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Explore Rick's presentation tips and topics below, and inquire for booking Rick to speak by contacting him here

Find a note from Rick on virtual professional development opportunities here

Quick Notes for Professional Development and Conference Organizers:

1. All presentations are updated annually and monthly as new information and insight becomes available.

2. Please inquire about combining topics and/or customizing workshops, seminars and addresses if those listed below do not work well for you. The last thing Rick wants to do is waste time with material your group already knows or does not need. The descriptions provided below have worked with multiple groups in many different situations around the world, but they can be augmented in whatever way you find most useful.

3. While many of these work as 75-minute concurrent sessions, many also work just as well or better as 3-hour (half-day) workshops, and more than a dozen of them are well-suited for full day or multi-day seminars. We can also turn many of these into web seminars if face-to-face time is financially prohibitive, or if the professional development is for a smaller topic and shorter time period. Again, inquire about what would work best for your group.

4. You can find keynote address descriptions here.

Assessments & Grading
Classroom Tools
Education Leadership

Assessments & Grading

Formative Assessment, Descriptive Feedback and Summative Judgment: Principles and Practicalities


Teaching is not a "gotcha" enterprise, yet many assessment approaches fall into that category. Join us for a provocative workshop in which we identify fundamental elements of formative assessment and contrast them with elements of summative judgment. Critical to students' success, descriptive feedback from formative assessment will be emphasized as well. We will look at the validity of all three, busting a few myths along the way. We will emphasize clear and consistent evidence over time, rubric design, how teachers figure out what is important to teach, giving descriptive feedback, correlating assessments to objectives and dozens of formative assessment techniques. Use these principles and watch the dramatic, positive change in students' performance within days!

Re-Dos & Re-Takes: Rationale, Myth-Busting and Practicalities


We become competent teachers by teaching a lot. We teach, receive critique, revise our efforts and teach again. Real learning that moves to long-term memory is demanding and reiterative, and we need to extend the same opportunities to our students in all fields of learning. Instead of applying uniform, arbitrarily sequenced, and unresponsive instruction, we can build proficiency with repeated, revised and meaningful engagement with content. Practical and research-based, join us for a provocative session in which we explore the pedagogical ethics and logistics for students re-doing assignments and assessments for full credit, and in such a way as to increase student maturation and achievement over that which could be achieved with "No re-do's allowed" policies. Real competence, not incompetence, is the best preparation for the next grade level, work and life. Indeed, every single profession demands reiteration for its dedicated, competent members. Let's not abdicate our adult roles in students' learning—let's build and maintain a constructive approach to re-learning and re-doing in the modern classroom!


Standards-Based Assessment and Grading


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


Note for Program Planners: A version of this presentation is available for school board and parent presentations for communities struggling with standards-based assessment and grading implementation or considering its use.

Rubric Design in Any Subject


It's not easy to design an effective rubric, but it gets easier with practical advice from veteran teachers, and they are often more accurate than percentage grades. With some rubrics, students learn a lot, but somehow their performance against the rubric does not reflect it, and with others, students learn little, but they smell like a rose on the rubric. Many rubrics can limit the next generation of thinkers, too, but judge them on the current generation's perception of excellence. In any subject, then, how do we design rubrics that provide accurate feedback, but also keep students advancing beyond their current teachers' sense of mastery? This workshop answers these questions while examining the differences between holistic and analytical rubrics, the practical do's and don'ts of rubric design, how to work smarter not harder with rubrics, the importance of professional conversation as we generate rubrics, and a rubric's advantages over other assessment and reporting tools. Don't miss this insightful workshop to launch and maintain rubrics in your classroom practice!

Differentiated Grading: Fair Isn't Always Equal


Differentiated instruction is a nice idea, but what happens when it comes to grading students? Being sensitive to students' readiness levels, interests and learning challenges while holding them accountable for the same standards can be a challenge. What's fair and leads to real student learning? Join us for a candid look at what grades really mean, and how to handle students' failures, alternative assessments, focusing on evidence not the vehicles used to convey that evidence, averaging, zeroes on the 100-point scale, homework, late work, feedback, re-done work, extra credit, group projects, grading exceptional students, formative vs. summative assessments in grading (or not), sports eligibility, grading special education students in the regular class and much more.  While offering practical tips, this workshop reveals participants' core beliefs about teaching and learning and has an unusually high incidence of transforming classroom practice. Don't miss it!


