Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Untextbooking: Getting Ready for School Part 3

I wish I had more to update, but I've really been overwhelmed in adapting the play and getting my room ready and teacher meetings (my school is one of the best about keeping meetings to a minimum, but they still have kept me busy).

The Novella

The play is adapted! Achievement unlocked! It's a relief and also a new kind of pressure, because now that I've bothered to create a usable novella to begin class, I have to figure out how to use a novella to begin my class. Tonight and tomorrow I'll be reading resources like crazy (and still setting my room up--somehow that always takes longer than it should) about teaching novellas in comprehensible input classrooms.

It's completely new to me because I'm a Latin teacher and we haven't had any comprehensible novellas to use before.

But I'm excited. I adapted all the language yesterday, kept track of the vocabulary like I told you, and today I finished formatting the play to be a lovely book with icing vocabulary on pages facing each of the scenes. It's also 36 pages long, but that will be nine pages once it's printed.

I also used the vocabulary list I created to add a glossary to the end of the book, as I've seen in the TPRS and Fluency Fast books. That way, if a student is really stuck, he or she can just flip to the back of the book to find a word rather than flip through notes.

However, I have another plan to help my students with the vocabulary, which is my other main topic for the evening!

Word Wall

I have a huge wall in the back of my room that I usually put random posters on until I have student work to use as a decoration. But I have decided to use it as a word wall.

This is not a new idea, and Miriam has been using a word wall for years, but I've never really been able to figure out how to make one work for me. I tend to need to soak in an idea for a while (in this case, years) before I can make it my own. This year, for some reason, it came to me that a word wall is the perfect solution for a problem I recognized as I adapted the play. I am doing the adaptation to help students review vocabulary that we learned last year that is high frequency and useful later in their Latin careers. I worry, however, that those kids who struggled by the end of the year with vocabulary (for some students, 200 words in a year is 50-100 too many) will end up overwhelmed and shut down.

This is a failure on my part; I felt pressured by the test to push the kids faster than I knew some students were ready to go, but when you have to cover material instead of work towards proficiency, that is always the result.

My plan is to put all of the review vocabulary up on that wall, but cover it so students can't see it until we're about to use it in the play. I even thought very hard (sadly) and devised an ingenious way (folding and then unfolding paper!) to simplify the reveals.

As students demonstrate complete knowledge of a word on the wall, I can take it down, and put up any new vocabulary we're working on. It's not new or mind-boggling, but I am excited about my word wall.

Aligning Daily Vocabulary Across the Classes

The last thing we've been working on as a Latin team (because there are four of us at my school) is aligning vocabulary and designing a class opening that is simple but helps students develop comfort with naming the days of the week, simple conversation, moods, and weather. Miriam has really been developing this for her class, and is letting me join in, and luckily the other Latin teachers are on board. So now my class greeting will have four-five sentences, instead of my simple "Salvete!"