Association for Constructivist Teaching Conference 2020

A Curated Event

October 24, 2020

10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST

Join us in a day of conversations about the meaning and role of "peace", "justice", "equity" and "equality" in the classroom.

A portion of the conference fee from the event will be donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center.


Keynote Speakers

Dr. Christopher Emdin

Dr. Christopher Emdin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University; where he also serves as Director of the Science Education program and Associate Director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education. He is the author of the book For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education.

Dr. Martin Nalls

Dr. Nalls has more than seventeen years of public education experience. As a leader in education, Dr. Nalls has served on several state boards and task forces including the Alabama Association of Middle School Principals.
He currently serves as the head of I3 Academy, a charter school whose mission is the encourage children to imagine, investigate and innovate.

Workshop Speakers

Dr. Jane Broderick

Professor, Department of Early Childhood Education, East Tennessee State University.

Her research focuses on the development of curriculum to meet the needs of diverse children within an emergent curriculum / Reggio inspired environment, teacher development and play. She has taught and developed several early childhood curriculum courses. She coordinates an Emergent Inquiry Certificate Program and co-coordinates a PhD Program. She and her co-researcher, Dr. Seong Bock Hong, are co-authors an NAEYC publication, From Children’s Interests to Children’s Thinking: Using a Cycle of Inquiry to Plan Curriculum. She has presented in international, national, and regional conferences.

Dr. Seong Bock Hong

Professor, Department of Early Childhood Education, University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Her research spans the development of curriculum to meet the needs of diverse children with a Reggio- inspired environment. She has taught and developed several early childhood curricula. She and her co-researcher, Jane Broderick, are co-authors an NAEYC publication, From Children’s Interests to Children’s Thinking: Using a Cycle of Inquiry to Plan Curriculum. She has presented at international, national and state early childhood conferences and has published scholarly articles documenting her research. She is president of The Association for Constructivist Teaching (ACT). She contributes to both state and national organizations regarding best practices for educating future teachers and working with in-service teachers to promote the development and education of young children.

Dr. Steven Leonard Jacobs

Chair of Judaic Studies, Emeritus Aaron Aronov Endowed Chair in Judaic Studies, University of Alabama

Dr. Jacobs’ most recent book is entitled Antisemitism: Exploring the Issues (2020) Dr. Jacobs’ primary research foci are in Biblical Studies, translation and interpretation, including the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

He received his B.A. from Penn State University; and his B.H.L., M.A.H.L., D.H.L., D.D., and rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. A resident of Alabama for more than three decades, he has taught at Spring Hill College, Mobile; University of Alabama, Birmingham-Southern College, Samford University, Birmingham; the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Calhoun Community College, Huntsville; as well as serving congregations in Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville.

He will speak about hate crimes in America.

Alex Levinson

Special Education Teacher, Thompson High School, Alabaster, AL

Mr. Levinson earned his B.S. in Collaborative Education at Birmingham-Southern College and his MEd in special education at Seattle University. While in Seattle he spent 3 years teaching at South Shore K-8 in Seattle, WA. The scope of his teaching includes students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Mr. Levinson will speak from his perspective as a white man living and working in South Seattle. He is passionate about building relationships with students, parents, and colleagues in order to honor the lived experience of each child.

Sonia Semana

Director of the Fullerton College Child Development and Educational Studies Lab School

She has a strong background in constructivist theory and practice that guides her leadership at the lab school and in the broader early childhood community where she organizes and supports innovative professional development opportunities.

Dr. Mark Van Ryzin

Lecturer, University of Oregon College of Education

Dr. Van Ryzin is a statistics instructor at the University of Oregon in the College of Education and a Research Scientist at the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene, Oregon. Dr. Van Ryzin has a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota and has conducted research with middle and high schools for more than 10 years. In that time, he has published a substantial number of scientific research articles in peer-reviewed journals on topics such as school climate, bullying and victimization, substance use, delinquent and prosocial behavior, academic engagement and achievement, and teacher-to-student and student-to-student relationships. He has also collaborated with dozens of teachers in the implementation of group-based approaches to instruction in middle and high school classrooms, and he uses these techniques in his own teaching at the University of Oregon. Dr. Van Ryzin has led workshops on group-based approaches to instruction for a variety of audiences over the last several years and has presented at dozens of scientific conferences during his career as a researcher.

