Annual Conference for Middle Level Education

Philadelphia, PA • November 6–8, 2017

Thought Leader Sessions

These engaging and entertaining sessions feature acclaimed middle grades experts, speaking about topics vital to middle level education. Get the latest research-based strategies and tools while igniting your passion for teaching, leading, and learning. *Sessions are subject to change.

Robert Balfanz is a principal research scientist at the Center for Social Organization of Schools, Johns Hopkins University, and a Fellow for the George W. Bush Institute's Middle School Matters program. He is the co-director of the Talent Development Secondary Project, which is currently working with over 100 high poverty secondary schools to develop, implement and evaluate comprehensive school transformation and turnaround. His work focuses on translating research findings into effective reforms for high poverty secondary schools. He has published widely on secondary school reform, high school dropouts, middle grade on-track indicators, chronic absenteeism and instructional interventions in high poverty middle and high schools. Recent works include Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenges in Ending the Dropout Crisis. He is the Director of the Everyone Graduates Center launched in February 2009 which engages in analytic, tool and model development, and capacity building efforts aimed at ending the nation's graduation rate crisis. Dr. Balfanz is also the Co-Operator of the Baltimore Talent Development High School, a Baltimore City Public School System Innovation High School and Director of the Talent Development/Diplomas Now US Department of Education Investing in Innovations (I3) validation grant project. Dr. Balfanz is the first recipient of the Alliance For Excellent Education's Everyone a Graduate Award.

Building an Early Warning System in the Middle Grades
For too long, educators have lacked important data on key signs of early challenges for students. As a result, necessary student supports are not provided efficiently, misallocating educators' efforts and precious education dollars. Early Warning Systems (EWS) can change this. Participants will learn the basics of building an EWS to identify students in need of intervention, overall trends, patterns, appropriate responses, and building a framework for high achievement.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Research evidence for student engagement.
  • Identification of the core ideas of Early Warning Systems (EWS).
  • On- and off-track indicators of student engagement.
  • Initial steps for building an EWS.
  • How to form an EWS Team and conduct data meetings.

Early Warning Systems (EWS): Moving from Identification to Intervention
The warning signs of dropout are apparent well before students actually leave school, as early as the elementary or initial middle grades. Most students at risk of falling off track could graduate if they were provided with appropriate and sustained supports early enough. In this session, participants will extend their knowledge of EWS and focus on developing an intervention framework that targets student attendance, behavior, and course performance and monitors the effectiveness of these interventions.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • The core ideas of an Early Warning System.
  • Understanding how a multi-tiered system of support relates to intervening with at-risk students as identified by the EWS.
  • Sample interventions and new solutions to increase student attendance, behavior, and course performance.
  • Learning how to allocate interventions and other supports efficiently.
  • Learning how to review the progress and impact of interventions (i.e., measure effectiveness).

A nationally-recognized presenter, author, and humorist, Jack Berckemeyer began his career as a middle school teacher in Denver, Colorado. After two years of teaching, he was named as an outstanding educator at his school, and shortly thereafter he was identified as one of the outstanding educators in the district. In 2003, he received the Outstanding Alumni Award from Falcon School District. Jack brings his energy, humor, and expertise about young adolescents to all staff development opportunities as he helps teachers and administrators remember why their jobs make a difference. Jack was also the assistant executive director for National Middle School Association for 13 years and is the author of Managing the Madness: A Practical Guide to Middle Grades Classrooms and Taming of the Team: How Great Teams Work Together. He is also co-author of H.E.L.P. for Teachers.

Deliberate Optimism - Reclaiming the Joy in Education *Co-presenting with Debbie Silver
Based on their book, Deliberate Optimism: Reclaiming the Joy in Education, veteran middle level educators Dr. Debbie Silver and Jack Berckemeyer offer a session about how teachers and school leaders can rekindle their individual and collective enthusiasm for a profession that has been progressively inundated with negativity. Join these teachers for a fact-based, positive approach to "taking back our profession." Be prepared to learn, to laugh, and to leave with a renewed sense of purpose.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • The ability to differentiate between things they can and cannot control as teachers
  • Positive steps to improve their working environments
  • Learning how to work with peers who have differing learning styles
  • New techniques to confront colleagues who are not working in the best interest of students

Teaching Strategies that Motivate Young Adolescents
Looking for fun and motivating ideas for your middle level classroom? This is a hands-on session that provides real, quality strategies in the areas of reading, writing, spelling, grammar, listening, and speaking skills. No philosophy here, just creative ideas to motivate the middle level learner. This is a great session for new teachers and experienced teachers. Be ready to dance, laugh, and move!