21st Century Homework Success: Principles, Practicalities and Products


Dealing with homework is a big stress for students, teachers and parents. What is 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 will 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. Tonight's assignment? Reserve a spot in this session!

Education Leadership

Reflective Coaching: Reflective Practitioners, Not Ego-Guardians

When we critique and provide feedback to colleagues in such a manner that raises their defensive walls for self-preservation, there is little to be gained; the interaction is not constructive. The question, then, is how we turn such interactions with one another into analytical experiences that create thoughtful insights within the teacher instead of a sermon on teaching or a fight to justify one's actions. Let's empower ourselves by getting the skills and insights of cognitive coaching into our daily repertoire. The ultimate goal here is our self-efficacy: We can self-monitor/analyze/reflect, revise practices based on those reflections, grow professionally, and ultimately, improve student learning in our classrooms. And even better, we can use those skills to build that self-efficacy in our students—yes, they translate! Students having cognitive coach teachers and teachers having cognitive coach colleagues are like all of us having an additional editor/muse/facilitator/encourager on board, an Obi-Wan Kenobi to our Padawan selves. This session provides dozens of practical tips for successful coaching interactions, and even more question/prompt stems to get teachers and students talking and analyzing, creating their own insights without feeling threatened. With cognitive coaching, we learn to honor what the other person brings to the table, and learn to facilitate their discoveries, not telegraph our judgments. Such facilitated coaching allows us to take deeper dives into practice and develop tools of respectful discourse. Don't miss this chance to improve your practice and help colleagues and students do the same.

Leadership for Teacher Engagement and Cultural Shift in Schools


Large ships are hard to turn, but there are strategies that definitely flip the rudder and maintain the new course. Want your school to move toward differentiated practices? Evidenced-based grading? Block-scheduling? Data-driven decision-making? A new literacy or math program? Think of the exciting new directions your school could pursue if only your staff shared your excitement! Unfortunately, new building and district initiatives can be dead on arrival if teachers are cynical, fearful overworked, or suffering from low morale. Based on work with NASSP, ASCD affiliates, and in hundreds of school systems in the U.S. and around the world, this candid and compelling workshop provides new insights and dozens of practical strategies that help teachers and their leaders embrace new initiatives and changes in policy and practice, even if educators are hesitant or going into it "kicking and screaming." Join us for a candid and inspiring look at how to get an entire faculty to set sail for the new horizon ahead. 


Note: This session for leadership can be focused for specific cultural shifts the school is seeking, such as ethical grading, teacher professionalism, building tenacity, differentiated instruction, and social-emotional learning. 

Building Teacher Capacity for Creativity

Some teachers give up. The student doesn't do any homework, and there is no parent support. I can't teach this child! Translated, this teacher is declaring, "I've exhausted my imagination, and I need a new catalyst." Unfortunately, teachers often get survival-mode tunnel vision, and they do not recognize the positive solutions that surround them. Some teacher preparation programs do not teach their graduates how to think divergently about instruction, solve problems or build an intellectual versatility. In addition, teachers are often told what, when and how to teach, and all professional creativity atrophies. Effective teachers, however, learn how to build their own creativity and generate diverse responses to students and their instruction, and students achieve as a result. Join us for a workshop that shows us how to build teachers' personal/professional creativity and emancipate instructional ideas tethered by conventional thinking. Instructional challenges are resolved, students achieve and teachers are more engaged in classroom practice as a result. 'Special cameo appearances by innovation, divergent thinking, connective synergy, improvisation and assorted strangeness.

Get Published: How to Write and Publish Education Articles and Books


Believe it: Editors are looking for you! There are thousands of teachers, administrators and education editors across our country waiting to hear your wisdom and practical ideas. Have you been told that your strategy or viewpoint should be shared with others? Do you have ideas about teaching and learning, but you are not so sure about how to describe them in writing? Where do you start, and what can you expect on the way to publishing that first article or book? Grab a keyboard or pen and take the first steps toward meaningful contributions beyond the classroom while improving your own teaching practice at the same time. Join education columnist and awarding-winning author Rick Wormeli as he walks you through the writing/publishing process, including specific tips for translating what happens in your classroom or school into publishable material. Writing is more than a chance for extra income; it creates the opportunities to help others and shape our profession. Don't miss this opportunity to clarify your thinking, improve your professionalism and contribute to the field! 


