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: Introducing new structures / Culture day
Today's plan was to do PQA using the new structures and perhaps start a story. My initial plan for a story was about someone who wanted to send a gift to someone else, but didn't know how. It wasn't that interesting a story, or maybe it was just the Monday after Thanksgiving, but the classes I tried it in went "eh" so I switched gears. In practice I ended up mostly doing some PQA and then also discussing Roman slavery.
PQA: I tried asking them what they knew and didn't know how to do well. They found this difficult to do on the fly, so I think next time I'll ask them to draw a picture or write down something in advance. The rest of the week, when I did PQA, I asked questions like the following:
Quis snapchats semper mittit? Julia et Jess snapchats semper mittit? Quae plures snapchats mittit, Jess an Julia? Mittitne Jess plures snapchats quam Julia? Mittitne Julia plures snapchats quam Jess? etc. (Who's always sending snapchats? Julia & Jess are always sending snapchats? Which girl sends more snapchats, Jess or Julia? Does Jess send more snapchats than Julia? Does Julia send more snapchats than Jess?)
Quis in hac conclave/schola cantare optime scit? (Who in this classroom/school best knows how to sing?) etc, following same pattern as above.
Quis magister/magistra in hac schola docere optime scit? Quis magister/magistra in hac schola docere NEscit? (Which teacher in this school knows how to teach best? Which teacher in this school doesn't know how to teach?) etc. 

The last one can obviously be mean to other teachers, but you can do it about anyone or anything- who in this room doesn't know how to dance, how to sing, etc. I chose teaching because as you all know, "Mr. So & So doesn't know how to teach! He just makes us read the book and do problems and take notes!" is a constant refrain, whether it's true or not. So, it's a compelling topic, if not necessarily kind.

For slavery, I introduced the subject by asking what they knew or thought they knew already. This gave me a chance to clarify things with the Latin I's like, "No, it was not racially based, although some ethnicities would have been more common as slaves than others." I usually tell the blonds, redheads, & blue-eyed people (me included) that we're the ones who look like slaves the most because of Gauls. After the introduction, I projected the readings from this resource on Roman slavery (World History for Us All - if you're a history teacher too, go there!! It's great!) and read some of them to the kids, asking them to summarize what I'd said and react to it. That went reasonably well.

Tuesday: Story Day
Given the failure of Monday's story plan, I put together a more structured one. This time I added vitam bonam agere (to lead a good life), sapiens (wise), and sapientia (wisdom). See a long version of the story here (the English is on the second page). I bolded the variables in the English version only. The ending, obviously, changes a lot depending on how your class ends up solving the problem. This definitely wasn't a home run story, but it was okay. I think it'd be more interesting if you leave the thing the main character doesn't know how to do up to the students, which leads us to what we did on Thursday.

Wednesday: Further input day by retellings, in theory
This was a half day for us this week, so classes were only 30 min instead of 51 and it was kind of a wash. I read them the long version of the story and did circling throughout it, and asked them some PQA in between. We also talked more about slavery a bit.

Thursday: Comprehension check day
To prepare for our comprehension check (i.e. a quiz by any other name), I did some more PQA to review the words, then gave them a short Madlibs version, which you can see here (English below again). When they were done, I read some of them aloud to the class (more input!!).

Then we did a comprehension check, which was based on the same vocab as the story but wasn't exactly the same plot. You can see one version of that here. I did make a different one for each class so it would be more entertaining for them. Question 6 doesn't count for points, by the way. I just like to entertain myself.

Friday: Write & Relax
On Friday, we reviewed our Word Wall, including the new words for the week. I paid attention to which words they were weak on. Then they did a 10 minute (... ish... okay I didn't time it; I just waited for the majority to be done so it was sometimes 15 minutes) free write. This was an ungraded activity where I asked them to try to write me a story with a beginning middle and end. I gave them this template, but I'm not totally happy with it so I will change it some. It's largely based off a rubric by Grant Boulanger. I was emphatic that I wasn't grading it by the rubric below yet, but that was something to aim for in the future.

Finally, we played Trashketball (Trashketball is actually just the Word Chunk Game, but Trashketball is catchier and sometimes we use a small wastebasket for a "hoop," so there it is.). I made sure that I made sentences using words they'd been weak on in the Word Wall.

My kids hate writing. I don't really understand why. They seem to have fun while they're doing it and they like to share their stories, but if I say the words "Timed Write" it's as if I've said, "Good, now we're going to feed each other centipedes with our toes." This time, my tactic was to have the following on the board:
Today's Activities
Word Wall Review
10 Minute Free Write
Game: Trashketball, Flyswatter, or VINCO
When the kids came in, they saw that and got excited for Trashketball (some of them like Vinco more, but most prefer Trashketball). I think having that carrot out in front of them might have reduced some of the Free Write wailing & gnashing of teeth.

Students who don't like the noise and rowdiness of Trashketball are allowed to play Mendax or write down & translate the sentences I read for the game. They can also do a vocab puzzle if I have one ready.

At long last, that was my week. It wasn't a Home Run week by any means, but it was pretty good and I actually got some culture in for the first time basically all year. I hope reading that wall of text is helpful for you if you're another rookie. I try to include all the things I got wrong as well so you can see how I reflect and change things, or so you can offer ME suggestions for next time. :)

1 comment:

  1. Ellie, it sounds like you had a GREAT week! Lots of victories, lots of learning by students and you. Strong work!

    In case you find it useful, here's an idea with a lot of variations that I've found successful related to your PQA on "knows how to / is able to":