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2025 Virtual Conference

Session Length

Session Topic/Title


Session 1:
90 Minutes

Make it Take it!: Creating Engaging Activities for Each Strand of the Reading Rope

Delve into effective literacy instruction with “Make it Take it!” Each strand of the Reading Rope framework will be addressed in a comprehensive model that encapsulates the various components essential for proficient reading. Through hands-on activities, participants will learn how to design engaging and effective instructional materials targeting each strand of the Reading Rope.

From phonological awareness to comprehension and vocabulary acquisition, this course equips educators with the tools and strategies needed to scaffold literacy development across all levels. Drawing on research-backed practices and real-world examples, participants will explore innovative approaches to address the diverse needs of learners.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify and define each strand of the “Reading Rope”, and explain how they differ as well as relate to one another.
  • Develop an engaging lesson plan, for each Reading Strand, and explain how Explicit Instruction is necessary for literacy instruction
  • Create scaffolded lessons that follow a systematic approach to literacy instruction.

Michelle Andros

Session 2:
90 Minutes

Session 3:
90 Minutes

Strategic & Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) Parts 1 and 2

Educators will be introduced to Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI), an evidence-based approach to teaching writing to deaf and hard of hearing students. This session will include an overview of the SIWI driving principles, with actionable steps for beginning SIWI implementation and how to obtain additional professional development.

Learning Objectives

  • Educators will be able to create authentic purposes and opportunities for writing.
  • Educators will be able to model and engage students in a recursive writing process.
  • Educators will be able to integrate explicit instruction of genre-specific text structure.
  • Educators will be able to balance attention to writing and language objectives during writing instruction.

Kim Wolbers

Session 4:
90 Minutes

From Interaction to Formal Language – Becoming the Excellent Observer and Thoughtful Communicator with Children who are Congenitally Deafblind, Session 1: Experiencing the World Through the Sense of Touch

The goal of this introductory session is to initiate and provoke thought and conversation from the participant.

Using video examples and hands-on activities we will explore how to initiate and sustain social interaction, share meaningful emotional experiences, and co-create a mutually understood language with our learners who are deafblind. Discussion will also include thoughts on tactile memory, and the importance of the body in the learning experience.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the world from a tactile-bodily perspective – A world without vision and hearing that is based in the tactile-bodily sense.
  • Participants will gain a deeper understanding of “The Importance of the Sense of Touch” and how it relates to the co-creation of a negotiated and shared tactile-bodily based language with the learner who is deafblind.
  • Participants will gain an understanding of learning from the perspective of a student who is congenitally deafblind; a tactile-bodily learning experience vs. an auditory/visual learning experience.

Christopher Montgomery

Session 5:
90 Minutes

From Interaction to Formal Language – Becoming the Excellent Observer and Thoughtful Communicator with Children who are Congenitally Deafblind, Session 2: The Five Steps of Interaction with children who are congenitally deafblind; applying basic principles of social interaction in the co-creation of a language that does not yet exist

During this session we will explore ideas, topics, and questions for the adult interaction partner of congenitally deafblind learners with emerging language. Using video examples, we will illustrate and discuss five essential elements for beginning, maintaining, and closing an interactive conversation through tactile-bodily communication modes. Discussion will also include an introductory overview of new tools and resources for professionals, families, and adult interaction partners of students who are congenitally deafblind.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will be introduced to “The Five Steps of Interaction” and gain an understanding of the social-interactive communication process: Noticing, Affirming, Naming, Serve and Return, and Closure
  • Participants will gain an understanding of language from the perspective of a student who is congenitally deafblind; a tactile-bodily language vs. an auditory/visual language
  • Participants will gain an understanding of the importance of co-creating a mutually understood language with their student

Christopher Montgomery

Session 6:
90 Minutes

Teaching Mathematical Word Problems and Vocabulary to Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

This presentation addresses the unique challenges faced by educators when teaching mathematical word problems and vocabulary to students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Techniques and strategies will be discussed, and participants will gain insights into enhancing mathematical language comprehension, particularly within the context of American Sign Language (ASL) and word problem solving.

