Registration & Schedule

 Saturday, March 10th

$95 for 5 hours of Professional Development

8:00 – 9:00am Registration, Breakfast and Browse Exhibitors
9:00 – 10:30am Session A: Where the Sidewalk Ends and the Real Discovery Begins– Geoffrey Bishop
10:45  – 12:30pm Session B Workshops:

B1. AMS Accreditation – Peter Piche (All)

B2. Trauma in Children – Sarah Zawaly (All)

B3. Supporting Executive Functions in our Montessori Environment – Yvonne Froehlich (3-12 years)

B4. Bringing Nature into the Classroom – Emily Webb and Chapi Johnson (Infant- 6 years)

B5. Using Film for Socratic Discourse – Barb Scholz and Erika Eicholz (9-15 years)

B6. Whatever the Problem, Community is the Answer: Raising your Student Empathy Quotient – Deepa Shreekumar (3-6 & Admin)

B7. Enhancing Learning in the Montessori Cosmic Curriculum with the Science Journal – Vanessa Rigaud (6 – 12 years)

 12:30 – 1:45pm  Lunch & Browse Exhibitors

Geoffrey Bishop; will be giving an optional breakout during lunch on Creating an Eco- Lab 12:45 – 1:45 pm

 1:45 – 3:30pm Session C Workshops:

C1. Preparing the Environment for People with Dementia – Kathy Farfsing (All)

C2. Trauma in Children –  Sarah Zawaly (All)

C3. The Assistant: The Backbone of the Montessori Classroom – Kate Riley (All)

C4. Montessori Music: Demystifying the Bells– Jessica Simpson (3-9 years)

C5. The Importance of Handwriting and The Case for Cursive – Anya Bartlett (3-12 years)

C6. Five Habits of Highly Organized Students – Tori Pinciotti (9-15 years)

C7. Comprehension Connections Using Mutli-Sensory Techniques– Lesley Roth (3-12 years)

C8. Let’s Be Spontaneous! Encouraging Spontaneous Activity in the Elementary Environment– Laura Opfer and Adam Diamond (6-12 years)

Professional Development Hours Awarded:
All breakout sessions are approved by American Montessori Society, Kentucky’s Division of Child Care, and CEU credit. *Be sure to ask your administrator about what professional development forms you will need from the conference.


Session Descriptions

Session A

Keynote: Where the Sidewalk Ends and the Real Discovery Begins – Geoffrey Bishop
Nature is an essential aspect of educating the whole child. Research substantiates that connections to the natural world enhances cognitive abilities and has far reaching social, emotional, and health benefits. This presentation will energize your teaching and advance ways to reconnect children to the transformative power of nature. Ideas will be presented that encourage wonder, curiosity, and care of the natural environment, along with promoting nature discovery as a central element in the life of your community. Highlights will include a range of creative activities and integrated curriculum experiences to revitalize children’s relationship to the natural world. 

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Session B Workshops

B1. AMS School Accreditation- Peter Piche (All)
Come and find out the benefits of AMS school accreditation and have your questions answered.

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B2. Understanding the Effects of Trauma & Stress on Children – Sarah Zawaly (All)
As teachers, we can tip the scale toward success for our students.  Building connections between children, the environment, and strong teacher/child relationships not only motivates our students to do their best, but can mitigate the effects of toxic stress. Understanding the signs of these stressors and how they can impact a child’s development is an essential step in developing your prepared environment.

Learn the basics of trauma and types of stressors that affect the children you work with. Gain an understanding of how exposure to traumatic events and/or adverse childhood experiences can influence a student’s physical, cognitive, and social-emotional abilities.

Learner Outcomes:

  • Understand common stressors in your students’ lives and the effects on their development.
  • Gain knowledge of the brain and the stress-response system.
  • Learn different types of trauma that can be present and the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional effects.
  • Become familiarized with the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) survey and its implications.

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B3. Supporting Executive Functions in our Montessori Environment- Yvonne Froehlich   (3-6, 6-9, 9-12)
The presentation will begin with an overview of executive functions. It will then discuss how important they are to the social, emotional, and academic growth of the child. It will then continue with identifying children whose executive function skills are lagging, including red flags, and observational tools. Next it will discuss how the prepared environment supports the executive function development of all children, but in particular those with executive function deficits. It will then look at strategies for supporting children with executive function deficits. Finally we will look at a language to use when conferencing, writing progress reports, or suggesting that a child may need specialized interventions.