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Real examples that motivate young adolescents
  • Hands-on activities that get your students up and moving

Managing the Madness
Are you looking for ideas to help deal with classroom disruptions? Are you tired of constant interruptions? This session will provide some practical ideas that you can use to help with classroom behavioral issues. Find out how your room structure can make a difference, discover ways to deal with power play issues, and explore strategies that relate to attention and humor. This session is based on the book Managing the Madness: A Practical Guide to Middle Level Education. The presenter provides ideas in a humorous and motivating manner that is perfect for all educators.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Real life examples
  • Up-to-date research
  • Practical ideas
  • Humorous and engaging presentation

How Electives Classes Can Increase Achievement
The battle between core and elective teachers has existed for decades. Elective teachers have felt out of the loop and under-appreciated. Come discover how electives can help overall school achievement. You will also learn about changing the term from electives to essentials. A true must-attend for any essentials teacher or administrator.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Real life examples
  • Up-to-date research
  • Practical ideas
  • Humorous and engaging presentation

Taming of the Team
Being on a middle school team can be filled with great joys, struggles, and frustrations. This practical session focuses on the real life issues surrounding teaming. The presenter will provide informative examples to help with effective use of team time and how teams can work together to deal with kids, curriculum, and professional development. You might even laugh at Jack's descriptions of the characteristics of a team member. Based on the book Taming of the Team.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • The importance of effective teaming.
  • How teams handle discipline and curriculum.
  • Team structures.

Join New York Times best-selling author Dave Burgess for a high-energy, entertaining, and inspirational program that will transform the way you look at your role as an educator. Learn how to dramatically increase student engagement, design wildly creative lessons, and build a course that is a life-changing experience for your students. Using a unique combination of magic and humor, he will reignite your passion for the education profession and show you exactly how to make school an amazing place that has students wanting to knock down the walls to get in. Teach Like a PIRATE has sparked a full-scale revolution in the educational world and has inspired teachers from all over the globe to achieve new levels of excellence in their schools and classrooms. This program is your chance to experience the one-of-a-kind presentational style of unbelievable intensity and outrageous energy that has transfixed audiences at packed venues across the nation.

Teach Like a PIRATE
Join New York Times best-selling author Dave Burgess for a high-energy, entertaining, and inspirational program that will transform the way you look at your role as an educator. Learn how to dramatically increase student engagement, design wildly creative lessons, and build a course that is a life-changing experience for your students. Using a unique combination of magic and humor, he will reignite your passion for the education profession and show you exactly how to make school an amazing place that has students wanting to knock down the walls to get in. Teach Like a PIRATE has sparked a full-scale revolution in the educational world and has inspired teachers from all over the globe to achieve new levels of excellence in their schools and classrooms. This program is your chance to experience the one-of-a-kind presentational style of unbelievable intensity and outrageous energy that has transfixed audiences at packed venues across the nation.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Increased passion for the profession
  • Increased student engagement
  • Ability to create powerful hooks
  • Learning to design life-changing experiences for students

Teaching Outside the Box: A Crash Course in Creativity
A fast-paced and fun session designed to teach techniques that will skyrocket creativity. You will learn how to help students use their brains like Google, create a GPS system for powerful teaching, and magically create new ideas through Creative Alchemy. In addition, learn how to overcome obstacles that stifle creativity by using the Wedding Photographer Principle. You'll leave truly believing you are a creative being and inspired to add memorable experiences for students to your lesson plans.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Learning cutting-edge techniques to boost creativity
  • Creating a GPS system for powerful teaching
  • Breaking down myths about creativity
  • Learning to become more prolific as a creator

Building on the lessons learned and techniques developed as a middle level social studies teacher since 1991, Kim is a self-proclaimed proud middle school teacher, keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, and consultant for the Association for Middle Level Education, Staff Development for Educators, and the Jack Berckemeyer Consulting Group. In addition to her classroom role, Kim is a Positive Behavior Intervention Specialist (PBIS) coordinator and member of her school's Equity Team. Kim is also the founder and coordinator of Students on Academic Rise (S.O.A.R.), a highly successful afterschool enrichment program developed to address the achievement gap. Among her honors are 2004 semi-finalist for Minnesota Teacher of the Year, 2009 Fox one of nine "Top Teachers" of the year, and the 2012 Coleen Yatckoske Minnesota Middle Level Educator of the Year. Kim is the co-author of SOAR: A Handbook for Closing the Achievement Gap and author of If You Can't Manage Them, You Can't Teach Them. Kim travels regularly throughout North America as a featured speaker sharing her insights and humor with educators and professional development groups. Kim's presentations are filled with straight talk, practical techniques, and can-do strategies that educators can apply immediately to achieve a vibrant and respectful classroom environment. Effective teaching starts with relationships; Kim shows participants how to develop relationships and go from good to great teaching in her vibrant, heartfelt, and, at times, devastatingly funny presentations. You might even leave humming a tune.

Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Motivating the Middle School Student
Looking for a little "spice" to fire up your students? Want quick, easy activities to engage your class? If so, join me and learn hands-on activities and strategies designed to motivate the middle school student. Activities will be presented that are used in a geography class but can easily be adapted to any subject matter.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Practical strategies to engage kids that can be used the next day.
  • Hands-on activities.
  • Brain boosters.
  • Review games.
  • Vocabulary games.

Engaging Boy s... Yes, It is Possible
Seventy-one percent of discipline referrals in public schools are boys. Join me as we discuss brain development of boys, strategies to engage boys, and ways to motivate boys to be successful in your classroom. Participants will leave with hands-on activities that work with boys…and the girls love them too!

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Practical strategies to engage and motivate middle school boys.
  • Brain research on boys.
  • Practical ways to engage boys.

If You Can't Manage Them, You Can't Teach Them
Having the ability to manage kids is a must in creating a classroom where all students have an opportunity to learn. Please join me as we discuss practical techniques to implement in your classroom to help create a positive learning climate.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Practical strategies to manage middle school students.
  • Various management styles.
  • Strategies to build relationships.
  • Strategies for transitions.

Grace Dearborn taught elementary, middle, and high school for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to being a veteran classroom teacher, Grace has worked as a mentor teacher, literacy coach, curriculum advisor, and PD coordinator. Grace's expertise in classroom discipline, student engagement, and literacy intervention, coupled with her engaging presentation style, has allowed her to travel the country since 2009, training teachers in schools and districts both large and small.

Conscious Classroom Management: Creating the Learning Environment You've Always Wanted
Almost nobody goes into teaching to teach behavior, but as classroom teachers much of our job can end up being behavior management related. In this lively, interactive session participants will walk away with dozens of practical, eye-opening strategies teachers can use for managing students effectively, focusing on both prevention and intervention. Discover key ways that teachers can reduce arguing, off-task time, and misbehavior, and increase structure, consistency and calm. Leave with the tools you need to create the learning environment you've always wanted.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Five non-verbal strategies for creating efficient classroom transitions
  • Four ways to de-escalate tension and reduce arguing and off-task time
  • Two assumptions that allow teachers to skillfully manage their classrooms
  • One proven method for connecting with tough students

Participate, Participate, Participate! Strategies for Increasing Student Attention and Participation
How do we work effectively with students who struggle to pay attention and who rarely participate? This fun and interactive session will provide teachers with practical, take-away strategies that will help get their least focused learners motivated and involved without creating confrontations. Learn ways to get and maintain student attention. Walk away with simple yet innovative techniques for putting kids "on the hook" for participating without potentially humiliating them. Make the 21st century skills of communication, collaboration, and comprehension come alive, and have fun doing it.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Eight participation strategies that work with reluctant learners
  • Three ideas for getting and keeping students' attention
  • Two brain-based concepts that will increase students' academic success