Dr. Leslie Zorwick

Professor of Psychology, Hendrix College

Dr. Zorwick’s research includes how people are influenced by the presence and absence of group stereotypes and effective remedies for stereotyping and prejudice. She will address these issues specific to middle school classrooms.

Dr. Rashid Faisal

Leadership Coach at Teachers College of Columbia University

Dr. Faisal is an award-winning teacher and principal. His area of expertise includes the history of Black education, and academic identity formation in Black male students.  Dr. Faisal provided master-teacher coaching for the University of Michigan-Dearborn, principal-intern coaching for Oakland University and Teachers College of Columbia University, and school improvement coaching for metro-Detroit school districts.  He completed doctoral studies in urban education at the University of Michigan-Dearborn where he was a King-Chavez-Parks Fellow and Honour Scholar. Dr. Faisal completed a Master of Education in School Principalship at Teachers College of Columbia University, a Master of Arts in Education at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and two Bachelors of Arts degrees in sociology and teacher education at Madonna University. Dr. Faisal is author of numerous articles and books, including Listen to the Beat of the Trump: The Essence of Servant Leadership, Daddy’s Reminders: A Black Father’s Message to His Daughter, and two upcoming publications: Cornelius Henderson, The Ambassador Bridge, and The Talented Tenth, and Black Oarsmen: Early African American Pioneers in Collegiate Rowing.  Dr. Faisal currently serves on the racism in schools advisory commission for Michigan Department of Education.

Dr. Chris Gordon

Coordinator of Anishinaabe Language and Culture & Teacher

Dr. Gordon has worked at the K - 8 Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting Anishinaabe Public School Academy in Michigan since 1999. He is the Coordinator of Anishinaabe Language and Culture as well as a teacher. Dr. Gordon strives to instill a foundation of respect for self and others while building knowledge in the language and culture of the Anishinaabe. He is of the generation reclaiming what was lost and continues to learn from elders today. Dr. Gordon's academic emphasis has been on Curriculum and Instruction with emphasis on Indigenous language and culture revitalization as well as integration within various school settings. He was raised in Baawiting (The Place of the Rapids - Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan) where he continues to live with his wife Janet and two daughters Tia and Maci.

Dr. Khalid el-Hakim

Founder and curator of the Black History 101 Mobile Museum

Dr. Khalid el-Hakim is the founder and curator of the Black History 101 Mobile Museum, a collection of over 10,000 original artifacts of Black memorabilia dating from the trans-Atlantic slave trade era to hip-hop culture. Dr. el-Hakim has been called the "Schomburg of the Hip-Hop generation" because of his passionate commitment to carry on the rich tradition of the Black Museum Movement.   He has received national and international attention for his innovative work of exhibiting Black history outside of traditional museum spaces.  Most recently Dr. el-Hakim was given the distinct honor of being named among the Change Makers for NBC Universal’s Erase the Hate campaign and was one of the 100 Men of Distinction for 2017 in Black Enterprise magazine. As the nation's premiere Black history traveling exhibit, the Black History 101 Mobile Museum has exhibited in 40 states at over 500 institutions including: colleges/universities, K-12 schools, corporations, libraries, conferences, and cultural events making it the most sought-after exhibit of its kind in America.  In 2013, he published The Center of the Movement: Collecting Hip Hop Memorabilia, a groundbreaking book on the material artifacts of hip-hop culture.  Dr. El-Hakim has also worked for over twenty years in the hip hop industry as a manager and/or booking agent for artists such as The Last Poets, Proof of D12, Jessica Care Moore, and Professor Griff of Public Enemy. Dr. el-Hakim taught middle school social studies in Detroit for 15 years and recently founded the Michigan Hip Hop Archive which opens on the campus of Western Michigan University in 2020.

Dr. Rose Gong

Professor, Department of Teaching, Learning and Foundations, Eastern Illinois University

Dr. Gong has over 26 years of teaching and researching experiences in the field of Humanistic and Social Foundations of Education with a focus on philosophy of education and multicultural education. Her areas of research center on the issues of social justice, cultural differences, and educational equity for minority children. She is interested in utilizing philosophical analysis to examine issues, concepts and practices in teacher education with the intention to improve teaching and learning and make education equal for all. 

Dr. Angela Falter Thomas

Associate Professor of Education at Bowling Green State University

Dr. Thomas served as a US Fulbright Scholar in the Czech Republic during the 2018-19 academic year. A classroom teacher for 20 years before becoming a professor, she has published over 25 articles and presents extensively at national and international conferences.

