Early Childhood Institute

Join FCIS for an event specifically designed for early childhood educators (PK-Grade 3) and administrators. Hear from a dynamic keynote speaker and attend breakout sessions to learn cutting-edge ideas! You don't want to miss this opportunity.



DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at Sea World
10100 International Dr.
Orlando, FL 

All guest room reservations should be made directly with DoubleTree.   Room rate is $149, single or double, plus applicable taxes. The easiest way to make your reservation is to use this weblink: FCIS DoubleTree Reservation  or call the hotel and make your reservations by phone. The hotel reservation number is: 407-354-5027. You will need to identify yourself as an FCIS member and ask for the special rate. 

Parking - Complimentary self-parking for overnight guests/$5.00 per day 

Registration and Hotel Deadline - Jan. 10, 2020
Cancellation & Refunds: All hotel cancellations must be made directly through the hotel and in accordance with hotel policy. Institute refund requests must be made in writing and emailed to kdanger@fcis.org. There is a $50 processing fee through January 3, 2020, with no refunds after this date.


Saturday, February 1, 2020
8:00 AM - 1:05 PM


7:45 AM - Registration
8:00 AM - Full Breakfast
9:00 AM - Keynote Speaker
10:15 AM - Breakout Session 1
11:15 AM - Breakout Session 2
12:15 PM - Breakout Session 3

KEYNOTE SPEAKER - Daniel Hodgins | Early Childhood Consultant

TOPIC: Creating Caring and Cooperative Environments for Young Children
Quality programs should not be based on academics but how to develop caring and cooperative children. This presentation will assist in developing empathy, respect and a sense of belonging through PLAY. 

Daniel Hodgins is an exceptional international presenter and author (Boys: Changing the Classroom, Not the Child and Get Over it: Relearning Guidance Practices.) As a consultant he has a unique grasp of children and family issues learned from over 36 years of experience working as a teacher, director, educator and parent in both private and public schools. In addition, Daniel has worked as a Cooperative Nursery School teacher, a teacher in elementary school and a coordinator of early childhood education.

Breakout Sessions

Autonomous Learning and Teaching in Early Childhood | Deidre Tucker - American Youth Academy
In this comprehensive and engaging session, we will explore the following: autonomous learning/teaching as a "Best Practice", the benefits and challenges, and why autonomous learning / teaching matters; the "Global Implications" and connection between academic development /social development in an autonomous early childhood classroom; brain basic for autonomous learning in early childhood, synaptogenesis, pruning, and myelination; what autonomous learning looks and sounds like in a classroom where early childhood students are introducing and leading instruction. | Early Childhood | Kindergarten | Grades 1-3
Creating a Theme-Based Curriculum in an Early Childhood Classroom | Cristina Torres - Gulliver Schools
Learn the step-by-step process of creating a theme-based curriculum for early childhood programs. Attendees will practice developing these skills within groups, receive templates, and have opportunities to learn how to integrate interdisciplinary objectives.  | Early Childhood | Kindergarten
Growth Portfolios and Student-Led Conferences | Mary Ames, Ashley Stoudenmire & Lisa Garcia - Parkway Christian  
A student-led conference is a meeting with a student and his/her family and teacher during which the student shares his/her portfolio of work and discusses progress with family members. We will go over how to implement Growth Portfolios in the classroom and show examples and also discuss how to conduct rotating student-led conferences at the end of the year. | Kindergarten | Grades 1-3
Infusing eMpathy in Mindful Masterpieces (Arts Integration and Acorn Initiative) | Kim Daniel & Kathy Hicks - Maclay School
Teaching empathy doesn’t need to be a stand-alone lesson; it can be incorporated into all subjects. Let us share how infusing empathy in Mindful Masterpieces of Art engages and motivates students by emphasizing active learning rather than passive learning. With our arts integration and acorn initiative concept, we are building a community of learners who discover ways to work creatively, purposely and productively in groups for a specific reason. By teaching kids how to understand and share the feelings of another person, it helps everyone make meaningful connections across diverse experiences and with those who are different. This integrated curriculum theme encompasses a variety of media using the mind, heart and art together. All educators / disciplines can benefit. | Early Childhood | Kindergarten | Grades 1-3
Keeping Up with Modern Intelligence: AI in the Elementary Classroom | Alexis Cobo & Debra Jacoby - Pine Crest School
"Hey Siri, how can I keep current on the best teaching practices?” While it may seem funny to question the computer, this is more than a trend, but rather a reality for our 21st Century students and our world. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, deep learning, and more cutting edge technologies are changing the way we think, solve problems, and communicate in global environments. Our job as Computer Science & Technology Specialists in an elementary school setting is to expose as well as provide opportunities for our students to explore and create with these types of technologies. This session will provide instructional practices, tools, and content area connections to integrating AI and related technologies in the elementary classroom. | Grades 1-3

Let The Students Lead | Kati Jones, Stephanie Piazza & Caroline Messmer - Carrollwood Day School
The key to unlocking the doors to creativity and innovation lies in the ability to step back and see the world through the eyes of a child. During this session, participants will peer through the window of one Early Childhood Campus and discover new and innovative ways to take student inquiries and promote student agency through hands-on learning experiences. | Early Childhood | Kindergarten | Grades 1-3

Morning meeting to create a classroom community, enhancing overall learning | Tiffany Patterson - The Cushman School
In this session, participants will discuss how a morning meeting sets students up for success socially and academically. Building off "The Responsive Classroom" Morning Meeting approach, participants will discover a typical kindergarten classroom morning meeting, and how just 15 to 30 minutes can set a really positive tone for the day, starting with a morning song and a weekly greeting and then going through daily routines to get up and move. Participants will learn how morning meeting creates a strong relationship between the teacher and students. Students will listen to a teacher that they both like and trust, helping with classroom management. The morning meeting is also great way for children to bond and learn more about each other so that they will be supportive towards one another in academic lessons and around school, creating unlikely friendships. | Early Childhood | Kindergarten | Grades 1-3

