2022 ACT Conference Schedule

Saturday, October 22

Attending by ZOOM? We will email you a link by 8:00 am the day of the conference.




In-Person Room or Zoom Room

Conference Opening

(½ hour)

10:00 -10:30 am (ET)

09:00 – 09:30 am (CT)

08:00 – 08:30 am (MT)

07:00 – 07:30 am (PT)



ACT President Kelly Russell

SEC 116 or ZOOM Lobby


Overview of Conference

Beth VanMeeteren, ACT President Elect


Breakout Session #1

(75 min.)

10:30 – 11:45 am (ET)

09:30 – 10:45 am (CT)

08:30 – 09:45 am (MT)

07:30 – 08:45 am ( PT)


Classroom Management using a Constructivist Approach

Intended Audience: Early Childhood/Elementary

SEC 216 & Zoom Room #1


While classroom management is often described in terms of teacher actions to facilitate student learning, the methods and strategies utilized to do so vary widely. In this session, we explore different conceptualizations of classroom management and associated strategies, and consider how using constructivist principles of learning can aid in creating a positive, supportive, and learning-focused classroom.



Stephanie Schmitz

Associate Professor, University of Northern Iowa

Writing Alone/Together: Reconceptualizing Graduate Level Writing

Intended Audience: Higher Education

SEC 217 & Zoom Room #2


Based on constructivist understandings of learning, this session presents ways to engage graduate students in individual writing while being part of an active learning group. Using examples from a doctoral seminar in which students develop their dissertation chapter 2 (the review of the literature), we will discuss ways to maintain a high-performing, supportive learning environment in which students make sense of how synthesizing, outlining, drafting, and editing are all parts of scholarly writing.


Karla Loya

Associate Professor of Educational Leadership, University of Hartford

Digging deeper into studying with and planning for inquiry with children: A focus on friendship

Intended Audience: Early Childhood

SEC 105 & Zoom Room #3


Early childhood educators tend to focus on social emotional development as a focus for learning without realizing the potential for social development to be the focus of in-depth inquiry with children. This session will present a long-term investigation into children’s theories about friendship. Inspiration from William Corsaro’s (1985; 2010) study of friendship in the early years inspired this study in this time of COVID where children have had less opportunity to socialize.



Seong Bock Hong
Professor, University of Michigan-Dearborn

Jane Tingle Broderick Professor at East Tennessee State University

Jennifer Streagle
Interim ECE Program Specialist, Mira Costa College, Oceanside, CA

Maria Lopez
ECE Instructional Specialist, Child Development Center at MiraCosta College

Yi-Cheng Hu- Interim Director/Faculty Child Development Center at MiraCosta College


Break (15 min)


Break Out Session 2

(75 min.)

12:00 – 01:15 pm (ET)

11:00 – 12:15 pm (CT)

10:00 – 11:15 am (MT)

09:00 – 10:15 am (PT)


A Constructivist Approach to STEM Learning and Teaching: Stories from the classroom

Intended Audience: Early Childhood – PK-Grade 2

SEC 216 & Zoom Room #1


This session focuses on five years of work supporting a constructivist approach to early STEM learning in Iowa. Participants will view photos and video from classrooms and teachers dipping their toes into the constructivist approach and their children’s response.


Beth VanMeeteren 

Director of the Iowa Regents’ Center for Early Developmental Education & Associate Professor at the University of Northern Iowa

Does this make sense? Exploring Student Sensemaking in the Elementary Science Classroom

Intended Audience: Elementary

SEC 217 & Zoom Room #2


In this session, the participants will review traditional science lessons routinely used to teach specific concepts and practices.  We will analyze the lesson plans, goals, and levels of engagement in small groups.  Applying a constructivist mindset, we will rebuild traditional science lessons to include phenomena, student sensemaking, and cultural relevancy.



Elizabeth Barrett-Zhan

Field Editor at National Science Teachers Association

Coaching Emergent Constructivist Educators

Intended Audience: Early Childhood & Elementary

SEC 105 or ZOOM Room #3


Embracing constructivist learning and teaching is much like reaching formal operations in pedagogy. One cannot return to traditional teaching, but will still need support in their developing understanding of what it means to be a constructivist educator. In this session, a constructivist coach and her mentee share the process of becoming a constructivist teacher.



Christina Sales & Gwen Harmon

Christina is an Assistant Professor (ret) and Mentee of Dr. Rheta DeVries, Gwen is a former preschool teacher under the tutelage of Dr. DeVries.