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B4. Bringing Nature into the Classroom – Emily Webb and Chapi Johnson (I/T, 3-6)
Presentation will begin with a guided drawing activity: Reflect on a time nature made an impression on you or reflect of your favorite place in nature. Share with a partner, share with group. Discuss traditional nature education (don’t touch, just look) vs. Experimental nature education (feel and get messy) Share passages from Rachel Carson and Richard Louv slide show with pictures from classrooms showing examples of activities suggested books for the classroom suggested books for teachers and parents

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B5. Using Film for Socratic Discourse  –  Barb Scholz and Erika Eicholz (9-12, Middle School, Secondary)
For many of today’s adolescents, understanding of life comes through visual media. Using a film as the common context for a Socratic discussion naturally appeals to the adolescent but could pose problems with traditional ideas of “Socratic discourse.” For example, problems arise when requiring students to “refer to the text” or “cite passages.” One work-around is to link the film with written text. This provides different perspectives while helping visual learners process more easily. In this session, these two instructors will help you gain confidence in setting up and running effective Socratic seminars with films. Participants will not only learn how to set-up a film seminar, develop a series of questions, and student packets, but they will also have the opportunity to participate in a mini-Socratic seminar using a short film. The use of Socratic seminar through films will be linked with Montessori’s vision of valorization of the adolescent and how this can lead to greater social independence. Socratic seminar provides a tremendous opportunity to help students achieve a greater understanding about ideas, issues, and values in a text. Be ready to discover how to increase your students’ personal social development, enabling them to cooperate effectively in a group setting. Critical thinking will naturally evolve along with improved listening, speaking, reading, and more sophisticated subject comprehension.

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B6. Whatever the Problem, Community is the Answer: Raising your Students Empathy Quotient – Deepa Shreekumar (3-6 & Admin)

In the past two decades, studies show a rise in self-centeredness and a decline in empathy. Modeling and sharing empathy is a part of Grace and Courtesy in the Early Childhood classroom and becomes the foundation to a healthy community. Understanding the 4 stages of community building will give you a solid understanding of what community is and why it is important. Come and hear stories of ways my classroom builds community and models empathy, and in doing so makes caring leaders for the future.

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B7. Enhancing Learning in the Montessori Cosmic Curriculum with the Science Journal- Vanessa Rigaud (6-9, & 9-12)

In this workshop, the tools and theory of the science journal will be explored and provide an understanding of how to support authentic inquiry in the Montessori cosmic curriculum at the 6-12 elementary level. Participants will engage in a variety of hands-on science experiences. They will discover how science journals provide a valuable space for students to reflect on their observations and data, make sense of the science concepts they are learning in the cosmic curriculum, and help them to make ongoing connections from prior knowledge to the new hypotheses – allowing students to internalize the building blocks of learning. This experience will empower all participants to understand the challenges and opportunities students may face in their journey entry through scientific inquiry. It will also refresh and inspire their curious minds by engaging in a collaborative learning experience with a diverse community of educators, and by spending time observing and investigating science. Each participant will leave with a personalized journal documenting their inquiry experience during the session.

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Luncheon Workshop; Creating an Urban Eco Lab (Optional Workshop) 12:45 – 1:45 pm – Geoffrey Bishop (All) 
Many teachers struggle with connecting their students and their curriculum to what is going on in the outside world, they tend to dismiss the outdoor environment as a place that is not connected to nature and the misconception that they do not have access to Nature. This workshop will introduce the curriculum and concepts of our Eco Lab program and give teachers practical ways to connect children to the natural world from the smallest flower to the assume forces of nature. Through all academic subjects we can bring nature alive and kindle the spirit of exploration in our children. This workshop is designed for students in the elementary program as well as middle and high school programs.


Session C Workshops

C1. A Person’s a Person No Matter How Small or Old- Preparing the Environment for People with Dementia- Kathy Fafsing (All)
Supporting Kitwood’s (1997) claim that the experience of dementia is in large part determined by environment, both physical and social, this presentation describes the the connection between Kitwood’s work and the Montessori philosophy. Examining the power of the prepared environment for adults with dementia includes environmental modifications to facilitate engagement; designing works for individual interests; allowing for choice; promoting spontaneous activity; engaging adults in activities that promote community; structuring environment for optimal independence; empowering adults with a sense of self-determination. During research conducted by Miami University’s Scripps Gerontology Center and Xavier University, Dementia Care Mapping (Brooker & Surr, 2005), a structured observational technique employed before and after implementation, revealed Montessori interventions engaged residents and promoted their sense of personhood. This presentation demonstrates the potential of the Montessori philosophy to transform living environments, and subsequently, the quality of life of older adults with dementia.

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C2. Understanding the Effects of Trauma & Stress on Children – Sarah Zawaly (All)
As teachers, we can tip the scale toward success for our students.  Building connections between children, the environment, and strong teacher/child relationships not only motivates our students to do their best, but can mitigate the effects of toxic stress. Understanding the signs of these stressors and how they can impact a child’s development is an essential step in developing your prepared environment.

Learn the basics of trauma and types of stressors that affect the children you work with. Gain an understanding of how exposure to traumatic events and/or adverse childhood experiences can influence a student’s physical, cognitive, and social-emotional abilities.

Learner Outcomes:

  • Understand common stressors in your students’ lives and the effects on their development.
  • Gain knowledge of the brain and the stress-response system.
  • Learn different types of trauma that can be present and the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional effects.
  • Become familiarized with the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) survey and its implications.

