Thursday, June 16, 2016

How I failed at CI & TPRS this year.

The title may be a little dramatic. I have not actually completely failed at CI & TPRS. I am however feeling a little down on myself for how the last part of the year has settled out, so I want to talk about that.

The Plan

The plan was to go full CI all at once, even though I'd been told that wasn't probably a good idea. I've already posted about how changing my grading system entirely was a big NOPE.

In practice this is how my year went: term 1, lots of CI & TPRS story asking organized around important verbs. Hooray! term 2, still okay although pretty disorganized. term 3, started teaching declensions semi-formally because I felt like it was time- that took 3 or 4 weeks of the 10. After that I'm not sure what I did exactly. I was still doing PQA and some TPRS stories and comprehension checks, though. Term 4, totally lost momentum and started doing pure vocab work using Quizlet vocabulary lists based on my Cloelia novella because I really wanted them to be able to read it. Did some TPRS activities still but not all the time. No more timed writes. Less PQA than before. Less spoken Latin than before. Yowch. So basically, started strong but disorganized, ended with more of a goal but less actual CI and more traditional modes. Just as happens to everyone, I guess.

Here's a fun list of the structure I hoped to implement this year, which I apparently last edited on Sept 24, 2015. Here's a document I kept running throughout my first year where I wrote down things I wanted to implement. 

The Reality

Let's go by how they're organized in that latter document. Red is total failure, Black is "meh", Green is success.

  • Vocab by gestures & pics, avoid English as much as possible
  • Dictatio?
  • Read along? (not sure what I meant here)
  • Myth storytime?
  • Central theme with target text? Tight connection between culture & Latin
  • TPR - for key vocab, verb persons, case?
  • TPRS
  • Movie Talks?
  • Circling with balls
  • Storyasks

  • Timed Writes
  • TPRS participation
  • Teambuilding through chariot colors: bigae et quadrigae
  • Games: especially tactile ones
  • Certain holiday celebrations
  • Occasional role-playing days even if I don't do a full RPG
  • Jocelyn’s RPG (edit to add: This is not Jocelyn's excellent myth RPG. This is a draft version for Roman families that she is not ready to release yet because it's not fully developed but it'll be super cool if she does. It failed because I don't have my act together. Jocelyn is super awesome and you should check out her site.)
  • surprise RPGs like the triclinium idea? (idea was students would have surprise game days where they'd have to act out Roman customs like dining etc.)
  • Student jobs
  • Elective homework: choose from a menu of homework options
  • DEA
  • Timed Write portfolio
  • Vocab quizzes written drawn or picture matched
  • 80/80 rule?
  • Tests & Exams with separate skill pages, given out individually as they’re ready? No giant test packets. e.g. a forms section, a vocab section, a reading comp section, they can do them in any order. Only exception is aural comprehension.
  • SBG
  • Safety net words & gestures (+ understanding checks ala Justin Schwamm?)
  • DEA
  • volume levels (
  • Assigned seats
  • 1 nurse pass, 1 bathroom pass
  • Brain breaks
  • I wonder if I can make them keep their bags at the back of the room with phones etc.
  • Remind (or similar)
  • Class website w/ forum (Check with admin)


So I guess how I feel is that I failed at nearly all of the things I planned to implement this year. OUCH.
Things I did but didn't do as well as I wanted are: assigned seats, TPRS storyasking itself, MovieTalks, Timed Writes (but not portfolios thereof), and dictatios. Things I succeeded on mostly are getting them to keep their bags at the back (but not their phones), safety net words, 1-5 understanding checks. 


Of those things I failed at, how many do I want to try for real again next year? Well, I definitely want more culture ideally tied to a central text. I'd like to do elective homework and student jobs. And naturally, I really want to get better at those things I only kind of succeeded at.

Let's make a nice numbered list of goals for each of those headings.
  1. Input: Use spoken Latin every day. 
    1. Stretch goal: provide backup listening & reading input online. 
  2. Output: Aim for everyone in Latin-only time every day, even if it's only 5-10 minutes. 
    1. Stretch goal: Figure out how to make TL writing attractive and assessable. 
  3. Engagement: Use routines to keep from losing momentum in "down time." 
    1. Stretch goal: Find a way to get ~100% participation when storyasking... 
  4. Assessment: Plan units ahead of time with clear means of assessing proficiency in a variety of modes. I say that, but I have no idea how to do that.
  5. Environment: Use Teaching with Love & Logic techniques to improve classroom management.
  6. Communication: Use a proper LMS to help organize student work, streamline assessment, & make parent/teacher/student communication easier. 
  7. New category: Culture: tie units to cultural themes and actually get work done with them.
  8. New category: Organization: Have actual units with target structures and themes.
So... those are some thoughts on best laid plans. Next post I'll write about successes, I guess. 

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