Thursday, February 25, 2016

Story, Dictatio, & Cloze: 3rd Person Plural Verbs

This one may work best as a reading than a TPRS story.

Story Script: Brad et Angelina infantem volunt.
Target Structures: 3rd person plural present active indicatives of known verbs, especially volunt, habent, vident, sunt.
Additional vocab: liber (child, not book), ad, itmulti, iam, etiam, discedit, puer, puella, audit, pulcher, tamen, dicit, nihil, numquam, plorat, stercorat, est, bene, inquit, + some cognates
Actor roles: Brad, Angelina
Additional actor roles: babies, children, animals, dolls

Story text & additional resources under the cut. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

I don't care if my students major in Latin.

Well, that's an overstatement. I'd love them to read Vergil. I'd love them to laugh with Ovid and at Cicero. deo volente one day perhaps I'll get an email about how moved they were by a section in the Iliad or their grief in reading a Greek tragedy. I'd very much like to seduce them into loving Latin literature with me, but in Latin I and II it's not really on my mind.

Therefore, I'm not actually aiming right now for my kids to all take Latin in college and get perfect scores on the NLE or similar. I am sure this is a controversial opinion. Of course, you say, I should aim for all my kids to achieve the highest possible goals. My counterpoint would be that academic success is not the world's highest possible goal. There, I said it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Stuff for your walls to help you teach and your kids learn

On the heels of my last post about the scary side of being a language student, it seems like a good time to share one of the ways I support my students' learning and my own teaching: stuff on the walls. All of the posters have both Latin and English. (editing to add: Tell me if any links are wrong or broken please!!)

How I use these:
tldr purposes:

  1. Useful to point to when I want to use an adverb or something we haven't targeted yet
  2. Scaffolds output activities with high frequency, very useful words.
  3. Some kids use them to help with little words on assessments
  4. More written Latin around the room means kids spend more time looking at written Latin.
  5. Color and charm!

Most important are the Question Word posters. Many TPRS teachers use them. When circling, I point at the correct interrogative as I ask the class questions. Over time the kids mostly learn them without my directly targeting them.

The word posters generally are there partly for my own convenience and partly for the kids. It means I have more narrative freedom because a lot of the "little words" are available for me to point to when I'm telling a story. Sometimes you need a "therefore" that you didn't plan for and it's not worth fully targeting for this one time... so with these, it's provided. The kids also like them for doing free writes. I've also been complimented on my room by my department chair and principal, so that doesn't hurt either.

I heard somewhere that having lots of readable text just around increases literacy. That is a big part of why I made these. I don't know if it's true or what, but Latin Latin Everywhere seems good to me.

The good stuff is under the cut.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

My takeaways from LLiNYC 2016 (tl;dr: it's good to spend time being a student)

This past weekend I attended The Paideia Institute's Living Latin in New York City conference. Driving 4+ hours each way was a pain in the bottom, but it was totally worth it. I met new friends, reconnected with old ones, and met several people face to face that I only ever knew online before. If you can't commit to a full week or more in the summer of spoken Latin, and you're interested in real ways to use it in the classroom, LLiNYC is a good choice. Since I am the only Latin teacher and the only CI/TPRS teacher in my district, for me it also served as a mid-year PD and enthusiasm recharge.

This was only my second Living Latin event, and it was quite different from the Conventiculum Bostoniense. The latter is a true immersion experience for 8 days, whereas LLiNYC is more mixed. CB-- at least for beginners-- is about practicing spoken Latin and learning how to use it in the real world and with reference to teaching. LLiNYC had a mixture of things: spoken Latin just for fun, spoken Latin literature-reading sessions, academic & pedagogical lectures in Latin, and also some sessions in English or mixed Latin and English.

The most affective (and I do mean 'affective' not 'effective' I promise) session I attended was none of the above. It was a session in spoken Greek. On the registration they asked us to put our experience with Greek and Spoken Latin. Since the former wasn't expressly called "Spoken" I thought it was safe to say "Intermediate." When I found out I was signed up for a spoken Greek session where we'd actually read and discuss poetry, however, I figuratively threw up in my mouth a little. I was not the only one who entered a room on the ninth floor with the greatest trepidation. The people running the session greeted me and my friend and asked where we came from... in Greek. We stared at them until they stopped, and sat down. Soon we received a vocab sheet and a blank piece of paper. I clung to the vocab sheet like a plank in the icy waters surrounding the Titanic. Shortly thereafter, our teacher (Alex Petkas) began to speak. It developed, with the help of the vocab sheet, that today he was a boat-builder and we would learn how to build boats out of our paper. He led us through a complicated progression of folds and unfolds and opens and closes that eventually led to little origami boats.

Somewhere along the way I remembered how to say "yes" and "no" and found I recognized most of the words he was using (minus the boat and origami specific ones from the vocab sheet), and even knew what maybe two thirds of them meant. We moved on to looking at some poems in Greek and Latin and I managed to answer a non-yes/no question (although my answer began "ouk hellenike" and he said Latin was okay. WHEW.). By the end, I felt a lot better about myself because it turns out that, after six years of sweet sweet Greek avoidance, I still remembered a bunch.

Why am I telling you about this? To remind you of the experience of being a student. The fear and frightful stupidity that I felt throughout most of the session, the complete inability to answer questions in the TL, the incredible frustration of a talks-a-lot-person who can't express herself... My students were close to my mind. Next week I will be using more spoken Latin in my own classes, and now I feel like I will be more sympathetic toward my students' feelings as we do so. Up until now, they have been able to ask & answer oral questions in English. From now on, the expectation is that they will TRY to use Latin, and if they can't, they will use signals, or failing that, they will use their phrase sheets to ask me -- in Latin-- to speak English. So my takeaways from LLiNYC and specifically from my Greek session are particularly relevant to me at this time:

  1. Being a student in a foreign language sucks, even if you understand most of the words, because you can't express yourself how you want to, or as often.
  2. It is SCARY to be a student in a foreign language, even if you understand most of the words, because you feel out of control and like you may lose the thread at any moment.
  3. Because of those, it feels AWESOME when you get something right in the TL, whether by speaking or just by understanding.
  4. Doing something physical and obvious like showing us how to fold a paper boat while describing the process in the TL is a tremendously effective safety net to reduce the above fears & anxieties. (i.e., CI is great- "I may not know what that word he keeps saying means, but I'm damn sure it's something to do with folding.")
  5. ... and finally, using a foreign language is exhausting, even if you're nominally an expert in the language.

I hope that wall of text was somewhat interesting. If you've made it this far, I recommend you keep an eye out on the Paideia Institute's website for videos of a lot of the talks, both in English and Latin (and a few in Greek). There will be really good stuff there, including demos of CI from Bob Patrick & Keith Toda, and some excellent stuff on extensive reading by Justin S. Bailey.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Story Script: arca plena simiarum / A Box Full of Monkeys

Here is a quick story I wrote up. I haven't tested it yet, but I think it'll be okay at least as a reading. You could cut parts of it and use it as a story, but you might need to simplify the vocab depending on what's known and unknown. I designed it to target the first declension endings & some basic uses, but it also ends up dealing with numbers a little bit and imperatives. Here's the link to the Google Doc. A text of the story with English is under the cut.

Target Structures: endings of first declension nouns (so not really a good "structure" as such)
Additional vocab: Glossary provided on google doc.
Actor roles: at least two monkeys, UPS man, girls, athletes, teacher, restaurant owner

Additional roles: extra monkeys, extra athletes, extra girls