Literacy in the New Year


Hello OWL community!  Sorry for such a long break without posts. As many of you know my Denver condo flooded in early November and my husband and I were sent packing for almost two months. Recently, we returned to our lovely home with lovely new floors, new walls and a new ceiling.  The mundane routine of work, gym, dinner, sleep, repeat has started once again, but it has never felt so good.  Best of all, I am able to sit down on a Sunday night, blog and reconnect with my community of innovative and inspiring educators.

After such a long break, I have much to post, but have decided to to start 2015 with a reflective question and a challenge.

I’ll start off with my question:

What is the role of literacy in a world language classroom?

It is embarrassing to admit, but for the first eight years of my teaching career, literacy played a bit part in my classroom.  I taught students more about the language rather than how to be literate in the language.  Instead of spending time looking for ways to improve reading, writing, listening and speaking, I looked for fun ways to teach grammar, memorize vocabulary and extensive lists of irregular verbs.  I then wasted hours creating contrived “real world” scenarios which demanded specific vocabulary and grammar structures. Fortunately, since introducing the OWL method to my classroom, literacy activities alongside level appropriate questions have become the backbone of all lesson plans.

Unfortunately, literacy in an OWL classroom frequently gets overshadowed by the popularity of the circle. While the OWL circle is essential and loads of fun, the literacy activities that are completed daily in and outside the circle formation are what ensure the progression through the ACTFL levels. Therefore this year in my blog, I will be putting special focus on the literacy techniques within the outrageously awesome structure of the OWL circle.

This brings me to our challenge:

Redefine yourself as a literacy teacher.

Go ahead, make the switch.  Stop worrying about teaching vocabulary, grammar and culture. Stop trying to teach how we were taught, it is OK. Instead think how you can teach for proficiency, how you can build literacy. How you can prepare students to interact confidently in their fill your language in here world.  If you teach Novice levels, talk to elementary teachers.  Do you teach intermediate to advanced? Talk to seventh, eighth or ninth grade language arts teachers.  Observe them.  What methods are they using to improve the reading, writing, listening and verbal skills of their students at the various developmental levels? Are you isolated or just don’t have time? Follow some literacy boards on Pinterest. Take these ideas and work them into your lesson plans and of course, let me know how it goes!



One thought on “Literacy in the New Year

  1. What a genius idea, talking to and observing elementary teachers to see what they’re doing! AMAZING way to understand our kids’ literacy levels and appropriate activities/assessments. Thanks, Eliza!!!


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