Thursday, May 28, 2020

My Routine For Starting Class - Building Community

I think it's really important to empower students and to give them the space to own the classroom. Equally it's important for them to view their classmates as community. They feel safest experimenting and making mistakes - which we need them to do - when the other people in the room are community and not just other people taking the class. My routine varies depending on the level.

Latin I
I have jobs listed on my board. They are:
-Nomenclator/Nomenclatrix (who does the attendance)
-Nuntiator/tris (whose job it is to ask me every day: magistra, suntne nuntianda?)
-Inspector/trix (whose job it is to let me know whether the class is ready according to my standards)
-Distributores/distributrices (there are two, whose job it is to distribute and collect any items that day)
-Horologiarius/horologiaria (who keeps time)
-Aestimator/trix (whose job it is to let me know who needs a shoutout)

Officially, whoever happens to be first into the classroom on a given day is the person who can assign jobs that day. Sometimes one kid Claims this as their Calling and it becomes theirs. Sometimes I have ask someone to do it. Varies by class and day.

When the bell rings, my expectation is that everyone is seated, silent, and prepared (everything put away - phones, bags, makeup, etc).

I say to the Inspector/Inspectrix, "O ______________, omnesne sedent?" They look around and respond either "sedent" or "non sedent." Then omnesne silent? Then omnesne parati sunt? If all three are true, I am all happy at them, and they earn three minutes for PAT. If only two are true, they earn two minutes for PAT, etc.

The nomenclator gets up and does the attendance without being prompted. We applaud, they sit down.

The nuntiator asks me, magistra, suntne nuntianda? In most Latin one classes, the students make fun me by going, "Nuntianda sunt!" and then pretending to give announcements, which I find mildly entertaining. After that I get to answer. ;) This is the time for JCL announcements, "Shay is in a play" announcements, etc.

Then we do the praemium dignum. Hold on a sec - I'm going to explain that near the end of this section.

Then class can begin.

If I need a timer that day (to keep track of how long we can stay in Latin, etc), I ask the horologiarius/-a to do that for me. In general, for every two minutes we can go without an unnecessary interruption/unnecessary English, the kids get one minute toward PAT (which will be used on Friday).

If I need anything distributed (white boards, papers, etc), I ask the distributores to do this. They will also be the ones to pick them up when we're finished or to collect any work done that day.

At the end of the period, the inspector stands up and yells TRES MINUTAE RESTANT! RECONDITE OMNIA! and then the class puts everything away (their seats, coloring supplies, etc) as quickly as possible and sits back down for any closing announcements.

At this time, whoever the aestimator/aestimatrix is will write me a note. They've been keeping an eye on the class to find people to shout out - someone who gave a good answer, someone who was really participating, someone who asked a great question, someone who made us laugh, etc. They'll write me a note telling me who should get the praemium dignum the next day and why. That note goes in a mini mailbox I have. Then the next day after the nuntiatrix does her thing, I will pull that note from my mini mailbox and I will read it to the class. We do this in English. The person gets a praemium dignum (which consists of a sticker. they are the most godawful puffy stickers, and they're absurd. they are such terrible stickers that the kids love them, and I've got kids with collections of them on their phones). We applaud the person who gets the praemium dignum.

Latin II

Instead of changing the jobs daily by writing names, we spin the wheelofnames ( I have a wheel saved for each class with their names in it, for exactly purposes like this) for each of the jobs. They keep their job for a week. The jobs are the same as they were the first year. We spin the wheel at the end of the week rather than on Monday so the aestimator/trix has time to pay attention so that we can award a praemium dignum on Monday.

Differences - near the beginning of the year, I announce the praemium dignum, like I did for Latin I. About a month into the year, the aestimator/aestimatrix will begin to announce it themselves.

When I describe the person qui praemium dignum meruit, I do it in simple Latin for them, even if the note is written in English. When the kids start doing it themeselves, I encourage them to use as much Latin as they can, even if it's just "homo qui praemium dignum meruit X est."

Latin III/IV

They now have a slightly different set of jobs, and they keep them for three weeks at a time. We spin the wheelofnames (again, I have a wheel saved for each specific class with their names in) on the Friday going into the week where we'll change jobs so that the Aestimator will have time to pay attention and can give a praemium dignum on Monday.

Dux Homines Parandi
Origo Socii Sermonis

I can literally be gone for the first seven minutes of class, and the kids will run it themselves.