50 Ways to Leave Your Lecture: Active Engagement Strategies that Motivate Reluctant Learners
Standard teaching models don't always work with reluctant learners. So how do we engage our students who seem to have the hardest time paying attention and getting work done? Recent research on the brain reveals some of the reasons why students struggle and offers myriad possible solutions to those struggles. This lively, fun, and interactive session will provide participants with "brain-based" take-away strategies that will help get their most reluctant learners motivated and involved without cornering or confrontation. Walk away with strategies you can literally try tomorrow to break up direct instruction, increase student participation, and deepen student understanding of content.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Current brain research that can inform our instructional decisions
  • Ten brain-compatible strategies for active engagement
  • Five techniques for delivering instruction and helping students retain more

After 30 years as a teacher, staff development instructor, and university professor, Debbie Silver doesn't just know her way around the classroom—she is familiar with the challenges educators face at every level from kindergarten to college. A former Louisiana State Teacher of the Year, Silver has given presentations around the world (including 49 states, Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia), helping audiences interact with students on a more meaningful level. Debbie is author of the best-selling books, Drumming to the Beat of Different Marchers: Finding the Rhythm for Differentiated Learning, and Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8: Teaching Kids to Succeed . Her newest release, Deliberate Optimism: Reclaiming the Joy in Education, offers research-based strategies, practical examples, and thought-provoking scenarios to help recharge educators and schools. With a healthy dose of humor to make it fun, Deliberate Optimism demonstrates the actual difference a change in attitude can make. Debbie Silver's mission is to remind educators of how important they are in the lives of children, highlighting both learning theory and tools for communication. She makes important points while sharing poignant stories and lots of laughs. She firmly believes that teachers need to have fun and stay in touch with their passion to make their biggest impact in the classroom. When she's not working as an educational speaker and writer, Debbie enjoys spending time in Texas with her husband and five sons and their families who live in five different states.

Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8: Re-examining Growth Mindsets
Dr. Debbie Silver has researched, written, and presented extensively on the topic of student motivation. She will address some of the misconceptions emerging from the growing popularity of the term "growth mindsets" and the importance of effort and failure in a learner's journey. Through audience interaction, role playing, and more, Debbie will clarify important concepts in utilizing growth mindsets to give every middle level learner a reasonable chance at success.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Research on factors affecting student motivation
  • Learning the concepts of autonomy, attribution theory, and "mindset" and how they affect student effort
  • Discussing common misconceptions about growth mindset and clarify their implications for middle level learning
  • Learning specific practices adults can use to help students gain self-efficacy and ensure that every learner has a reasonable chance at success

Putting the "E" in STEAM: Why Engineering Matters in Middle School (part 1) *Co-presenting with Cathi Cox-Boniol
Two award-winning middle level science teachers lead participants through a series of engineering tasks designed to demonstrate how to foster team building, collaboration, critical thinking, project design, and other important aspects of effective STEAM/STEM lessons. In part 1 of this two-session presentation, participants will have a chance to work in small groups to practice team building, "silent brainstorming," and creating a working model. Loads of resources are included in this fun, active, informative session.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Understanding the importance of including engineering in the middle school curriculum
  • Being able to utilize strategies for implementing the engineering aspect of project design
  • Learning several strategies for building collaboration among students in order to accomplish STEAM goals
  • Appreciating the importance of using STEAM journals in fostering student involvement and reflection

Putting the "E" in STEAM: Why Engineering Matters in Middle School (part 2) *Co-presenting with Cathi Cox-Boniol
Two award-winning middle level science teachers continue to lead participants through a series of engineering tasks designed to demonstrate how to foster team building, collaboration, critical thinking, project design, and other important aspects of effective STEAM/STEM lessons. In part 2 of this two-session presentation, participants will have a chance to work in small groups to practice more team building, another "silent brainstorming," and revising prototypes. Loads of resources are included in this fun, active, informative session.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Understanding the importance of including engineering in the middle school curriculum
  • Being able to utilize strategies for implementing the engineering aspect of project design
  • Learning several strategies for building collaboration among students in order to accomplish STEAM goals
  • Appreciating the importance of using STEAM journals in fostering student involvement and reflection