Olivia Behm

Teaching assistant for the Wauseon Virtual Academy at Wauseon High School

Olivia Behm is a teaching assistant for the Wauseon Virtual Academy at Wauseon High School as well as the assistant speech and debate coach. Additionally, she is the Public Relations Consultant for the Ohio Speech and Debate Association. She graduated from Bowling Green State University in 2020. While attending BGSU, she was involved in various leadership. She was the treasurer of the Adolescent to Young Adult Association and the Coordinator for the Panel Program, a program that educated BGSU students on LGBTQ+ identities and allyship, for the Queer/Trans Student Union. She is also a graduate of the BGSU Honors College, her Honors Project being the Queer Literature Club, a student organization that focuses on reading queer young adult literature, which is still in operation today. As a teacher, she seeks to be the role model she would have needed when she was a student.

Dr. Christy McConnell

Professor of Curriculum Studies and Educational Foundations at University of Northern Colorado

Dr. McConnell’s research focuses on ecological and aesthetic experiences in education, along with curriculum design. She has written extensively on ecological mindedness and its import for K-12 education, and is co-author with Bradley Conrad and Bruce Uhrmacher of Lesson Planning with Purpose: Five Approaches to Curriculum Design (Teachers College Press, 2020). Dr. McConnell is the Chair of the AERA Elliot Eisner SIG and serves on the Executive Council for the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum. She taught high school English for seven years and believes passionately in empowering teachers to create their own curriculum. 

Dr. P. Bruce Uhrmacher

Professor of Research Methods and Statistics; Chair, Higher Education Department, at Morgridge College of Education, University of Denver

Dr. Uhrmacher’s research focuses on curriculum theory and practice with an eye towards aesthetic approaches to education. He also has a strong interest in the qualitative research method of criticism and connoisseurship. His latest co-authored books include, Lesson Planning with Purpose: Five Approaches to Curriculum Design; Using Educational Criticism and Connoisseurship for Qualitative Research; and Beyond the One Room School. Dr. Uhrmacher has served as President of the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum, and as Chair of the Elliot Eisner SIG of AERA.

Dr. Bradley Conrad

Associate Professor in the School of Education at Capital University

Dr. Conrad is co-author with Christy McConnell and Bruce Uhrmacher of the book Lesson Planning with Purpose: Five Approaches to Curriculum Design. He has published several articles in the areas of curriculum, teacher dispositions, culturally responsive pedagogy, and the arts in education. He serves as the team lead on the Tales from the Classroom Project, an undertaking designed to improve education by sharing the voices of those in our schools along with the best research in K–12 education. He is a co-founding member and program chair of the AERA Elliot Eisner SIG and is communications chair as well as an executive board member for the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum. He has served many roles in K-12 education, including that of teacher, department coordinator, instructional coach, curriculum writer, and new teacher mentor.

Racheal Allen

Chief Operating Officer for the Marygrove Conservancy

Racheal Allen serves as the founding Chief Operating Officer for the Marygrove Conservancy, an organization formed in 2018 to steward the campus and grounds of the 53-acre Marygrove campus in northwest Detroit. After receiving a B.A. in English from Marygrove College in 2006, Racheal has served as a public-school administrator, central office executive and non-profit leader for various Detroit-based mission driven organizations. In her current role, she oversees daily campus operations, P20 cradle to career programs, partnerships and external engagement. Her vision is to transform the Marygrove campus into an inclusive, collaborative hub for innovation in the Fitzgerald community.

Dr. Jacqueline Grennon Brooks

Professor Emerita in the Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership at Hofstra University

Jacqueline Grennon Brooks is Professor Emerita in the Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership at Hofstra University. She is a co-founder of the Long Island Explorium, a children’s museum of science and engineering, and author of books, articles and chapters on constructivist pedagogy, design-problem.  Jacqueline Grennon Brooks is Professor Emerita in the Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership at Hofstra University. She is a co-founder of the Long Island Explorium, a children’s museum of science and engineering, and author of books, articles and chapters on constructivist pedagogy, design-problem curricula, and teaching practice that honors students’ curiosity and collaboration. 

Calvin Kern

Student in the Masters program for Curriculum and Teaching at Bowling Green State University

Calvin Kern is a current student of the Masters program for Curriculum and Teaching at Bowling Green State University. He specializes in high school English education, and is currently working on research in culturally responsive teaching. When he isn’t in school, he typically is drinking coffee or hiking.

