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August 2017

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OK so I have a confession to make. I have been stuck in a rut all summer. I've been unable to move my "great ideas" forward, to finish fleshing them out. Admittedly I have been depressed and whether it was caused from my inability to move forward or that inability caused it, I'm not sure. But there's only a week or two left of summer and I've had to kick myself to get moving.

Last year upon reflection it seemed as if I had been playing with Comprehensible Input. Well, that's not really a fair assessment. I was really trying and way out of my comfort zone, at least the first semester and even the beginning of the second, prepping madly, making Google Slides for every talking point, scripting things to say and do, etc. But then as I saw holes in student progress (as in, some students were falling through the holes, not things missing in their learning--but a bit of that too), I pulled back. I take the blame; in great measure it was me. Try as I might, I could not converse well for long lengths of time AND maintain good student interaction and control. Too many would tune out, even if I were doing everything in my power to make what I was doing interesting and comprehensible and even compelling (although sometimes things would end up less compelling than I had planned). And as much as is said about the importance of being compelling, it has to be addressed that it is difficult to be compelling if your own conversational ability is stilted. I don't do small talk well. I can't just wing-it on students likes and dislikes, on their hobbies and interests. I can't take the time to look everything up because in that 30 seconds I've lost someone's attention. (In fairness to myself, the A/B students were engaged, did seem to be enjoying it, did seem to be benefiting from what I was doing.)

I've always had really high engagement levels with my students--even students with learning disabilities. I must be the only teacher who used CI who had student engagement drop... drop noticeably.  (At least to me--I'm used to 95-100% engaged.)  

I really didn't like the assessments. I didn't like the structure or lack of structure. I didn't like the mixed messages from experts in the field in certain areas. And I absolutely HATED the feeling of not advancing. Finally I realized that what I had envisioned and what was happening were two different things, very different things. For all the years I attended Rusticatio, and before that the sessions at conferences presented by Nancy Llewellyn, what I always imagined was a way to use spoken Latin to add to and enhance learning, not take over what I do, expelling or at least demoting the rest. I feel very deeply and passionately about the reading methodologies I've developed over the years and their benefits to students, especially those who continue to take Latin in college. What I've always wanted to incorporate was more conversational Latin in a meaningful, engaging way AND extensive reading opportunities. Block schedule gave me longer class periods to incorporate sustained silent reading (which I really enjoyed being able to do); the changing TEKS and pedagogy the opportunity to break the pace I had been keeping in teaching from CLC.  But there's a big difference between modifying the pace and totally going off the tracks and into the wilderness.

I guess when I say it feels like I was playing with Comprehensible Input it is because I was test driving it without the feeling that it was totally tied into my overall internal view of the curriculum. That's about me. So, when things started tanking spring semester for a variety of reasons, I began my usual internal problem solving for preventing the same problems next year.  And I had good ideas. I think I had good ideas.  I do have good ideas.....

As for all the conversational stuff, and trying to assess students on interpersonal / interpretive / presentational communication skills, I realized that in great measure things fell apart last year because there was no goal, no direction, no buy-in. So I hatched a plan.

The plan is to have students in Latin 1 this year become TIME TRAVELERS. They will have to learn enough conversational Latin to go through a PASSPORT INTERVIEW with partners who fill out the forms after asking the questions. They will have to become a member of Pompeian society--a merchant of some sort in the Roman world--and by early spring participate in a market day, buying and selling (and bargaining for) goods from each other. They will earn "money" to spend via stamps from conversational activities throughout the year. And before the year is out, they will leave Pompeii and travel to Roman Britain...  I have it fleshed out with more detail, especially for most of the different projects / performance assessments and needed "can-do's" specific for each. It's not entirely complete, but at least 80%.

The thing is, I don't just want them to learn Latin for Latin's sake. I want them to deeply involve themselves in the Roman world and to understand the culture and way of life. The language and the people are intricately tied together. (Last year it I felt like we totally and utterly lost the connection.)  I don't think student centered learning has to mean that everything we do is about their lives. I think the comparisons between the two cultures are important but the class is about the ancient world. And if I can't bring it to them, maybe I can bring them to it.

I've also been trying to write in an over-arching essential theme for Latin 1, which will be about the individual in Pompeian society, the importance of connections and networks, etc., (except that it will sound cooler than that). We will be "walking" in their shoes. There will be more specific themes/questions for each 6 weeks, hopefully proposed in as interesting a way as possible. Mind you, I will mainly be teaching Freshmen, who are often not really ready to think about the bigger picture of where they fit in communities, but maybe this will get them thinking about the importance of their connections and community at the school. Well, it's a thought. 

And then I've been trying to align everything to the standards: the general ACTFL standards, the Standards for Classical Learning draft (because the final draft is behind a pay wall), and the new TEKS which go into effect this year.  And I've been writing can-do statements that tie it all together specifically. (There are general can-do statements out there.)  Some of these I was able to write easily; others have me flustered.

In many ways this has been a big undertaking. But I feel that I'm at a time when I have to justify our curriculum. I have to justify why I still believe in teaching from the Cambridge Latin Course. I have to justify why I still believe that the most important aspect of my teaching is teaching students to read in word order. Not the comprehensible input--although I do definitely believe that CI is important and that I will continue to strive to do more and more Latin in class, incorporating as much CI as I think I can effectively manage. But that's the key: as much as I can EFFECTIVELY manage. I will readily confess that in great measure it may be what I consider my own failings and inabilities with spoken Latin, because without that level of fluency that I lack, I couldn't keep up the engagement with all students. I couldn't compete against the distractors, the rowdy kids, the ones who unless you have them engaged will find something else to do that isn't on task. 

So... how come I've found this so stressful and so depressing all summer?  So difficult to complete?

I think the simplest answer is because it is still significant change; it is still an unknown. 

It used to be that I would spend the summer simply improving material or how I taught specific things. For instance, one summer I decided to pour through CLC to see if I could make a comprehensive list of different types of ablatives, really more because I had noticed that the reason why some ablative absolutes didn't translate naturally as "after X had been done" was because they were really ablative of descriptions with participles. This wasn't about grammar; this was about comprehension and admittedly translation--especially since at that time I was still teaching AP Latin and translation was important. I was searching for patterns, patterns that really gifted people pick up on, but us regular joes need help seeing. I'm good at teaching those sorts of things so that everyone in the room can keep advancing, not just the best and brightest students.

Alternatively in the summer I like creative projects, design projects. Problems that have clear endings. I've made several google slides and a few posters this summer, mainly to combat frustrations over not having all of the answers for this project. And I guess I need to give myself permission to not have all the answers as well as to not worry about all the details. It will work itself out as the year unfolds. I need to remind myself that there's no need to be depressed and stressed, especially when I do have a fair amount to show for the summer.

For instance, I made a Google Slides presentation about Accenting Latin words:

And then I made one on Dividing Latin words:

And I made a few posters from my trip to Italy: House of Fabius Amandus, Via Stabiana, Herculaneum public fountain, and the Lararium from the thermopolium of Vetutius Placidus

And I set up some magnets upon request at my shop too.

And designed a new O TEMPORA  t-shirt, plus one which will be our club shirt

Yes, I confess I thought I wasn't ready for the summer to end. But I guess what I really need is for the school year to just start and to get on with it. Then, if nothing else, I will be too busy to be stressed and depressed. 
So I've been reading a fair amount of Latin this year.  Fair amount for me.  Pleasure reading. Latin.  NOT A LOEB. Not rereading favorite Catullus poems or Martial epigrams, not rereading favorite passages of Vergil. Harrius Potter et Lapis Philosophi, Winnie Ille Pu, Commentarii de Inepto Puero, etc. Reading QUANTITY.  Reading for FUN.

And yet.... yesterday morning, as I relaxed on my apartment balcony with one cat on my lap and another at my feet plus my copy of Domus Anguli Puensis, I had this thought:  was I truly acquiring language, was I truly benefiting from all of this input I've been so proud of? After all, I have been reading WHOLE BOOKS of Latin, not a chapter here or a chapter there from an ancient work, or only  x number of lines intensively. I have been letting go of needing to know everything even though we Latin teachers/students have always been about every single detail. I've been enjoying the story. But... I had to ask myself to be honest--was I acquiring more language?  I'm not sure.  But I felt that nothing was leaping into my active use from having seen multiple instances in context. <sigh> Once again I'm on the slower learner's track, I thought.

I feel like I'm always on the slow learner's track. I'm at a workshop for my GT/gifted & talented update today and thinking about the difference between gifted & talented versus high achiever. I'm the high achiever that can occasionally be GT. In college, I was a top Latin student, making A's in all of my classes, but no one encouraged me to go to grad school. (Yes, admittedly still a sore spot.) Then again, I myself didn't think I was grad school material. Why?  Because it took me HOURS to prepare my Latin assignments for class.  I didn't know about Dexter Hoyos's Rules for Reading, or metaphrasing, or any of the reading tools that are in my toolbox now. I was decoding; painstakingly considering every word, every case, every item as something that was part of a secret code. I would be surrounded by books--grammars, dictionaries, translations--to help me get through it all. Latin was not for me a language that I could read fluently. It was work. But I was up to the challenge.

All the reading methods I incorporate now have made me a much better reader. A few years ago I audited a Caesar class at UT and I know I was probably the top reader in class, always being fully prepared for our intensive sessions (long reading assignments), scoring well on quizzes and tests, and producing probably the top paper for the class.  By golly, all of my focus on improving my reading skills had truly paid off in an academic setting!

Then earlier this year Justin SB pointed out that using the Rules for Reading and all the rest are nothing more than coping strategies.  I didn't want to hear it, but I knew it is true. These rules still have their place, I truly believe, as they do help you to read texts above your true level of proficiency. And when we are in academic situations that make us force students to leap frog into reading Latin that is way above their comfort zone, we need coping strategies. (Can you say AP Latin?)

So is that part of my problem--that I'm still using coping mechanisms? I don't think so. I don't feel the grammar/structures of what I am reading or even the vocabulary is above my proficiency level except... except I think we have to be VERY CAREFUL on how we identify proficiency levels especially for Latin readers when almost all of their life with Latin has been about HOW TO TRANSLATE IT INTO ENGLISH. That is, there is a difference between something I can, when I read it a time or two, TRANSLATE versus something that I can read and not think twice about. I know for a fact that Latin teachers in general think that our students read at a much higher proficiency level than modern languages--but I think we are dead wrong. No one is reading Vergil in their comfort zone. Taking 15 minutes or more to "read" (translate! decode!) one long sentence of Caesar is not true reading. But I suppose that's another discussion for another time.

HERE'S my problem: I realize that unless I'm really concentrating on hearing the Latin words in my head or reading aloud, my brain is still translating. I'm having a very difficult time turning that off. I think I'm doing fine because I'm reading left to right (not hunting the verb or decoding), and moving along at a comfortable even if slowish rate. But here's what I realized I was doing.  This sentence came up this morning: '"eamus quia Dies Iovis est," dixit.' Before I could hear myself say the words in Latin in my head, my brain already shouted out, '"Let's go because it is Thursday," he said.' I didn't just see the Latin and move on; my brain had to shout out the English.

(I'm also aware that I'm noticing vocabulary, analyzing it, thinking about how it is getting used--why censeo and not puto? why decerno? why ominor? But analyzing isn't the same as acquiring.)

How do I turn off my English translator?

Yes, ok, I think I *have* to start reading everything aloud. But maybe there's some other language learning trick I don't know about. When I tweeted about it, language experts (Krashen! Gaab!) both said it (the reading) just needs to be HIGHLY COMPELLING.  Hey, I'm finding this compelling, I'm engaged, I want to read more... but my English translator won't turn off. Maybe modern language learners do not have this problem to the extent that Latin learners may have (because there are significantly fewer of us teaching using Comprehensible Input), but this may be a problem that is not being addressed, a problem that is slowing down able students in ALL LANGUAGES.

And you know what else I think? This English interference issue is part of the reason why I haven't progressed as much as I would like with spoken Latin. I have attended numerous SALVI immersion events (mainly Rusticatio), but I'm still nervous anytime I see someone from Rusticatio because I struggle with small talk, and always feel like I don't know enough vocabulary to reply satisfactorily. I feel like I'm always starting over, at least to a certain extent. My last summer at Rusticatio I figured out at least one thing I was doing that was detrimental: on breaks I would often go off on walks by myself and my thoughts would be in English. To correct this, I made myself talk aloud to myself when on walks--the things I would see--and sometimes I would practices Rassias style things: papilionem video. quis papillionem videt? ipsa dico me papilionem videre. quis rogat? ipsa rogo quis papilionem videat. Maybe it would have been easier if I had just stopped going for a walk on my own! Maybe there should have been a buddy rule....

So, I don't know what else to say. I think ENGLISH really impedes my Latin learning, and yes I am still learning. I've always thought that this is one thing that makes me a good teacher. Yes, I'm totally enthusiastic about Latin and all the rest. My students respond very positively to my class and I want my high achievers to bypass me on their way to greatness. But I also have deep empathy with the struggler, especially the bright struggler who maybe doesn't get why he/she is lagging behind peers. So I'm not afraid to identify and analyze my weaknesses.  For me, right here and now it is about how to turn off my English translator when I am reading. And I bet some of your students have this problem too.
So I've been listening to a lot of Tea with BVP lately, having lots of deep thoughts but not being able to pause and write.