Deliberate Optimism - Reclaiming the Joy in Education *Co-presenting with Jack Berckemeyer
Based on their book, Deliberate Optimism: Reclaiming the Joy in Education, veteran middle level educators Dr. Debbie Silver and Jack Berckemeyer offer a session about how teachers and school leaders can rekindle their individual and collective enthusiasm for a profession that has been progressively inundated with negativity. Join these teachers for a fact-based, positive approach to "taking back our profession." Be prepared to learn, to laugh, and to leave with a renewed sense of purpose.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • The ability to differentiate between things they can and cannot control as teachers
  • Positive steps to improve their working environments
  • Learning how to work with peers who have differing learning styles
  • New techniques to confront colleagues who are not working in the best interest of students

Thrive For Success — It's More Than Just The Test! *Co-Presenting with Dedra Stafford
Helping learners become productive, successful citizens involves more than teaching to the test. Academics must be supplemented with supporting skills for getting along with others, managing one's emotions, and basic good manners. Helping learners become productive, successful citizens involves more than teaching to the test. Academics must be supplemented with supporting skills for getting along with others, managing one's emotions, and basic good manners. Come participate in team building activities designed to enhance interpersonal communication skills (collaboration, cooperation, empathy, and gratitude). Additional activities will be presented for helping students develop their intrapersonal skills (self-regulation, self-efficacy, perseverance, resilience, integrity, and responsibility).

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Understanding the importance of helping middle level learners build EQ skills
  • Being able to utilize strategies for developing interpersonal communication skills among students
  • Learning several strategies for building intrapersonal skills in students

Marcia L. Tate, EdD, is the former executive director of professional development for the DeKalb County Schools, Decatur, Georgia. During her 30-year career with the district she has been a classroom teacher, reading specialist, language arts coordinator, and staff development director. She is currently an educational consultant and has taught more than 400,000 administrators, teachers, parents, and business and community leaders throughout the world and has authored seven best-sellers. She received her bachelor's degree at Spelman College, master's degree at University of Michigan, specialist degree in educational leadership at Georgia State University, and doctorate in education at Clark Atlanta University.

20 Instructional Strategies That Engage the Brain
"If students don't learn the way we teach them, then we must teach them the way they learn." Experience 20 brain-compatible strategies that maximize understanding and memory. Use music, metaphor and movement to increase academic achievement for all students. Explore research that shows why these strategies are preferable to others. Ensure that brains retain key concepts, not only for tests, but for life!

Participants will leave this session with:

  • The knowledge and desire to create a brain-compatible learning environment for all students.
  • Understanding how the brain acquires and retains information.
  • Learning 20 brain-compatible strategies for delivering content.
  • Implementing 5 characteristics of a brain-compatible classroom.
  • Exploring the 5 questions of a brain-compatible lesson plan.

Shouting Won't Grow Dendrites: 20 Techniques to Detour Around the Danger Zones
Reactive teachers wait until students misbehave and then decide how they will deal with them. Proactive teachers use techniques that detour students around the dangers of misbehavior. Therefore, many behavior problems never surface in the first place.  Experience this highly engaging and practical session and learn five techniques for detouring students around the danger zones.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Techniques that will make them a proactive (not a reactive) classroom manager who never has to raise their voices.
  • Developing a relationship with each student.
  • Creating a brain-compatible environment conducive to learning.
  • Using 20 engaging strategies to deliver instruction.
  • Developing a management plan conducive to learning.
  • Dealing proactively with chronic behavior disorders.

Formative Assessment in a Brain-Compatible Classroom: How Do We Really Know They're Learning?
If you wait until you have planned your lesson to decide how you will assess it, you have actually waited too late! Once you have decided what you want students to know and be able to do, the second question becomes, how will I know when they have mastered the essential learning? Leave this session with products and performances for assessing student learning.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Teaching strategies and types of assessment that demonstrate that all students are learning.
  • Understanding the correlation between assessment results and student self-esteem.
  • Articulating the rationale for both traditional and authentic types of assessment.
  • Creating a list of products and performances for assessing student learning.
  • Utilizing a rubric for assessing authentic student work.
  • Incorporating four ways students can knock the top off of any test.