Principles First, Strategies Second: Minimizing our Hypocrisies


Effective teachers are principled first, strategic second. This requires pulling the camera lens back to a wider view, noting the larger context in which we operate, identifying the teaching/learning principles are in play. True expertise takes practice, reflection and strategic discernment. Without these processes, it is easy to blame the strategy or our students when something does not work, or to assume a new strategy will work with all students because it worked with a subset of them. Today's professional educator examines the underlying principles at any moment in classroom instruction, then gathers informed strategies to make an effective response. A child is not cooperating in a small group or a lesson is not working? What is really going on, and what can we do about it? What conventional practices are thrown out the window for a teacher who believes all students can learn but maybe at different paces, that parroting information does not demonstrate mastery, or fair isn’t always equal? What do we change if we believe that teachers are no longer the arbiter of knowledge for students, or that "carrot and stick" motivation programs don’t work, or that schools should drop averaging? And how do we make our principled beliefs actionable? Join us for a candid and provocative seminar in which we identify operating tenets and non-negotiable principles in our teaching philosophy, then figure out what they mean for classroom practice, if we were not hypocrites. Our goal is to raise the integrity between teaching beliefs and classroom decisions. As transformative as it is practical, this is not the professional development to skip. Join for a revealing look at the behind-the-scenes thinking of highly effective classrooms and schools.




Conversation on Racism in Schools 


It is uncomfortable to talk about race among faculty colleagues. Many educators do not have constructive skills for such conversations. If we speak up for respectful conversation, racial equity, the rights of immigrants or others from a religion different from our own, we may say something unintentionally offensive, incomplete or inexperienced, and we may lose friends and colleagues as a result. It is just easier to say nothing and get along. All that's necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world, however, is for enough good men to do nothing (Edmund Burke).  


Racism is learned, no one is born racist and one of our jobs as educators is to secure a non-racist future. Our response to racism in our schools must be clear, compassionate and immediate. Settling for indifference exacerbates the problem—a matter of unintentional yet real racism, and as Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote in his dissent of Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896, "The destinies of the two races, in this country, are indissolubly linked together[.]" So, join us for a frank and insightful look at how to conduct conversations and teacher professional development on racism in schools. Not just for PD planning, this session explores how intended and unintended racism manifests in our schools and how schools can constructively respond to the problem. Stimulus materials and strategies for facilitating similar discussions at local schools are provided.

Constructive Response to Professional Failure


As highly accomplished professional educators, we seek to improve our practices every day. If we are truly progressing, however, we make mistakes along the way, and for some of us, we go through a grieving process that is surprisingly powerful. Some of us, too, are stymied by fear of embarrassment, and we can’t move on. Join us for a candid, supportive and practical look at teachers' personal/professional failures in the classroom and how to respond to those failures constructively so we bounce back stronger and more insightful than ever before.  This session helps us see the positives in teacher failure and model the perseverance and revision of thinking in light of new evidence that we hope to impart on the next generation. Bring those guilty moments from your teaching past as well as those yet to come, and learn how to handle them constructively.   

Classroom Tools

Cultivating Tenacity, Engagement and Self-Discipline in Students


Tenacity is a virtue, but the personal fortitude to stick with an arduous task takes time and experience to mature. Many students grow impatient with content not parsed into soundbites, and reading extended, logical rhetoric through each argument to its ultimate conclusion is almost unheard of. On the other hand, if the story is good, students will read books of more than 700 pages. They play online games working their way through 12 levels of difficulty for six hours, and they stay after school into the evening to practice for theater productions, get ready for sports tournaments and conduct fun science experiments for the public. Join us for a compelling session on how to help students find the reserves to stick with projects and tasks, be they physical or intellectual. We will look at the role of dopamine, goal-setting, descriptive feedback that does not invoke ego, meaning-making, executive function, re-do's, teacher-student relationships and more. There is no such thing as laziness; our students want to do demanding, complex learning, they want to persevere! To this, our students aspire; with this, our world was built. In our classrooms right now, there is an eager William Wilberforce, Malala Yousafzai, and younger versions of
J.K. Rowling and Theodore Seuss Geisel (both turned down repeatedly for their manuscripts) looking for inspiration. This generation is more than ready for what it takes to make the world their own. Let's light this rocket!