The Dux Homines Parandi stands up and stares everyone down/walks around the room to make sure they're ready. Some of them are sassy and will tell kids "telephonillum in sacco!" or "quid agis, Sam?" Some of them just...stare you down. When they are, the Dux tells me, "Parati sumus."

The nomenclator calls attendance and asks me if there are any announcements.

Then the origo socii sermonis makes their way to the front of the room. They are as their name suggests: they start conversation. This is a time for them to ask the class what's new, if anyone has any good stories to tell, what's going on in their lives, and how they are. For the first week or two, I do this to model how it works. I check in with kids based on things they said the day before (how was that game you mentioned? how'd the test go?) Then over the first few weeks (my two weeks and the first week or so of the kids doing it) we brainstorm some questions they can ask and phrases that are useful to us.
-ecquis fabulas narrandas habet?
-quid novi apud vos?
-ut successit ____________?
-quomodo se habet ________________?
-quomodo vos habetis?
-ecquis gloriari/queri vult?

and similar.

I keep a set of these questions on a big post-it in my room where the kids can consult them at will.

They get five minutes to have whatever conversation they want as a class, as a large group, talking about their lives and what's going on, and it is mostly Latine. I learn a lot about them - one kid was submitting art to the google doodle challenge, so we followed that eagerly. One talked about her daily journey in her physics class. Some tell stories about their lives, some talked about stuff that they were struggling with, and overall, it genuinely bonded them together as a class.

I had a class that did not readily participate in this. They had things to say but were fairly quiet. So for them, we alternated between giving a prompt (tell a story that involved fire, for example) or choosing four people who would come in the next day and tell us something going on in their lives. Those kids could say anything they wanted to, and often ended up pushing themselves outside of their boxes and doing very well.

Again the first week or two, I did the distribution of the praemium dignum, although the aestimator/trix left me notes in my mailbox. At this point, the expectation is that they're doing them in Latin. When they take over, the expectation is that they do the announcement in Latin as well. We still applaud and hand out the stickers (and the seniors possibly find them funnier even than the freshmen).

The goal is always to give the class opportunity for communication and opportunity to work together. They become concerned about each other's lives and wellbeing, they care about each other, and they work together more effectively when they genuinely know and relate to each other, and when they consistently find opportunities for ownership, praise and intentional kindness.

At various times, I have changed the jobs and the routine to respond to a particular class, and sometimes it does need tweaking. Two years ago I had a class who, god love them, wanted to be told a story every day. So instead of the Origo Socii Sermonis, they had a story rota, and one kid every day would begin the class by telling a story about whatever they wanted. I wrote them down as they narrated them, and it's still hilarious to go back and read the ridiculous stories they told.

Spinners and Speaking is one of my favorite websites. You can customize what items are on the wheel (and the colors, if that's your jam. it is my jam.), and you can save those wheels to use later. I have one for each of my classes, and then periodically, classes and I will build one together.

One of the ones we recently built had numbers on it. I picked about twelve people and asked them qui numerus acceptissimus tibi est? and they told me. This is hilarious, because they didn't know what they were being used for, and Mark's favorite number is 18, which is Known.

Everyone was mad at Mark about five minutes later.

In any case, I now had 1, 4, 18, 12, etc. I had the kids stand up in pairs facing each other and gave them a topic. (you could also have a wheel of topics if you want to leave it to chance)

We spun the wheel, and the wheel told them how many items in that category they had to come up with. There are virtues both to giving them the topic and then spinning the wheel, and to spinning the wheel and then giving them the topic. I encourage you to experiment and decide which you like best.

Depending on the level of chaos you thrive in in your classroom, you can have the pairs:

-shout their answers at each other in an attempt to get the requisite number of items before their partner (encourages both hilarity and quick thinking in the TL, but necessarily discourages listening)

-work together to come up with the requisite number of answers in a set amount of time/before other pairs.

Having shouted at each other for X number of seconds or until it sounds like they're winding down (my usual method of deciding when they're done), I pick a few pairs and ask them to share their best answers. You can just accept those answers as is, or it can lead to more PQA/circling/input.

The topics can be anything. In Latin two, they had (among other things) letters of the alphabet (we had a gimme to start :P), body parts, things you do in the baths, jobs, food words, and - I kid you not - things you can do to save energy in the home.

