AFT TEACH 2019 Conference Sessions


Curriculum and Content

Contemporary Perspectives: Representing Native American Culture in Schools
Native Americans and Native American culture are widely misrepresented and misappropriated. This workshop will help participants learn how to present history from a native perspective, help their students (native and non-native) see Native American culture as current and thriving, rather than through a deficit lens, and provide various ways of integrating Native themes into the curriculum—from food sovereignty in science and social studies to literature to reading selections.

Current Events in Your Classroom: Fostering Dialogue in Divisive Times
Teaching current events is challenging: The news cycle moves quickly, stories are complex, and modern issues can elicit strong emotions. Topics that are the most important in our civic life - from immigration debates to voting rights - are often the most contentious. Yet engaging with current events is a crucial part of students’ development as informed and humane citizens in a democracy. Join Facing History and Ourselves to consider how to make meaningful connections between current events and your curriculum at the middle and high school level. We’ll explore strategies for navigating tough topics and partisan politics in diverse classrooms, and we’ll share teaching resources and ideas for addressing breaking news and ongoing global issues in meaningful ways.

Developing High-Impact STEM Programs
Are you looking to start a STEM program in your classroom or school? In this session, a local-based STEM coordinator will share experiences on developing a high impact STEM program and provide examples that will help participants develop their own science, technology, engineering and math programs. You will hear about different processes, from concept to creation, and learn of resources within their individual spheres of influence that will support program development.

Empower Your Students with the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards
Join a presentation by Teaching Tolerance (a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center) to introduce the project’s Social Justice Standards, which provide a road map for anti-bias education and social emotional learning at every grade level. In this interactive workshop, participants will learn how the standards provide a foundation for authentic learning that builds upon students’ experiences and voice and allows them to be who they are without diminishing the identity of others. Each participant will receive a copy of the Social Justice Standards as well as where to find other free resources to support anti-bias education.

Engaging Students Through Career Education and Apprenticeship Opportunities
Teachers, parents and students often are unaware of the changes in career and technical education programs that provide students with 21st-century skills along with technical skills and academics. This session presents the facts on how today’s CTE is a successful approach to getting students to graduate with the skills needed for college and career. Both CTE and apprenticeships offer alternate pathways to prepare students for well-paying, high-demand jobs. The AFT has partnered with North America's Building Trades to connect our teachers and students to apprenticeship opportunities as well as an award-winning pre-apprenticeship curriculum that is available for free to public schools.

Engaging Students Through Purposeful Play
Want to increase student engagement and learning? Spark collaboration and critical thinking in your classroom with classroom-based, student-tested games. Learn how to use reflective strategies to move beyond simple game play to deepen student knowledge and understanding. Participants will walk away with ready-to-use resources for all content and grade levels.

Get Your Glow On: Teaching Bioluminescence and Light
Join this session if you’re looking for grade K-2 Next Generation Science Standards-aligned lessons exploring light and bioluminescence. Participants will learn engaging ways to integrate literacy, technology and hands-on engineering into their science lessons involving light. These activities directly correlate to the NGSS topic of “Waves: Light and Sound” and can be differentiated for elementary grade levels and STEAM nights.

How to Spot Fake News and Teach Students to Be Educated News Consumers
The way we interpret and synthesize news plays an important role in how we interact with and make meaning of the world around us. A recently published study from the Stanford History Education Group reveals that 82 percent of middle school students could not distinguish between sponsored content and a real news story on a website. Working with students to critically evaluate the accuracy, meaning and power of informational text has never been more important. In this session, participants will join PBS NewsHour and the Newseum as they take a deep dive into strategies you can use to discuss fake news with your students and the challenges that can arise.

Interactive Constitution: Civic Education for 21st-Century Learners
Are you interested in learning more about the National Constitution Center’s Interactive Constitution? Attend this session to explore innovative, free online tools and resources for making the Constitution’s history, changing interpretation, global context, and modern debates meaningful and dynamic for students through primary source analysis and shared expertise from top constitutional experts. This session will also highlight opportunities for students to participate in online, synchronous, video-conference “exchanges” where classrooms from around the country engage in moderated, civil dialogues about complex constitutional questions.

