Pre-Conference Sessions
Pre-conference sessions take place on Thursday, January 26 at the
, with the exception of the Terezín and Sketchbooking workshops.  Transportation will be provided from the Corinthia Hotel on the morning of the workshops. If you would like to register for a pre-conference session, please indicate your preference on the registration form. Space is limited.

Alan Leis

An Administrative Toolbox of "Look-Fors”: Curriculum, Instruction, Hiring, Evaluation, and Workplace Satisfaction

Research clearly tells us that teachers are the key to student achievement, but practical questions for administrators and teacher leaders abound:

  • How do we hire the best people?
  • How do we know if students are learning?
  • How does an outsider observe a teacher in ways that are meaningful to both?
  • How do we best mentor/coach new teachers or ones having difficulty?
  • How do we make the evaluation process useful and time-worthy?
  • What are the key elements of workplace satisfaction that would help us improve school culture?
  • How do we find time for all of the above?
This workshop, for both administrators and teacher leaders, will answer these question with a variety of strategies and techniques that will help identify the “look-fors” in each area. Come expand your administrative toolbox, as we help each other problem-solve issues in these critical areas.

Mark Springer
Encouraging Futures: Empowering Learner through an Integrative Curriculum

This full day pre-conference session offers attendees a unique opportunity to experience first-hand the “cutting-edge” efficacy and relevance of empowering students to share in planning, implementing, and assessing a truly integrative curriculum. As curriculum integration embodies all the major components of middle level philosophy, this session necessarily addresses topics such as building effective learning communities, differentiation, formative assessment, and academic accountability, to name a few. The morning portion of the presentation is a participatory demonstration of the full planning process involving local middle level students along with attendees. The afternoon portion includes an overview of actual units my Soundings students implemented, the examination of specific documents, strategies, and results of those units, and the opportunity for attendees to ask questions.

Christine Brown
Planning, Teaching, and Assessing Standards-Based World Language Units Using Understanding by Design

This session will be devoted to a review of the Standards and Benchmarks for Language Learning from the US and the AERO Language Standards and how these standards can be used to design and teach a standards-based language curriculum. There will be a strong focus on putting culture at the core of the language units and teaching with cross-disciplinary themes in mind to reinforce other important content at the grade levels. Participants will have samples of standards-based units in multiple languages, including less commonly taught languages. Participants will have an opportunity to begin a unit using a common template and to share curricular concepts in small groups by language and by level. Presenters: Christine Brown, Deputy Head, Carole Morgan School, Santo Domingo and Tami Canale, World Language Coordinator, American International School of Budapest.

Chris Cullen
Mindfulness in Schools

Mindfulness may be described as ‘present moment awareness’, and there is now considerable and compelling evidence that training in mindfulness is a very effective way of alleviating stress, anxiety and depression as well as promoting well-being and flourishing. This experiential workshop will provide an introduction to some of the theory and the practice of mindfulness, and will consider the potential benefits that it offers for teachers and pupils. The workshop will also introduce a mindfulness curriculum for secondary schools that has been developed by the UK-based Mindfulness in Schools Project, in collaboration with Cambridge, Oxford and Exeter Universities.

Jason Ohler
Getting in Touch with the Digital Storyteller Within

Do you want to understand the digital natives in your life and have fun doing it? Then come spend a day learning how to speak their language, creating digital stories, documentaries and other kinds of new media narrative using simple, powerful tools that are inexpensive and often free. In this workshop you will see many examples of media created by students and teachers that show the power of new media development to help teaching and learning, and personally explore the process used to create them. We will focus a good deal on story: what makes stories work, and how to plan and develop them before committing them to the digital domain. Depending on the length of the workshop, you will leave with either a digital story completed or underway. You will also leave with planning tools and processes, implementation perspectives and real skills that you can use immediately to help students create compelling narrative in content areas. Also addressed as time permits: assessment, copyright and other hot button issues related to the use of new media in teaching and learning.

