This year, however, I have been building my own curriculum ē culō, if you will. I am going to share with you how I have been doing that. Here’s the tl;dr version:
- Define goals and limits…
- … and create a curriculum that suits them.
- Choose vocabulary based on frequency and utility.
- Choose target structures based on frequency and utility.
Define goals and limits...Consider these questions.
- Are you using a textbook?
- Do you have the freedom to transform your curriculum?
- What are your goals for your students?
- How much can your students realistically acquire in a year?
- No. My kids seem to hate books, and I'm a control freak so I don’t like doing what textbooks tell me to. This is crazy and I recommend you let a book help you.
- Yes, I am the only Latin teacher, and I can basically teach however I want.
- The usual goal for a Latin teacher is for students to be able to read classical Latin literature by their fourth year. That’s my “reach” goal. For right now, it’s more like “get them to see English isn’t the only language” and “have at least one academic class they don’t hate.”
- With TPRS the average number of structures you can hope for a class to acquire in a year is between 150-200. That means that if you have 40 weeks of class, you can do roughly 5 structures a week (at best!).*
… and create a curriculum that suits them.So, my curriculum should:
- have a maximum of 150-200 target structures
- follow whatever scope & sequence I think is most useful
- not scare kids away or make them hate me or themselves
Choose vocabulary based on frequency and utility.
FrequencyFor this, I use the Dickinson College Commentaries Core Vocabulary List for Latin. I actually use an excel file based on this I found on Latin Best Practices in the Files section under CI Resources > vocabulary lists. It was posted by Jeffrey Brickler in 2012. I do not know if he made it or what. I'm not comfortable uploading something not immediately publicly available, so please join that group (it's great anyway) and download it yourself if you want it.
Using the top 200 out of DCC's 1000 words, I made my own excel file and started adding parameters and cross-referencing with the other three lists below. I also added some words from the base VERBA set and a few others here and there. This is my file- it's a big gross mess. Copy & edit as you will.
UtilityFor determining utility, luckily a lot of the legwork has been done by people more knowledgeable and experienced than I am.
- Terry Waltz's Super Seven concept: Latin can do this in 5.
- Mike Peto's Sweet 16 concept: Latin can do this in 14.
- 51 Most Important Verbs (25 in bold prioritized) as linked on Lance's blog - This was put together by people from the Latin Best Practices list.
You can find Miriam Patrick's (via Lance) and Lance's thoughts on the Latin equivalent of the Super 7 etc. here. I may adopt those myself, in fact, since it'd be useful to have dēbere and putāre earlier on.
Choose target structures based on frequency and utility.
In terms of Latin specifically, when we talk about target structures we are probably talking about meaningful chunks we can use as models for specific syntax. e.g., for the second declension masculine accusative singular of a -us noun, I might indeed use delphīnum vult, which would also serve as a model for the third person singular present active indicative of the irregular verb velle. Thinking about teaching grammar in these terms is very difficult for a person who was trained on charts.
There is very much another option: non-targeted input. Read what Justin Slocum Bailey has to say on it: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4. Again, I personally need the structure and control that targeting offers, and my Latin isn’t nearly as good as Justin’s.
Some things are easy: do a PHI corpus search for fīliābus and you’ll find fewer than 30 instances of the form. That tells you you don’t need to teach fīliābus in Latin I, or even in Latin II or III really; wait til you come across it in literature and explain it then.
On the other hand… what are the MOST frequent features of Latin grammar? Some are obvious: we do need to cover the five major cases of at least the first three declensions. We don’t need to cover ablative of degree of difference perhaps so much as ablative of means, but either way we have to cover the forms.
Verbs make me nervous. Surely I ought to teach the full conjugations, yes? As I was taught? But what shows up more: -mus or -ō? Or should we just focus on the -t and -nt forms, as many textbooks do for the first while?
So, how to determine utility? Teach your class. When you think for the tenth time, “oh boy I wish we’d done the future tense already.” just do it. Bam. Well, bō, but you see what I’m saying.
You will note, I think that I have not included an example of what my curriculum looks like. That's because it doesn't look like anything much at the moment. I have an appalling excel sheet which I intend to change around quite a bit. In there too are "Topics - Grammar" and "Topics - Culture" sheets, in which you can find all the culture and grammar listed on the NLE syllabi for Latin I-III listed by level. Feel free to play with those.
You may also note that I have said absolutely nothing about grading or assessment. I don't feel like I have even a middling handle on how to do that yet. I know that ultimately I'd like to be doing proficiency based grading, but it's just not coming together yet. I will share as soon as I have some success (so, hopefully this time next year? Don't hold your breath.).
I hope this was helpful for you. I am very much a newbie to all this, as I often state, and I've had a hell of a time finding sources on what a CI curriculum looks like. In addition to my own insane musings, you may find these helpful:
- Immediate Immersion sample curricula for Spanish, French, and German: Probably TPRS should be more dynamic than this suggests, but it gives a good picture of what units can look like.
- Martina Bex's Spanish I Curriculum Map: Much less detail in the preview than in the Immediate Immersion example, but still useful. Scroll down past the TPT links for the useful stuff.
- Lance's 13 posts on building a CI program: These posts address more the logistics than the actual content, but they're extremely helpful in envisioning what a program could look like. Note also his post "Sample CI Schedule: The Year."
- NEW ADDITIONS 6/2/2016:
- Several new posts on curriculum for Latin since I posted this! Bob Patrick posted on Pomegranate Beginnings re: curriculum
- Lance made up this curriculum & this handy guide on how to use it- great flexibility!