Strands and Descriptions 2022


We created an exciting schedule of offerings for virtual Confratute 2022, complete with special strands and thought-provoking speakers in specific content areas, such as Differentiation, Curriculum Compacting, Twice Exceptionality, and more. Check out details on each of Confratute's Strand offerings below. Strands are three-day sessions. Once you choose your strand for each block, you should attend that strand on all days of the conference. You can attend up to 3 strands live.


Click each session below to view detailed description.

Click here for a downloadable version of the strand descriptions.

Strand Block A

10:15 – 11:30 AM, Monday – Wednesday


Joseph Renzulli & Sally Reis, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
The general session of this strand (Monday) will provide an overview of The Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM), and the breakout sessions (Tuesday-Wednesday) will focus on specific strategies for implementing the SEM in a variety of schools with students of different ages and demographic backgrounds. The model, based on over 40 years of research and development, is a comprehensive system for infusing "high-end learning" into total school improvement efforts while simultaneously challenging high achieving students. Specific strategies include the development of Total Talent Portfolios, Curriculum Modification Techniques, and Enrichment Teaching and Learning. Three books are recommended for this strand. Please visit this page for more information on purchasing books.

✶ Breakout SEM Strands: 1A. ELEMENTARY

Breakout SEM Strands Meet on Tuesday-Wednesday

Laurel Brandon, Mansfield Public Schools, Storrs, CT
This strand is intended for elementary gifted/enrichment specialists who will be working primarily with high potential and gifted and talented (talent pool) students in an SEM context. We will discuss the specialist's role in an SEM school, including organizing Type I and II experiences and enrichment clusters for all students and working with individuals and small groups on Type III experiences. Suggestions for working with classroom teachers on Curriculum Compacting will also be shared.

✶ Breakout SEM Strands: 1B. MIDDLE/HIGH SCHOOL

Breakout SEM Strands Meet on Tuesday-Wednesday

Carla Brigandi, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
This breakout strand is a hands-on session designed to deepen middle and secondary school teachers' understanding of the SEM and share strategies on how to implement components of the SEM, including curriculum compacting, Type I, Type II, and Type III Enrichment. Participants will also consider implementation strategies for homogenously grouped settings and infusion into general education classroom curricula. In keeping with the SEM, this session demonstrates effective pedagogy that both challenges and engages middle and secondary school students who demonstrate gifted behaviors.

✶ Breakout SEM Strands: 1C. Implementing SEM for Administrators, Coordinators, and School Leaders

Breakout SEM Strands Meet on Tuesday-Wednesday

Cheryl Quatrano & Melinda Spataro, Bobbinee Educational Consultants, Bayside, NY
Please join us to learn about the "nuts and bolts" of implementing the SEM in your school. We will explicitly take you through all of the steps necessary to get your program up and running, and we will assist you in choosing and establishing different facets of the SEM for your first year. We will also guide you through potential issues that can attempt to block your way, and we will provide creative ideas about how you can set up the programming to enable students to experience enrichment at any level.

✶ Breakout SEM Strands: 1D. Using SEM in the Classroom

Breakout SEM Strands Meet on Tuesday-Wednesday

Nicole Waicunas, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
How can I use and infuse the SEM in my classroom? Infusing the SEM into your regular classroom will open doors and windows for creativity and innovation to flourish. The SEM was created to utilize differentiation for all students in a classroom. The focus on self-efficacy and ownership of learning for the student creates a powerful, student-centered, teacher-as-facilitator approach to learning. As a result, students become self-advocates and begin a journey of discovery: using the SEM to create pathways of self-awareness, understanding, and excitement for your students. This strand will focus on how to infuse SEM into any classroom setting.

2. Meeting the Needs of Your Student Mathematicians (Grades K–8) *Only available as live session

Janine Firmender, Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA 
Engaging students in the practices of professionals in a discipline—in this case mathematics—has long been a recommended practice in the field of gifted education. Both the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics and the Common Core Standards also specify that mathematical practices are essential elements of mathematics education for all students. With these recommendations in mind, this session will encourage participants to consider how they can integrate the processes and practices in instruction to promote the development of mathematical talent. Through the analysis of tasks designed to engage and challenge students, participants will explore the integration of practices such as problem solving, reasoning about mathematics, communicating about and constructing arguments in mathematics, and using mathematical representations.

3. Deconstructing Depth of Knowledge

Erik Francis, Maverik Education LLC, Scottsdale, AZ

How is Depth of Knowledge a different and deeper way of looking at the cognitive demand of academic standards, curricular activities, and assessment items? In this workshop, participants will learn how to deconstruct the learning intention of academic standards, curricular activities, and test items to determine the level of Depth of Knowledge students must understand and use their learning. They will learn how to reconstruct learning objectives into DOK Learning Targets that specify the mental processing – or DOK Skill – students must perform. They will also learn how to establish DOK Success Criteria based on the extent of the response – or DOK Response – students must provide.

