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The Language Series: 2015

Language and the Brain: How we learn best

The 16th Annual Language Series will take place on November 6th and 7th, 2015 and feature a keynote presentation by Dr. Mark Bertin, M.D.

Dr. Mark BertinDr. Mark Bertin will lead us in the exploration of how understanding brain development can guide the learning process. Understanding the workings of the brain will facilitate learning and help us to become more effective teachers and care providers. Two of the most vital and proven areas of development that influence learning are language and a set of self-management skills called executive function. Children best thrive in teaching and learning environments that mirror and support typical child development. More about Dr. Bertin >>

About the Language Series

The Language Series supports educators in understanding the critical role that language plays in the social and academic success of all students. The focus of the coming Fall 2015 Language Series is on creating learning environments that are aligned to the way the brain works. This alignment positively impacts students’ learning and their understanding of the world, making use of all of our mental capacities and the multiple pathways of access to content and concepts.

A keynote presentation as well as workshops with experienced practitioners will inspire and engage you through hands-on activities and specific examples. As participants, you will take away concrete ideas for immediate implementation in your setting.

In our Saturday sessions we will explore examples of learning environments that support all learners for academic success. We hope you can come and participate in the exploration of methods and strategies that will enhance your practice by maximizing its potential to serve today's diverse educational settings that may include English language learners as well as students who have difficulties acquiring or developing language.


We thank the NYS Statewide Language Regional Bilingual Education Resource Center (RBERN) at New York University for sponsoring our 2015 Annual Conference with its special support of 20 teachers and student teachers to attend the conference.

Saturday Workshops

  • Supporting Receptive Language Through Transitions and Meetings

    This workshop will focus on strategies and routines that support all students, particularly those with receptive language delays, during classroom transitions and meetings. Through viewing video, pictorial and anecdotal data, participants will have the opportunity to learn about how explicit expectations, consistent language, structured routines and interactive meetings can enhance the participation of ALL learners throughout the school day. Participants will be given time to analyze one component of their school day and develop actionable plans to bring newly-found strategies into their classrooms.

    Facilitator: Eve Selver-Kassell, M.Ed.

    Eve Selver-Kassell, M.Ed. is a Learning Specialist at the Bank Street School for Children. In that capacity, she supports children who are 3-10 years old through pushing into the classroom, consulting with teachers and conducting informal assessments. Prior to working at the Bank Street School, she taught in self-contained, special education settings for seven years in grades K-4. She is dedicated to creating integrated curriculum and using multiple modalities, particularly movement, to support all kinds of learners. Eve is a graduate of Bank Street College with a degree in Childhood Special and General Education. Eve is also certified as a Somatic Movement Therapist and Educator through the Dynamic Embodiment- Somatic Movement Therapy Training program.

  • Let’s Be Hands On! Using American Sign Language in the Classroom

    Introducing American Sign Language (ASL) to students focuses attention on how we communicate, whatever our spoken language, and it helps us practice using our bodies, faces, and especially eyes to support common understanding. In this workshop, participants will learn how ASL can aid in classroom management, multisensory literacy learning, and fine motor development, as well as enrich awareness of linguistic, cultural, and physical diversity. The focus of the workshop will be experiential learning: Participants will join in songs and fun activities to take with them back to school.

    Facilitator: Serena Leigh Krombach, M.Ed.

    Serena Leigh Krombach, M.Ed. candidate at Bank Street College, grew up with deaf parents and a deaf sibling. She has had a career in book publishing and currently writes and edits for organizations that educate and advocate in the areas of early childhood development, speech and hearing, and Deaf culture and American Sign Language. She teaches American Sign Language to preschool and elementary students at the Congregation Beth Elohim Early Childhood Center and PS 321. Serena also works with the teachers at these schools, as well as with education students at Bank Street, on ways to effectively incorporate American Sign Language into the classroom environment.