Mathematics Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites: 20 Numeracy Strategies That Engage the Brain
M-A-T-H is known to be the shortened form of the word mathematics. Did you also know that it is a mnemonic device that stands for Math Ain't That Hard? This acrostic rings true when brain-compatible strategies are used. Experience how easy math can be when sung, role-played, drawn, visualized, danced, or told in a meaningful story. This workshop is highly engaging and tons of fun.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Multiple brain-based strategies for helping students understand and enjoy math.
  • Compare/contrast mathematics instruction in Singapore with that in the U. S.
  • Exploring the brain research as to how students acquire math.
  • Experiencing how easy math can be when sung, role-played, drawn, visualized, danced, or told in a meaningful story.
  • Perusing a lesson plan for delivering a brain-compatible math lesson.

Rosalind Wiseman has had only one job since graduating from college—to help communities shift the way we think about children and teens' emotional and physical wellbeing. As a teacher, thought leader, author, and media spokesperson on bullying, ethical leadership, the use of social media, and media literacy, she is in constant dialogue and collaboration with educators, parents, children, and teens.

Most famously Rosalind is the author of Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World—the groundbreaking, bestselling book that was the basis for the movie Mean Girls. The fully revised third edition was published in August 2016.

Rosalind's other publications include Masterminds & Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World, which was awarded Best Parenting Book by Books for a Better Life in 2014.

In addition, she wrote a free companion e-book for high school boys, The Guide: Managing Jerks, Recruiting Wingmen, and Attracting Who You Want. She is the author of the Owning Up Curriculum, a comprehensive social emotional learning program for grades 6-9 that will be re-launched in partnership with the Association for Middle Level Education in October of 2016. She is also a regular curriculum contributor to the Anti-Defamation League.

From teaching in the classroom to large keynote presentations, each year Rosalind works with tens of thousands of students, educators, parents, counselors, coaches, and administrators to create communities based on the belief that each person has a responsibility to treat themselves and others with dignity. Rosalind has presented at the White House, American School Counselors Association, South By Southwest, the Game Developers Conference, the International Boys' Schools Coalition, the American Association of School Administrators, and countless schools throughout the US and abroad. She was a consultant for Cartoon Network's Speak Up, Stop Bullying Campaign, and is an advisor to the US Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.

National media regularly depends on Rosalind as the expert on ethical leadership, media literacy, and bullying prevention. She has been a consultant for Cartoon Network's Speak Up, Stop Bullying campaign and has been profiled in The New York Times, People, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and USA Today. Wiseman is a frequent guest on national media like The Today Show, CNN, and NPR affiliates throughout the country.

A native of Washington DC, she currently lives in Colorado with her husband and two sons.

Owning Up: Creating Cultures of Dignity in Your School and Classroom *Co-Presenting with Charlie Kuhn
Looking for a new SEL program or want to strengthen an existing advisory/homeroom curriculum? Join Rosalind Wiseman and Charlie Kuhn for an interactive presentation that will show you how to implement key components of the revamped Owning Up for Middle Schoolers. Owning Up is a dynamic curriculum that can be taught in single or mixed gender classes that gives concrete strategies to empower your students to be socially competent and treat themselves and others with dignity.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Understanding a dynamic framework to approach social conflict in middle school
  • An overview of curriculum for possible implementation in your school
  • Learning the link between social and academic competencies
  • Connections between homophobia, racism, and sexism in an appropriate middle school setting

Queen Bees & Masterminds: Social Dynamics In & Out of Your Classroom
What does your student's selfie pose tell you about them? How can we enable students to solve social conflicts on their own but also know when to seek help? Rosalind tracks the new landscape of students, from technology to earlier puberty on common social dynamics in and out of the classroom. She will highlight the most important strategies in her research and collaboration with middle school students from her books Masterminds & Wingmen and the newly published 3rd edition of Queen Bees & Wannabes.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Identifying key social dynamics that impact the classroom
  • Recognizing the interplay between social media and real lives
  • Understanding the provocative target
  • Examining the impact of gossiping and reputations on academic risk-taking

