Seattle Academy Hosts Organic World Language Foundation Workshop

By March 5, 2020 News

On February 7 and 8, Seattle Academy hosted an Organic World Language (OWL) Foundations Workshop. Over the course of the two days, eleven SAAS World Language teachers and nineteen teachers from other area schools dove right into the OWL methodology completing a range of activities including community-building icebreakers, target language circles, movement-based language activities, and lectures and discussions about language acquisition. Participants had many opportunities to practice teaching and learning a second language, and everyone came away invigorated with new ideas about how to help students become more proficient.

Spanish teacher, James Watson organized the workshops after attending a one-week OWL boot camp over the summer that he says, “changed his career.” On the first day, participants observed James run a language circle with his Spanish 2 students. All were impressed at the communication, ease, and confidence those Spanish 2 students displayed. The workshop’s director then ran a second circle with the students in Amanda Smart’s Honors Spanish 4 class, so that participants could see how students might react to this methodology when they are first introduced to it.

Students in James Watson’s Seattle Academy Spanish 2 Class participating in a language circle.

Students in James Watson’s Spanish 3 Class
participating in a language circle.

On Saturday, the second day, the workshop covered more examples of OWL’s philosophy and methodology as well as ACTFL standards for language proficiency. By the end of the day on February 8, all participants had formulated short and long-term goals for implementing OWL practices into their classrooms. Faculty members from each world language (French, Mandarin, Spanish, Latin) offered at SAAS as well as one History Department faculty member attended the workshop, which offered a great setting for departmental collaboration and bonding. In addition, SAAS faculty connected with peers from several nearby schools and districts.

Teachers were seen implementing OWL practices at the beginning of class on the Monday following the workshop, and it will be exciting to see how learning and teaching in language and other classes evolve as faculty employ these newly learned practices.

See the full blog on the Seattle Academy website and check it out on Twitter as well! Thank you James Watson for your excitement, for taking risks and for inspiring other teachers!