We did not spend time in any unit discussing "ways to save energy in the home." But you bet they know things like "turn off the lights" and "close the fridge," and they've never been asked to apply it in that way. It allows them to stretch and realize just what they can talk about. It's a good warm up or brain break, and the kids get a kick out of doing it.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Scene Charades

Warning: some prep (though not a huge amount) involved.

I love charades. It's great for discrete vocab rehearsal, it's funny, and it gets people involved.

But it's really only good for discrete vocab rehearsal. Sometimes you get to a point, especially at the upper levels, where vocab is great, but sometimes it's odd, or you've got it in a chunk and you'd like kids to be able to use it outside that chunk. So try this:

Write one or two sentence scenes that are funny, divorced from the text you're having the kids read, and involve the vocabulary you want them to practice.

[Here were some of mine:
Scaena: femina diem nubendi petit, sed vir territus est. (a woman is looking for a wedding day, but the man is terrified)

Scaena: Vir it cibum petitum, sed subito homine pulchro obstiupit. E rupe cadit. (a man goes looking for food, but he is suddenly stupefied by a beautiful person. he falls off a cliff.)

Scaena: Puero ire ad scholas non licet nisi scutum suum inveniat. (a boy is not allowed to go to school unless he finds his shield.)

Scaena: Femina rem magni ponderis tollere conatur, sed braccia ei desunt. (a woman tries to lift a heavy thing, but her arms are missing.)

I'm rehearsing the vocab I bolded for you (which isn't bolded on the work I gave the kids), and I'm also getting in repetitions of certain grammatical structures I want them to hear more of (e.g. diem nubendi, nisi inveniat, it petitum).]

Cut the scenes you've typed up into strips and put them in a bowl/hat/cauldron/whatever.

Put your class in groups of three or four (I find more than four is just too many, and pairs isn't going to be enough for this activity). Instead of calling a single person up for this charades game, you're going to call the whole group. They'll draw one of the scenes out of the bowl/hat/cauldron/whatever. I gave them eleven seconds to figure out how they were going to act out the scene. They were allowed to make noise but not say words.

While they were doing the scene (which they had to do three times), the rest of the groups were busily conversing, trying to decide what the scene was. They knew they got
-1 point for describing the scene correctly
-2 points for using recent vocab
-3 points for hitting on the vocab I was targeting
-4 points for making me happy in some way with their descriptions (I like rewarding them for things I maybe couldn't have predicted they'd do)

After the third iteration of the scene, each group got to describe what they felt the scene was. Points are awarded after all descriptions have been said.

Then I read the actual scene to them, and we circled and asked some questions and made sure everyone understood.

Notate bene:
-I called on a different speaker from each group to tell me their group's description each round. That way, it wasn't always "Oh Grace does better than all of us," and it ensured that each of them had to be invested in the discussion.

Some scaffolds:
-you could have them write down their descriptions and read them out instead of discussing them
-you could choose not to put them in groups but have each kid write a description, and then call up 3-4 individual kids for each acting scene.
-you could give every group all the scenes typed out, and their job will be to find the correct one instead of devising a descriptions

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Self-Identification, Practicing Phrases, and Discretion

My ones are learning about family. In the course of learning about family every year, I sit down and have a conversation with my kiddos. In it, I tell them that we're going to be discussing things like parents and siblings and familial relationships, and that they get to define their families however they want to. If they have people in their lives they aren't blood-related to but they think of as family, that's a-ok by me. If they have a sister but don't like her, and they don't want to disclose that they have that sister, fine by me. They can disclose or not disclose whatever they want, include or exclude whatever is meaningful to them. I think that's a really important conversation to have, since

(a) it emphasizes the value of their autonomy,
(b) reminds them that we see/respect them as people before anything else and
(c) asks them to be respectful of everyone else in the room and their autonomy as well. Also,
(d) it doesn't call anyone out. When I was in high school, my feelings about my family were very complicated, and there are things I wouldn't have wanted to answer. When we give them power to make that call on their own and don't put them in a position to have to say things they don't want to talk about, we emphasize that that's something we value.

On which note...

Here's an activity I love.

I really want a lot of reps of potius quam, malo, conor, soleo, debeo and possum with my ones at the moment.

So I wrote on the board ______________ potius quam _____________ malo.

I indicated myself and said, coquere potius quam currere malo. Any kids who feel the same way were supposed to stand. You then have options: acknowledge that there are a lot/a few, call on a couple and ask some questions (what do you like to cook? have you ever tried running?), or just acknowledge it and have them sit.

