Wednesday, May 4, 2016

CI Curriciulum, Untextbooking, Student Choice and Teacher Planning

This post comes to us from Dr. Robert Patrick. Dr. Patrick teaches with both Rachel and me and is a great influence on me as both a colleague and my father. ~Miriam Patrick

One of the hot topics these days among CI teachers in general and perhaps Latin teachers in particular is how to create and then prepare to teach without textbooks.  I’ll spare a defense of dropping textbooks as a quick search through this blog will catalog the problems with all our textbooks.  The driving force of a CI classroom are the principles, of course, but really two things:  compelling material and understandable messages in Latin.  Those messages come through the teacher who speaks to students in Latin that they can all understand and through readings that they can all read.  The talk and the reading must be interesting to them.  Coupled with some classroom practices that make learning Latin a friendly and supportive experience, this approach has grown our program over the last 11 years by 400%.  

We will begin the Fall of 2016 with about 700 students and 5 Latin teachers.  We will also be continuing ongoing work, evolution through trial and error, our CI work, Untextbooking and Standard Based Grading.  In what follows, I want to outline how we create and prepare our curriculum.  For the third year now, we will be doing our work with no textbook.  This work is entirely a collaborative effort of Caroline Miklosovic, Rachel Ash, Miriam Patrick and myself.  Next year we will be joined by Keith Toda.  What we are doing would never have happened as a result any one of us doing what we do best, but has evolved and continues to as we pool our efforts, skills and insights.  I share here with this declaration, that this work belongs to no single one of us and only results from a daily commitment to collaboration and sharing.  Quite frankly, we believe that the future of Latin in this culture depends on such collaboration and sharing.

We began with a list of topics that met two criteria:  1) they included topics we thought students might have interest in and 2) they were topics we felt we could teach from Latin authors (or many periods) either directly or (more commonly) through embedded versions that we would prepare from them.  You can see immediately the two core principles at stake: compelling materials and understandable messages.  So, for example, if a topic depends on you working with an author that you are unprepared to work with, don’t offer it for student consideration. If you know that offering “Roman Couples” means working with the Heroides, which you love, and your Latin 2 students choose that, you will need to do much embedding, and that’s a lot of work.  Balance what you offer them with what you are prepared to do and/or co-create with a colleague. You do not have to have multiple Latin teachers at your school, but it is really important to have some other Latin teachers that you can collaborate with.  The marvels of the internet and things like Google Docs make that easier than ever.

Here was our original list:

  • Roman thoughts on other cultures (Cicero)
  • Roman Virtues (what Romans valued in themselves)
  • Couples relationships/myths
  • Battles and Wars
  • Roman History
  • Roman heroes and legends
  • Romans Science and Philosophy
  • Roman games
  • Roman Women
  • Roman Daily Life (Cf. JoAnna Shelton)
  • Roman Religion and Philosophy
  • Fables
  • Roman Government and Law
  • Modern Literature in Latin (Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Dr.Seuss, Charlottes Webb, Treasure Island, Fairy Tales)
  • Roman Comedy and Drama

We posed those topics to students in the Spring of the year who were in Latin 1-3 asking them to identify topic they wanted to encounter in the next year of Latin (2-4). We tallied their results, demarcated topics by level (so as not to have too much overlap--though we did allow for some overlap), and established what our curriculum for the next year would include.  That year, the curriculum looked like this:

Latin 1--Mythological stories written by the teacher based more on high frequency vocabulary than any particular author; Fables from Aesop, Phaedrus et al (much thanks to Laura Gibbs for her wonderful online materials).

Latin 2--Fables; Mythological stories from Ovid; Roman History from Livy

Latin 3--Mythological stories from Ovid (not used in 2); Heroes and legends (Ovid, Livy)

Latin 4--Roman Games; Entertainment; Roman Virtues (Seneca, Cicero et al); selections from Harrius Potter

This past year, we did the same, and offer the following:

Latin 1--Mythological stories based on high frequency vocabulary; novella: Pluto: Fabula Amoris; Roman legend/ history focused on stories from the Aeneid and Caesar; Novella: Magus Mirabilis--the Wizard of Oz.

