One day down!
The first week is a bit of a slow start with two days of student orientation—so no Latin Monday and Tuesday. The first real class (Wednesday) was mostly taken up with boring procedural/syllabus stuff. I did assign them a password (a simple “salve!”), which I will begin using tomorrow. I also made use of Bob Patrick’s “ubi sunt telephona?” script when going over my cellphone policy.
The script goes . . .
ubi sunt telephona? where are your phones?
in manibus? in your hands?
in gremio? in your lap?
in fundis? in your pockets?
in sacellis? in your bookbags?
NOTA BENE: I then have my student put their cellphones in their book bags, and put their bags in a designated part of the room, out of the way. That becomes the first thing that they do every day when they enter the room (after the password).
I also spent a good deal of time discussing (in incredibly basic terms) how CI-based, communicative language teaching works, and described what the students should be doing when we are interacting in Latin. For example:
DON’T . . .
(1) try to memorize all the words on the board. If you are mentally focused on memorizing, you are not receiving any messages.
(2) worry if you don’t know why something means this or that (or how the sentence works). Some students struggle (especially if they have analytical-type brains) with trying to figure out how everything works, and it can be hard for them to just relax and listen.
(3) write anything down unless I tell you to.
DO . . .
- Focus on the message. Did you understand the message (i.e. was the input comprehendED? Then you are doing what you need to do to acquire Latin.
- Respond to prompts. This doesn’t have to be output. Interaction can be a prescripted response (e.g. “certe” or “minime”) a nod, a look of bewilderment—all of that is interaction.
I passed out index cards to prepare for Card Talk (also called “Circling with Balls”), and just barely had enough time to collect the cards before the end of class. But now I have something strong with which to start tomorrow’s class.
The questions I asked (adapted from Bob Patrick and Lance Piantaggini) were . . .
- Why did you sign up for Latin this year?
- Tell me what pet(s) you have OR what pet(s) you don’t have, but what to have.
- Tell me what you play (sports, games, instruments, activities) OR what sports/games/instruments/ you want to play, but don’t.
With my advanced students (Latin III/IV), I decided to try “Two Truths and a Lie” for some more open-ended Card Talk. I asked them to write two statements about their summer that are true, and one that is false. They were permitted to write in English or Latin (most chose to write in Latin). To create some boundaries for their output and the subsequent discussion, I posted a list of suggested verbs to get them started. The list was:
iter fēcī: I travelled
vīsitāvī: I visited
lūsī: I played
spectāvī: I watched
lēgī: I read
dormīvī: I slept
versātus/a sum: I hung out/spent time
labōrāvī: I worked
We ended up playing most of the class period (after the syllabus business was taken care of). I read someone’s statements in Latin, and the students wrote the sentence which they believed was false on a whiteboard. Afterwards, I briefly interviewed the person whose statements I read, expanding on interesting and amusing details. The students had a lot of expose to less common past tense forms (especially the first and second person perfect and imperfect). Students always want to play this game again the next day, and I often must be careful not to overuse it. It is a bit of an “advanced” CI game (for the teacher), because it can involve some extemporizing. A less confident teacher might want to collect the cards at the end of one class period, in order to prepare statements for the next (that’s what I used to do until I got more comfortable). After class, I typed up some of the sentences and changed some details for a quick “Verum an Falsum” opener for tomorrow’s class.
So, my prep time getting ready for Day 2 was . . .
Latin I: 0 minutes (I have their cards ready for Card Talk tomorrow)
Latin III/IV: 15 minutes
- creating some “Verum an Falsum” statements for tomorrow (10 minutes)
- finding a blank calendar for Calendar Talk (5 minutes)
Total Prep Time: 15 minutes
Plenty of time left over to start studying my seating chart and start learning some of my new student’s names . . .