During each of the six breakout sessions throughout the weekend, a large number of conversations will take place. This site will help you organize your plan for the weekend and provide the relevant information for each conversation. After signing in, search through the conversations below and mark the sessions you are interested in to populate your personal schedule on the right (or below if on your mobile phone).

Filmmaking for Teachers

Anna Walker-Roberts

Work with students and faculty of SLA’s CTE Digital Video program to learn the technical and artistic techniques of communicating through video. This three-hour interactive workshop has a limit of 30 participants.


Session 1
Anneke Radin-Snaith

What responsibility do schools have to grow truly empathetic people? How do we help our students connect and build positive relationships with diverse populations in this increasingly divisive political/social climate? How do we help our young people “ listen to others deeply enough to be changed by what they learn?”

A Beginner's Guide to Progressive Education

Session 1
Laura Thomas

Visiting schools like SLA can be inspiring, fascinating, and...a little overwhelming. What's a teacher in a traditional public school to do when the gap between aspiration and reality is a mile wide? In this conversation, we'll build a shared guide for first (and second, and third) steps towards progressive, student-centered, equitable education for the teacher who feels as though they're going it alone.

Beyond Boxes, Borders, and Binaries: Thinking with More Complexity

Session 1
Thomas Jones

It seems we’re all trapped within our ideological “bubbles,” victims to believing and spreading “fake” and fast news. Let’s start doing something about this lack of nuanced thinking in our classrooms by providing texts that do not reduce ideas down to soundbites. You’ll leave this session thinking about how to help students articulate their ideas with depth and sophistication.

Book Chat! The New Education by Cathy Davidson

Session 1
Lee Finkelstein

Cathy Davidson writes in her new book, The New Education, about the origins of our current educational system, and compellingly that this system no longer serves its students or society well. The focused solutions she recommends are aimed at higher education institutions.

Building Even Better Ideas

Session 1
Adam Provost, David Jakes

Building off the narrative from last years successful session, David Jakes and Adam Provost lead a session on the next steps in ideation. Ideas are the raw material of innovation. We believe that it is essential for educators, as well as for educational organizations, to develop a disposition, a mindset even, capable of rapid iterative thought and ideation. How we craft and curate ideas, how they are employed in supporting innovative thought and practice, are essential considerations for for all educators. We believe that ideation is a skill, and a skill that should be developed in all educators. We believe that educators must learn how to extend beyond the routine, beyond the expectations (and inherent limitations) of their school culture, and reject an autopilot mentality that supports the status quo. This conversation, necessarily disruptive, will provoke educators to see the opportunity of ideas, and how they can become more effective innovators as a result.

Curiosity and the Stories We Tell

Session 1
Jennifer Ansbach

What is the story of what happens in our classrooms? If curiosity is the foundation of engagement, what steps can we take to foster it in our students? In ourselves? In our professional communities and contexts? In this conversation, we’ll make plans to inspire curiosity and then discuss how we’ll share those stories of curiosity with others.

Discover the Why for Learning

Session 1
Barbara Bray

We talk about the importance of voice and choice but how do we encourage learners of all ages to discover their purpose for learning so they own and drive it. Learners need learning to be relevant and authentic. We will take real-world activities and use design thinking to redesign them together.

Finding the Others: Building a Culture of Modern Learning

Session 1
John Clements, Maureen Cohen, Mary Anne Moran, Dave Quinn

Making the shift from a culture of teaching to a culture of modern learning can only happen when a school community shares powerful beliefs about learning. This session will discuss practical strategies to help educators to “find the others” or expand pockets of innovation and inspiration that embody modern learning.

Two Truths and a Lie: Parsing Current Events with Students

Session 1
Meredith Stewart, Diana Laufenberg, Dan Agins

In this session we’ll discuss how to help students navigate the confusing waters of current political and social events. How do we help students initially approach the positions of others with curiosity, rather than judgement? How can curiosity help us avoid information silos and evaluate sources?

What does it mean to be a graduate?

Session 1
Matthew Riggan

What should it mean to graduate from high school? In this conversation, I am going to convince you that 1) high school graduation requirements are the Most Interesting Topic in the World, and 2) they are a really good place to begin radically reshaping schools.

