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Conference Speakers

Learn more about our conference speakers below.

Keynote Presentations

Unlocking Potential: Key Ways to Help English Learners Thrive in Your Classroom

Speaker: Annie Rients
Time: Friday, 7 pm
Location: Gymnasium

When you point out kids strengths, they grown in confidence. They know you see them. You see the whole individual, not just an empty vessel that needs to be filled with your knowledge (Lenz, 2016). English Learners bring a WEALTH of assets into the classroom, although sometimes we miss these assets and talents because of a language barrier. In this session Andrea Rients will share the benefits of a strengths based approach to teaching English Learners and instructional techniques that help ELs use their unique voice to express their learning. Learn more.

Improving the Literacy of English Learners

Speaker: Dr. Timothy Shanahan
Time: Saturday, 8:40 am
Location: Gymnasium

English Language Learners (as a group) are not doing particularly well in U.S. schools, and the story in Wyoming is markedly worse. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 42% of non-ELL fourth-graders are reading proficient, but only 2% of the ELL students are. Given the levels of success for these students evident in some schools, there is a need for some changes. This presentation will explore 7 things educators must do to ensure reading success for English learners across the grades. Learn more.

Featured Presentations: Saturday, 10:30 - 11:50 am

Formative Assessments in ELD Classrooms

Location: Room 1237
Target Audience:

Abstract: The abundant research on Formative Assessment suggests that simple activities can dramatically improve student achievement. This workshop explores the utility and productivity of formative assessment from theory to practice with special emphasis on the intersection of formative assessments and English language development. The purpose is to prepare participants to incorporate new formative language assessment practices into their educational contexts using the WIDA ELD framework and Can-Do Philosophy. Participants will leave this highly interactive workshop with a bevy of formative assessments—from easy and fast to more complex—to use in their classrooms next Monday. Learn more.

I Just Want Someone to Talk To: Finding and Becoming an Empathetic Mediator for Language Acquisition

Location: Room 1201
Target Audience:

Abstract: Being a second language learner isn’t easy. Sure, we can fire up Duolingo, Mango or Babbel to learn vocabulary, grammar, and helpful phrases such as “My grandmother has a cat,” but in the end language is about communicating ideas, particularly with other people. Conversations do not take place according to a script or in tidy idea-packages, which can lead to uncertainty and discomfort for second language learners. In this interactive session we will explore the concept of empathetic mediation as a way of supporting second language learners as they encounter challenges. Along the way we will examine theories and applications related to communities of practice, productive success and productive failure, feedback loops and mentoring. As a heads-up, attendees will start learning a new language during the session to gain additional personal perspectives on this topic. Learn more.

Differentiating for Emerging Bilingual Learners in t he Mathematics Classroom

Location: Room 1229
Target Audience: 6-12

Abstract: How can teachers create effective learning environments for emergent bilingual students to engage in rigorous mathematics instruction? This interactive presentation will provide modeling on how to increase comprehensible input for students at various English proficiency levels in the mathematics classroom. Participants will learn how to support both mathematics and language development so that emergent bilingual learners can become interactive participants who engage in meaningful discourse during problem solving.  Learn more.

ESL or DLI: What’s the difference?

Location: Presentational Hall
Target Audience: All

Abstract: In this interactive presentation, attendees will learn about the differences and similarities of English as a Second Language and Dual Language Immersion programs. The presentation is intended to present the historical context and current practices of both programs, as well as address misconceptions and misunderstandings that exist in some Wyoming communities regarding each program. An expected outcome will include audience participation that draws on teachers’ current pedagogical repertoire while practicing instructional strategies found in both of the programs. Learn more.

Identifying and Supporting Students with Disabilities and English as a Second Language

Location: Room 1235
Target Audience:

Abstract: It is often difficult to decipher when students with English as a second language (ESL) also have a disability. Educators working with students with English as a second language are asked to analyze student behavior and abilities. Common signs of disability are often similar to those of ESL, however, making disability identification particularly challenging. Furthermore, meeting the unique needs of students with disabilities and ESL may also be puzzling for educators and other professionals. In these cases, assessment of disability and program development requires a high level of collaboration, collegial support and interdisciplinary teaming. Although collaboration is always required when identifying and planning for any student with a disability, the level of collegial problem solving, educational planning, and the delivery of services may expand beyond typical requirements when supporting students with disabilities and ESL.  Learn more.

Developing Emerging Bilinguals' Interpretation Skills through Academic Language: Disciplinary Literacy in the English/Language Arts Classroom

Location: Room 1227
Target Audience:

Abstract: This interactive presentation will introduce participants to a heuristic for disciplinary literacy in English/Language Arts classrooms. This heuristic can help emerging bilinguals develop and apply their knowledge of academic language to the reading of literary texts. We will engage participants in simple but effective instructional activities that have emerged from our research on disciplinary literacy in English Language Arts (ELA). The presentation is designed to support teachers as they work with emerging bilinguals, particularly in moving beyond recognizing and identifying academic language and toward using their understanding of that language to develop interpretations of literature.  Learn more.

View Breakout Sessions


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Dr. Jenna Shim


Kim Jones


1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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