Featured Speaker Sessions


Friday and Saturday Featured Speaker Sessions

Click here for a complete listing of sessions.

John Almarode, Ph.D.
Teaching Young STEM Minds

Research strongly suggests that students develop interest in STEM earlier in their lives rather than later. In fact, students that have more frequent experiences in STEM while in elementary school have higher levels of achievement in science through their middle and high school years (Almarode, 2011). Ensuring that our young students have frequent, high quality, and early experiences in STEM is essential in their academic trajectory.  Quality STEM cannot wait!  This workshop explores the latest research on how the early childhood brain learns STEM concepts and translates this research into the "must haves" of a quality STEM experience for our youngest learners.  How do we create an experience that engages and sparks the interest of all students?  How do we design an experience that aligns with how the early childhood brain learns and understands STEM concepts?  What are the hallmarks of effective STEM instruction?  What is the role of inquiry in effective STEM instruction and how do we incorporate it into the daily lives of students?  These questions and more will be addressed in this hands-on, minds-on, action-packed session.  Participants will leave ready to ignite the passion for STEM in each and every learner.  

Where the Rubber Meets the Road – STEM Education that Works!
Traditionally, science, mathematics, and technology have been taught as separate subjects and sometimes in separate classrooms. However, in today's science and technology-rich society, the preparation of 21st century learners requires the development of an advanced scientific and technical literacy in order to compete in today's workforce or simply make sense of the modern world. Research suggests that one approach for meeting this 21st century need is by breaking down the silos of science, mathematics, and technology for an integrated STEM education. This highly engaging workshop explores the goals, processes, components, and necessary steps for implementing effective integrated STEM education. Building on the latest research in STEM education and how the student brain learns, participants will experience an environment most conducive to the development of STEM literacy, interest and engagement in STEM, and 21st century skills. Participants will actively engage in STEM activities that will help develop a better understanding of the necessary STEM content knowledge and STEM pedagogical content knowledge required for successful STEM education. Each early childhood educator will leave this workshop with an action plan for implementing STEM education that works.
Mary Jo Huff, StoryTellin’ Times

Snap, clap, wiggle, and giggle to the rhythms we hear. Join in the magical fun of music and learn new exciting ways to challenge a child’s imagination. Find and enjoy the songs that you can extend throughout the curriculum. Download Handout

Mary Jo Huff will engage conference participants with her high energy - interactive workshop. She will share delightful stories, books, props, finger plays, and puppets. Mary Jo will show simple ways to play with language, use imagination and create wonderful places for children to share and learn through the power of story play. Her enthusiasm motivates and educates the audience to be creative and to use their imaginations. Download Handout

Early Literacy Begins with Rhythm, Rhyme and Storytime
Clap, stomp, wiggle and giggle with the fun of story and puppet play for young children. Children connect with basic skills, language development, motivation, social awareness, cultural awareness and diversity along with environmental concerns. Books, stories songs, finger plays, poems and fun are interwoven throughout the presentation. Puppets enrich learning, promote student interest and facilitate problem solving. Come prepared to snap, clap, stomp and rhyme while having fun! Download Handout
Cheri Lindsley, M.Ed.
Key to Quality Infant-Toddler Care: Reciprocal Responsive Relationships
The power of relationship in high quality infant-toddler care cannot be denied.  Be a relationship builder.   Help establish a foundation of confidence that will define your work with young children and their families.  Let’s mine the depths of relationship-based care together in this session.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Little Ones
What does respect for infants and toddlers really look and sound like?  To say we believe children are competent learners capable of co-constructing their own knowledge is one thing.  To live in agreement with our words is another.  Join the conversation about creating environments where children thrive with adults who understand the power of respect for even the youngest of children.  


Lisa Maddox-Vinson

Bringing Children's Books to Life!

This session you will see and hear children’s books that spark imagination in children.  Props will be shown that will bring the book to life and engage children into the story line. During this session you will be able to make some items to take back to your own classroom.  Let's keep in mind Dr. Seuss great quote: "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn the more places you'll go."  

Tanny McGregor, M.S.
Words and Pictures: Together More Powerful Than Either Alone
In this session, a blend of research and practice will leave you eager to try out your new learning! When used together, text and images can boost background knowledge, deepen content knowledge and boost thinking to new heights. A collection of practical lessons will be shared.
Download Handouts
Take Note: The Beginnings of Annotation for Our Youngest Learners
Many students love to draw, doodle, sketch and annotate images and text. Why do we often wait until students are older before we allow them to use these tools to deepen comprehension? In this session, let's explore a collection of ways to help our students leave tracks of their thinking, fostering metacognition along the way! Download Handouts


John Nimmo, Ed.D.
Building Emergent Curriculum: Being Responsive to a Particular Place and Community.
Building on the ideas of place-based education and children’s rights, John will challenge participants to think about curriculum as unique to a particular time, place, and community of learners. John will draw from his experiences as a lab school director and his ongoing research into the Reggio Emilia Approach, including a recent book on collaboration and conflict in children’s learning. Participants will learn about strategies for building an emergent curriculum by exploring documentation of long-term investigations, including examples from outdoor environments. In this interactive session, John will also consider the realities and challenges of emergent curriculum in a time of increasing regulations and standards.

