Wednesday, July 6, 2016

ACL Roundup

Like almost every other Latin CI blogger, I went to the ACL annual conference last week. If you're not familiar, ACL is the American Classical League, and it's the big national organization for non-college teachers of Latin. I believe it's technically for post-secondary too, but since it focuses on Latin pedagogy, it's de facto secondary & primary level Latin teachers. It'd be cool if more post-secondary types worried about pedagogy, but it's not where we are right now. Even some MAT granting institutions don't actually talk about pedagogy and outsource it to the Ed department... which, well, anyway. ACL.

It was fun! And HUMID. But fun! I saw lots of excellent talks that I feel like I haven't even begun to process properly yet. I actually feel like all the information slid out of my ears on the plane home, unfortunately. Thankfully, a lot of presentations are online here at the meeting's Sched page, so I can jog my memory. I took the liberty of organizing those materials into a big google folder, which you can find here. The starred ones are those that had direct CI applicability.

Here are some random thoughts and take-aways.

Authentic Engagement and Student Empowerment from Ivy Livingston and Melanie Stowell. You MUST look at this. It does such a wonderful job articulating how we can teach grammar and culture and language and have them all work together, WHILE focusing on language acquisition. There's no need to jettison culture- as I did last year and frankly generally have- in seeking to build language acquisition. I'm just so impressed. Ivy & Melanie have several really great presentations on their site Forum Magistrorum that show how to do just this for some basic culture stuff as well. I need to look into making more such resources for myself.

The other best thing about that talk is that unlike others, the actual meat of the talk has been inserted within the powerpoint, so you can understand the full thing even though you weren't there because there was guacamole in the exhibit hall. Sadly this is not true for most of them.

There is no hard grammar. This concept is not new to me, but it was delightful to see Justin Slocum Bailey in action. Please be sure to look at the blog posts he links within the presentation. He can do greater justice to the concept than I can.

My buddy Traci shared some results from her first year using CI, especially with regard to how she used CI to teach the textbook material & curriculum. There are a lot of good links there and tips for how to actually organize your units. Her notes are available under the slides which may clarify some things, too, so be sure to read those.

The CI Pre-Institute led by Rachel Ash, Bob Patrick, and Keith Toda was... I keep using the word "tremendous" lately but listen, it was though, and I don't just mean because 52 people spent 6 hours together talking about CI. Particularly look at the Resources slide for some lesson planning tools. Real lesson planning tools! DO YOU KNOW HOW EXCITED I AM? You don't, but really. Especially the stuff under "Planning." Tremendous.

Okay so that's out of the way, what did we actually DO? Everything I'm going to talk about here is in the above folder, including the presenters' notes on how and when they would each present different things, which should be very valuable to you as you consider planning your own stuff. First, bear in mind that we were supposed to be pretending to be Latin III students throughout this experience. Probably we were /really really good/ Latin III students because it's hard for Latin teachers to stop being Latin teachers. BUT anyway.

We started with a hard text- and it was actually legitimately hard, mostly because of vocabulary but the grammar was fairly challenging too. A little chunk of Apuleius. Then, we spent the rest of the institute actually participating as students in activities designed to teach a large number of the structures involved in the passage. Periodically we'd stop and read an embedded version- first the easiest, then a secondary one, and finally the original (with a little Latin glossing). By the end of six hours the original was challenging but not hard, if that makes sense. The grammar was still complex, but the unknown vocabulary was now known, so it wasn't as scary. It's like some kind of affective filter had been lowered... And also it was fun and I got to meet a lot of teachers who are interested in CI and I hope to spend more time working with them in the future. Really great. They're already planning another pre-Institute with more hands on training in CI techniques so definitely sign up for that if you are at all able. ACL will be in Michigan next year.

Another one I only caught half of because I am a slacker/was probably eating, was the excellent presentation by Ginny Lindzey and Caroline Kelley: Recapturing the Joy of Reading Latin. In it they suggested awesome ways to teach your kids pronunciation and reading skills for Latin. These are the kind of reading skills we do unconsciously in our L1 (assuming we're good readers), but have to develop over time through lots of CI in L2. A lot of my kids actually have pretty awful L1 reading skills and also need to be taught those explicitly, frankly.

