Confratute Special Session Descriptions


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Monday, 7/11/2022

3:30 – 4:30 P.M. (EDT)

Diverse and Inclusive Books for Youth: Something for Most

Susannah Richards
This session will present ideas for integrating diverse and inclusive books into the curriculum and for recommending to students to affirm many different identities. A variety of current titles, authors, and illustrators will be highlighted.

Pragmatically Planned Passion Products: Genius Hour Made Easy

Nicole Beldon
Enrichment is an essential component of any gifted program needed for students of all ages. Providing enrichment through the implementation of the Genius Hour framework helps develop student interest and educational buy-in. Participants will walk away with the knowledge and resources to implement Genius Hour as part of a well-rounded, innovative gifted education program. Passion products are interest-based endeavors that naturally lead to motivated gifted students who are eager to learn. Participants will learn how to launch Genius Hour, help students surface driving questions for research, and how to incorporate field experts as part of the students’ research process. Curiosity, inquiry, and design are all important aspects of student-centered learning opportunities made possible through the implementation of passion projects. Help students develop and maintain their passion for learning by using this easy-to-implement framework.

Talent Development Isn’t Just for Students! Enrichment and Personal Growth Developing Our Talent as Teachers

María Caridad García Cepero
*Session will be presented in Spanish
In Spanish there is a saying “the example begins at home.” Have you ever wondered how participating in first-hand enrichment opportunities can transform our lives? In this workshop we will analyze different aspects of enrichment experiences, as a tool to strengthen our capacities as teachers. We will explore how we can integrate enrichment into our daily lives and how this can contribute to our personal and professional growth.

En español hay un dicho “el ejemplo empieza por casa.” ¿Se han preguntado, como participar oportunidades de enriquecimiento de primera mano pueden transformar nuestra vida? En este taller analizaremos diferentes aspectos de las experiencias de enriquecimiento, como una herramienta para fortaleces nuestras capacidades como maestros. Exploraremos nuestros cómo podemos integrar el enriquecimiento a nuestra vida diaria y como esto puede contribuir a nuestro crecimiento personal y profesional.

Pixton – Creating High Interest Comics & Graphic Novels to Enrich Lessons/Projects

John Gleason
Participants will be able to utilize an incredibly effective comic creating app/website called Pixton to enhance their daily curriculum needs and/or academic projects. Time will be provided to learn, collaborate, question and tinker with the website. Students become active creators using the tool.

Supporting Smart Kids with ASD

Sally Reis, Nicolas Gelbar, and Joe Madaus
School success for academically talented students with autism spectrum disorder (2e-ASD) is less than it should be. This session will describe a recent research study about successful teaching and support strategies for 2e-ASD students that made a difference in helping these young people to succeed in school and develop their talents.

Building Community Through the Arts: Humans of Your School

Ben Lacina
Your community is made up of a number of Humans. Have you considered the intersection of a narrative and a visual display of who you are? Learn about how one school brought together the arts, personal experiences, and learned how the arts, professional development, and team building intersect.

What’s the Problem? Implementing PBL in Science Is no Mystery

Seth Messier
Problem-Based Learning (PBL) allows students to learn content embedded in meaningful contextual experiences so that authentic learning can occur. This session will share how employing PBL in science produced longitudinal growth in upper elementary diverse gifted students. Examples of lessons, templates, strategies on SEM implementation, and assessments which produced cognitive and affective growth will be shared. Gifted learners are motivated when learning is contextual rather than in isolation, functioning consistently at high levels of thinking, making connections among disciplines, solving real problems, presenting products to real audiences, dealing with ambiguities, and behaving like professionals in the field. Using PBL as a conduit to engage gifted students in science provides a growth trajectory based in inquiry, experimentation, reasoning, and complex science concepts. This session provides participants with resources and materials which resulted in content and effective growth.