A bunch of topics have come up that have had my head spinning but this one really caught my attention: Are languages "subjects" to be taught or something to be coached?

Now, I definitely believe that Latin should be treated fully as a language because it is WITHOUT QUESTION a language. I think the more we teach in the target language, the more we use more modern techniques to provide Comprehensible Input, the better. But...

But... I have had this question personally for a long time: Why Latin?  Students sign up for my class because of me not necessarily Latin. My enthusiasm is contagious, I know, and we have a good time. But secretly I feel like I do not have a good enough reason for arguing that students should take my class over another modern language.

I know I love Latin, even obsess over it in my own way, but I truly cannot explain WHY--outside of thinking that maybe buried deep in my genetic make-up is a Latin speaking Roman ancestor. I do NOT want to hear arguments about benefits to the understanding of English grammar, developing broader English vocabulary, and the like. Let other people say that is the reason for teaching Latin. Ok, I do use it from time to time but secretly I think it's a wimpy argument. I prefer to argue that I feel like I have direct communication with Vergil and Caesar by reading their original; I like to know exactly how they expressed themselves in order to feel a stronger connection with them. Yes, western civilization is indebted to the Romans (and the Greeks), and by studying ancient authors we are broadening our understanding of our own culture. But in general for drawing wisdom from the ancients, well, we can do that in translation, can't we? It isn't the strongest argument when we have so many good translations available these days.

Let me come at this from another direction. In general people who study Latin in college either become teachers or professors or go on to another field. If they go on to another field, they rarely read Latin again. Most students who take Latin in high school do not continue it in college unless they have more language hours required for their major. I took Latin because I didn't want to take Spanish because my brother and sister did. (I have an independent streak.) I continued with Latin because I had fun teachers and professors that made it interesting. I majored in Latin because I thought teaching would be a decent occupation and no one encouraged me to do something that would earn a better paycheck. (But ok, I am a good teacher and I do think this is where I am meant to be even though I am tired of being stressed out over finances.)

One does not study Latin in order to communicate when traveling to foreign countries, or to be able to put bilingual or trilingual on a job application. It is not a language taught in the military to use when serving abroad. A bachelor's degree in Latin does not indicate that one has true fluency of any sort with the language. It DOES indicate a certain ability to translate choice selections of mainly golden age Latin accurately, but it doesn't indicate reading fluency in the same way one would talk about reading fluency in a modern language. Latin is read by the line or by the page. Modern languages are read by the chapter or by the book.  A degree in a modern language can be useful in many other professions. In this country, Spanish is useful in business; it is good to be bilingual if you are a doctor, lawyer, journalist, whatever. Latin helps with understanding medical terminology, but NOT with communicating with someone in need of something (medical help, legal help, etc). Latin is seemingly a means to one end: reading Latin, mainly that written by famous Roman authors. Modern languages are used to communicate to find out all sorts of things from people around us.

So should we teach it as a language or a subject, and does it matter?

I think it does matter--greatly. Right now in general we treat Latin as a subject (even if we think we are treating it as a language--this is something I see myself being guilty of). Our goal is NOT proficiency if we are honest. It isn't; not around here. Our goal is to learn forms and function so that we can then use a variety of coping mechanisms to leapfrog over real language ACQUISITION in order to translate selections Vergil, Caesar, Cicero, Catullus, Ovid, etc. And our goals in these courses are about improving analysis skills more than developing any real proficiency in reading. It is about making the grade of an A via translation, spot grammar analysis/explanation, and writing a paper in English that analyzes some aspect of Latin grammar or a theme in the target author's work.  Make the grades and that's it. We know--we KNOW--this is exactly what AP Latin has us doing.

Consider textbooks for Latin. We like to have discussions about the various worth of the grammar/translation approach versus the reading approach. I was originally taught via the grammar/translation approach. The textbook would introduce a new declension or a new conjugation or a new tense, we'd practice going from singular to plural, Latin to English, English to Latin. Simple enough. Vocabulary lists were memorized, nominatives given and we had to supply genitives, gender, and meaning or, with verbs, principal parts. We all *hated* the day where we had to try to translate the sole story in the chapter. We hated reading Latin because it seemed difficult. It was cracking a secret code. (Ok, I came to like decoding; it was like solving a good algebraic problem.)  When we got to real Latin in level 3 after two years of grammar being shoveled into us, all we did was write out translations in English. That is not reading.

Textbooks like the Cambridge Latin Course, which I use and admittedly love, are reading approach. Ideally they are using repetition and illustration to establish meaning. Grammar is addressed in a section called "About the Language" but they do try not to get too technical. The ultimate goal is to develop reading skills because our goal is solely to read the Latin of dead authors. BUT... unless you are constantly rereading or reinforcing by other means, it just isn't enough input. I personally have created numerous materials focusing on various aspects of the grammar that are demonstrated in the text, bringing them all together in one place so that the multiple examples, which are often spread out in the text, can be seen in one place and thus the concept more fully understood.

Last summer I took great pleasure in combing CLC for examples of certain grammatical structures (ablative of description and ablative of respect among them) so that I could put them all in one place and demonstrate to students that we had seen examples and we could thus now understand this construction, and indeed recognize it when met in Vergil. That is, it would not become another new grammar feature met in AP but one that indeed was there in CLC, met many times, just waiting for analysis and understanding. I took great joy in how brilliant CLC is, how rich with all the grammar we needed in this reading approach even if it is not expressly discussed in the textbook. It's there! It's brilliant!

In fact, when I have heard colleagues state that they think certain passages in CLC are really too difficult and perhaps need embedded readings for students to use as a scaffolding, I have thought to myself, "Well, if you were using my reading methods, if you were training students to read in word order, to metaphrase, to see participial phrases as chunks to be metaphrased, etc etc, then these passages would be doable." Arrogance. Arrogance because what I have been teaching are coping mechanisms that aide in leap frogging true acquisition. Students aren't acquiring mental representations of the language; they are acquiring coping mechanisms for reading/translating. When it comes down to it, I'm still explicitly teaching grammar. It's not in isolation but given in context, but that doesn't mean this isn't still explicitly teaching grammar.

Is teaching explicit grammar necessary? Maybe. That is, it is if we are teaching AP Latin as the culminating Latin experience OR if we expect our students will continue in college and we want to make sure that they will have the skills (i.e., grammar) that professors expect. Or at least that's how it feels to many of us who are currently teaching Latin. I know that the reason why I continue to teach and test grammar concepts (in context) is because of my fear of what the next teacher or professor will think of my student and whether my student will be able to succeed in their classes. It certainly isn't because I think it is the best way to teach Latin.

What we demand of a Latin student is so different than a modern language student. If we do demand output, as in the grammar/translation approach, that output is usually in the form of translating a specific English sentence into Latin and everything must be grammatically correct and spelled perfectly. (And this is why Latin was reserved for the elite for so long and considered something that trains you in precision and logic.) It is rarely any freeflowing composition of our own choosing, in great measure because few of us want to write about fighting and killing, wars, and slavery. Ok, we could use the vocabulary of love poetry, but unless we're writing a commentary on the war against Isis, the language of Caesar may not help us much. We don't learn the vocabulary of our everyday lives so we have little output about such things.  And with the reading approach, there is no real Latin output. Almost all communication in Latin is one-sided: dead Latin speaker to live modern person.

Let's face it: the current design of almost all Latin programs is to get students to a point where they can "read" (too often analyze & decode) ancient authors as quickly as possible. With Spanish, it could be to enjoy reading Spanish novels, or to communicate when you travel, or to be bilingual and thus more employable in any field. Proficiency levels can vary for your needs. It is more welcoming to all. Latin sometimes feels like either you made the Olympic team or you didn't. So long, nothing else for you to read at your level, at least your English grammar and vocabulary improved; glad you had fun.

There is no intermediate or graded material in Latin generally available. We don't send our Latin students home with summer reading assignments or suggestions to watch tv shows (like Spanish can do) or listen to music. Ok, there's plenty of Latin music out there from centuries past, but most choral groups use ecclesiastic pronunciation which is NOT what is generally used in school. Thus it can be impossible to listen to. Even Japanese can encourage students to watch more anime. ha. Summer assignments for Latin generally have been reserved for AP students, and even then it's been about reading an ENGLISH translation of the Aeneid.

Honestly, it had NEVER occurred to me to point my students to extra reading for pleasure. (What is WRONG with me?)  Then again, no teacher of mine ever encouraged me to read extra Latin outside of class.  Latin was something you studied IN CLASS because it was complex with what seemed like an endless list of vocabulary to learn and more complex writing styles with every author. I made A's in Latin in college but that was because I spent hours decoding every single word assigned for class and then going over it all a second time before class. I had dictionaries, grammar books, and translations nearby as I decoded. It took HOURS. That does not make one feel capable of just reading for pleasure. I liked what I was studying, but it wasn't the sort of stuff you could read in bed holding a book in one hand and petting your cat with the other. It was my SUBJECT.

And I hate to confess that it wasn't until this year that I really ventured forth to truly READ FOR PLEASURE in Latin. I read Harrius Potter, Winnie Ille Pu, Commentarii de Inepto Puero, and I'm currently reading Domus Anguli Puensis. When I'm somewhere without a book I have accessed The Latin Library via my phone to read some medieval Latin.  What have I been afraid of?  Extensive reading? Not knowing some of the vocabulary? I'm learning to get over it. I would say that MOST Latin teachers I know that are traditional high school teachers with JCL programs and the like read very little Latin just for the fun of it. We weren't taught how to read extensively or that it was ok not to know every single word. We were taught that being precise mattered and to not demand precision is sloppy work not worthy of a classicist.

And perhaps I'm digressing.  But my point is that we have been teaching Latin as a subject that can only be studied in a school setting.  Maybe we didn't mean to do this or realize that we were doing this, but that is what we have done.  The teachers before us did the same, and probably the teachers before them.

We know--we KNOW--that speaking Latin is part of the natural acquisition process, it activates our passively learned knowledge (forms and functions, etc), and broadens are abilities with the language. And that is from the point of view of someone who learned the grammar first. Friends who are teaching in Georgia using entirely Comprehensible Input are having incredible success with students who, in large numbers, continue on to 4 or 5 years of the language, can speak, write, and read. And most importantly TAKE GREAT PLEASURE IN THE LANGUAGE.
We are about to shift to proficiencies for ALL languages in our Texas standards. And although Latin's proficiency requirement in spoken and written language isn't nearly as high as our reading proficiency level, we will still have them. It's time for us to decide--do we want to continue teaching Latin as a subject that has grades slapped on for perfection, or is it time to treat it as a language? Do we really need to rush to Roman authors, or can we take a little more time to actually help students acquire the language, to build mental representations, and read medieval and humanist authors along the way? I have been to several Latin immersion workshops and have learned and participated in lots of comprehensible input. I know in my heart of hearts that this is the way to go, but I'm having a hard time leaving, even partly, CLC. But I also had a hard time facing that my wonderful reading methods which I have built the whole of my teaching career around, are still nothing more than a coping mechanism for not having true acquisition of the language.

I am not fluent in Latin. Yes, I can read Latin, but not with the kind of fluency that I would like. Picking up a new author can be intimidating. Teaching reading skills for the last 15+ years has made it significantly less intimidating and rather empowering, which is perhaps why I'm suddenly reading more in Latin for pleasure. But I'm not fluent though and I know it, and I read more slowly than I read English. Even still, I am finally comfortable with my proficiency level because I'm beginning to understand why I am at the level I am at. Latin was always a subject, even when I thought I was treating it as a language.

It took me several years of attending Rusticatio (a SALVI event) to develop decent listening proficiency. My speaking proficiency is still not where I want it to be as well because one week of immersion a year is not enough. And any time I have tried to have days of speaking entirely in the target language at school, I have discovered there is still a lot of vocabulary that I need and don't know.

Next year I want to start using Comprehensible Input in my level 1 classes because I want to teach Latin as a language not a subject. I'm excited and terrified. It took me 16 years to develop the quia materials, the quizzes and tests and everything that I use with CLC. I was all about reading methods; I thought that was being about the language, but textbook Latin isn't enough input, even with the best of books. It's not meaningful enough, it isn't engaging enough, and it lacks that quality of purpose that BVP describes so well in his "tasks." (See Episode 24 - Principle 5: The Nature of Tasks.)

I want to teach Latin as a language. I want a deeper, more meaningful relationship with all those who came before me who wrote in Latin for centuries, not just a handful of dead Romans from around the time of Christ. I still can't answer "Why Latin?" to my satisfaction, but that's ok.  Maybe I will discover that along the way.