Learning and Teaching About the U.S. Constitution
The Constitution is a living document that affects us every day. This session will highlight an interactive, free online course by the Center for Civic Education. The course allows educators to bring learning about the Constitution into their classrooms and enhance the teaching of the document with their students. Although the session is geared toward teachers, anyone can take the course as a self-guided tutorial. (Personal devices are not needed to participate in the session.)

Powerful Words: Using Children’s and Young Adult Literature to Teach Tough Topics
Books have the potential to create lasting impressions. When books contain experiences and characters to which children can relate, they foster children’s positive self-concept and respect for diversity. Attend this session to see how a variety of excellent children’s literature can help teachers explore the concepts of bias, diversity and social justice in their own classrooms. Participants will learn about central anti-bias education mastery skills such as developing vocabulary on basic terms and concepts relating to bias and discrimination, appreciating identity and culture, and recognizing and challenging bias and bullying.

Real-World Civic Engagement for Students: From the Classroom to the Community
Our young people are the future. That’s why it’s important to find ways to engage middle and high school students in civic life. Join the United Teachers of Dade (UTD) in this union-created professional development to help students understand how decisions are made in civic life and how they can play a role in the decision-making process. Participants learn ways in which students can collaborate to generate ideas about issues that impact their schools or communities and the steps they can take to effect change.

Re-Imagining Migration: Connecting Immigrants of the Past, Present and Future
We live in an era of mass migration. In the U.S., 26 percent of school-aged students are either immigrants or the children of immigrants, and they are part of the 1 billion people on the move around the world. Thus, young people must understand migration as a shared condition of our past, present and future if they are to develop the knowledge, empathy, and mindsets that sustain inclusive and welcoming communities. In this interactive session, participants will explore a framework for teaching about migration to promote social, emotional, academic and civic growth.

STEM Through Project-Based-Learning: An Engineering Design Process Challenge
Have you ever wondered how to use project-based learning and STEM in the classroom? Well join a group of AFT Teacher Leaders as they demonstrate how to incorporate the engineering design process in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) project. Participants will design and build their project, view student samples and work samples of other STEM/STEAM (including arts) projects for grades K-8. All participants will be provided with a 6-E STEM lesson plan and design portfolio that was designed and tested in the classroom and which can be adapted for other grade levels.

Success in Science: Strategies for English Language Learners
Explore how you can implement innovative ways of teaching science content and vocabulary by deepening your understanding of the Next Generation of Science Standards while learning effective teaching strategies for English language learners. Participants will discover the positive outcomes of hands-on learning, teaching and learning through reflection, and the value of discovery/inquiry teaching methods while using WIDA (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment) Can-Do Descriptors. Learn more about ELLs and their needs and how to choose appropriate materials and hands-on activities for the K-4 classroom.

TeachRock: Using Music to Engage Students Across Disciplines
From social studies and language arts to media studies, science and more: TeachRock has engaging and meaningful material to help educators connect the history of music with classroom work across the disciplines—at no cost to teachers. The lesson plans at are inquiry-based, aligned to instructional standards, and offer a multicultural approach to a variety of topics from the viewpoints of all stakeholders, providing teachers with content that reflects perspectives as diverse as the students in their classrooms. Learn what’s possible with TeachRock!

The Current Events Classroom: Teaching About Bias, Diversity and Social Justice
Are discussions about the #MeToo movement making their way into your classroom? Do you want to discuss other news topics with your students, such as the Muslim ban, voting rights, immigration and “taking a knee,” but are not sure how to do it? Are you concerned that these discussions will backfire, leading to arguments, discord and less understanding? Young people—through overheard conversations and their social media feeds—hear about controversial issues in the news constantly, especially those that concern bias, hate and social justice. Using the Anti-Defamation League’s anti-bias framework, interactive strategies and curriculum content about current events, participants will gain confidence and skill in turning “teachable moments” into enriching classroom lessons and conversations.

