15th Annual Symposium

Growing Together
Saturday, February 24, 2018
Percy Julian Middle School
416 S. Ridgeland Avenue
Oak Park, IL 60302

Gateways Registry Approved Event

We're sorry, but we will not be able to accept walk-ins the day of the Symposium.

View the list of the Collaboration for Early Childhood's ongoing professional development opportunities.

The Collaboration for Early Childhood is delighted to present its 15th annual Symposium. This professional gathering provides an opportunity for anyone who works with young children – educators, caregivers, and parents – to gain knowledge, perspective, practical skills and tools for supporting all young children.

This year’s theme is Growing Together. The 2018 Symposium is focused on “Growth Mindset” – the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence.

We will discuss nurturing “Growth Mindset” in children, families, and co-workers, and being open to continuous growth as an educator. Workshops will cover topics such as brain development, social emotional teaching and learning, empowering young children, cultivating empathy, and more. We are confident you’ll walk away with many new ideas and activities to try on Monday morning.

Please join us at Percy Julian Middle School on Saturday, February 24, 2018. The day will include early bird workshops, continental breakfast, a keynote address, lunch, and a variety of morning and afternoon breakout sessions led by noteworthy presenters. Participants will also have the opportunity to network, collect resources, and explore books.

We hope to see you February 24!

Registration Fees

$40 General Registration Fee (postmarked, or paid online, by February 9)

$25 Student Registration Fee (full-time student registration fee postmarked, or paid online, by February 9. Valid/current ID must be presented at check-in)

$50 Late Registration Fee (registration fee for ALL individuals registering after February 9, on-site or online)

After registering online, pay online or mail payment to:
Collaboration for Early Childhood
123 Madison St., Room 209
Oak Park, IL 60302

Next Steps

  • 1. Read the workshop descriptions below
  • 2. Select one workshop from each time slot
  • 3. Click REGISTER to sign up online
  • 4. Pay by credit card or check


The Joan White Scholarship was created to provide early care professionals, providers, and parents an opportunity to attend the Symposium, build skills and become leaders in the early childhood arena. Complete an application for the Joan White scholarship.

Download a PDF of the registration brochure.


7:00 - 7:30 Early Check-In
7:30 - 8:30 Early Bird Workshops
8:00 - 9:00 General Check-In & Continental Breakfast
9:00 - 10:30 Morning Workshops
10:40 - 12:15 Welcome: Amy McCormack, Board Chair, Collaboration for Early Childhood
Introduction of Keynote Speaker: Amy Cardin, Co-Chair of the Collaboration for Early Childhood Professional Development Committee
Keynote: Changing My Perspective: Growing Required. Angela Searcy, EdD, has over 25 years of experience in the field of education, providing services to children and families as a teacher, child development specialist, and independent consultant. Angela's research centers around the relationships between brain-based learning as assessed by the Classroom Assessment Scoring System and aggressive behaviors in Head Start preschool children in Illinois.
Announcements: Carolyn Newberry Schwartz, Executive Director, Collaboration for Early Childhood
12:15 - 1:25 Lunch/Networking/Resources/Gateways Registry/"Play Stations"
1:30 - 3:00 Afternoon Workshops

Additional Information

Registration is limited for each workshop and is first come, first served!

When registering online, payment can be made by credit card or by mailing a check.

PARKING IS LIMITED. Please allow extra time for on-street parking.

No refunds provided for any circumstances.
In a 'Growth Mindset' people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work - brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishments.


