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Workshop Recap~ OWL 1: Hopkinton, NH

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OWL facilitator, Jaclyn, spent two awesome days at Hopkinton Middle-High School in Hopkinton, NH! Read her recap below 🙂

One of my favorite parts of my role with OWL is facilitating workshops. And even more-so, it’s working with teachers that continue to inspire me. Hopkinton is home to Michelle, who is basically my idol. Michelle is the epitome of a life long learner: she is always trying to better her practice, grow as a teacher, and create a community around her that also strives for these goals. Michelle (who has attended an OWL 1 workshop at least 3 times) brought OWL to her school so that all of the teachers at HMHS could be a part of a conversation of proficiency and student directed instruction. Read More

Workshop Recap ~ OWL 1: Albany, NY

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OWL facilitator Chris spent two incredible days at Green Tech High School in Albany, NY! Read his recap below 🙂

I am writing this blog entry exactly one week after my visit to Green Tech High in Albany, New York and I am still riding the energy train generated by this amazing team! Not only did the teachers attend the OWL I workshop—the administrators did too! With this kind of support I knew this was a special place.


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OWL Friendly Schools That Need You!

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Looking for a school that will support OWL methods and strategies. Check out these job listings for the 2018-19 school year!

We’ll be updating this posting as we hear for more opportunities for you! Do you have an opening at your school? Contact us, we’d love to help you find a teacher that fits your school’s needs!

Posted 6/28/18

Portland, OR

Long Term 7/8 Spanish Substitute


  1. Possesses knowledge of District policies and regulations relating to areas of responsibilities.
  2. Develops and implements activities that encourage students to be life-long learners.
  3. Meets and instructs assigned classes in the locations and at the times designated.
  4. Plans a program of study that, as much as possible, meets the individual needs, interests, and abilities of the students with special attention given to TAG, special education, ESL and other students, who require modified programs of study. Classroom curriculum should adhere to State standards and School Board policy.
  5. Creates a classroom environment that is conducive to learning and appropriate to the developmental maturity and interests of the students.
  6. Prepares for classes assigned and shows written evidence of preparation upon request of immediate supervisor.
  7. Encourages students to set and maintain standards of classroom behavior.
  8. Guides the learning process toward the achievement of curriculum goals and, in harmony with the goals, establishes clear objectives for all lessons, units, and projects and communicates these objectives to students.
  9. Employs a variety of instructional techniques and media consistent to meet the needs and capabilities of individuals or student groups, recognizing the physical limitations of the space provided.
  10. Strives to implement by instruction and action the District’s philosophy of education, instructional goals and other objectives.
  11. Assesses students on a regular basis and provides progress reports as required.
  12. Seeks the assistance of District specialists as required for referrals related to exceptional education services, such as special education, gifted and talented education, ESL and the like.
  13. Takes all necessary and reasonable precautions to protect students, equipment, materials, and facilities.
  14. Maintains accurate, complete, and correct records as required by law, District policy, and administrative regulation.
  15. Assists administration in implementing all policies and rules governing student life and conduct. Develops reasonable rules of classroom behavior and maintains order in the classroom.  All classroom rules should be consistent with School Board and building policies.

Posted 6/28/18

Bethel, WA
Hola OWL teachers,  Bethel High School is looking for a teacher.  I have been doing OWL there for now 3 years.  We have an opening.  Please contact me and I forward on the info.  jirish@bethelsd.org
  • Position Type:
    Teaching – Secondary/Teacher – High School
  • Date Posted:
  • Location:
    Bethel High School
  • Closing Date: 

The Bethel School District is seeking teacher applicants who have the potential to be leaders and innovative educators.  Successful candidates will demonstrate the ability to deliver instruction based upon best available research and practices in teaching and learning.

 If you are a current Bethel School District employee, you must complete an INTERNAL application.  All other applicants, including current substitutes, must complete the standard application.

•Valid and appropriate certificate and endorsements for Washington State required.
•Meet requirements of Every Student Succeeds Act.
•Demonstrated ability to develop and maintain effective classroom management.
•Demonstrated ability to successfully employ effective teaching methods.
•Demonstrated desire and ability to work and communicate effectively with staff, students and parents from diverse cultural backgrounds.