So, next year will mean changes for me one way or another.  My high school is going on block scheduling and I'm hoping to have the Latin 1s back... or... I'm hoping to be teaching exploratory Latin full time to 5th graders in a totally different school district.  Either way, I want to start moving into doing more Comprehensible Input. It's a tricky thing if I stay because I feel like it will also mean dismantling all I have built for the last 10 years--16 years if you count the 6 years I taught middle school Latin.  That was when I began my adventures with the Cambridge Latin Course, began building materials of detail and quality, and began developing my reading methodology. And if I begin using Comprehensible Input more than the textbook at my high school, it may mean going it alone... I'm not sure my colleague has any interest in it.

And maybe that will be a moot point because maybe I will get this other job teaching exploratory Latin.  And either way, I can continue to study everything I can about Comprehensible Input so that I will be ready.

So I've been listening to the Tea with BVP podcast  I only discovered it a couple of episodes before the end of the season, so now I'm starting over. This morning I listened to episodes 1 and 2.  At some point, I believe in episode 1, there was a question about whether to teach pronunciation. The basic answer was no because your students should be able to pick it up by hearing you speak or other native speakers, etc, in a natural way.

I, however, have always said that I can't just ask Cicero how to pronounce a word I have never come across before because he's dead. No one local to me seems interested in speaking Latin conversationally. (I have had to go off to SALVI events like Rusticatio to have quality exposure to spoken Latin in a large quantity--that is 24/7.) The authentic communication I have is in reading what the dead wrote in great measure. We do know how golden age Latin was pronounced (see Vox Latina), so that is not at issue. I have always felt it important to teach pronunciation, syllabification, and accentuation in Latin (but only to count it as extra credit on quizzes--not for a real grade) because students will at some point need to be able to read and hear words (at least in their heads) that no one has pronounced for them before. Perhaps I'm influenced by my phonetics education as a child. Perhaps this is just my own neurotic need that I shouldn't force on others. (Here is a pronunciation guide I created to go with the Cambridge Latin Course.)

In teaching high school, one of my goals with expressly teaching the dividing and accenting of words is so that when we hit poetry meter will be easy and not challenging. Another goal is simply that they can decide how to say a word without my having to say it for them.  And yet...  Have I been wasting a lot of time?

It's not that there aren't other ways in which my students are picking up good pronunciation.  First and foremost, I read everything aloud to them.  With gusto! With dramatics! Students read with me in unison as well.  We also have recitation passages--short snippets from an important story in the chapter/stage which we then use to practice pronunciation. (These are also used to target new grammar in the chapter/stage.) Later each student recites/reads this passage for a pronunciation grade. I would say 98% of students do this really well.

We also have "jobs" at the beginning of class that include reading the agenda which is mostly written in Latin, reading the date (which includes yesterday, today, and tomorrow), as well as being the daily weather person.

(I can't recall why it was foggy and dirty at the time I took this picture, but I believe there was either dust or ash from a fire in the air at that time for some reason that was making the fog weird in the mornings. And yes, it probably should have read decimo sexto for the date and not sedecimo!)

I don't correct too often when students are doing jobs; many self correct or just improve as the year goes on. Many are conscientious of macrons and the role they play in pronunciation, a few admittedly lack interest and are just getting through their job for the day. Most, however, really like doing the jobs. At an awards banquet the other night I overheard one student, when asked to say something in Latin, rattle off, "salvete omnes! vaticinatrix hodierna sum. mihi nomen est Octavia. sol lucet!"

I think... I think if I teach pronunciation in the future maybe I'll just let the students discuss and figure out from previous input and exposure what the difference is between short and long for each vowel, and maybe even accentuation rules. And syllabification is really only necessary for teaching poetry in all honesty, right? And even then, only if you have to expressly teach meter because of AP or IB.  The truth of the matter is that my expressly teaching the rules for pronunciation, syllabification, & accentuation aren't the real reasons why my students have good pronunciation and aren't afraid of reading Latin aloud.  They can do that because we read aloud all the time, because I make my class a place where Latin is heard. They get extra credit points on dividing and accenting words on stage quizzes because I expressly taught the rules.  Big whoop.

I'm not going to give up my personal obsession for macrons on all materials because I want to learn how to say a word the right way from my first encounter with it if possible. Can I read Latin well without macrons? Yes of course. I like picking up my copy of Harrius Potter and rattling on at a natural speed as if I'm reading English and not Latin. There are no macrons; there are often a lot of new vocabulary for words Caesar never new (he never had an automobile after all) and I can guess from experience what is the most likely pronunciation--but I can only do that because I put the demand on myself for careful pronunciation with macrons at all other times.

Perhaps that seems a bit much--but as I said before, Cicero is not here.  I can't just say to someone in the next room, "hey, how do you pronounce nihilominus?" So for Latin, especially when you get to a point when you are in total control of your input (which is often just print material), pronunciation is important. Understanding how it works is important. But maybe as a teacher--especially as a teacher of beginning students--it really isn't a critical topic.  Surely I can use that time better than spending the better part of a class going through my pronunciation sheet (see above)?!

Just another thing to consider when planning for next year.
I have spent the better part of this weekend not grading quizzes as I should be but buidling a new set of online quizzes for reviewing and understanding Ablatives of Description, Comparison, and Respect.  During this time I'm watching friends post from the Living Latin Institute put on by Paideia in NY and feeling not only a little jealous but admittedly a bit defensive about what I've been working on.

But I'm not currently teaching via Comprehensible Input, I'm using the Cambridge Latin Course and focusing, as I have done for a long time, on reading strategies. The two are not, of course, exclusive. In fact, I am looking for ways to bring the two together in the future. And it may one day be that I will be totally CI in my approach, but for now, I'm a CLC girl.

CLC often gets complaints about not having enough grammar, but truly it's all there.  Sometimes it is discussed in the ABOUT THE LANGUAGE sections, but other times it isn't. Sometimes it is discussed in the LANGUAGE INFORMATION section in the back of the book, sometimes it isn't.  In the case of the Ablatives of Description, Comparison, and Respect, one can find very minimal information of them in the back of the book. One doesn't get a sense of how often one sees them in the text.  Certainly the students have no idea about what they are seeing. CLC would like students to discover patterns for themselves and/or to internalize new constructions after having experienced them multiple times.

However, there are times when the examples are spread out to just a few here or a few there. Sometimes explanations aren't really needed. But there does come a time when students start feeling that there are hundreds of exceptions to how to translate or understand something. And while I often feel more problems are caused by worrying about what would sound "right" in an English translation which could be avoided if we kept our focus IN the Latin, we have to understand the situation from the student's point of view.  That is, sometimes it is worth pointing out exactly what is going on grammatically, especially if we can back it up with multiple examples.  And when we start hitting ablatives that sound better translated with things other than "by" or "with" (the two standby's we learn with declining), to me that is the time to point out the new guys.

I give tests every couple of stages, for the most part, and usually pull together samples just from those stages of whatever needs targetting.  In this case, I decided we needed a closer look at Ablatives of Description, Comparison, and Respect. Combined together I was able to make two 18 question online quizzes regarding identifying the construction and translating.  (They use the same 18 sentences in each.)  While it may seem to the student and other users of these two new quizzes that I'm merely hammering home grammatical features, what I really am trying to do is to force students to read and reread these examples more times than we would have met them just in class.  In class I can count on them seeing the constructions in full context with their work groups (three people each) a couple of times, plus one more time when we go over it again all together in class.  That's maybe three times, four if I'm lucky. With the online quizzes, which I end up using to prep and preview for tests, I hope to force them to see these same sentences at least 2 more times, more if they review them again on their own time at home. I doubt more than 4 or 5 questions will actually make it to the test.  After all, Stages 36 and 37 cover present subjunctives and more on indirect statements--big ticket items. But sometimes it is frustration with the smaller items that can put off students, especially when examples are spread out and one feels you are learning something new each time it comes up.  Hence the need for repetition in context with similar items to focus and engage the students.

So here are the two new items.

1. CLC Stages 36-37: Identifying Ablatives
2. CLC Stages 36-37: Translating Ablatives

Unit Four isn't to be feared; it's to be mined for its wonderful depth of information. Join me in embracing it.

(Originally this was posted on the CLC list earlier today....)

My Latin 3’s are currently in the middle of Stage 37.  Today they began cōnsilium Domitiānī I. There are several things that I like about this story (besides the story line), or rather that I like about the way CLC sneaks stuff in.

There are a couple of ablative of descriptions in this story.  Of course, it isn’t critical that one even talks about them expressly except that they do come up in AP and instead of feeling like you have to cover so many little grammar topics then, why not point them out when they first start appearing?  It’s not like we have to quiz everything.

The thing about these ablative of descriptions is that they’ve been hiding out like ablative absolutes: noun and participle in the ablative—what more does a student look for?  Ok, sometimes set off by a comma but not always, as we well know.  And perhaps you are like me and for the sake of simplification teach students only a couple of ways to translate ablative absolutes (until they truly have a handle on them).  I use “after X had been done” (depending on the time frame of the main verb, naturally), which serves us well.

However, there are times when saying “with X verbed” just sounds better. I had wondered why in the back of my head until one day I realized that there were always parts of the body mentioned.  (I know I made detailed lists of these things this summer, but that is on my personal laptop at home.)

So consider:

dum senātōrēs anxiī inter sē colloquuntur, ingressus est Domitiānus vultū ita compositō ut nēmō intellegere posset utrum īratus an laetus esset.

“with a face composed (in such a way)” or this one:

Cripsus diū tacēbat; superciliīs contractīs quasi rem cōgitāret, oculōs humī dēfīxit.

“with his eyebrows contracted/furrowed” – ablative of description. So how far back do these go?  It seems to me one of the earliest ones was in Stage 31 in salūtātiō I in this sentence:

omnēs, oculīs in iānuam dēfīxīs, patrōnī favōrem exspectābant.

“everyone, with their eyes fixed upon the door,” sounds a whole lot better than “after their eyes had been fixed upon the door.” Yes, I know, the teacher’s manual does encourage us to explore a variety of different ways we could translate ablative absolutes with our students, but I usually follow a bit stricter translation for the simple reason that ablative absolutes are unique. Once you truly understand how they work and how things unfold in a Latin sentence (actions appearing in the order they happen), you can’t help but admire them. But students... well, they need something a little easier to grab onto.

And maybe it’s not worth pointing out the ablative of descriptions that have occurred as if it is critical to know the difference in the same chapter that ablative absolutes are taught (Stage 31).  However, by Stage 37, students are more or less fine with ablative absolutes and sense when something doesn’t seem quite right.  Therefore I did mention that the first two items above from Stage 37 are ablative of descriptions and how translating them is a bit different.  (And, yes, of course there is overlap with ablative absolutes.)

There is something else kind of interesting going on with the first sentence in cōnsilium Domitiānī as well.  Let’s look again:

dum senātōrēs anxiī inter sē colloquuntur, ingressus est Domitiānus vultū ita compositō ut nēmō intellegere posset utrum īratus an laetus esset.

Look this time at the result clause (ut nēmō...esset). I think, and I could be wrong because I’m rushing to finish this before my conference period ends, that this may be the first time we have a result clause not governed by a verb, but instead by a participle (compositō).  This is part of the compacting that I like seeing throughout CLC.  Once a new concept has been given enough time for mastery, it is combined in another concept.  For instance, my Latin 2’s are in Stage 26 and have this sentence from adventus Agricolae in their recitation packet:

mīlitēs, cum Agricolam castra intrantem vīdisset, magnam clamōrem sustulērunt.

We have a nice participial phrase (Agricolam castra intrantem) nested inside a cum clause. Having a result clause governed by a participle is just another normal step up towards classical authors. And this isn’t the only participle governing a clause in the story. Take this sentence:

veritus tamen nē Domitiānum offenderet, verbīs cōnsīderātīs ūsus est:

A little tricky, this one, because it is maybe only the second fearing clause we’ve met, and it’s governed by veritus (not timeō or vereor). In fact, even that second sentence I originally mentioned has a little clause that is dependent on a participle:

Cripsus diū tacēbat; superciliīs contractīs quasi rem cōgitāret, oculōs humī dēfīxit.

I did not mention to my students that the quasi rem cōgitāret is displaying a “contrary to fact, present time” condition; totally unneeded. But it is nice (to me at least) to see quasi hanging off of contractīs.

The bell’s about to ring.  I just wanted to share some observations from today.
A conversation came up on the Cambridge list regarding SALVIOI ROGANTI in Stage 40.  Many had replied, and of course this is definitely the correct answer, but I felt there was more to add.  So here it is:


>>Re line 5: "Salvio roganti" is a dative that goes with "suadebant": different people were recommending different things
to Salvius [who was] asking what should be done.

Actually, there's a little something more here.
One of the things I tell my students to watch for is a dative case when in the midst of conversation. It develops over time in the text, beginning in Stage 11 when we start seeing the dative with respondit and dixit:

  • Marcus Quarto dixit "Afer candidatus optimus est."

  • "minime! Holconius candidatus optimus est," Quartus fratri respondit.

In Stage 23 we are met with this:

  • deinde Memor, qui iam tremebat sudabatque, alteri sacerdoti, "iubeo te," inquit, "omina inspicere."