Latin 2--Roman Comedy based on Plautus; Roman War based on Caesar; Roman Heroes based on Livy, Roman women based on various authors; Novella: Camilla

Latin 3--Roman History based on Livy; Roman love stories based on Ovid; The Druids from Caesar; Roman War based on the Pro Caelio of Cicero et al.

Latin 4--Roman Games; Entertainment; Roman Virtues (Seneca, Cicero et al); Novella: Itinera Petri; selections from Harrius Potter; Roman virtures traced all the way through the year as a common sub-theme.  List of 16 virtues chosen from Latin literature with Cicero being the predominate source along with Seneca and Quintilian.  

This spring (2016) we surveyed students again.  Our surveys continue to have the basic list we started with, but now with novellas in hand, we can make those a part of what we offer.  So, we asked current Latin 1 students about their Latin 2 year which novella they would like to read:

Ille Hobbitus (and embedded version of some chapters)
Eurydice: Fabula Amoris (to be written this summer)
Itinera Petri
Camilla (on women and war) currently being written

Other topics from them to consider

Under Science:
Fantastical people (Pliny)
Geography and race (various authors and vocabulary driven)
Fantastical creatures (Pliny)

Under War:
Hannibal vs. Rome (Livy)
Boudicca vs. Rome
Alexander the Great
Octavian vs. Marc Antony

Under Love:
Hector and Andromache
Abelard and Heloise
Jason and Medea
Claudius and Messalina

From these, you can see that our original list of items is present, but we are getting better at identifying what we are ready to work with.  If you knew us you would recognize among the authors we are working with the contents of our doctoral dissertations and masters theses, our many years of coursework and teaching experiences.  In other words, we are largely working with what we know or have the time to explore.  

As has become our custom, the 5 of us will gather this summer to plot out exactly what we are doing with the surveyed topics, authors and materials.  We are anticipating the novellas of others to come out soon which will enrich our possibilities as well.  Each year that we do this, we have the repository of the previous year’s work, so in some cases there is less work to do from scratch.  That allows us to edit, refine and add to existing materials.  

I want to add this one note which may be sub-titled program promotion, politics and/or professional development.  At every opportunity, we try to let our administrators and district leaders know what we are doing, why, and with what results.  We need them to support this work.  What we are doing is working with all kinds of learners, and we need it to be supported and celebrated.  At the same time, we look for every conference opportunity to share what we are doing.  As I suggested in the opening of this post, we believe that the future of Latin depends on this kind of creative, collaborative work, and we need and want more Latin teachers involved in doing this kind of things as well--not to jump on our bandwagon, but to ensure that Latin thrives and that it is no longer the domain of elite learners.  I wrote this blog post because of private requests to share how we plan this sort of curriculum.  I can no longer respond to the number of requests that I and the others on our team receive privately, but why should these be private conversation, anyway?  I encourage everyone doing this sort of work to blog, present, share, collaborate, and make sure your local administrators and leaders know what you are doing, and that it’s a national movement.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Pluto: Fabula Amoris - The Good, The Bad, The Update

Back in October, Rachel and I announced our first publication as both authors and publishers of Pomegranate Beginnings Publishing. Since then, we've continued teaching and are both working on future publications to share.

I used Pluto: fabula amoris with my Latin I students from October to December of this school year. Both the midterm and final exam focused on this text and we incorporated a variety of activities to help students not only read and understand the story but to also enjoy it.

After teaching the novella and testing out resources, I am finally ready to share the Pluto: fabula amoris Teacher's Guide. It is available online for free and in print for those who'd prefer it in print from both Create Space and

The Teacher's Guide includes lots of notes and items that teachers may find useful while teaching with Pluto: fabula amoris; but it is not exhaustive. There are plenty of other ways to teach with Pluto: fabula amoris. The guide is meant to assist and guide, but not dictate the way you use the text.