•Previous successful teaching experience at grade level/subject preferred.
•Understanding of Common Core Standards.
•Demonstrated ability to differentiate instruction, and use a variety of instructional strategies and methods appropriate for student learning needs.
•Ability to integrate technology with the curriculum.
•Problem solving abilities and critical thinking skills.
•Ability to organize ideas, time and materials to accomplish goals.
•Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively and plan with other staff members through Professional Learning Communities.
•Desire and willingness to continue to learn and pursue professional development.
•Be enthusiastic, flexible and have a commitment for students to reach high learning standards.
•Willingness to accept extracurricular assignments.

Application Procedure:
Apply online


Posted 5/7/18

Deer Park ISD, Houston, TX!

High School – Spanish Teacher at South Campus General Statement of Responsibilities: To motivate pupils to develop skills, attitudes and knowledge needed to provide a good foundation, in accordance with each pupil’s ability. Responsibilities:  Evaluate the needs of each student to accommodate individual learning styles.  Create informative lesson plans to foster mastery of all material.  Develop effective classroom procedures to facilitate daily instruction.  Manage behaviors to promote self-discipline.  Provide a well-balanced and open-minded educational environment which encourages and motivates students to achieve and surpass classroom standards, individual interests and future goals.  Utilize outstanding verbal and written communication skills.  Be detail oriented and well organized.  Capable of maintaining discipline with large groups of students while preserving one-on-one assistance.  Maintain appropriate teacher-student rapport at all times.  Keep accurate and complete records and render reports that are required by law, board policies, and/or administrative directives.  Seek and utilize opportunities for further professional growth through in-service education, further study, and supervisory and consultative services provided by the district.  Utilize technology both in classroom instruction and in record keeping as required by the district.  Maintain and improve technology skills through district-offered training and personal skill development.  Use school supplies effectively and economically.  Care for and protect school property that is used for instructional purposes.  Cooperate and participate in the planning, implementation and evaluation of the instructional program.  Assist in the selection of textbooks and of other teaching and learning aids.  Establish and maintain a professional working relationship with administrators, fellow teachers, pupils, parents and the community.  Respect the personal worth, dignity and rights of pupils.  Maintain professional certifications as required by the Texas Education Agency.  Perform such other professional duties and responsibilities as may be directed by the principal.

Posted 4/26/18

Cushing Academy seeks an experienced, energetic and dynamic teacher of Latin to begin August 2018.
Responsibilities include teaching four or five sections of high school Latin and supervising two seasons of athletics or other extracurricular activities. On-campus housing is included along with duties as a dormitory supervisor; 3-5 years of teaching at the high school level is required. Successful candidates will display an interest in engaging in all aspects of a boarding school community and share Cushing’s commitment to diversity. Bachelor’s degree in Latin or related field required; master’s preferred.
Qualified candidates for this position may also apply to serve as Department Head of the Classical and Modern Language Department. The Department Head serves to align the department with the vision and mission of the school. He or she is responsible for creating a critical, creative, challenging, and supportive learning environment among colleagues and students. The Department Head fosters and supports a culture of collaboration, feedback, and reflection; advocates for the needs of individual members and the department as a whole; and serves as a liaison for internal and external constituencies. The Department Head reports to the Dean of Academics.
Interested candidates should submit a letter of interest and resume to David A. Stone, Dean of Faculty, at dstone@cushing.org.


Posted 4/24/18

Charles R. Drew Charter School – Atlanta, Georgia

Job Title: Spanish Teacher – Senior Academy

Deadline to Apply: Open until Filled

School Overview: Charles R. Drew Charter School opened in 2000 as Atlanta’s first charter school and is an integral part of holistic neighborhood revitalization led by the East Lake Foundation. Drew Charter School serves over 1,600 children in Pre-K through 12th grade, growing ultimately to serve over 2,000 students from “cradle -to-college” with two onsite early learning partners. Drew’s innovative academic model of Project-Based Learning (PBL), incorporating a Science Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) theme, has effectively closed both the achievement gaps and the opportunity gaps for children from diverse backgrounds.

