2015 Uniting for Children Conference

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The Early Learning Coalition of Lake County hosted its Annual Uniting for Children Conference on Saturday, March 14, 2015 at Tavares High School which began at 8:00 AM until 1:30 PM.  This year’s theme was STEAM! The Hands On Experience. The theme allowed practitioners the opportunity to learn while they play.  Each presenter’s session was geared towards teaching practitioners that STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) can be done every day with easy and simple activities that they can engage their students with inside and outside of their classroom.

This year’s conference presenters were Dr. Walter Drew from Dr. Drew’s Discover Blocks who allowed practitioners a hands-on play and exploration experience using blocks to strengthen STEM skills and social emotional well-being.  Jackie Atkinson from Lake County Schools gave practitioners strategies to implement the Science Process Skills and integrate STEM activities that would allow young learners to generate a hypothesis and test the hypothesis within the VPK daily routine. Melanie Turner from Orlando Science Center demonstrated how to use everyday classroom materials to support STEM learning.  Michelle McCaleb from Orange County Early Learning Coalition offered ideas on how the outdoor environment can and should be a natural extension of the classroom.  Dr. Debby Mitchell, Retired and Associated Professor/Adjunct from the University of Central Florida, exposed the practitioners on how to use meaningful movement and music to improve math, science and literacy in their classroom. Dr. Junie Albers-Biddle from the University of Central Florida revealed how Common Core Math concepts and Florida Early Learning Developmental Standards for Four-Year-Old enhance hands-on learning. Creshawnia Griffin from Early Learning Coalition of Lake County demonstrated how to take simple items from home or at the center and create fun and challenging activities that their students will want to do over and over again.

The conference closing speaker this year was Dr. Walter Drew who uncovered how they could Make Things STEAM Fun.  His interactive session featured photographs from his sessions and live interview with practitioners that demonstrated STEAM activities using open-ended materials, images for children engaged in STEAM activities and practical strategies for developing early STEAM skills in their professional teaching practices.

This year’s Uniting for Children Conference hosted 173 practitioners and 41centers.

The Early Learning Coalition of Lake County would like to thank local business partners for helping to make this conference a success: Publix, McDonalds, Rural King, Panera Bread, Donut King, Best Buy, Home Depot, Tire Choice & Total Car Care, PNC Bank, Jenkins Hyundai of Leesburg, Target, Sam’s Club, Dunkin Donuts, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Lowe’s, Firestone, The Walt Disney Company, Insight Credit Union, Bo Jangles’, Red Lobster, Sweet Tomatoes, Becker’s School Supplies, Discount School Supply, Lake County Schools, Tavares High School, Hardees, Kaplan Early Learning, Barnes and Nobles, Olive Garden, FDLRS, Lakeshore Learning, Orlando Science Center, School Specialty.   This event could not have been a possible without the dedication and support of these local businesses, the Coalition Board Members, Uniting for Children Conference Committee and Coalition Staff.