The "inquit" is buried in the quote, which appears in the next paragraph in the text, so it appears that we have just a nominative and dative (Memor...alteri sacerdoti) without the "said" or "replied" or similar.  It does show up, but at first it doesn't appear to be there.  Admittedly alteri sacerdoti is difficult for students to pick up as dative without pausing to parse unless they are reading with expectation. The expectation is that we have a conversation going on, therefore someone will be speaking TO SOMEONE.
By Stage 32 (and probably sooner) we have datives being moved to the front of the sentence in a conversation. And in this case, we have a qui correlative in the dative:

  • "nemo nisi insanus laborat."
    cui respondit Euphrosyne voce serena, "omnibus autem laborandum est."

And then again:

  • huic Baebii sententiae omnes plauserunt.

And applause is a type of reply.  (And I like the genitive nicely nested inside the dative phrase.)
In Stage 39 we find one of the first (I think) datives with a participle:

  • Publio hoc narranti Domitianus manu significat ut desistat.

Dative up front again, in a conversation of sorts, and we get this wonderful snapshot of the action perfectly. Publius is still reciting his version of the Ovid they were studying and while he is doing this Domitian raises his hand and we end with an indirect command (without a "verb of the head" but certainly it's being communicated).
In fact, it is interesting as we move through the stages how CLC condenses and combines what we know.  In the case above, present participles, datives in conversation, plus an indirect command.  In Stage 40 it is condensed more:

  • Salvio roganti quid esset agendum, alii alia suadebant.

Dative in conversation (though we don't realize we have a conversation sort of thing going on until we get to suadebant, which of course, also takes a dative), present participle which is also a "verb of the head" governing an indirect question, and that indirect question also includes a passive periphrastic.  So cool.
I know I have skipped a lot of examples that would show the progression and development in the way datives are used, but this gives you a small glimpse.  These progressions are interesting to me to chase down, but a bit time consuming.
Don't forget once you are reading Vergil, you have plenty of examples of datives up front, sometimes with participles, and you have to keep in mind that there is a conversation of some sort going on:

  • talia iactanti stridens Aquilone procella / velum adversa ferit (1.102-103)

Anyway.  There's more to Salvio roganti than just accidentally confusing students with something that appears to be an ablative absolute.  It's not that at all. It's about datives, it's about conversations, it's about developing those reading expectations that are critical to moving forward in Latin.  And it's up to us teachers to truly understand what our textbook is doing, to ask these questions, to look for and follow the progressions, and show them to our students so they will develop the skills necessary.
So, I'm in over my head these days, just feeling my way along what I am doing with my Latin 4s, determined, if nothing else, to consider ENJOYING THE LANGUAGE a priority.  Thus this semester we are reading Harrius Potter, chapter 3.  This is the chapter where the letters start arriving.  We are about 5 pages in, and have had some productive days and some not so productive days, which is what happens when you have seniors 7th period.

We have had some good discussions on WHY the translator, Peter Needham, chose the phrasing which he chose.  Today I wrote to a colleague more knowledgeable than I, but in the process discovered a few things.  This is what I wrote to him:

Here are a couple of things we noted yesterday and I would be interested on your take:
Page 27, midway down:

Harrius epistulam suam, quae in membrana gravi eiusdem generis ac involucrum scripta est, explicaturus erat, cum repentino motu Avunculi Vernon e manu erepta est.

I know I have not read broadly enough to judge certain things, but I kept feeling that this sentence would have been helped if ILLA had been used in the cum clause (cum ILLA repentino motu...) to indicate that we had changed subjects.  (And since I had taught explicare as "explain" earlier this week to Latin 2, I had to think twice to realize he's using it for "unfold" here.) Is it just not provided because the quae clause has scripta est and it is parallel to that, thus making ILLA unnecessary?
Also on Page 27, but few paragraphs farther down:

Dudley epistulam captabat ut ipse legeret, sed alte sublatam ab Avunculo Vernon non attingere poterat.

In this sentence, Dudley is purposefully kept as the subject throughout, but in the English original it reads:

Dudley tried to grab the letter to read it, but Uncle Vernon held it high out of his reach.

We understand it, of course, but wondered why the translator went to the trouble to keep the focus on Dudley. Then again, occurs to me know that Caesar purposefully kept the same case for an item-- that is, in the case of Pullo and Vorenus, in book 5.44.  Line 13ff

transfigitur scutum PULLONI et verutum in balteo defigitur. Avertit hic casus vaginam et gladium educere CONANTI dextram moratur manum, impeditumque hostes circumsistunt.

So, do you think it's THAT sort of thing that the translator was after?  Except in this case it was EPISTULAM...SUBLATAM.  Huh.  Well, if that IS this case, do you think it was a good choice or maybe over the top in translating a modern story?
I have yet to get a reply, but decided to show the letter to my students anyway. One even thanked me (how lovely!). And I told them I think we need to read the seen with Pullo and Vorenus in Caesar before the year is out.

As for the structure of what I'm doing write now... well, in some ways it is too loose for comfort.  Before we begin each day I do make them read aloud with a partner what we read the day before.  And as we are reading through and discussing the day's reading, I keep circling back and rereading the paragraph(s) we are working on.  We've also had some dictation (a "nightmare" that combined elements from Harrius Potter) which worked some vocabulary items a bit.

Anyway.  This was more of a thinking out loud post than anything else.
When all else fails for me I go back to one thing that I feel truly competent at: teaching reading skills, real reading from left to right. Over the years I have been developing my understanding of mental expectations. In working with my Latin 4s, we were talking about how important it is to truly understand what participles are doing, and to read with expectations with regards to infinitives. I decided it was time to try to write up some thoughts:

1.      Most likely there is a noun of the same case nearby, usually before it, though it can come later in the sentence.  The main thing is that they will be in agreement in CASE, NUMBER, & GENDER.
·        astrologus ancillās lacrimantēs vīdit.He saw the slavegirls crying. [acc]
·        Phormiō ad urbem contendit, medicum quaerēns.Phormio hurried to the city, searching for the doctor. [nom]
·        mīlitēs gladiīs dēstrictīs intrāvērunt – The soldiers entered with swords drawn.

2.      Often other words are in between noun and participle, including prepositional phrases and adverbs.
·        Salvius et Memor, in hortō ambulantēsSalvius and Memor, walking in the garden,
·            servus, graviter vulnerātus – the slave, (having been) seriously wounded

3.      Present Active Participles can have Accusative objects.
·        servī, Barbillum portantēs – the  slaves, carrying Barbillus,

4.      Perfect Passive Participles often have “by” phrases (ablatives) with it.
·        faber, ab architectō laudātusthe craftsman praised by the architect
·        mīlitēs, gladiīs armātīthe soldiers, armed with swords

5.      Perfect Active Participles can have Accusative objects.
·        Latrō, haec verba locūtusLatro, having spoken these words

6.      Future Active Participles can have Accusative objects.
·        nunc ego quoque moritūrus sum. – Now I am also about to die.
·        praecō puellam vīdit, nāvem cōnscēnsuram. – The herald saw the girl about to go on board the ship.

7.      If there doesn’t seem to be a noun of the same case for it to modify but it is clearly acting as a participle, consider the subject of the previous sentence as being understood. 
·        haec verba locūtus, rēgī pōculum obtulit. – Having spoken these words, he (Cephalus) offered the cup to the king.

8.      If you have a perfect tense participle but feel you really need a verb (or an infinitive in indirect statement), consider whether a form of “est” should be understood.
·        Haec ubi dicta [sunt]When these words were spoken,...
·        ēmissamque [esse] hiemem sēnsit NeptūnusNeptune sensed that a storm had been sent out,

9.      If it is a present participle by itself, consider translating with “those (people)” (pay attention to the case!).
·        strepitum labōrantiumthe noise of those (people) working
·        ad praetereuntēs – toward those (people) passing by

10.   Present participles in the dative are frequently used in the give and take of a conversation.
·        Salviō rogantī quid esset agendum, aliī alia suādēbant. – To Salvius asking what must be done, different people answered different things.
·        Tālia iactantī strīdēns Aquilōne procella / vēlum adversa ferit...To him (Aeneas) hurling such words, a storm squealing with the North Wind opposite (the sail) struck the sail.

11.   The “time” of the participle is relative to that of the main verb. Present Participles are the same time as the main verb, Perfect Participles are one step back in time, Future Participles are one step forward in time. This affects how you translate Ablative Absolutes.
·        iānuā apertā, in līmine appāruit praecō.After the door had been opened, the herald appeared on the threshold.
·        Olympō recitante, ingressus est Epaphrodītus.While Olympus was reciting, Epaphroditus entered.
·        Martiālis, recitātiōne perfectā, ex audītōriō ēgreditur, omnibus plaudentibus. – Martial, after the recitation was finished, leaves from the auditorium while everyone is applauding.

1.      When reading in word order, if you encounter an infinitive first, consider that it may be a complementary infinitive—completing a verb. Common suspects are:
·        volō (I want), nōlō (I don’t want), malō (I prefer), possum (I am able)
·        dēbeō (I ought), audeō (I dare), cōnor (I try)
·        incipiō (I begin), coepī (I began)

2.      Neuter adjectives with a form of est or impersonal verbs often infinitives.
·        victōribus decōrum est victīs parcere. – It is proper for victors to spare the conquered.
·        necesse est mihi exīre. – It is necessary for me to leave.
·        licetne mihi īre ad fontem aquae? – Is it permitted forme to go to the water fountain?

3.      When reading in word order, if you encounter a form of iubeō, expect accusatives and infinitives. This is particularly helpful in identifying and properly understanding those hard to recognize passive infinitives.
·        iubeō tē ipsum Cogidubnō pōculum offerre. I order you yourself to offer the cup to Cogidubnus.

4.      When reading in word order, a “verb of the head” will often precede indirect statements formed with accusatives and infinitives. However, it doesn’t have to:
·        Intereā magnō miscērī murmure pontum, / ēmissamque hiemem sēnsit Neptūnus – Meanwhile Neptune sensed that the sea was being mixed with a great murmur, and that a storm had been sent out...

5.      If you can see one obvious infinitive and there are conjunctions (et, -que, etc), reread and look for passive infinitives.
·        Chionē iussit lectīcam parārī et lectīcāriōs arcessī.Chione ordered the sedan chair to be prepared and the chair carriers to be summoned.

6.      If you see no obvious governing verb but seem to have a string of infinitives, you may have historic infinitives (for creating immediacy).
·        dein concutī ferrum, vincula movērī. – Then iron is clashed together, chains are rattled.
As Latin teachers--or any teacher for that matter--there is this pull between doing the acceptable, traditional thing and doing the right thing. What I mean is that I am keenly aware that I should be quizzing and testing and whatnot at particular intervals; grading particular kinds of student work, etc. My Latin 2 and 3 classes (I no longer teach any 1s--my colleague does) are in their own way traditional. Once the year gets underway I am giving vocab quizzes and stage quizzes not to mention tests at fairly regular intervals. It becomes sadly predictable.  Well, that can be good too.  It helps many students plan their weeks and manage their crowded schedules.

I tossed out the book in Latin 4 this year.  I'm winging it.  I'm taking TIME with whatever we read.  There's no march through Caesar; there's no cramming for quizzes and tests. I have a two-fold general idea of what I am doing: we are exploring limited texts (from the classical period and beyond) in more detail in multiple ways and we have extensive reading in Orberg's Lingua Latina. Oh, and I throw in topical things that I want to cover (and hope that I will make myself continue to use), which I also try to work in to the general running conversations of class.

For instance, we are currently studying a couple of tales from Phaedrus: Lupus et Agnus and Lupus et Gruis.  The Friday before we began, I taught them about telling time in Latin--all in Latin. It wasn't as grand a lesson as I would have liked, but it was ok. The following Monday we did a Musical Pairs reading with this dialogue that I wrote. (If you are unfamiliar with Musical Pairs, it is a great opening activity which I often use with an embedded reading/dialogue in my other classes. The music plays while kids move/dance around. When it stops, they partner up with the nearest person and read the dialogue together. When the music begins they move around; when it stops they continue reading with a new partner.)

1:   salvē, mea amīca (mī amīce)!
2:   salva (salvus) sīs, mea amīca (mī amīce)!
1:   tū dēfessa (dēfessus) vidēris. quā hōrā proximā nocte dormītum iistī?
2:   decimā hōrā cubitum iī, sed duodecimā hōrā cum dodrante dormītum iī.
1:   cūr? studēbāsne litterās? dēmum ūndecimā hōrā cum quadrante studēre coepī.
2:   minimē. octāvā hōrā et sēmīs litterās studēre coepī et decimā hōrā cōnfēceram – tum cubitum iī.
1:   quid erat reī? cūr dormītum nōn iistī?
2:   ego ēsuriēbam et sitiēbam.
1:   quā hōrā cēnāre solēs?
2:   apud familiam meam sextā hōrā cēnā solēmus.
1:   quō modō tandem dormītum īre poterās?
2:   ego, sīcut fūr, in culīnam tacitē prōcessī ut crustula et lactem erriperem.
1:   nunc intellegō!  tū tot crustula cōnsūmistī  et tantum lactem bibistī ut dormītum īre poterās!
2:   minimē. pater meus, sīcut latrō, crustula et lactem erripuistī et iussī mē dormītum īre! pater, cum ēsurit et sitit, mē terret!