Jaleelah Hassan Ahmed

Superintendent of Hamtramck Public Schools, Doctoral Student

Mrs. Ahmed is the superintendent of schools at Hamtramck Public Schools. Prior to that, Mrs. Ahmed has served in various high poverty school districts in both the traditional public and public charter academies. Under her leadership, a public charter academy was acknowledged by the Michigan Department of Education as a Reward School. Since 1996, Mrs. Ahmed has been recognized as a distinguished educator. In addition, to serving in Pre-K- 12, she is also an instructor at Wayne State University.

As a recipient of the King, Chavez and Parks Fellowship, she has completed the coursework for a dual concentration program in Educational Leadership and Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Michigan. Mrs. Ahmed holds endorsements in Literacy K-12, ESL, and Educational Leadership. As a researcher, she studies in the following areas: high poverty school districts, parents and family’s engagement, women leadership, English learners, at risk student population and critical pedagogies.

Amanda Lezotte

Whole Child Consultant at Berrien Regional Educational Service Agency

Amanda Lezotte is the Whole Child Consultant at Berrien Regional Educational Service Agency in Southwest Michigan, where she partners with local administrative and staff teams to create inclusive environments for over 26,000 students across the county.  She has also held the positions of School Improvement Facilitator and Academic Instructional Specialist. Previously,
Amanda taught middle/high school history and English for thirteen years. She is a licensed school administrator in Michigan and holds an MA in Ed. Leadership. Her post-graduate work focuses on leadership for equity and social justice. Currently, she provides professional learning, consultation, and coaching related to managing student behavior, building positive relationships, understanding trauma, restorative practices, social emotional learning, crisis management and equity. Amanda is a nationally-certified trainer for Youth Mental Health First Aid, certified Trainer of Trainers through the International Institute for Restorative Practices, and is certified in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention from Cornell. Ms. Lezotte’s true passion is helping to create and sustain inclusive, nurturing, and equitable educational environments for all students.

Dr. Amelia Gunn Spencer

Associate Professor of Education at Birmingham-Southern College

Dr. Amelia Gunn Spencer is an Associate Professor of Education at Birmingham-Southern College. She received her PhD from University of North Carolina in special education in 1993. Dr. Spencer has taught at BSC for the last twelve years and is the Chair of the Education Department. She has led eight service learning trips to Africa during Birmingham-Southern’s January term.

Dr. Taajah Felder Witherspoon

Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham

Taajah Felder Witherspoon serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham for pre-service early childhood and elementary educators. She has a passion for teaching with understanding and providing students opportunities to construct knowledge across the curriculum more specifically with African American students in urban settings. Her writing has appeared in the Social Studies and the Young Learner, Teaching Children Mathematics, as well as School Science and Mathematics Journal. She has developed her beliefs through her current position and previous roles as a classroom teacher and math coach. She also extended her knowledge base with a recent Administrative Certification as well as through her works as she plans and works collaboratively with administrators in underserved urban and affluent districts to address teaching and learning concerns.

Dr. Gene Fellner

Assistant Professor of Education at City University of New York (CUNY)

I am an assistant professor of education at City University of New York (CUNY) where I teach master’s pre-service special education teachers in Staten Island and an occasional arts-based research class at the CUNY Graduate Center. I spent 25 years as a fine artist and political activist before earning my Master’s degree in English as a second language and my PhD in Urban Education.

Susanna Brock

New York-based theater maker, performer, and educator

Susanna Brock is a Swedish, New York-based theater maker, performer, and educator. For the past 14 years, she has had the opportunity to work in many different parts of the world, including Stockholm, Paris, Kampala, Nairobi, and New York, where she has facilitated and performed in school and community-based programs. In addition to her work with young people, she also develops and facilitates professional development in arts-based learning for teachers, administrators, and college students. In 2020 she graduated with a Master's of Applied Theater from CUNY School of Professional Studies.

Dr. Tara Voit

Head Start Director with the Santa Clara Pueblo in Espanola, NM

Dr. Tara Terry Voit is the Head Start Director with the Santa Clara Pueblo in Espanola, NM. She is an Adjunct Professor at the Santa Fe Community College in the Department of Early Childhood Education. She has been a longtime advocate for social justice in the realm of education, particularly focusing on the rights of young children in marginalized communities.

