"This is my best timed write ever!"
"Can we have five more minutes to write, please?"
I think these are examples of my dream feedback from kids. At the very least, they go right along side things like, "I dreamt in Latin last night", and "I think I want to be a Latin teacher".
I heard these things yesterday in class after three days of the lesson plan I am sharing today. I have done this style once before and knew that it was a fan favourite, but only at the lower level. Doing it at a higher level is more of the same, and yet completely different.
I used this plan to introduce a new unit and, particularly, a certain set of "themed" (if you will) vocabulary. In Latin I, we did this with natural elements and pictures of scenes from nature and sci-fi. In Latin III, we did this with medical/body vocabulary and urban legends.
- First, I went over new words. Theses words stayed projected for #2.
- Secondly, we did a picture description. I read the passage three times.
- I read, they listen
- I read, they draw
- I read, they draw
- Thirdly, I displayed the picture and we discussed. We discussed a variety of things.
- What they put in their own images 1&3
- What colour things are 1&3
- How many of things are 1&3
- What they think things are (if they don't know the name) 1&3
- What qualities they think things show 3
- Where they think things are 1&3
- Fourthly, I displayed a story I wrote. In Latin I they were based solely on the picture. In Latin III they were based on the mythology and legend I researched. We discussed
- Areas of misunderstanding (what does it mean) 1&3
- Content of the story 1&3
- Where they think things are going 3
- Comparisons to previous stories 3
- Lastly, after the three days, we did a timed write.
- Latin I (after 5 days) - I showed a new picture and asked them to do a timed write and create a story around the image. Latin I was given, if I recall ~8 minutes
- Latin III (after 3 days) - I gave them copies of the picture descriptions and the stories and asked them to write about a monster and give a description and write a story. Latin III was given 12-15 minutes because we spent more time discussing than I anticipated. They could:
- Choose a monster from a favourite book, movie, game, etc.
- Choose a monster from their own or a favourite culture/heritage
- Create a monster from scratch
I've noted a few differences between Latin I and III. Latin III is fresh on my mind, so, if you'll allow me, I'll focus on those interactions.
- Today, a student interrupted me repeatedly, in the target language, to ask if what we were doing was similar to some other monster from some other culture. Another proceeded to "quiz" me on what mythology it may be from. This is something my ones (and most of my twos) NEVER did. They took what I said as fact. This debate totally got me off track, but was worth every minute.
- Along the same vein, kids argued with me, in Latin. If they didn't think I'd described something correctly or that it was a different monster than I said, they spoke up. They used the language to express their opinions. In Latin I, that rarely, if ever, happened.
- By today, students had started to identify with these legends. We did a "Would you rather" brain break. I asked them which ones they'd rather face and which ones they'd rather be. You'd have thought the monsters were in the room the way the kids got into it and moved.
- In both years, by the end, students knew I was going to ask what was in the image and started shouting them out to the point that I was play catch up. In Latin III, however, they were whole thoughts and ideas. They were complex. In Latin I, they were single words or simple phrases.
- In Latin I, kids wrote, but were done when they were done. In Latin III, kids asked for extra time and were excited for a timed write... A TIMED WRITE.
There is a lot of discussion about targeted CI and untargeted CI. Personally, I am of the mind that we can use both. This CI was targeted, in my plans, but the discussions that came out of it were untargeted. The freedom that the kids took to talk about what they wanted (their fears, interests, opinions, disagreements, excitement) was amazing. The freedom kids had in their timed writes (and the freedoms they took) were amazing.
I plan to do this again and it is now firmly planted in my box of goodies. I really like that it is a linked set of lessons that use vocabulary in a variety of ways to help kids become comfortable and acquire the language. Sometimes I feel like some of the things we do are so unrelated... I didn't feel this way this time. So, for me... this was a win.