I made a few similar statements. i prefer to eat breakfast rather than lunch. Etc. Then I started calling on kids, and they'd make statements. Wearing Vans vs Jordans. Petting cats vs petting dogs.

Then I changed the phrase: ______________ conor, sed non bene possum. 

Cantare, I said, conor, sed non bene possum. (they made me demonstrate, and then they agreed.) Some stood, some didn't, we discussed. Then they made statements about themselves (voluntarily), and those who identified with those statements stood.

This is a great icebreaker, warm-up, bell-ringer, end of class and I have ten minutes kind of activity. You can do it to introduce something, to get reps of an idea, etc. And because kids really like to talk about themselves, it doesn't get boring. Change up your statements and keep them novel, and it gets everybody involved. This is good material for a quick quiz at the end of class if you spend time really using this to do PQA. This is also great fodder for PQA (either in the moment or later).

And there are endless things you could ask them to talk about. Just today:

______________ possum, sed me non delectat.
_______________ potius quam ____________ malo.
_____________ habere volo, sed non habeo.
______________ conor, sed non bene possum.
______________ debeo, sed non soleo.
______________ mihi est.

The Blessing of Useless Competition

This is something the great Justin Slocum Bailey taught me:

if kids can compete, and if it can be hilarious, that's a beautiful classroom tool.

I think about that approximately every other week.

How long can kids balance coins on their nose? Great question. No idea, but I can reinforce quamdiu that way.

Right now, we're talking about athletes and actors and other forms of entertainment, and I'm beginning to realize how much longer it takes to smush indirect speech into their brains than approximately everything else. So I'm using it a lot.

Check out my Latin II classes this week, which have been seventy minutes long (usually they're 52), and I keep looking at the clock and realizing the bell is going to ring in ten seconds, and I'm still on my warm-up (because they've dived into it, and it's beautiful).

1. Any super-well-known (notissimi) athletes in this room? Whom do you think is the best athlete in the room? Ask fifteen people that question, and they get fifteen repeats of quem athletam optimum in hoc conclavi esse censes?. They also, since I've written ___________m athletam optimum in hoc conclavi esse censeo on the board, get to say it without panicking about how it's said 15 times.

2. Narrow it down to two or three kids. Make them do ridiculous stuff. How long do you think Ian can stand on one foot? What's the heaviest thing you think Tyler can lift? We're blessed to have a pull-up bar on the field right outside my classroom, so you'd better believe the question "quotiens Latrellem se tollere posse censes?" came up. You'd better believe we trooped outside to see exactly how many times Latrell could do a pullup. (the answer is twenty. class went nuts. latrell --> very proud of himself. also mildly sore.) I can ask that question about twenty-five times. I can also ask it right before the pull-up bar. Who thinks Latrell can do four pull-ups? Three? Seven? Not even one?

That was yesterday.

Today: We're going to talk about actors. The class knows who its good actors are, because those are the kids who often volunteer to do it, and whom the class wants to see do it.

So we talk for a while about who we think the best actors are. (this question - the "who do you think is the best/strongest/whateverest XYZ - almost never gets old. i can ask the same style of question for days, and they don't care. my first period argued FOR AN HOUR about who the best actor in the history of the world is, and my first period cares about nothing. For what it's worth, they don't think it's Liam Hemsworth, but they have real feelings regarding Kevin Hart.)

I eventually settled on three actors, told the class we were going to do five scenes. (target vocab: scaenam agere; eadem) All the actors would do the same five scenes (in which I can also use target vocab like histrio, discedere, carcer). Imitate a hungry lion (personam suscipere). Imitate a person trying to get out of jail. Take on the role of a person thrown down by hope.

Increasingly, the kids' scenes are hysterical. The students love watching this, the actors get attention, and you get endless repetitions of whatever you want. I NEVER end this competition by deciding who wins, because you end up with potentially hurt feelings there. But you can ask questions like, "who do you think is the best lion," because that isn't an overall question. Or "who do you think is a dramatic actor/tragic actor/comic actor." Target vocab, target structures, repetition, no hurt feelings. We applaud everybody, the actors are heroes, and I have no idea where seventy minutes have gone, but man there's been a lot of really good input in the last seventy minutes. And that input has real emotional ties, and it's stuff the kids aren't going to forget.

As an aside...I made the terrible mistake of giving them the instruction personam mei suscipere. The children...they know me well. And heck if they didn't pretend, down to verbatim the Latin things I tell them every day, to be me. Turns out repetition works?