Dr. Alice S. Etim

Professor of Management Information Systems at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU)

Alice S. Etim is Professor of Management Information Systems at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU). She received her Ph.D. from the iSchool at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. Etim is a 2017 and 2020 Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow Award recipient from International Education and Carnegie Mellon Foundation. She is a Research Fellow with the Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM). Etim has had 12 years of industry work experience as Project Manager and Staff Software Engineer with IBM Corporation.

Dr. James S. Etim

Professor of Education in the Department of Education at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU)

James S. Etim is a Professor of Education in the Department of Education at Winston Salem State University, NC. where he teaches courses in middle grades education, instructional strategies and Education , Culture and Society. His research areas are in middle grades English Language Arts, women and education, education across cultures and educational reform. He has received two Fulbright Specialist Awards- one to Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria and the other to the Polytechnic of Namibia(2010 and 2012 respectively). He has also received a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Award to the University of Jos, Nigeria (2017).

Yusi Gao

Mandarin teacher at the Brearley School in New York City

Yusi Gao was born and raised in China. He is an alumnus of the Foreign language education and TESOL MA program from NYU. He has been working as the Mandarin teacher at the Brearley School in New York City since 2011. He specializes in using drama games to enhance students' engagement and interest in learning Mandarin. He has presented in professional development conferences for Mandarin teachers around the country.

Dr. Abel Rubén Hernández Ulloa

Professor in the Department of Education at Guanajuato University

Dr. Abel Rubén Hernández Ulloa is a Professor in the Department of Education at Guanajuato University. He holds a BA and Master's degrees in Philosophy by Mexican National Autonomous University (UNAM) and Master's Degree in Economics by Monterrey Tech (ITESM). Obtained his PhD in Educational Research at Lancaster University, UK with an investigation on the development of abductive reasoning. He is interested in the didactics of logical, mathematical, ethical and moral reasoning considering a pedagogical approach that integrates metacognition, developmental epistemology, and psychology. In 2014 He organized the first International Colloquium on Human Welfare Rights, Global Ethics, and Education; and the participants from Mexico and USA signed an agreement to collaborate as International Research Network on Human Development. Now the network also collaborates with researchers from Chile and Germany.

Dr. Bruce Marlowe

Professor of Educational Psychology and Special Education, and Chair of the Department of Education at the University of South Carolina Beaufort

Bruce Marlowe is a Professor of Educational Psychology and Special Education, and Chair of the Department of Education at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. Bruce is the co-author of Creating and Sustaining the Constructivist Classroom, (2005) and of a six-part video series entitled, Creating the Constructivist Classroom (The Video of Journal Education). Together with his colleague Alan Canestrari, he co-edited Educational Psychology in Context: Readings for Future Teachers, (2006); Handbook of Educational Foundations: International Perspectives (2019), and Educational Foundations: An Anthology of Critical Readings, 4th Edition, (2021). He has authored eight book chapters, 18 periodicals or proceedings in academic publications, and he has presented at over 40 academic conferences throughout the U.S. and in Canada, Finland, France, Italy, Malta and Turkey.

Dr. Lori A. Vanderwill

Research Scientist at the University of Washington, Seattle

Lori A. Vanderwill is a research scientist at the University of Washington, Seattle. Dr. Vanderwill’s area of expertise includes trauma-informed practices for children and youth across systems. She is particularly interested in expanding evidence for interventions that target caregivers’ and teachers’ ability to care for children and youth who are impacted by trauma. Other research interests include social and emotional learning, youth and adolescent mental health, child-wellbeing, and foster and adoptive outcomes. Dr. Vanderwill is a Limited Licensed Master’s Social Worker in the State of Michigan.

More speakers to be announced soon!

Register Now

One of the signature features of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was to provide for the integration of schools. Our country has been struggling to actualize the spirit of that law for many years. Perhaps the revitalized social justice movement of 2020 can help us all finally reach the law's goals.

The Association for Constructivist Teaching has chosen a conference fee of $19.64 to remind the membership and conference attendees of our pledge to uphold social justice principles in every setting in and out of school. $19.64 also represents our commitment to offer an affordable opportunity for all to participate. No one will be turned away due to hardship.

A portion of each fee will be donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center, founded in 1971 to work toward the promise of the civil rights movement, with headquarters in Alabama, the state of the originally planned 2020 ACT conference.

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