4. Bright Kids Coping with a Complex World with Grace and Grit

Thomas Hébert, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
During these complex times bright students need to develop self-understanding and learn to face the challenges of adolescence with self-assurance and determination. Teachers can help them reach that understanding and develop confidence and grit through effective classroom strategies. This strand offers an overview of the social and emotional issues facing talented students and how educators can address their needs. Participants will gain a good understanding and learn methods to support their students' well-being and determination to make a positive difference in their world.

5. Designing Personalized Learning Experiences

Brian Housand, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC
A Type I Experience has the potential to supercharge students' innate curiosity and propel them toward a lifetime of inquiry and investigation, but how do we effectively tap into students' interests and purposefully construct a learning environment that promotes creative productive giftedness? In this strand, we will explore ways to leverage readily available technology and resources to build meaningful Type I Experiences. We will begin by critically examining a Type I and deconstructing it to reveal a blueprint of what makes learning memorable. From there, we will collectively design a series of personalized learning experiences that you can implement in your own learning environment.

6. Rigor Not Rigor mortis: Escalating ELA, Literacy, & Thinking for High Ability Students

Susannah Richards, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, CT
What are the characteristics of an effective and relevant ELA curriculum for high ability language users? This strand highlights dozens of effective practices for escalating ELA and literacy instruction for both expressive (speaking and writing) and receptive (listening and reading) literacies. The focus is on relevant literacy experiences that increase students' skills and content knowledge. Strategies for literary discussion that focus on big ideas and not specific texts, suggestions for response to text, incorporating diverse voices into established "canons," and examples of writing for authentic audiences will be incorporated throughout the strand. Technologies and model literacy experiences will be highlighted throughout the strand with examples of a variety of high-quality texts featuring complex language structure, great vocabulary, complex characters, and/or complex ideas.

Strand Block B

12:00 – 1:15 PM, Monday – Wednesday

7. Brains Wired Differently: Understanding and Supporting 2e Students

Susan Baum, 2e Center for Research and Professional Development, Studio City, CA
So many bright learners have brains that are wired differently, resulting in extraordinary gifts and talents and perplexing challenges at the same time. Their unique brain wiring requires strategies that are not only dually differentiated but strength-based and talent-focused as well. In this session you will learn how to meet the needs of bright students with ADHD, ASD, or Dyslexic brain wiring. You will learn many practical strategies to create a 2e-friendly environment poised to help 2e youngsters thrive. Who are these students? Where does their learning break down? How do we identify strengths, interests, and talents? How can we use talent development and enrichment to build executive function and social and emotional regulation? If you like interactive activities, opportunities for discussion, and learning creative options, then this strand is for you. The book To Be Gifted and Learning Disabled is recommended for this strand and is available at a discount. More information on purchasing books will be available on our website soon.

8. Challenging Talented Readers with the SEM-R

Rebecca Eckert, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Given the diverse skills and experiences that students bring with them into a classroom, what strategies and materials can teachers employ to increase reading achievement for everyone including talented readers? This seemingly simple question will serve as the springboard for a research-based strand that seeks to examine the importance of challenge in reading and offer several tested techniques for engaging talented readers and promoting enjoyment of reading for all students. The Schoolwide Enrichment Model Reading Framework (SEM-R) was developed to increase reading challenge and enjoyment for all students, and to provide the tools and techniques needed to promote continuous growth for talented readers in elementary and middle school classrooms. Participants will learn how to implement the SEM-R, and consider how best to employ its three phases to fit their context and student needs.

9. Enrichment Clusters: A Practical Plan for Real-World, Student-Driven Learning

Marcia Gentry, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
In this hands-on, interactive strand, participants will learn how to develop, organize, and implement one very exciting component of the Schoolwide Enrichment Model. Enrichment Clusters afford time to come together to pursue authentic interests, solve problems, and create products and services for real audiences using advanced content and methods. Information from practitioners in every phase of implementation will be shared and will include a nuts and bolts, how-to-do-it question and answer session. Participants will be ready to return to their schools and put this program into motion. The book, Enrichment Clusters: A Practical Plan for Real-World, Student-Driven Learning, is recommended for this strand. Please visit this page for more information on purchasing books.

10. Let’s Be Scientists!

Nancy Heilbronner
You know the drill—it's time to prepare your students for science fair, but you sense their (and their parents') anxiety and frustration with the process. If you have been covering "the scientific process" once a year through science fairs and are looking to expand how you teach this important set of skills, come to this strand to learn some alternative approaches. Your students will learn authentic science year-round by selecting a topic of interest and doing the things that actual scientists do with a topic—completing investigations, debating ideas, going on "science safaris" in the real world, and using novel ways to communicate their learning. You can use this approach alone or in addition to science fairs. Step away from the science boards (for now) and come see what is possible in science!