Choose ONE Early Bird Session
7:30 - 8:30 AM

Read, Play, Love

Early Bird A
This workshop will be divided into three distinct parts: Read, Play, and Love. Each part will include neuroscience, evidence-based research, and readings from developmentally appropriate books. Participants will learn and discuss how to support reading and playing in early learning.
Chris Rodda

Playful Learning: Playing to Learn with Loose Parts

Early Bird B
Play is important for all of us! Supporting and engaging children and parents in playful experiences can have a profound impact on development and learning. Join us for an interactive session that will focus on teaching STEM with loose parts. Participants will discover ways to select and arrange materials in ways that stimulate critical thinking and curiosity.
Alix Tonsgard and Chris Barry

Growing Interest in Understanding: The Impact of the Project Approach on Young Minds

Early Bird C
This session will focus on child neurological development and the impact of the Project Approach to curriculum and environments.
Amelia Troutman

Social-Emotional Teaching and Learning: Connecting Adult Practices to Child Competencies

Early Bird D
This session will focus on equipping adults with strategies and tools to cultivate children’s social-emotional skills through their everyday interactions.
Kate Zinsser, Callie Silver, and Xue Jiang

Bringing the Outside IN: Engaging Young Minds through Natural Materials

Early Bird E
This session will focus on providing new ways to engage young minds, while using nature and art. Learn about the difference between process and product art, and using open ended questions to spark child curiosity.
Cori Paulsrud and Liz Hilt

Using Materials as Provocations in a Reggio Inspired Classroom

Early Bird F
In this workshop, you will learn about how a Growth Mindset can be fostered through Reggio-Inspired principles that promote cooperation and support exploration, discovery, and creativity. We will also investigate the role of the teacher, materials, documentation, and environment as they relate to the encouragement of a growth mindset within the context of ongoing relationships.
Bernadette Loyola

Spanish Literacy in a Bilingual Preschool: Growing Bilingual Minds

Early Bird G
This workshop examines how teaching language is different in a Spanish bilingual preschool classroom, and demonstrates best practices for Spanish language development and the growth of bilingual minds.
Samina Hadi-Tabassum

Brain Development – Supports and Challenges for Growth Mindset

Early Bird H
Brain development is made up of spurts, plateaus, connections, and pruning. We’ll explore crucial windows to development and discuss supports and challenges to encourage resilient children with growth mindsets.
Susan Gittings

Getting a Hold of Yourself: Body and Self-Compassion as Tools for Growth

Early Bird I
Using both your body as the power tool it is and self-compassion, you will be able to create, emit, and grow the energy you want from yourself and others.
Sheryl Stoller

Let’s Get Critical: Developing Critical Thinking Skills in Early Childhood

Early Bird J & Morning K
Using music, movement, and play, you will learn strategies to promote executive function and critical thinking development in early childhood. Activities for problem-solving, decision-making, impulse control, organizing, leadership, and teamwork will be discussed. Learn unique strategies to make critical thinking fun and functional for early childhood learners!
Alyssa Wilkins


Choose ONE Morning Session
9:00 - 10:30 AM

The Importance of Early Mathematics

Morning L
Explore the importance of early math in early childhood through the Math at Home professional development website, the Early Math Matters project, and engagement in a math manipulative activity.
Anne Pradzinski & David Banzer

Teacher Triggers: How Does Our Behavior Impact Our Students?

Morning M
This workshop will focus on challenging behaviors that trigger children in early childhood such as transitions, negative tones, and addressing the consequences of the behavior. We will also focus on sharing strategies that will support teachers in managing challenging behavior.
Vincent Rodriguez

Powerhouse Positive Guidance: Nurturing and Empowering Toddlers through the Ups and Downs

Morning N
Revitalize behavior guidance with research-based strategies to equip the most rambunctious, challenging, sensitive, and vulnerable toddlers with competence skills for behavior, learning, and relationship success.
Marie Masterson

Anti-Racist Pedagogy and Our Own Racial-Identity Development

Morning O
Understanding young children’s AND our own racial identity development is critical to building antiracist whole classrooms. Let’s end “colormutenes” to ask the hard questions and discuss race in community.
Sarah E. Dennis

What’s Culture Got to Do with It? Understanding How Culture Impacts Learning

Morning P
Children in various cultures learn different rules for communicating with adults through facial expressions, body language, physical gestures and much more. Learn how cultural differences can play out in the growth and development of children in your classroom and how this interaction can impact growth mindset.
Angela Searcy

