A Year in F7 – Latin I (Week 5)


This week’s password: “tempus fugit”

Inspired by Bryce Hedstrom’s use of passwords.  This is something I’ve been doing for over a year, and it has been a non-negotiable in my classroom.

Monday, Sep. 3rd – Labor Day (no school)

Tuesday, Sept 4th – Day 19

  1. Calendar Talk

discuss the day of the week (“dies Martis”)

discuss the holiday (heri erat . . . )

discuss September birthdays or any other important days (including Homecoming).

Prep Time: 5 minutes

  1. Picture Talk – Review of “puella et elephans” alternate story (periods 4th – 7th)

(1st Period – Tell the story using the pictures)

Prep Time: 15 minutes: choosing and scanning examples of student work from last week.

  1. Student interview/discipulus illustris #2

Prep Time: 0 minutes

  1. Student interview follow-up – Write and Discuss and/or quiz

Prep Time: 0 minutes

Total Prep Time: 20 minutes


Wednesday, Sep 5th – Day 20

Students need their notebooks

  1. quis diceret?: Student interview 1 and 2 review

I read ten sentences from the typed transcripts of interviews 1 and 2, and students responded with the name of the student who said the statement.  The students seemed greatly interested in this activity—perhaps because of the novelty of an “academic” exercise being about the students? Furthermore, in one class I did have a student blurt out: “I really like this quiz.” That was a first.

prep time: 5 minutes (choosing sentences to read)

  1. choral translation/”ridiculum” (student interview #2)

prep time: 20 minutes (typing up student interviews from all three Latin I classes)

  1. TPRS/Ask-a-Story: Yoda in Love (from Keith Toda’s Story Library)

prep time: 10 minutes (creating a PowerPoint Presentation with the target vocabulary)

  1. Write and Discuss (Yoda – Part 1) – Summarize the Yoda Story so far (time permitting)

Prep Time: 0 minutes

Total Prep Time: 35 minutes


Thursday, Sep. 6th – Day 21

  1. Read and Discuss: Review of Yoda – Pars I

Story told in the past tense.

Prep Time: 10 minutes (reworking my typed script into the past tense)

  1. TPRS/Ask-a-Story (continued from yesterday) (Yoda in Love – Part II)

Prep Time: 10 minutes (adding the verbs “capit” and “dat” to my Yoda PowerPoint)

  1. Dictatio/Read and Draw – (Yoda in Love – Part III)

This activity was used NO PREP TIME (other than having copier paper ready for the students to draw on). In each class, using student input, I improvised a 4-6 sentence conclusion to the story.  Each time the story ended in a slightly different way.  Afterwards, I typed up each different ending (using the students’ pictures).  Now, for Monday I have three alternate endings to the story with student artwork to accompany each conclusion.

Prep Time: 0 minutes

Total Prep Time: 20 minutes


Friday, Sept 7th – Day 22

  1. MovieTalk: “Ursulus (racoon) cibum capit.” (10 minutes) – using this video.

A short communicative activity that reinforces known vocabulary.  Target structures are:

capit: grabs, seizes, captures               ursulus: little bear, racoon

cibum vult: wants food                 fugit: runs away           consumit: consumes, eats

ponit: puts, places                          in aquā: in the water           feles: cat

Prep Time: 15 minutes (watched the movie a couple times and made a list of target phrases.  I also like to practice talking through the movie once or twice, so that I can remember to use the target words naturally without having to refer to notes or to the board too frequently)

  1. Quizlet Live (using the Diagram feature)

Review of the Yoda Story (from Keith Toda’s blog, adapted using vocabulary familiar to my  students)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

  1. Choral Translation – Tier 2 (optional)

Either a choral translation (and discuss) or a quick game of “Ridiculum!” depending on how much time remains.  I am going to need at least 12 minutes for the first timed write (a story retell)

NB: In most classes, I ended up skipping this.  Instead, I will use the Yoda text as review on Monday morning.

Prep Time: 0 minutes

4.Timed Write – Story Retell (in journals) – Using pictures from the Read and Draw activity (from Thursday)

For timed writes, I take my students outside of the classroom (in the hallway or in the neighboring cafeteria).  This way students aren’t distracted by the word walls and recent vocabulary words.

Prep Time: 0 minutes

Total Prep Time: 25 minutes



I started out this week a bit discouraged.  Looking back on the previous year, it felt like “we were were we needed to be” (there’s that annoying curriculum voice again).  Last year’s class “knew” more words by now.  They had “mastered” structures that I haven’t really introduced in my current class yet.  Their stories were more “complex.” Maybe last year’s class was more “advanced.”  Was I more “rigorous” last year? Did I expect more from them? Where my students more “accountable,” and therefore “achieved” more.  Do my students this year need “motivation?”

(Am I overdoing it with the “quotation marks?”)

The comparing and despairing lasted only as long as it took me actually start thinking more objectively and logically.  True, on a certain day last year, the story had certain language features that my story this year does not have.  But I am forgetting the fact that last year, in NOVEMBER, there came a huge reckoning when I discovered that a large percentage of what I was doing was incomprehensible to many students.  “Discovered” is maybe too mild of a term.  Blindsided feels more correct.  I remember the feeling of scrambling to try to figure out what happened and how to fix it.  I felt irresponsible as a teacher (how I could I overlook something so obvious for so long?).

Eventually, I just course-corrected, and in a month or so everything was fine. I had many more students on board.  I started teaching more to the eyes, and engaging students that seems to be either drifting or “faking” attention (just repeating what others were saying without comprehension).  I was more aware of what was really going on—though I certainly wasn’t perfect.  Overall, I’m very proud what my students achieved by the end of Latin I last year.

This year: so far, no surprises.  In fact, that’s probably why this year seems much more difficult.  Now I understand how to move at a slower pace, and really get a lot of mileage out of a few words or phrases. I’m picking up on the warning signs earlier, and course correcting immediately, instead of letting things slip for weeks or months.  I feel like I’m getting to know my students earlier and faster this year.  (by the first week, I had my student’s names down cold, with only the occasional lapse). Do anticipate that unforeseen problems will emerge this year? Sure! I’m still honing my craft as a communicative teacher.  Will I catch everything? Not a chance.

But this year, overall, things are going better.  Students are receiving and interacting with more message in the target language.  My course is even more focused providing input, the real catalyst of language acquisition.

I’m not going to worry about what I did or what other teachers in other programs are doing.  I’m going to seek out advice and learn from those who do it better than me with the goal of being a better teacher next week than I was this week.

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