Annabelle Allen-OWL Benefit Chart
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Annabelle Allen's chart of OWL benefits
Reformated by Derek Heckman
What I observed in the OWL training
How it has been implemented in my classroomThe results I’ve noticed so farFurther notes
MOVEMENT- I am known for having LOTS of Brain Breaks and movement in my classroom. During the training we were moving every 10-30 seconds. It was AWESOME! and TOTALLY exhausting! HOWEVER, this leaves absolutely NO room for classroom management problems! Seriously. I got a better workout than I have in years in a gym! (Ok… I haven’t been to a gym in years…)This year, I have implemented a LOT more Brain Breaks into my instruction. This was evident when I taught my Learning Labs at iFLT too. My transitions have become seamless. I also have invented the idea of Brain Bursts which last 1-3 seconds. These keep kiddos on their toes and VERY engaged.I have not seen that “glossy/glazed over” look on any face ALL year! Students are more engaged than ever. My more “reluctant” participators are actively participating more without even realizing they are doing it! #winningI have also started experimenting with having students move to different seats a lot more (in the OWL circle students are NEVER by the same person for very long) and this movement has also been a great Brain Break for students and a great way for me to “manage” and control who they are sitting next to without them thinking I am just out to separate them from their friends.
NO written English translations- Darcy did a DEMO lesson with Teresa’s actual Spanish 1 and Spanish 2 students. (Teresa had already been experimenting with TPRS and CI in her classes) When Darcy wrote a “structure” or verb up on the white board she would do so without any English translation. She would use gestures and act out meaning, draw pictures, and use the word in various contexts to try and ensure that it was comprehensible.I recognize the importance of students learning to struggle through negotiating meaning, and they do that in my classroom when it comes to the many words I use AROUND the words I am focusing on getting them to acquire. Ex.:The verb tiene- s/he has will be up on the board WITH translation but all of the language I use around it are words the kids are working on comprehending using pictures, context clues, cognate recognition, and other language learning skills. I DO however, write the English translation of the word(s) we are focusing on (usually verb structures) until I am sure they’ve acquired it. Once they have, the English is GONE!This has been a HUGE change this year. My word walls now look VERY different. I have all of our acquired structures (mostly verbs) posted around the room but they have NO translation. They are just in Spanish. Students still use the word walls but I have seen incredible growth in their confidence. Last year, many students, with the crutch of the English there on the wall, depended on it and didn’t trust themselves and their abilities to move forward withOUT looking for the English translations. This year, I see students referencing the walls during free writes, and even then only sometimes, and I have seen a HUGE boost in their confidence. It has also eliminated the problem of students trying to use structures they haven’t heard or acquired yet, just because it is on the wall. (ex. 3rd grade student trying to use a word from 5th grade’s word wall)Rather than the English translation, I now have the present tense s/he form of the verb in BIG BLUE letters first and under that I have the past tense s/he form of the verb in smaller GREEN letters and just below that in RED letters I have the present tense yo form of the verb. I have loved this and the students (especially my higher performing ones) do too. I don’t explicitly point this out, but when I am talking I can use my laser pointer to direct attention to it when I want to.
Organic “ness”- Darcy had NO idea where the lesson was going to go when the Spanish 2 students walked into the room. Some student’s jersey spun off into a discussion of sports teams then into a discussion of sports we play and where we play them and from there, on to what we like and don’t like.I had already been playing with “non-targeted” CI in my classroom and just going with what the students ORGANICALLY were driven to discuss. The challenge with this is mastering the skill of truly scaffolding and SHELTERING your language so that you are only using structures that they have previously acquired and maybe 1 or 2 new ones. This is an incredibly difficult task, but it can be done with time and practice. YOU know what your students know. YOU know what they NEED to communicate in your TL. This year I have really allowed my class to be more organic. I look at it like being a PRETZEL. Be flexible and let students steer the discussions. YOU be the GUIDE….Engagement is through the roof… DUH! We are talking about THEM and what THEY want to talk about almost every day! It is WAY more PQA, and PQA is ALWAYS engaging.An example of what being a PRETZEL looks like: I teach a DICHO (idiom) of the week (which rocks) and one morning when I was explaining the DICHO using a picture of David Beckham and his son, half of the students in class didn’t know WHO David Beckham was. Of course, I was horrified (so were the other half of the students) and I proceeded to go into a discussion of soccer and soccer history and soccer around the world and that turned into sports we play and just like that half the class was done! Then I mentioned something about Sexy Spice being so lucky, and the kids all looked at me like I was crazy and I realized… “OH MY GOD! These kids don’t know who the SPICE GIRLS are!?!?” So I pulled up a music video. Played it for a minute for a Brain Break. Then we put it on mute and “Movie Talk”ed the rest of it! THAT is being organic, and flexible, LIKE A PRETZEL! Guess how much “out of bounds” words we had? TWO! It was totally comprehensible!