This has been quite a journey with our first book and we are so thankful to all of the people who helped us get there. I am also thankful to my colleague, and father Robert Patrick for working with me to teach this novella this fall and give me honest feedback on what was and wasn't working. I also want to publicly thank Robert Patrick, Keith Toda, Rachel Ash, and Alina Filepescu for allowing me to publish links to their blogs and use them for activity inspiration. From all this I developed what I wanted for the Teacher's Guide.
Teacher's Guide Cover

I believe the guide is self explanatory in that I tried to detail as much as possible, but I do want to preview it by giving a list of the types of things you can find:

  1. grammar/vocabulary usage notes
  2. outside culture resources
  3. culture questions to consider
  4. word clouds for each chapter
  5. images for each chapter
  6. reading guides for each chapter
  7. a variety of other activities for the chapters
  8. a list of activity resources you can use to make more activities
  9. audio readings for each chapter (nota bene: we've tried to make the downloadable, but at the time this is not available through our means. I will update if this changes.)

Teaching a Novella

I want to spend some time talking about my experience teaching with this novella. I used it with my Latin I students after they'd had about 2 and a half months of Latin study. 


I encountered many struggles when deciding to and while teaching my novella. The first was the lack of materials available on teaching with a novella. There are some out there, mainly geared towards modern language novellas, but overall the resources and ideas were lacking. I felt completely on my own and it was overwhelming. 

Additionally, I didn't want the materials I created to be worksheet heavy or made to feel like kids were doing book reports. Many of the resources I was able to look at involved something akin to a reading report for each chapter or were the same activities and worksheets for each chapter. This is not a criticism of others' work, but rather an explanation of where I drew from. 

The Reading Guides

I ultimately decided, based on what I was seeing for other languages and English courses, to make a reading guide for each chapter that would focus on basic vocabulary, and comprehension. None of the guides require paragraphs or reports, but try to make use of various activities to form different assessments. The first section on each guide allowed students to take vocabulary notes when they were reading or during our activities. The second always involved some form of drawing. I included:
  • comic strips
  • single scenes
  • character cards
  • dictatio/pictatio
The final piece involved some variety of comprehension activities:
  • Questions in Latin on basic comprehension
  • Questions in English on basic comprehension
  • False statements in Latin
  • Questions in English asking for deeper discussion on the culture themes of the text. 
Creating the guides this way kept them compelling for students and easy to work with and grade. Each one could be used for different standards in grading as well and highlighted different skills. 

The Structure of Each "Chapter Unit"

Before reading each chapter, I would prepare students for things in a certain way. While each unit was comprised of the same or nearly the same ideas, each activity varied. 

Introduction and Vocabulary 
  • Culture introduction (activity or discussion)
  • Teach new vocabulary: movie short, TPR, TPRS, dictatio, etc.
  • Reinforce new vocabulary: same conversation, Publius Publicanus, audio activity
  • Silent Reading and new vocabulary discussion
  • Reading Activity: Reading Option A, Read, Discuss, and Draw
Post Reading
  • Follow up Culture discussion (sometimes)
  • Comprehension activity: dramatic tableaux, False statements, comprehension questions, character cards, audio activity, etc. 
  • Final listening of audio from chapter for enjoyment
  • Timed Write


We assessed every 1-2 chapters depending on their length and whether we thought the students were ready. We made the assessments from material we'd done in class. I made the decision not to include the assessments in the teacher's guide. I didn't want teachers to feel like the tests were mandatory for teaching the novella and I didn't want teachers to feel restricted and like they had to "teach to the test". Rather, I wanted to encourage teachers to make their own tests match the way they teach. I am happy, however, to answer any questions regarding my assessments or the content of them. I will, however, lay out a variety of ways we assessed students. 
  1. Vocabulary Assessment: varied, but included giving Latin to English as well as translating sentences. Sometimes, it asked students to pick 5 of 10 words and draw a picture to define. 
  2. Comprehension Assessment: usually included questions in English about the text and/or false statements from the text. 
  3. Culture Assessment: we really stuck to discussions on this, basing our assessment on students' discussion and answers given in class. 
  4. Audio Assessment: we used this on our midterm and final (same link as given in introduction); but included descriptions of characters and students were to define who was being described. We always practised this in class before putting it on an assessment.


