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October 2017


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Pardon me while I do some thinking out loud.

So I'm working on curriculum for next year, trying to incorporate all the things I've learned from this year, etc. Students are currently taking standardized tests in other classrooms and thus I have some time to think and to process.

I'm currently looking at Interpretive Communication: Reading and Listening for Level 1 Classical Languages as adopted for the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Here's what was put together back in 2014 but goes in effect fall of 2017:

(2) Interpretive communication: reading and listening. The student comprehends sentence-length information from culturally relevant print, digital, audio, and audiovisual materials as appropriate within highly contextualized situations and sources. The student uses the interpretive mode in communication with appropriate and applicable grammatical structures and processes at the specified proficiency levels. The student is expected to:
114.47 2A: demonstrate an understanding of culturally relevant print, digital, audio, or audiovisual materials in classroom contexts;
114.47 2B: identify key words and details from fiction or nonfiction texts or audio or audiovisual materials;
114.47 2C: infer meaning of unfamiliar words or phrases in highly contextualized texts, audio, or audiovisual materials; and
114.47 2D: identify cultural practices from authentic print, digital, audio, or audiovisual materials.
The specified proficiency level is left purposefully vague, or so it seems. The intro to the whole section includes this: §114.47. Classical Languages, Level I, Novice Low to Intermediate Low Proficiency (One Credit), Adopted 2014. The Novice Low rating was for speaking proficiency, and in fact a look at the rest of the TEKS demonstrates that it was considered unnecessary to require going above Novice Mid for speaking even in Latin 4, which in part I feel is a shame, but I remember it wasn't worth pushing hard for at the time. (I also remember a time when we didn't have an speaking component to the Latin certification test for Texas but we finally have something now. Testing oral proficiency in at least reading Latin aloud was something I promoted for decades it seems. Change often moves slowly...but I digress.)

I have been teaching for almost 2 decades using what I clumsily refer to as reading methodologies, which maybe should be better described as reading strategies to train the English speaking brain to learn to accept Latin word order as something totally understandable when reading from left to write, as well as for helping one focus on the details of inflection and phrasing in shaping meaning without having to resort to parsing or decoding (as I had been taught). I teach the skills I wish I had been taught that would have made me a truly superior student of Latin in college (instead of one who just studied for hours to know the answers). Not that I didn't ask in college to be taught how to be better; I was just told the only way to improve at Latin was to read more Latin. As I have said before, I was a decoder, and a good one, but not a reader. So now I try to create readers of Latin in my classroom, not people who can decline nouns perfectly or conjugate any verb in any tense and mood perfectly. They know the basics but it's not the most important thing. Reading is. 

When I taught middle school Latin a dozen plus years ago, I even experimented with extensive reading vs intensive reading, but there just wasn't enough low level material at the time. With block schedule now, I feel that I have had time for a few minutes of SSR (sustained silent reading) which has been a good way to work in extensive reading. Which leaves what Latinists have really been doing for a long, long time: intensive reading. And let's face it: it's not real reading, like one read's for pleasure, but a slower reading that more often than not involves an excessive amount of analysis. At its worst this involves constant parsing (which will NEVER allow you to develop a true feel for phrasing while reading and thus limit your ability to read). And I believe that there are ways to teach reading in word order with attention to inflection and phrasing that can lead you to more profitable extensive reading, which in turn will lead to improved intensive reading. It's intensive reading that's needed for AP Latin & university level Latin course work, like it or not.

And while there's much merit in accessing the Latin writings of the humanists and others, we will not easily escape the need to focus on the Roman world. We have 3-4 years with students, if we are lucky, to expose them to the Roman world and to Latin. The majority of the Latin they will experience in their lifetime (not just in our class) will be in written form. We can provide them with tons of comprehensible input but if we are failing to provide them with the means of dealing with reading material that will almost assuredly always be beyond what they have developed a mental representation for, then we are also limiting their ability to read Latin outside of the classroom.  

I'm rambling, admittedly. But I'm also struggling with certain aspects of the new TEKS/proficiencies, and I'm not afraid to admit it. The Interpretive Reading Can-Do benchmarks from ACTFL, for instance, seem more appropriate for extensive reading goals. ACL's Standards for Classical Learning are not much different.

ACTFL's CAN-DO Benchmarks for Interpretive Reading are:
Novice Low: I can recognize a few letters or characters. I can identify a few memorized words and phrases when I read.
Novice Mid: I can recognize some letters or characters. I can understand some learned or memorized words and phrases when I read.
Novice High: I can understand familiar words, phrases, and sentences within short and simple texts related to everyday life. I can sometimes understand the main idea of what I have read.
Intermediate Low: I can understand the main idea of short and simple texts when the topic is familiar.

ACL's Standards for Classical Learning draft document from 2016 has:
Novice Low Learners can identify a few memorized Latin or Greek words and phrases when they read. For Greek, they can also recognize most Greek letters.
Novice Mid Learners can understand some learned or memorized Latin or Greek words and phrases when they read. For Greek, they can recognize all Greek letters.
Novice High Learners can easily understand the main idea of texts related to familiar topics, personal interests, and studies. They can sometimes follow stories and descriptions about events and experiences in various time frames. For Greek, they can recognize basic transliterated words.
Intermediate Low Learners can understand the main idea of short and simple Latin or Greek texts when the topic is familiar.
As is, it would seem it's not necessary for students to have that attention to detail as long as they have the main idea. But the main idea won't help you to develop an understanding of how an inflectional language works and how to retrain your brain to accept Latin word order and thus allow you to be able to read those super long sentences that come up in Caesar and other classical authors.

I've gone back online to search again for the new TEKS because in my frustration I keep feeling like there was certainly more that we produced in that committee than what I currently have saved on my computer. (Admittedly my memory is faulty; I blame too many years of sleep deprivation.) Anyway, I finally found what I was looking for here. So let's look again:

TEKS for Classical Languages: 

(1) The study of world languages is an essential part of education. In the 21st century language classroom, students gain an understanding of two basic aspects of human existence: the nature of communication and the complexity of culture. Students become aware of multiple perspectives and means of expression, which lead to an appreciation of difference and diversity. Further benefits of foreign language study include stronger cognitive development, increased creativity, and divergent thinking. Students who effectively communicate in more than one language, with an appropriate understanding of cultural context, are globally literate and possess the attributes of successful participants in the world community.

(2) The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) identifies three modes of communication: interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational. Interpretative communication is the overarching goal of classical language instruction. Students of classical languages should be provided ample opportunities to interpret culturally appropriate materials in the language of study, supported by opportunities for interpersonal and presentational communication.
(A) In the interpersonal mode of communication, students engage in direct oral or written communication with others such as conversing face to face, participating in digital discussions and messaging, and exchanging personal letters.
(B) In the interpretive mode of communication, students demonstrate understanding of spoken and written communication within appropriate cultural contexts such as comprehension of digital texts as well as print, audio, and audiovisual materials.
(C) In the presentational mode of communication, students present orally or in writing information, concepts, and ideas to an audience of listeners or readers with whom there is no immediate interaction such as presenting to a group; creating and posting digital content; or writing reports, compositions, or articles for a magazine or newspaper.
(3) The use of age-level appropriate and culturally authentic resources is imperative to support the teaching of the essential knowledge and skills for languages other than English. The use of culturally authentic resources in classical language study enables students to make connections with other content areas, to compare the language and culture studied with their own, and to participate in local and global communities.
(4) Students recognize the importance of acquiring accuracy of expression by knowing the components of language, including grammar, syntax, and genre.
(5) At the end of Level I, students of classical languages should reach a Novice High to Intermediate Low proficiency level in reading, a Novice Low to Novice Mid proficiency level in listening, a Novice Low to Novice Mid proficiency level in speaking, and a Novice Mid proficiency level in writing. Proficiency levels are aligned with the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012 and the ACTFL Performance Descriptors for Language Learners.

AH!  That's more like it. And I believe that #4's "accuracy of expression" wasn't about output so much as understanding how things are properly "expressed" in Latin. That is, this addresses the need for intensive reading (which should be coupled appropriately with extensive reading) in studying Latin--the need not to just get the gist but to understand with greater depth. BUT admittedly, this is not one of the proficiencies, merely part of the description of a Level 1 course. The reading proficiency is at a Novice High to Intermediate Low, and even that, when glancing back at the ACTFL can-dos, seems vague and more appropriate for a description of extensive reading skills.

One of my other issues is that when I consider what Latin 1 means to me, admittedly it is in great measure defined by where I am in the Cambridge Latin Course. This is of course artificial in some ways. People could claim that I am defining Latin 1 by "chapters covered" and that we shouldn't allow a textbook to drive the curriculum. On the other hand, the underlying design of CLC -- when you strip away all the things that have been added over the years to appease academia -- is the running story with repetitions and gradual building of understanding of new constructions. There are certainly nuances to reading Latin that I have learned from CLC that were never explained to me by any teacher or professor that aide in fluent reading. 

When I am asked what my goal is for the year and reply with a stage number, I'm told that's not a goal. That's covering chapters or covering grammar. But in my mind's eye, it's about reading goals - having certain grammatical constructions in one's passive knowledge at least and working towards active knowledge (or building a true mental representation). And I will admit that I don't seem to be able to counter an argument on what my goals are for the year when someone is demanding proficiency markers. But ACTFL's (intermediate low) "I can understand the main idea of short and simple texts when the topic is familiar" is awfully broad, not that ACL's "Learners can understand the main idea of short and simple Latin or Greek texts when the topic is familiar" is much different. Of course, in many ways this could describe anything.  Heck, ACL's novice high has a better description: "Learners can easily understand the main idea of texts related to familiar topics, personal interests, and studies. They can sometimes follow stories and descriptions about events and experiences in various time frames."  And if that's the case, then intermediate low is understood to include various time frames. 

Something else that's not mentioned and something that I started to feel was totally missing when we detoured off CLC earlier this year and taught Brando Brown Canem Vult--sentence length. Fear of a long sentence, especially a long Latin sentence, is something that I try to get students over early on. CLC does a nice job expanding sentence length as it builds upon new grammatical structures. At first, naturally, it's with simple dependent clauses like "quod" or "postquam," then relative clauses, participial phrases, and subjunctive clauses. I expressly teach students how to read in word order, how to metaphrase (search this blog for "metaphrasing" for more on that topic), etc, so that the location of the period is not an issue--that taking the Latin as it unfolds, one phrase at a time, is what truly matters. My problem when trying to teach a more comprehensible input style class is that we were not experiencing enough complex sentences. That could easily be my fault and tied to my low speaking proficiency. Some would say that experiencing complex sentences could wait anyway. But I disagree: I think that even metaphrasing should begin early when the text is too easy to need it because these new mental muscles need to be built up gradually and consistently. It's not about the metaphrasing, but training the brain to accept Latin word order--and in my experience that can make a big difference in the quality of the experience of extensive reading as well as intensive reading. 

So I guess the REAL question I'm back to in all of this thinking out loud is what I need to define for our program as the goal(s) for meeting an intermediate low proficiency for reading for Level 1 Latin. You know what is left out?  TIME.  This is one reason why I think I might want to specify, at least for my own personal purposes, the difference between INTENSIVE reading and EXTENSIVE. It may not be a big deal in Latin 1, but consider this from the Level 4 TEKS: students of classical languages should reach an Advanced Low to Advanced Mid proficiency level in reading.  I guarantee you that's intensive reading not extensive. That's not comfort zone reading. That's not reading done with a timer on. And I'm not advocating that we should necessarily put timers on reading. I was always a slow reader in English even because I liked to "taste the words" as Rex Harrison put it. And while I do have a timer on SSR this year (5 minutes for Latin 1, 7-10 minutes for Latin 3 & 4), I don't tell them what to read. Sometimes they are reading the simplest things I have, sometimes they are looking at Harrius Potter or Ille Hobitus.

But maybe we should do timed readings--how many pages of Latin at a certain level--since we are also incorporating timed writes. It's a thought. I could save the Orberg Lingua Latina's for timed readings and maybe only do timed readings a couple of times a six weeks. Read, write down how much and 1-2 sentence summary of what it was about.  I don't think I'd put a grade on it. I think I'd just let students reflect on it later in the year.

No final answers here, just more to ponder. 

Image from Herculaneum
I have taken the dive into Comprehensible Input this year, diving off of the textbook into the murky water of the unknown. It's been interesting and fun, but a little rocky at times. Most recently we spent practically two months of our block schedule (ABABC) reading Brando Brown Canem Vult. Let me state here that I like the book, I'm glad our school owns a class set, and I want to keep them for SSR (Sustained Silent Reading), BUT I felt like we were stuck in a ditch spinning our wheels the whole time and I couldn't wait to be done. Not only that, the students couldn't wait to be done.

I have been told that teaching the way I was teaching before (though the person did not fully understand nor appreciate the years of developing the reading approach that I use and the methods I employ) was ineffective and that my problem is that I'm just not willing to do something new, to change, etc. And that if we just did it his way and trusted *his* judgment, that we would see our student retention increase. At the time I admittedly burst out laughing--not to insult him, but that in our case (and because of my style of teaching) retention has never been our problem. (He is our 3rd Latin teacher.) Competition with AP courses is the problem. Scheduling is the problem. There is no fighting to keep a small program from closing here. People who often contact me regarding how I manage to have such a robust program with no JCL ask me what kind of promotional materials I hand out or speeches I give. I don't. I let student success speak for itself; I let students tell each other whether what I do is quality teaching.

Somehow my well-meaning colleague (and he truly is) seems to be blind to the investment of time I've made this year to make CI work in my room, from making numerous Google Slides for the chapters in Brando Brown Canem Vult to provide us with talking points, to using WAYK signs, movie talks, and many other materials designed to help us succeed, designed to support conversation and personal input. It may not have been perfect (most probably far from it!), but I have worked hard to help myself succeed in conversational aspects as well as my students. *I have been out of my comfort zone ALL YEAR.* And while many of these things were engaging, what I was seeing from my average students and my SPED (special ed) students was confusion more than anything else. These are the kids I have EXCELLED with in the past. These are the kids I WANT in my room. But at the moment, they are becoming the seriously disruptive students because they are feeling lost. Too many different endings have been flying; too little has been consolidated; everything is too confusing. And returning to take a quick dip back into Stage 6 (gawd, only stage 6!) after 2 months has made a few of them balk. And I knew it would. And I'm ok with that. They will come around as I help them to consolidate so much of what we have seen and heard.

Let me state that I *do* understand that in using a CI approach that it does take TIME for students to begin to develop a MENTAL REPRESENTATION which will then shape more productively their output. I get that, I do. I've attended 4-5 Rusticationes (Latin Camp), been a supporter of SALVI for ages before that, follow folks doing total CI, etc etc. I do get it. But I also take into consideration several other things. First and foremost, we don't have that kind of time. There is no middle school program in our district even though I have fought for it for years. (I miss teaching middle school.) There's no hope of getting anything at the elementaries. The students don't have that kind of time to work on Latin skills outside of class--most are carrying crazy full loads of PreAP and AP coursework. Their desire to take Latin is often based on purely academic reasons. For most, they want and need language credits ticked off their list. That I can get a significant number to continue for 3 years (and a few into Latin 4) WITHOUT using promotional gimmicks is a testament to the confidence they feel in my ability to teach them and help them to progress noticeably in their own eyes. This is not fluff. And my Latin 4s are NOT always my top students, but they want to continue learning and reading Latin.

I do not teach grammar in isolation. I do teach it in context, though not as formally as some teachers. I teach students how to see the endings and the tense indicators, how to read in word order, how to develop a Latin BRAIN, as a colleague at Randolph College once said. If what I teach are reading coping mechanisms and not true language acquisition skills, I'm fine with that. I'm fine with that because I have 11 years teaching at the high school level of developing READERS of Latin who go on to become highly successful in college Latin courses, most of which are dry read & translate sort of courses. I don't want students of mine who have had three years of Latin with me to end up having to take a beginning level Wheelocks Latin course when they go to college. And I don't want them memorizing translations of passages of Vergil or Caesar for tests and then not to be able to read more at college and demonstrate an understanding of the structure and syntax. Real reading.

And while I'm thinking about it, I'd like to talk about embedded readings. I've been playing with embedded readings with the Latin 4s for the last 6 weeks. I have nothing against embedded readings. They are useful and my students like them. I like them. I liked making them; it's an interesting process. We've been reading the new CLC 5th ed. Stage 46 Pliny selections (as well as the original Pliny, since this selection is slightly modified in places). But because we were using embedded readings, we were not working our reading skills in the same way (via Dexter Hoyos's rules for reading, etc). It was a bigger coping mechanism, a bigger crutch than anything I do. And it is doubtful that professors will be creating such things for students. How does that help prepare them for college Latin or reading real Latin on their own?

Last summer when I was binge-listening to Tea with BVP, I was pleased to hear an episode that talked about focusing on form. One of the many examples he gave was having a particular grammatical structure highlighted throughout a passage to help students focus on that new structure. I smiled and thought that many of the activities I used to do in my warm-ups helped students to focus on form, e.g., when we would have metaphrasing practice contrasting nominatives and accusatives. As students progress in Latin (in previous years I've taught Latin 2, 3, 4; this year it's 1, 3, 4), feedback has always been positive on its helpfulness once students got used to it and understood what I was asking for and why. (The full appreciation usually developed in Latin 2 when metaphrasing full participial phrases and learning to see Latin in chunks and not word for word.) While I might work with words in isolation in the warm-ups, they are almost always coming from the CLC story to be read that day, and thus heighten awareness of those forms when they appear in the context of the story. (And, I might add, that almost all of my quia material is designed to work forms in context--which students greatly appreciate.)

Today I wanted to begin to consolidate what we had seen of the imperfect and perfect tenses. Brando Brown Canem Vult was mainly present tense with some perfect tenses and a smattering of imperfect (I think) and futures. I had all this time (the last two months) avoided teaching mnemonic devices regarding the tenses (the imperfect sheep with three legs going ba ba ba and XLSUV "extra long [vowel] SUV" with a picture of a stretch SUV limo), trying to work the tenses with different tasks or activities. However, today I started the warm-up with images of the two mnemonic devices, discussing them, and then had students circling tense indicators and endings and translating a select group of verbs. This would have been a no brainer in previous years, but there were complaints all around--especially from today's class that has so many low performing, needy students. They will come around; they will realize how much they know once they start to consolidate.

So where does all of this leave me?

I am glad I had this experience though feel badly for the Latin 1 students because there are so many reading skills they lack, not to mention so many great stories set in Pompeii which we haven't read. However, not for the first time have I begun to wonder at some friends who have been practicing CI successfully for a few years now (and more power to them) whether their problem with CLC was more not knowing how to really teach a reading based approach--how to teach your average student (not the 4%ers) how to read Latin in word order, how to help your brain to slow down, to taste the words, to see the endings, to register the phrasing, the structures, the shape of it all. How to retrain the brain to accept Latin. I never had to scaffold or embed a CLC story before with my students. And I have had students move from other schools into my Latin 3 classes and exclaim with delight that they understand so much more now, and can read more, and feel far more confident than they ever did with their previous teacher.

With all of that said, I have been trying to figure out for years how to work in more oral/aural work because I had in my mind's eye the time scale/pacing we needed to keep. I never had the guts to just say to myself that it would be ok to slow it down. I've always been too conscientious about where surrounding schools are in the curriculum in case one of my students changes schools. But now...

Now I see possibilities of enhancing what I've been doing with more oral/aural activities. I can see providing the framework as I have done before with reading in context & activities to help students see and focus on forms. Then, much like I feel so many of the activities at Rusticatio did for me, build upon and broaden and develop more fully that mental representation with a variety of meaningful tasks both small and large. Having class sets of the new novellas makes for great SSR material to help build that mental representation. Studies show that the most critical thing for language learning is indeed READING. True reading for understanding and not just the gist of a storyline. (See for a great video/article on the topic.)

While I can understand the reasoning for a full CI approach and not consolidating until 3 or 4 years later, that is not right for my program nor for my personal goals. I do intend to develop proficiency goals based on the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) for Latin, at the core will be reading proficiency. Will I continue to try to teach more in the target language? Absolutely. I force myself to use more every year. We learn by doing. Will I be having my students write in Latin? Yes, I definitely plan to. Will we have any PBLs? I've been working on plans for a couple for next year, and how to supplement and prepare for them from early on in the year.

I can't give you the answer for what is right for you. I can say that I've been at this for a decent number of years, have never struggled with program numbers, and have anecdotal evidence to support what I do. No posts implying that I'm teaching grammar explicitly in isolation will change my knowing and seeing and experiencing what works in my classroom to teach students to read Latin, in word order, with attention to detail, with absolutely no need to consult Google Translate. Students like *understanding* structure. No posts implying I don't understand about form and function will change what I do with metaphrasing, Rassias transformation/substitution drills, etc. I'm not a frightened person, set in my ways. I am always willing to put myself out there and try. But I am a serious student of Latin, of teaching Latin, and of students. For me, my refrigerator covered with notes and letters from grateful students for filling their heads with Latin and their hearts with love will stand as evidence that what I am doing is working.
This first part was sent by a Latin teacher to the Latinteach list.  Below is my reply.  Yeah, I should get some sleep instead.  Silly me....

> salvete omnes,
> I am nearing the end of my second year teaching Latin. It is great fun, and I have really been enjoying teaching from the Cambridge Latin course.
> However, I find that as I get to the end of Latin II and beginning of Latin III, the presentation in Cambridge starts to feel a bit cumbersome.
> For example, about halfway through Unit III (in the USA edition), when the subjunctive comes up, there are two or three stages right in a row of introducing small new uses of the subjunctive. I have not yet been able to bring myself to going through every passage in each of these stages. It has actually worked pretty well skipping whole sections to Stage 28 (where the ablative is introduced) and just giving a list of the two or three uses of the subjunctive.
> But even at this point, after skipping some stuff to keep the pace up, it still feels like too much to get through just to teach a few more topics. I want to start reading real Latin literature soon, and really we only need to cover 1) deponent verbs 2) indirect statement and 3) ablative absolute before we can do so.
> What is everyone's opinion on transitioning away from Cambridge around Stages 28/29/30 in order to cover those three topics more quickly and simply? Does anyone else transition from Cambridge there or at a different point?

I am a pretty passionate CLC teacher.  This is my, hmmm, 13th year teaching from CLC, my 7th using Units 3 & 4. The more I teach from Unit 3 and 4, the more I like them, and even Unit 2.  The sophistication in how the grammar is introduced still blows me away.  I see new fabulous things all the time.  For instance, ille, which is first introduced as "that", by stage 15 (or sooner?) is suddenly being used at the beginning of a sentence as a pronoun for "he."  I can say with certainty  that illi (pl nom) for "they" appears for the first time in Stage 15, Caerimonia.  Now, what is so significant about this?  Well, notice WHEN we use these pronouns:  when we are switching subjects.  So, at this point, whatever was just the accusative is now the subject, or as I told my students, it screams subject change.  (Oh yeah, and I screamed that with one of  my classes just to wake them up. ha.)

Why do I care about something so small?  Because I'm all about teaching students to truly READ Latin, not to decode it.  Even if you are a good decoder of Latin, you will hit a glass ceiling with regards to quality and quantity of your reading skills.  (I could go on about that, but I'll point you instead to Dexter Hoyos's _Latin: How to Read it Fluently_.)

As for Unit 3, I am one of the odd ducks that really likes how they introduced and work the participles in the beginning.  When I test/quiz on perfect passive vs perfect active participles, I make sure that I am using other examples from the book that have additional clues.  That is, perfect passives will have an ablative of agent with them (faber, ab architecto laudatus), perfect ACCtives will have ACCs (rex, balneum ingressus,).  We also work those phrases as a UNIT, metaphrasing them in warm-ups using the placeholding phrase "Someone verbed something."  For example,

faber, ab architecto laudatus, = The craftsman, praised by the architect, verbed something.
fabrum, ab architecto laudatum, = Someone verbed the craftsman, praised by the architect.

Seeing participial phrases as whole units is something I work continuously on, but it does help students to start seeing phrasing, which is so important.

As for how the subjunctives are introduced, I like that too.  They start with the forms that require no special wording or typical subjunctive weirdness: cum clauses and indirect questions.  Then they work through the UT clauses.

I start Latin 3 with Stage 31 and go thru 40 + either 44 or 45.  And I hate it when we have to skip a story.  Each story has some tidbit, some SOMETHING that becomes useful or important later on, whether it's the first time a particular vocab item or idiom is used, or the first time a subtle construction is introduced (like qui correlatives), etc.  The first time I taught Vergil I realized just how marvelously CLC worked the NOM-DAT pairing in conversations, making the transition to Vergil's style for such things a piece of cake.  Also the way CLC works up to just using "versus" before speaking (e.g., in stage 28, where in Cena Salvii, there's a line that's something like "Salvius ad hospitem versus, 'dic mihi, Belimice,' inquit, ..."  I can't wait to take the Caesar course at UTexas this summer (to prep for AP next year) so that I will start noticing the subtleties in CLC that work up to Caesar/prose. :-)  Yes, I could go on and on about such stuff.

You might find my Cambridge quia pages useful to reinforce grammatical concepts.  We go to the computer lab once a week in Latin 2 and 3 (day before quizzes/tests), and only before tests in Latin 1 (because we don't really need computer reinforcement of details yet). 

Latin 1, Unit 1:
Latin 1, Unit 2 (thru 18):
Latin 2, Stages 19-30 (mainly Unit 3):
Latin 3, Stages 31-40, +44 (though I'll be adding 45 this year):

If you end up with your own account and import any of my activities, please at least give me credit in the blank below the link for descriptions.  Many hours (many, many hours--heck, years) went into building these activities.

Attend a Cambridge workshop, join the Cambridge list, brainstorm with other Cambridge teachers about ways to teach from the text.  But don't toss it out of hand because you aren't used to its approach and think it is too slow in introducing grammar.  Remember, its goal is to build quality READERS of Latin, and in thoughtful hands it can do just that.

Thanks for listening.
This is something I hear about; it's something I experience. Usually, it's nothing we can make a big difference in the year it's happening (to a certain extent). This is when I start brainstorming about what the problems are and how to diminish the same problems the next year. I also try to fix what I can this year.

I teach from CLC. At this time of year as well as anticipating what the rest of the semester will be like, here are the problems:

Latin 1: noun-adj agreement, (or ever having learned Nom, Dat, and Acc cases), relative pronouns
Latin 2: how to tell the UT clauses apart; what the heck subjunctives are; (lacking) full understanding and appreciation of participles
Latin 3: present subjunctives vs future vs present indicative; infinitives (all sorts) in indirect discourse.

The other thing in general why students seem to lose it 2nd semester is that they aren't retaining what they were supposed to learn 1st semester and thus are frustrated and start to tune out. For your average kid, language learning takes lots of repetition and reinforcement. I always try to listen carefully to Latin 2 students at the beginning of the year to understand what stuck and what didn't. For instance, I use model sentences of my own design to help aide in learning NOM, DAT, & ACC endings and don't switch to a complete noun chart until GEN and ABL are added near the end of the year.

My model sentences are as follows:
ancilla puellae statuam dat.
ancillae puellis statuas dant.
dominus servo anulum dabat.
domini servis anulos dabant.
mater* patri infantem dedit.
matres patribus infantes dederunt.

I line the words up in columns. The advantages of starting with something like this is that the students have a framework/a context in which to understand the endings. The slavegirl gives a statue to the girl. Function is apparent with the sentence, endings still line up in a useful fashion. The sentence pattern, NOM + DAT + ACC + Verb is often a common one in CLC at this point (plus it does show up in "real" Latin and is a useful pattern). (Hmmm.... I should write another entry about sentence patterns and why I like them in CLC.)

ANYWAY. Over the years I've found these sentence really helpful. However, I've had Latin 2 students telling me that they never got the sentences. We don't really use them after we start truly declining nouns, except in discussing sentence patterns.

So, where do I go wrong? What could help?

Obviously I didn't hammer in nearly enough why they are useful and how to use them. I didn't hammer in that it wasn't about the WORDS but about the endings. So this year with the Latin 1's now that we're into Unit 2 (several stages into knowing all three cases), we still SAY the whole sentences, but I only write out the endings on the board while we say them. In this way students are able to focus on the critical information. We review constantly how to remember the cases (and also the sentence pattern) -- Never (nom) Date (dat) A (acc) Vegetarian (verb), the fact that they are lined up singular plural singular plural, etc. So right now before we start doing the assigned warm-up:

-a -ae -am -t
-ae -is -as -nt
-us -o -um -t
-i -is -os -nt
-* -i -em -t
-es -ibus -es -nt

Honestly, each year I use these model sentences, and I've been using them for a dozen years now, I find more benefits from them. First, I like having the SENTENCES for context. Once we start these in stage 9, this pattern is used again and again throughout the text (not to mention showing up in real Latin), and it helps students to see the pattern. Second, when we drop it down to just endings visually but keep saying the sentences that are able to MAINTAIN the connection that words and endings are integrated. Inflectional languages are such a different concept to kids.

This week, after we chanted out the sentences & wrote the endings on the board but before we went any further, we talked about how nouns and adjectives agree--and I gave a few simple examples like amici boni or discipulam laetam. First students said that their endings matched up. We stared at the chart some more and talked about what that meant. We finally teased out the concepts of CASE, NUMBER & GENDER. It was a good discussion and helped them to see for themselves.

Anyway, afterwards we METAPHRASED noun/adjective pairs as a unit. By Latin 2 they will be metaphrasing whole participial phrases. That is, I gave them word pairs like the following: (These come from "Rufilla" p 30--the story they were going to be reading later on.)

The metaphrasing sentence only has NOM DAT ACC VERB => Someone verbed something to someone. (That is, we haven't learned genitives and thus they aren't an option.)

1) optimum maritum
2) duae ornatrices
3) multas amicas
4) matronae Romanae (2 ways)

And they would write:
1) Someone verbed the best husband to someone.
2) The 2 hairdressers verbed something to someone.
3) Someone verbed many girlfriends.
4) The Roman ladies verbed something to someone.
OR Someone verbed something to the Roman lady.

We discussed 2 and 4 at length. With #2 we talked about 1st and 3rd declension words being able to go together, that most importantly they must line up in the same column (for case). With #4 we discussed the importance of context and word order. Yes, in the future it will change and be more pliable, but it will NEVER be random (and anyone who thinks that really doesn't understand Latin literature). Currently the patterns we are seeing with Datives are as an indirect object, with special verbs like credit and favet, and most recently with phrases like difficile est mihi (dative) + infinitive.

Such warm-ups (followed by vocab drill) get their brains ready for the story we will b reading.

Anyway, I've been working on writing this on and off (more off than on) for several days, and since it's just a blog I'm going to let it ramble. The main point I want to make is that repetition, even if you are sure they should know their endings or whatever you are working on, really helps. Some students just don't get how important learning endings are until very late in the year. Keep cycling back and adding on. Students give up 2nd semester because they feel like there's no way to catch up and learn what they were supposed to have gotten by now. If you can keep reviewing in manner that covers the old stuff while adding the new, it becomes far more doable.

Metaphrasing in the simplistic way I do it (I know that University of Michigan folks get into more detail) has improved my own reading dramatically over the last few years. It's one of my favorite tools in my toolbox, and it is really very helpful in getting students to understand structure without resorting to grammatical terminology every time (like direct object vs indirect object, etc).

More thoughts on Latin 2 and 3 next, I think.

meaty comments

Feb. 5th, 2012 03:09 pm
ginlindzey: At ACL (Default)
I posted the following on the CLC list earlier. I was hoping it would encourage more similarly "meaty" or useful posts, but really there's only been a flutter of "how I get my students to remember the participles." Is it me, or didn't the original poster want true HELP with using CLC Unit 3? I hear this problem all the time. The stories are longer, the students get frustrated, the teachers don't have ideas about how to truly teach the bigger concepts. That is, for many teachers there's just the endings/morphology and then the sentence, with the idea that if you memorize everything you can "decode" everything. But that's not enough. You have to help build structure. And here, in my reply, I'm talking about how to really internalize whole participial phrases, or so I think.

Is it just me?

Anyway, here was the initial post and my reply:

> This is my third year teaching, all three with the CLC. I love Cambridge,
> but I hope to learn strategies to become a more effective teacher
> (particularly with respect to the Unit III "green" book). I also hope to
> contribute to discussions from time to time, especially as I gain more
> experience.

I confess that the more I teach from CLC, the more I appreciate the artistry of Unit 3/the Green book. I like how it introduces participles; I like the progressions in development of clauses and phrases that are equivalent to "after he said/heard this" from postquam through many variations until you get to ablative absolutes. Part of me wants to write at length about all that I find neat in this book, but perhaps it would be better if you ask something specific--some particular aspect that your students don't get.

For instance, I demand that they be able to tell identify and of course accurately translate a present active, perfect active, and perfect passive participle. For present participles, I will often write preseNT [sic] to remind them to look for NT or NS. For perfect ACtive [sic] I tell them to look for ACcusative [sic] objects (and will only include on tests/quizzes perfect active participles that have accusative objects, and explain that of course they do not always have to have one, but when one is there you know for sure without looking the word up in the dictionary that it is a perfect active participle). For perfect passive participles, we say that they are "passing by" to remember that it has a/ab ablative of agents or ablative of means.

Also, for warm-ups, I will have them metaphrase whole participial phrases to get them used to them coming as a chunk or unit, and will often require the whole phrase to be translated on a vocabulary quiz (my quizzes are in context). To metaphrase, we use the placeholding sentence, "Someone verbed something (to someone)."

So, for instance, I might have the following:

1. Memor, togam praetextam gerens,
2. rex, e balneo egressus,
3. libertum frustra resistentem
4. templum, a fabris Romanis aedificatum, (*2 ways)

So the above would be:

1. Memor, wearing a toga praetexta, verbed something. (That is, the whole phrase is the subject.)
2. The king, having left from the bath, verbed something. (Once again, the whole phrase is the subject.)
3. Someone verbed the freedman resisting in vain. (The whole phrase is the direct object.)
4. a) The temple, built by Roman craftsmen, verbed something. (If the neuter is acting as the subject....)
b) Someone verbed the temple, built by Roman craftsmen. (If the neuter is acting as the object.)

As for the "progressions," you might want to see something I wrote for CAMWS a couple of years ago, a portion of which I posted here:
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.

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.

 This is from a thread on the Cambridge list about using in context vocab quizzes.

> I have the identical problem and have been using the

> identical solution -- half credit for the meaning of the word

> outside its context, full credit for the meaning of the word

> in the sentence. I have also had the same result -- most

> students STILL won't make the effort to read the sentence.

Part of the problem is that some students don't make the connection to the importance of morphology. In my daily warm-ups, I focus on training students to see the details. So if we're doing verbs, I might throw up a list of verbs in a variety of tenses and person and give the following instructions: circumscribite indicatores temporis et terminationes tum transvertite. That is, part of the instructions is circling tense indicators and endings BEFORE translating. On the quizzes, I give extra credit (just a point, but it adds up) if they use "rigorous reading" (circling and such) on the sentences in question.

For nouns, I might throw up a list and ask them to metaphrase (metaphrasite!--yeah, I made that up), another way to get them to focus on the endings.

There are also practice quizzes that preview some information and that helps too, but I really think teaching them HOW TO SEE the morphology helps considerably--how to see it and connect with it.

Some students will read the sentences but others won't because they are afraid that if they don't know a word or two in the sentence that it's not worth the bother. I also work on getting them to see that even if they come across a word or two that they don't know, that they can sub in a placeholder ("verbed", etc) so they can see the shape and meaning of the rest of the sentence.

I had a student taking a make-up quiz yesterday morning grinning from ear to ear because she remembered the meaning of a word once she *read* the sentence.

I truly think it's worth all this--training them how to see and focus on the endings, giving them the extra point for circling the endings, etc--because it does get more students to the next level of Latin.

I think one reason why Latin is considered/used to be considered to be so hard is that we taught all the morphology up front, which in Blooms Taxonomy of cognitive thinking is just knowledge level/rote memorization, and then moved into reading Latin which is more analysis and synthesis (high level skills). We all know the student who can decline and conjugate and hasn't a clue what to do with a sentence--and this is why. We didn't have much in between the knowledge/low level skills and the high level skills. Some students make/made the leap, some don't/didn't.

I have been trying to build those in-between skills, trying to bridge the gap between the vocab and endings and the context of Latin in a sentence. And it can be frustrating. But it can also be rewarding when you see the strugglers begin to understand just why I make them circle things in the warm-ups--when they see how all the pieces fit together. WHEN they see the big picture--WHY we do all that we do--that's when they start to invest themselves in their work. Students will take shortcuts if no one will show them why they shouldn't. That's just the way students are.

And it is all a learning process for both student and teacher.  What I see as serious weaknesses in my Latin 2s are things I focus more on in Latin 1.  

I've been really out of it lately--such a severe lack of sleep that I can hardly think--but right now I feel like I have my wits about me and I'm remembering something I was brainstorming about the other day: the Latin Toolbox.  I'm thinking of making up a review sheet for the current Latin 1's that is extra large (11" x 17") that will be the picture of a toolbox when folded up.  It will open, and inside reveal little compartment of "tools" we have and use in Latin: noun endings/verb endings; metaphrasing; circling; rereading; other things.  I had a decent list going the other day written on *something* (which unfortunately I think is still at school).  The point is I didn't want it to just be a grammar sheet or guide.  I wanted it to be more--to have things that make us better at Latin.  Things that help us in approaching something written in Latin in front of us.

Yesterday we read "Quintus de se" in stage 16.  First we did our prereading (another tool), talking about the title (which allowed me to review how "se" works), then reading/repeating the vocab underneath.  Brundisium and Athens was mentioned, so we looked at a map, talked briefly about Roman travel, etc, and that wrapped up the prereading.  Then I read the story to them, after which we read the story together--straight through in Latin mind you.  After that we went back and translated it together.  But when we were done with that I we read it one more time in Latin together, and I warned them that now that they know what it all means, that they needed to read it with FEELING.  After that we discussed how good it felt to read it in Latin and understand it in Latin.

In fact, while we're talking about why it's better to understand it in Latin, we had a nice case and point, so to speak, in that story.  At one point King Cogidubnus asks, "pecuniam habebas?"  Students struggled with translating that because they knew that -ba- meant was -ing but that just sounded dumb.  "Were you having money?" Yeah, right. We'd never say that.  But this led to a nice discussion on tenses, on the difference between perfect and imperfect and the idea that Cogidubnus wanted to know whether he had money DURING all this time--all this ongoing time in the past.  Nice.

I was listening to a parent of an AP Student at another school who said his daughter was *done* with Latin.  That the AP Latin Lit lines had gone up this year, that it was hard, hard, hard work all year long--translating and memorizing, translating and memorizing.  I know the teacher and I respect her tremendously.  And I know her approach to class--having students write out (or have typed out/printed out) all the lines double/triple spaced to have room to write the grammar over the words and a translation.  Not a bad approach and certainly makes students accountable for the details.

BUT, in the same time that might have allowed students to write out a complete translation of Quintus de se, during which they would have looked at the Latin only long enough to turn it into English, we read it FOUR TIMES.  3 times straight through in the Latin, seeing the Latin in the context of the phrase, sentence, paragraph and story, and the other time slowly translating it into English, making sure we understood the details.

I haven't taught AP.  I'm probably full of stercus because I don't know what I haven't taught.  But it seems to me that if we really train students to READ Latin and not just translate it, if we train them to spend more time IN THE LATIN than working on their English, that they will be better, faster readers in the long run.

Surely there's a way to compromise between the hard detail work of writing down every damn thing which is so time consuming, and the fluff of barely touching it once?  Surely if we train students to see, TO TRULY SEE the importance of rereading by MODELING IT in class EARLY ON--as I did with this Quintus de se story--then we can trust them to make more appropriate notes on AP homework and to spend the majority of their time just reading and rereading the Latin.

I want my students, when studying for the AP, NOT to be studying translations, but to be reading the Latin and perhaps thinking how much they liked a particular poem or section instead of thinking "I remember that one, what's next..."

I want more time to think and brainstorm and plan.  I vowed that I would rest today; I know I've been going full tilt lately and it's just about wiped me out.  But I want a full AP class in 2 years.  I want it full; I want to get to a point where I never have split-level classes again.  It's just too hard and not fair to the students.

Time to locate a test that needs revising.

This was a reply to something on Latinteach that I thought I'd include here. Clearly I must be rested or something because I'm writing more of these posts again. (Feels good, feels more like my old self!)

The first two missive are from other folks on Latinteach, the last long bit is me rambling on.

>> Do most Latin teachers leave mention of grammar out of their daily
>> teaching objectives entirely?

> Even I, who am largely opposed to teaching grammar as if it were the
> same thing as teaching Latin, would say no. In any unit, I hold in
> mind what grammatical structures are going to be new, and I find ways
> to work with them in a meaningful context without focusing on them.
> When, after doing that, students begin to notice them and ask about
> them, I give brief, pointed instruction about them.

First, I want to applaud all of you who have daily objectives. I think about how really incredible I could be (you know what I mean) if I had the time to do all that I am *supposed* to do. This is the first year that I haven't been religious in filling out my lesson plan book--I hardly feel I have time to stop and do that in between prepping like mad for the next class! I guess some years are like that.

But, like Robert said above, it's not that I oppose grammar, I just don't find it as a means to an end. I center my teaching around my philosophy of learning to read Latin as a language (not a secret code) that can be read in word order. I introduce cases and function not with a noun chart, which we eventually get to, but with model sentences of my own design that work as a chart of sorts but which only include Nom Dat Acc--I add on Gen and Abl later when we hit it in unit 2 of CLC. But even then, I am talking not just about function in the context of the sentence but also case. It's a package deal to me. I don't want to teach "memorize these endings and then apply it in this way" because some kids will not make that leap from simple rote memory (knowledge level in Blooms Taxonomy) to higher level thinking skills (analysis and synthesis). I try to work the middle ground because there's no other way to grow a program if you don't (she says, determined not to teach split-level ever again!).

But for instance, today we were really working noun/adjective agreement. I did this in the context of metaphrasing during the warm-up. The students had such phrases as:

1) meAs amIcAs
2) duae OrnAtrIcEs
3) fEminae ROmAnae
4) marItum optimum

So I asked them to metaphrase first and THEN to label case, number, and gender, explaining that the sooner they understood CNG and noun/adjective agreement, the easier the little Latin lives would be. So, metaphrased you've got:

1) Someone verbed my (girl) friends.
2) The two hairdressers verbed someone.
3)--A. The Roman matrons verbed someone. OR --B. Someone verbed something to the Roman matron.
4) Someone verbed the best husband.

This they would do first, demonstrating that they are not only aware of case but also the FUNCTION of the case. Then it was easy to go back and walk them through case, number, and gender for each one. By the time we were done (I think I had 8 or 9), the majority of the class got the concept. (Frankly, it felt great.)

I know I'm kind of drifting off the topic here, that of objectives. If I were to write up formal objectives for today's lesson, it would have been something like, "SWBAT (students will be able to) demonstrate through metaphrasing and understanding of both case morphology and syntactical function, and develop an understanding of noun/adjective agreement; afterward, they will read a story with greater comprehension and understanding of such examples in context." (Ok, I'm not really good at writing these things, but you see the track I'm on.)

Actually, we are supposed to have our objectives posted in the room--and I fully appreciate and understand how useful this would be. I just don't have the space--I use my white boards almost completely. Where I do sometimes try to write them (ok, and then forget to change them) is high up--a stretch for me (for those who don't know me, I'm only 5 feet tall). That's my excuse. (Lousy, admittedly.)

In an ideal world--like with essays and all the things we want to do to be the best teachers that we can be--I'd have a large whiteboard devoted only to objectives--big and loud--and keep up with them every day. They say students who have objectives posted in their rooms achieve more than those who don't. (Of course, I wonder if it's because the objectives are there, or because the teacher, by writing the objectives, has fully articulated what he or she is after, which has helped in planning of a superior lesson!)

So grammar does indeed have its place. It can clarify points that usage sometimes can't, or help to consolidate material. But here's what's the most important thing of all: your objectives should reflect what YOU THE TEACHER think is important. We all teach in different ways, ways that work for us, ways that we think work for students. We are like artists--and my artwork is not better or worse than yours, just different.

So if you want to include grammar in your objectives, do it. Do what reflects what you are doing and what works for you.

For what it's worth, the students I've had in the past have been, well, lousy at noun-adjective agreement. There are often retakes on tests regarding this. And I'd like to say that I planned out this warm-up with lots of forethought. I don't get that sort of time to brainstorm anymore. (That's part of my problem--I love to brainstorm and I haven't been able to do much of that this year!) BUT the more I use metaphrasing, the better students seem to get at it and at the concept of case/function. So adding the new topic of noun/adjective agreement was easy. Most of the students balked a bit at first, struggling with the warm-up, feeling unsure. But as we reviewed and worked through each one, I heard more and more voices chiming in with the right answer.

Only time will tell if this has been as successful as I thought. But this is such a HUGE concept, one worth going slowly over. I was going to rush through this stage/chapter, because I feel like I'm so far behind, but I realized that SO MUCH ELSE depends on a solid understanding of this! Relative clauses, participles--especially participles!, pronouns/antecedants, perfect passives, indirect statements (depending upon the type of infinitive), etc.

I have Latin 2's that are still struggling with case--did I go to fast last year? Did I assume all were catching on? Are these just strugglers who hid it well last year? I don't know. BUT I want to do EVERYTHING in my power to make sure that this is not a concept that many struggle with next year. (One can dream!)

Right. I'm rambling again. Time to go do something more productive. Or differently productive.
I'm working this spring break on a paper for CAMWS. I thought that part of it might be worth posting here. It's about teaching split level classes, and the importance of routines, including warm-ups. This first bit is about what I do with level 1 Latin, but then, what I thought would be useful to post here, is what I do about level 2 and above.

A typical day in my classroom begins with a warm-up (praeparātiō) that focuses on some aspect of the grammar or morphology. For instance, if in Latin 1 we have just learned datives, I might present students with a list of nouns to metaphrase using the placeholding sentence “Someone verbed something to someone.”:

• servō: Someone verbed something TO THE SLAVE.
• discōs: Someone verbed THE DISCUSES to someone.
• hospitibus: Someone verbed something TO THE GUESTS.
• amīcum: Someone verbed THE FRIEND to someone.
• dominus: THE MASTER verbed something to someone.
• ancillae*: THE SLAVEGIRLS verbed something to someone; Someone verbed something TO THE SLAVEGIRLS.

And I will purposely throw in something that leads to discussion about how to disambiguate identical forms such as ancillae (nominative plural) and ancillae (dative singular) when one is READING Latin. From here, I typically drill vocabulary with large flashcards, stopping to review forms of new words, discuss declensions, and other such topics as necessary.

I will still have similar sorts of things on warm-ups, emphasizing how Latin fits together as a language, and not just focusing on new forms in isolation. For instance, when working on participles, I gave them not single words but phrases to metaphrase:

• mīlitēs, ā centuriōnibus iussī,: THE SOLDIERS, ORDERED BY THE CENTURION, verbed something.
• Agricolam castra intrantem: Someone verbed AGRICOLA ENTERING THE CAMP.
• Salvius Agricolam intrantem cōnspicātus: SALVIUS HAVING CAUGHT SIGHT OF AGRICOLA ENTERING verbed something.

This once again reviews not only the morphology, but also the context and phrasing. I spend a fair amount of time discussing how compact Latin is, how sentences in a Latin narrative will develop in a chronological order. That is, in the sentence, mīlitēs, ā centuriōnibus iussī, multa et varia faciēbant, the soldiers don’t begin doing the many different things until after they are ordered to do so. Likewise, in the sentence, subitō Salvius, Agricolam intrantem cōnspicātus, ad eum festīnāvit ut salūtāret, Salvius can’t catch sight of Agricola until Agricola first enters, and he can’t hurry to Agricola until he’s caught sight of Agricola, and he can’t greet Agricola until he’s first hurried over to him.

As Latin becomes more difficult for students at level 2 and 3, it is more important than ever that such warm-ups and reviews take place. Students who have taken Latin in a split level or independent course are often not lacking in their knowledge of morphology, but in their understanding of phrasing and context—in their knowledge of the big picture. Therefore, I try to discuss such aspects of Latin before sending students off to work on their own, before letting the Cambridge Latin Course continue what I start. The continuous, interesting storyline combined with the repetition of new forms in context help to reinforce what I am teaching without my being present 100% of the time.


I don't know (yet) whether the macrons that were included in the above text will show up on this blog site, but perhaps they will.

Do other people do things like this? I'm not sure. I do know that I had Latin 2 and 3 in independent study. I learned the morphology dutifully but it took years before I could truly see phrasing and think about sentences as a language, not some secret language to decode. Perhaps I would have gotten some of these things from my teacher if I hadn't have taken Latin as independent study. But who can say?
There was a query on Latinteach the other day from a new/student teacher about reading/translating and some games and such that could be done. While my students will tell you that I'm a lot of fun, I won't do a game unless there's real merit in it and it doesn't take up time that could be spent better.

And I think you CAN do reading activities that seem fun but are not fluff. Anyway, I'm sure I've posted about all of these things here before, if not repeatedly, but I was feeling more my old self when I wrote this post so I thought I'd include it here:

There are a variety of ways to approach readings, especially if you are using a book like CLC with a lot of stories and good plots.

Using a reading card occasionally or metaphrasing helps students to see/focus on the morphology.

For instance, take Marcus Sullae murum ostendit (state 11). If you read it one word at a time, covering up the rest of the sentence and only revealing one word at a time, you can metaphrase it:

MARCUS verbed something to someone.
Marcus verbed something TO SULLA.
Marcus verbed THE WALL to Sulla. (Then have them guess the verb!)
Marcus SHOWED the wall to Sulla.

Of course, to do this all the time is slow and tedious.

But what about when in stage 13 you meet in the model sentences: villam et servos curat?

Students start making the house do things, etc. Then I get them to stop and think and metaphrase:

Someone verbed THE HOUSE.
Someone verbed the house AND something.
Someone verbed the house AND the slaves. (What do you think Varica the overseer did?)
He takes care of the house and the slaves.

You can, of course, do this with very long sentences, helping students to see phrasing and even the logic of the Roman sentence.

ANOTHER FUN thing to do with readings, and I've done this with the beast hunt/venatio in stage 8, is to have students act out the reading. I handed out pictures from the internet (laminated) of wolves, fierce dogs, deer, lions, etc. Then I read the story and they needed to follow along and act things out. If they were not acting appropriately, I would ask them in Latin (currisne per portam? NOLI AMBULARE! etc)

ALSO GOOD is questioning in Latin. Focus on only one or two words at a time at first, or two words in contrast. If you have a story with a lot of prepositional phrases, you can use QUO, UBI, and UNDE to emphasize the different types of prepositional phrases. Once we got datives, I was varying between quis and cui. (They are still shaky on that, and we'll do it again next week.)

BTW, I almost always do questioning in a choral response to lower the stress level and raise participation for the group as a whole. After I ask a given question, and if only a few respond, I will ask the same question again so EVERYONE can respond.


What I do find--and it's difficult to address in a split level class--is that Latin 2 seems to get bogged down and "less" fun. Why that is, I'm not sure. Part is most definitely that the students who have been slacking all this time are beginning to suffer for it, but part of it--at least I think--is just being in a split level class and not being able to truly build upon things ever day. When we do have a day together, I feel like we are busy trying to answer all the questions and review what they weren't "getting" that I can't do the things I'd like to. For instance, if I had Latin 2 every day, I could read a story with them one day & translate, I could spend the next day with the new story or the old story just doing oral questioning. I feel like so many things have dropped this year; so many I had to compromise on.

I spent yesterday at our Area F JCL convention. Friday night I read certamen questions and just had so much fun. Yesterday I judged dramtic interp and the play competition. ALL I could think about was how much I ENJOYED it. My schedule--the split levels, the English classes, the zero hour class--has kept me from even feeling human this year.

And then these last couple of days, we've talked about things on Latinteach that I actually contributed to. I haven't contributed much these last couple of years and these recent topics reminded me that I do know what I'm doing OR at least know where I'd like to be. I'm not just showing videos in Latin and requiring vocabulary. We're actually READING Latin. I took four students to competition. Of the Latin 1 students, the two that took the reading comprehension test and sight recitation BOTH placed in BOTH events. In the grand scheme of things, *that's* what we are teaching. What a shame that so many students (and teachers?) shy away from these two events--the two events that require no studying, really, if you are taught Latin well in school. Maybe I am doing something right this year after all....
I was asked to participate in a survey on how we teachers continue to make Latin fun. For some reason, just the premise of the survey irritated me. Perhaps it's because I've come to see that too many level 1 Latin teachers have made their careers out of keeping Latin fun so their enrollments for level 1 are large--they must be large because their enrollments for Latin 3 and 4 are small.

Ok...that's sounding really crabby. I don't mean it to, but when I was CPL Chair (Committee for the Promotion of Latin) and getting stuff going with National Latin Teacher Recruitment Week, I was having to really think about WHY--*W*H*Y*--programs have problems building on the strength of Latin itself.

Is Latin really that hard? Or do we teach it in a way that weeds out anyone that isn't totally bright and can teach themselves more or less? Ok, still being a bit crabby, but I'm not talented with languages. I'm not fluent. I'm just your average nerdy disciplined student who has the ability to think creatively. I have to work at truly reading Latin, but NOW at least I know HOW to develop these skills. In fact, I told my students last Friday for NLTRW that my goal was to make them better at Latin than what I was.

ANYWAY, here's the survey:

> >>1. At what type of school do you teach?
> >>(public/private/parochial/cyber)


> >>2. Do you teach high school or middle school or both?
> What grades
> >>and/or age levels you teach?

Up until this year I taught at an inner city middle school. I am now in a growing town outside of Austin (TX) at a high school, though I think I will be split between high school and middle school next year.

> >>3. What textbook(s) do you use?

Cambridge Latin Course. I am finishing up the Latin 2's and 3's on Ecce Romani as well.

> >>4. Is the textbook geared for games and/or fun
> activities? Does your
> >>program come with ancillary activities on other media
> (e.g., CD, DVD,
> >>enrichment activities)?

There may well be activities available but I create my own to suit my own philosophical approach to teaching Latin and language acquisition.

> >>5. In general, what do you do in the classroom that
> enhances student
> >>enjoyment:
> >>a. decorate the room

Yes, I have a lot of posters, mainly those which I designed myself that are available through my shop at CaféPress called AnimaAltera ( These posters feature sites in Pompeii and Rome. I also have others that are downloadable that I created for NCLG that you can find at

> >>b. arrange desks

Occasionally, but not too often.

> >>c. give Latin names to students

Absolutely. And the names are used as well as bullas (on test/quiz days). I often can't remember the students' real names!

> >>d. Other

In Latin 1 currently (but not in Latin 2/3 which is split level and pressed for time anyway), we do the weather in Latin. I have rotating jobs and vaticinator/vaticinatrix is one of them. They have a prompt sheet (poster) and picture cards for the weather. The script goes something like this:

"salvete! vaticinator hodiernus sum. mihi nomen est Marcus." The audience then says, "salve, Marce! quod caelum est?" Marcus then replies, having flipped through the cards and found appropriate cards, "sol lucet et ventosum est." The audience repeats the terms. Then Marcus says, "gratias et valete!" and the audience replies "vale!"

We get to practice vocatives, among other things, by doing this and all names are learned. I need to revise what I do with this to include the day of the week, etc.

> >>6. What learning styles do you use that may increase
> student enjoyment
> >>and learning?

I do a wide variety of things--some visual, oral, audio, written, you name it. I'm big on oral, esp when supported with written (to look at) for those who need it. I read A LOT to my students--very dramatically. My captive audience.... I read and read again. I discuss what I do and why and try to build the idea that Latin is a language to be read and spoken, NOT deciphered. Each year I try to do more and more oral Latin in class--more questioning and discussing of the text in Latin, etc.

> >>7. What traditional games do you employ in your
> classroom to increase
> >>student enjoyment and learning (e.g., VINCO - Latin Bingo, popcorn,
> >>Latin Jeopardy, Periculum Latinum, tic-tac-toe)?

I have used flyswatter and will occasionally use calidum/frigidum (where I hide a toy dog and the students chant whatever (sum, es, est, sumus, estis, sunt, etc) either loudly or softly depending on how close I am to the dog. It's good for getting over the initial hump of troublesome conjugations. But I don't do a ton of games just to keep Latin fun.

> >>8. What games have you developed?

Playing Go Fish (I Piscatum) in Latin based on terminology from a Vives dialog and other research. We play entirely in Latin, working noun/adjective agreement; acc plurals; subj verb agreement, etc. The students think they are just getting a day off, so to speak, from reading Latin, but they are practicing many forms and building up their comfort levels in speaking Latin and expanding their abilities to express themselves outside of the set vocabulary of the game.

> >>9. Have you learned that certain games or activities
> lend themselves to
> >>certain grammatical or cultural topics? Please list and explain.

See above.

> >>10. Do you use crossword puzzles? If so, how do you create them?

Rarely. I'd rather my students actually do something active with the language. Now...if I made up the crosswords in Latin, that might be something else... Hmmm....anything that keeps them in the language would be good....

I do use Puzzlemaker from time to time (online) when I need puzzles, but usually that's for something with my own children at home.

> >>11. What technology do you use in planning and
> implementing lessons?

In PLANNING? I sometimes use PowerPoint, esp for the Latin 3's, for warm-ups, but I don't have access to a projector so I rarely use PowerPoint for the whole class. I use it for warm-ups for Latin 3 because there are only 8 of them and I can build in the answers after they do whatever has been set for them.

> >>12. Do you use,, or
> other websites for
> >>planning and implementing lessons? Which ones and how?

Quia. Extensively. Test prep, mainly.,,,

I use these because I am trying to support learning the language IN THE CONTEXT OF A SENTENCE. Students get immediate, one-on-one feedback, and if my comments in the feedback section isn't enough for them, I am roaming around the room monitoring progress and helping to understand certain concepts--subj/verb agreement, for instance, or when the dative is used, etc.

> >>13. Do you use index cards for games or in an interesting way?

I often drill vocab with large flashcards. Occasionally we play Build-A-Sentence which uses flashcards. I got this from Joe Davenport. It is a structured composition game that is team based. You have two sets of cards that have the same words. For instance, you'd have these:

Ancilla/ancillam (front/back)

Teams go up and you call out an English sentence: The slavegirl carries the dog. The dog hits the slave. The slavegirl is a dog. Etc. The first group to hold up the correct cards wins a point. We freeze, discuss what's right with the one group and what's wrong with the other group. After playing for about 8 sentences, I then put the same sentences on the overhead for students to translate into Latin correctly individually. It's a good way to see who's getting certain concepts and who isn't.

> >>14. Please comment if you have any engaging strategies
> in teaching the
> >>following:
> >>
> >>a. Pictures/drawings/Digital Photos
> >>b. Cultural Projects
> >>c. Festivals (Saturnalia, Lupercalia, Lemuria, Ides of
> March, etc)
> >>d. Philadelphia Classical Society project
> >>e. National Latin Exam
> >>f. National Myth Exam or Medusa Mythology Exam
> >>g. Inspiration
> >>h. Vocabulary
> >>i. Derivatives
> >>j. Movies and or videos
> >>k. Pop Culture
> >>l. Special phrases and mnemonics- “Ham and 5 eggs,” “PAIN” words

Because the perfect tense conjugation is tricky, I use the following song to the tune of 3 Blind Mice:

i, isti, it; i, isti, it
imus, istis, erunt; imus, istis, erunt
You take the 3rd principal part
Drop the i and then you add
i, isti, it, imus, istis, erunt

For regular ending I use most must isn't (m/o, s, t; mus, tis, nt).

I have developed my own model sentences for use with Cambridge until all cases are met:
ancilla puellae statuam dat.
ancillae puellis statuas dant.
dominus servo anulum dabat.
domini servis anulos dabant.
mater* patri infantem dedit.
matres patribus infantes dederunt.

I use these because it keeps the endings in context (declining is artificial) and gives the students something to hang the endings on. They work well. I add on phrases for the genitive and ablative later on, and then eventually teach the noun ending song that's at Able Media. You can't get away from how charts are organized. But more important than being able to decline is being able to UNDERSTAND. Plenty of adults can still decline a noun and tell you about derivatives, but they can't read Latin. I want my students to be able to read Latin first and foremost.

> >>m. Noun and verb endings
> >>n. Other: _______________ (list and explain)

I try to limit my game playing to something that's tied directly with using the language. I don’t do as much as I'd like--partially because of time constraints, partially because of administrivia, etc. But I don't want to play games that only work knowledge level learning. Too many teachers of level 1 Latin do nothing but knowledge level work--memorize this chart, etc--and then hope that students will be bright enough to put it all together. I try to do things that work on the other skills on Blooms Taxonomy, that build comprehension and synthesis and analysis. I try to build in the steps in between--and it's not all games. I do a fair amount of metaphrasing for warm-ups. I might give them a set of nouns in different cases which they have to metaphrase like this:

Ancillam> Someone verbed the slavegirl.
Cani> Someone verbed something to/for the dog.
Hospites> The guests verbed something OR Someone verbed the guests.

I might provide an entire sentence to be metaphrased, esp if it is one that most people messed up somehow on an assignment or test:

(Pulling a sentence at random from the nearest book:)
Subito feles sacra, quam Clemens mulcere solebat, e templo exiit.

Here are the steps they would take (mind you, this is just for a warm-up; we wouldn’t do this for every sentence!!)

Suddenly someone verbed something.
Suddenly the cat verbed someone OR the cats verbed someone OR someone verbed the cats
Suddenly the sacred cat verbed someone (demonstrates how adjectives can disambiguate nouns)
Suddenly the sacred cat, which someone verbed, verbed something.
Suddenly the sacred cat, which Clemens verbed, verbed something.
Suddenly the sacred cat, which Clemens verbed to pet, (and we now easily EXPECT solebat--thus are reading with expectation, as any good reader should), verbed something.
Suddenly the sacred cat, which Clemens was accustomed to pet, verbed something.
Suddenly the sacred cat, which Clemens was accustomed to pet, verbed from the temple.
Suddenly the sacred cat, which Clemens was accustomed to pet, left from the temple.

NOW, my point is that if you are a dynamic teacher, and you read with lots of dramatics, and get your students to read with lots of dramatics, AND you give them the tools to read in word order so that long sentences do not freak them out, then you have made Latin fun WITHOUT ALL THE GAMES.

Yes, it's important to have fun in Latin. But frankly, winning a game isn't nearly as much fun or deeply satisfying as TOTALLY understanding the Latin or being able to speak and read it. My proudest moment last year was during my all Latin week. I was still teaching at an inner city middle school, didn't have a lot of high achievers, but one day we sat in a big circle took turns reading outloud from the beginning of CLC Unit 1. You read as much or as little as you wanted (at least one sentence) then pointed to your neighbor. I had fun reading when it was my turn, and after having read a whole story (that was a favorite of mine), other students realized they could do that too. One squirrelly boy--bright but not a great student--read an entire story (I think about the thief in stage 6) so well and so dramatically and with such personal enjoyment that I went home knowing I had done my job well after all. (It had been a tough year--gangs, discipline issues at school, and being terminated because I spoke up against what the new administration was not doing.)

Fun and games? They have their place. Have your students read outloud and read well--now that's fun.
There was a lengthy discussion on the Cambridge list about students not doing well on the stage tests. I finally weighed in this morning with this:

First, I just want to say, especially for those new to Cambridge, that we do talk a lot about the Cambridge philosophy--that grammar and vocabulary are best internalized and assimilated by reading and using the language.
Cambridge has a wonderful storyline that promotes reading that few other texts can match.

As teachers, though, the Cambridge text is a tool--a good tool (a great
tool) if we think about how best to use it. To do that, you have to think about what your true ultimate goal is. We should all have reading Latin as our goal, yes? And to read Latin well, you do have to master morphology.
And mastering morphology one case at a time isn't that difficult if the focus is there all along.

One of the problems new teachers to Cambridge have is not knowing how to support the mastering of morphology and syntax without going back to drill and kill. When we separate morphology and syntax issues from the reading of Latin and then assume that all students can put it back together--and that's where we lose students (by Latin 3).

I think we all know that teaching is a creative vocation that allows for personalized approaches. To emphasize from the very beginning that morphology matters and that you can't just guess from context and vocabulary what the sentence means, I metaphrase. The basic metaphrasing sentence is "someone verbed something to someone" (of course if you haven't gotten to the dative, you can leave that one out).

So, for warm-ups, I might put five "first words" that are in different cases and force students to recognize the word for all it means, morphology and all. For instance, I might list words like this:

servO (caps for macrons)

And the answers would be:
Someone verbed something to the slave.
Someone verbed the slave girls.
Someone verbed the thieves OR The thieves verbed someone. (and then we discuss how you can figure out which it is)

Such exercises allow for us to discuss morphology, but in the context of a sentence.

Then when we approach a reading, we do prereading activities, including repeating the vocab under a story. So, flipping open Unit 2 just now and looking at the words under "coniUrAtiO" I see pugiOnem. For that word, we would say, "Someone verbed the dagger." I might even ask WHY I did this and make them tell me because it is accusative/direct object/because of the m.

On my vocabulary quizzes (and in general I give two per stage, picking the words that appear in the first couple of stories for the first quiz, etc), I require more than just meanings. I give quizzes in context. While I do NOT require metaphrasing on the vocab quizzes, I do require certain things like "to/for" with datives, plurals/singulars, tenses, person, etc. If for vulnerAvit the student just puts "wounds", that's half wrong; he must put "he wounded."

Some people have commented that this is mixing grammar with vocab. Yes, it is. But language isn't naturally divided into categories of vocab and grammar, etc. And, this gives me a chance to focus on some of the little things that appear on the test.

No, the tests aren't perfect. I don't use straight Cambridge tests, but most of my tests have much of the best of the Cambridge tests. I do think it's ok to require that they understand that with crEdO you need to have dative objects--as long as this is emphasized in the context of a sentence.

And as for identifying grammar, yeah I do that too after the site passage (and I require written out short answer reading comp questions in both English and Latin), but I do that in great measure because we can't escape from the details--we can't escape from what standardized tests from SAT II to entrance exams at colleges and AP will require. And the fact remains that all these categories of grammar were developed in order to understand better the structure and nature of language. And if such questions are limited, I think that's ok.

I have a series of quia review drills and quizzes that I use for test reviews. We always go to the computer lab before a test. Ok, in great measure it previews portions of the tests (NOT all) and some people with disagree with doing this. BUT my goal is to teach mastery of the language.
I allow retakes of tests because my goal is mastery of the language. And I find that about 90% or more of the students find the quia reviews helpful in mastering the nitpicky aspects of language. It gives them one on one feedback, and if a student is having problems with the concept I can explain one on one while they do an exercise and talk them through it while everyone else is also engaged with the language.

The thing is, if we don't make sure that students master these nuances of language as each one comes up in the text, we will later be frustrated with what we perceive as what they don't know or weaknesses in the text (that really aren't there). Better to have a text that promotes READING of Latin than to have a text that appeals to the small minority of nerds that like to decline and conjugate. (And how impressive is it that parents who took Latin can conjugate but not read a damn bit of Latin?) But it is up to us to make sure that WE emphasize these nuances and explain why they matter and why they must be mastered.

Yes, follow the Cambridge philosophy, but remember it is just a book. It is a great textbook, and I am often totally impressed with how incredibly clever the original authors were. But we are the teachers. WE are the TEACHERS. We can try to truly get our heads inside the Cambridge philosophy and figure out different ways we can support that philosophy. And we each will have a different take on exactly what to do and how to do it. And our views will evolve over time. I'm constantly rethinking what I do and how to do it. That's what makes teaching such a great profession; if you are truly engaged with what you do, you never stop evolving and improving.

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while. I'm going to try to catch up over spring break.

On Valentine's Day my beloved Latin teacher, Doris Kays, passed away. She had been fighting liver cancer for over a year. She was a wonderful, incredible person, and I will miss her. I do miss her. Another of the Latin teachers I worked with in high school had a heart attack a little over a week ago, but has recovered. I saw him this weekend and he looked really good.

I'm including this in my blog to remind teachers that teaching is only one part of your life. You must take care of you and your life and your family first and foremost. You will have years when you attend funerals, where things go wrong in your personal life, etc. Remember to cut yourself some slack.

I'm not having a perfect year. I haven't progressed far enough with the Latin 2 and Latin 3 class and feel incompetent some of the time. AND YET my students tell me that they've really learned a lot from me. Is it true? I'm not sure. I can tell you this much: when I did my National Latin Teacher Recruitment Week bit on Friday, I had a truly attentive bunch of kids who had thoughtful, interesting comments.

I think I'm going to find that a lot of kids have signed up for Latin next year. And this when I did NOT do competition this year. That says something. I want to build a program based on my teaching philosophy, not my winning streak at JCL. My son's Latin teacher has a great certamen team, but only the brainiacs will go on in Latin--you know, the kids that can teach themselves. And I'm not saying that to be mean or critical. It is an observation from what I've seen, and too many Latin teachers are like that. Why?

Why? Well, because of what I was talking about at the top of this posting. Teaching Latin isn't about being a facilitator for your textbook. Your textbook doesn't do it all. You have to want to know more about HOW to truly TEACH a foreign language. You have to be thinking all of the time, "how can I get them to internalize this?" What do I want to require for mastery and how will I get there?

In 5 years I want to have a big program that also has a strong JCL. That's my new 5 year plan. But I want to build a program with the Latin first, with my philosophy of learning to read Latin first. First. JCL is great; but JCL can come 2nd.
Just two quick things. First, for more on the history of metaphrasing, reading cards, and those sorts of things taught U Michigan, go to this link: I admit I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but noted it on Latinteach this a.m. FYI.

I posted this note this a.m. (I'm full of good brainstorming lately.)


>Let's throw in another issue. There is not a single piece of Latin
>literature in the classical period that was written with the
>expectation that it would be read silently. All of it was written with
>the expectation that it would be read aloud--even letters. I tell my
>students this every year--to encourage that all of their Latin be "out
>loud" until they can hear it when they do read it silently.

I so agree with this and I always read outloud. In fact, it pains me to know my one lonely AP student is doing everything silently which in great measure cannot be helped (though I may have him start recording readings for me or something).

But as I read the above, I was thinking it would be fun to have a reading outloud competition. Just a thought.... and I certainly have students who would absolutely HATE this, but too bad. Here's what I was thinking--why not have them pick a story from a previous chapter/stage and then have a day for reading outloud? Maybe a worthy prize would help. A trophy that can have names added to it? A monthly competition? Wreaths to wear for the day?

Weren't there competitions for recitations in the ancient world? Why is that ringing a bell?
I posted what's below to Latinteach this a.m.


>What I meant to point out was that as we read from right to left in Latin we
>have to suspend, as it were, many things that only become clear later on.
>But the point is that English does this less easily and often than Latin.
>To read Latin fluently we English speakers have to acquire this
>"suspension" is a separate skill. It reminds me of German but I am still
>waiting to acquire it in German sentences more than one line long. Here I
>agree with my favorite American author, Mark Twain ---
>Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are
>going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with
>his verb in his mouth.
> A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
>I try to remember this when I try to see the complexities of a Latin
>sentence through the eyes of a second year Latin student.

I love that quote, Ken.

Here's the thing with gapping or postponement or whatever you want to call it: if you FAIL to train students to understand this from THE VERY BEGINNING OF LATIN, I firmly believe that this will cause the tremendous difficulties for students in intermediate (and higher) Latin.

As I tell my first year students when I make them metaphrase or use a reading card on a sentence that is a mere 4 words long, you HAVE to start small, start when it's easy and build up. I tell of Milo lifting the calf every day until it was full grown--thus he became extremely small by increments.

And just so with Latin. If we teach our students to read from left to right while it is still easy, perhaps by teaching them to metaphrase using a placeholding sentence (someone verbed something to someone), and if we teach them how to take clauses and participial phrases and such AS THEY COME, then they can handle a longer periodic sentence.

But imagine what it is like to the student who has dutifully memorized all morphology but who has never learned to read from left to right and is suddenly faced with 10-line long sentences? This is like going from lifting 2 pound dumbbells to 25 pound ones or more with nothing in between.

A prof at OU wrote to me last year to say how a student came to him for help, struggling greatly with reading Latin. The prof showed him a reading card (with info on metaphrasing on the card), and they worked through some sentences together. The student asked WHY no one had taught him this before--it helped that much.

It is so hard to UNteach bad habits in reading Latin. And sadly, it is this struggle with reading real Latin that causes so many students to run away screaming from Latin, never to get beyond amo, amas, amat. If we armed our students with as many techniques as possible to read from left to right and disambiguate forms, we would have larger upper division classes. And better than that, we would create LIFE-LONG LEARNERS.

I would think it the highest compliment in the world to have a student come back in 10 or 20 years and tell me that he/she was reading some Catullus or Cicero for leisure...
I posted this to the Ecce list the other day.... I noticed that no one made a comment.

>Hi - this is an issue I've struggled with for a long time - it's easy
>to create "fun" grammar & vocab games when that material is new, and then
>the expectation once you get to the 3rd, 4th & 5th years is that all you're
>going to do is read and translate.

I balk at this. I know exactly what you mean, but it doesn't mean the end
to the fun unless all you do is old school "read X lines for homework and
we'll go over it tomorrow."

We need to increase oral skills; we need to get to a point where we are
teaching Latin more as a language and not as something to decode.

If we are teaching expressed reading skills from day one and have that as
the focus instead of too many gimmicky games, then perhaps by the time
students are at more advanced levels you can discuss the literature--perhaps
in Latin--instead of piecing together Latin.

My current Latin 3's (got through half of book 2 last year) were telling me
that all the forms and grammar were force-fed to them last year but they are
having problems integrating it all. Why? Because there is this assumption
that if you memorize it all then in your later years of Latin you will learn
how to assimilate it. WHY NOT teach students how to assimilate it from the
very beginning, incorporate more oral Latin, and even have students write
summaries in Latin from very early on so that Latin 3 isn't about "can I put
it together" and "is this tedious"?

Frankly, the way I read and make them read outloud we can prevent the
tedious aspect of this.

There are other ways to deal with passages than translation. The Vergil
unit I've done with 8th graders involves writing a film scenario instead of
actually writing out a translation, and gets them more in touch with the
Latin than writing out a translation. And after only teaching this 2 years,
I've read the passage (sea serpents scene) enough that I practically have it

It's all about internalizing the language, and not just figuring out what it
means, having that meaning transferred to your pencil and onto the paper and
out of your body forever, which is what too many students do. They figure
out the Latin, they don't absorb it.

But I'm rambling now. Sorry. (Not enough sleep! Too much grading!)

For more on film scenarios, read


Because, I think, when we study Latin in
>college & grad school, that's what reading is all about. It's a big shift
>for high school kids, even when they've been using Ecce - because you're
>going from having new material to learn to integrating it all.

Maybe I didn't make my point clear or maybe they thought I was a stick in the mud.

I do know what they are saying. There are ways of making the basics of Latin, the early morphology, all fun and games. Perhaps this is why middle school teachers/level 1 teachers get a reputation of too much fun and games. I use games too--nothing like a little hot & cold game where the students hide my little stuffed dog, I leave the room to count then return, and then I look for the dog while the students all chant the target set of whatever loudly or softly until I find the dog. This is good for learning new forms of sum, or this week we've used it to make sure everyone has mastered the first 3 declensions. I don't care about 4th and 5th--is that a lousy attitude?

Maybe I am lousy in this regard; maybe I should be one of those Latin teachers who says go home and memorize it all and then regurgitate it to me.

My Latin 3s had plenty of that with their previous teacher. 8 bright kids who did nothing but take it home and then regurgitate and move on to the next thing. And if that's all we do, then when it comes time to reading serious Latin they choke. Or they could care less. I can't *wait* to do the Vergil unit with them....

We *have* to teach reading skills. We should be teaching more in Latin all together. I keep slipping back into too much English on tests, I think. Well, in part this is admittedly because I just can't do it all--4 English classes, Latin 1 plus the split level 2/3. I don't even know if I have the original tests on file electronically anymore so I'd have to retype the whole thing, wouldn't I? Probably.

(This is one of those new teacher things (take note, future new teachers): you can't do everything the exact way you'd like or you'll totally burn out before the year is up. Have goals. I always say I have a 5 year plan--a plan to incorporate more oral Latin, to incorporate more this, more that. Give yourself TIME to become excellent.)

I do a lot of metaphrasing for warm-ups. Sometimes for other things too. I want students to understand how a sentence builds, how to read from left to right, how to APPLY those new forms IN THE LANGUAGE and not just do tedious exercises.

I haven't decided whether I regret my decision to keep the students on Ecce. I feel I hate the text more and more because I want the stories to REINFORCE the new grammar, and I don't feel they do. I don't feel they do much at all, not compared to Cambridge. I want model sentences. I want LOTS of passages to reinforce the language.

I'm half thinking about letting the 3's have a sustained silent reading day after the quiz--reading through the CLC unit 1 as far as they can. But maybe that's just me being a wimp. I know I really need to push on with them. I really do.

I guess my problem is that I'm still lost with exactly how to tackle Ecce. I guess I have conference and lunch to figure out what they're doing. Then I better figure out what they're doing next week while I'm gone! (I'm going to Bouchercon with Lindsey and Michelle!!!! Yippeee!!!! Madison WI here I come!)

But I'm rambling, aren't I, as usual?

