Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What to do when everything is terrible

Salve! It’s the beginning of a new year, or almost the beginning, or was the beginning and now you’re getting into it a bit… regardless, if you’re new to CI, or new to teaching, or just trying one new thing… there’s a pretty solid chance you’re going to have some bad days. Hopefully you’ll also have some awesome days. But if you’re learning a new skill, like circling or PQA, the first few times are gonna be ROUGH.

In case you’re panicking, here are some steps.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

There will be no "Roman women" unit.

I’m pretty much constantly planning my curriculum and replanning it. I am trying to consciously integrate culture more this upcoming year, so I’ve been thinking about what units I might do. Right now, my list of units for Latin I looks something like this:

Roman names; Places & Time; Housing; Food & Clothing; Family; Slavery; Freedom; Entertainment; Death & the afterlife; Love & Marriage; The Olympian Gods; Origins & Transformations; Greek Heroes I & II; Roman Heroes I & II; What have the Romans ever done for us?

The order will almost certainly change and I may not get to everything. These are mostly drawn from the NLE syllabus. Each unit will only be two weeks or so and mostly in translation. I’m not going to be doing too much in-depth textual work with anything in particular except where the novellas align.

What’s missing is a unit on Roman women. Well, and on the military, but that’s not what this is about. Given Cloelia, you might find it surprising that I'm not focusing on women at any particular point in my curriculum. I’m not doing a unit on Roman women because as soon as you put women into a unit, you’re taking them out of the whole.*

Friday, August 19, 2016

Teaching Goals for 2016-2017

Every year, Keith Toda posts his teaching goals. Then at the end of the year, he posts how they went. This is a great example of reflective practice. I’m going to try it this year and see how it goes.

To begin with, my long term goal: by the end of my fifth year of teaching, I hope to have my act together. I’m about to head into my third year. My “act together” means basically being able to define myself as a good teacher. I do not feel I’m there yet. There are many things about me that are “good teacher” material, like a willingness to try new things and dedication to personal professional development. I’m absolutely a better teacher now than I was two years ago when I started.

BUUUUUUUUUUT. I’m not where I want to be yet. Some things that are wrong with my teaching: I don’t have a good handle on classroom management. My planning is… not. abest. I’m disorganized. Last year, I taught essentially no culture at all. For goodness’ sake, I still don’t know how I’m going to be grading students (yes, grading; assessment I have plans for. Grading, not so much.). I rarely make it to after school events. I’m dreadful at dealing with make ups and grading stuff on time. I’m lousy at follow-through generally.

Goals for 2016-2017 (in no particular order)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Takeaways from Express Fluency: Latin Teacher Training with Justin Slocum Bailey

Over the past two days I was fortunate enough to attend a historic event: the first iFLT-style teacher training conducted in Latin. iFLT style means that we teachers observed while an experienced TPRS instructor taught a class made up of real language learners who didn’t know Latin- in this case, mostly adults, but usually I believe it’s school age children. Express Fluency, run by Elissa McLean, was the sponsor. Elissa herself was one of the Latin students, which I really appreciated as an observer. It was a lot of fun to watch her learn and get excited enough to use Latin with us during breaks! I hope in the future I’ll have time / energy to take Spanish or something from Express Fluency, since it’s local-ish to me and affordable (the credits were INCREDIBLY, pardon the pun, affordable, too: $62 each! what!). I also got the chance to briefly meet Laurie Clarcq, the co-inventor of Embedded Reading, who is charming and humble and full of great ideas.

You can find information about the detailed schedule here, but basically the format was this: over two days, there were nine hours of Latin TPRS and general CI-oriented instruction. We teachers sat behind the class and observed what the instructor did. In the time before and after the Latin class each day, we discussed with the instructor and each other what we’d seen and had opportunities to ask questions and discuss how TPRS works in the real classroom.

The instructor was this guy Justin Slocum Bailey, who came all the way from Michigan to Brattleboro, VT to educate us. If you’ve spent any time with him or his website, you know how lucky we were. If you haven’t, I am excited to introduce you.

Okay, so down to the actual stuff I saw. I’m not going to cover TPRS basics too much because there’s a lot out there already on circling etc. This entry is more specific ways I saw Justin using these techniques very effectively, or just things that I particularly enjoyed.

A quick disclaimer: these are my impressions of what Justin was doing. I can’t speak for his actual motivations or thought process. I’d like to think I’m accurate, but definitely don’t judge Justin solely on how I describe him here.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Latin Novellas: Getting the most out of the editing process

The Latin teacher community is really nice. A lot of people give themselves and their time abundantly to help other teachers. For this reason, sometimes it's easy to take the community for granted. Here are some suggestions from me on how to make sure you get the help you need for editing your work without inadvertently taking advantage of others.

(FWIW, I didn't really follow all of  these steps in writing Cloelia. I am trying to save you woes and rewrites by suggesting a better way of doing things.)

More under the cut.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Latin Novellas: How to improve your Latin

Ah, so you have read the other two entries and you're on board with trying to write really solid Latin. Awesome! Tips below! And I've decided the bit about how to ask for help editing/pre-reading should be its own post, so hold out for that on Thursday.

More under the cut.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Latin Novellas: Why attention to attested usage matters

When it comes to English, I try to be a descriptivist rather than a prescriptivist. If I am in a store and I hear a kid say, "I should of broughten mo' money." (and yes, I've heard kids in my rural, lower income, largely white area say "broughten."), I don't correct them because I'm not a jerk. If however I were writing a novel about similar kids for an ELL audience, I would never ever write "I should of broughten mo' money." Why? Because I don't want to teach them weird things that aren't considered "standard" English by the community of English speakers at large.

(To be clear, I don’t think anyone has written anything at the level of “I should of broughten” in Latin, but I wanted to share that weird example of English doing its living language thing because I think it’s super cool.)

With Latin, the community of Latin speakers is MUCH smaller, and the community of native Latin speakers is dead. All the same, my goal for my kids is for them to be able to read Latin which was written by native speakers and maybe to communicate with other Latinists around the country and throughout the world. Why? Because Latin is a language, and it deserves to be treated as such, even if it’s dead. I’ve struggled a lot with the “point” of teaching a dead language. One of the conclusions I’ve come to is that it doesn’t matter if it’s dead, so long as my kids are still getting the language-learning experience that helps their brains work better (I’m not a neurologist, clearly.). To that end, I want them to be exposed to the things about Latin that aren’t like English: the word order, the morphology, the preference for verb forms compared to English’s love of substantives, everything, etc. Just as we understand other cultures by learning how they differ, I believe we benefit from understanding languages on their own terms.

Now, we’re not perfect Latin speakers. No one alive is, probably. You’re going to make errors. By all means, do so as you teach and in your TPRS stories and whatever you do in your classroom. I’m not saying every Latin teacher needs to be Reginald Foster himself. So long as you are working to improve, ideally by reading more Latin, there’s no problem. (More under the cut)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Latin Novellas: Nuts & bolts

Salvete omnes! I wrote way too many words about Latin novella-writing so this is part one of a three part series.

First things first, these are the ones currently available. There are a lot of people working on more, which is awesome.

Also, just recently a FB group was created for people working on Latin novellas to discuss the process and help each other out a bit, etc. If you're planning to write something or already writing, join it! More under the cut.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Summer fun is speaking Latin!

Salvete internet!

I have been busy! Or rather, I have been at leisure, but in a non-English speaking way, and then lazy because I was tired from all that Latin leisure. The below is as usual a rather rambly reflection on my time at Rusticatio and the other spoken Latin stuff I've done recently. More under the cut.