These things were glossed:
salva sīs = salvē
videō in the passive = seem
proximā nocte = last night
dormītum īre = to go to sleep (supine with “go” verb)
cubitum īre = to go to bed (supine with “go” verb)
dēmum – not until
quid erat reī – What was the matter? (What was wrong?)
ēsuriō, -īre – to be hungry
sitiō, sitīre – to be thirsty
crustulum – cookie
lac, lactis (m) – milk
latrō, latrōnis – bandit,

So it revieiwed some time terminology combining with a preview of vocab/concepts coming up in the Phaedrus. Here is the Phaedrus we began that day:

Ad rīvum eundem lupus et agnus vēnerant,
sitī compulsī. Superior stābat lupus,
longēque īnferior agnus. Tunc fauce improbā
latrō incitātus iūrgiī causam intulit;
“Cūr” inquit “turbulentam fēcistī mihi
aquam bibentī?” Lāniger contrā timēns
“Quī possum, quaesō, facere quod quereris, lupe?
Ā tē dēcurrit ad meōs haustūs liquor.”
Repulsus ille vēritātis vīribus
“Ante hōs sex mēnsēs male,” ait “dīxistī mihi.”
Respondit agnus “Equidem nātus nōn eram.”
“Pater hercle tuus” ille inquit “male dīxit mihi;”
atque ita correptum lacerat iniūstā nece.
Haec propter illōs scrīpta est hominēs fābula
quī fictīs causīs innocentēs opprimunt.

We discussed most of this IN Latin. I drew pictures on the board. We had discussions in English about the point of the story and the fact that Rome had the wolf as its symbol. On the day Before the second Phaedrus poem, we first explored in a Latin discussion the pictures I found online to go with the poem:

We discussed body parts of both animals (mainly in Latin), and speculated on what could be caught in the wolf's throat.  We went over how to express "headache" and "stomach ache" and such in Latin. Then we read the next Phaedrus passage in Latin:

quī pretium meritī ab improbīs dēsīderat,
bis peccat: prīmum quoniam indignōs adiuvat,
impūne abīre deinde quia iam nōn potest.
os dēvorātum fauce cum haerēret lupī,
magnō dolōre victus coepit singulōs
inlicere pretiō ut illud extraherent malum.
tandem persuāsa est iūreiūrandō gruis,
gulae quae crēdēns collī longitūdinem
periculōsam fēcit medicīnam lupō.
prō quō cum pactum flāgitāret praemium,
“ingrāta es,” inquit “ōre quae nostrō caput
incolume abstuleris et mercēdem postulēs.”

On the next day, I had students write and perform simple dialogues based on one of the two stories. They were amusing; one even involved shadow hand puppets to show the putting of the crane's head into the wolf's mouth. After that, I assigned a more serious little project  of writing at least three haiku about the poems in good Latin. We spend several days editing these together and the typed up haiku plus the original poems are now posted on a wall in my room along with the picture from Unit 4 of CLC that illustrates both stories. Even though these students can read some pretty advanced Latin, because we have done so little composition, writing is seriously scary to them. Having the writing project small like haiku keeps the stress level low. Some were quite good:

parvulō agnō
lupus iam appropinquat:
ōmen pessimum.--
(by TMT)

gruis avāra
accipit quod digna est—
nimis petīvit.
(by ZY)

lupus incēdit;
agnum valdē cupiēns;
fūrtīvē petit.
(by NS)

cūr ego in faucēs?
ubi est mea pecūniam?
cūr ego in faucēs?
(by LAC) (I was amused by the point of view.)

callidus lupus
praemium est prōmissum
simplex agnus
(by MD)

They finished that by this past Wednesday. There were still some vocabulary and grammar I wanted to target, so the next thing we did was a dictation, using people in the classroom. This is the second of these which I have done, and they love it.  And yes, I require macrons. I have emphasized correct pronunciation since day 1 and they have absolutely no problem with this.  They aren't perfect, but they understand why we do it and thus do not complain. (Glaciāta, Rāna, & Octāvia are three girls in the class--all good friends. A very congenial group.)

1.     Glaciāta crūstula optima, quae omnēs amant, semper coquit.
2.     hodiē Glaciāta ad scholam duo crūstula tantum tulit.
3.     Rāna et Octāvia, famī compulsae, idem crūstulum valdē cupīvērunt.
4.     hoc crūstulum erat longē maius quam aliud crūstulum.
5.     Rāna, fauce incitāta, maius crūstulum rapuit.
6.     Octāvia, iniūstō latrōciniō incitāta, causam intulit.
7.     Octāvia, quae Rānam clam ōdit, “hercle!” inquit “tū es maximus porcus!”
8.     quibus verbīs attonita, illa respondit, “sed ego valdē ēsuriō!”
9.     “floccī nōn faciō!” inquit Octāvia. “spērō istud crūstulum in fauce tuā haerēre!”
10.  Octāvia, īrā oppressa, minus crūstulum corripuit et ad Rānam ēmīsit.
11.  Rāna crūstulum laetissima cēpit et clāmāvit, “tibi grātiās agō!”
12.  Glaciāta, ab amīcīs frūstrāta, sēcum susurrāvit, “numquam iterum Octāviae Rānaeque crūstula coquam!”

On Monday and Tuesday of next week we will be reviewing the grammar of both in earnest and they will have a quiz next Weds that is short answer with a tiny essay that is a bit more on the traditional side. I'd like to think it is a bit more like what they could easily meet in a college Latin class.

But Friday (yesterday) we took the day off to read the next chapter aloud in Lingua Latina.  It was Capitulum Quartum, which is mainly dialogue.  We sat in a circle, assigned reading roles, and I just let them have FUN in the language.  Yes, this is VERY VERY easy Latin for them, and part of me feels very guilty for it. BUT they were in Latin the whole time (well, except for one girl that I'm about to have words with!), even when discussing new vocabulary that I knew they didn't know, and they were having a hysterically good time.  With the previous chapter, after the reading was done I had them turning simple direct statements and questions into indirect statements and indirect questions. But yesterday, I admit, after we finished the dialogue, and while I was debating what I wanted to do in the 10 minutes we had left, students started thumbing through the book and laughing at pictures. Therefore I used this as a good time to review large ordinal numbers, which I wrote on the board, and then we would turn to various pages and discuss the pictures in Latin.

Part of what I really like about what we did was that the reading was ALOUD.  There has been a lot floating around online lately on the importance of Sustained Silent Reading in the target language. In fact, I am taking part in a Latin reading challenge to boost the amount of Latin read by teachers OUTSIDE of class.  And, admittedly, I am mainly reading in silence but try to hear it aloud in Latin in my head.  If I were to practice what I preach, I would be reading aloud to my cats.  (They know I'm strange already so what do I care?) But with students, with those who have yet to really have firm left to right reading strategies embedded in their brains--yea verily, to retrain the brain to accept Latin word order--reading aloud is critical. We don't do this enough. (Hmmm... is this because what we are reading doesn't have macrons and therefore we are not sure how to pronounce the words and don't want to do it wrong?  LOL... See my previous post.)

When I said in my title, "Trying to Do the Right Thing," I'm expressing that somewhat torn feeling of knowing what looks and feels like a traditionally correct teaching environment with scheduled quizzes and tests, following the textbook, etc, and doing what feels more like good language learning and language experience. What I'm doing with Latin 4 this year feels so much better than marching through Caesar and Vergil, having no time to stop to discuss, create, experiment, and anything else. And it surely seems to be along the lines of the "right" thing.  But it feels so utterly different that I am constantly questioning what I am doing. But I am betting by the end of the year they will have far more positive things to say about the course to their friends than anyone who took AP Latin with me in the past. And if it means they CONTINUE to study Latin in college, as opposed to just wanting to place out, then I'm guessing I'll have proof that I'm doing the right thing.
Although I can't find it now, my friend Keith Toda has written somewhere at his blog ( about using dictation not only to develop listening skills but to introduce vocabulary in a meaningful way. In preparing for tomorrow's Catullus 13 reading, I have been doing various activities to work in vocabulary and tidbits of grammar usage so that we will be prepared to actually discuss Catullus 13 for what it says, not struggle through it to get meaning.

One piece of advice--and it was just THE BEST piece of advice--was to make the sentences of the dictation into a story and to use people in the class. WOW, was this a hit. Not only did they love it, but the only mistakes made were very small ones.

So just a reminder of Catullus 13:

Cēnābis bene, mī Fabulle, apud mē
paucīs, sī tibi dī favent, diēbus,
sī tēcum attuleris bonam atque magnam
cēnam, nōn sine candidā puellā
et vīnō et sale et omnibus cachinnīs.
haec sī, inquam, attuleris, venuste noster ,
cēnābis bene; nam tuī Catullī
plēnus sacculus est arāneārum.
sed contrā accipiēs merōs amōrēs
seu quid suāvius elegantiusve est:
nam unguentum dabō, quod meae puellae
dōnārunt Venerēs Cupidinēsque,
quod tu cum olfaciēs, deōs rogābis,
tōtum ut tē faciant, Fabulle, nāsum.

So, my biggest concern at this point has been forms of affero.  We did an activity with paper bags (sacculi) two days ago to work plēnus with the genitive and also fit in unguentum and araneae and sal. We had also discussed olet and olfacit. And today at the beginning of class I had a little PowerPoint which showed a picture of a wallet (crumēna) and a purse (pērula) and the caption "quid est in crumēnā tuā?" (LOL)  On the next screen I had a Roman reenactor pictures with a sacculus on his belt, making the full connection.

There are still a few words left--merus and venustus and maybe candida--but I think we are covered.

And here was today's dictation.  Aelia and Laelia are two girls (those are their Latin names) in this class.  They, and everyone else in the room, totally enjoyed this:

1.      crās Laelia apud Aeliam cēnābit.
2.      māter Laeliae imperāvit ut dōnum afferret.
3.      Laelia dīxit sē Aeliae flōrēs dōnātūram esse.
4.      proximō diē igitur Laelia flōrēs sēcum attulit.
5.      Aelia tamen flōrēs accipere nōn vult quod flōrēs male olent.
6.      “attulistīne flōrēs? ubi sunt vīnum et sal?” inquit Aelia.
7.      “tū es īnsāna?” respondit Laelia.
8.      “praetereā flōrēs meī suāvius quam cēna tua olent!”
9.       “mendāx!” clāmāvit Aelia. “nāsus tuus olfacere nōn potest!”
10.  . Laelia īrāta ē vīllā Aeliae discēdit.
11.   Aelia sēcum dīxit, “dī mihi favent! nunc tōta cēna est mea!”

They just LOVED it!  They wanted to do more like that! They did really well--minor mistakes.

So tomorrow we are set to read and talk about Catullus.  NOT about grammar, NOT about vocab.  But about Catullus. My efforts to stay in Latin are inconsistent and often faulty (at least in my head), but I'm forging ahead.  And I'm hopeful.  And I believe I'm on the right track.
So I don't post here enough.  I really enjoy describing my adventures in finding better ways to teach reading skills.  I have many friends that are employing Comprehensible Input to great effect, but I haven't gotten there yet, and I suppose in some ways I am on my own journey.  And my journey has always been about learning how to read Latin better and more efficiently IN WORD ORDER, and--more importantly--how to teach those skills.

My Latin 3's are at this very minute taking their midterm exam.  Right before class we were having a crash course reviewing two new exercises I created.  They know that some of these questions do indeed make it to the exam thus the mad demand for one last review.

The first one is "Qui Connecting Relatives (Only":

This one is "What is Qui Doing?":

Both of these are based on the Cambridge Latin Course, stages 31-15.  And what I like most about making things like this is that I feel legitimate if not empowered with the right to ask about them on exams.  And frankly, these were not things I was tested on in high school.  And I definitely never learned about qui connecting relatives in college.  I remember being told to just translate quae cum ita sint in a certain way, but it was never explained and I never understood it.

People like to say that Caesar is easy to read, that he's straightforward, etc etc.  Well, perhaps he is easy to read if you have a total grasp of all the grammar in question backwards and forwards.  But he is not "easy" to read if you don't.  His clauses are long, the indirect statements go on forever, and every now in then his word order is downright poetic.

And yet, it can be easy to read if one is taught the right skills for reading.  And one of those skills understanding what qui is doing, especially when it shows up at the beginning of a sentence.  Now I fully understand why it can jump out of a cum clause, as it so often does--it is connecting the current sentence back to the previous one.  Surely someone could have explained that to me?

Perhaps it is because most professors just *got it* and never needed the explanation.  But maybe if more people understood what quae is doing outside of the cum clause, more people would stick with Latin.  That is, if Latin seemed more readable to a larger audience, perhaps more people would, ya know, read it.

