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Pre-Conference Institute

Thursday,  January 11, 2024

1:00 - 4:00pm

Cadence Bank Arena and Conference Center

Tupelo, Mississippi

$75 - Choose 1 of 4 fabulous workshops

Price includes lunch 12:00-12:50pm

AL & MS CEUs available for PK-12 educators

Workshop A - Planning for ESL and Content Teacher's Collaboration in the General Education Classroom

The call to teach content and language to ELs necessitates opportunities for ESL and content teachers' collaboration in general education classrooms. Despite the tremendous possibilities for teacher and student learning outcomes in these partnerships, collaboration can be difficult without an instructional model where ESL and content teachers work together for language and content learning outcomes. This workshop will introduce participants to such a model by exemplifying what is needed to initiate and sustain collaboration in schools.


Participants will:

  • Examine co-taught lesson activities in English/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies for specific language and content objectives based on state standards.

  • Create a plan of action to initiate co-planning and co-teaching in their own contexts with specific language and content objectives aligned to standards.

  • Brainstorm ideas to strengthen their own action plan by creating more opportunities for ELs' oral language development.

  • Discuss realistic challenges and potential solutions to sustaining collaborative partnerships with content teachers in their specific contexts.

Participants will leave the workshop with a graphic organizer to plan for collaboration in their schools, example lesson activities in all four content areas, and strategies to navigate the challenges that arise as ESL teachers work to collaborate with content teachers in schools.

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Dr. Amanda Giles is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She serves as the Outreach Director and CoPI on a grant project funded by the U.S. Department of Education, which seeks to work toward equitable educational outcomes for ESL students in secondary schools. She  has over 13 years of experience in K-12 schools in Alabama, serving in roles such as an ESL teacher, ELA teacher, math interventionist, reading coach, and most recently, an assistant principal. Her work appears in scholarly journals included TESOL Journal, Language Teaching, and Research in Middle Level Education Online (RMLE)

Workshop B - Heritage Language Maintenance - A Partnership Designed to Support Multilingual Families

Multilingualism in the world is the norm, rather than the exception. In the United States, however, it is not uncommon for a heritage language to be lost within three generations. Why is that, and what can be done? Furthermore, parents are often filled with guilt and regret when they are unable to pass on their heritage language. How can this be avoided? In this workshop, we will explore different ways in which we can support individuals and families in their multilingual journey.


Dr. Pittman will lead participants to:

  • Explore typical hurdles for maintaining the home language.

  • Look at top-down vs. bottom-up approaches in family language policy.

  • Gain a better understanding for the great need for family language planning.

Based on her latest research, Dr. Pittman will also share with the participants details about an accountability system she developed for multilingual families. Using several case studies, participants will go over strategies for successful bilingual parenting and important takeaways for ESL educators. Heritage language maintenance is challenging and complex, but also precious and rewarding. A partnership between families and their schools and community support systems can be key to success.

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Dr. Iulia Pittman is Professor of German and Linguistics at Auburn University and Founder of Multilingual Family Consulting. She holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics/Second Language Acquisition from the University of Georgia and an M.A. in Translation Science and Terminology and B.A. in Translation and Interpreting (German and English) from Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. She is passionate about languages and is dedicated to supporting individuals and families in their journey to multilingualism. She is the editor and chapter author of the book Raising Children Bilingually in the United States, has published numerous articles on heritage language maintenance, and has been interviewed by newspapers and by podcasters on multilingualism and bilingual parenting. Her work is informed by her extensive academic knowledge and access to current research, as well as by her own experience growing up bilingually and being the parent of three English-Hungarian bilingual children.

Workshop C - Is it Language Proficiency or a Potential Disability?

This is a question that often haunts teachers, interventionists, administrators, special education staff, and other educators who work with English learners. Often, it is difficult to determine whether the challenges English learners face in the classroom are caused by the fact they are still learning English, or if an actual disability is the factor.

This workshop will provide participants with practical, hands-on information on what quality reading interventions for English learners might look like as well as key considerations when deciding whether to refer a student for special education testing.

Monique Henderson

Dr. Monique Henderson provides nationwide coaching through her company, English Learners Engage, and is the author of 31 Things your English Learners Want You to Know: Lessons from the Classroom. She has more than 20 years of experience in education, including time spent researching and writing about public education in Mississippi, Southern California, and Texas. She has worked as a teacher, serving students who are English learners, homeless students, and migrant students. She has served as an English Learner consultant and project manager at an education consulting company in Ridgeland, Mississippi and also as the Director of Special Populations for the Mississippi Department of Education, overseeing the state's English Learner, migrant, immigrant, neglected, delinquent, and homeless initiatives. Monique has provided extensive coaching and technical support to teachers, principals, superintendents and others in more than 65 school districts.

Workshop D - Where Worlds Collide: Content Objectives, Language Objectives, and Webb's DOK

Oftentimes, as content rigor increases, language demands also increase. The uptick in rigor and complexity leads inevitably to a larger cognitive load for all students, but even more so for Multilingual Learners at the lower proficiency levels. Indeed, MLLs are often left behind, either because they are given less rigorous activities or because they simply cannot follow along with lessons in absence of appropriate supports.

In this workshop, participants will look at the intersection of content and language alongside expectations via Webb's DOK. Together, we will analyze real-world examples of lessons in order to derive appropriate language objectives from content. Next, we will evaluate the rigor of expectations in each component of the lesson, from beginning to end. Finally, we will re-envision the lessons, using techniques that reduce the complexity of language required to communicate content at the higher ends of the DOK range.

At the end of the workshop, participants will be able to navigate ELD Standards and Proficiency Level Descriptors using the WIDA Digital Explorer. Participants will also be able to derive appropriate language objectives from within the content of a given lesson. Finally, participants will be able to identify pain points in the intersection of content and language and come away with techniques to use in supporting both MLLs and content colleagues who struggle to communicate their content to diverse language learners.

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Dr. Andrea Word has worked in the field of TESOL for over 25 years. As Director of the Intensive Language and Culture Program (ILC) at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), she created the unit that met the needs of nonnative English-speaking students as they prepared to enter undergraduate and graduate programs at the university. In 2016, her responsibilities shifted to focus on P-12 teacher training in ESOL within the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in UAH's College of Education, where she delivers core courses for the M.Ed. ESOL, MAT ESOL, and TESOL Certificate programs. Currently, she also serves as PI and Project Director for Project DIAL, a U.S. Department of Education National Professional Development grant supporting preparation of secondary teachers to work with Multilingual Learners.

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