Challenging myself to think differently

Challenge yourself. Get out of your comfort zone. I’ve said those words, heard them said, but this summer I said them to myself.  Challenge is a word used frequently in education, not only in the context of what students do, but also in the realm of teaching. When I tell people I’m a high school teacher,…

Character profiles – a second language literacy strategy

I’m experimenting in my classroom this year with various ways of getting my students to read more in their second language, have fun doing it, and be able to show what they know. I want the experience to be engaging, but also to push them beyond where they thought they could go. In this post,…

Start the conversation

Twice a year, each school year, we have formal parent-teacher conferences scheduled at my school. In my years of teaching so far, I have seen a variety of formats for these events. The format with the most institutional feel (from my perspective) has all of the teachers arranged alphabetically by last name in the gym…

Adapting makerspaces for language instruction

Makerspaces have been talked about in education circles for some time now, and I have listened to several presentations on the topic which left me inspired by the potential for creativity, inventiveness, and learning. If makerspaces are new to you, you can see some related resources here: http://oedb.org/ilibrarian/a-librarians-guide-to-makerspaces/ Despite my interest in the topic, I felt frustrated…

Embracing change through collaboration

This is going to seem like an enormously obvious thing to say, but change within an institution is hard. In BC’s public education system, we are currently going through a wholesale change of all of our provincial curriculum. The changes are not coming all at once, but are being rolled out at different times, which means…

Getting started with chat stations – beginner level

A colleague recently shared a video with me through Facebook, explaining the use of chat stations as a framework for learning and class discussion. I loved the idea, and my brain has been working at ways to implement it since I viewed it. You can see the video and blog entry by clicking here. As a…

Yes we can – lit circles in L2 classes

I’ve been frustrated in the past by the kinds of reading comprehension exercises included in curriculum that has been used in second language courses. Much of it has been comprised of fill-in-the-blank, matching, and short answer type questions. Those can be a good starting point, but none of them really require an in-depth understanding of…

Re-thinking literacy

Here’s a pop quiz I’d like you to try: Literacy exercises should include… a. stories b. poems c. plays d. all of the above If you answered “d”, you are correct, but I’d like to add another option as well – “e. any text used in everyday life”. Of course, some might feel I’m cheating…

First Steps: Identifying types of text in a second language

If you’re like most people I talk to about learning a second language, I’m sure you could come up with a must-have list for things you might want to read in that language. Your list might include things like: keep it short use pictures keep it interesting make it easy to understand After that, there would…

How I’m changing reading for my second language students

The image above is a humorous take on an obstacle many beginning French students have – coming from English, French seems backwards, and it is confusing! Maybe you’ve had conversations with those trying to make sense out of a second language and heard their frustration. Maybe you’ve felt it yourself. It’s hard to get past…

Why literacy?

I wanted to start this new blog space (I’ve had a blog on another site for several years now) with a post that reflects where my thinking has gone in the last few years. Maybe it’s my background as both an English and a French teacher, but for me, everything comes back to literacy. It’s true…