pre conference workshops

Friday, November 10
8:15 AM – 12:15 PM

Cost per person: $189.
By advance registration only. Select one of six.
Add $25 fee if you are not attending the conference.


1. The Practical Science of Teenage Attention in the Distracting Age of Snapchat and Instagram (Grades 6-12)

Recent research in neuroscience and psychology offers surprising insights into our students' attentional systems. Once teachers understand how attention truly functions in the brain, we can work more effectively with the underlying neural systems that help teenage students focus and learn. The workshop begins with Posner’s Tripartite Theory of Attention, and explores alertness—the first mental process essential for all student attention. We then look at our students’ capacity for orienting and for executive attention. By understanding these cognitive capabilities—and, in particular, by recognizing the effect that technology has on all of them—teachers can create that rarest of educational experiences: a digital classroom full of highly focused students.

Andrew C. Watson, EdM, MA, President, Translate the Brain; Graduate of the Mind, Brain & Education Program at Harvard Graduate School of Education; Advisor, The People’s Science; Editor, Learning & the Brain Blog; Author, Learning Begins: The Science of Working Memory and Attention for the Classroom Teacher (2017)


2. Build, Tinker, Hack: Fostering Agency Through Maker-Centered Learning (Grades K-12)

Educational initiatives that emphasize making, engineering, and tinkering are becoming increasingly popular in K-12 education. Makerspaces, fab labs, and design classes are bringing with them exciting new tools, technologies, and curricula. But what is truly worthwhile about maker-centered learning? What are the most salient benefits of these maker-centered experiences? This interactive workshop will present a series of hands-on activities aimed at exploring these questions and considering how pedagogical practice and the development of thinking dispositions can support the core principles of maker-centered learning. It will highlight key aspects of the framework for maker-centered learning developed by the Agency by Design research project at Project Zero and participants will consider what it means to foster student agency and develop a sensitivity to the designed dimensions of their worlds by looking closely, exploring complexity, and finding opportunity. In addition to gaining a familiarity with the Agency by Design framework for maker-centered learning and its associated educator resources, you will also have an opportunity to make connections between these new concepts and their home teaching and learning environments.

Edward P. Clapp, EdD, Senior Research Manager, Agency by Design Research Initiative, Project Zero; Research Associate and Lecturer on Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Co-Author, Maker-Centered Learning: Empowering Young People to Shape Their Worlds (2016)


3. Active Literacy (Grades K-12)

Active Literacy Across the Curriculum: Connecting Print, Digital, Media, and Global Literacies

Cultivating innovative and thoughtful learners requires the development of the three new 21st century literacies: digital, media, and global. Dr. Jacobs will dive into exciting design options to integrate active literacy into curriculum planning, assessment design and teaching approaches for primary, secondary, and tertiary learners. She will engage us in examining these questions: How can we engage our students developmentally into employing digital learning? How do we help our students critique and create quality media? How can we cultivate globally connected learners by opening the portals to our classroom? A critical focus will be on methods for replacing dated content with contemporary issues, problems, and topics at ALL levels of instruction.

Heidi Hayes Jacobs, EdD, Creator, Curriculum21; Founder and President, Curriculum Designers, Inc.; Author, Active Literacy Across the Curriculum: Connecting Print Literacy with Digital, Media, and Global Competence, K-12 (2017) and Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World (updated 2014)


4. Teaching and Hacking Project-Based Learning (Grades K-12)

Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy are passionate about creating learner-centered classrooms and schools. During this interactive workshop, they will share their turnkey framework for implementing project-based learning. The pair's approach to PBL focuses on a series of high leverage practices designed to supercharge your PBL experience. Each practice implemented in isolation can make an impact on instruction, but together they help streamline PBL process. So whether you are a PBL novice or PBL veteran, you will leave this session with resources and ideas to fine-tune your craft.

Ross Cooper, EdD, Supervisor of Instructional Practice K-12, Salisbury Township School District, PA; Apple Distinguished Educator and Google Certified Innovator; Co-Author, Hacking Project Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom (2016) and Erin Murphy, EdD, Assistant Principal, Eyer Middle School in the East Penn School District, PA; Certified Literacy Specialist who also coordinates the middle level ELA department; Co-Author, Hacking Project Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom (2016)


5. From Snorkelers to Scuba Divers: Engaging Brains in Deeper Thinking in STEM (Grades PreK-College) - CANCELED

Is this going to be on the test? Why do we have to know this? Is this for a grade? Can you tell me what I need to do to get this right? When we create an environment that fosters and nurtures Visible Learners, questions like these evaporate from our schools and classrooms and our students deep dive into learning. Over the past fifteen years, the science of learning has provided many insights into how we think. Furthermore, these promising principles provide a starting point for us to build the capacity in learners to see themselves as their own teachers. This workshop shows you how! Dr. Almarode will discuss the latest research on student engagement, student thinking, and how to design classrooms that promote deep thinking and understanding. You will experience targeted and specific strategies for grabbing and maintaining student engagement at all three levels (behavioral, emotional, and cognitive) while at the same time finding the right level of rigor, striking the ideal balance between surface and deep learning, and identifying the perfect level of challenge for each student.

John T. Almarode, PhD, Co-Director, Center for STEM Education and Outreach; Associate Professor in the Department of Early, Elementary, and Reading Education, James Madison University; Co-Editor, Teacher Educator’s Journal; Co-Author, From Snorkelers to Scuba Divers: Making the Elementary Science Classroom a Place of Engagement and Deep Learning (2017), Visible Learning for Science (2017), and Captivate, Activate, and Invigorate the Student Brain in Science and Math, Grades 6 – 12 (2013)


6. Applying the Science of Learning (Grades K-College)

Part I: The Learning Sciences

Explore the findings from the neurosciences on how students learn, ways to improve memory and effective strategies for teaching and learning. Neuroscientist John Gabrieli will discuss the latest discoveries in the learning sciences, ways that brain scans may help predict learning future learning problems, and efforts by the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative to integrate learning science, psychology, technology and other fields to improve learning and teaching.

John D.E. Gabrieli, PhD, Director, MIT Integrated Learning Initiative; Grover Hermann Professor in Health Sciences and Technology; Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences; Co-Director, Clinical Research Center; Associate Director, Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Part II: The Science of Learning: Strategies for Effective Teaching and Learning

Researchers studying cognitive processes have identified a number of ways to improve meaningful learning in the classroom. Specifically, over the last century, 6 key principles of learning have emerged that have a great deal of evidence to back them up. In this workshop, you will learn about these 6 key strategies and how they can be applied to your teaching and learning. We will also spend time brainstorming challenges, solutions to those challenges, and ways to implement the strategies in your own teaching and learning.

Megan A. (Smith) Sumeracki, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Rhode Island College; Co-Founder, The Learning Scientists; Co-Author, "Four Simple Strategies from Cognitive Psychology for the Classroom" (2017, Excellence in Teaching), "How Psychological Science Can Improve Our Classrooms" (2015, Translational Issues in Psychological Science), and "Retrieval-Based Learning: The Need to Guide Retrieval in Elementary Children" (2014, Applied Research in Memory & Cognition)

Group Facilitator: Maya Bialik, EdM, Researcher, Center for Curriculum Redesign; Co-Founder/Program Director, The People's Science; Former Research Assistant, Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education