Position Description: Classroom teachers are expected to plan, organize and implement an appropriate instructional program in a learning environment that guides and encourages students to develop and fulfill their academic potential. This position reports to the Senior Academy (SA) Principal.

Performance Responsibilities:
• Establish and enforce rules for behavior and procedures for maintaining order among the students for whom they are responsible.
• Observe and evaluate students’ performance, behavior, social development, and physical health.
• Prepare materials and classrooms for class activities.
• Adapt teaching methods and instructional materials to meet students’ varying needs and interests.
• Plan and conduct activities for a balanced program of instruction, demonstration, and work time that provides students with opportunities to observe, question, and investigate.
• Instruct students individually and in groups, using various teaching methods such as lectures, discussions, and demonstrations.
• Establish clear objectives for all lessons, units, and projects, and communicate those objectives to students.
• Assign and grade class work and homework.
• Prepare, administer, and grade tests and assignments in order to evaluate students’ progress.
• Confer with parents or guardians, teachers, counselors, and administrators in order to resolve students’ behavioral and academic problems.
• Meet with parents and guardians to discuss their children’s progress, and to determine their priorities for their children and their resource needs.
• Maintain accurate and complete student records as required by laws, school policies, and administrative regulations.
• Prepare students for later grades by encouraging them to explore learning opportunities and to persevere with challenging tasks.
• Guide and counsel students with adjustment and/or academic problems, or special academic interests.
• Prepare and implement remedial programs for students requiring extra help.
• Prepare objectives and outlines for courses of study, following curriculum guidelines or requirements of states and schools.
• Enforce administration policies and rules governing students.
• Confer with other staff members to plan and schedule lessons promoting learning, following approved curricula.
• Use computers, audiovisual aids, and other equipment and materials to supplement presentations.
• Prepare for assigned classes, and show written evidence of preparation upon request of immediate supervisors.
• Collaborate with other teachers and administrators in the development, evaluation, and revision of elementary school programs.
• Prepare reports on students and activities as required by administration.
• Instruct and monitor students in the use and care of equipment and materials, in order to prevent injuries and damage.
• Attend professional meetings, educational conferences, and teacher training workshops in order to maintain and improve professional competence.
• Plan and supervise class projects, field trips, visits by guest speakers or other experiential activities, and guide students in learning from those activities.

• Bachelor’s Degree with at least a 2.5 GPA required

Work Experience
• Zero (0) years of teaching experience

• Minimum of T4-Certification in Spanish (P-12) OR Passed the GACE Basic Skills Assessment in field or have reciprocity eligibility

• Salary Range: $45,198 to $90,237
• Work Days: 195
• Drew Charter School offers our full-time staff members a broad, generous benefits package.

More info here! http://www.drewcharterschool.org/employment_354284


Posted 4/17/18

The Portsmouth NH School Department is seeking dynamic teachers excited to join our professional learning community.  Successful candidates will evidence a passion for teaching and learners, demonstrate an ability to collaborate with colleagues as part of a team, be able to design and implement lessons that are engaging and differentiated and possess a strong commitment to academic excellence for all students.


The Portsmouth School Department is a premier NH district committed to providing a rigorous and engaging educational experience for all students characterized by personalization.  All learners are provided rich exposure to the arts and athletics and we proudly graduate every student career or college and citizenship ready. The Portsmouth School Department uses a Professional Learning Community model to ensure teachers can frequently monitor student progress.

Please download the teacher application (http://www.cityofportsmouth.com/school/centraloffice/empops.htm)


Posted 4/11/18

Friends Academy- Long Island, NY

This is a full time position in the Middle School teaching five sections primarily of French but of Spanish as well in the WLC Department. In addition to teaching, the position involves serving as an advisor for a group of 8-10 students as well as supporting the Middle School extra-curricular programs by coaching and/or leading a major activity. A background and interest in world languages and cultures would be helpful in this position as well as an interest in helping to develop an extracurricular activity with a global focus.

Qualifications: A successful candidate will have a BA degree in French or Spanish; an MA is preferred. Ideally, we would love a native speaker in either language and fluency in both languages. He/she should have three to five years of experience teaching in an independent school setting, possess excellent oral and written communication skills and a demonstrated ability to serve as a collaborative member on a grade level team.