Vocabulary Acquisition


Much of our capacity to make sense and find meaning in content, including connecting new material with prior knowledge, comes through the extent of our vocabulary and our dexterity with it. If our vocabulary is limited, however, so is our capacity to learn. Join us for a practical look at how to teach new vocabulary to today's students in engaging and effective ways. Yes, vocabulary for its own sake as well as subject-related vocabulary are both deeply valuable and teachable!

Coming to Know Through Writing


Provocative yet practical, this session opens minds to the power of writing in any subject. The best way to learn something is to teach it, and writing is teaching the reader what we know. Content-area teachers are writers and thinkers of their subjects, not just purveyors of knowledge. Workshop participants examine specific ways in which teachers can use writing to teach their subjects. The session includes special sections on paraphrasing and summarizing as well. Whether you are writing-phobic or prolific, we will explore highly effective writing practices that will increase your students' achievement.


Note to Planners: Some of this material is repeated in the summarization session. Do not put both on the same program.

Where Do We Find the Time?


"Breaking News: In a move of desperation, teachers nationwide have finally developed a 36-hour school day so they can teach all their students, not just the easiest ones." It would be nice to have such time to maximize every child's learning, but most of us are limited to 6.5 hours a day for 36 weeks of the year, one-sixth of which is removed by testing, absences and non-teaching moments. We embrace sound pedagogy, but we lack the time to implement its best ideas. So what does a conscientious teacher do? Join us for a very practical look at how to boost time with students when the regular classroom does not meet their needs as well as where to find time to do the planning and preparation necessary to build students' learning. This session wastes no time in releasing time's constraints—don't blink, and step with me into the TARDIS!




Meaning Making


In the old joke, "Let's eat, Dad," versus, "Let's eat Dad," we see the direct, life-saving power of commas. Prior to this moment, commas to most students were one more convention over which to trip on their way to successful sentences. With this experience, however, strategic capacity with punctuation gains currency with students, affording its masters new status; this is meaning-making. The instructional content we deliver can make all the sense in the world, but it is rarely remembered unless it has meaning; yet most teachers stop at sense-making, thinking they do not have time or strategies for students to process content meaningfully. Join us for a practical and provocative look at the multiple ways to facilitate meaning-making in students' content experience, using specific curriculum examples. This is the stuff of real mastery and achievement, Common Core or not. In meaningful classrooms, students are no longer parrots rewarded for repeating what the textbook or teacher declared. Instead, they have built knowledge they can use to change the world.




Metaphors and Analogies: Power Tools for Teaching any Subject


Approximately every third sentence we use with students uses has an embedded metaphor, but many students do not understand what we are teaching because they do not understand the analogy we are using. They achieve an "A-HA!" moment, however, when we use just the right comparison that works for them. Even better, they move content into long-term memory when required to defend their construction and deconstruction of metaphors. Metaphors are a highly effective bridge between students' developmental stages and course content, and in our increasingly technological world, we can no longer rely on tangible objects to explain new ideas. Since society relies on citizens to accept unperceived yet defined patterns and relationships on a daily basis, a command of cognitive linguistics is one of our students' new currencies. Critical to 21st-century learning and based on the best-selling book of the same title, this session explores how to use metaphors strategically in any subject to improve, deepen and assess student learning. Don't miss this opportunity to open your mind's eye!


More than Serving Pizza: Motivating Today's Students


"No time for breakfast, Mom. I have to get to class on time. Today we open the box!" What is this…a Hollywood movie fantasy? No, it's from a real classroom with real students. Attitude can change a blob of sand into King Arthur's castle. This session is full of practical ideas to minimize inhibitors and maximize motivation for your students. We will look at everything from positive risk-taking to students' physiology and diet, from cognitive science to integrating students' culture, as well as high engagement activities, building relationships and lesson design. To be so compelling that students have no choice but to think, take risks, do the activities and learn—this is the goal of every lesson we present. It is not easy to motivate today's students—particularly older students—but we can do it with substantive content and these effective approaches from an experienced practitioner. And what was in the box, you ask? Why, of course, it was a—Oh, darn. No more space. Join us to find out.




Moving to Block Classes Changes Instructional Practice—Carpe Diem!