Using Primary Sources to Build Skills in Language Arts and Social Studies
Are you looking for a hands-on way to build skills in language arts and social studies? Join the Library of Congress as it presents instructional strategies to promote student engagement and critical thinking through hands-on experience analyzing primary sources, including reading complex informational text and making connections to literary texts. Learn how to access free teaching tools and primary sources from the Library of Congress to develop skills and meet interdisciplinary content standards.

Using Technology in Direct Instruction to Enhance Student Engagement
Direct instruction is a teacher-led strategy most effectively used to deliver new content knowledge. In this session, we will identify the steps used in creating a direct instruction lesson and identify low-tech and high-tech supports that will enhance student engagement during the use of a direct instruction strategy. Bring a lesson that has a lecture component so that you can use strategies learned in this session to enhance your lesson with QR Code, TodaysMeet, Poll Everywhere, Mentimeter and much more.

Visual Literacy: Arts-Based Reading and Writing Strategies
Are you interested in learning how visual art can be incorporated into all content areas as a support for Common Core standards? This session will highlight strategies that support reading and writing skills, including analyzing text, vocabulary acquisition, increasing background knowledge, creative writing, communications skills, and more through activity. You will be led through two activities that can be used in your classroom.

Waves Aren't Just at the Beach: A Physical Science Design Challenge
Gain knowledge in record keeping, classroom setup and classroom management while taking part in a physical science design challenge. You will be introduced to methods of teaching the fundamentals of waves and discover different ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge of waves by building their own wave generators. This session is targeted at middle school, and we will show how such lessons can be adapted up or down. This session combines AFT’s Foundation course with science content developed by AFT’s Science Cadre.

Equity and Social Justice

A Brave Community: Groundwork for Sustainable Ways to Address Race and Racism
The foundation of an equitable school is social and emotional learning for all members of the community. SEL skills enable both young people and adults to build meaningful relationships. This workshop will expose participants to a powerful three-pronged whole-school model for advancing equity in our schools: social and emotional learning, restorative practices and brave conversations about race. In this session, you’ll be able develop the beginnings of your own racial autobiographies and engage in personal sharing around culture.

Beyond Bias and Backlash: Elevating Girls of Color in Addressing the #MeToo Movement and the School-to-Prison Pipeline
In response to mass shootings, many people have urged lawmakers to protect the lives of children in school. Unfortunately, some policymakers have answered these calls with proposals that make schools look more like prisons than places for learning. Students who face race and sex discrimination are doubly impacted by policy and program changes related to school safety and sexual assault protections. But too often, the voices and needs of girls of color are absent from the conversation. This workshop will highlight how educators can promote a safe, healthy and inclusive school for all students by centering on the needs of girls of color—from small decisions like how to enforce dress codes in their classrooms to bigger actions like civic engagement on harassment and discipline policies.

Mentoring Student Activism Through Authentic Learning Experiences
What role can a teacher play in mentoring students toward being activists on issues that matter the most to them? When students are passionate about an issue, how do we empower and enable them to take charge and go out and make a difference? Teachers will walk through the steps of tapping into students’ concerns, creating an organized structure and getting to work on student-centered activism. This session has a particular focus on the movement surrounding gun safety both at the school level and within the community, but the topics are endless as they relate to what your kids care about and what your community needs.

School Safety, Security, and Gun Violence Prevention
Join members of the AFT National Gun Violence Prevention Committee in this powerful session to learn strategies to help reduce gun violence, and improve security and safety in schools and communities across the country.

Strategies to Advocate for English Learners in Effective and Sustainable Ways
You know the current issues facing our English learners in your schools and across the country. Join us to build strategies to advocate for them in effective and sustainable ways. In this session, we will home in on the issues, develop recommendations for action, and review policy implications behind issues. Together, we will begin to formulate an action plan, identify decision-makers as well as other people, organizations, groups and resources that can support you in this area. Join us if you’re ready to educate, advocate and elevate!

