquiry.


Can Reading Science Improve Literacy Outcomes?

Mark Seidenberg, Ph.D.

Scientists have been studying reading for a long time in labs around the world. Much is known about learning to read, the bases of reading skill, the neural substrate for reading, and the causes of reading impairments, in many writing systems and languages. Much remains to be learned but there is a broad consensus about the main phenomena. Dr. Seidenberg questions: If the science is so good, why are there so many poor readers? Children’s progress toward literacy is affected by many factors including ones such as socioeconomic status that are not very malleable. Print literacy is also threatened by social media and other “literacy lite” screen-based activities. It’s more important than ever that educational practices be as effective as possible, especially for children who are at risk for poor outcomes. We could be doing better. Very little of the science of how reading works and how children learn has had an impact on educational practices. The longstanding disconnection between the cultures of science and education has been harmful, making it harder for children to succeed—and teachers, too. Dr. Seidenberg will discuss the benefits that bridging these cross-cultural gaps could yield—and also the formidable challenges to achieving them.


Effective Word-Problem Instruction for Students With Learning Difficulties

Sarah Powell, Ph.D.

In this session, Dr. Powell will initially focus on ineffective word-problem strategies (i.e., teaching the solving of word problems by identifying key words and linking key words to specific operations). Then, she will share two evidence-based word-problem strategies: (1) using an attack strategy to guide word-problem work and (2) using structures to identify the word-problem type and guide word-problem solution. By the end of the session, participants should be prepared to teach problem-solving skills in the K to 8 classroom.


How to Support Positive Racial and Cultural Identity Development in Secondary Classrooms

Chemay Morales-James

Racial and ethnic identity development has traditionally been left out of White, male dominated psychological texts, although, it has been widely studied by numerous psychologists of color. This session reveals the unspoken psychological phenomenon that many (not all) Black and Brown students are experiencing before, during, and after adolescence and the direct impact it has on their academic and behavioral outcomes. Teachers will leave this workshop with a better understanding of how racial and ethnic identity is developed and the significant role they play in either influencing or hindering its positive development.


Intelligent Lives: A Discussion With Award-Winning Filmmaker, Dan Habib

Dan Habib

Award-winning filmmaker, Dan Habib, will discuss his film, “Intelligent Lives,” a catalyst to transform the label of intellectual disability from a life sentence of isolation into a life of possibility for the most systematically segregated people in America. “Intelligent Lives” introduces viewers to three pioneering young adults with intellectual disabilities— Micah, Naomie, and Naieer—who challenge perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce. This feature-length documentary film explores how our society’s narrow views of intelligence have largely maintained the segregation of people with intellectual disabilities. The film also captures an emerging paradigm in which people like Micah, Naomie, and Naieer have accessed supports—including technology, peers, and the high expectations of family and educators—which allow them to successfully participate in a fuller life through general education classes; college; paid, integrated employment; relationships; and other aspects of community living. The film also includes historical narration and a personal perspective from Academy Award-winning actor, Chris Cooper. The film screening will take place Tuesday evening.


Intensive Interagency Resources and Reporting Requirements for Districts

Hillary Mangis, Ph.D.; Roni Russell; and Amy Smith

Intensive Interagency coordination is for students with disabilities whose local education agencies (LEA) determined that they cannot be appropriately educated in a public educational setting and who have waited more than 30 days for the provision of an appropriate educational placement. The Pennsylvania Department of Education, in cooperation with other child-serving agencies, developed the Intensive Interagency system to support LEAs across Pennsylvania. This system also helps with students who are at substantial risk of waiting more than 30 days for an appropriate educational placement. The speakers will provide an updated overview of Intensive Interagency services, including services available to, and responsibilities of, LEAs.


The Interconnected Systems Framework for Integrating Mental Health in MTSS

Lucille Eber, Ed.D.

In this session, Dr. Eber will describe how to integrate mental health and other community partners into multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) in schools, expanding the continuum of interventions and ensuring a single yet comprehensive system of behavioral health supports. She will share key features of the Interconnected Systems Framework, tools, and examples.


The Pennsylvania Career Ready Skills: Completing the Pathway to Employability

Pamela Emery, Ph.D.

The Pennsylvania Career Ready Skills (PA CRS) are those soft skills that employers seek in prospective employees. Until recently, there was no continuum of skills nor a means to systematically model and integrate them into teaching and daily school activities. In this session, Dr. Emery will share the continuum of career ready skills and their relationship to employment readiness. She will also provide activities to support integrating the skills into the classroom and the school environment.


Using Parent Knowledge in Teaching and Learning

Debbie Pushor, Ph.D.

Dr. Pushor will differentiate between the notions of parent engagement and parent involvement. While the terms are frequently used interchangeably in research literature, it is the use of parent knowledge that differentiates authentic and meaningful parent engagement from involvement. Drawing from her research on parent knowledge, Dr. Pushor will explore what parent knowledge is, how parents hold and use their knowledge, and how that knowledge can be used in schools, alongside teacher knowledge, to enrich teaching and learning opportunities, and to enhance educational outcomes for students.