Raising the Challenge in Students by Exposing Them to Elements of Pop Culture in Modern Mythology

Lawrence Neadel
Throughout our exploration, we will examine the mythological, historical, and literary elements that are contained within various fictional universes. We seek to uncover what innovations were involved and assisted with such literary creations, how the myths of today connect to events and myths of the past, and how modern heroes, myths, and monsters have impacted our culture, society, and development. It is through the text that we provide an in-depth analysis, spanning a diverse variety of topics and areas. Such resources that will be explored include an analysis of comic books, films, novels, video games, the rationale as to why each topic is relevant, and external information from autobiographies, various texts, and documentaries. Together, we will look into what we are trying to achieve and if the contemporary mythology we are seeing today is mirroring the mythology of the past. Join us for this beneficial workshop where you will see how students developed a deeper understanding regarding our contemporary mythology with the help of the SEM.

The Artifact Box Exchange Network: Helping Students Learn About the Place Where They Live

Brian and Denise Reid
The Artifact Box was developed at the University of Connecticut to connect the social sciences and enrichment pedagogy in the classroom. The Artifact Box Exchange Network is a national program using project-based learning to help students understand the geography, history, and nature of the place where they live. In the nearly 4 decades since it started, more than 20,000 classrooms have learned about their community to develop a "mystery box" of artifacts representative of their city, state, and region based on clues provided in the teacher’s guide. The Artifact Box is then exchanged with a classroom in another state, who must solve the clues and identify the location of the sending classroom using research and reference skills. In this session, students will learn about the history and background of the Artifact Box; the place in which they live, the process of developing an Artifact Box along with examples of how to work with their class to develop these research and reference skills in conjunction with pertinent critical and creative thinking skills; and the exchange process of working with another group's Artifact Box, along with the resulting evaluation and feedback component.

SEL & SEM for Special Needs Students

Melinda Spataro
Meaning well, too often, educators focus solely on our special needs students' learning and behavioral deficits rather than upon their unique profile of gifts and talents. An SEM-infused education changes the lens through which to view these learners. In this workshop, participants will explore how to effectively implement SEM and SEL strategies to maximize overall academic achievement. We will focus our attention on the specific learning and social-emotional needs of two groups of children and young adults, our learning disabled, specifically students with dyslexia, and those on the autistic spectrum. Journeying together, we will explore learning aids used to help these students and specific strategies to assist with emotional and social development, emphasizing the reading of social cues. We will also touch upon the school-to-prison pipeline and how an SEM-infused education can perhaps "break the cycle." This workshop will include case scenarios and attendee participation.

Tuesday, 7/12/2022

3:30 – 4:30 P.M. (EDT)

Cultivate Creativity and Confidence in Young Writers (and Yourself!)

Shannon Anderson
In this session you will learn practical ways to plan writing on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis as well as ideas for supplementing your writing program and/or your current lessons. You will also learn how you can use mini-lesson demonstrations to help you visualize their use and increase your confidence as a writer or teacher of writing. Learn how to make your students feel like real writers with lessons you can implement right away. Author and teacher, Shannon Anderson, will share some sure-fire ways to inspire kids (and teachers) to be more creative and confident in their writing. Join us for an energetic time of learning, fun, and inspiration!

Activate Interests with Citizen Science

Laurel Brandon
Engage your students in STEM (and other areas) by facilitating their participation in Citizen Science. Websites such as Zooniverse, SciStarter, and CitizenScience.Gov recruit ordinary people to analyze real data for large, complex, and not-yet-automated data analysis projects. Activities such as The Great Backyard Bird Count and The Big Bug Hunt engage everyday people in data collection that helps scientists understand and explain challenging topics like how climate change affects migration. Free accounts make these resources accessible to all. Your students can be real scientists today!

How to Make it STEAMy: Putting the Art in STEM

Marcelo Dos Santos
An argument for including the Visual Arts as a vehicle for meaningful, cross disciplinary instruction that leads to student agency and engagement. Art is often disregarded as a teaching tool within the academic environment, curiously so when one considers that an artist of one form or other filters practically everything around us, from cars to clothing, interiors, exteriors, various modes of entertainment and so on. Art inclusion should be more than just a sprinkle of art history with some arts and crafts of age-appropriate levels of reproduction of what we see in galleries and museums. Art is very much a part of everything and can be included as a tool that enhances STEM learning and adds to student engagement in the classroom and beyond.

