For the past 35 years, Storrs, Connecticut, has attracted more than 20,000 worldwide educators for a highly acclaimed, enrichment-based program sponsored by the Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. The week-long program is geared toward providing educators with research-based, practical strategies for engagement and enrichment learning for all students, as well as meeting the needs of gifted and talented students.
Attended by more than 600 educators from across the U.S. and 15 other countries, this year’s Confratute was a blending of educators interested in gifted education, differentiation of instruction and curriculum, and creativity and innovation in education. Sessions included Math for Those Who Think They Can’t Do Math; Storytelling, Mime and Movement; CSI: Forensic Science in the Classroom; Books That Inspire and Guide; and numerous other topics.
This year for the first time, Confratute hosted the Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM) Leaders Forum, an intensive week for principals interested in school change using a philosophy of enrichment learning and teaching. While Confratute has always offered workshops for administrators, the SEM Leaders Forum was a conference-within-a-conference, designed specifically for school leaders.
Confratute, founded in July 1978 by Neag School of Education professor Joseph Renzulli, is the longest-running summer institute of its kind. Through exposure to differentiation, talent development and enriching learning experiences, the community of adult learners is able to share similar interests, as well as foster professional growth.
“A unique part of the Confratute concept is that it is more than a summer course, more than formal instruction, for it is a careful blend of a conference and an institute with a good deal of fraternity in the middle,” said institute Director Dr. Sally M. Reis.
“Confratute is total immersion and involvement in enrichment, teaching and learning,” she said. “It’s the excitement of new ideas, the satisfaction of hard work, the joy of creating and producing, and the happiness that comes from making new friends, having fun and learning a little bit more about yourself.”
The informal learning environment provided in over 50 hands-on class strands also fuels interactions between passionate participants, keynoters and faculty members alike.
Dr. Reis attributes much of the program’s success to the enthusiastic and dedicated participants who collectively bring thousands of years of diverse experience in education. Indeed, she said, it is the acknowledgement and celebration of differences that make Confratute so memorable and special.