Sunday, March 20, 2016

Teaching declensions contextually... and maybe comprehensibly? using pattern sentences

This year as you know I have been trying to do CI. However, like all Latin teachers using CI, I'm still struggling with the whole no-explicit-grammar-teaching-really-are-you-sure thing. There are a variety of ways to deal with this. I'm going to tell you today about one thing I did this year that seems to have helped to make the concepts of case endings and declensions semi-comprehensible. Just the concepts. It is still not real CI, but it helps bridge the gap.

It's also definitely not proper grammar instruction, and even though I'm explaining the entire first declension, you're not going to see any words ending in -tive for the rest of this post, so maybe take a deep breath if that's going to bother you. I'll do a proper post sometime on why I'm committing such heresy, I promise. The short version is as follows: most of my kids aren't going to a four year college, if they go to college at all. Most of them aren't going to a college that offers Latin, if they go to college at all. I love grammar, but they don't. What they need is time in school where they are doing something that they don't hate and that stimulates their brains. I tend to lay off the grammar heavy stuff because it scares them away. If that doesn't work for you, don't do it. My students may not be your students. Feel free to take some or all or NONE of my ideas here. I'm not trying to start a revolution against grammar- just trying to get through to my own kids and share what works.

Teach them Latin using CI for a couple of months. Get them used to hearing you use nouns in different cases without making a big deal out of it. Mix in those first and second declension nouns with third declension nouns, those neuters, maybe some i-stems if you're feeling spicy. Be a big kid and even use a fifth declension dies! If you don't tell them it's hard Latin II stuff, they won't think it's hard. Really!

When enough of them have asked about "why you keep saying canis instead of canem" or whatever, it is time for the first declension unit. One day, write the following on the board. Include the English! I call this a "pattern sentence," btw.
simia piratae astronautae ariēnam in lunā dat.
The monkey of the pirate gives the astronaut a banana on the moon.
Ask them to imagine the scene. Do it as dramatically as you can pull off. Circle it: Quis dat astronautae arienam in luna? Cuius simia astronautae arienam in luna dat? cui dat simia piratae arienam in luna? Datne simia piratae astronautae arienam in VILLA? non. etc. As they get bored of it, break it up by adding details like so:
Ask them what color the monkey is. What color the moon is. Maybe draw it on the board, but encourage them to build their own mind picture with their eyes closed too. Why does that monkey give the astronaut a banana? What's the pirate's name? Get this image into their brains. Ask them to draw it themselves, if you like (they would like to). Display their drawings. They may be 17, but they still love it when mom/teacher puts their drawings on the fridge/bulletin board.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

MadLibs! How to get reps in without feeling the burn

MadLibs is a fantastic activity for when you are low on brainpower. It is a terrible activity for a day you are losing your voice, so don't use it then. It's also a great activity for your lowest achievers to get some class work done for once! TPRS stories are perfect for this since they're essentially MadLibs to begin with.

The steps to using it are as followings:
1. Earlier in the week, tell a story, TPRS style (or however). Maybe your story turns out like this:
Jack wants dogs. Jack goes to McDonalds. In McDonalds there are many dogs, and they are hungry. The dogs eat Jack.
2. Review it at least one more time through choral reading &/or translation or reenactment or something else to get them familiar with the target structures, story pattern, & vocabulary.

3. Hand out MadLibs sheet, which looks like this:
__________ (1) person
__________ (2) person or thing, plural
__________ (3) place
__________ (4) adjective (describing word)
__________ (5) transitive verb (I would never use the word 'transitive' for my students though)

 __________ (1) wants a __________ (2). __________ (1) goes to __________ (3). In __________ (3) there are many __________ (2), and they are __________ (4). The __________ (2) __________ (5) __________ (1).

Now draw the ending of the story to show me you understand what happened.
So you could end up with:
Hello Kitty (1) person
sandwiches (2) person or thing, plural
Rome (3) place
fuzzy (4) adjective (describing word)
kidnap (5) transitive verb

Hello Kitty wants sandwichesHello Kitty goes to Rome. In Rome there are many sandwiches, and they are fuzzy. The sandwiches kidnap Hello Kitty.

(imagine there is a beautiful drawing of Hello Kitty in a sack being carried by sandwiches here)
n.b.: The picture part is important because it shows you whether the kids comprehended their own story or not.

4. Reenactment time! Ask for volunteers to be actors & to have their stories read. Actors do not have to be the ones who wrote a given story. Read each MadLib aloud as the actors perform it. Reps, reps, reps!

Extra tips:

  • The MadLib should be in the TL, but I always allow them to fill in the parts of speech in English so there's no limit to the madness. It also means even your weakest, most "I don't know Latin I can't do this" kids have no excuse not to write down some random words. 
  • ... but  if someone puts an English word that you know everyone should have acquired by now (e.g. stupid = stultus, and they all know that), replace the English with Latin when you read aloud. I also always fix inflection of nouns, etc.
  • Make it shorter than your original TPRS story. If your story had 3 locations, cut it down to one or two. Filling in the blanks gets pretty arduous.
  • I often put them in pairs to do the MadLib part, since they're going to be asking each other for help thinking of adjectives anyway. I still require each individual student to make up their own worksheet though. Plus if some kids are slower to finish than others, you can have the finished pairs read & translate their stories together before you do the whole class part.

Friday, March 11, 2016

PQA Ideas for Indirect Statement

This week I've been focusing on third declension and also introducing indirect statement a lot. I've been doing the latter almost entirely through PQA. I basically did one of the following each day this week, including the past ones as I went.