Project-Based, Student-Driven, and Service-Oriented Lessons with Upper Elementary Gifted Learners

Jackie Gerstein
Students are capable of great things: a lot more than people expect. I have an expression: "Teachers should be tour guides of learning possibilities. They should show students the possibilities and then get out of the way." That is the basis of my gifted education instruction, and the students don't disappoint. My instructional approach is project-based and student-directed, and often focuses on service outside of the immediate classroom. The purpose of this session is to describe successful student projects in the context of learning strategies that can be utilized to tap into gifted students' talents and interests. The ultimate goal is assisting them to reach their fullest potential.

How Did You Think Today? Putting Students and Their Thinking in the Driver’s Seat

Brian Housand and Alicia Schroeder-Schock
What if you ended each class by asking your students "how" they thought? Would they know how to respond? Guiding our gifted students into higher level thinking processes requires intentional curricular objectives and questions. Learn concrete ways to engage students with prompts that leave them excited not just about what they did or learned, but how they went about thinking.

National History Day: It’s Not Just a Day . . . It’s an Adventure!

Regina Lee and Cyndee McManaman
Inspiring Student Voice with History Day: The CT History Day Program, an affiliate of NHD, is a year-long academic program focused on historical research, interpretation and creative expression for 6th- to 12th-grade students. By participating at the local, state, and national levels, students become writers, filmmakers, web designers, playwrights and artists as they create unique contemporary expressions of history. Students learn how to research using primary sources, compile their sources in comprehensive annotated bibliographies, and polish their presentation skills. This session will walk educators through the process of implementing this exciting and challenging program at their school and will give participants hands-on interaction with some of the materials students use. Examples of student projects will be available.

Developing Student Agency Implementing Student Investigations

Jann Leppien
Student agency has been defined as the capacity and propensity to take purposeful initiative, where students are not passive participants in their learning but active participants engaged in seeking experiences, meaning, and purpose that help them achieve the accomplishments they desire. This is all quite possible when students are provided opportunities to conduct self-design investigations. When carefully designed and skillfully facilitated, students' interest-based studies can result in increased intrinsic motivation, growth in 21st-century critical and creativity skills, greater self-efficacy toward research and creative productivity, and authentic learning experiences. Investigations put students in the driver's seat and provide opportunities for students’ unique personalities, curiosities, and strengths to be revealed. If you want to assist students in conducting investigations and nurture their power to act on their own behalf, yet need tools and strategies to ensure their success, this session is for you!

Infusing SEL Into the Entire School Community

Cheryl Quatrano
Participants will learn how to marry SEM and SEL to create a school culture which will promote the schoolwide enrichment model to the fullest for all members of the school community. Schoolwide systems that need to be put into place for a successful program will be discussed. All aspects of the SEM can be implemented through a structure of unique strategies which incorporate student support at all levels to ensure that no students are forgotten. It is the "how" to put into place the SEM that will be shared with participants.

Challenges, Joys, and Decisions of Eminent and Creative Girls and Women

Sally Reis
New research conducted on creative and eminent women will be discussed in this session, focusing on how the creative talents of girls and women evolve and develop work over time. The session will include information about blocks to creative productivity and what motivates creative girls and women to produce. The implications of the loss of women's talent on diminished creativity, leadership, innovation, and creative productivity will be discussed. The session will conclude with a positive call to action about how educators can make a difference in helping girls and women develop their talents and creativity.

Twice Exceptional Students: How to Identify and Serve Them

Nicholas Gelbar and Sara Renzulli
Twice exceptional (2e) students exist in every school and are often misdiagnosed as their talents mask their disabilities and their disabilities mask their talents. Many 2e students have both academic and social challenges that interfere with learning and cause both anxiety and stress. In this practical session, learn how to identify and provide programs and opportunities for 2e and neurodiverse students from a school psychologist and counselor who have worked extensively with this population.