The Change-Maker Challenge: Unlocking Students’ Power with Knowledge in Action
Experience firsthand the principles of design thinking, and learn about the different levels of social impact as well as a multistep process where students: identify a problem, research potential solutions to address root causes, think creatively and critically, and devise an action plan to create positive change. Adapted from the proven “Knowledge to Action” model pioneered by education nonprofit World Savvy, change-maker challenges have been successfully used across the nation to inspire and support students to act as empathic, action-oriented change-makers. Take an engaging change-maker challenge back to your classroom and help all your students know they are powerful!

Instructional Strategies

Affirming Cultural and Linguistic Identities in the Classroom
Students need to see themselves reflected in the classroom, be able to learn about their peers, build relationships with one another, and connect with cultures and experiences that inspire their thinking and open their eyes to the world around them. In this session, educators will take part in a hands-on collaborative learning experience in which we research and engage in practices that leverage social emotional learning to affirm the cultural and linguistic identities of our students. Participants will leave inspired and motivated to create new opportunities for all students to engage meaningfully in their classrooms and school learning communities.

An Introduction to Restorative Practices: From Contract Language to Learning Circles
The Saint Paul (Minn.) Federation of Educators bargained for 12 restorative-practice pilot school sites in its 2015 contract. Since then, more than 500 educators in St. Paul have grown from and with this restorative journey. In an interactive learning space, learn from and with other educators in a restorative circle, and experience multiple other ways in which restorative practices can be introduced to a school community to elevate and empower bold conversations about school climate, racial equity and their relationship to public education.

Closing the Relationship Gap: How to Address Invisible Barriers to Student Success
Invisible barriers prevent teachers and students from seeing each other, connecting, and building the relationships necessary for learning and growth to occur. Many classrooms across the nation suffer from the presence and impact of these invisible barriers that show up as implicit bias, stereotype threat, and stereotype consciousness. But when teachers construct environments where those invisible barriers cannot exist, a child can feel innocent enough to engage with the teacher to learn and grow. Closing this relationship gap is crucial to student success. Learn about the specific steps teachers can take to close the relationship gap, restore fractured relations in the classroom and boost student success.

Teaching Strategies for Maximizing Student Engagement
Student engagement can be used to foster a positive learning environment, meet students' preferred learning styles, incorporate technology, encourage collaboration/teamwork among students and maximize academic learning. This interactive session is designed for educators, grades K-12, to experience a wide variety of research-based, engaging, student-led learning strategies that can be immediately implemented in the classroom. In addition to having fun, participants will leave this session with a detailed list of proven teaching strategies that they can use when planning lessons to maximize student engagement.

Examining Bias and Enhancing Empathy to Create Inclusive Classrooms
Although many schools have done much to explore the role of bias and to promote racial equity, we propose that there is similar work to be done with regard to the 1 in 5 students who struggles with brain-based learning and attention issues that affect reading, writing, math, organization and focus. In this session, we will explore the difference between sympathy and empathy, including how bias can drive sympathy. By the end of this session, teachers will be able to implement strategies to better understand all students, including the 1 in 5, by creating an empathetic learning community for teachers and students alike.

Finding Strengths: Supporting Students with Disabilities
All students have unique strengths that they bring into the classroom. This session will provide insights into teaching students with high-incidence disabilities in the classroom in a more positive way. Participants across all grade levels will engage in research-based strategies and learn different tools that they can incorporate into their classroom practices.

Implementing Alternatives to School Discipline: Restorative Practices and Inclusion
Restorative practices represent alternative school discipline designed to lead schools and their communities away from harsh, counterproductive, zero-tolerance environments. With historical roots in practices found worldwide, Restorative practices have been an innovative addition to public schools, and have found their way into teachers’ union contracts. This session is designed to support K-12 teachers and support staff in building a positive learning environment by developing healthy and holistic relationships with students and, as a result, lessening the amount of detentions, suspensions, expulsions and arrests. We will examine the example of Hand in Hand schools in Israel, which provide high-quality, integrated bilingual, multicultural public education for both Arab and Israeli students. The Hand in Hand Schools prove on a daily basis the viability of inclusion and equality for all students.