Indirect statement with dicit
Have on board:

  • Quid agis? - How are you?
  • bene / optime - well / excellent
  • male / pessime - bad / really bad
  • fessus / esuriens / odiosus sum - I'm tired / hungry / bored
  • dicit se esse - says s/he is...
  • dixit - said
  • se - oneself
  • Quis alius dixit...? who else said...?

Ask kids how they're doing. Repeat their answer to the class in the form "Angela se esurientem esse dicit." (Angela says she's hungry) Mix it up by asking "Quis alius se esurientem bene dixit?" (Who else said they were hungry?) They'll be like "Henry" so you'd say "Sic, Henrius quoque se esurientem esse dixit. Henrius et Angela se esurientes esse dixerunt." (Yes, Henry also said he was hungry. Henry and Angela said they were hungry.) etc.

Once they're sick of that, ask individuals to say nice things about their friends in the class & repeat them as above. "Angela Henrium pulchrum esse dicit." (Angela says Henry is handsome.)

ALT: Add "mendax - liar" to the board. Pretend a stuffed animal is talking to you (thanks Bob Patrick!). Say "Elephans mihi dixit Angelam longam esse. Estne mendax?" (The elephant told me Angela is tall. Is he a liar?)

Indirect statement with audit
Have on board:

  • Quid audivisti? - What have you heard?
  • fama benigna / rumor benignus - nice rumor
  • audivi (person) esse... - I heard (person) is...
Ask for "nice" rumors about people: who is smart? who is tall? who is happy? who is sad? etc. If you feel like it, introduce habere (to have) as well and you can talk about pets, significant others, etc. If your kids already know infinitives, just use whatever they know. We haven't covered them really yet so I limited it. After kids give you answers, use your best juicy rumor voice to tell the class "audivi Angelam elephantem habere!" etc.

Indirect statement with vidit
I didn't come up with anything good for this question. I threw it in with the other ones here and there but didn't focus on it.

Indirect statement with putat
Have on board:

  • Quis est optimus magister in schola? - Who is the best teacher in the school? (or similar: best singer, dancer, etc. or tallest/shortest person... and so on)
  • putat ... (optimum magistrum in hac schola) esse - thinks ... is (the best teacher in this school).
If you're comfortable with it, the kids really prefer to answer who the WORST teacher is. Anyway, after their answers, say, "Angela magistrum optimum Mr. Ciceronem esse putat." You can ask if they agree or not: "quis consentit?" (Who agrees?)

Indirect statement with credit
This one is the most fun
Have on board:
  • credit ... veros/as/a esse - believes ... are real
  • credebat - used to believe
  • umbra - ghost
Start with those & add things as your kids make suggestions. I also had alienus (alien), sirena (mermaid), monstrum (monster), numen dentium (tooth fairy), Bigfoot, Illuminati... etc.

Ask: quis credit umbras esse? (who believes ghosts are real?) I got a lot of yesses. Repeat their answers: "Angela credit umbras veras esse." (Angela believes ghosts are real) etc.
Then ask: "quid est stultissimum/alienissimum quod umquam credebatis?" (what's the stupidest/weirdest thing you ever believed?) This is when you'll get Santa, Tooth Fairy, etc. 

This has led to lively class discussion and a TON of reps. PQA can be hard so I thought I'd share things that worked for me.

Got any awesome PQA ideas for any topic? Or other ideas for dealing with indirect statement? I'd love to hear them. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

How do I TPR "wage war" in the classroom? #latinteacherproblems

This past week I spent some time looking over what vocab my students had learned out of the top 200  (a fair amount) and what they still needed (lots). There's one tricky thing about Latin high frequency lists that I suspect isn't the case for most modern languages: a lot of the high frequency vocab is for war & statecraft. So I needed to teach my kids homo (human being), dux (leader), ducit (leads), bellum gerit (wages war), and vincit (conquers). I also needed caelum, navis, terra, aliquid, and aliquis (sky, ship, earth/land, something, and someone).

I did a dictatio (link) with most of those on Monday, and tried a storyask on Tuesday without much success. On Wednesday I did a madlibs (link) and read aloud & reenacted some of the kids' stories that came out of that. During the week we also read together some written stories (link and link) that incorporated a few of the words. but I wasn't getting the reps I wanted of the REALLY important words. I was kind of stuck trying to work out how to do a good story-ask where I could get reps of "wage war" and "conquer." I figured out a great way to simulate combat in the classroom: have them do rock paper scissors! Script below the cut.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Story Script: Hungry Hungry Students

Story Script: Hungry Hungry Students
Target Structures: consumere possum, male/bene sapit
Additional vocab: consumit, esuriens, fufae, babae, cibus, satis, satis superque...
Actor roles: "Iulia"
Additional actor roles: various things being eaten if you want

Link to story in Latin

English version with bolded variables

Julia is hungry. Julia wants to eat. Julia is in Rome, but food is not in Rome. What can Julia eat? Julia sees a table. "Can I eat a table?" says Julia Julia takes the table and eats. "Eww! I can eat a table, but it tastes bad!" says Julia Julia is still hungry. "I am going to Britain. Perhaps food is in Britain."

Julia goes to Britain, but food is not in Britain. Julia sees a big tiger in Britain. "Can I eat a big tiger?" says Julia. Julia takes the big tiger and eats. "Eww! I can eat a big tiger, but it tastes bad!" says Julia. Julia is still hungry. "I am going to Spain. Perhaps food is in Spain.

Julia goes to Spain, but food is not in Spain. Julia sees little fishes in Spain. "Can I eat little fishes?" says Julia. Julia takes the little fishes and eats. "Wow! Little fishes taste good!" Julia is not hungry, because she eats (has eaten) enough.

Oh no! She ate enough and more than enough! Julia explodes.