 

10:30 am – 11:30 am Concurrent Sessions


ACTION! Effective Transition Practices Captured in Documentary Film

Dan Habib

Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Dan Habib, will screen and discuss several of his new short films, which capture effective practices in post-secondary transition around the country. The films focus on person-centered planning; self-determination strategies; collaboration between schools, vocational rehabilitation, community organizations, and post-secondary schools; family involvement; and, inclusive education.


Building Interventions for Students with Mental Health Challenges via a School-wide PBIS System

Lucille Eber, Ed.D.

In this session, Dr. Eber will provide descriptions and examples of individualized interventions for students with intensive mental health/behavior problems. She will explain how these interventions can be positioned within a school-wide system of PBIS. System features and tools to ensure effective interventions are implemented accurately and effectively will be shared.


Facilitating an Appreciative Culture in the Workplace

Amy Armstrong, Ph.D.

Based upon Appreciative Leadership and Positive Organizational Development, Dr. Armstrong will work with participants to further explore the development of positive climates and cultures within the workplace using appreciative practices. Facilitating an appreciative culture will enhance employee engagement and performance outcomes resulting in personal and organizational wellbeing.


Five Essential Components of Effective Mathematics Intervention

Sarah Powell, Ph.D.

In this session, Dr. Powell will focus on the five essential components of effective mathematics instruction: (1) using explicit instruction, (2) employing multiple representations, (3) emphasizing formal mathematical language, (4) practicing fluency daily, and (5) providing effective word-problem instruction. By the end of the session, participants should be prepared to design an effective mathematics intervention session.


How Spoken Language Experience Affects Learning to Read and Contributes to “Achievement Gaps”

Mark Seidenberg, Ph.D.

Children’s early spoken language experience has a huge impact on progress towards literacy. Variability in the amount and complexity of language used in the home is now the focus of important efforts to reduce gaps in vocabulary and other areas. However, we also need to look closely at linguistic differences between the language used in the home and in school. Children who speak a non-mainstream dialect of English (such as African-American English) have to accommodate the mainstream dialect used in school—in the books they are learning to read, for example. This additional linguistic demand does not arise for speakers of the mainstream (“standard”) dialect. Children are nonetheless given the same amount of time to reach achievement goals. Achievement gaps are hard to eliminate because they are due—in part—to these sociolinguistic circumstances. Like inequalities in educational opportunities, inequalities in educational demands place children at high risk for failure and need to be addressed. Dr. Seidenberg will discuss strategies for reducing this risk and open the floor to participants for discussion of these complex issues.


Parent Engagement: Moving from “Random Acts” to a Systematic Approach

Debbie Pushor, Ph.D.

A body of literature to support parent engagement in teaching and learning has emerged over the past five decades. Research studies link the various roles that parents play in a child’s education “with indicators of student achievement including student grades, achievement test scores, lower drop-out rates, students’ sense of personal competence and efficacy for learning, and students’ beliefs about the importance of education.” Regardless of this extensive research evidence and the promise it holds for improved student outcomes, there continue to be only “random acts of parent engagement” occurring in schools across the globe. Why has the research on parent engagement not been acted upon by educators? Why has the systematic engagement of parents not become an integral aspect of all schools? These questions will be the central focus of Dr. Pushor’s address.


Walking the Walk: Utilizing Social Emotional Learning Skills in Today's Environment

Pamela Emery, Ph.D.

This session will focus on the how-to's of create a social emotional learning-friendly school community. Dr. Emery will explain the basic elements needed to create a social emotional learning-friendly school community, identify ways to measure a school's specific needs for social emotional learning, and share strategies to include all school stakeholders in the social emotional learning planning and implementation process for their school community.


What Does It Mean to be Culturally Responsive in Secondary Classrooms? 

Chemay Morales-James

In this session, participants will explore what it means to be a culturally responsive educator by examining how this applies in everyday classroom management practices. Educators will engage in reflective exercises that will force them to look at how micro-aggressions and sub-conscious biases impact how students choose to engage in their classroom. Participants will walk away with several resources curated on the My Reflection Matters website, including a free printable of Chemay's "You Matter" cards, a culturally responsive classroom management tool they can take back to their classrooms.

 

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Closing Keynote Address


Mr. Connolly Has ALS

Dan Habib

At Concord High School’s 2015 homecoming parade, documentary filmmaker Dan Habib watched his son Samuel (a sophomore at Concord High) have a conversation with Principal Gene Connolly. But neither spoke. Samuel and Gene used hand gestures and communication devices to interact—Samuel because of his cerebral palsy, and Connolly because ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease) had taken away his ability to speak. “Mr. Connolly Has ALS” chronicles Connolly’s final year as principal of the school and features CHS students—including Habib’s son, Samuel—asking Connolly about the most profound and personal aspects relating to his life with the disease, and what it feels like to become disabled after previously leading the school for 14 years with non-stop energy and personal connections made with many of the school’s 1,600 students. In this thought-provoking keynote address, award-winning documentary filmmaker Dan Habib will screen and discuss the film.