11. Creative Storytelling: Making Learning Creative and Kinesthetic

Gail Herman, Storytelling and Movement Arts, Easthampton, MA
Learn to help your students find meaning kinesthetically through vocal expression, mime, and movement during classroom explorations with reading, writing, and speaking story narratives in subject areas, including science and math. Creative and expressively talented students as well as twice exceptional students will thank you! You will participate in stories with sound effects, creative vocal expression, and mime & movement through stories of kindness and concern. Create creative movement story lessons for math and needed breaks; help students create circle stories and pet stories for science and fantasy. Explore folk percussion instruments to augment meaning and ambience in their stories and teach students to hear between the lines as they read. Remember that meaning, memory, movement, and emotion are interconnected. Allow students to transfer core concepts from one medium to another for in-depth learning and to show what they know.

12. Differentiating Curriculum AND Instruction

Sandra Kaplan, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
A continuum designed to recognize and respond to PreK–12th grade gifted and advanced learners will be demonstrated. This continuum includes options to differentiate curriculum and instruction, emphasizes individualized versus personalized learning, and presents intra- and interdisciplinary experiences and the integration of play and playfulness.

13. Using Curriculum Compacting and Type III Enrichment to Engage and Enrich your Students

Cheryl Quatrano & Melinda Spataro, Bobbinee Educational Consultants, Bayside, NY
This highly interactive strand will focus on curriculum compacting strategies and enrichment. Compacting is an effective tool for managing and organizing differentiation in any classroom, using the Schoolwide Enrichment Model to enhance and enrich students' learning. Teachers will learn how to identify curriculum that can be compacted and replaced with differentiated learning, based on Type III enrichment, to enhance students’ strengths and talent areas and excitement for learning. The book, Curriculum Compacting: A Guide to Differentiating Curriculum and Instruction Through Enrichment and Acceleration, is recommended for this strand. Please visit this page for more information on purchasing books.

14. Books as Mentors: A Wide Range of Literature and Expository Texts for Igniting Readers, Thinkers, and Activists

Susannah Richards, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, CT
With over 7000 books published for youth every year, there are many books to know with many different options for supporting students as readers, writers, thinkers, and activists. This session will provide an overview of recently published titles (with some highlighted backlist titles), authors and illustrators to know, as well as resources to locate and expand reading choices and access to books so that highly able readers may continue to be lifelong readers. Suggestions for integrating the books into the curriculum will be shared.

15. The Scholar Identity Model™: Motivating High Ability Underrepresented Underachievers

Gilman Whiting, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
This foundational and flexible model has applications for all gifted, creative, and talented youth. Although initially developed for and successfully used with gifted, Black male students. It is grounded in a psycho-social model and institute designed to create entire systems that researcher and author Gilman Whiting calls a Scholar Identity Model (SIM). A scholar identity is defined as one in which culturally, linguistically, and racially diverse students view themselves as academicians, as studious, as competent and capable, and intelligent or talented in academic settings. Workshop participants will engage in an action-packed strand. Taking away the understanding that through role modeling and expert facilitation, and teacher expectations, students can develop the models 9 constructs: self‐efficacy, future orientation, willingness to make sacrifices, internal locus of control, self‐awareness, achievement, affiliation, academic self‐confidence, race consciousness, and the critical tools to understand and question discordant ideas about masculinity. Participants will consider context‐relevant, site‐specific applications and pedagogical curricular implementation for the classroom.

Strand Block C

1:45 – 3:00 PM, Monday – Wednesday

16. Using Texts to Teach Gifted Learners that “What Just Is Isn’t Always Justice”

Liz Fogarty, University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, MN
Students often blindly accept the messages in digital and print media. Developing critical literacy allows gifted students, often sensitive to issues of social justice, to examine picture books, novels, and digital media with a critical eye to combat social injustice from positions of knowledge rather than intuition. Gain an understanding of how critical literacy can be used as a tool to examine concepts of race, gender, power, and their positioning within media and encourage students toward social justice action.
Intended Audience: Teachers K-12, G & T Coordinators and Specialists, Literacy Coordinators

17. Access Denied/System Failure: Access, Equity, and Missingness in Gifted Education: Status and Actions

Marcia Gentry, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN & Gilman Whiting, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Our recent analyses of the Office of Civil Rights census data concerning youth identified with gifts and talents provide evidence of persistent and even worsening underrepresentation of students from Black, Latino, Native, ELL, and low-income backgrounds. Results are presented in State Report Cards with access, equity, and missingness of students by race and income highlighted. Identification procedures continue to rely on (a) instruments that purport to measure ability (b) multi-step, and/or (c) multi-measure/matrix processes, all yielding disparate results; thus, perpetuating underrepresentation and segregation in programs for youth with gifts and talents. In this interactive strand, participants will examine their own practices and data, then consider actions and policies that can be implemented to more equitably recognize, identify, recruit, and retain diverse students in gifted education programs. Social justice, equity, inclusiveness, and culturally responsive practices can lead to the discovery and development of gifts, creativity, and talent among diverse youth.