Break (30 min)


Breakout Session 3

(75 min)

01:45 – 03:00 pm (ET)

12:45 – 02:00 pm (CT)

11:45 – 01:00 pm (MT)

10:45 – 12:00 pm (PT)


Implementing constructivist-based teaching strategies to promote empathy with young children

Intended Audience: Early Childhood

SEC 216 or Zoom Room #1


The purpose of this session is to explore ways that teachers can approach the topic of empathy with young children, using constructivist teaching practices.  Traditionally, empathy is thought to be an abstract concept for children to comprehend; however, by using concrete, developmentally appropriate methods that are supported by the theory of constructivism, teachers can promote empathy and other prosocial behaviors in their classrooms in meaningful ways.



Randa Dunlop

Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina Aiken

Early Career Teacher Educators Support Group

Intended Audience: Higher Ed and Early Career Teachers

SEC 217 or ZOOM Room #2


The purpose of the session is to share our experience and knowledge of developing a collaborative support group with early career teacher educators. Research shows that faculty writing groups increase the productivity of members and help to keep members accountable for their work (Franks, 2018).


Qiuju (Daisy) Tian
Assistant Professor, Mercyhurst University

Tsitsi Nyabando, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at Eastern New Mexico University

Narges Sareh, Ph.D., Assistant professor of education at Northwest Missouri State University

Patience Mensah-Bonsu, Ph.D. candidate, Early childhood education at East Tennessee State University

Exploring Air with Young Children

Intended Audience: Early Childhood

SEC 105 or Zoom Room #3


We often take air for granted and do not recognize how it is used in science and engineering design, applying force to move objects and create bubbles and foam. In 75 minutes we will only touch on the many ways children engage with the physical science concepts involved in open and focused explorations of air. Discuss how young children commonly interact with air and how to support extending their interest into a practice of science inquiry. The session focuses on 3- and 4-year-olds but has applications from infancy through 2nd grade. The associated Wakelet page holds many resources for implementing and learning more.



Peggy Ashbrook

Early childhood science educator: NSTA Early Years blog contributor https://www.nsta.org/blog/all?keywords+Early+Childhood; Author, Science Learning in the Early Years, and Science is Simple

Break (15 min)



(75 min)


03:15 – 04:30 pm (ET)

02:15 – 03:30 pm (CT)

01:15 – 02:30 pm (MT)

12:15 – 01:30 pm (PT)

Piaget 2.0? Toward Lifelong Sensorimotor Mathematics Learning

Intended Audience: All

SEC 216 or ZOOM Lobby


Dor Abrahamson (PhD, Learning Sciences, Northwestern University, 2004) is a Professor at the Graduate School of Education, University of California Berkeley, where he runs the Embodied Design Research Laboratory. Abrahamson is a design-based researcher who invents pedagogical technologies for teaching and learning mathematics. He analyzes data gathered in the course of evaluating these products to develop theoretical models of cognitive and social process leading to insight and fluency. Abrahamson is particularly interested in relations between learning to move in new ways and learning mathematics concepts. His research has been funded by federal agencies and private foundations. Otherwise, Dor enjoys playing the cello, hiking, biking, reading, and spending time with his family and pets.


Dor Abrahamson

Professor, Graduate School of Education, University of California Berkeley

Break (15 min)


Panel Discussion

(60 min)

04:45 – 5:45 pm (ET)

03:45 – 4:45 pm (CT)

02:45 – 3:45pm (MT)

01:45 – 2:45 pm (PT)

Constructing an Understanding of the World and How it Works: Panel Discussion

SEC 216 or Zoom Room Lobby


Dr. James Pelech is in his 16th year at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois where he will be department chair in the fall. Prior to that he was a high school math teacher for 30 years. Jim, a former President of ACT,  has written two books on Constructivism. He is working on a third book which will focus on Constructivism and action research. He was a Fulbright Specialist to Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. He and his wife, Gwen, live in Joliet, Illinois.


Dr. Kelly Russell studied Piaget’s constructivist theories under the tutelage of Dr. Constance Kamii. After graduating from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a degree in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in epistemology, she began teaching at Birmingham-Southern College where she has been since 2007. She teaches classes in child development, science education, and developmental math.


Dr. Carolyn Hildebrandt is a Professor of Psychology at the University or Northern Iowa and colleague of the late Dr. Rheta DeVries.


Dr. Randa Dunlap received her Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education from East Tennessee State University where she not only taught and advised undergraduate-level students in the Early Care and Education program, but she also worked with young children in a multi-age preschool classroom at a Reggio Emilia-inspired lab school.  She spent time collecting data for her dissertation in public elementary school third grade classrooms in Northeast Tennessee.  Dr. Dunlap is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina Aiken where she teaches literacy-related courses.





Conference Closure

(30 min)

05:45 – 06:15 pm (ET)

04:45 – 05:15 pm (CT)

03:45 – 04:15 pm (MT)

02:45 – 05:15 pm (PT)

ACT Conference Closure

SEC 216 or ZOOM Lobby


Kelly Russell –  ACT President

Beth VanMeeteren – ACT President Elect

Randa Dunlap – 2023 ACT Conference Chair