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Spring 2014


Social Justice in the Classroom:  WMWP's 2014 Spring Symposium

We are sorry to announce that we're having to cancel this Saturday's WMWP Spring Symposium, Social Justice in the Classroom, because of too few registrations. We are disappointed and sorry to disappoint you as well because we had a very strong
program with excellent presenters. Given that, we have invited them to be part of our annual Best Practices conference on October 18th. We hope you will be able to join us then for what is always an energizing conference.

Are you seeking ways to make your classroom more responsive to diversity? Do you have an interest in exploring social justice issues with your students and/or colleagues? Then join us for our WMWP Spring Symposium.   

Saturday, April 12, 2014

8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Westfield State University,
Horace Mann Building (Free parking is available in surrounding lots)

Registration fee $35
3 PDPs available 

Registration, 8:30-8:45 
Opening Remarks, 8:45-9:15, Dawn Fontaine, Instructional Leadership Specialist and History Teacher, High School of Commerce, Springfield, Ma, and Coordinator for Project Outreach, a three-year initiative that investigated ways that WMWP could be more responsive to communities and educators from urban and rural areas.   

Session I, 9:45-10:30   

Designing a Classroom with an eye toward  Social Justice and Cultural Awareness  
Michele Bernhard, English Teacher, Northampton High School

Susan Connell Biggs, English Teacher, Tantasqua Regional High School 

This presentation has practical practices for how we organize and facilitate classroom life with a social justice stance. We’ll explore research and resources, reflect on our own classrooms, and learn from each other. Then, we will check assumptions through an exercise in poetry analysis:  We will unpack the cultural ignorance revealed in a poem by Mohja Kahf.  Using a workshop approach, teachers will learn an AP ELA technique of TP-CASTT for annotating and analyzing a poem, and be introduced to the poetry of an amazing contemporary Syrian/American poet.


Teaching for Social Justice: What Does it Mean and How Do I Do it?
Dani O'Brien, Doctoral Student, UMASS Amherst and former Special Education Teacher at Springfield Central High School

Kelly Norris, English Teacher and founding advisor to the Black Culture Club at Minnechaug Regional High School 

This session will provide participants with an understanding of what it means to teach for social justice and real world examples of how it is being done in schools in the area. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on their own teaching practice and consider what it means to teach for social justice in their own classrooms, schools, and communities. 

Session II, 10:45-11:00 

Courageous Conversations at the Intersection of Culture, Equity, Language and Identity: English Language Learners and Social Justice 

Floris Wilma Ortiz, Assistant Professor at Westfield State University
Maria Cahillane, ELL Teacher at Pottenger School in Springfield
Andrew Habana-Hafner, Assistant Professor at Westfield State University

This interactive and reflective workshop provides participants with the opportunity to explore vocabulary as a place for cultural, language and identity issues. Educators will experience the importance of identifying and addressing these issues in the classroom to better support English language development and content comprehension.  Participants will create an action plan to select a familiar classroom text that can be analyzed and taught through a social justice lens. Designing instruction or any type of work to teach or talk about social justice issues should be intentional, relevant and accessible. It is a framework to engage not only teachers and students but everyone in courageous conversations.  

Access for All: Universal Design for Learning in the Classroom
Momodou Sarr, Special Education Teacher, Amherst Regional High School

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) employs instructional strategies that provide equal opportunities to all students by removing barriers to the curriculum. UDL strategies make concepts accessible, and thus the skills students need for success are attainable. In this session we will explore the principles of Universal Design with an overview of the key principles of providing multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement.  Hands-on activities will include adapting a lesson plan to fit UDL principles.  Bring a lesson  of your own or use one of the examples provided.

Click here for program flyer.