Friday, December 18, 2015

Story Script & activities: The Gift of the Magi

Salvete omnes! It has been a busy week so I apologize for only now updating. Today it's just a quick set of links. I wrote a version of The Gift of the Magi in Latin, and I have an accompanying set of Flyswatter sentences and a Comprehension Check.

Comprehension Check

Sorry, no English this time! I found that my kids could understand the story if I just read it to them with gestures, but they received it better if we watched this somewhat creepy animation of the story first. Not recommended if the Uncanny Valley isn't your thing:

If anyone knows of an un-narrated version that still has sounds and music, please comment! I think it'd work a lot better for our purposes.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A unit post-mortem

This week's "unit" (I use the term rather loosely here) was to focus on mittit (sends), infinitive + scit (knows how...), and nescit (doesn't know how...). I also wanted a ton of reps using the genitive (possessive), so mater Iuliae / Marci / Grumionis (Julia's/ Marcus's / Grumio's mother) was another target. For plot reasons we also worked with the phrase vitam bonam agere (to lead a good life).

This is an ungodly long post but I hope it'll be helpful.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fashion Show - input activity for clothing and colors

This past week was "Spirit Week" at my school as well as Thanksgiving week, so needless to say, the kids weren't in a very scholarly mood. I decided to cover clothing since it's not super important for Latin students and half the kids were already in silly themed Spirit Week outfits. (Update, a week later: Yeah almost no one remembers the target structures from this week. Oh well. At least I can say I covered it! YMMV)

Before I did this activity, I'd already done some PQA and a story using clothing words. I'll put those up eventually.

Materials: lots of clothes, the weirder the better. Ask your drama department to borrow some if you can't gather them on your own, or ask the kids for volunteers (don't require it especially if you have a poorer population).
A small whiteboard for each judge is also helpful but you can use paper.

Roles: stylists, models, judges. Photographers optional.

Setup: Set up the desks so there's a "runway" for models to walk. Put all the clothes and accessories in one place. Put useful vocab up on the board, including colors and patterns as well as clothing terms. Have water handy because you're going to be talking a lot.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Venatio / Animal Hunt

This game is for those times when you need a lot of input on one or two structures, and you just don't have the brainpower to do another storyask. I came up with it on a day when the kids wanted to each hold a stuffed animal, and I needed a way to make that educational.


Object to "hide" - small stuffed animals like Beanie Babies are great, but you could do it with markers or really anything. The object can be one thing, or you can have a variety of them and let the Seeker choose.

Active Players:



Target Structures should be on the board. The first time I played this game, I wanted to get a ton of repetitions for "s/he goes." My board had "I go," "you go," and "s/he goes."

We'd also done a lot of previous work with "s/he wants" and some with "I want" and "you want" so I peppered those in as well. You could easily add forms of "has." You can also do a version of this with prepositional phrases (see below).

Story Script - Offerings

You can change "god" to "king," "queen," "goddess," etc. very easily. There are alternate endings to this one because different things happened in different classes. This gives you a good idea of how the same basic structures can end up with a totally different story.

Target Structures: likes, gives, brings, comes
Additional vocab: sacrifice (noun), gift, sends to prison, sword, kills
Actor roles: authority figure, worshiper/subject
Additional roles: various gifts (one class had human sacrifices...)

Story Script - Putting it on the table

I used this as a short dictation to introduce brings, comes, puts, & leaves. You could change it around a bit and use it to play with prepositional phrases.

Target structures: brings, comes, puts, leaves
Additional vocab: any nouns you want
Actor roles: student(s)

Additional roles: up to 4 students total

Story Script - Real friends help you...

I made this story as a dictation, but I suppose you could do it as a storyask too. This is a story that was really highly personalized to my students. The original had a student giving me a donut, because on the previous Friday I'd been all about donuts. There's a lake right behind our school. It's also a very small town, so they all know the police officer I put in the story. It may or may not work for you, but perhaps it'll give you some ideas. Replace JB with whatever celebrity your kids find irritating.

Target Structures: comes, gives, likes, brings
You could easily make this more about moods, too.
Additional vocab: kills, captures
Actor roles: two students, police officer
Additional roles: up to 4 more students

Story Script - Quam stultus infans! (What a Stupid Baby!)

I got the basic idea for this one from one in Matava's first book of story scripts, the one for the German structure "I can't do it anymore!" I believe.

Bolded words are ones you can let your kids choose.

Target Structures: puts (ponit), brings (fert), leaves (discedit), removes (removit). You could easily add "goes."
Additional vocab: doctor, nose, stupid, table
Actor roles: concerned adult, doctor
Additional actor roles: baby, thing in nose

Where are all the TPRS lesson plans?!

When I first started to look into TPRS, I was really frustrated at how difficult it was to find example lesson plans. All I could find was statements like, "It's hard to give a lesson plan for this since it was so specific to my class, but it went sort of like this..." If you've been looking for advice on TPRS, you probably have had this issue too. Or maybe you didn't because you're much better at googling than I am! :) Anyway, here's the deal.

TPRS lesson plans don't really exist as such because TPRS lesson plans look like this:

Target Structures: wants, has, is
Story structure: Someone wants something, but they don't have it. They go to three places to try to find it. Eventually they find it, or something surprising happens maybe.
Activities: Ask a story. Do PQA. Follow up with a Retell activity.

Well, okay, maybe they're not always that minimal, but they often are. The most "lesson planny" ones I've seen are the ones Keith Toda kindly did on his blog here and here. And those are AWESOME. But personally I am not that together. I tend to come up with a story by writing my target structures on the board and staring at them until something like a story structure emerges. This is not reliable, and I can assure you that doing it at 7:15 am when you're about to teach it at 7:40 is stressful.

The cool thing about TPRS though, the freeing thing which makes it so much less exhausting than some other approaches, is that you CAN plan a lesson with just your target structures in mind and see what happens. The key is that instead of having a Lesson Plan, capital L capital P, you have a menu of lesson options depending on how things are going. My mental lesson menu for the week looks like this:

Personalization saves the day!

This week, I have been focusing on imperatives with my Latin II's. I made up a long, complicated story that used my target vocab and had a few commands in it. I thought it was pretty entertaining. My students, however, were unimpressed. It wasn't really relevant to their lives at all and even though I had them choose details like locations and characters, it was kind of lukewarm. I also had trouble circling enough because I was trying to rush through to get done with the whole story. By the end, I had about 6 reps of "sumit" (picks up), and I'd used imperatives less than 10 times. For a long story, that's pretty low.

The last period of the day is largely made up of a lot of very perky, silly sophomores. They're also the ones who are coming out with the most spontaneous Latin, both in my classroom and apparently elsewhere. On the day I did the story, Cornelia happened to tell me that her mom "hates Latin" now because every time she asks Cornelia to do something, Cornelia says ,"non!" On the same day, the sophomore class adviser, who is also Maria's mother, had told them they needed to behave and settle down for me or else she wouldn't let them do Lipsync- a big school event for which they've been preparing for a month. Cornelia is playing a flip-flop in their act (don't ask). So, I wrote this story for the following day: