2006 Conference Breakout Sessions

Theme: Transitions Strand



Today’s Middle School: “Where Does the Sidewalk End?”

Keynote: Butch Cotter, Superintendent Pontiac Township High School

A humorous and emotional look into the world of teachers as we prepare for the daily adventures of pushing and poking our students to the highest plateau; sometimes using a sharp stick called truth. Listen teachers and you shall hear the real stories of the “classroom wars.”

504 Plans: Systematic Reviews and Middle School Transitions (2-part session)

Christina Grabarek

In session one, the presentation will provide a brief overview of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and will address how the requirements of this law might be met when working specifically with the middle school student who has been identified as having a disability. In session two, suggestions for conducting periodic 504-evaluations, and guidelines for developing accommodation plans, will be reviewed within a developmental context. The need for systematic 504-review processes within educational systems will be emphasized.

Tips for a Smooth Middle School to High School Transition

Judi Ridley and Bonnie DeWolf

Transitioning of 8th grade students to high school via a variety of writing applications, block scheduling, cross curricular learning, differentiated learning, application of life skills and life learning.

Difficult Transitions Are Not Over When A 5th Grader Goes To 10th Grade

Perry Riffel and Stanley Hughes

Dr. Perry Riffel (VU) and Dr. Stanley Hughes (VU Psychology Dept.) will share some interesting and important research findings concerning links between easy to stormy transitions in the middle grades and a similar pattern for retention of college freshmen. Variables to be discussed are the number of school transitions, the degree of comfort or discomfort with the transition, and early to late sexual maturation. Strong evidence is there to support the notion that combinations of these factors can be predictors of early drop out from a college or university.

Similarities & Differences in Stakeholders Perceptions of the Transition From Middle School

Linda Lawerance and Joshua Smith

Three middle school principals in a large urban district and a university researcher describe a comprehensive study of the transition from middle school. The study employed a longitudinal, mixed-method design that captured parent, student, 8th and 9th teacher and counselor, and principal perceptions prior to and after the transition from middle school. Results revealed areas of disconnect among stakeholders, pointing to a need to better align the goals of transition programming.



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General Strand: Topics across the Curriculum


My Country Tis of Thee – What Do You Mean to Me?

Nancy Poliseno

Connecting Eighth Graders to Americanism through Our Veterans

Orange Middle School has developed a cross-curricular unit for eighth graders which introduces them to the concept of Americanism and the important role they play in our nation as future leaders. Students are actively engaged in fund raising activities, contacting veterans, promoting the program to the media, and developing lessons to connect with the curriculum map and state standards. Teachers are facilitators in their interactive unit which positively connects students to their community and service to our country.

Diving Below Surface English

Lucinda Wilson

Students for whom English is not the first language are in all of our classrooms. What simple techniques are available so that we can bring these students into our learning community? Learn strategies to help these students with language acquisition and your content teaching.

History Isn’t Just History Anymore: How Indiana State Historic Sites can Infuse New Energy into Indiana’s Academic Standards for Your Students.

Anne Fairchild & LeAnn Luce

Some exciting things are happening at Indiana’s State Historic Sites! Traditionally tours present and interpret the history of the site and the people, places and things that surround that history. Now your students can discover how language arts, science, math and art are woven throughout the story of these Indiana treasures.

Tours and lesson plans now reflect integrated Indiana State Academic Standards

We provide In-School Programs as well as hold Special Event School Programs at the sites. We are incorporating art, math, science and language arts into new materials.

A Problem Solving Model That Works!

Leslie Ballard

This session will describe the Future Problem Solving Program, which was created in the 1970’s by Dr. Paul Torrance as a way to teach children how to think creatively and critically. We will discuss the six step process and the benefits to students of such an activity. While this was originally intended as an academic competition, it can be adapted successfully to the classroom. As well as learning to solve problems through scenarios, students can apply this model to problems that they identify in their own communities. Participants will learn how they can use this model and how to access support materials.



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Topics across the Curriculum, continued


Becoming a Teacher Who Specializes in Touching Lives

Butch Cotter, Superintendent Pontiac Township High School

A nuts and bolts presentation of how educators can market themselves as a teacher who will make a positive difference in the classroom. These are the little things we can do that make a big difference in the educational experience of students, parents and our peers. A common sense approach to teaching and school-community relations!

Drive of Your Life

Dennis Tooley, Indiana Youth Institute – Northwest Indiana Field Representative

An overview of a new Web-based resource to assist young people with the pursuit of careers and educational choices. This service is combined with a companion site for parents called “Trip to College”. Now is the time to help students prepare for education and careers.

Selecting Powerful Interventions

Leslie Ballard

Many schools are still struggling to write effective action plans based on research-based interventions (or strategies). In order to develop a plan that will result in increased student learning, interventions must meet certain requirements. The participants will learn what these are and look at some sample plans.



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Science Strand


Preparing Students for High School Science

Mervin Koehlinger>

How can middle school science teachers help their student get ready for the demands of high school science? What do students need? This session will stimulate science teachers to consider how to help students move ahead in science education. We will challenge each other to think about what we are doing in the classroom and why. We will discuss some of the things that best prepare students for the next level.