Future Visioning as a Tool for Creative Thinking

Session 2
Becky Lee, Adam Rosenzweig

Future visioning can help you forge a path for your own future, the future of your school or organization, or the future of society at large. Participants will learn and practice several future visioning activities and discuss the implications of exploring different futures with students and colleagues.

How do we DO science in our schools?

Session 2
Eileen Glassmire

What is science?.... observing the natural world, questioning, making hypotheses, designing and performing experiments, and drawing conclusions from evidence. Many, if not most, of the "labs" done in grades 9-12 focus on demonstration of properties and building lab and analytic skills. Let's talk about ways to make science in our schools better reflect the true nature of the discipline. We face limitations including class size, content requirements, resources, safety concerns and time constraints. How can we make this work at our schools?

Making Work Matter - The Power of Student Showcases

Session 2
Brian Hodges, Tobey Reed

Want to find a way to give students authentic audiences while simultaneously engaging with the community and showing them all the awesome work that happens at your school? Well then this workshop is for you. Come join us and learn how to make public showcases of student work happen at your school.

Student-Led Interdisciplinary Field Studies

Session 2
Pearl Jonas, Steph Sessa

Students in SLA's International Cultures elective have been working on a student-led, inquiry-driven interdisciplinary project culminating in a field study in Costa Rica. Students will be telling their stories and the inquiry process they went through to compile and complete their projects. Last year, students created their own projects culminating in a field study in Cuba. Last year's students will discuss and reflect on the impact of an international experience on how they understand the world.

Teaching in the "Age of Trump"

Session 2
Steve Goldberg

Donald Trump’s presidency means my US History students pay far more attention than usual. Opportunities abound for teaching about checks and balances, human rights, and the role of America in today’s world. Our conversation will consider what it means to “teach Trump” in a fair and balanced way.

The Case for the Quiet Kids: Nurturing the Introverts in our Classrooms

Session 2
Chrissy Romano

Participants will explore the nature of introverts and what distinguishes them from the “shy” student. We will discuss how our schools are failing the quiet kids and provide teaching strategies and ideas for classroom design to create an environment that will help educators better connect with these students and allow our quiet students to find success in our classrooms.

Vive la "Différance”

Session 2
Maggie Osman, Patty Rich

Join in deconstructing sex and gender using Jacques Derrida's "différance” thinking for truly comprehensive sexual education. Deconstructing gender defies the confines of health class. Challenge your assumptions and join the braintrust exploring limitless cross curricular opportunities in teaching and learning to infuse your practice from pre-K to adult with "différance".

Balancing Content with Experiences

Session 3
BJ Enzweiler, Dan Symonds

This session is meant to bring forth the classic conundrum of depth vs. breadth that occurs in all schools. We plan this discussion will help teachers think about their curricula in a way which gives fair weight between both approaches in their classes.

Connecting Careers to the Classroom through Mentorship

Session 3
Maya Heiland, Adam Durant, Melissa Kurman

This workshop will focus on the realities of connecting the classroom to the workplace, while addressing common partnership needs and issues on both sides of the table. We will explore how to incorporate mentorship into various learning environments to generate conversations about STEM careers and the pathways to them.

Designing and Leading Engaging OER Ecosystems

Session 3
Andrew Marcinek

As the cost of textbooks continue to rise and their relevancy continue to decline, there has never been a more important time to consider openly licensed educational resources (OER) in your classroom. Learn about OER, how educators across the country are making this transition, and why it's important for students.

Hiring with a Maker Mentality

Session 3
Nick Fargnoli, Dan McAlpin

How do we hire great teachers? This workshop will walk participants through the process we used to create an alternative approach to hiring--one that is based on our interest in the Maker movement. Participants will have an opportunity to evaluate their own hiring practices and to collaborate with colleagues from around the nation to reshape the way that they attract and retain top talent.

HMW Create Sustainable Innovation via Personalized Professional Development Pathways?

Session 3
Kevin Moore

What if professional development was a way of storytelling? What if that story was strategically shared to empower a community? Personalized learning is often discussed while designing for our students, why not create a personalized professional development(PPD) program to enhance faculty? We will dive deep into the design process of creating a PPD program and the return on investment for the individual and team of faculty.

