Monday, October 6, 2014

Untextbooking - students' first review

Last year, Rachel and I began an experiment to untextbook with our Latin II students. We used Classical texts to build a curriculum and supplemented it with videos, dictations, and other Comprehensible Input activities.

This year, we are untextbooking with all of our classes. We are keeping in line with local, state, and national standards and are using materials created by teacher all across the county to help determine common words students will need to know.

I am finding myself drawn to a few staple activities, which I'd listed below and linked to (where I can). Ones that don't have links will be the things I make my next few posts about. Here's a link to a sample lesson plan from Latin III who are reading Ovid's Metamorphoses Book III, the story of Narcissus and Echo

* Dictationes
* Pixar Shorts
* Embedded Readings
* Reader's Theatre
* Read Dating
* Total Physical Response (I'll be posting on this in a vocabulary activities post)
* Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling 

This last week, I gave my Latin II students an opportunity to give me my first set of feedback in this process. Today, I'd briefly like to relay those results to you.

The most overwhelming response with 60% of students discussing this was that untextbooking has allowed us to read stories that they can relate to, that are interesting, and that actually help them remember vocabulary in context. They said that it has been helpful to, rather than reading 4-6 stories in 2-3 weeks, take 2 weeks (more like 7 school days) on one story, read it multiple times, in multiple embedded forms, and use many activities with it. We have combined our stories with certain cultural or mythological things that students need to know or be able to discuss to prepare them for national exams and higher level thinking skills.

The second largest response with 17% of students discussing was in regards to the games we've been playing. I have severely cut back on the number of games we play and decided to only focus on a few "go to" games:

* Ball is Life (I will be making a post about this)
* VINCO (Vocabulary Bingo)

There are a few others I play with the upper level students in regards to grammar, but this is essentially it. I don't give out bonus points because with test retakes, I don't see a need. Instead I give out stickers and street cred. These games ask students to demonstrate their ability on vocabulary words, phrases, and sentences we've learned.

Since I only asked two classes, the feedback was somewhat limited, but the overall response was that this was a better way to learn Latin. We aren't confined to the book or to its contents. We can still learn the same ideas, but we can do it in our own way and in our own time. With district assessments moving further and further away from what any one textbook teaches, I count this as a success.

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