Moving from Consumption to Creation with Digital Tools |Melanie Perkins & Jennee Nuelle - St. Mark's Episcopal School
Our students know how to use technology, but are they simply consumers quietly interacting with a device during class time? Learn how to use specific apps and web-based platforms that will take passive learners into the 21st Century. Using simple tech tools, traditional lessons can be reimagined and students will become creative, collaborative, critical thinkers. | Kindergarten | Grades 1-3
Never Too Early to Learn to Use Your Brain | Liz Knowles - The Weiss School
Cognitive skills training can make learning so much more efficient. Cognitive skills, such as processing speed, focus and attention, memory, reasoning, and visual processing are all important and necessary for developing confident learners. Cognitive training can lay the foundational skills for success in learning in the years to come where the focus is all academic content. One of the hardest things for children to learn is the ability to sit still and listen for more than a few minutes. This is an essential skill for success in school, and it is a cognitive skill that can be trained. One way early reading skills can be established is through memorizing rhymes. It is also crucial to teach/train/develop problem-solving skills. A firm foundation in cognitive skills can level the playing field and prepare all students for deeper learning and understanding in the early grades. | Early Childhood | Kindergarten | Grades 1-3
Oh, The Things You Can THINK...and WRITE! | JR Probst & James Dean - Thinking Maps
In this interactive session, participants will learn how to use a set of visuals to foster and engage students in developing critical thinking, speaking and writing skills. Lots of student examples will be shared! | Early Childhood | Kindergarten | Grades 1-3
Spruce Up Your Spring Math Centers | Christina Romero & Jessica Bernay - Gulliver Schools
Looking for some ideas to add more activities to spring math concepts? After a brief introduction, participants will bring math to life! Within “Math centers," participants will bring math to life through three standards-based centers, covering Measurement, Telling Time, and Representing & Interpreting Data. Participants will learn and explore using the hands-on activities provided, with grade-level adaptations for 1st through 3rd grade and leave the session with practical, next-step materials to add to their classroom. | Grades 1-3
STEAM Day Jedi | Cynthia Gonzalez, Gulliver Schools
Have you ever considered a STAR WARS themed STEAM day celebration? Using May the 4th as a perfect showcase day, our team brought together lessons across the STEAM content areas to design an engaging school-wide (PK-8th) interactive experience. Participants will engage in activities used to bring this showcase to our galaxy and hear about the gains and difficulties of this process. Become a STEAM day Jedi after this session. May the Force Be With You!  | Early Childhood | Kindergarten | Grades 1-3
Supporting Children Who Take You To The End of Your Rope | Daniel Hodgins - Early Childhood Consultant 
Are you an adult who is working with a child who Takes You to the End of Your Rope? If you are, this session is for you. You will increase your awareness of why challenging behaviors occur and what some strategies are that will assist in preventing these behaviors.  | Early Childhood | Kindergarten | Grades 1-3
Teacher Evaluations: Getting Better at Getting Better | Hope Myers & Barbara Myers - The Benjamin School
Peer-teacher, walkthroughs and summatives, oh my! Learn about the recent research surrounding teacher evaluation and how applying the collaborative approach to teacher evaluations can unite your faculty and empower your teacher-leaders. | Early Childhood | Kindergarten | Grades 1-3
Teaching Independence: Empowering the Whole Child | Chelsea Wicker & Michelle Isgut - Gulliver Academy
In this session, teachers will learn to empower their young thinkers through interactive modeling, thereby providing their students with the skills to manage classroom routines and activities independently. By giving children the gift of their own independence, teachers will open the door for themselves to create quality instructional time without the many interruptions that tend to take away from student learning outcomes. | Early Childhood | Kindergarten | Grades 1-3
The Hidden Magic of Wordless Books | Ines Taylor - Gulliver School
Wordless books are a treasury of expected and unexpected outcomes. Skills like reading comprehension and expressive language are acquired in the pages of many wordless books. Younger students can experience these picture books with or without assistance from an adult. In this session, participants will practice the art of storytelling using wordless books as the main focus. It will be a step-by-step approach to "reading" the pictures: introducing the story; reading the pictures; meaningful conversations; follow-up activities; and connections to core subjects. Take a relaxed stroll through the pages of a picture book! | Early Childhood | Kindergarten | Grades 1-3

Thinglinks for Early Childhood Educators | Nitza Plaski - Episcopal School of Jacksonville
Create interactive digital images and make learning come alive! Thinglinks are interactive tagged images with embedded multimedia content, such as links to websites, recorded audio, texts, videos, and 360 images. Participants will learn how to use Thinglinks to enhance their instruction, with a special focus on how to implement Thinglinks in a World Language FLES, Elementary or Early Childhood classroom. Participants will also create their own free Thinglink account on their own personal devices and brainstorm ways they can use Thinglinks in their own practice. Examples will be in English and Spanish and will be applicable to teachers of any subject from early childhood to k-3. Bring your own device!  | Early Childhood | Kindergarten | Grades 1-3
Wonder, Question, Puzzle, and Delight in Revision with Young Writers | Jennifer McDonough -  The Pine School
Guiding children to grow as writers is overwhelming, and teachers are under prepared to meet these challenges. Yet, writing workshop is the perfect environment for inquiry to thrive. Inquiry is a natural part of the writing process, and finding the answers through writing mentors is the necessary work of revision. | Kindergarten | Grades 1-3