Teaching explicitly doesn't sound like CI, you say? True. But it's still a tool, and so long as we use it with judgment and empathy toward our students' levels, it's a useful tool. That is why this blog doesn't have anything about CI in the title by the way; I'm not rejecting non-CI tools, but rather seeking to find new ways to use them with an awareness of how SLA actually works.

Then there's Bob Patrick's talk on The Value of Writing in a CI Classroom. This was really, really good. I couldn't even handle it.
That was because of Bob Patrick. Well, and lots of other people (see above... and below...) but you see my point. Anyway, it was great. He set out exactly what you need to do to make writing valuable, which is basically to provide a lot of input BEFORE you ever try to get output. He had some wonderful suggestions for how to provide that input, as usual. Then, he talked about what writing is NOT for. It is not for error correction. What it is for is these three things (directly quoted from the presentation, very much not my words):
  • "For the teacher: what does this writing show me about the input I’m giving them? Enough/not?
  • For the class: gently developing the monitor
  • For the student: does your work over time show progress? How do you know?"
Then he explained what the monitor was and how to help it develop, and how to ensure that those three purposes are actually being addressed, including a concept he calls "the deal." Really good stuff. Definitely check it out.

Another fantastic talk that unfortunately ran out of time and was really uncomfortably crowded was the Textual Relations (<-- digital handout, presentation here) panel. Awesome rationale and methods for using "authentic texts" (however you define that) in the Latin classroom, regardless of level. I particularly liked Lizzie Hestand's portion, and I hope she will do a blog post or something on it someday so I can link to it. The presentation doesn't really do it justice. She explained how she breaks down different texts and goes over them repeatedly with students to look for different elements and types of words. Really good stuff. The presentation includes a list of Catullus poems she integrates into parts of LLPSI by chapter & theme, believe it or not! Alan's part is SUPER solid and great but you have to read through it yourself because there's like a lot of info there. Laura Manning was absent but her paper was read for us by Justin Schwamm, and that paper was also really good but frankly I don't remember it well. I wish it were available online... hint hint... Justin S-B did a lovely introduction especially regarding "q: what is an authentic resource? a: depends who you ask"

Finally, the veeeeeeery last session I went to was Justin Schwamm's own talk on Holistic Assessment, which has some really good thoughts. Click the links in the presentation because that is where a lot of the good stuff is. I find this example IPA particularly useful. Don't ignore it because it's an IPA! It's actually legitimately doable by and designed for Latin teachers using texts. The character diagramming sheet doesn't really come out well for some reason when I click on it from here but it's definitely a model I'll be using next year.

I'd also like to link to Alan's handout but he's not quite sent it to me yet (I only just asked) so I'll add that in later. It's later! Alan's talk Something Old, Something New was about how all this CI stuff is basically just how people used to teach Latin back in the Renaissance. The handout is mostly Latin quotes from Erasmus and two other guys. This is my favorite quote, from Posselius: "De exercitio latine loquendi hic non dicam. Sciunt enim viri docti & sapientes, id omnino necessarium esse, & sine mago discentium incommodo negligi aut omitti non posse." (Roughly: "I won't address here the practice of speaking Latin. For all learned & wise men know that it's above all necessary and-- lacking a wizard of learning-- cannot be neglected nor omitted due to inconvenience.") I obviously love it due not only to the sentiment, but especially to the wizard, which is perhaps the roughest part of my translation but I don't care right now. EDIT: and yes, I'm now reliably informed that this was a typo :( :( :( It should be "sine magno discentium incommodo" and therefore "without a great inconvenience for learners." Thank you Justin S-B :)

Alan says there will be an article version of this in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled for that. It'll be a good read. Even if there aren't any wizards.

There were a lot more presentations that I didn't see for one reason or another, and which you should check out. I particularly wish I'd been able to go to Bob's novel presentation because his real life explanations are really compelling and easy to understand, and just having the powerpoint doesn't do it justice. If you went, or if you're Bob (hi!), I'd love it if you could comment with some takeaways.

I hope this was helpful. If nothing else, it's helped me process what was really an incredible learning opportunity and great fun socially as well. I really recommend going to ACL in the future if you can swing it, and if not, another good option for a similar mini experience is the CANE annual meeting (even if you're not from New England. CANE is really uncharacteristically nice, both in terms of New Englanders and academia.) (ACL is nice too but not academia-oriented).

No comments:

Post a Comment