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C3. The Assistant: The Backbone of the Montessori Classroom – Kate Riley (All)
This workshop will give detailed strategies to classroom assistants and lead teachers for working together as a team. Teachers and Assistants management, communication and hands- on lessons will give the teachers and assistants the tools for a normalized classroom. Real life examples, joys, concerns, mistakes and stories from 22 years of teaching will also give the participants the reality and the passion of teaching in a Montessori Classroom community. Developmental ages and stages of children will be connected to support classroom assistants for successful classroom management. Montessori Philosophy, Curriculum areas and Positive Discipline strategies will also be shared with participants for immediate implementation. Strategies for Classroom Set Up and Maintenance, The Prepared Environment, Observation and the Role of the adults in the environments will be a focus of this prevention as well. “Why are you here” is a crucial question asked and answered in this powerful workshop for all educators. can attend together to create classroom routines and rituals for success.

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C4. Montessori Music: Demystifying the Bells -Jessica Simpson (3-6, 6-9)
Anna Maccheroni developed Montessori music alongside Maria Montessori according to the observed needs and interests of children. Her method is as important as those of Orff or Dalcroze. But unlike other methods, it is designed to be part of the Montessori classroom, rather than being separated out from the rest of education and taught separately by a music expert. In the Montessori music curriculum, lessons are offered to each child as his skills develop and interests manifest themselves. Like other materials in the classroom, they are not meant to teach particular intellectual skills and concepts, but rather are developmental materials, which aid the child in the development of his or her whole self. The music materials provide for the development of movement, intelligence, will and independence. We will review the intended purposes of the bells and other Montessori music lessons and discuss how to incorporate the curriculum into the classroom while preserving the three-hour work cycle. I will present as many sensorial and notation bell lessons as possible. If time permits, we will also review lessons in movement, listening, rhythm, and singing.

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C5. The Importance of Handwriting and The Case for Cursive- Anya Bartlett (3-6, 6-9, 9-12)
As Dr. Montessori so brilliantly revealed, “The human hand allows the mind to reveal itself.” Throughout the Montessori curriculum children naturally develop the skills of life through manipulation and hands-on experience. Nevertheless, in regards to the process of writing, basic human tendencies are being pushed aside by a wave of technological “advancement.” The art of handwriting is becoming endangered as the educational world debates the importance of handwriting versus computers and keyboards. This workshop will look to the basic principles Dr. Montessori discovered and review current research to explore the components involved in the basic writing process. We will examine the history of the written word and the development of print as we uncover the reasons behind the movement away from cursive. By returning to the roots of the writing process we will highlight a path back to cursive as the most natural way to guide the child’s spontaneous burst into writing. Participants will leave with a rationale (to share with colleagues and parents), complete lesson plans, and teacher-made classroom materials for enabling students to write more fluidly, naturally, and with comfort, in cursive.

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C6. Five Habits of Highly Organized Students -Tori Pinciotti (9-12, Middle School, Secondary)

Some students have mastered the skill of organization but what if they haven’t? They consistently lose their work, can’t prioritize their assignments and often don’t turn in their lessons. These students need clear procedures in place to help them be successful. Come and learn some new strategies that work for upper elementary and middle school children. These strategies focus on 5 areas where students struggle the most. You will leave with some great examples and you will begin to identify areas that need improvement in your environment. This workshop will not only help your students, it will also bring back joy to the classroom.

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C7. Comprehension Connections Using Multi-Sensory Techniques- Lesley Roth  (3-6, 6-9, 9-12)
Participants will learn to apply various reading strategies using multi- sensory techniques and instructional practices to support comprehension. Research regarding the cognitive process of reading and examples of effective instructional planning will support the participant’s own lesson planning during this workshop. The workshop will include specific strategies such as developing schema, metacognition, visualization, inferencing and determining importance in text. Multi- sensory, concrete lessons serve as anchors for each strategy discussed. Workshop participants will explore several reading strategies including facilitating peer shared talks, lyric journals, guided and shared reading practices, and literature circles.

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C8. Let’s Be Spontaneous!  Encouraging Spontaneous Activity in the Elementary Environment – Laura Opfer and Adam Diamond (6-9, 9-12)
“And so we discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment.” – Dr. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind The freedom for the child to choose her own learning path, to lead the educational journey, is what sets the Montessori classroom apart from other more curriculum-centered systems. Spontaneity from the student is not only respected, but encouraged! But as students age into the Second Plane of Development, pressures increase from sources both external and internal – parents, school districts, even students’ own preconceptions – to push more lessons faster and faster with no time left over for true academic exploration, let alone developing the whole child. How do we as guides and advocates for children provide the space for children to become themselves? This workshop will focus on ways to encourage spontaneous activity in all areas of the elementary curriculum through preparation of the environment and preparation of the teacher. We will be discussing and defining what spontaneous activity means and looks like in both lower and upper elementary environments, as well as providing guidelines for preparation and concrete ideas for fostering spontaneous activity in your own classrooms. We will show examples of children’s work from across the curriculum and provide ideas for how to provide structure and guidance without smothering the spark of inspiration. Our goal is to explore how to encourage a classroom culture of exploration without sacrificing instructional goals.

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Register Now!