Languages Department
Learning Differences Conference 2013



The list of Institutes taking place on May 3rd and 4th, 2012.
(alphabetical by session name)

Institute Description

This institute explores the major themes of gifted education, emphasizing the changing characteristics and learning styles of 21st century students who are very comfortable using computers, mobile phones, the Internet, and other technologies.  The themes include:

  • Identification strategies
    • What strategies can we use to identify high ability students identified, and what are the pros and cons of different approaches? How are tests used (and misused)? How can we use both traditional forms of assessment, as well as nontraditional ones that attempt to decrease language barriers and avoid cultural biases?
  • Characteristics of 21st century gifted learners
    • What are the myths and stereotypes about gifted students? How do they differ from one another? How do they use technology, and how does technology affect them? To what extent do their learning styles differ?
  • Social and emotional aspects of development
    • What is it like to “grow up gifted?” How do these students develop socially and emotionally, and what challenges do they face? How do they get along with peers? What are their patterns of communication and how are they using technology to interact with others?
  • Differentiation and programming strategies
    • How can we align programming with abilities, interests, and academic achievements to ensure students receive appropriate levels of challenge? Which programming strategies work best, and why? How can online learning, mobile learning, games, simulations, and other high tech approaches contribute to effective differentiation and individualized learning?  What programming strategies will best nurture innovation and creativity?

The Institute emphasizes hands-on, active learning, and many activities will engage participants in the concepts and strategies presented using computers and smartphones.  Examples and activities are drawn especially from research and programs from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, which has been identifying and serving gifted students around the world since 1979.

Institute Learning Objectives
(what participants should learn/take away from the presentation or workshop):

- Participants will gain an understanding of strategies to identify, nurture, and develop appropriate programs for gifted students, focusing especially on differentiation strategies that foster creativity and innovation, and that resonate with computer-savvy 21st century students.  Participants will take away an understanding of best practices in identification strategies, the developmental needs of high ability students, and the characteristics and needs of special populations.  They will also take away concrete strategies to develop talent and draw on technology in cost-effective ways, to nurture and encourage innovation and creativity; expand academic options in school, in after-school programs, and outside of school; and provide appropriate challenges for their top students.


Institute Description

Differentiation is a term and practice that has educators simultaneously excited and scrambling.  How is it possible to craft curricula that are accessible to everyone in the classroom, and still meet learning outcome goals?

In order to understand differentiation, we must begin at the beginning.  What does it feel like to have slow processing, attention deficits and tactile defensiveness?  More importantly, how does this impact effective learning?  The first part of the institute will be a learning lab, with the participants experiencing what it actually feels like to struggle with various learning profiles.  You will be put through a series of exercises designed to help understand how it feels to be lost, confused and agitated in the classroom, yet still be responsible for all of the material covered in the lesson.

After the lab, we will discuss how it feels to be a student with Asperger's, ADHD or CAPD, to name a few, and how each teacher might start changing his or her classroom structure.  This will be very interactive, so please bring questions and your own classroom conundrums!

The second day of the institute will be learning the principles of Universal Design and techniques to introduce in the classroom, which will make differentiation a more seamless practice for the teacher and the students.  We will examine and debate what constitutes effective differentiation and whether or not this can be a "one size fits all" philosophy.

Institute Learning Objectives
(what participants should learn/take away from the presentation or workshop):

- The overall goals of this institute will be for each teacher to have a deeper, first-hand understanding of their students, and to leave with a specific plan, based on best practices, to use in their own classroom.

- All participants will be provided with a "workbook" of strategies to bring back to their schools, as well as copies of all presentation materials.

- Please come ready to energetically interact!


Institute Learning Objectives
(what participants should learn/take away from the presentation or workshop):

- Trainees will have the ability to: Assess the background, developmental levels, and learning style and characteristics of special needs children and families
Criteria: performance using diagnostic tests

- Identify and describe the intent, use, and limitations of specific formal tests and authentic assessments used in the pre-referral, referral, and diagnostic process in the areas of:

a. pre-referral and referral

b. academic screening

c. assessment in academic content areas

d. intelligence/cognitive abilities

e. adaptive behavior

f. gross, fine and perceptual-motor

g. social-emotional development

h. development language characteristics
Criteria: report reviews

- Define the basic terminology and technical vocabulary used in the assessment process and differentiate between norm referenced, criterion-referenced and authentic assessment instrumentation
Criteria: class demonstrations

- Administer, score, and interpret selected formal and informal, non-biased assessment instruments
Criteria: brief written report outlines

- Communicate assessment procedures and results in descriptive, synthesized, and integrative reports and presentations to all stakeholders
Criteria: class presentations

- Discuss, select, and utilize assessment devices that reflect universal design, are gender-free, non-biased, non-discriminatory, and are technologically based
Criteria: classroom exercises

- Utilize instruments and procedures that reflect a knowledge of the impact of culture and language with special needs children and their families
Classroom exercises, course notebook

- Develop a data base of websites and organizational systems that provide professional information on the legislative, regulatory, statute, and accommodations related to special needs children and their families
Criteria: course notebook


Institute Description

Studies now indicate that while our students are often well prepared academically for the college and workplace environments, they are deficient in essential social-emotional competencies.  This missing component of their education often results in difficulties making a successful transition from school to college and to the workplace.  In addition, concerns continue to arise regarding the social adjustment of students. Approximately 50% of adolescents will experience both bullying and sexual harassment during their secondary school years.  Alarming increases among our youth are reported in regard to low aspirations, school failure relative to ability, and vulnerability to drugs, depression, anxiety disorders, and a multitude of other social ills in society.

Resilience, research demonstrates, is both the antidote to these problems as well as the social vaccine which can immunize them from problems in academic and social adjustment.  Developing student resilience requires a) the availability of positive social environments (home, family & community) and, b) acquiring essential social-emotional competencies.  When teachers actively work to improve the classroom climate/school culture and infuse social-emotional learning into the academic curriculum dramatic improvements occur.   Academic achievement increases by as much as 17%, incidents of bullying, harassment, and social aggression decrease dramatically and student motivation, aspirations and responsible behavior improve significantly.

This workshop will provide participants with practical skills and strategies for returning the fourth ‘R’ of education, Resilience, into the classroom.  Positive classroom management techniques of highly effective teachers will be presented along with strategies for improving the overall school culture.  Social-emotional learning activities for the classroom will be introduced along with effective strategies for improving home-school collaboration in developing resilient, capable and successful youth.

Institute Learning Objectives
(what participants should learn/take away from the presentation or workshop):

- Participants will learn practical strategies for teaching Resilience (social-emotional competence) thru the curriculum.

- Participants will learn strategies for creating positive, supportive school and classroom.

- Participants will learn skills and strategies for bully-proofing schools.

- Participants will learn skills and strategies for home-school collaborative problem solving via the parent-teacher conference to resolve student learning, behavior and motivational issues and concerns.