Bring to the workshop:
  • Hardware – Your laptop
  • Software – You can use any software you like; I recommend iMovie HD (not the newer versions of iMovie) for Mac users, MovieMaker 2.6 (not the new versions of MovieMaker) for PC users
  • Peripherals – your digital camera and a way to get pics from your camera to your laptop
  • Pictures already on your camera – you never know what you are going to use until you get rolling, but it is handy to have your personal photos on your laptop. You may just end up using them.
  • Headset – you will need a way to record your voice. Many laptops have built-in mics, but you will get better results using a headset or external mic. Also, using headsets cuts down on the noise in the room.

Tom Daccord
Not Another Paper! Alternative Projects & Social Media

"In the Digital Age the dominance of conventional, linear text of the last few centuries is eroding and giving way to multimodal communication, with a screen-based, non-linear, and visual emphasis. While strong conventional prose remains a critical component of effective communication, a literate 21st century global citizen can communicate effectively in multiple modalities and often combines varied media and messages.

Join in reviewing alternative activities and projects using interactive technologies and see how online social media is empowering student-centered leaning. By the end of the session participants will be able to:

1. Describe the qualities of effective alternative activities and assessment.

2. Explain how powerful activities emerge from effective prompts and questions.

3. Identify several Read/ Write Web and Social Media tools that can be used to create alternative activities.

4. Construct a summative assessment process for evaluating Web 2.0 projects. 

The session will focus on models for alternative online communication and collaboration using wikis, online social networks, Google Docs, storytelling animation, e-book creation and other technologies. "

John Abbott
Middle School; Where Intelligence is Honed, and Dreams are Born

There is considerable international concern about the quality of education, and knowledge-transfer between generations. It is important to remember, however, that if we want the best academic outcomes, the most efficient and cost-effective route to achieve that is –counter intuitively – not simply to narrowly focus on academic instruction, but at the same time to address children's social, emotional, and physical development. Similarly, the best and most efficient route to physical health is through addressing emotional, social, and cognitive wellbeing. Emotional wellbeing, similarly, depends critically on social, cognitive, and physical fitness. John Abbott will draw upon a range of thinkers on this topic as well as what he wrote 18 months ago in his book Overschooled but Undereducated. The role of middle school education in the resolution of this issue is vastly important.

Petr Dimitrov
Sketchbooking: A Collaborative yet Independent Exchange of Ideas and Images

As a Visual Arts teacher I was always intrigued by how to set up a framework for collaborative work that caters for and encourages each participant’s independence and full expressive potential. A sketchbook exchange is one example of how to engage students in collaborative efforts while providing space for independent problem solving and expression. (Other examples will be shared as well.) This pre-conference session will take form of a hands-on collaborative sketchbook exchange – all participants will end up with a tangible outcome – your own sketchbook featuring others’ contributions. We’ll take advantage of the city landscape of Prague, which will be our starting point.

For a better idea of what to expect, link to the International School of Prague's own faculty sketchbook exchange:

Trudi van der Tak
Trip to Terezin Concentration Camp, Jewish Ghetto, and Former Hapsburg Fortress


This pre-conference will take you on a day trip from Prague to the World War II Ghetto Camp at Terezín (Theresienstadt). Terezín takes a unique place in the ghetto and camp system of Nazi Germany in that many of the Jews considered “privileged” because of their professions, talents or service to Germany were sent there, they hoping their incarceration and special status would guarantee their survival. Although not really more than a transit camp in the end, the many talents who journeyed here were able to leave lasting mementos through their expressions in the arts. This was also the so-called “model-camp”, put on display after a “beautification” process, for a visit of Red Cross officials in 1944 to prove that stories of Nazi atrocities were untrue. The bus ride is about an hour from Prague so we will leave as early as possible to enable us to reach Terezín by 9:30 a.m. We will begin our visit at the Magdeburg Barracks, formerly the women's barracks with an introduction to the background of the town through primary source investigation, followed by a visit to the barracks museum. We will have lunch in the town and then proceed to explore the town and life and death in Terezín using a variety of methods applicable to the classroom.