Integrate Technology in the Classroom with Google’s Applied Digital Skills
In this interactive professional development workshop, teachers will explore Google's free digital literacy units—Applied Digital Skills—which are useful for every content area. This session will deliver an overview of the why, what and how to get it free for your classroom. Then, participants will be guided through the helpful resources included with each of the Applied Digital Skills units with a series of collaborative challenges. This session will prepare you with the tools you need to integrate real-world-based digital learning into your classroom. (Participants will need to bring a laptop.)

How Schools and Communities Can Support Immigrant Students and Families
Community schools across the country are finding unique ways to support their students. Learn how one community school, Wolfe Street Academy in Baltimore, is succeeding in this challenge through robust social and emotional support, creative community engagement, strong collaboration at the district level, and cohesive academic approaches that address the needs of its high English language learner and immigrant population. Participants will learn about additional resources on this topic offered by Colorín Colorado, the nation’s leading website for serving ELLs and immigrant students, including its new guide on how schools and early childhood centers can support immigrant students.

Nine Ways Educators Can Support Children Who Are Experiencing Trauma
Join our partner, First Book, in an interactive session where you will learn about childhood trauma, its effects on students’ learning, and receive research-based action steps to support students. See how First Book Marketplace can support educators’ work in this area, and get tools and materials to take back to your school.

Promoting the Achievement of ELLs by Increasing Family Engagement
Looking for approaches you can use to develop effective home-school partnerships with families of English language learners? In this session, you will examine ways to increase familiarity with the diverse cultures of your community to better identify their needs, create a more welcoming school environment, and develop culturally responsive, two-way communications to strengthen meaningful engagement with diverse families.

Achieving Success with Challenging Students
Are you looking to foster a better understanding of today’s young people? Join fellow educator Daniel Blanchard (author of How to Become More Successful with Difficult Students) in examining the classroom climate you typically find in schools today and the climate that will allow you to be successful with your most challenging students. Myriad strategies will be discussed that will help educators get their students to fall in love with learning all over again.

Get It. Got It. Good! Research-Based Strategies for Effective Instruction
You taught it, but your students didn’t seem to get it. Explore high-quality research that shows you how to create effective learning conditions in your classroom through the use of proven instructional and learner strategies. This session will engage participants around effective lesson planning and teaching, while providing insight on student motivation, checking for understanding and ensuring clarity. Participants will leave this session craving more of AFT’s Strategies for Student Success modules!

Social, Emotional and Academic Strategies for Building an Inclusive Classroom Community
Do you have any students who move through their school day without having a significant relationship with any adult? These “disconnected” kids need us to step in and be “their person.” If you want to do something about these detached children, attend this session to discover ways you can make a difference in your own classroom through social, emotional and academic strategies.

Educator Well-Being

Handling Stress: Turning Challenges into Opportunities
Stress is inevitable! In this session, discover ways of handling stress more successfully as well as strategies you can use to turn challenges into opportunities. Participants will be able to identify stressors and their effects, develop coping mechanisms, and practice strategies to prevent and reduce stress. Attend this session to find your Zen and get a taste of this popular module from AFT’s Strategies for Student Success.

Until All of Us Are Well: Honoring the Inner Lives of People Who Work In Schools
How often do we focus on the wellness of the caring adults who work in schools? We firmly believe that healthy and whole adults are the best intervention for student success. This session will affirm the complex social emotional experience of educators, provide interactive opportunities to reclaim our professional identities, and explore ways that people who work in schools might advocate to make staff wellness a priority.

Technology and Environmental Health: Increasing Awareness and Improving Safety for Teachers and Students
Cellphones and digital devices and Wi-Fi increasingly are being integrated into schools, but are you aware of the scientific research that links wireless technology to health issues, including memory and sleep problems, headaches, and even cancer? In this session, we will review recent teacher union actions on this increasing occupational health risk and learn educational solutions for schools that enable internet access with lowered health risks.

(As of March 6, 2019)