Make the Standards Hands-on and I’m Interested

Jane Hunn, 2006 Indiana Science Teacher of the Year

This presentation will be done hands-on to help teachers familiarize themselves with the lessons being presented. Science lessons for grades 6, 7 and 8 will be covered. Teachers will be able to do activities, discuss them and a fresh copy of the activities to take home and use in their own classroom.



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Mathematics Strand


Schoolyards to Skylines: Teaching with Architecture (Math/Science focus)

Jean Linsner and Jennifer Masengarb

Make architecture more than a one-a-year unit! Discover how to make architecture a dynamic tool for teaching math and science and meeting state academic standards. Learn how to use your school and neighborhood as a learning laboratory. Come away with lessons, resources, and field trip ideas.

Hands on Activities for Math and Science/ VU Homework Hotline

Paul Tougaw & Laura Sanders

This session will address how to bring a combination of problem solving according to George Polya and hands-on activities that will encourage scientific inquiry and curiosity into your classroom. The most important aspect of this session is to help you bring excitement and higher-order thinking skills into your lessons. Multiple activities and lessons will be presented that have real life applications and encourage students to see the need for the use of inquiry and problem solving in their lives. There will be a packet of lesson plans that can be used in your classroom tomorrow. Join the excitement and come to this activity filled session designed to help your students solve problems they do not know how to solve. In addition to problem solving techniques, the Valpo HomeworkChat director will present this useful outreach program.



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Social Studies Strand


A Cooperative Approach to: We the People the Citizen and the Constitution.

Stan Harris

Learn how to change your students’ lives through your U.S. History course by using We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution. Curricular materials and training are always provided at no cost to you. The textbook, combined with its innovative culminating activity consisting of a mock congressional hearing, will give them an education in citizenship, government and U.S. History they will never forget.

My Country Tis of Thee – What Do You Mean to Me?

Nancy Poliseno

Connecting Eighth Graders to Americanism through Our Veterans

Orange Middle School has developed a cross-curricular unit for eighth graders which introduces them to the concept of Americanism and the important role they play in our nation as future leaders. Students are actively engaged in fund raising activities, contacting veterans, promoting the program to the media, and developing lessons to connect with the curriculum map and state standards. Teachers are facilitators in their interactive nit which positively connects student to their community and service to our country.

History Isn’t Just History Anymore: How Indiana State Historic Sites can Infuse New Energy into Indiana’s Academic Standards for Your Students.

Anne Fairchild & LeAnn Luce

Some exciting things are happening at Indiana’s State Historic Sites! Traditionally tours present and interpret the history of the site and the people, places and things that surround that history. Now your students can discover how language arts, science, math and art are woven throughout the story of these Indiana treasures.

Tours and lesson plans now reflect integrated Indiana State Academic Standards

We provide In-School Programs as well as hold Special Event School Programs at the site. We are incorporating art, math, science and language arts into new materials.

Schoolyards to Skylines: Teaching with Architecture (Language Arts/Social Studies focus)

Jean Linsner

Make architecture more than a one-a-year unit! Discover how to make architecture a dynamic tool for teaching language arts and social studies and meeting state academic standards. Learn how to use your school and neighborhood as a learning laboratory. Come away with lessons, resources, and field trip ideas.



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Language Arts Strand


Secondary Reading Assessments

Leslie Ballard

Middle and High School improvement committees often have difficulty finding assessments to measure reading comprehension. This presentation will discuss some commercial assessments, but the focus will be on formative assessments that gauge how effectively students learn to use good reading comprehension strategies. If time allows, participants will score a 3-Minute Reading Assessment.

Teaching Shakespeare through Performance

Kari-Anne Innes

This session will look at how to use theatre games and exercises in teaching language arts, with particular emphasis on “Henry IV, Part I” and adolescent themes. Participants will play games from Cambridge School of Shakespeare that has been tested in the Valparaiso University Young Shakespeare Workshop.

Using Literature in the Middle School Curriculum (2-Part Session)

Ann Reiser and Marcella Borcherding

Literature has long been a vital part of children’s lives. This presentation uses stories that reflect society to inspire middle school students to read and learn about the world all around them.

Session 1 will include read alouds and book and author studies. Session 2 will include techniques for using literature circles and book club ideas. Both sessions will include a bibliography and share ways to find the latest titles for middle school readers.

Schoolyards to Skylines: Teaching with Architecture (Language Arts/ Social Studies focus)

Jean Linsner

Make architecture more than a one-a-year unit! Discover how to make architecture a dynamic tool for teaching language arts and social studies and meeting state academic standards. Learn how to use your school and neighborhood as a learning laboratory. Come away with lessons, resources, and field trip ideas.



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Fine Arts Strand


Teaching Shakespeare through Performance

Kari-Anne Innes

This session will look at how to use theatre games and exercises in teaching language arts, with particular emphasis on “Henry IV, Part I” and adolescent themes. Participants will play games from Cambridge School of Shakespeare that have been tested in the Valparaiso University Young Shakespeare Workshop.