Marcia Tate Dr. Marcia Tate
August 1st

Marcia L. Tate, EdD, is the former Executive Director of Professional Development for the DeKalb County School System, Decatur, Georgia. During the course of her 30-year career with the district, she has also been a classroom teacher, reading specialist, language arts coordinator, and staff development executive director. In 2001, she received Georgia’s Distinguished Staff Developer Award, and her department won the Exemplary Program Award for the state.

Currently, through her company Developing Minds, Inc., Marcia serves as an educational consultant and has taught over 450,000 administrators, teachers, and parents, as well as community and business leaders, all over the world. Participants in her workshops often refer to them as the best they have ever experienced.

In addition to these widely-regarded in-person and online workshops, Marcia shares her expertise through her acclaimed catalogue of bestselling books:

Keynote Description:

Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites – 20 Instructional Strategies That Engage the Brain
"If students don’t learn the way we teach them, then we must teach them the way they learn. Experience 20 brain-compatible strategies that maximize understanding and memory. Use music, metaphor, and movement to increase academic achievement for all students. Explore research that shows why these strategies are preferable to others. Ensure that brains retain key concepts, not only for tests but for life!

Breakout Sessions:

Characteristics of a Brain-compatible Classroom Environment
Students should be talking and moving while learning - not just sitting! Teachers should be guides on the side and not sages on the stage. Regardless of the grade level or content area, Increase student achievement, reduce behavior problems, and make teaching and learning fun by creating a brain-compatible classroom environment. Experience ten characteristics of an unforgettable classroom where students can retain information long after tests have been given! This session has been called informative and so much fun!

Delivering a Brain-compatible Lesson
Create engaging lessons that will teach to the visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile modalities of all students and turn reluctant learners into motivated ones. Learn the five questions that every teacher should be asking when planning a brain-compatible lesson and then experience those questions as a model vocabulary lesson is delivered.

Nicki Newton
Dr. Nicki Newton
August 2nd

Dr. Nicki Newton is an education consultant who works with schools and districts around the country on elementary math curriculum (including best practices, guided math and math centers) as well as curriculum mapping. She has taught elementary school, middle school, and graduate school. Having spent several years as a bilingual teacher and staff developer, she has an extensive background in Sheltered Instruction and English Language Learner Strategies. Dr Nicki has an Ed.M. and an Ed.D from the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University specializing in Teacher Education and Curriculum Development. She uses her strong understanding of curriculum to address the differentiated needs of all students in her work with teachers and administrators. Dr. Nicki builds upon current curriculum research and theory to provide practical, realistic 21st century strategies in today’s classrooms. Dr. Newton is greatly interested in teaching and learning practices around the world and has researched education in Denmark, Guatemala and India.

Breakout Sessions:

Math running records are like a GPS for basic fact fluency: they tell you where you are and how to get to where you want to go. Come learn how to do running records with your students using addition and subtraction in K-2 and all four operations in 3-5. We are excited to welcome Dr. Nicki back to ENGAGE!

Mark Perna Mark Perna
August 2nd


Mark C. Perna is the founder of TFS in Cleveland, Ohio, a full-service strategic consulting firm whose mission is to share and support every client’s desire to make a difference. Mark, a graduate of John Carroll University, has many years of experience addressing industry leaders on the topic of expanding their reach in an increasingly global marketplace. A dynamic public speaker, Mark frequently delivers keynote speeches across the country and spoke at Harvard University by special invitation.

At TFS, Mark’s team shares his vision of helping organizations experience significant gains in recruitment, engagement, retention, and performance. Mark’s first book, Answering Why: Unleashing Passion, Purpose, and Performance in Younger Generations, was written to help educators, employers, and parents understand Generations Y and Z and inspire them to greater performance in all areas of life. Mark, the father of two successful Millennials, resides in Cleveland, Ohio.

Find out more at MarkCPerna.com
Julie Jackson Dr. Julie Jackson
August 2nd 

Julie Jackson is an associate professor of science education at Texas State University. Her research interests include integrating literacy and science; vocabulary development; and teaching ELL’s science. She has authored many books and her practices are used in classrooms all over the country.

Interactive word walls: Enhancing students’ ability to speak, read, and write about learning experiences.
Speaking, reading and writing skills are essential to learning in all content areas. Reading, interpreting, and producing domain-specific text are fundamental practices of learning. Interactive word walls help develop students’ ability to read and produce the genres of texts that are intrinsic to learning at every grade level. They resemble graphic organizers, strategically target academic vocabulary, and are student generated. Interactive word walls support the development of scientific thinking, build academic vocabulary, and reinforce important patterns while providing an overview of each lesson and unit. They unify related terms and concepts, and visually display connections between vocabulary, inquiry experiments, and experiences. In this session, we will describe our efforts to use interactive word walls as scaffolds that help students effectively communicate scientific ideas.

Interactive Word Walls: Vocabulary-Driven Planning
Purposeful planning provides a structure that encourages teachers to identify essential academic vocabulary and plan how they will support targeted words during instruction. This information is then used to construct interactive word walls and plan powerful, age-appropriate vocabulary building experiences for students. This vocabulary-driven process focuses team meetings and ensures that all lesson materials are aligned to standards with fidelity and it supports a robust and informed review of instructional materials. In this session, we will describe how we select vocabulary for interactive word walls and review a Vocabulary Planning Document. The Vocabulary Planning Document provides a systematic approach to selecting vocabulary and lesson materials that are aligned with standards. Explicit teaching of a few well-selected vocabulary words in context while providing multiple rich and varied exposures to target vocabulary ensures a comprehensive approach to vocabulary instruction.

