Professional Development > Conferences and Workshops

Conferences and Workshops
(Click here for the 2019-2020 Professional Development Series PDF)


Teaching & Learning in Early Childhood
Robert Sornson & Mara Bier

Thursday, January 21, 2016 9:30 am - Friday, January 22, 2016 3:00 pm

ISACS Classroom
55 West Wacker Drive, Suite 702
Chicago, IL

As of January 7, online registration for the two day workshop has closed.

Attention: A spot has opened up for Friday's workshop with Mara Bier. If you are interested in the spot, please contact the ISACS Office at 312-750-1190. If you are interested in either Thursday's workshop or both workshops then you will need to be added to the waitlist. Please select the Waitlist button above and follow the prompts to be added.


  • Day One: "Improving Motor Skills to Enhance Learning" with Robert Sornson, Thursday, January 21, 2016, Time: 9:30 am - 3:00 pm
  • Day Two: "Growing Your Understanding of The Reggio Approach: A Look at the Extraordinary" with Mara Bier, Friday, January 22, 2016, Time: 9:30 am - 3:00 pm

Improving Motor Skills to Enhance Learning with Bob Sornson

Many children today do not develop the sensory-motor skills needed for basic, much less optimal, success in the early years of school. These children may have difficulty sitting still, maintaining attention, balancing, catching a ball, running, skipping, listening, or using visual-motor skills for cutting, coloring, drawing and printing. 

Along with language and behavior skills, sensory-motor skills are an important part of the foundation of early learning success. In this active workshop we will explore the typical sequence for the development of sensory-motor skills, and the importance of developing these skills.  Sensory-motor experiences and skills are needed for optimal listening, language, visual spatial awareness, self-regulation, sustained attention, near-point visual skills, and integration of brain functions.  

In this workshop you will learn:

  • The sequence of normal sensory-motor development
  • How to optimize brain develop through sensory-motor activity
  • The connection between motor and social or academic learning
  • How to help students improve sensory motor skills through activity and play

This workshop is for early childhood, preschool and elementary teachers.

Robert Sornson, Ph.D. was a classroom teacher and school administrator for over 30 years, and is the founder of the Early Learning Foundation.  His implementation of programs and strategies for early learning success, the Early Learning Success Initiative, serves as a model for districts around the country.  He is committed to the belief that practically every child can have a successful early learning experience. The Early Learning Foundation is dedicated to helping schools and parents give every child an opportunity to achieve early learning success, which lays the foundation for success in life. Sornson is the author of numerous articles, books, and audio recordings, including Stand in My Shoes: Teaching Kids about Empathy, The Juice Box Bully, Teaching and Joy (ASCD), Preventing Early Learning Failure (ASCD), Meeting the Challenge (Love and Logic Press), Creating Classrooms Where Teachers Love to Teach and Students Love to Learn (Love and Logic Press), Number Facts and Jumping Jacks (Crystal Springs Books), and Love and Logic on the Bus (Love and Logic Press).   He works with schools and education organizations across the country, focusing primarily on developing comprehensive programs which support early learning success, building classroom and school culture to support the development of social and behavior skills, and offering parent training.  He offers workshops and keynotes, and develops long-term training projects with selected organizations. For more information visit,

Growing Your Understanding of The Reggio Approach: A Look at the Extraordinary with Mara Bier

“Knowledge is a Tangle of Spaghetti”
Loris Malaguzzi

The early childhood program of Reggio Emilia, Italy is recognized and acclaimed as an outstanding system of education for young children. Why? How did this come about? Does it have any relevance to our teaching and our context?  In this workshop we will explore such concepts as: 

  • What is the history of Reggio Emilia and their education system?
  • What is the basis of the pedagogy of the Reggio Approach?
  • What are the values and core beliefs of their work?
  • Can this approach be implemented in our schools?
  • What do I need to understand for me to become “Reggio Inspired?”
  • What actually “happens” in a Reggio classroom and how different is it from the way I teach?
  • If I possess some understanding how can I grow my knowledge and practice?

Throughout the day, as we broaden and deepen your understanding of the Reggio Approach, you will be introduced to and be able to expand your knowledge of terms such as:

  • Pedagogista
  • Atelier
  • The Environment as the Third Teacher
  • Progettazione
  • The Hundred Languages
  • The Child as Competent
  • The Pedagogy of Listening
  • The Pedagogy of Documentation

Bring your questions, examples and curiosities as we investigate the “wonder of learning”.