Participatory School Design for Participatory Democracy

Session 3
Michael McCabe, Sean Anderson

Many of our schools are disempowering and undemocratic by design -- as a result, our communities are disenfranchised and we struggle to enact our power together. We are failing at learning to live democratically. This conversation proposes a curriculum called Participatory School Design, in which youth work with facilitators to re-envision school, then to create the schools that will serve them and their communities.

Think Tank Challenge: A Model for Student Led Curriculum Design

Session 3
Robert Gulya, Amalu Jenkins, Karen Patwa, Arian Nakhaie, Priscilla Inoa, Gaylene Alexis, Crystal Montalvo

What does a high school education look like that engages students, involves the community, and prepares learners for the unknown possibilities of the 21st Century? At South Bronx Community, our students answer this question. We gave students the keys to the curriculum and supported them to design their own interdisciplinary projects.

Trusting Their Curiosity: A Student Imperative!

Session 3
Scott Glass

Are students quick to claim that their ideas are unworthy? Do they stare blankly when asked to discuss their interests? If so, perhaps it is because they have learned to mistrust their own curiosity. Join this conversation if you want to explore ways to help them get it back!

When Grit Isn't Enough

Session 3
Linda Nathan

This conversation explores Linda Nathan's book, When Grit Isn’t Enough, which investigates five assumptions that dominate our thinking about education, revealing how these beliefs mask systemic inequity. Participants will gain greater understanding of these assumptions as they have been internalized and manifested in schools and organizations.

“This Is My Body”: Planning Rigorous, Relevant, and Accessible Humanities Curriculum Through an African-American Lens

Session 3
Michael Bolton, Steven Humes, Charlie McGeehan, Samuel Reed, U School students

U School Humanities educators create curriculum that is rigorous, relevant, and accessible for all students in our non-selective public school. Students and educators will share the process used to design our introductory “This Is My Body” unit, inspired by Opera Philadelphia’s “We Shall Not Be Moved”, and resulting argumentative poetry.

Authenticity: Nailing Down the Impossible

Session 4
Caitlin Thompson, Zachary Herrmann, Sarah Kavanagh

How do we define authenticity? What is its value in the classroom? How do we increase authenticity in teaching and learning? How do we coach teachers to make their projects and activities authentic? Let's answer these questions together.

Citizen Science: Rigorous Science by the People

Session 4
Brian Haggerty

An interactive dialogue exploring the multifaceted ways that citizen science contributes to pressing environmental, social, and educational issues. We’ll discover a variety of citizen science programs and examine strategies we can all use to engage K-12 students in collecting, sharing, and utilizing data about the world around them.

Conversations In and Across the Classrooms

Session 4
Hilary Hamilton, Nancy Ironside, Tim Boyle

Faculty from Science Leadership Academy Middle School will discuss the connection between conversation and comprehension. Participants will share questions and learn how conversation is embedded into the curricula and practices at SLA-MS and think about what it means to get better at conversation. Conversation with conclude with sharing of practices from participants who use conversation as a tool for growth and understanding.

Creating a "culture of error" across your school community

Session 4
Brett Shiel

You may have heard of growth mindset, but it's hard to change those habits! We'll get concrete about cultivating a growth mindset in your school community - diving into the "culture of error," which is about setting a tone by which it is safe to make mistakes or have a half-baked understanding. Because that is the ideal opportunity for learning.

Driving Curricular Shifts from the Inside-out

Session 4
Mary Kate Raytek, Tod Witman, (Howard Emerson)

We are at a pivotal time in education. We are changing the way that teachers teach and students learn. This vision is not always clear and supported by all parties involved. This conversation focuses on how we can make that curricular shift in a K-12 setting even when others do not see it. We will share our journey, successes, and pitfalls.

Entrepreneurial Mindset in Education

Session 4
Jenny Zapf

What constitutes an entrepreneurial mindset in education? This highly interactive session will ask participants to unpack and apply terms like "entrepreneurship", "innovation" and "mindset" and consider how these constructs can powerfully influence teaching and learning. Help shape this new work with our team of educators, researchers and social innovators!

Playlist-Centered Professional Development

Session 4
Paul Allison, Lona Jack-Vilmar. Grace Raffaele

The idea of creating playlists (curated sets of online projects) respects teachers’ knowledge of their kids and pedagogy while adding ideas about digital media learning. Teachers get excited to create and compose curriculum in new ways that integrate technology into teaching and learning, which then gets teachers side-by-side with youth.