Sonny Magaña
Dr. Sonny Magana

Dr. Anthony J. “Sonny” Magana III is an award-winning educator, best-selling author, and pioneering educational technology researcher. Sonny is a highly sought-after leadership consultant and instructional coach with more than thirty years’ experience transforming learning systems around the world. The author of numerous research studies and articles, Sonny’s first book, Enhancing the Art and Science of Teaching with Technology, co-authored with Dr. Robert J. Marzano, achieved international acclaim.

A tireless advocate for transcending the status quo, Sonny founded and served as Principal of Washington State’s first CyberSchool in 1996, a groundbreaking blended learning program that continues to meet the needs of at-risk students in Washington. He is a recipient of the prestigious Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award and the Governor’s Commendation for Educational Excellence. An avid musician, yoga practitioner, and beekeeper, Sonny holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Stockton University, a master of education degree from City University (where he was honored with the Presidential Award for meritorious scholarship), an educational administration endorsement, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Seattle University.

Breakout Session:
Modern students are capable of wielding digital tools to accelerate the realization of their limitless learning potential and make significant contributions to the larger global community. Yet this vision for disruptive innovation in education has been on the distant horizon, unclear, unmeasurable, and yet unattained.

In this session, educational futurist Dr. Sonny Magana will share his T3 Framework for innovation in education from his new book Disruptive Classroom Technologies. The T3 Framework organizes educational technology use into three hierarchically ordered domains: translational, transformational, and transcendent. The strategies in the T3 Framework have an observed effect size of 1.6, or the equivalent of three of more years of achievement in a single academic year.

Participants will gain:

• A new, more precise language to communicate, implement, and evaluate transformational and transcendent teaching and learning strategies;

• Resources for assessing current technology use, establishing meaningful goals, and tracking your progress

• Guidance for building collective efficacy to transcend the status quo.

 Thomas Van Soelen Dr. Thomas Van Soelen
August 2nd

Developing adults has characterized the work of Thomas Van Soelen, Ph.D. for over a decade. His work in the areas of instructional strategies, learning communities, critical friendship, leadership development, and teacher evaluation are known in several states and countries. His collaborative practices, quick wit, and deep experience make for an engaging and meaningful learning experience.

Prior to his full-time work as a professional developer and leadership coach (www.vansoelenassociates.com), Thomas worked in multiple states and in public and private schools, teaching every grade level pre-Kindergarten through grade 12 at some point in his career. In addition, he prepared undergraduates at the University of Georgia and conducts both face-to-face and online courses at the graduate level for three institutions. His most recent school district leadership position was functioning as the Associate Superintendent in the City Schools of Decatur, Georgia, a post he held for eight years.

Several journals, periodicals, and organizations publish his writing: Journal of Staff Development, Principal Leadership, Education Week, School Administrator, NAESP, National School Board Journal, and Phi Delta Kappan. His most recent book, Crafting the Feedback Teachers Need and Deserve: A Guide for Leaders, is published by Routledge.

Breakout Sessions:

Formatively Speaking
Educators often use the term “formative assessment,” but we never talk about what it means to act formatively. Come experience a clear and pragmatic approach to this familiar catch-phrase, as well as a number of methods to use with students.

Nodding Along With Differentiation
Perhaps you have caught yourself nodding your head as someone is talking about differentiation. Later you determine you’re not even sure if the two of you share the same definition of differentiation! In this session, we will use a clear, practical definition of differentiation to assess various lesson plans and consider our own next steps with differentiating for our students.

Lisa Van Gemert Lisa Van Gemert
August 2nd

Lisa Van Gemert is an educator by training, and a Giftedland native – She was a gifted student, raised three gifted kids, and taught gifted students. The gifted trifecta! She has been a teacher, a school administrator, a homeschooling mom, a paralegal, an Army Intelligence Analyst (yep), and a cheerleader. She translates research into language and strategies everyone can use to improve their performance, efficacy, and enjoyment in what they do. She shares best practices with schools and education conferences (and sometimes even businesses), specializing in the gifted. 

She believes GT stands for “Good Teaching” and “Good Thinking” as much as She is a frequent conference keynote speaker, facilitator of educational and business professional development, expert consult to television shows, and author of articles published in magazines and peer-reviewed journals. She is also the author of the book Perfectionism: A Practical Guide to Managing “Never Good Enough.”

Breakout Sessions:

The Little Engine that Wouldn't: Underachievement & Risk Avoidance in Gifted Youth
They’ve got the smarts, and sometimes even the desire and drive, yet somehow they never get the train up the mountain. They’ve got the ability, yet if they can’t do it right the very first time, they don’t even want to try. What’s going on? Join us as Lisa Van Gemert, the Gifted Guru and author of Perfectionism: A Practical Guide to Managing Never Good Enough, explores exactly why our gifted youth struggle with risk avoidance and underachievement. Take away practical ideas, and maybe even a little paradigm shift.

Intensely Curricular: Using Intensities in the Classroom
They’re not just for social and emotional needs anymore! This session shares how educators can use intensities across the curriculum. Character analysis? Check! Evaluating the Periodic Table? Can do. We’ll emphasize language arts, but promise something for every content area.

Intensities and Overexcitabilities are well known in the social and emotional domain of giftedness, but Lisa turns it around and uses it as an analysis tool, allowing youth to see their own intensities as a strength and aspect of their depth of character, rather than a weakness.