Published: May 7, 2024

Literacy Squared team presentingLiteracy Squared, grounded on 20 years of research, is an instructional framework that supports Spanish and English biliteracy development for bilingual students in U.S. schools. The framework includes methods, strategies, and assessment tools for teaching students to read and write in both languages. This year the Literacy Squared team led professional development sessions virtually and in-person to various school districts in Illinois, New York City, Salem-Keizer School District, San Antonio Independent School District, Denver, and much more. Professional learning focused on theoretical foundations, the essential components of the Literacy Squared Holistic Biliteracy Framework, unique instructional strategies, making cross-language connections, and assessment trajectories toward biliteracy.

The Literacy Squared team enjoyed working with the bilingual teachers across the U.S. Here is a recap of some of the instructional strategies that teachers learned. Early Childhood teachers of Denver Great Kids engaged in learning about theoretical foundations. They also had the opportunity to observe two lesson demonstrations based on the Literacy Squared® framework that leverages students’ home language and connects oracy to comprehension, and language development. They teachers saw in action various strategies such as the Preview/View/Review technique with comprehensible input strategies such as TPR, realia, songs & chants, games, and visuals. Preview/Review is a bilingual strategy where the lesson is introduced and reviewed in one language (i.e. Spanish) while the core lesson is taught in the other language. (i.e. English). This technique allows emergent bilinguals to use their holistic linguistic repertoire to activate prior knowledge and summarize key topics in a lesson and build cross-language connections.

Literacy Squared team presentingTeachers at San Antonio Independent School District and Salem-Keizer School District focused on oracy skills. Oracy is a subset of oral language that connects to reading and writing which students need to talk about the content they are learning and discuss their ideas and write about them. Teachers practiced various oracy structures each session to understand the three essential components which are language structures, vocabulary, and dialogue. Some examples of this were using the collaborative structures such as “Lines of Communication”, “Círculos y cuadrados”, or using of talk chips to ask and answer questions with various partners.

Dual Language teachers in Illinois participated in Learning Labs and observed the Literacy Squared instructional strategy, "Así se dice", in action. Así se dice is an effective strategy that explicitly teaches cross-language connections, develops metalinguistic awareness, and enhances students' cognitive and linguistic growth. In small groups, students negotiate and collaborate to create translations and interpretations of a text.

To learn more about the Literacy Squared® framework, you can buy the book “Biliteracy from the Start: Literacy Squared in Action” by Kathy Escamilla, Susan Hopewell, and others. You can also buy the new book published this year, "Biliterate Writing from the Start:

The Literacy Squared Approach to Asset-Based Writing Instruction", by Sandra Butvilofsky, Kathy Escamilla, and Susan Hopewell. You can check the Literacy Squared website, www.literacysquared.org, to learn about future professional learning sessions.

Literacy Squared team presenting