Middle Level Leadership – Overcoming Obstacles and Culture Changing Initiatives
As an administrator or educator, do you struggle to get buy in from your colleagues or students for SEL or "culture changing" initiatives? Don't have a program like this but want to have one? Implementing any kind of program like this has predictable challenges: If enough adults in your school building don't buy into the program then it's easy for students to not buy in as well. These challenges can feel insurmountable but they can be addressed effectively. Come to this workshop to find out how.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Specific language that helps or hurts your cause
  • Concrete strategies to build faculty support
  • Learning links between academic and social competencies
  • Skills to work with student leadership groups

One of the first Nationally Board Certified teachers in America, Rick brings innovation, energy, validity, and high standards to both his presentations and his instructional practice, which includes almost 30 years teaching math, science, English, physical education, health, and history, and coaching teachers. A celebrated writer and thinker, Rick is a columnist for AMLE Magazine, and author of many award-winning and best-selling books, including Meet Me in the Middle: Becoming an Accomplished Middle Level Teacher; Day One and Beyond; Fair Isn't Always Equal: Assessment and Grading in the Differentiated Classroom; Differentiation: From Planning to Practice, Grades 6-12; and Metaphors & Analogies: Power Tools for Teaching any Subject. His latest book, published by AMLE is The Collected Writings (so far) of Rick Wormeli. He is a seasoned veteran of many international webcasts, and he is Disney's American Teacher Awards 1996 Outstanding English Teacher of the Nation. He won the 2008 James P. Garvin award from the New England League of Middle Schools for Teaching Excellence, Service, and Leadership, and he has been a consultant for National Public Radio, USA Today, Court TV, and the Smithsonian Institution's Natural Partners Program.

21st Century Homework Success: Principles, Practicalities, and Products
Dealing with homework is a big stress for students, teachers, and parents. What's ethical and doable, and what gets in the way of student success? Boost your students' homework completion rate with these highly motivating, easily applicable homework practices for the modern classroom. Yes, you can assign complex homework, get it returned with thoughtful responses, and have a life outside of school! We'll look at when to give homework and when not to give it, as well how to assess it, how to motivate students to do it, how to design developmentally appropriate assignments for diverse students, how much homework to assign, and much more. Join us for research-based and insightful ideas from a 36–year classroom veteran that generate inspired efforts by your students.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Clear research on what does and does not work when it comes to homework
  • Unhelpful, uninformed homework myths "busted" so you can think more constructively about the role of homework in student learning
  • Over two dozen principles and tips for increasing student engagement with homework assignments, thereby increasing homework completion rates
  • Dozens of specific and innovative homework assignments in multiple subject areas
  • Practical, vetted resources on homework to use back in your building or district as you explore homework policies and practices in depth

Emancipating the ELL Student in the Regular Classroom
Since oral and written expressions are the usual methods of assessing students' learning, it can be hard to determine what our English Language Learner (ELL) students in regular classes know and can do. It's even harder for some teachers to keep from equating language proficiency with thinking proficiency. Can ELL students think abstractly and make complex responses to substantive content in the regular classroom? You bet they can! Join us for a session on creative and practical tips for regular education teachers on how they can increase ELL students' success in their classrooms.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Twenty-five practical tips on how to teach ELL students in the regular classroom successfully
  • Multiple vocabulary acquisition ideas that work with ELL students, including knowing the difference between academic and conversational English proficiency
  • A clear purpose to engage the intellect of ELLs regardless of the language barriers
  • Several myths regarding teaching ELLs dispelled
  • Assessment and grading suggestions to create fair and accurate grades for report cards
  • Specific, helpful resources and research to get up to speed on teaching ELL students in the regular classroom

Standards-Based Assessment and Grading
Join us for a compelling look at what is and is not standards-based assessment and grading. We'll explore what it means to be truly evidence-based in assessing and reporting students' achievements regarding standards and learner outcomes. We'll address the biggest concerns in grading today: averaging, zeroes on the 100-point scale, re-do's, percentages, grading scales, late work, valedictorian, marking homework, extra credit, gradebook and report card design, formative vs summative assessments, reporting behavior/effort/character elements, disaggregation, and much more. Don't miss this chance to confront misconceptions and make the most of students' learning!