Some teachers who switch to block-length classes exclaim, "Now I get to finally finish my lectures!" Their students whither right in front of them. Fortunately, we can do better than this—a lot better. Block classes allow us to incorporate effective practices otherwise unusable. We have time to teach the way we have always wanted to teach. To be successful, however, we do things differently than we do in 50-minute classes. What changes? What is successful and what is death on carpet? Develop a block teacher's savvy with these practical and engaging ideas for success in extended-length classes!




Physical Academia—This Joint is Jumpin'!


There is nothing in our curriculum that is so abstract that we could not "physicalize" it. Students in middle and early high school need to move every 10 to 15 minutes to relieve bone growth plate stress. So, how do we enhance instruction by providing opportunities for physical movement in subjects not usually associated with such movement? Join us for an high-energy and active workshop in which we explore ways to incorporate physical movement into academia, and academia into movement. Skydiving optional!




Sparks and Conduits for Students Thinking Critically


Students need both a basic core of knowledge and a solid set of thinking strategies. Join us as we explore multiple tools to jumpstart and continue students' critical thinking with course content. Moving beyond superficial responses, students can think deeply, divergently and logically, and they can extend ideas, justify claims and make connections, which are all highly marketable skills for 21st century citizens. Practical and far-reaching, come and think!

Program Note: Some elements in this session are used in the summarization session, do do not put both on the same conference program.


Sponges and Warm-Up Activities


Promote the stuff and avoid the fluff with learning experiences that engage students in substantive ways with your lesson's content. Easy to design, tier and implement, sponges and warm-ups have dramatic impact on student learning and lesson momentum. Sponges are inserted anywhere in a lesson in which there is a lull in the lesson's momentum such as when we distribute papers, clean up, move from one place to another or wait in line. Warm-up's can be done as "early bird" work to review material or prime the brain for new learning. Both are used to keep students accessing neural pathways, thereby growing the dendrites needed for learning. Leave no classroom moment unclaimed: Live up to the promise of education by using all the time given to us. Join us for a fun and practical workshop on using sponges and warm-ups to keep students engaged and learning!


Summarization in any Subject


Ask students to summarize and they will volunteer to clean the classroom floor instead. In the 21st century, however, students not only have to know facts—they must be skilled information managers as well. They must get the main idea as well as the supportive details, the principle argument as well as its evidence. Marzano (2011) and others have identified summarization as one of the nine most effective teaching strategies of all time. One of the greatest gifts we can teach students, then, is how to distill salient information, no matter what subject we teach or how it’s presented. Summarization is one of very few strategies that ensure long term retention of student learning.  This workshop presents dozens of updated, practical and innovative (and for some, tech-infused!) summarization techniques for all subject areas, even those not typically associated with language arts. It makes the case for summarizing in every lesson, not just those lessons in which we finish a few minutes early. Material for this session is based on the presenter's internationally best-selling book, ASCD's Summarization in Any Subject: 60 Innovative, Tech-Infused Strategies for Deeper Student Learning released in 2018. Don't miss it!




Teaching Civics and Democracy: iCivics in the Classroom


Should we: Demand every citizen carry health insurance? Provide schooling for children of illegal immigrants? Teach evolution, creationism or intelligent design? Invade personal privacy in order to protect national security? View an employee's online history to monitor website visits? Allow religious protesters to picket military funerals? Civics illiteracy has become the arteriosclerosis of our democratic circulatory system, effectively blocking understanding and progress, bringing us closer to, "civic stroke." We have become much more divisive, drawing reckless lines in the sand. Correlation is not causation, but obsessive focus on math and reading/writing performance on standardized tests over the past two decades at the expense of similar focus on civics performance coincides with the deepening decline of civic awareness and civil discourse.


Join us for a constructive response to this problem through Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's wonderful online civics education program, iCivics. Practical and provocative, this session explores multiple games, modules, videos, free teacher resources and standards integrations available through Innovative, substantive and reflecting the way today's students best learn, iCivics is one of the most teacher friendly and student effective tools we have. Take it from Justice O'Connor, speaking in 2010: "These students will inherit our democracy, and we must empower them to preserve it. Knowledge of our system of government is not handed down through the gene pool. The habits of citizenship must be learned, and our public schools were founded to educate students for democratic participation…[D]ivisive rhetoric and a culture of sound bites threaten to drown out rational dialogue and debate. We cannot afford to continue to neglect the preparation of future generations for active and informed citizenship." Don't miss your chance to create a positive democratic future for all students—Join us for this session on iCivics!