A word of warning on some of these: read your room. You want to make sure you set up competition that is entirely friendly and completely useless. If it's going to result in hurt feelings, kids being on the spot, or judginess, this is NOT the way to go. Sam can move an Oreo down his face like nobody's business. That is a good, solid, useless competition.

Story Mapping and Comprehension

Story- and character-mapping are techniques I use a lot with my students. We've done it to track how a Roman play works and what characters have to do with each other, and we've used it to keep track of the movements in a particularly confusing text, and we've used it to create a visual for how an epic flows.

Most recently, we've mapped the entirety of Jason and the Argonauts to think about the impact each character has on the journey.

Generally when I have them do this, my requirements are:

1. Put a bubble on your page for each character you're including.
2. Write a short summary of what that character is (for jason, for example, you might write heros, filius alcimedes, lanam auream eripere voluit). In lower level classes, this can be short phrases or even things lifted directly from the text. In upper level classes, it can, too! Or you can ask them to write something of their own devising.
3. Connect that circle by lines to any other character to whom they relate (for jason, that's a lot of lines. in a play, for example, the leno will have many fewer lines connecting him to many fewer people).
4. On the line, write how these characters interact/what their relationship is.

For Jason, I also asked them to include why that relationship was important. For example, Jason and gang wouldn't have gotten through the Symplegades without Phineus. That's an important bit to include on the line.

Other types of story maps:
-plot points
-when events lead to other complicated events
-detailing movement in a story that has a lot of it (think Cambridge stage 12)

I have fifty of these in my classroom, on account of all of my twos have done this for Jason, and they did it in pairs. These are great tools! For creating, for reference, and eventually for what we did this week: writing. I spread all fifty-someodd of them down the hallway and gave my kids their journals. They've been reading about Jason for a Long Time (tm) now, and so they had an hour. They could look at any story map they wanted to from any class period, move around however they wanted. And they wrote the story of Jason and the Argonauts, organized in any way that made sense to their brains, for an hour.

Every one of them.

It's not a bad assessment, either, and not a high-output one for those of you who are working with texts and TCI and trying to figure out how to assess in a way that's not rote memorization and also isn't high-output.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Practicing indirect statement

Indirect statements can be tough for the kids to get a hang of - it requires verb shifts and an interesting understanding of time relativity. We know, though, that comprehensible, compelling repetition is what helps us acquire language, so with that in mind, here are some ways we've practiced indirect speech:

1. I put a silly sentence on the board. Students are in groups. We circle the sentence and make sure students understand what is going on. I give them a subject and a head verb (like "Paulus memoria tenuit), and their job is to turn the whole thing into an indirect statement (e.g. "Paulus Claram infantes quaerere memoria tenuit"). When the group feels they've got it, a runner goes to the center of the room, where I have put a bell, to ding the bell. The whole class stops talking and listens. The student gives us their sentence. If they're right, we applaud, I ask some questions, sometimes we act it out, and we move on to the next sentence.

2. The class is divided into five groups. Each group has as many small white boards as the number of people in their one. On the extra white board...
-group one makes a list of accusative nouns.
-group two makes a list of infinitives.
-group three makes another list of accusative nouns.
-group four makes a list of ablative nouns.
-group five makes a list of things you can do with your brain.

I ask a student who is going to be in this sentence, and they typically offer me something entertaining (Magnus Pater, Iohannes Cena, etc). Then I consult each group in turn for a word of their variety. Eventually we end up with what's basically a constructed madlib that looks like this...

Magnus Pater regem devoravisse carcerem oculis censuit. 

We make sure everyone understands the sentence, and then each person on their own board draws the sentence. We show our boards, and I take individual boards and show them. One of the things I like to do with this is point at the parts of the picture and have the kids tell me what part of the sentence that is, such that we end up reconstructing the sentence together.

Rinse and repeat.

I've also done this with lines out of poetry and just removed certain forms, such that the line of poetry basically becomes a mad lib.

3. The kids get a sentence form, like: ______________ (aliquis) ____________________ (aliquid) proposuit, sed __________________ (aliquis) ___________________ (aliquid) sprevit.

This sentence form is under a picture. Groups work together to fill in the blanks to describe what's going on in the picture. (the link goes to a powerpoint i recently used for this.)

Addition: I sometimes give a quiz that goes along with this, while we're doing this. After we've done each picture, I ask one or two questions about what has been established to have happened in that picture.