This workshop is for those faculty and administrators working with Infants - Kindergarten who are very new and for those with some experience in the Reggio approach  

Mara Bier, MA is the Director of Early Childhood, Department of Jewish Life And Learning at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Washington DC and has been a teacher, program administrator and early childhood special education consultant. In 2003, Bier became the Director of the Early Childhood Department of the BJE and remained as the Director of Early Childhood Initiatives of the Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning.  Bier has taught workshops nationally and internationally and is an Adjunct Professor at Gratz College. She has presented at the annual conference of the National Association for the Education of Young Children as well as at CAJE Conferences. She has attended six study tours in Reggio Emilia, Italy, has led four study tours to Reggio Emilia and this spring she will lead a fifth group of early childhood educators.  Bier has attended numerous NAREA (North American Reggio Emilia Alliance) conferences and has assisted in interpretative tours of the Wonders of Learning Exhibit.  She has published articles in the CAJE Early Childhood Journal and recently wrote an article for Innovations, the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance publication.  Bier is also a consultant on parenting skills, early childhood special needs and many aspects of Early Childhood leadership and curriculum. She received her BA in Special Education and her Masters in Early Childhood Special Education from the George Washington University.

Location of Workshops
The workshops will take place at the ISACS classroom at 55 West Wacker Drive, Suite 702, Chicago, IL. 

Directions, Parking & Public Transportation
The location is located in the heart of Chicago, with easy access to public transportation.

Click here for directions to the ISACS classroom including driving, parking and public transportation directions. Parking is available at several area garages. To secure discounted rates prior to your arrival in Chicago, visit If possible, we suggest taking public transportation.

‚ÄčGO Airport Express (Share-a-Ride) Shuttle Service
ISACS has negotiated a special rate with GO Airport Express for ISACS members – 15% off standard rates. Reservations MUST be made in advance and online to receive the discounted rate.  The standard rate per person to/from O’Hare is approximately $28 one-way; $49 round-trip. The standard rate per person to/from Midway is approximately $24 one-way; $40 round-trip. To receive the 15% discount off the standard rates, please click here for the Go Airport Express website to make a reservation in advance. A credit card is required and charged at the time of reservation. Airport walk-ups are not be eligible for the discounted rate, standard rates apply. Parties of two more reserving at the same time receive a discount. Please visit their website for more information.  

Hotel Accommodations
The ISACS Professional Development team has partnered with many incredible Chicago hotels. The hotels are within walking distance of the ISACS classroom and as a member of ISACS you have access to the discounted rates all year long for your professional and personal travel. Click here to find out how to make a reservation at any of the hotels and select the option that meets your travel needs.

If you have any issues booking a room, please contact the ISACS office at 312-750-1190. 

Registration Fee
During the registration process, please select the day(s) you plan to attend.

Two-day Fee

  • $350 member fee
  • $450 non-member fee 
  • Group discounts are available for two-day registrants from the same school - The first person pays the full two-day fee, each additional registrant receives a $25 discount
  • Workshop includes coffee/tea, light breakfast, lunch and refreshments on Thursday and Friday
  • Day One attendees receive a set of plastic colored discs to take back to your classroom
  • Register early as we anticipate this workshop will reach capacity
  • Please review the Registration Confirmation information below

One-day Fee

  • $190 member fee
  • $240 non-member fee 
  • There is no group discount available for one-day registrants
  • One-day Workshop includes coffee/tea, light breakfast, lunch and refreshments
  • Day One attendees receive a set of plastic colored discs to take back to your classroom
  • Register early as we anticipate this workshop will reach capacity
  • Please review the Registration Confirmation information below

Registration Confirmation Communications from ISACS
Once registration for the workshop has been completed the following communications will be sent from ISACS:

  • Once registration is complete, an email will automatically be sent to the contact person on the registration confirming that registration has been completed.
  • Approximately three weeks prior to the workshop, ISACS will send a confirmation email to the registrant with details for the workshop.
  • Approximately one week prior to the workshop, ISACS will send a final confirmation email to the registrant with details for the workshop.

If you do not receive these emails prior to arriving at a workshop, please call the ISACS office at 312-750-1190. It is possible your email address was entered incorrectly OR your registration was not completed.

Cancellation Policy
Cancellations must be received in writing to ISACS by emailing 10 business days prior to the event to receive a 50% refund. Cancellations received within 10 days of the event will not receive a refund. Registration may be transferred to another member from the same school. ISACS reserves the right to cancel the workshop for insufficient enrollment. In this case, participants will be notified and given a full refund. 

Questions? Please call 312-750-1190.

Member Cost: $350     Non-member Cost: $450


55 West Wacker, Suite 701 · Chicago, IL 60601 · Telephone (312) 750-1190 · Fax (312) 750-1193
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