Just my two denarii.  I need to be grading. :-)
OK, so day 2 of Andrew Riggsby's Caesar course at UT is done.  And I've been biking to class so I'm totally wiped out now.  But while riding I'm filtering through lots of thoughts, of things I want to do with my AP class, materials I want to make, details I want to pay even closer attention to in CLC, etc.  I haven't organized my thoughts though I've been trying to.  Perhaps it would be better if I just ramble on a bit.

First, I am keenly aware of how much I've grown as a reader of Latin.  The class has mixed abilities, though a pretty able group.  The things that get missed and are tripping people up are the same sorts of things I had problems with as an undergrad all those years ago.  I swear that Dexter Hoyos's book _Latin: How to Read it Fluently_ ( made such an extraordinary difference in my ability to read Latin, truly READ Latin.  I am totally enjoying watching Caesar's Latin just unfold before me.  There are some new patterns and idioms to learn, to be sure.  There are things that perhaps I should l know (and perhaps once knew) that I'm picking up.  But for the most part, this is enjoyable.

Second, I am once again reassured that I couldn't have a better textbook for my students than the Cambridge Latin Course.  Both vocabulary choices, phrasing, the approach to teaching participles, the introduction of qui connectives, etc, all seems geared towards Caesar.  And perhaps it was--I'm sure Caesar and Vergil were probably the authors for A & O levels in England back in the day. 

Third, understanding, as I do from Hoyos, that things in a narrative happen in the order presented.  We had a perfect sentence today that illustrated this and it totally made sense to me:

Helvetii ea spe deiecti navibus iunctis ratibusque compluribus factis, alii vadis Rhodani, qua minima altitudo fluminis erat, non numquam interdiu, saepius noctu si perrumpere possent conati, operis munitione et militum concursu et telis repulsi, hoc conatu destiterunt.

Who cares how long it took to get the main verb?  Who cares how many participles there were?  But everything happened in that order and it should and can be read that way.  What I did learn today was that ea spe is an ablative of separation with deiecti.  I should have probably known that or figured it out.  It's certainly in CLC enough.  I think I'll hunt it down now and see how it is used and defined first.  I've always said "dejected by this hope" but knew that sounded awkward.  Duh.  But even "dejected/downcase from this hope" still sounds off.  I *understand* what it means, I'm just not coming up with the best English.  But that's the fault of English, not the Latin.

I guess I better start doing my homework soon.  Must set up our FB study group first.  At least I feel like I've finally recovered from my ride home!
So there was a discussion on the CLC list earlier today. I'm trying to get myself more involved in these sorts of discussions instead of always telling myself I don't have time. Well, I don't have time (who does?) but I'm making time.

There are some good things in what I said below but much that is missing. The truth be told in an ideal world I would be REQUIRING my Latin 3's to read in an easier text every night. That was something suggested in _Teach the Latin, I Pray You_ by Distler. There are numerous reasons why I don't do this, among which would be HOW to assess their extra reading? There's only so much time in each day for what I do.

The thing is, at some point with a language you have to WANT to improve on your own. With music, it's a matter of practicing your scales and while your scales don't get tested, the quality of the rest of your playing is. And with a modern language the reward is actual communication with another person. But with Latin the ultimate reward is reading the real stuff written by the dead guys 2000 years ago. And don't get me wrong, I LOVE THAT. I don't know why but I do, I truly do.

I could ramble on, but perhaps it's better to stop here and to read what this post is really about: Unit 4, CLC.

> I am looking for resources for the Unit 4 book. I find it very
difficult to get anything. It seems to me like not many people are
teaching this book and prefer to start a different text. If you have
any resources or sites, please share them. I will continue to upload
any files I have for those stages. Quizzes and tests would be greatly
appreciated as well, even just to generate ideas and possibilities for

I'll be honest with you. When I get to Unit 4 (in Latin 3 -- my Latin 3 is stages 31-40 plus 44), I tell students that I'm now going to get them more prepared for a college classroom. Up until this point I have been working with them on the importance of phrasing, of using metaphrasing to see clearly certain sentences, discussing at length sentence patterns and other things that make it possible to truly READ Latin.

At this point, I have typed up all the stories, double space, so students can write on the stories. I highly discourage writing out translations and am constantly telling them they can read more and understand it better if they do NOT just write out translations. We mark phrasing, read out loud, see the big picture, focus back on the details, etc. And, yes, they balk--at first. But a college classroom will typically be "read the next 40 lines for homework" and then spot translating the next day without access to written translations. Yesterday, first hard day of Latin since our Martial projects, students were balking at my saying they needed to *read* (not translate onto paper) the first 25 lines of Consilium Domitiani I in stage 37. But after the whining and my explaining that they needed to stop slowing themselves down with translations but to just reread until it was FIXED in their brains (which takes less time), most did finish the first 25 lines. They will finish the rest today.

My Latin 3's have 3 assigned groups containing 3 people each: Romae, Domi, & Ruri. Each week they are working with a different set of people, but with those same people all week. Thus they learn from each other AND motivate each other.

While this approach won't appeal to some, it's better than just saying "go home and write out a translation." What I want is to get them to a point where they can trust themselves with READING Latin, reading in word order, letting the sentence unfold, developing natural expectations that readers of any language develop which will then help them to read MORE Latin at a higher level of comfort. I want to convince them that the length of a sentence is irrelevant if you just let the sentence unfold, if you read and reread and reread it to see the phrasing (see Dexter Hoyos's _Latin: How to Read it Fluently_ from CANE publications), and if you don't stop to look up every single word--let the context do the work, not the dictionary. Half the time expectations will tell you exactly what the word means. Too many students are afraid that even though they've been studying Latin for 3 years that they really aren't good at it, long sentences scare them, long stories scare them. What I try to do is to break down these phobias that prevent students from truly increasing their skills.


We did do a couple of projects with Stage 36 (Martial) translating epigrams into limericks (some are really funny) as well as memorizing epigrams for recitations (we sat in a big circle, stood, & performed--self-included). In the past in Stage 44 I have had students analyze some art (both included in the chapter and elsewhere) for accuracy compared to Ovid's telling of the fall of Icarus.

I don't know whether any of this helps, but it's what I do once I hit Unit 4.

I just posted this to the AP list (below).  I started the thread with this comment yesterday:


I have been working hard to get my Latin 3's to work more on seeing phrasing than rushing to look up words, because I know my two AP students rush to look up words before seeing the phrasing. However, not much effort is going into this on their part.

I can see it's more critical than vocab and can lead to better guessing of unknown words from proper context, but I'm not convincing them of that.

Is there any particular exercise that any of you do to promote better chunking, better seeing of phrasing? I'm thinking I should come up with an exercise for midweek to give to both groups (same class time/split level).

I feel it's like magic for me now that I see phrasing so easily, and in word order. I only know of 1 student out of the 3's and AP's (mind you, that's only a total of 9 students) who actively incorporates my reading methodologies and things I've been trying to teach them. This year (but not the last 2) he is the top student. (I think he just finally looked around and decided he was smarter than everyone else and it was time to prove it, ya know...)

I want the rest to get it, esp the two AP students. Because it isn't just about seeing the endings and matching stuff up like a secret code. It's seeing the phrasing and the pictures as they unfold and worrying about the English second, which you can then translate better anyway for having taken time to see the phrasing and the pictures.

> Metaphrasing has been somewhat unsuccessful with poetry (at

> least for me), because in many instances, the sentences are a

> bit long and grammar a bit scattered that students lose track

> of everything nor do they make connections.

Hmmmm.... I have found it helped me out of quite a few jams when I realized my own understanding was going off track. But what I find I can do (most likely because of been working on the whole concept of READING versus DECODING for the last decade both with students and my own personal reading habits) is see whole phrases and clauses or, if need be, eliminate them to see the basic skeleton underneath as well. I gave my APs the Dido wandering as a wounded doe passage to translate on their last test, thinking I had made a big deal out of it and knowing that it is an important passage, but didn't really think about how tricky it is to put into good English. I can *read* it, see the phrases and clauses as they flow over the page, see the pictures painted, understand the nuances of the word order, and love the Latin for the Latin. And even though I know *exactly* what it means, the English is so less graceful. (Hmmm...suddenly I feel the urge to try some creative writing myself with the passage....)



> I have been trying to get students to rewrite the poetry into

> a more prose word order

And my gut tells me that this is exactly the wrong direction to go. Please, please don't take offense, Keith! This is the sort of thing I probably would have done when I first started teaching in the late 80s. But all that I've read by Dexter Hoyos about reading in word order makes me think that this is just not the way to go. It reinforces that idea that Latin is in mixed up word order.

There's an incredible beauty to the word order and the phrasing. And if we weren't marching at such a horrific clip through these dactylic hexameters, we could slow down long enough to talk about it.

Sometimes one way to deal with what seems odd word order to us is to read it outloud, to think about how a Roman might have emphasized the words as they flowed along in the story. Here's the passage I was talking about (thank you,, I love you):

uritur infelix Dido totaque uagatur

urbe furens, qualis coniecta cerua sagitta,

quam procul incautam nemora inter Cresia fixit

pastor agens telis liquitque uolatile ferrum

nescius: illa fuga siluas saltusque peragrat

Dictaeos; haeret lateri letalis harundo.

Students really botched up the relative clause. No surprise. But think of it from the point of view of the storytelling. First that the shot/spent arrow visually has pierced the doe--from front to back. And then there's the clause describing the doe: far away, unknowing, just wandering among the Cretan woods; pierced (by whom?), then the shepherd hunting with weapons; who himself unwittingly leaves behind the swift/flying shaft/weapon--with that emphasis in the enjambment of not knowing. The story is told BEAUTIFULLY in word order. Makes you wonder what the shepherd was doing, just shooting arrows in the air? Aiming at squirrels up close and not noticing where the arrow ended up? Perhaps the point is that a hunter who knew he shot a doe would have tracked it and finished the job of killing it.

But here's our Dido, shot by Cupid, lethal weapon clinging to her side, so to speak.

There are a couple of things I would want my students to be able to do (which they don't/can't yet), which is to be able to see how to simplify to make sure they have the right *shape* of the thing. Look again at this relative clause:

quam procul incautam nemora inter Cresia fixit

pastor agens telis liquitque uolatile ferrum


This can be divided into two parts:

quam procul incautam nemora inter Cresia fixit

pastor agens telis


liquitque uolatile ferrum


This second part is easier than the first, so let's ignore it. Now to just the first part:

quam procul incautam nemora inter Cresia fixit

pastor agens telis

We know that a relative clause will have a basic shape: subject verb object--right? But can you see it yet? How about now, taking out the prep phrase?

quam procul incautam ... fixit

pastor agens telis

How about now, taking out the adverb?

quam ... incautam ... fixit

pastor agens telis

How about now, taking out the participial phrase modifying pastor?

quam ... incautam ... fixit


How about now, taking out the adjective, which at least we can now see goes with quam?

quam ... fixit / pastor

And there it is: whom/which the shepherd pierced (with that shot arrow that's already sticking through either side of the doe!)

I don't want to *change* the word order; I want, now, I suppose, to build it back up.

The thing is, I *immediately* see that nemora inter Cresia is a prep phrase. I *immediately* see that agens telis goes with pastor. I don't think word for word when I read; I think chunk for chunk, phrase for phrase, clause for clause.

Maybe I should print this for my students....

That was the original post.  There was a reply, but the other teacher was talking about possibly getting students to rewrite poetry as prose. That defeats the purpose.  So here are my comments:

Saw the doc today; he's seriously concerned about my sleep deprivation.  No joke; me too.  He kept asking how I could lighten my load.  He kept saying he knew other teachers that didn't work as hard, surely.

Yeah... well....

Would my tests be easier to grade if I made them all scantron? Sure.   Done in 5 minutes in the workroom with the scantron machine.  But is that truly best practices?  

How come living well means not teaching well if you have a full load?

Sure.  I could switch.  Might take some time to change over the tests but I could switch.  But....

How would all multiple choice prepare students for AP?
How would all multiple choice encourage students to reread their stories?
How would I really see true mastery of the material?

Because I can tell you what, just because a person can decline a noun doesn't mean he can read a sentence of Latin.  Just because a person can recognize the right answer doesn't mean he could have come up with that answer on his own.

Backwards design, right?  They say that's the best way to design what you are doing--thinking about where you want to be and design backwards.  OK, my end result is supposed to be, what, a 5 on the AP exam.  So what skills do you need?
  • an ability to translate accurately and literally a seen passage of Latin 
  • an ability to read and reread a large quantity of Latin, and then reread it again--because the exams requires that you have a serious grasp of all the literature read
  • an ability to comprehend an unfamiliar passage of Latin that is not related to Vergil
  • an expanded vocabulary keyed towards Vergil
  • a solid grammar base that would allow you to differentiate, for instance, tenses and cases quickly and easily
  • an ability to write essays (but frankly I let the English department develop those skills; I just fine-tune them for the needs of the exam)
I look at that list and can think of MORE things I need to be doing and not less.  MORE.  For instance, at the beginning of the year I really tried hard to make students use a reading log.  But I never had time to grade them or enter the grades.  I was too busy grading quizzes, tests, or making quizzes and tests for other classes, or material.  However, if I did have more time and did use those reading logs, for those that don't fake the log (yeah, yeah), it would be really beneficial.  Students won't do something unless they have to even if they know it would be good for them.  So the reading log, I feel, is necessary.  PLUS it would develop the HABIT of REREADING previous stories.