Check it out here! https://www.fa.org/about/employment-opportunities


Posted 4/2/2018

Spanish Teacher/Department Head
Cushing Academy (Ashburham, MA) seeks an experienced, energetic and dynamic teacher of Spanish to begin August 2018.

Responsibilities include teaching four sections of high school Spanish and supervising two seasons of athletics or other extracurricular activities. On campus housing is included along with duties as a dormitory supervisor.  3-5 years of teaching at the high school level is required. Successful candidates will display an interest in engaging in all aspects of a boarding school community and share Cushing’s commitment to diversity. Bachelor’s degree in Spanish or related field required; master’s preferred.

Qualified candidates for this position may also apply to serve as Department Head of the Classical and Modern Language Department. The Department Head serves to align the department with the vision and mission of the school. He or she is responsible for creating a critical, creative, challenging, and supportive learning environment among colleagues and students. The Department Head fosters and supports a culture of collaboration, feedback, and reflection; advocates for the needs of individual members and the department as a whole; and serves as a liaison for internal and external constituencies. The Department Head reports to the Dean of Academics.

Interested candidates should submit a letter of interest and resume to David A. Stone, Dean of Faculty, at dstone@cushing.org.

Posted 2/5/2018:

3/4-Time Spanish Teacher at The Athenian School, 2100 Mt. Diablo Scenic Blvd, Danville, CA 94506

Check out more info here!

OWL Workshop Recap ~ OWL Next Steps: Alexandria, MN

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OWL facilitator Brooke spent two incredible days at Alexandria Area High School! Read her recap below 🙂

For two days with beautiful frost edging every surface outside the window teachers at Alexandria Area High School and the surrounding area dug into their successes and struggles in using OWL in the classroom so far this year.  All but one of these talented educators had previously been through OWL trainings and everyone dove in on Day 1 with stellar energy.  Read More

TXBC17 Day 4

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Trust your passion.  As Darcy has frequently said, OWL is not just about a method; it’s about us as people.  Who we are is how we present to our students.  We are at our best when we are doing what we are passionate about.  To that end, all three of our strands spent the day exploring PPATH, collaborative planning, and leading circles.  Our Green Strand was engaged in kinesthetic topic webs, the curriculum triangle, and collaborative planning.  The Blue Strand did a consultancy protocol, discussed challenges and successes, played a fun round of question tennis, and did collaborative planning.  The Orange Strand did a deep dive into threads and progressions and pushing students to the next level.


Significant Quotes:

“The consultancy protocol gave me the opportunity to contemplate my own practice through the discussion of someone else’s.”  –Blue Strand participant


“We beat ourselves up about grading when we should be focused on using something really simple that highlights what students can do”  –Orange Strand participant


“Writing the questions at all three proficiency levels has been great because I’ve had the opportunity to practice questioning while getting feedback.”  –Green Strand participant



Today was such an inspiring day for me as a teacher.  It was amazing to see so many fellow teachers with a genuine passion for what they do.  They exemplified their passion by being willing to look critically at themselves and their practice.  The most meaningful experience of the day for me was watching participants in the Blue Strand take a deep dive into an essential question:  “How can I get my students to be 100% target language?”  Through the consultancy protocol, participants were able to explore the topic and refine their essential question to: “How can we create an environment that supports students staying in the L2?”  By shifting the question participants shifted the onus of the solution to the teacher:  it is the teacher’s responsibility to create the right environment.  This new essential question simultaneously created a role for students:  once the right environment has been created, students much have ownership in it.  Watching teachers reach this conclusion together via the consultancy protocol was an amazing experience.  Just as changes in our classroom are most meaningful and effective when they involve giving students ownership, workshops such as this bootcamp are at their best when they are giving teachers the room to think critically and take ownership of their own practices.

TXBC17 Day 3

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Oh the possibility of day three!  Possibility was the word of the day as we dove into the nuts and bolts of the OWL methodology.  Beginning the day with the “Spectrum” activity was a wonderful treat as we had the opportunity to see where OWL’ers stand on the really important issues like chocolate or vanilla and cats or dogs.  This activity also gave us a chance to see where teachers felt they were on the OWL continuum.  Knowing this vital information set the stage for the rest of the day. 


