Saturday, November 21, 2015

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:

mater Corneliae irata est. cubiculum Corneliae sordidissimum est, quod Cornelia vestimenta numquam sumit.
"Cornelia, sume vestimenta!" inquit mater Corneliae.
"non!" inquit Cornelia.
"Cornelia, veni! veni et sume vestimenta!"
Cornelia inquit, "non!" et ad scholam currit. 
magistra Corneliae irata est. conclave sordissimum est, quod Cornelia chartas numquam sumit.
"Cornelia, sume chartas!" inquit magistra.
"non!" inquit Cornelia.
"Cornelia, veni et sume chartas!" inquit magistra.
Cornelia inquit, "non!" et ad Lipsync Practice currit. 
mater Mariae irata est. scaena sordidissumum est, quod sophomores sandalia numquam sumunt.
"sophomores, sumite sandalia!" inquit mater Mariae.
"non!" inquiunt sophomores.
"sophomores, sumite sandalia, aut Lipsync non facitis!"
"sic!" inquiunt sophomores, et sandalia sumunt.
Cornelia's mother is angry. Cornelia's bedroom is very dirty, because Cornelia never picks up her clothes.
"Cornelia, pick up your clothes!" says Cornelia's mother.
"No!" says Cornelia.
"Cornelia, come! come and pick up your clothes!"
Cornelia says, "No!" and runs to school. 
Cornelia's teacher is angry. Her classroom is very dirty, because Cornelia never picks up her papers.
"Cornelia, pick up the papers!" says the teacher.
"No!" says Cornelia.
"Cornelia, come and pick up the papers!" says the teacher.
Cornelia says, "No!" and runs to Lipsync Practice. 
Maria's mother is angry. The stage is very dirty, because the sophomores never pick up their flip-flops.
"Sophomores, pick up your flip-flops!" says Maria's mother.
"Non!" say the sophomores.
"Sophomores, pick up your flip-flops, or you're not doing Lipsync!"
"Yes!" say the sophomores, and they pick up the flip-flops.
For imperatives, I had worked really hard writing a long, complicated story and then I quickly jotted down a short, silly story based on a few real things about our class (flip-flops, sophomores, Lipsync, Maria's mother, and Cornelia's "non!"). The short, silly story got MUCH better results. Not every student was super engaged, but it definitely worked better than the other one. I got more reps of sumit in, and they heard more imperatives overall and more frequently than in the other story. I also did a better job circling because I didn't have to juggle as much material.

This story was originally highly personalized to that one last period class, and it does fit best for them. In the other classes, I asked who had the messiest room, and had that person be the actor. I also changed the third location to something to fit with their hobbies, like the volleyball court or the golf course. I also changed the consequences in that third location. I couldn't think of something for the volleyball court so I just said, "Or I'll eat you!" For the golf one, I said, "Or you can't play golf!" and the actor's face fell as if it were real, even though it was an alligator puppet threatening him in Latin!

This story isn't actually any more interesting or fun than the other one I wrote, but the kids got into it because I made it about them. Sometimes TPRS is just that simple, and it's easy to forget that.

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