Feedback and Thoughts on this Method

Students responded well to these activities and enjoyed the book. They did well on the assessments and appreciated how we as teachers listened to their wants and needs. 


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Art Dating

This week, I took my ones down to our local school's art show and we spent the period writing about and talking about art. This semester, we've learned a lot of vocabulary that describes things we experience and see, so this was a great opportunity to bring out these words again and dive deeper into our understanding. The kids really enjoyed the activity and we got lots of really good feedback. We were also able to take a standards grade for interaction and descriptions.

The other aspect of this time of year is that we are surrounded by testing. I might be missing any number of students any day from here on out and they may be missing me, if I am helping with testing.

The activity below is one I came up with to help get us back to our story Magus Mirabilis Oz and also to give students a relatively easy activity to get back into the swing of things after testing and spring break. I am calling it Art Dating.

Set Up
The set up required a bit of work from me, but that is because I was very particular about wanting to represent as many of my students as possible in the art work and also to make sure the images were rich with our vocabulary. I chose 15 images that represent various parts of the story The Wizard of Oz. I did a basic image search on Google, but ultimately pulled from artistic interpretations, book illustrations, stills from movies, photos from plays, anything I could find.* When it was all said and done, we had images that represented a variety of students, art styles, emotions, and parts of the story. 

I would say that making the most of a Google search is key here. To give you an example of the things I searched to find a variety of images:

Wizard of Oz, Wizard of Oz play, Wizard of Oz movie, The Wiz movie, The Wiz TV, Wizard of Oz 16th century China, Scarecrow in Oz, Lion in Oz, Wizard of Oz book, Wizard of Oz art, Wizard of Oz artwork, Dorothy and Scarecrow, Yellow Brick Road, The Land of Oz, Wicked Witch of the West, Glinda the Good Witch, 

I put all the images into a presentation and set it to rotate automatically every 15 seconds. 

Please be aware that images I am using are not copyrighted to me and were only used in my classroom for this activity. I give full credit to those to whom the images belong. 

Students looked at the scrolling images while I went over the rules so they could get a head start.

  1. Pick an image. 
  2. Describe the image as best as you can in Latin (5 min)
  3. Trade papers.
  4. Read their description and add to it. Make it the best description possible. Make it as clear as possible (6 min)
  5. Repeat 3-4 as many times as you want in the class always getting a new paper. 
  6. Trade one more time.
  7. Read this final description and do your best to recreate it on a piece of paper. 
(I recommend playing some music during this to keep from a silent room.)

If you are doing Standards Based Grading, this kind of activity is great to pull an assessment from for a few standards I can see:
  • writing standards - comfort with vocabulary, fluency, accuracy to image, etc. (you'll need names for each writing section on this one)
  • comprehension standards - how well did they relate the description by their new image? did they get the shapes and colours accurately? How clear was their image?
I learned a lot about this activity, as we all do I think, from my first period. There are a few things I changed through the day to make it clearer to my students, but also to elicit the kind of activity I wanted:
  • Chit Chat - This activity really must be void of it until the colouring. If they are talking, they lose writing time, and they get an "easy way out" of finding the image. The same really goes for cell phones. Students who had cell phones out were distracted and felt like they were rushed. This required a few reminders. The music certainly helped because it got rid of the awkward silence.
  • The NEED to be correct - Kids get really worried about getting things correct. The affective filter went up slightly when they were worried that they'd lose "points" or get a lower grade for not guessing the image correctly. When they realised they'd be creating their own images, the filter went down and they calmed down a little. I would make sure to reiterate this throughout the activity.
  • Regular Time Warnings - Make sure to give a 2 or 1 minute warning so kids don't get caught off guard when the time is called.
  • Variety - The students appreciated the variety of images: they connected a lot of ways: life representation, style of art, colour scheme, characters, animals, etc.
  • Ease of Writing - This is my own observation and not something the kids told me. The students had an easy time writing. They were nervous, but once they picked/found an image, they wrote immediately. They didn't struggle with the writing, they just did it.
Below are some samples of work. The slideshow will rotate through repeatedly!

Friday, March 25, 2016

A Hard Lesson Learned the Hard Way

I've been in my own head a lot lately. I haven't meant to be, but this year I've been working on my master's thesis, which has caused me to become more introspective and much less aware of what is happening outside my own mind.

This wouldn't be so bad (it still wouldn't be great) if it was limited to missing world events. However, I've been so wrapped up in my thoughts and theories and writing that I forgot to watch my students.

The warning signs started in early November, but I was getting ready for my presentation at ACTFL so I attributed my students' restlessness and distraction to the upcoming holiday and heavy work loads from other classes. When we returned after Thanksgiving break, I was scrambling to compose and organize my research into something I could turn in to prove I had spent the semester researching my thesis topic, so I attributed some of my struggling students' difficulties with the readings to not paying attention, because this was easier than stepping back and reassessing my approach, and I didn't have time to do that anyway. I already more or less had the rest of the semester planned, so why would I take valuable thesis time to change all of that?

I had a lot of excuses, and my students lost out. And lost faith in me. Latin was becoming "hard."

I had originally planned to write a blog post between Fall and Spring semesters, because finally, after turning in my research and turning my attention back to my students right before finals, I realized the mistake I was making, and felt I should share it.

I didn't write it, however. I had also been failing a little as a mother, and decided to turn my energy during the break toward my son.

Luckily, the delay means that I get to report a happy ending to all of this struggle.

The year is by no means through, but I am already seeing the result of my rethink. I did my best to start over this semester with my students. I had them read something light to refresh their Latin at the beginning of January, and from that point on I have focused on repetition, slowing down, and making sure there is enough reading and practice that my students really understand the new material.

One of my students who commonly struggles, and who was acting out the most at the end of last semester and the beginning of this semester (I had to earn his trust back), is now participating and comprehending and has declared our most recent reading "easy." My students who were not paying attention or struggling against me because they were frustrated are beginning to to return to me as the charming people I knew them to be last year. Slowing down is working.

It is easy to forget how important it is to go slow and make sure all of your students understand and truly comprehend what you are reading. It is easy to get caught up in goals or time restrictions (either your own or imposed on you). Even though I've been teaching with comprehensible input strategies for twelve years, it was easy for me to get involved in my own ideas and forget to notice my students.

It is easy. So, we need to be mindful. Studies show that students need comprehensible input to successfully acquire language, and moving too quickly takes even simple readings and makes them incomprehensible to students.

Sharing my failing isn't easy; I don't think this is my best-written post, because I have had to work to find the words. But Miriam and I promised when we started this blog to share things that didn't work as well as the things that did, and moving too quickly did not work.

Hopefully this will help someone else think about pace and consider whether he or she is moving too fast for the students in his or her program.

Don't be afraid to go slowly!

(btw, I've been catching up on the blogs I didn't read while working on my thesis, and I came across this post by the great Grant Boulanger, and it also stresses to go slowly!)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Dealing with History in a CI classroom

One of the struggles I've had this year in my CI classroom, in which we are untextbooking, is covering history and culture. These things can be compelling, but so often can be tedious as well. This Spring, my Latin I classes are reading Magus Mirabilis Oz as I write it and I decided to include "brain breaks" (if you will) from the text to cover history and legend. We are covering two major topics with some smaller points as well:
  1. Caesar's De Bello Gallico - geography of Europe, The Druids, relationship with Egypt
  2. Vergil's The Aeneid - geography of Africa and Asia Minor, Dido, basic Roman African history
In part, I am choosing to focus on these because this is where my area of research has been drawn and it is compelling to me. In a much larger part, I am considering the following things:
  • In giving students a choice between AP Latin and Latin IV, covering these two items helps prepare them for that choice and creates a spiral effect in the curriculum. Students who study Vergil and Caesar further already have background knowledge in the matter. 
  • These stories are key to understanding other aspects of Roman history and culture. By looking at these, students are better prepared for higher level discussions later. 
  • These essential pieces of Roman history paint a truer image of what the Roman world looked like. Rome was diverse and Roman ideas were uniquely different than our idea of diversity. 
  • In covering stories like these, I can get more repetitions of the current vocabulary we are learning.
When deciding how to start these stories, I was given assistance by national Black History Month and Women's History Month. I chose, specifically, to start Dido's story in the month of February and am continuing it through March. It was incredibly easy for me to do this and to focus on Africa's role in Roman history because Africa played an important role in Roman history that is often overlooked by many people, teachers or not. Here are the points I considered:
  1. Egypt's role as a trade location and as a connection between the Greco-Roman world and African peoples
  2. Dido's role as a female leader in Africa considering her origins and her husband's death
  3. Carthage's role in the Punic War and as a powerhouse before the war
  4. Two African emperors
  5. Ethiopia as an unconquered land
  6. The presence of diversity in Rome
After starting with a basic geography presentation in Latin, I wrote three embedded stories that told Dido's Story. Each was accompanied with images that ranged from classic paintings to modern interpretations. The stories were no longer than a page each, with images. Each lent itself to a specific discussion and we used specific activities with each.

