AMTESOL 2020 Pre-Conference Workshops


A Shared Vision for Multilingual Learner Success

Friday January 24, 2020

The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center

Auburn, Alabama

Download the Conference Program



9:00am-12:00pm     3-hour workshop

12:00pm-12:45pm   Lunch


COST $60

Choose 1 of 3 workshops


This workshop will focus on the importance of community engagement through the theoretical lens of Human-Centered Design and Funds of Knowledge. With this foundation and through cultural capital and asset-based community development, participants will learn how to engage their communities in meaningful ways while also empowering multicultural families. Participants will learn how to differentiate between engagement and involvement in order to see positive educational outcomes in their classrooms including the development of family literacy. The workshop will conclude with the presenters sharing their insights and experiences with community engagement in a way that allows for a collaborative discussion.


Lynn Fuller is a 16-year veteran of the ESL classroom. Currently a high school instructor in Madison County Schools, Mississippi, she has worked with EL students from 6th grade through adult. During this time, she has taught English in the mainstream classroom, ESL, Learning Strategies and ESL tutorial as well as community ESL classes. Lynn is currently pursuing an EdS in TESOL at UAB.

Patricia Merritt is a bilingual ESL teacher at a rural elementary school in Jefferson County, Alabama. She has twelve years' experience as a high school Spanish teacher in a suburban school and fours years' experience as a community English teacher through a non-profit in the Birmingham area. Patricia is a doctoral student at UAB, pursuing the Educational Studies in Diverse Populations PhD with a pedagogical studies concentration in TESOL.


This workshop is a must for teachers and administrators who would like to offer the Seal of Biliteracy at their schools and, by doing so, bring a wonderful opportunity to all language learners - those learning English as a Second Language and those learning one or more world languages. The Seal of Biliteracy, which recognizes proficiency in English and another world language, was initiated almost twenty years ago in California with the goal of celebrating English learners' bilingualism and enhancing their career options. The Seal of Biliteracy is currently being offered by 38 states, including Mississippi, and also by schools in several other states. Awarded to graduating high school seniors, the Seal of Biliteracy demonstrates accomplishment in two or more languages and provides advantages for college admission and future employment. The workshop will start with a description of the Seal of Biliteracy and its advantages. A panel of educators will then outline steps that took place for establishing the Seal of Biliteracy in Mississippi and those currently underway for doing so in Alabama. Educators across both states, at the school, district, and state levels, will also explain efforts at their respective schools and states for rolling out the Seal of Biliteracy. Attendees will explore ways for bringing the Seal of Biliteracy to their own schools.

Lead Presenter:

Arthur Chou: (Academic Learning Company, El Monte, California) For almost two decades, Mr. Chou has been advocating the biliteracy movement and dual language schools in an effort to promote education equity for English Learners, encourage multilingualism, and prepare all students to become global citizens. Mr. Chou has helped more than 30 states to establish state-specific guidelines and procedures for the Seal of Biliteracy.


Dr. Susan Spezzini: (School of Education, University of Alabama at Birmingham) Dr. Spezzini is professor and program director of ESL teacher education at UAB. She also directs professional development grants from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of English Language Acquisition.


Limeul Eubanks: (World Languages Coordinator, Mississippi Department of Education) Mr. Eubanks is the lead and driving force for promoting, establishing, and implementing the Seal of Biliteracy at the state level in Mississippi.

Sandra C. Elliott: (English Learner Intervention Support Specialist, Office of Elementary Education and Reading, Mississippi Department of Education) Ms. Elliott will share her perspectives on how the Seal of Biliteracy will support English learners across Mississippi.

Katherine Carr: (Harrison County Schools, Gulfport, MS) Ms. Carr is a K-12 ESL Teacher in Harrison County School District centered in Gulfport, MS. Ms. Carr will share her ideas for bringing the state's recently approved Seal of Biliteracy to her own school district and views on how this will support local ELs and their families.

Dr. Krista Chambless: (Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, University of Alabama at Birmingham) Dr. Chambless is Assistant Professor of Spanish at UAB and Past-President of the Alabama World Language Association. Dr. Chambless will explain how she helped guide the World Language teachers and administrators at Vestavia Hills High School in being the first school in Alabama to offer the Seal of Biliteracy.

Dr. Natalia Dooley: (Madison City Schools, Madison, Alabama) Dr. Dooley is the Federal Programs Coordinator at Madison City Schools (AL) and a former ESL teacher. She will share how her medium-size school district began conversations in May 2018 regarding the Seal of Biliteracy, developed plans through committee work in summer and Fall 2018, and began awarding the Seal of Biliteracy in May 2019.

Lari Valtierra: (English Learner Supervisor, Jefferson County Schools, Birmingham, Alabama) Ms. Valtierra will share the path to the Seal of Biliteracy for her large school district. Starting with early conversations in 2017 and committee work in January 2018, the Seal of Biliteracy was approved by the Jefferson County Board of Education in October 2019 and is already being implemented.


In this exploratory workshop, participants will gain a broader understanding of designing and using rubrics for instruction and assessment in ESL and beyond to encourage learner success. In the first segment, participants will use a hands-on approach to evaluate, discuss, apply, and create rubrics using authentic student work. We will use a series of different writing rubrics to evaluate their effectiveness and validity. Participants will compare both the rubrics themselves and their own interpretations through analysis and discussion. Additionally, we will look at best practices in creating clear, accurate rubrics that are beneficial for teachers and students alike. In the second segment of the workshop, participants will examine rubrics from various disciplines to explore how rubrics are being used outside of ESL to better support students in academic courses. Through this exercise, participants will compare how educators are using rubrics across disciplines in order to have a better understanding and awareness of the way that students are evaluated beyond the ESL classroom. By increasing rubric literacy as instructors, we can better serve students in various fields of study through activities focused on understanding assessment. Participants are encouraged to bring existing assignments or rubrics to this workshop.


Mary Diamond is an instructor at Auburn Global, Auburn, Alabama. She has been a member of AMTESOL since 2007. She has worked with students, instructors and pre-service teachers at Auburn University since 1997.

Irene Pannatier is an English Program Specialist at Auburn Global. She has many years of teaching ESL, English composition, French, and of being involved with second language teacher education at universities and secondary schools across North America and abroad.

DeElla Wiley is an English Program Specialist at Auburn Global. She has experience in teaching ESL, English composition, literature, and creative writing in universities, community colleges, prisons, and ESL classrooms.

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