One of the most important things we examined today was the process of trying something knew.  We have a great group of teahcers that found OWL because they were looking for a paradigm shift in their classrooms.  We were reminded that great things only happen when we allow ourselves to try and fail a couple of times before we reach that breakthrough.  A new OWL’er said it best when she mentioned, “trust that even if you make mistakes and have some bumps along the road, it’s ok.”  She could have not been more correct! Other participants also noticed that this concept is not exclusive to our classroom practices. He said, “this practice goes beyond the classroom.  It applies to our lives in general.” 


Day three was also all about connecting the activities and process done on day one and two with the fantasticness that is OWL.  Teachers self-selected strands to follow to either give them a foundation in OWL, get a quick refresher on what they already know and dig a little deeper, or share their experiences with other veteran OWL’ers and work out some kinks in their practice. In these small groups teacher unpacked the ACTFL proficiency guidelines, shared games like “Schooch” and learned some tools for “de-unitizing” there classroom. The strands are a vital part of the work done at Boot Camp because the small groups give teachers the opportunity the share, glean ideas, and build a community with teachers who are in the same part of the process as they are.  Talk about differentiation and meeting the needs of all involved! Whew!


By the way, the language circles today were on FIYAH! We started the morning with four circles for our teachers (1 French, 1 German, 1 Chinese, and 1 Spanish).  Everyone had to participate in a language to which they had had no previous exposure.  This gave teachers the change to feel what their students feel.  The circle debrief revealed feeling across the spectrum.  From frustration to triumph, embarrassed to empowered, needy to fulfilled, teachers felt it all!  We were then able to observe one of our facilitators run a circle with some great students from some of the Houston Area schools.  The demo circle served as a vital teaching tool for new and veteran OWL’ers alike. 


Tomorrow we will continue the awesomeness under the big blue Texas sky.  The possibilities are endless and all participants are be given the tools they need to  sustain their teaching journeys.  

TXBC17 Day 2

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Hello from day two of Texas Bootcamp 2017! Today we were blessed to have ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) trainer, Dr. Mark Darhower, all the way from North Carolina. We started the day being reminded of our focus for the week: Possibility, Passion, Purpose and Power! Today we would be focusing on a new “P”- Proficiency! We started with a quick stretch and an invitation to be present and we were on our way towards fully understanding how proficiency and questioning play a role in our daily interactions in class.

After a quick history lesson on how the proficiency ratings came to be, we dove right into the guidelines and the structure and protocol of the OPI. Today was a great reminder that the proficiency guidelines are there to help us determine what students CAN do with the language.

Next we spent a good amount of time learning all about the characteristics of each level of the proficiency guidelines. This is always a great reminder no matter how many times we have heard about the levels because this is at the core of everything that we do! The structure of the OPI was also explored.

After understanding the process of the OPI, we were able to listen to some actual OPI samples. This was great practice in identifying different questioning strategies as well as identifying the levels of our students. We also practiced taking a topic and spiraling our questions up the proficiency levels across many functions of language.

Lastly, and most importantly, we talked about how we can apply this in our classroom! This was where it all became clear! First, we need to remember as teachers to be a good “interviewer”. That is we should be actively listening to our students and finding out what is important to them while simultaneously listening to the type of language that they are producing. Next, the proficiency levels are perfect for rubrics. It tells us exactly how to assess our students and what criteria to use. Lastly, we considered the POSSIBILITY that our daily class time could actually work much like an OPI! WOW! That thought is POWERful! Just think about what that could do for our classes and language learning!

In reflecting with a table partner, she said “I realized that I only usually ask questions that I know that the students know the answer to. Now I know how to ask more open ended questions like ‘tell me about your house’ to find out what they can actually do with the language’.” This teacher realized that by asking more open ended questions, we could move our students from simple recall to actual reflection and application of the language. This is where critical thinking happens! Overall today was an amazing day full of learning and I am excited to see how we can connect what we learn the rest of this week back to the structure and purpose of the OPI.

Texas Bootcamp Day 1!