Leading the Process of Change: Initiating and Sustaining Anti-Bias Early Childhood Programs

In this interactive workshop participants will explore the role of the early childhood leader in setting the stage for an anti-bias education approach. Drawing on many years of experience in teacher education and directing, John will offer a framework and detailed practical strategies for the leader’s role in working strategically with staff, families and the community. Together we will consider the following questions: What does it mean to be an intentional and strategic leader in diversity work? How does conflict become a positive force for change? How can staff and families become allies for this work? Where do I start in making changes? Many of the ideas and strategies come from John’s recent collaboration with Louise Derman-Sparks and Debbie Lee Keenan in writing their new book.  

The Anti-Bias Journey: Knowing who you are to create a more inclusive early childhood program

In this session for teachers and directors, participants will look at some key steps in creating a more inclusive and welcoming program by taking an anti-bias approach. We will explore at the importance of reflecting on your own personal and social identity in order to understand the challenges and possibilities of working with diverse colleagues and families. Drawing on many years as a program director and teacher educator, John will engage participants in the following questions: How does my identity affect my work with families? What are the obstacles and conflicts I encounter in taking an anti-bias education approach? We will look at some specific conflict scenarios and explore proactive strategies for working through these obstacles, including the process of "finding the third space.”

Julie Smith, M.A., CCC-SLP and Candace Hogan, M.A., CCC-SLP
Rhyme with Me
During this multimedia presentation, participants will understand how early exposure to rhythm and rhyme supports strong language and pre-literacy development. Participants will leave the session with clear and practical methods for maximizing the use of rhyming books, songs, and finger plays to support infants and toddlers with their language and literacy development. Download Handouts. 

Carole Stephens, Macaroni Soup
Clarence Goodman, Accompanist

ACTIVE MUSIC:  Brain Food, Body Fuel!
Sing! Stamp! Clap! March!  Is your room bursting with action verbs?  Children learn by moving through their environment, and music helps them MOVE!  Active music participation promotes tip-top brain and body growth and provides opportunities for children of all abilities to work on social, emotional and physical skills. It also facilitates the acquisition of early literacy skills: rhyme, pattern, sequence, vocabulary, crossing the midline, rhythm, tracking - and more! Developmentally appropriate materials for Toddlers through K’s will be presented.  Teachers of all abilities are welcome.  Bring a water bottle and dress to move!
Tiny Tunes for Toe-Tapping Toddlers
Toddlers develop critical skills by moving through their environment, exploring their bodies and vocal capabilities, and finding ways to interact with others.  Developmentally appropriate music and movement activities provide just what a toddler needs to promote brain growth, language skills, early socialization and coordination.  It's a giggle and a-wiggle!
The relationship between the written word, oral language and singing literary text is unique.  For young readers, pre-readers and even babies you may notice increased attention and retention when a musical element is added to the enjoyment of a book.  Rhythm activities that re-enforce the rhyme and pattern of text add to the delight children find in books.
There are many ways to partner music and books.  We’ll sing a book word-for-word, pair books with songs about the same topic, add a musical phrase to a book for emphasis, and learn how to illustrate a book from a favorite song.  We’ll explore how to make a multi-medium unit with a book, songs, art, science and physical exploration.
Join “Miss Carole” Stephens of Macaroni Soup to learn how to heighten the magic of books for early learners and newer readers.  She’s even got something for “Sticky Bubble Gum” lovers!

John Wheeler, Ph.D.
Designing Effective Interventions for Children with Autism across Settings
The purpose of this session will be to provide attendees with an understanding of the design and delivery of evidence-based interventions for children with autism across home and school settings. Applied examples will be used to model the use of these methods in practice within all classroom environments. Topical areas will include assessment, intervention planning, design of individualized instruction, collaboration and teaming with families, and the use of individualized activity schedules to promote engagement on the part of children with ASD.  


Carole Stephens and Mary Jo Huff

Ka-BOOM! Ka-Boom! A Happy Ending!

Join Macaroni Soup’s Miss Carole and Storytellin’ Times’ Mary Jo Huff to kick up your heels in a rollicking time for songs, dances and stories that’ll keep you humming all the way home!

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