18. Helping Bright Guys Become Awesome Men

Thomas Hébert, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Intelligent young men today have to negotiate a culture that may not be supportive of their talents, interests, and favored ways of learning. This strand explores teaching and mentoring strategies to provide talented males the tools they need to become awesome men. We examine methods for keeping them actively engaged in school and achievement oriented. We examine athleticism and the important role of involvement in extracurricular activities. This stand also highlights strategies to support males in building friendships and maintaining healthy father-son relationships.

19. Integrating Arts and Creativity into the Core Curriculum

Benjamin Lacina, Saint Paul Public Schools, Saint Paul, MN
Addressing the creative and artistic talents and needs of young people can feel like less of a priority with the demands to meet standards in core academic areas, yet research shows that integrating the arts into the regular curriculum has a positive impact on students, improving student affect, achievement, and engagement. Moreover, with the need for more culturally responsive instruction—the fact that arts come from culture makes them more relevant now than ever. This strand provides hands-on examples of arts integrated strategies, lessons, and activities that connect the habits of mind of creative engagement with process skills embedded in core academic standards.

20. Going for Depth: Strategies for Promoting Deeper Learning

Jann Leppien, Whitworth University, Spokane, WA
Challenge, engagement, and student agency are at the heart of deeper instruction. The way we design or frame our instructional units around compelling ideas enhances this challenge and provides students with learning opportunities to engage in meaning-making tasks that can ignite an intellectual curiosity to wrestle with these complex ideas. In this strand, we will explore instructional strategies and techniques for elevating intellectual thinking processes as we design curriculum in ways that remove the ceiling from learning and result in higher expectations, access to more advanced content, and provide a greater scope of academic growth and engagement for all students.

21. Big Ideas and Big Questions: Approaches for Engaging Students in Higher-Level Thinking

Catherine Little, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
How do we build curriculum and instruction to ensure students engage with depth and complexity? How do we help them find meaning and connection in their learning experience? How do we make sure we aren't the ones asking all the questions? In this strand, we focus on ways of using big ideas, questioning strategies, and discourse practices to encourage meaning, depth, and rigor in student learning. We explore specific strategies for engaging students in constructing meaning around big ideas, with applications across grade levels and subject areas. We also focus on what we know about using questions to foster strong thinking and discourse in the classroom, and we discuss ways of promoting reflection related to questioning practices and student discussion to differentiate instruction and add rigor to the curriculum.

22. Creative Mathematics Is Not an Oxymoron

Rachel McAnallen, McAnallen Consulting, Storrs, CT
"This isn't how I did math when I went to school." Adults often remember the know how (procedures) not the know why from their early math experience. In this strand, the presenter will share creative ways that the teacher can help not just their talented learners but all learners understand the "know why" or conceptual knowledge of mathematics. Participants should come prepared to laugh and have fun with the hands-on math activities.

23. What I Believe Determines Whether I Achieve”: Changing Students’ Attitudes to Improve Achievement

Del Siegle, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
The beliefs and attitudes students hold toward themselves, given tasks, and achievement itself can influence what tasks students seek, and whether they are able to obtain them. Low motivation can limit students' opportunities for long-term success and fulfillment, and impact society as a whole by reducing the pool of high ability individuals contributing their creative productivity to societal growth and development. In this strand we will discuss three key beliefs achievement-oriented students hold and review specific strategies that improve student achievement by increasing students' confidence and making learning more meaningful.

24. Infusing the SEM: Head, Heart, Gut

Nicole Waicunas, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
What does it mean to use head, heart, and gut in a classroom? Join us to discover the gifts and talents of your students and yourselves as educators, parents, and community members so as to determine and respond to the social and emotional needs of young people. The SEM is the vehicle to provide the tools and resources to every student, teacher, parent, school, and community. The courage to find these talents and gifts in children requires nurturing and creative spaces that provide opportunities to see every single child as an individual with interests, learning styles, and preferred modes of expression. Differentiation from the child’s perspective creates resilient self-efficacy that allows students to take risks and step into the components of the SEM with curiosity, interest, and self-regulation. Come and celebrate the next steps to making the head, heart, and gut connection. You will surprise yourself and those around you with your discoveries and your newfound understanding of your students, and perhaps, yourself.