Dido's Story: regina Carthaginis - We meet Dido on her journey to Carthage. She has just lost her husband, but wants to be a good queen. The other kings in Africa want to trick her, but she ends up creating a large city and is loved by her people. This story ends on the cliff hanger that Aeneas is on his way to Carthage. 

This passage lent itself to a discussion about the important of Carthage historically along with the implications of Aeneas' arrival

Activities Used:
  1. Read and Discuss
  2. Choral Translation
  3. Geography Review
  4. New vocabulary reviewed

Dido's Story: Ira Iunonis - This story gives Aeneas' back story and follows him to Carthage. The focus of this story is the storm created by Juno. It follows what Vergil writes, but in an embedded format. 

This passage lent itself to discussion on fate and free will. We also discussed Vergil's imagery and some rhetoric devices. 

Activities Used:
  1. Read, Discuss, and Draw (including a video I made so that students could check their work
  2. Culture Discussion
  3. Student map building (Aeneas' Journey)

Dido's Story: Mors Amorque- This story picks up with Aeneas in Carthage. We learn of their love and then we learn about Dido's tragic death. We also see Aeneas go to the Underworld and see Dido, where she meets her husband, and true love, once more. 

This passage lent itself to discussion on pietas (duty), fate, and love. We talked about Dido's death and what it meant for Aeneas. This passage also ended up being the most compelling. Students loved and hated this (in a "I want more hate"). They wanted Dido to get real revenge. See more responses

Activities Used:
  1. Circling discussion and prediction in Latin with images from previous and current story.
  2. Choral Translation
  3. Culture Discussion


This was incredibly compelling and comprehensible to the students. They loved the idea of reading what the uppers were reading and they appreciated being trusted with content considered this heavy. They really appreciated my taking time to honour Black History Month and that I chose a woman as our protagonist. They loved the imagery, the language, and the story. They even loved the ending... even though it was sad. 

This has set them up for success (as this is the content on the midterm) and has made them excited to read about Caesar and the Gauls and Celts (who are the same people, but in different areas). 

Did you (and how) incorporate Black History Month into your lessons? 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Report from the Classroom: Same Conversation

This activity is a spin off of what Keith Toda has written about here:

Part I 

Part II

Part III

Here are my simple instructions for same conversation.

I've done this activity with my students before and it always has its ups and downs. This year, my fellow Latin I teacher, Dr. Robert Patrick, and I came up with some news ways to do this and have had some great success.

In the past I've done this with students, allowing them to call out various things. This year, however, we wanted a focus on Latin and using Latin as much as possible, even in Latin I. So, Dr. Patrick and I brainstormed this list of ways to do a same conversation script in Latin. The list includes things like "with hate" and "with love", as well as things like "loudly", "sadly", and even has some animals like "as frogs", "as cats", etc. 