Differentiated Instruction

Differentiated Instruction: Walking Through a Lesson from Scratch


"Let me see what it looks like!" is the most common plea from those just beginning to differentiate practice. In this workshop, we briefly review major differentiation principles, then put up a blank computer screen and carefully move through each step in the process of creating a differentiated lesson from scratch. While we provide an initial template, we explore ways to move beyond the template in order to meet the needs of teachers' specific realities.  We also share some frontline wisdom for each component gathered by seasoned veterans of differentiated lessons. Don't miss this chance to finally understand differentiated lesson designs!​


Executive Function: Bringing It Online for Adolescents and Young Adolescents


Any list of executive function issues can easily be mistaken for a list of the common characteristics of adolescent and young adolescent learners. Our brains develop from the back of the brain forward, leaving the prefrontal cortex and its executive function capacities behind the forehead to the vagaries of adolescent development. Key among those capacities are: time management, self discipline/regulation, moral and abstract reasoning, impulsivity control, organizational skills and responding appropriately to social situations. Join us for a closer look at executive function in middle and high schoolers, including multiple, specific strategies to cultivate its maturation in students. "Oh, that's why they do that," and, "You mean, we can actually help them develop these capacities?" are just two of the comments teachers make once they study executive function in the brain. Make a difference in your students and teaching today by getting up to speed on executive function!



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 will 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.

Differentiating Instruction: Answering Your Questions


Already know how to differentiate? Have the details about scaffolding, grading, tiering, respectful tasks, flexible grouping and compacting curriculum? This workshop is for you! Bring all your "What if…?" and "How do you handle…?" questions to this session. There is no handout or formal presentation, and there is no canned program to share. It is a Q&A session about differentiated instruction, responding with candid and practical solutions to any and all challenges. We will address any DI topic for discussion, controversial or not, offering straight forward, cut-to-the-chase wisdom from the teachers differentiating instruction in schools every day.


Interacting with Differentiated Instruction Scenarios


Articulating and defending one's thinking while debating classroom situations really transforms pedagogy. Join us as we debate more than two dozen real classroom scenarios and determine whether they are proper or improper examples of differentiated instruction, and if improper, how we could improve upon them, looking specifically at how highly accomplished differentiating teachers would respond successfully. It is the interactive debate that opens minds and possibilities!

Getting to Know Your Students So You Can Actually Differentiate Instruction
Differentiated Instruction is responsive teaching, but we can't respond to students we do not know. Join us for a practical look at the tools and methods for getting to know your students quickly and throughout the year so you can make informed responses to their learning differences, and enhance the classroom experience for both you and your students.​


Young Adolescent Savvy: Practices and Perspectives for Successful Middle
Level Teaching

Identify the components of highly effective middle level practice. Learn what is developmentally appropriate and what is not appropriate according to the latest research and frontline common sense. Working with rapidly morphing humans is among the most intellectual and compassionate of professions, requiring expertise, humor, mental dexterity and dedication. Topics include discipline, setting up the classroom, getting groups to stay on task, homework suggestions, dealing with tardies, dealing with parents, substitute teacher plans, relating to students, what to do the first week, meeting the unique needs of young adolescents and much more. Come with or without questions and add to your repertoire of responses with this provocative and practical presentation.



Emancipating the ELL Student in the Regular Classroom


Since oral and written expression 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 is 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.


Practical Cognitive Science Principles for Differentiated Classrooms


We have learned more about the mind and brain in the last dozen years than in all of history up to this point. With overwhelming amounts of research crossing our desks each month, it is hard to keep up, especially when some of it contradicts itself. One practitioner has done the sifting and sorting, and compiled the salient recommendations for elementary and secondary school classrooms. Our students need both a basic core of knowledge and a solid set of thinking strategies. This session provides numerous tools we can give students to get them to think rigorously and compassionately about substantive content. Turn your instructional practice into one that truly reflects 21st century effectiveness; learn to teach with your students' minds as your greatest ally.


Teaching Gifted or Advanced Students: What Works and What Does Not


They are gifted, so we will give them three book reports to do instead of just one, right? Wrong. Join us for a provocative and practical workshop that provides clear strategies for meeting the needs of gifted and advanced learners. We will examine social-emotional aspects as well as how to increase the complexity or change the nature of tasks in terms of depth, breadth, unusual and critical thinking, and performance. Cure cancer? Bring peace to Darfur? Compose a concerto that would make Mozart weep for its simple beauty? Solve the Unified Field Theory?  Reveal a new geometry paradigm that rivals Euclid's? Maybe, but they are still children who need well-prepared teachers.



