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August 2017

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Is the thought of incorporating speaking proficiencies stressing you out? Why not start by incorporating student jobs in your classes and making a habit of them. I have been using student jobs for a few years now, and not only are they a great place to start, they also make a great jumping off point for more spoken Latin in your class.

First, I have four main jobs. You can have more or less, whatever suits your needs. Here are mine:

  1. agenda (agenda)
  2. date (diēs)
  3. weather (tempestās)
  4. announcements (nūntiī)

Everything is written on the board for students to just read. At the beginning of the year I often stand near the board and do the loud whisper to prompt students on how to say things.


I try to write most of the agenda in Latin. A typical agenda might be like the following:

  1. mūnera (jobs)
  2. praeparātiō (warm-ups)
  3. recitātiō (recitation – if we are working on a brief passage for them to read to me at a later date)
  4. vocābulum – sometimes traditional flashcards, but I’ve also been working other activities that are more direct use as well.
  5. legimus fābulam “ad urbem”
  6. tessera (exit ticket – I am usually not good with exit tickets but at the end of the year I was using Seesaw for student reflection of how the warm-up tied into the story and whether it was helpful. I could see at a glance whether everyone turned it in digitally, because it was typed I could even read it, thus grading was fast. But that’s for another post...)

Beneath this agenda is a space for pēnsum (homework), so it is clear if they have any and read with the agenda. No one can argue that they didn’t know there was homework AND that they were paying attention because clearly they were not paying attention if they didn’t know. If you see what I mean. (It’s also a good cover-your-backside technique when dealing with tricky students and their parents.)

DATE (diēs)

I do dating neo-Latin style which I learned at Rusticatio from Nancy Llewellyn.

heri erat diēs Sōlis

hodiē est diēs Lūnae

crās erit diēs Martis

diē 3/tertiō mēnsis Aprilis

annō bis millēsimō decimō septimō

At first students are intimidated by the ordinal numbers but in no time most everyone is saying this correctly. On their handouts, the blanks for the date are properly abbreviated like this:

d. ____ m. _____ an. _________

which is then filled in like this:

d. 3 m. Apr. an. MMXVII

What I like about doing the date like this is that we end up seeing and saying the ordinal numbers 1-31 spelled out, as well as the names of the months in Latin without really detracting time from the main focus of class.

WEATHER (tempestās)

The weather gets a full script, modeled on something a colleague of mine (Michelle Vitt) had developed for her classes. I also have laminated pictures of weather which I have posted with a magnet next to the day’s weather.

salvēte, sodālēs!

F: vāticinātrix hodierna sum.

M: vāticinātor hodiernus sum.

mihi nōmen est _____.

(discipulī:) salvē, ____ (vocative), quāle caelum est?

sōl lūcet! (picture next to it)

Announcements (nūntiī)

This is the only job that is mainly English. I simply have a section of my white board for school and class announcements, such as when Latin club is meeting or important events on campus.

Before school I check my list of students to see who’s turn it is to present and post names by the jobs. Once the bell rings for class, I usually say something like, “salvēte, discipulī et discipulae!” Then I begin slowly and with exaggeration (especially at the beginning of the year), “ō Sexte, quaesō, surge et ambulā ad tabulam albam, et lege agenda.” After the student read his job, I would usually say something like, “tibi grātiās agō, ō Sexte! nunc plaudite, omnēs!” Then I call up the next student for the next job.

Early in the year I had to give out candy if anyone noticed my NOT using manners. (This gave students a motivation to listen and pay attention.) For a while we talked about the vocative and that the reason I was calling on the student in the vocative to begin with was to alert students to the correct form if they needed to reply (as in the weather script) using the vocative.

The students in great measure enjoy doing the jobs and will even claim if they think they have been skipped or haven’t had a particular job in a while. And if nothing else, it helps to get them settled and sorted at the beginning of class before we get down to work.

Towards the end of the year I started seeing these jobs in a slightly different light. In my Latin 1’s we had taken a detour off of CLC to read Brando Brown Canem Vult and at the end had presentational projects—in Latin. It was an experiment in my eyes and I did not grade the students hard on the spoken portion (because I feel I had not prepared them well). I told students to utilize some Google Slides which I had made for BBCV with little conversational scripts as well as anything else we had done, including the jobs. The best presentations did exactly that, but even the worst presentations started well because they all started comfortably with “salvēte, sodālēs! mihi nōmen est...” They didn’t have to dig back to what was learned in the first week of class because we were still having that same conversation every time the jobs were done.

This got me thinking about two things: 1) I should expand each of the jobs to include more conversational phrases, and (recently) 2) that these are the kernals for “same conversation” as used in Where Are Your Keys. (See this post for more on "same conversation.")

During the last couple of months of school I changed up the Agenda job to include this script:

salvēte, sodāles!

ut valētis?

(discipulī:) bene valeō (yes, they could say other things if they wanted, but this was the script)

tempus est mūneribus!

1)      praeparātiō... etc.

I couldn’t think of a good script leading into the reading of the dates, so I left that one alone. The weather already had a good script, so I left that one alone as well. For the announcements, I added this:

salvēte, sodālēs!

mihi nōmen est ___.

(discipulī:) salvē, ___. quid novī apud scholam? 

I was particularly pleased with adding “ut valētis” (ut valēs) as well as “quid novī apud scholam” (apud tē) in this fashion because I thought the context made it clear the difference in meaning—one being for how you feel healthwise or perhaps emotionally as opposed to what’s going on in your life.

So now I’m thinking—what more can I do with this? How can I add to or modify the jobs maybe each 6 weeks? What differentiation should I be offering between the levels? I’m thinking about having the Latin 4’s do the date in neo-Latin as well as ancient Roman style next year, though I may be running out of dedicated room on my white board! Plus I think they could do more elaborate things with the weather. (I need to reprint my weather symbol cards anyway which have some text on the back. Perhaps it’s time for the text to get updated...)

My point is simply this: if you don’t do jobs, you should. It’s a low pressure way to add some spoken Latin to your class, especially if you haven’t done much before. Students like having their turn, plus it helps to invest them in your class. Win-win.