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Welcome to OWL Texas Bootcamp 2017!  Houston has welcomed us with beautiful blue skies,  heat and humidity.  Throughout the day we focused on building community and challenging ourselves in a variety of activities, allowing ourselves to feel what many of our students feel in our classrooms.  We all experienced fun and exciting times, moments of pure frustration and connection with our colleagues. Activities such as the Name Relay, Word Race, Cards, Growth Line, Hashtag, Heart- to- Heart Musical chairs, Hula Hoop Races, and the Blind and Silent Mazes were led by the fantastic OWL facilitators. Each activity was tightly tied to this year’s themes: PossibilityPassionPurposePower.   Each experience shared today was carefully designed to be transferable and applicable to our practice in the classroom!

Our day started off by delving into our themes – adding actions, reflecting on and exploring the personal and professional implications of  Possibility, Passion, Purpose, and Power.  We were grouped into smaller circles to get to know each other’s name with the Name Relay. Next, we did the Word Race activity where we were split into smaller groups and had an opportunity to compete with the other teams to recreate words using the letters from our four theme terms, an interactive variation similar to Boggle.  We dug deeper by creating a concept web and reflecting on what our groups had come up with.  With as much fun and play going on , there were just as many meaningful discussions and relationships being built throughout the afternoon.

With ‘Cards’,  we were strategically paired and prompted to answer questions based on the key themes of the week, allowing us to expand our interpretations of the themes and what they mean to us.  After that, we did the emotional Growth Line, which gave us the opportunity to think about challenging situations in our life and how we process them, allowing us to once again experience what our students might feel in our classrooms.  Activities like this one made our opening day stand out a little more than your typical Sunday afternoon.

Heart-to- Heart Musical Chairs was a fun and powerful way to get people moving and talking to a lot of different people in a dance- fueled manner.  At the end of our day, we were pushed through our comfort, growth and risk zones  with a few low -ropes course activities!  The Blind Maze and Silent Maze challenged people to work together, work through frustration, and push themselves and each other to their limits. Last but not least, technology was incorporated using the activity Hashtags #TXBC17. Please use it throughout the week to share the excitement and passion from this great group of teachers! After each activity, there was a debriefing which allowed us the opportunity to reflect on and see how we could use each activity we experienced in our classrooms.

Possibility, Passion, Purpose and Power – the week is just beginning and we are all looking ahead toward what we will be gaining with the unimaginable possibilities awaiting us over the next five days!

Teacher Quotes:

“I think its great we get to experience what our students go through.”

“It’s a wonderful experience to work as a team.”

“Teachers are stronger when we work together.”

Bootcamp Experiences- From Fellow OWL’ers

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Only 5 days until we kick off our summer with Texas Bootcamp! We’re so excited, we can barely contain ourselves. As we get ready, we wanted to share some experiences from fellow OWL’ers. It is messages like these from teachers that make us inspired, motivated, and excited for our three bootcamps this summer (West Coast at the end of June and East Coast at the beginning of August)!

OWL Bootcamp is every language teacher’s dream. I attended the first bootcamp in Oregon in 2013. It set me up withe the tools and strategies I needed to take the OWL leap the upcoming year and I started off the year with so much energy and a great network of OWLers around the globe. I then went back for more the following summer, attending West Coast 2014. I loved it so much and still somehow had energy to join my east coasters and popped in for the East Coast 2014 camp.
-Heidi H., MA
OWL Bootcamp solidified numerous practices and concepts for me. Learning in circles led by consultants, watching model classes, and discussing language acquisition theory were beneficial experiences which improved my teaching, my OWL understanding, and my teaching strategies. The camaraderie that we felt was immediate, supportive, and inspiring. It didn’t matter what level of experience the teachers had with OWL, we were all together, learning and teaching as one.
-Nancy B., ID
I attended West Coast Boot Camp 2014 in Portland, OR just before beginning to teach in an all OWL school. It helped to set me up for a very successful year even though it was my first year teaching on my own.  At OWL Boot Camp, all the techniques are modeled so that participants can experience them first-hand. We learn by doing, and that is the reason I was able to learn so much in one week. Teachers can use as much or as little OWL in their classrooms as they see fit, but for me, Boot Camp helped me to dive right in to teaching completely with OWL and showed me how to stay 100% in the target language with my students!
-Annamarie N., OR
What most impressed me about the bootcamp was that I was immediately part of a larger teacher community, all striving for authentic language and immersion in their classrooms. Every activity we did as a group was applicable to my own classroom. Through participating in these activities, I got to feel what it is like for my students and walked away with a better idea of how to implement the method as well as how to structure my curriculum and lesson plans.
-Erin M., CO
I attended East Coast ’14 and feel so grateful to have taken that leap. I OWL as much as I can and all of my classes are at least 90% immersed in the TL every single day. I feel re-energized and my students are taking so many risks in my classroom because we have created this incredible community of learners where we knowingly have to fail to move up that ladder of proficiency. Thank you, OWLers for keeping me motivated and inspired to teach world languages!
-Patricia B, MA