How wonderful it would be if all AP Vergil students, instead of freaking out at the number of lines in the current assignment and diving in, actually took the time to reread the previous selection before starting the current one?  It would certainly develop the bigger picture--plus Vergil seems to repeat specialized vocabulary relatively near each other.    But this habit is almost too late to form if you wait until the students are seniors.  Better to start it sooner.  

The other thing that I do to encourage rereading of stories is including seen passages on the tests.  I (foolishly?) provide a choice of 4 passages, so if they reread at least one or two stories they should be able to find something they are comfortable doing.  I always hope that the knowledge of those selections being on the test encourages students to continue to reread the stories, even if only the night before the test.

And it's this presentation of seen passages that helps me to see whether they can translate or not.  If they mess it up in class when it was homework, fine.  That's ok by me -- if they learn from it.  On the last test I gave to the Latin 3 class I included a passage we had a "pop" quiz on (that I didn't count--it was that bad!) that was over an extended indirect statement.  Two students chose that passage to demonstrate that if nothing else they HAD paid attention. Fine.  Great even.  They gave me the details they hadn't given me before, the kind of details and literal precision that AP is after.  

SO THAT'S ALL GOOD.  But if I could find a way to keep up with the reading log, that would be better.

The ability to read a sight passage and answer questions... well, I guess I could turn that into multiple choice/objective.  Currently I have short answer -- both Latin and English -- to make sure students truly are understanding the Latin and not just guessing randomly.  From the style of question I can see whether they get concepts of case or even subject/verb agreement, not to mention general comprehension.  On my last Latin one class I could easily tell who had general comprehension because they laughed at the story.  (I had written a great one, I admit.  Luck, most assuredly!)   Admittedly the sight passage will be multiple choice on the AP test, but I feel that I can determine a lot about how a student is doing by the kinds of answers the student writes down.  Did they get the write word for a Latin answer but just not put it in the right case?  Did they not understand the question altogether, or did they understand the question but not the passage?  All sorts of things. 

But I guess if something had to go, I could rewrite the tests to have multiple choice for those sections... that would save some time in grading.

As for developing an expanded vocabulary geared towards Vergil, well, there's still LOTS of room to go here.  I'm only beginning to ponder the situation.  The more Vergil I read with the AP girls this year, the more I realize that CLC really has LOTS of Vergil vocab built in.  Some scene we were reading in Latin 1--LATIN 1--had some words that were just in the Vergil we're read recently, words that the girls stumbled on.  

I'm starting in Latin 3 (but have been inconsistent--and this will all need redoing on quizzes next year) to have a section on the vocab quizzes for old vocab they should still know.  It's strictly a matching section, and I really only began this when we began Unit 4.  Perhaps a little late to be doing this.  Even the Latin 2's have noticed that they aren't retaining vocab.  So this is something that perhaps I need to start including on their vocab quizzes.  The question in my mind's eye is usually WHICH WORDS?

I have toyed with words that show up in the current story.  But would it be more efficient (surely it would?) to just simply state that there will be matching vocab that will pull from X stage and Y stage?  Yes, most likely.   I do have a master vocab list for Unit 1 and Unit 2, though I haven't handed them out in recent years.  But perhaps these would be good lists to give to Latin 2 and 3 students at the beginning of the year?  And I wish I had a list for Unit 3, one done like *I* would do it--with macrons and all.  (Hmmm.... I suppose this could always be a standby project for my aide when I don't have her typing up Vergil vocab....).   Ideally what I would do is mark all the vocabulary that is on the Vergil high frequency list and target those words, whether they showed up in the current reading or not.  And if I pulled on two stages, I could do one from a more recent stage for reinforcement and one from an old stage for review.  Yes?  Not a bad idea.

(Of course, I'm always full of good ideas that I can hardly find time to put into practice.  And this note was about how to cut back on what I do so I can get more sleep and find time for exercise before I literally kill myself from stress.)

(And now I'm thinking I have the topic for a paper for presentation next year regarding vocabulary acquisition, which is always a hot topic for conversations among Latin teachers.)

Grammar.  That's where I'm falling down, I think.  I don't do enough hardcore drill and kill.  I focus a lot on being able to see the phrasing and that seeing the phrasing is far more important than knowing all the words.  Clearly students don't believe me.   One girl, bless her because she tries hard but gets easily discouraged, had written vocab all over a sheet of the Latin story (printed out for marking phrasing with notes for vocab on the side), demonstrating that she had looked up ever single damn word.  She did.  She had worked HARD.  She was virtually in tears when she (as well as most everyone else) had bombed the little pop quiz that focused on the indirect statement because she couldn't make heads or tails of it.  She sees the trees but not the forest. Lots and lots of tall, scary trees.  And I do have a grammar section (multiple choice) on my standard tests at all levels; I have noticed that this is the section where people are dropping the ball, especially on things they really shouldn't be blowing.  I no longer drill the neverending noun song with the Latin 3's.  If they don't know their noun endings then they know what to do.  They have the link to the song, there are drills, etc.  They can practice on their own. 

I have conjugating and declining drills online.  I don't require declining and conjugating for homework because, honestly, WHEN would I have time to grade them?  But this is a problem I think I have to figure out.  I think that Latin 3--that stepping stone to AP Latin--must be where we refine all knowledge of declining and conjugating and such.  I tried to teach the Latin 3's (only 7 of them) how to do a synposis earlier this year but finally gave up because only 2 seemed to get it and in a split level class I started to think that it wasn't the best use of my time. But that was a cop-out.

I'm thinking that next year--and I have to find a way (find some more time?  ahahahahhaha) to grade these THE WHOLE YEAR--all vocab items must be declined, conjugated, or put in a synopsis (where applicable).  Little details keep slipping by the AP girls--and that's my fault for not having reinforced the detail work in the past.  But they've been in split-level Latin for 3 of four years.  All three with me, at least.  

So, not a place to cut, but one to expand.  One to find MORE time for.  

I know one thing that eats up a bunch of my time is the creation of the materials.  But I think they are critical for mastery in some cases, can act as a private tutor for students, is a resource that's available 24/7/365, and once made is still there.

I confess that there are times... times when I worry about ALL THE TIME I've invested in and what will eventually happen to it if something happens to it.  I've come to rely on it entirely too much in my teaching and my review of material for students.  It's probably why I have as many students move from level 1 to level 2 Latin.  We'll see how many Latin 2 go to Latin 3 next year.  And God Almighty what will I do next year?

They'll have to have a cut off.  3 Latin 1s, 2 Latin 2s, 1 Latin 3 split with AP again.  I doubt that they will be getting another Latin teacher, or if they do, will it be one I can convince to do things my way?   What levels to give?  Lower levels while I develop upper?  Give up upper and relax, so to speak, with lower?

And what about my doc?  HOW can I do less than I do now?  What's the result?  Will students learn the Latin if I didn't do what I do?  Wouldn't more fail?  Wouldn't my classes be smaller? 

I don't know how to not do what I do.  I can only think of more to do.  More that needs tweaking.  Today is an inservice day and I had no  one to meet with for vertical teaming this morning.  This, I suppose, is my vertical teaming.  With personal commentary.  Probably TMI. 

If I gave up anything it would be doing JCL.

In a heartbeat.

This was in response to a note on Latinteach.  A teacher was discussing what to do when group translating (grammar/translation class set-up) and a kid totally botches a sentence creating a real howler and such.  Most people were suggesting some form of parsing.  this is what I suggested.

This thread has interested me, in great measure because I don't think the heart of the problem has been identified. (Then again, I haven't had much sleep in weeks so who knows what I'm rambling on about.)

I've taught middle school (inner city) and at that time read a lot about teaching this age group.

I hope everyone here is familiar with Bloom's Taxonomy. Some of you may hate it because it's been shoved down your throat, but it really does help to understand where are students go wrong.

Memorizing declension and conjugation endings is just simple rote memory. It is a low-level skill. Just simple knowledge. Simple recall. However, when we are translating, we are using high level skills of synthesis and analysis. So we may have a student who can decline a noun just fine, or go from singular to plural, nominative to accusative, but can't make a thing out of an actual sentence of Latin. I have heard Latin teachers say to students that, gosh, if they know their endings they *should* be able to figure out the sentence. Just *apply* the endings.

But it's not that simple. The brain at that age does not function at those higher levels naturally. Physical and mental development varies from person to person at that age, and thus is a tricky age to teach. Anyone who has taught Latin 1 to seniors knows that they grasp details and how things go together far more quickly than freshmen.

Parsing, sure, can be done, but I find that it interferes with the flow of reading. I try to teach my students some different techniques to build reading skills.

My most used item in my bag of tricks is metaphrasing. A basic metaphrasing place-holding sentence is "someone verbed something to someone." Of course, sentences will vary and this doesn't cover genitives, for instance, or prepositional phrases, but it does provide a good place to start and allows one to analyze the sentence as it develops without resorting to "hunt the verb."

Since you teach from LFA, let me grab a copy and pull a random sentence from it to apply. Ok. How about this:

p 112. Graeci et Troiani ad Troiam pugnaverunt.

So, I would treat this sentence this way if we were metaphrasing the whole sentence.

Graeci: The Greeks verbed something.
Graeci et: The Greeks and someone (parallel construction) verbsed something.
Graeci et Troiani: The Greeks and Trojans verbed something.
Graeci et Troiani ad: The Greeks and Trojans verbed something to something (we expect an acc. with AD).
Graeci et Troiani ad Troiam: The Greeks and Trojans verbed something to Troy.
Graeci et Troiani ad Troiam pugnaverunt. The Greeks and Trojans fought AT Troy (making an adjustment to AD to complete the proper structure of the sentence).

Ok. Simple enough. Let's look at another sentence that doesn't start with a nominative.

Barbaris praemium novum donabimus.

Barbaris: Someone verbed something to/for the barbarians. (would probably need a preposition to be ablative, so we can rule that out)
Barbaris praemium: The reward verbed something to/for the barbarians OR Someone verbed the reward to/for the barbarians. (Discussion of which one is more likely, and the knowledge that we have to hold both possibilities, until we have something tell us for sure.)
Barbaris praemium novum: The new reward verbed something to/for the barbarians (seems more unlikely) OR Someone verbed a new reward to/for the barbarians.
Barbaris praemium novum donabimus. AH! WE WILL GIVE a new reward to/for the barbarians.

The joy of metaphrasing is you are providing students a framework to hold information on, one that works with English word order, without needing to treat the Latin like an impossible jigsaw puzzle.

I often use metaphrasing for warm-ups. I just throw up a list of words in different cases and they have to put the English meaning into the right slot in the metaphrasing sentence.

Of course, we discuss cases and such too. I don't want you to think we don't. But grammatical cases and names of functions often do not connect with MEANING. We need to help build skills that stretch between Bloom's knowledge skills to the higher analytical skills.

Here's another sentence where understanding metaphrasing and Latin phrasing will help. I like to teach the importance in seeing what ET connects.

Barbari equum et castra deserta Graecorum viderunt.

Barbari: The barbarians verbed something.
Barbari equum: The barbarians verbed the horse.
Barbari equum et : The barbarians verbed the horse and something (parallel construction therefore we EXPECT an accusative).
Barbari equum et castra: The barbarians verbed the horse and the camp
Barbari equum et castra deserta: The barbarians verbed the horse and the deserted camp
Barbari equum et castra deserta Graecorum: The barbarians verbed the horse and the deserted camp of the Greeks
Barbari equum et castra deserta Graecorum viderunt: The barbarians saw the horse and the deserted Greek camp.

Using a reading card (with a notch cut out of the left corner, thus the right side of the card covers up the rest of the sentence) keeps students from skipping around and hunting the verb or stringing together just the words they know.

Reading in word order cures a lot of ills with bad translations. I hope that helps.
Tomorrow morning will be the last day of the conference.  It's been enjoyable, it really has.  We have come together as a group and had a lot of fun the last couple of days.  And slowly people have been REreading.  Maybe what I'm doing is rubbing off.  After our classes today, we were all sitting in the lounge reading our lines for tomorrow.  Well, I considered myself reading, everyone else said they were translating.  No matter.  I sat off from the group, reading along, often flowing ahead of them but then I would get bogged down a tiny bit and slow up or I'd be listening to them explaining and reexplaining the Latin to other members of the group and forget what I was doing.  