NO spoken English: Darcy did EVERYTHING in the TL. When she went to explain activities and games I was curious to see if she was going to try and struggle through the explanation in the TL or switch into English. She did NEITHER! She made lots of sounds and did LOTS of modelling.When I went through my teacher training program at the University of Denver, I used to hear MODEL MODEL MODEL. Every minute of every day. This year, I have gone back to MODELLING everything and rather than ALWAYS switching into English to explaining instructions, sometimes I just model and make silly noises. For example, if I have all the kids standing in two lines and I want one of those lines to move and rotate but the other to stay put, BUT these learners are in their FIRST week of Spanish, I simply run to the student that I want to move (Sarah) and say “hola, soy Sarah” and I wave to the class then model that I want Sarah to RUN to the other end of the line while all the other students move one spot over. (I actually do this pretending I am Sarah) For the rest of the kids I stand in front of them and move, but rather than explaining that “movement” I make the sound “zip, zip,zip” As I gesture that they all move. The other link and students I point to quickly and put my hands up and make a giant X. I point to my feet which are planted solid on the ground while saying “EEEERRRCH!” This takes THE SAME AMOUNT of time as it does to explain it in English BUT I am not having to switch into L1!Students are much more invested in listening to instructions. Often times when I used to explain in English I would get follow up questions IN ENGLISH (usually kids checking out or getting lazy when hearing L1), which weren’t even necessary if the students had just tried it once! They would’ve immediately realized what was happening and their questions would have been answered. NOW, they don’t ask those questions, and we just DO the activity, and they understand it immediately because 90% knew what I wanted immediately and the other 10% are taking risks. It is saving loads of time plus students laugh hysterically at my weird noises.It is important to be COMFORTABLE and confident in front of your students. If you are embarrassed to make weird noises, they will eat you alive (especially high schoolers). Don’t forget to make “weird” the norm in your class. It goes a long way in establishing that safe, “risk-taking” environment.
If you go to my YouTube Channel, you can see lots of my Brain Breaks and how I give instructions in COMPREHENSIBLE Spanish.
Circle – Darcy ran every class and Demo in a Circle and 98% of the time that circle was standing.Some days I teach my class in a circle. I do use chairs though, but I get them up and moving a lot.Students like the novelty of the circle a lot. I was worried about some students not seeing the word walls or question words behind them, but that hasn’t been a problem at all, they just turn and twist if they need to see a word that I am pointing to.
Games for breaks- Darcy uses lots of Brain breaks but they are 100% silent or 100% in the TL.I have implemented her Evolution Brain Break and have turned it into about 20 novel Brain Breaks in my room. I also have used her Caterpillar R,P,S, train Brain Break and students love that. The energy circle is REALLY super fun. I introduced and taught that one in English.Students favorite Brain Break EVER is evolution. Anytime you can create/integrate new Brain Breaks you win! Kids LOVE them and NEED them. ALL ages! Do I say that enough???? haha! YAY Brain Breaks!She did a great break with us where we had to run around the room both “protecting” our knees from getting hit and trying to “slap” other people’s unprotected knees. It was hard work and hysterical. We looked like crabs sprinting around the room. I tried this with my kids and found that they were ALL defence and NO offence! At ALL! They were total chickens!!!! BOOOOORRRRING!
Output- Students were practicing using the input they were hearing throughout class timeI use my longer Brain Breaks as an opportunity to provide students with an outlet to use their language in a “safe” not “forced-output” way. Their affective filters are low. ALL students are talking at the same time. Nobody is concerned with someone listening to them. ERRORS are ok! They are doing this output in a game type of format.
**I only do this OUTPUT with structures the students have acquired and know WELL… It is January so I am doing the Brain Breaks with Spanish that they acquired in October!
Parents who I had last year AND this, have told me that THIS year they have seen a huge increase in confidence of their students actually USING language at home or out in public. One parent, who is fluent, told me that she has stopped correcting her student’s errors because her student told her that if she focuses on rules she will not communicate as much and that she will learn grammar rules as she gets more input from Maestra in class or from reading! YAYYYYYYYY!
JOY- Darcy taught with the same passion, enthusiasm, and JOY that I do each day. Seeing it in another teacher was inspiring and proved how effective JOY and passion is at motivating even the most reluctant learners.I continued being ME!Students continue to LOVE Spanish and LOVE my class!YAY!
Circumlocution-Darcy doesn’t teach the phrase ¿Cómo se dice? or How do you say? but rather has circumlocution sentence starters posted in her room.I never saw what those stems look like but I created my own like, “It is the thing that you use for _____” or “It is like _____” . After the first few weeks of school I really pushed circumlocution rather than the use of ¿cómo se dice?.Students don’t need to be reminded to circumlocute anymore. Students USE the word circumlocution and actually help each other to make meaning of words they don’t know, using words that they DO! It is so impressive.TAKE THE TIME TO EXPLAIN WHAT CIRCUMLOCUTION IS!!!!!!! Explain it’s value and even give examples of how YOU have used it in your travels!
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