Sow the Seeds for Grit for a Growth Mindset in Preschoolers

Morning Q & Afternoon R
A growth mindset is learned, and early childhood is the ideal learning time! Explore exciting research regarding lower-income students’ achievement. Role- play curriculum ideas for teaching “grit,” or persistence plus passion.
Janis Clark Johnston

Intentional Environments for Purposeful Play

Morning S & Afternoon T
An intentionally planned classroom environment encourages children to approach materials with purpose. Learn strategies for selecting and presenting materials that foster children’s problem solving, self-regulation, and social skills.
Michelle Patt

Planting Seeds of Kindness: Empathy and the Growth Mindset

Morning U & Afternoon V
This workshop explores the correlation between practicing kindness and the development of growth mindset. Learn approaches and methods of communication with children to promote inspiration, self-regulation, and empathy in the classroom.
Gingi Lahera and Rita Cassiano

Science of a Developing Brain

Morning W & Afternoon X
What leads to healthy brain development? Our experiences and our interactions with our environment have a significant impact on how our predispositions are expressed. In this workshop, you’ll explore how the brain develops, the importance of early experiences and how these experiences affect the developing brain. Come learn the science of early brain development – what nurtures it, what hinders it, and why.
Bilge Cerezci

Developing Our Curious Minds: A Focus on Math and Science

Morning Y & Afternoon Z
This workshop examines the importance of growing our own curious minds as adult learners in our work about and with young children, especially in relation to math and science. Learn why curiosity matters for math and science in early childhood and beyond.
Laura Grandau and Lauren Solarski

It’s Not Just About Milestones! A Look at Infant/Toddler Development through the Power of Relationships (Part A)

Morning AA
This workshop goes beyond crawling, sitting, and babbling. You will explore the incredible power of relationships and interactions as the first fundamental building block of development.
Linda Horwitz and Nat Vikitsreth

 You do not need to sign up for both Morning AA and Afternoon AB, as they are stand alone workshops. However, you can attend both workshops for a deeper dive into the topic.


Choose ONE Afternoon Session
1:30 - 3:00 PM

Be sure to check the list of afternoon workshops that are also offered in the morning. They are listed together above.

It’s Not Just About Milestones! A Look at Infant/Toddler Development through the Power of Relationships (Part B)

Afternoon AB
Learn how to support infant/toddler development through supporting caregivers. This workshop includes a brief overview of how Fussy Baby Network uses the FAN relationship model of support and we will review a case study with examples in different settings.
Linda Horwitz and Nat Vikitsreth

You do not need to sign up for both AM AA and PM AB, as they are standalone workshops. However, you can attend both workshops for a deeper dive into the topic.

Increasing Our Awareness: Culture, Bias, and the Body

Afternoon AC
The awareness of our relationship with culture, race, and bias is an essential component of effectively navigating the world around us. Learn an embodied approach to multicultural competence through lecture, discussion, and experiences, and explore the personal and interpersonal impacts of microaggressions and trauma.
Kyla Gilmore and Aisha Bell

Children’s Literature: Supporting a Growth Mindset and Young Children’s Language Development

Afternoon AD
Children’s literature provides a perfect venue for supporting young children’s development of a growth mindset and their language development, which is a primary predictor for academic achievement. This hands-on session will include strategies to support growth mindset and language development in early childhood.
Sarah E. Dennis

Why Won’t They Sit Still At Circle Time?

Afternoon AE
We’ve all found ourselves at the front of a circle time not knowing what to do because of what we perceive as out-of- bounds behavior: hitting, short attention span, high activity levels and more. These behaviors that are looked at as negative focuses on the child as the problem. This session will help educators analyze the environmental, cognitive, and contextual factors that contribute to challenging behavior and to learn something new about themselves, their own learning, and their own behavior.
Angela Searcy