Learning Objectives:

  • The learner will increase their understanding of mathematical language and its nuances, especially as it pertains to the use of ASL and word problems.
  • The learner will learn how to use a graphic organizer in lessons, that is helpful to students when approaching mathematical word problems.
  • The learner will identify the importance of intentional teaching of mathematical vocabulary, and how this knowledge enables students to better understand word problems.

Dawn Kidd

Session 7:
90 Minutes

Emotion Socialization & Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

This session will introduce the topic of “emotion socialization” and emphasize the important role of teachers (and others working in/with school systems) in helping children to learn about emotions. In educational settings, the emphasis is often what the learner is/is not doing or how they are progressing. Importantly, however, through their own actions teachers model appropriate displays of emotion and emotional regulation. This session will engage professionals in considering how they can promote emotional understanding, appropriate emotional engagement, and self-regulation of emotion among children who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

Learning Objectives:

  • Define “emotion socialization” and describe at least two reasons why it is particularly relevant for children who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • Distinguish between “emotion socialization” and “social skills,” providing an example of each to illustrate the difference
  • Identify a minimum of two strategies for promoting emotion socialization that could be implemented in one’s work in the next 2-4 weeks and make a plan to incorporate them into practice

Amy Szarkowski

Session 8:
90 Minutes

Fostering Healthy Relationships with Peers: Pragmatics in Action

This session will delve into some of the challenges that children who are deaf or hard of hearing can have in inclusive educational settings and provide actionable strategies to help them develop positive relationships with their peers. Participants will learn about DHH children’s peer relationships through the lens of pragmatics. Particular attention will be given to how professionals might bolster children’s use of their social communication abilities and increase their understanding of how to build and maintain positive connections with classmates.

Learning Objectives:

  • Share with another professional at least one relevant fact about “healthy peer relationships” that the participant found interesting, which was informed by  the literature described in the workshop
  • Generate a list of 2-3 approaches one could use to bring the topic of “healthy peer relationships” to the team discussions regarding supporting children who are deaf or hard of hearing (e.g., IFSP/IEP meetings, departmental meetings, progress report meetings, meetings regarding placement or service provision)
  • Identify 1-2 students on one’s caseload/in one’s class who might benefit from particular emphasis on positive peer relationships and establish a plan to implement at least one new strategy for fostering this ability that was discussed in the workshop

Amy Szarkowski

Session 9:
60 Minutes

Collaboration and Involvement: Parents and IEP Teams Working Together

Let’s face it – raising, and educating a deaf or hard of hearing child takes time, energy and resources.  Help build a pathway to success by fostering a close working relationship between families and educators.  When IEP team members and families work together on goals, pre-teaching and self-advocacy skills, the child has a strong example of the power and importance of teamwork and collaboration.  Whether your child has similar peers or is the only deaf or hard of hearing student in school, learn how getting involved can help nurture relationships in an IEP meeting and beyond!

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize the importance of collaboration between schools and families when preparing for IEP meetings
  • Understand ways to get involved with your child’s school and help strengthen the relationship with your child’s IEP team
  • Explore creative ways to support your deaf and hard of hearing children when resources don’t readily exist and increase your self-advocacy skills

Teri Urban

Session 10:
90 Minutes

Spill the Tea! What Itinerant Teaching REALLY Looks Like

The model of itinerant teaching is not taught in university programs. There is so much to learn when one is new to the profession, or suddenly moved into the job of teaching students, often 1:1. How does one schedule students, plan travel, track student time and progress, collaborate and communicate with colleagues effectively, troubleshoot hearing assistive technology? The list goes on and on. In this session, we’ll cover the basics, because you don’t know what you don’t know.

Learning Objectives:

  • The difference between caseload and workload
  • Ideas for tracking, scheduling, and self-monitoring
  • What questions to ask and how to more effectively ask them

Brenda Wellen