This list seems to be a really useful way to do this because it keeps offensive ones out of the mix and it keeps students from picking things that are too hard. Plus, they seem to like the randomness of the list. By far, the class favourites are:
  • ut pirati - as pirates
  • ut infantes - as babies
  • magna voce - in a loud voice
  • susurrante - whispering
  • amore - with love
Script and Process

For the lesson today, we used this script:

I want to pause and point a few things about script:
  1. These words are pertinent to our reading. We are beginning to read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in Latin. Chapter 1 takes place on a farm. 
  2. These words are not high frequency words in Latin. And yet, we are doing them. These words are highly compelling to students. Students love being able to talk about the world around them and everyone has a favourite animal, so these words become important and high frequency to our students when the connect and it is compelling. 
  3. These words serve another important purpose. In Latin, the words for animal sounds are examples of onomatopoeia; that is, when said they make a sound. (My students call it a sound in a word). By doing this now, they can listen for and look for these things in the future and rhetorical devices are an important part of vertical instruction towards upper level Latin and AP, as well as being very useful outside the classroom. 
We did each scene separately and had different actors for each. They got to do it once normally and once with direction. Then, we'd sing the appropriate verse. This took up half, if not more, of the period, and we could have continued if the bell hadn't rung. 

  • Already the majority of kids like this game. There are some classes where it is difficult to get volunteers, but even in those classes, they still enjoy watching the scenes. 
  • In one class, they even gave the song a beat, which made it extra fun. 
  • Because the nursery rhyme is so well known in these parts, and the song itself is so repetitive, kids will learn these words very quickly. 
  • This work is VERY compelling for students. They love it! 
Extra Resources:
Minimus Website - shows animals and sounds

Do you do same conversation? Have you ever tried it to teach words like these? How did it go?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Challenge: Know It's Compelling

Today, my Latin I students read Chapter 7 of the book Pluto: Fabula Amoris. My lesson plan was to project a word cloud with all the words in it and have them record the words they didn't know and, after reviewing those words, complete a Read, Discuss, and Draw and follow with a timed write. The majority of this is done in Latin, but I did spend a little time in English at the end to ensure everyone understood the cultural implications of what we were reading. What follows below is a short post on what I imagined would and what did happen.

What I expected

I really intended this to go smoothly and to take a class period. I expected some questions, a lot of answers, and a small discussion afterwards regarding culture. Something along the lines of:

Me: So, why is her choice to eat the fruit so important?
Students: Because it means she can't leave the Underworld.
Me: Any questions?
Students: No! We understand completely! 

What Actually Happened

Each period was different. I've written about them in no particular order. 
  • Class A - This class is one of my most animated when it comes to reactions. They react in the moment, almost in unison. When we got to the pivotal moment in the chapter, the entire class gasped just slightly, then sighed and there was a collective "aww".
  • Class B - This was probably my most interesting response of the day. This class read the chapter very quietly, and then there was an eruption of sadness and anger. This class really bonded with the characters in a way that no other class did and when those relationships were betrayed for love, they were actually upset and offended by this. There was a great discussion that went from being a cultural discussion to a discussion of vocabulary choice which, as one of the authors of this text, I found absolutely fascinating. It brought to light an interpretation and perspective I had not foreseen or been prepared for.
  • Class C - This class is later in the day and very expressive. We have a lot of great discussions but, equally, a lot of off in the wilderness moments too. By the time I got to this class, I didn't know what to expect. Theirs was the most expressive of the day. I'd chosen to pause and discuss right on the precipice of the action and I saw in their faces the anticipation of what was going to happen. When we finally read it, there was an audible sound from the majority of the class and with each sentence I could hear, I didn't even have to look, their reactions: "what?" "oh no!" *gasp* "awwww" "aaaaaaawwwwwwww"
  • Class D - This class tends to be more quiet in the moment and lets things sink in. Their reaction was almost unnoticeable, but they started a great discussion about the culture behind it. They wanted to know the why, the how, and the meaning behind it all. 
  • Class E - This particular class is very full of kids and personalities. Sometimes they enjoy things and sometimes they argue about things, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this group. What I found was an entire class of kids actively cheering for the romantic love story that reveals itself in this chapter. 

So, here's the challenge. Let's share our experiences, get others interested, and widen the comprehensible input community. Share a picture and/or a message on any social media platform (I'll be using Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook) and tag it with the following: #iknowitscompelling