And I realized something....  years ago a friend, Donna Jacobson (sp?) and I were in college and in a Livy class together.  I knew I was in over my head, that I really hadn't had enough Latin--or rather, didn't know how to read prose.  I remember going to a review one night, I think upstairs at the student union (don't know why I remember that....), and Donna was more or less leading it.  I remember struggling with long sentences and clauses and whatnot, and it just seemed so easy to her.   I'm now where she was, and my companions here are where I was.  They are a bright group.  They know their grammar and whatnot.  But I *see* what the Latin is doing more easily.  I truly think a great measure of that is reading in word order and reading whole sections not just one line or two at a go.  I read far enough through to see who's doing what to whom, to see that I started a sentence with a nom pl and it ended with one too.  In fact, I feel so at home with what Latin is doing with word order for effect and suspense, I've gotten to the point that I really and truly do not want to translate it into English most of the time, because most of the time what's in the Latin is really and truly lost.

Last night we had our Roman meal which we cooked together and then ate with a fair amount of drinking going on during both.  I then taught Greek dancing, followed by just all sorts of dancing.  It was mainly just me and another woman, basically dancing to whatever was on and not caring that we were out there by ourselves.  A great time was had by all.

Tonight we went out for Italian and stuffed ourselves to the gills.  When we came back, we read Miles Gloriosus, which complements the Aeneid nicely because the soldier claims to be the grandson of Venus!  I had never read Miles and I ended up being given the lead slave role.  It's been a loooooooong time since I had a part in a play reading, probably since college.  It was a nice transportation back in time.

My card playing has been a big hit--and in fact, this was exactly what I've always wanted: to have a group of adults/teachers who had full command of Latin grammar and such who could take my basic card-playing script and adlib when comfortable.  We played the other night and we played again this afternoon when the network was down and couldn't do much in the computer lab.

I have the evaluation to fill out and I have a lot of thoughts that I would like to include.  Constructive things.  I might be listened to, who knows.  After all, we did read the passage as a whole before we started reading today and then read it again afterwards.  What it lacked was dramatic performance/emphasis.  I know I'm a bit egocentric about reading.  As a teacher, I want to read first because I want the students to know what it SHOULD sound like, with emphasis and drama, so to speak.  Then when we read together, I read WITH them and we ALL read.  And if it isn't dramatic enough, I make them read it again if we have time.  

While it is important to call on people individually, this also means others will be left out.  Choral reading, I think, is key to building a true comfort level in reading.  (I wonder if that's true....)  

But my point was, I think last night I actually had made these suggestions about reading before and after to one of the profs.  I had had a fair amount of wine by that point and had done a lot of Greek dancing, so my memory isn't the best.  If this suggestion was heard and tried, then I really should lay out a plan of action, some real suggestions that might make this a truly superior workshop.  It's already way up there because of the size (small) and personal attention.

Anyway.  Time to go to bed.  I'll have to work on the evaluation in the a.m.  And pack.  And everything else.

I'm currently at Austin College at the Richardson Summer Language Institute.  This is an extraordinary opportunity for Texans (the grant is local) to go study free.  We are reading books 10 and 12 of Vergil, and I am enjoying the readings and discussions tremendously.

I have made some observations, though, which some people will find too critical.  I am NOT trying to be critical, only to observe and ponder what I know about teaching and reading Latin.  We all, most assuredly, go through periods of doubt regarding our own skills, whether we have bitten off more then we can chew, etc etc.  At least I know I do.  I know I have always been a worrier, or at least I was as a child.  I remember my mom calling me that frequently, though I have no idea what I worried about. I must ask her.  ANYWAY, now I turn it to a more productive aspect in contemplating what I do, whether it works or not, how to tweak it, etc.

I have long since gotten out of the habit of writing translations.  I was taught in college NEVER to write out translations, even though that was the main way we did assignments my last year of high school.  In college we were taught to keep running lists of problem vocabulary, etc etc.  I would also, for instance, draw arches over words and phrases that belonged together, and maybe write words in the margins.  

Now after being a strong supporter of reading methodologies, using Dexter Hoyos' book/beliefs combined with metaphrasing and such, I find that I work totally differently than other teachers.  Mind you, all of us here have not read Vergil in a long time.  It has been 20 years for me, easily, and similar for others.  Some came to teach Latin after teaching other things; some have a strong background in Greek, others know French.  So we all have our weaknesses.  

I was invited to join in a group of three others to work on "translating" our assignment that was due today. I had already missed the first part but was happy to join in.  I probably made a nuisance of myself by just jumping in and reading out loud.  In fact, before I had gone back to get my book (I had stuck my head in their room because I heard loud laughter), I had asked whether they were reading out loud.  The reply was, "No, we'll do that tomorrow."  

But this is VERGIL.   It should be read out loud, and not everyone taking a line but whole long bits at a go!!!  This has perhaps been the one most frustrating thing for me here, because I think we should be teaching better reading skills--not only to the other teachers but in turn to our students.  (I am a junior presenter here.)  But I'm jumping ahead.

So I joined this happy lot of translators.  I wanted to read the equivalent to a paragraph at a time in Latin to get a brief preview of what's happening--skimming, in a sense, to pick up a few things here and there, whether it's vocabulary or the order of words/cases and such.   Someone freaked and said let's just do 3 lines or so at a time.  So ok, I didn't want to upset anyone.  Our discussions were fairly good and I was by no means right every time about stuff, but was frustrated because they were not reading in word order.  

This is so important.  This is just SO VERY IMPORTANT.  Word pictures are created this way, the story unfolds this way on purpose.  Translating into English should be the last THE VERY VERY LAST thing you do.  Understanding comes first, understanding the Latin, in order, is first.  And things usually unfold more easily this way.

Phrases also jump out this way, as well as if you read more than just a line or two at a time.  Things just don't work that way.  THIS IS LITERATURE.

And for Vergil's sake READ OUTLOUD!  

And when you have figured out what a section is, REREAD it.  REREAD IT OFTEN, adding more lines from before and after in order to fix the bigger picture in your head.

OF COURSE students balk at studying for the Vergil AP exam--especially if they read through it once to DECIPHER, write down that translation, correct the translation NEVER looking at the Latin, and then moving on to the next lines, NEVER rereading.



One person here has extraordinary listening skills, being fluent in Spanish and French.  Another clearly works her students hard with translations and essays, most likely buidling really solid skills.  I can't tell you what I do yet.  I know that perhaps the way I have structured Latin 3 for the last couple of years hasn't been ideal, using Ecce Romani and doing it split level. I'm not criticizing Ecce, only that I use CLC with the other classes and Ecce was on its way out so I wasn't totally invested.  I was also teaching English and trying to keep up with research papers, essays and whatnot.  I have my excuses, such as they are, which I fall back on uncomfortably.

BUT I constantly modeled reading whole sections of Latin so that it sounded like A LANGUAGE.  I was picky about pronunciation (at least as I modeled it).  I constantly did metaphrasing to reinforce READING Latin as it comes.

And I did something I'm going to call spiraling.  Maybe that's the right thing to call it, I dunno.  I'm sure you can find the first time I did this with real Latin if you look in the archives back to spring of 07.  We were reading some Catullus--cenabis bene, I think it started.  I read the whole poem to the class first, and asked what they got of it.  Very little, and that was ok.  Then we translated the first line.  After that was understood by everyone, WE ALL READ THAT LINE TOGETHER IN THE LATIN.  Then we translated line 2. After that was understood by everyone, WE ALL READ LINES 1 AND 2 TOGETHER IN THE LATIN.  Then we translated line 3, then read ALL THREE LINES TOGETHER IN THE LATIN.  

And so on until the last line.  I think the poem was around 15 lines or so.  Therefore we only dealt with the English once per line, but we dealt with the Latin  MULTIPLE TIMES PER LINE, depending upon the line.

By the end, I made them read the whole thing WITH FEELING.  Then again with MORE FEELING.

WE FOCUSED ON THE LATIN not the damned English.  We fixed the vocabulary in our minds that way, in the context of the poem and not in some dumb list to be memorized.

We are sitting here at this workshop--which has many other things to be praised on offer--but we're doing old school read a line and translate going around the room.  There is no FEEL for the Latin, no dramatizing, no playing Vergil at a recitation.

Jupiter, no wonder there are kids out there in AP Latin who end up hating Vergil.  What drudgery if this is what "reading" Latin means to them.

Last night I did lead a little section on reading theory.  I gave out my reading bookmarkers based in Dexter's rules for reading Latin.  Bob Cape talked a bit about reading with expectation, Glen Knudsvig style.  I then followed up with a handout on different types of metaphrasing I do as warm-ups.  Finally we handed out and went over the different rules for disambiguation from an article Dan McCaffrey wrote for TCA back when I was editor.

I'm not in enough of a leadership role to really help these teachers make the transition to reading in word order.  I made up reading cards, as I agreed to do last night, this morning even though I overslept.  I could have been rereading my Latin for class.  I had them ready to go, handed them over to one of the profs, but then they were never used with this morning's readings, even though I suggested we use them after the break with the beginning of our readings in book 12.  That's ok.  We can bring these things up later.

Sometimes some of us on Latinteach are accused of being too, I dunno, evangelical about our views.  But I am cruising through Vergil, not without stops and starts in places, but in comparison to what doing 50+ lines was like for me in college, I am cruising through with time to spare for reading and rereading.  I am making myself read out loud, which some may find odd, but it makes SUCH A BIG DIFFERENCE.  

This gives me a dimension of fluency in reading and I'm better at reading elisions (most of the time) and even sight reading!  This morning, as I said, I woke up late, 2 hours later than planned.  No rollerblading around campus for me like yesterday.  No breakfast even, but then I have fresh peaches in my room.  I made the reading cards and looked over the book 10 readings.  I had failed to remember that we were supposed to read in book 12!!!  I discovered that while we were sitting in the lounge where we meet, slowly pouring over the lines.  When I noticed on the agenda that there was book 12 lines to read, I quickly noted what passage we were currently on and remembered that I felt solid on reading that section.  So I skipped to the 20 or so lines that I hadn't read, and read through them two or three lines, getting only stuck in one place that was difficult.  I didn't sweat it; I knew we'd go over it.  And if I ended up reading those lines, so be it if I wasn't perfect.

If nothign else this was a demonstration that these techniques which I have been teaching and working on using myself do make me a better reader, less panicked at sight.  In fact, all of this is sight reading, really, except I can look up words if I need to.

So, I suppose I'm rambling.  And it's time to go to the computer lab.  

Maybe one day I can team up with some profs to do a workship similar to this, but one that also includes up front better ways to teach and approach reading that actively makes the "students" practice these techniques even if they feel comfortable with their more painstaking decode and translate on paper method.

There was a post on the Cambridge list about AP sight reading issues.  The teacher said she thought it was the hardest skill they have to learn...all of which put me into deep thought mode.

I have, through posts here and conversations elsewhere as well as looking through a notebook of AP quizzes and tests I got at last summer's AP workshop, been thinking about the structure of my tests.  Good, bad, I dunno.  In some ways too easy perhaps.  Or, more likely from the scores, too hard.  I think I'm on the right track with the structure but still need to tweak it some more.  But that's another discussion.

What got me thinking about this person's request is that sight reading should be nothing more than we usually do--if we are truly reading Latin in word order, if we are truly trying to develop our reading skills and not just get good at decoding.

I was making myself do a little sight reading last night... it's not uncommon for teachers to be afraid of sight reading too.  AND WHY IS THAT?!  Because most of us were not taught how to read but how to decode, how to parse every single word for the grammar and piece it back together.  Dexter Hoyos's _Latin: How to Read it Fluently_ that CANE sells (which I should probably reread) has changed how I view what we should be about.  

WHY should sight reading be so hard?  Let's face it, the passages picked are most likely not ones of the most difficult vocabulary.  The test designers are more interested in whether you can READ the Latin.  BUT ARE WE TEACHING THIS SKILL???

We should be.  We should be building up to it with all that we do--with warm-ups, with exercises, with quizzing and testing.  If we teach our students how to be readers of Latin, then reading the 1800 lines or so of the Aeneid should be doable.  But if all we are doing is teaching them how to (according to one respected source, one I respect as well, I might add) copy out every line skipping five lines, writing the meaning over the words in one line, the syntax in the next, and a running translation in the third, leaving the fourth for corrections, all we are teaching is that IT TAKES FOREVER TO READ VERGIL.  That it is SLOW, TEDIOUS, and EXHAUSTING, with little reward.  There's no time to ENJOY what you read, to DELIGHT in what you read, or even feel like you could read ahead.

Do we ever teach students to reread?  To spiral?  I'm trying to, but it's easier said than done, but it must be done.  It MUST be done....  

What about performance?  I was looking at the projects that were included in my AP notebook, and was surprised that there was nothing regarding the PERFORMANCE of Vergil.  Maybe I missed something.  But, sheesh, should it all be about golden lines and synchesis and chaismus?  It's not like during a recitation Vergil that he paused and said--"notice the nice use of synchesis I have here"!  

And it's a STORY.  Damnit, it's a GREAT STORY told well.  Can we treat it like that without constantly resorting to the English???  

Anyway.  I'm sure I could say more but my son has interrupted me about 12 times so far so I've lost my passion and direction on this. ha.  I guess I just think that if students are struggling to sight read that we aren't teaching them the skills to READ, and that's where the problem really lies....