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Clear definitions of what is and is not standards-based grading and evidence-based reporting
  • Practical and ethical differences between formative and summative assessments and how they are reported
  • Specific, practical techniques for descriptive feedback
  • Specific, practical answers to burning issues in grading including: how to handle late work, extra credit, averaging or not, grading homework or not, 100 or 4.0 scales, separating behavior/effort from academic reports, setting up gradebooks, and more
  • Ethical implications of sound grading policies and practices to consider
  • Suggestions for how to help faculty members who are hesitant to incorporate standards-based grading take their first steps with standards-based grading

Tiering Assessments and Assignments
Some students are ready for the first steps of a topic and others are ready for advanced assignments and assessments in that topic. So how do we tier assignments and assessments to maximize their learning? Join us for a practical and thought-provoking look at what constitutes mastery, and how we can increase and decrease complexity in student assignments and assessments while meeting the needs of standards and their benchmarks, all within one class period. We'll include two helpful lesson sequences: the Anchor and the Football, as well as great attention moves, student "orbitals," personal agendas, tips on how to get students to work autonomous to the teacher, and much more. This is a "how-to" and "why-we-do-it" workshop for those just getting their feet wet with tiering assignments and assessments or those already swimming in differentiated instruction who want more ideas.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Clear, practical strategies to use with any subject area to raise or lower complexity of assignments and assessments
  • An understanding of what are and are not respectful tasks and tiering
  • An understanding of what it means to incorporate mental and skillful dexterity into basic learning goals and what constitutes evidence thereof
  • Multiple classroom samples of tiering in action
  • Multiple ideas on how to manage the tiering, i.e., teach more than one readiness level within one class period
  • Suggested resources for additional tiering ideas

Changing Teacher Beliefs and Practices—What Works?
New initiatives can be dead on arrival if teachers are cynical, fearful, or suffering from low morale, and great leaders know that they can't change practices without changing those beliefs. Based on the presenter's work with NASSP and in hundreds of schools, this workshop provides dozens of proven strategies that help teachers and their leaders embrace the necessary cultural shifts emotionally and intellectually to improve student learning. Build capacity and maintain progress with these practical insights!

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Practical tips on how to engage teachers with the ethics of teaching and what that means for teaching practices
  • Multiple strategies for making professional growth compelling, safe, and doable for all faculty
  • A better understanding of the building or team leader's role in facilitating the growth of colleagues
  • Clear strategies on how to lead faculty conversations about sensitive topics without generating defensive walls in others.
  • An up-to-date look about what we know about motivation of teachers and team members
  • A clear vision of cultural shift as a process, not an event

Racism: It's Time for Constructive Conversations in our Schools
Today's schools are a crossroads of many different cultures, even in seemingly homogeneous communities. Culture and race play big roles in economic and political strife around our nation, but some teachers hesitate to discuss racism with one another or students for fear of offending others or because they lack the tools for constructive conversation. Join us for a frank and insightful session on how to discuss racism in our middle schools, including how intended and unintended racism manifests and how teachers can respond constructively.

Participants will leave this session with:

  • Clear guidelines on how to conduct sensitive conversations about racism among faculty members, regardless of racial composition
  • Specific conversation starters for robust conversations about racism in schools
  • Extended list of activities/experiences to provide students and faculties that create thoughtful interactions about racism in our schools
  • Helpful resources for conducting conversations on racism in our schools
  • A compelling rationale for conducting these conversations on racism

David Weber has been a math and science teacher in both Canada and the United States for more than 25 years. For the last 10 years, he has been teaching in a school where all students are low-income and first generation college bound. Since 2003, he has been leading workshops that focus on inquiry and authentic assessment for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme. He has also co-authored and edited resources for the IB that promote these core practices.

Impactful Teaching: The Power of Inquiry and Authentic Assessment
This interactive session will focus on the power and importance of teaching through inquiry and using authentic assessments. Participants will learn through discovery and respond to a performance task in order to see not only their academic benefits, but how they can increase student motivation and foster belief in oneself. The session should be both informative and motivating, as participants revisit what it's like to be a student and reconnect with the profound impact we all can have as teachers.