Student Publishing and the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Session 4
Ross Cooper, Casey Cohen

We will discuss the significance of student publishing and writing for an authentic audience, the why behind student publishing, and how this connects to students developing an entrepreneurial spirit (and potentially being entrepreneurs). We will share authentic student examples and reflections, and explore relevant resources, such as: blog posts, TEDx Talks, publishing platforms, and more.

Your Personal Privacy Policy

Session 4
Adam Rosenzweig; Bill Fitzgerald

Privacy is relative. As our world becomes increasingly digitized and monitored, our attitudes toward privacy should evolve beyond just app settings and encryption. We can’t make the best choices for ourselves or our kids if we haven’t thought about what privacy really means to us.

Black Girl Magic in Practice

Session 5
Rebecca Coven, Swetha Narasimhan

How do we best encourage young women of color to effect change in the spaces they already occupy? This conversation aims to discuss strategies and tools for empowering students to change the rhetoric and attitudes around gender and sexism in their school.

Designing for Equity in Connected Learning and Teaching

Session 5
Shayla H Amenra, Kira Baker-Doyle, Christina Cantrill, Lana Iskandarani, Helga Porter, Robert Sidelinker, Kathy Walsh, Tracey Dean

How do we design for Connected Learning and teaching with the issue of equity in the forefront of our hearts and minds? This is what we have been exploring together as we challenge ourselves to be connected learners in order to design and teach in connected and equitable ways.

Graduation by Exhibition

Session 5
George Zeleznik, Ann Croxson, Gena Lopata, Laura Craig

Are today’s high school graduates prepared for post-secondary education? The Crefeld School’s Graduation by Exhibition (GBE) model better prepares students for a smooth transition to life after high school. Crefeld staff will share details about their successful progressive GBE process that is an essential component of the school’s program.

The Ethics of VR Usage with Children

Session 5
Lisa Castaneda & Marc Pacampara

As VR gains ground in education more teachers are finding ways to include it in their curriculum. In parallel, social science research suggests VR has an impact on the user beyond the scope of other mediums. Educators need to weigh VR’s costs and benefits and its impact on children.

EduGen Dialogues

Session 6
Jennifer Orr, Michael Doyle

Gender, in all forms, plays a significant role in how education does or doesn’t work for many, both for students and adults. This session will explore our identified and unidentified biases. We will identify issues in education impacted by gender and work to develop plans to address these issues individually, at the school level, and beyond.

How Do We Encourage Student Centered Lessons in HS?

Session 6
Patti Duncan

The term "student centered instruction" has been bandied about quite a bit in the past few years. What does that look like at the High School level? Let's brainstorm ways to adjust the learning experiences in our High School classrooms to meet the needs of students and teacher alike.

Keeping Kids Curious: The Art and Science of Making

Session 6
Gerald Aungst, Brian Reilly

STEAM is about more than just adding engineering and technology to our science, math, and art curriculum. Curiosity about the world—answering questions and solving problems—is the essence of learning. Let’s talk about the science of curiosity and share strategies for using makerspaces to reignite curiosity in your students.

Mindful, Intentional Teaching: Using Action Research to Examine and Alter Your Practice

Session 6
Kathleen Dickerson, Christy Chang, Robin Schneider, Dan LaSalle, Erina Pearlstein Andy Danilchick, Jaimie Piotrowicz, Rebecca Coven, Swetha Narasimhan, Samuel Hickok

Presenters from five different Philadelphia or suburban public, charter, and private schools will lead an interactive workshop describing their own action research and leading participants through a What? So What? Now What? activity to help them develop their own action research questions and plans for implementation.

Symmetrical Learning: Creating Rich Experiences for All Learners

Session 6
Alexis Goldberg, Luke Bauer, Pete Wood

Sometimes the learning opportunities we ask teachers to offer to students are not the same ones we offer teachers. We share our journey in using Instructional Rounds to create an opportunity for all learners (principals, teachers, students) to engage in a discovery process, and we invite you to consider the symmetry in your own learning model.

The Evolving Role of the 21C Educator

Session 6
Tiffany Wycoff

How has our role as educators evolved as more student-centered and personalized learning models emerged? What is the indispensable expertise and value teachers continue to bring to the classrooms and how do we keep these at the forefront of practices? Is higher education and the current model of PD building capacity in these areas?

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