  • The Classroom as a Learning Laboratory: Project-Based Learning and Your Curriculum

    Project-Based Learning (PBL) invites students to learn language by working on relevant and purposeful context-rich projects. Students focus on developing 21st century skills such as autonomous learning, collaboration, asking questions, making choices within the supportive “learning laboratory” classroom. “In PBL classrooms, students . . . exhibit more engagement, are more self-reliant . . .” (Thomas, 2000). These projects bridge the divide between the classroom and the outside world as students reveal their in-depth knowledge, sense of community and joyful creativity to an authentic audience. In this interactive workshop, participants will be introduced to the theories and elements of Project-Based Learning. They will be provided tools and resources about PBL and will collaborate to build a PBL schema for their classrooms.

    Facilitator: Tamara Kirson, M.Ed.

    NoneTamara Kirson, M.Ed., is on the faculty of The New School in New York City. She teaches X-Word Grammar and Listening-Speaking to English language learners in the English Language Studies Program, Division of Language Learning and Teaching. Her Listening-Speaking course incorporates PBL every semester. Tamara taught bilingual education in the Houston public schools, English as a Foreign Language in France, and ESOL to immigrants at City College prior to The New School. She received the 2008 Literacy Recognition Award from the Literacy Assistance Center in New York and the 2009 New York Times ESOL Teacher of the Year award. She presents nationally and internationally and has published in the field of English language learning. Tamara is the NYS TESOL NYC Region Co-Chair and received the Distinguished Service Award. Her love for language learning began when she studied French in elementary school and has continued beyond her Peace Corps years where she learned Spanish.

  • To Dance is to Know: How to Enhance Content Knowledge Through Movement and Dance

    This workshop will introduce participants to a variety of approaches for meaningfully integrating dance and movement into math, social studies, science, or language arts units. Participants will examine dance-integrated units through a critical lens to ensure that movement activities not only increase student engagement but also deepen understanding of academic concepts, promote critical thinking, and encourage further questions and exploration. The presenter will provide a range of sample lessons and resources and guide participants towards the creation of their own dance-integrated lessons for implementation in their own classrooms. Participants should come prepared to move around so dress comfortably!

    Facilitator: Ana Inés Rubinstein, M.Ed.

    NoneAna Inés Rubinstein, M.Ed. is the full-time Dance Teacher at the Manhattan School for Children (PS333), where she developed a physically integrated dance program that includes children with physical disabilities in the general dance program. She was also among the early teachers to develop the Dual Language Program at the Cypress Hills Community School (PS89) in Brooklyn. She is an active member of the National Dance Education Organization, a Mentor for the Hunter College Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Programs, and a member of the curriculum writing team for the 2015 revision of the New York City Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts.

  • Curtain Up: Place-based Teaching & Learning in the New York City Theater District

    This workshop will introduce participants to place-based teaching and learning approaches which teachers used as they guided their students to investigate a place in their school community called “the Theater District,” an important industry in the neighborhood. Participants will examine this in-depth study of theaters where first grade students learned about the roles, responsibilities, and interdependence of people who work in and attend theaters then had the opportunity to recreate their own understanding by generating their own show. Through viewing video, pictorial and anecdotal data, participants will have an opportunity to investigate teaching strategies and consider how they would use them in their own settings.

    Facilitators: Peggy McNamara, Ed. D. & Bryan Andes, M.Ed.

  • Mama, Me, Mine: Insights from the Youngest Communicators

    The emergence of a child's communicative abilities over the first five years of life is remarkable to consider, requiring a complex integration of motor abilities, cognitive understandings, and social awareness. At the heart of these developmental processes lies the need for connection and understanding for which the human brain is designed. This workshop will explore the growing body of research that describes the power of emotionally powerful experiences and responsive relationships in the development of skillful communication. Practical strategies for bringing these insights into interactions with children will be highlighted. While this workshop focuses on the 0-5 age range, the significant implications for older children (and adults!) will be also be addressed.

    Facilitator: Alanna Navitski