What We Can Do When We Are Brave Together


Ambrose Redmoon once declared, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgment that something else is more important than that fear." In education, what do we judge as more important than our fear of rejection, being embarrassed, making mistakes or the confusion that may come? When we are brave together, we find the freedom, language and spirit to confront complacency and ineffective practice, and, even better, to do something about them. Join us for a candid address that affirms and provokes listeners with compelling questions about contemporary practices and specific action steps to consider if having enough courage were not a factor. Liberating, affirming and pushing all of us closer to the kind of teacher we always wanted to be, we reveal the practices and policies that cultivate teaching courage best. Radical to some, validating to others and steeped in modern pedagogy, we explore the specific, bold actions we can take today that lead to real student success. Leave timidity at the door and join us for an extraordinary presentation.

Cultivating Personal Creativity in Teachers and Students

Too often teachers and principals limit themselves to their current operating metaphors, seeing only one thing at a time and in a narrow dichotomy: we teach this way or we teach that way; we are higher or lower in some criterion; we use this technology and not that one. If we are not careful, we become trapped in an echo chamber of our own creation, thinking this is all there is, blind to the new democratization of knowledge. As students navigate a large and complex world, however, they need teachers who transcend linear and dichotomous thinking. More impactful than many building initiatives, cultivating teacher creativity helps teachers build resilience and solve instructional problems rather than succumb to complacency or blaming others.  Join us for a fascinating and practical address in which we share specific elements of personal creativity and how to cultivate it in others.

Standards-Based Grading: Myth-Busting, Ethics and Practicality


Some parents, colleagues, school board members and business leaders struggle with what is and is not standards-based grading. Teachers and leaders using standards-based grading are facing some pushback from those with little background in it. As a result, they are backing away from something unusually effective in teaching and learning. Since current grading practices create very real futures, they better be accurate and ethical. Many traditional grading practices, unfortunately, are neither. This address presents the essential elements of standards-based grading, including its merits, potential pitfalls and candid responses to the most common concerns regarding its use. Vetted by decades of work in the U.S. and around the world, we will correct the misconceptions and make a compelling case for standards-based grading and student success.


Differentiated Instruction in a World of Standards and Accountability


Differentiated instruction is a nice idea, but what happens when it comes to grading students or those high-stakes, standardized tests? Do we really believe what is fair isn't always equal, and it's okay to do different things for different students? Being sensitive to students' readiness levels and learning styles while holding them accountable for the same standards can be a challenge. What works? Join us for a provocative and entertaining address that examines differentiating instruction for diverse learners while also meeting the needs of standards and accountability. Affirming and confronting, the presentation busts differentiated instruction myths and gets to our core beliefs as educators.

Sure Footing in a Shaky World: Best Practices in Today's Classrooms that Stand the Test of Time


Decades in the future, what in teaching will we look back to today and declare, "Wow, we had that right," or, "Whoa, how could we have been so blind to students' learning?". Join us as the advanced-age version of Rick Wormeli in the year 2075 travels through a time vortex back to the current year. As his older and younger selves, Rick reminisces on the teaching and learning practices of today's classrooms that will stand the test of time to his contemporary world in 2075. With wigged out hair and an ever-young and creative mind, Rick rifts on educational salience, lifting those teaching/learning elements in modern practice that are sure to last into the decades ahead.

For Laughing Out Loud—This Is a Great Profession!


From its humorous opening to its closing video "mockumentary" of teaching, this address shares funny, real-life situations that have occurred in schools that help us laugh at ourselves. Woven through the stories are practical tips about students and teaching that make the address more than just entertaining. Laughter is great way to create camaraderie as an education community, and it helps all of us manage the stress of teaching when we see the humor in our daily professional lives. Participants leave smiling, glad to be teachers and packing a few new perspectives and practical ideas for accomplished teaching. 


Note to Program Planners: This keynote is the least substantive in terms of modern pedagogical content and research, though there is some of each. It is meant primarily as a fun experience, to find a way to laugh at ourselves, build camaraderie and is played for the humor in teaching. It's light-hearted and fun, which may be very valuable to participants, of course.

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