Don’t forget to check out this awesome video put together by OWL’ers too! We can’t wait to see you this summer!

End of the Year Survival Skills

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Welcome to the end of the year! That glorious time where getting to the end of each day feels like you just crossed the finish line of a marathon. Each day you wonder how you’ll get through the next. Where suddenly all those Leonardo DiCaprio memes feel more true every day. But there are ways to survive and even enjoy the last few days or weeks!

1. Stay in the target language. This may be the opposite of what you feel like doing, or what seems like would work. We all know that by now students are basically already out the door. Bring them back in! Make it comprehensible, relevant and meaningful. Have visuals and manipulatives and incorporate technology by using videos or music. It will make the last few weeks seem important and like they are still learning, even as the year winds down.

2. Make it about them. Building off of making class relevant and meaningful, personalize, personalize and personalize. Kids are fried and are only thinking about the video-gaming, sleeping in and playing they are about to do for the summer. Grab their attention and interest by making the material about them. Start with them and their interests, then bring it around to the topic(s) in class. How does it relate to them? Why should they care?

3. Recycle back in topics from throughout the year. Bring it all back together. Create prompts that combine topics in new ways, with a fresh way to talk about it. Students will feel successful and it is a great way for them to see language and its use in new ways!

4. Play and have fun!! (in the target language of course 😉 The time will go by much quicker for you and them. They will still be learning without even realizing it and will leave each day laughing and smiling, which is so important with all the stress of what the end of the year is for them and you. It is also a great way to stay in the target language and negotiate meaning.

5. Get kids moving! Incorporating movement, target language, play and relevancy will ensure that students are with you all the way to the end. Make sure students are interacting with each other and the language each day. Do something kinesthetic that gets their bodies and minds involved. If the body is engaged, the mind is engaged.

6. Put it on them. We all know that those who teach, learn! Have students lead the class whether in activities or actual lesson plans. I incorporated a ‘Teacher for a Day’ concept where students lead the class for half or all of the period. Topics can either be selected by students from topics throughout the year, or they can choose their own. I always preferred it when they chose their own because you can really see what they can do with the language, as they combine language from all throughout the year to share or lead about a topic that really interests them! Topics have included everything from playing soccer, to global warming to repairing a car. We get to learn new things about and from our students, even at the end of the year.

7. Show them their growth in the language. Show them how far they have come since the beginning of the year! This could be done by comparing any samples, spoken or written from the beginning of the year to now. I used composition books as journals, but any samples from earlier in the year can be re-looked at and reflected on. Anything that may have digitally been collected will also be great to compare. Students will be amazed by how much more they can do, how much they have learned and it’s fun for them to see the mistakes they used to make, that they don’t anymore. I had one student say ‘I can’t believe I ever used to make that mistake.’ They feel proud and successful, thus fulfilling one of the OWL goals of intrinsic motivation and student ownership.

These are some ideas that have helped end the year on a high note! With language programs, it is important that students stay with the program and continue on to the next level. We have the perfect opportunity to end the year in a positive way that encourages students to keep going in the language. End the year strong, with fun and interaction, letting kids see how far they have come. Have it be a celebration of what they can do with the language and let them see that they are learning right up to the last day. What tips do you use? What are some of your go-to strategies that leave you ending on a high note?

*If you are curious about some of the concepts mentioned in the blog, such as Teacher for a Day, use of compositions books, assessment and reflection tools, or anything else, contact info@organicworldlanguage.com.