At least my Latin 1's are sharp and progressing nicely. The freshman need watching, but the rest are good. I did my living map of Pompeii for stage 3 yesterday--pushed back the chairs and made Pompeii in the room. Kids became the city wall; I handed our cards with "turris" on them for the 11 towers, some with porta for the 8 gates, some with ad urbem X (whatever the city was) to go with each gate, etc. I put down butcher paper for the three main streets and we walked the town after we put it together. I tried to do much of this in Latin. I made notes the night before when I thought of doing this all in Latin, but I didn't use everything. The point is I tried to teach culture IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE. The goal is right; must just keep striving toward the goal.
Today in the 7th grade classes we read almost the entire story of Sulla in Stage 11 using the reading card and metaphrasing SOMEONE VERBED SOMETHING TO/FOR SOMEONE.

This was really, really good for reinforcing dative vs accusative endings.

We started by going more or less one word at a time, and then I would give them two at a time, so they'd have something like MARCUS SULLAE... or MARCUS FRATRI... and they'd have to supply Marcus verbed something to Sulla or Marcus verbed something to his brother. Forced them to really, really look at endings.

OH, and there were PLENTY of omitted nominatives with sentences starting with ACCUSATIVES. For instance, I remember one started DUOS TITULOS and they started with "two slogans..." NO NO!!! Look at the endings and now metaphrase it correctly. Then I would get "Someone verbed two slogans." I would also point out that if a sentence is starting with an accusative, then the nominative must be understood, and if it is understood, that means it's whatever the nominative was in the last sentence (i.e. he/Sulla).

The warm-up before vocab drill and the reading consisted of four short sentences, two with regular verbs, one with credit, one with favet and asking them to pick the correct object (e.g. Holconio or Holconium) depending upon the verb. I'm going to do the same tomorrow, except with pronouns. We spent a bit of time talking about credit and favet again, so that when we were metaphrasing and we went from a "Marcus verbs something to Holconius" to "Marcus favors Holconius" (because favet takes a dative) no one had a problem.

It would NOT be worthwhile to use a reading card with every story, but you MUST slow the students down once a stage, I think, to make them really THINK about the ENDINGS. Otherwise, the stories are so well written that it is easy to anticipate what comes next. And is that bad? No, that's what good reading/writing is all about. Think about how FAST you read a good novel that's so well-written that you're just INTO THE STORY. And why shouldn't Latin be that way? It should. But we MUST slow our students down to insure that they also get what the morphology is all about.
There was a discussion going on the Cambridge list as a member posted a concern with a sudden realization that students really didn't seem to know their endings like they should.

Someone else mentioned my model sentences, so I chimed in with the following:


I use model sentences (which can be found at my blog site below or go to starting with stage 9.
(Actually, I do use a version in stage 8.) I found early on that students who are bright can be very intuitive with CLC and get the gist of most any story (which are good stories and fun to read) even if weak on endings. But there comes a point, a critical mass, where if they haven't consolidated endings in one form or fashion, it suddenly becomes too hard for them, or so they say.

So staring in Stage 9, we chant the sentences at the beginning of class and sometimes subsitute other words into them, etc, and we definitely metaphrase, esp for warm-ups. I feel this makes them take notice of the endings. So I might list random words for the warm-up like:


To metaphrase, students must use this formula: Someone verbed something to someone.

Someone verbed something to the slave.
Someone verbed the friends (to someone).
The masters verbed something to someone.

When we read stories, and they stumble on a sentence, I make them start from the first word and metaphrase until they have a complete sentence. For instance, we were reading Marcus et Quartus today. There was a sentence which read, I believe, Quartus Sullae murum ostendit.

The student started with, "Quartus and Sulla..." and I stopped her. She was wildly guessing, just tossing words together. (I have too many like that this year.) I slowed her down. I put the model sentences on the overhead and said, "Which word is Quartus like?"
"Which word is Sullae like?"
"puellae. Oh. So Quartus verbed something to Sulla."
"and murum?"
"Quartus verbed the wall to Sulla."
"and ostendit?"
"Quartus showed the wall to Sulla."

They can do this if I slow them down. (My students aren't the most academically prepared so we have to work a lot harded to make connections, I

Remember, rote memorization (like learning endings) is a low level cognitive skill. Application and synthesis are higher level skills. Some kids immediately see all the bits and pieces and put them together, others need help making the connections, and I feel my sentences have been helpful. If we don't help them to make those connections, we will not get enough students to the next level. There's no reason why we shouldn't have full level 3 and level 4 classes if we find ways to help students make connections.

Now, with my 8th graders, we have just finished stage 18 in the 4th edition text (new to me this year). There are some things I wish I did better, others I was pleased with. For one, the addition of the neuters AND 4th and 5th declension forced me to choose this as my chapter for weaning students onto a noun ending chart. Let's face it, every grammar text will use it for organizing information and they need to at least understand what it's about. So we learned the noun-ending song from the Able Media website. Student can choose to use the chart or their model sentences. Reproduction of either on a test or quiz earns extra credit points. They don't have to put either, but I encourage it not for the extra credit points, but to make sure that they can refer to it if they need it when reading (or metaphrasing).

I might add that I do vocabulary quizzes in context, which some have said requires too much grammar. To me, it is a way to force students, before the major test, to pay attention to the details. amIcO is not the same as amIcOs, and if they don't include a "to" or "for" if amIcO is the underlined word in the sentenc, then the word is half wrong. They get practice quizzes (stole that idea from an ACL workshop), so they can preview what's coming up on the quiz. There's no surpise, and I only use sentences that appear in stories they have just read. So in an ideal world, where they are rereading stories, everything is familiar on the quizzes.

Here's the thing, if you look at the teacher's guide for the 4th edition (which I have been doing because of writing curriculum stuff for our district), it even tells you that in stage 18 and beyond it's starting to offer sentences that vary greatly in word order. Yes, the word order is very predictable at first in order to get you used to the endings. By stage 18, students should be consolidating endings, and if they've been taught metaphrasing, a sentences with a strange word order will not be too overwhelming if they slow down and take it one word at a time, in word order.

So, my point was I wouldn't necessarily cram the chanting of noun ending charts down them, but set up some model sentences (mine? Yours? Whatever!), and get them thinking in terms of a framework. Walk them through it, slow them down, help them make connections. They probably know most of their endings--they just are shaking on the connections.


But let me add a couple more thoughts about endings. There have been some teachers who have basically let the mastering and understanding of endings "weed out" their courses. This, of course, only left the best and the brightest for advanced level coursework, which usually suited teachers just fine. With one exception--the smaller advanced classes usually had to meet during another class. So on the one hand the teacher was fine with weeding out those that cannot make connections on their own, and on the other hand complaining about small class sizes.

Seems to me that we must--MUST--treat every class of beginners as if EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM will be in AP Latin one day, and that you thus MUST find a way to help them learn how to connect with endings and create meaning. To not do this is to cripple your own program.

If we want Latin to thrive and not just survive in this new century, we truly must rethink our approach to teaching.
I have returned from Christmas break to the reality of what it's like to teach my students with their lack of academic preparedness and low self esteem. They make their own glass ceilings by not being willing to take the smallest of risks. For the most part, my 7th graders know their forms through stage 6, but they are terrified to have to put it all together. Right before Christmas I noticed that they were suddenly not retaining anything (just before exams...not good).

Well, I know that I can't push them through stages 7-12 if I don't have a solid foundation with the basic of verb endings and subject verb agreement. So it was back to basics for us. I designed a conjugation worksheet that had a conjugated verb of 1st conj to copy--with pronouns and nouns (ego, tu, ancilla, nos, vos, ancillae) to work on agreement. This is followed by spaces for me to pick three more verbs of the same conjugation to "practice" with. Thus they conjugate 4 verbs of the same conjugation on the same sheet. I have other sheets for each conjugation and we are working through them. Sounds so basic, yes? But I met with great failure some years back when telling them to take a sheet of paper and to just conjugate... I had to find a middle ground somehow.

Yes, in other words, a mighty bit of hand-holding. But the biggest issue in regard to the cognitive development of these students is a basic one of developing connections (a big jump, for some reason) and the ability to synthesize and analyze material. What I've designed somehow mediates these issues, or so I think.

Could I push ahead faster if all the students were like my few true A students? Yes, but I could also push ahead faster if more of my students would just learn to take risks with something they PERCEIVE as tough.

So for instance, while I've been doing an intensive verb review during the main part of class, at the beginning of class for the warm-up I've been doing simple metaphrasing. I'll give them a list of words to metaphrase which involves not only recognizing cases but also demonstrating an understanding of function.

On day 1 they had something like puella, ancillam, servus, canis, mercatorem and amicum. Metaphrased they would look like this:
1) The girl verbed someone.
2) Someone verbed the slavegirl.
3) The slave verbed someone.
4) The dog verbed someone.
5) Someone verbed the merchant.
6) Someone verbed the friend.

The next day they had nominative plurals mixed with the accusative singulars (they have not had acc plural yet). Everyone did fine. They like these. They seem easy. Most people get them without any trouble.

Yesterday they choked when I told them they had to metaphrase two complete sentences, and longish ones at that as opposed to one word at a time. It was from a story that many balked at translating/preparing before Christmas. And, yes, most could guess at the right answer, but I wanted to force them all to arrive at the same answer and to understand COMPLETELY how they go there.

The first sentence was pecUniam meam semper servAs. They needed to write it out in this manner:
1) Someone verbed the money.
2) Someone verbed my money.
3) Someone always verbed my money.
4) You always guard my money.

I emphasized when we did this together that servAs was able to cover BOTH the subject and verb, something they still don't quite get.

The next sentence was in vIllA avArus rIdEbat et serpentem laudAbat.
1) (Treating the prep phrase as one unit) Someone verbed something in the house.
2) The miser verbed something in the house.
3) The miser was laughing in the house... ("..." because there was no period indicating that the sentence is not over)
4) The miser was laughing in the house and someone verbed something. (et after the verb gave us the notion of parallel construction).
5) The miser was laughing in the house and someone verbed the snake.
6) The miser was laughing in the house and (he) was praising the snake.
Of course, you could also have: In the house the miser was laughing and praising the snake, which is probably better anyway and does preserve some of the Latin word order.

Now, those kids who simply TRIED to do this and made mistakes BUT TRIED, faced today's sentence without a problem--even a kid who was struggling just to pass last 6 weeks!!! (I was so proud of him!) But of course, many were unwilling to venture out and totally try it on their own. One bright kid kept clamoring on that he was absent (last week) and I kept repeating (and admittedly getting miffed) that we did this YESTERDAY and if he had just tried it YESTERDAY or would even try it NOW he might get it. Here was today's:

fUrEs serpentem timEbant et E vIllA festInAvErunt.

The students freak out that the sentence is long. And when you think about it, how many students learning the traditional grammar up front way freak out as well when the sentences get long?! Ok, yes, I feel these sentences aren't too difficult at all. Then again, it isn't the 3 word sentences of stage one. And I'd rather take a week or so to review and to metaphrase intensively (because you certainly can't do this every single day!) than to forge on and leave so many kids struggling to keep up.

But the real difference between my A students and my not-A students seems to be this inability to risk being wrong, this inability to stretch oneself beyond one's comfort zone. The fear of discovering that you're stupid outways--for them--the joy of discovery and learning. Some days I think with these kids at least that my most important job isn't teaching them Latin, but teaching them how to risk learning. And I'm willing to try anything to break these glass ceilings they set for themselves....
There was a discussion on Latinteach about a Latin class that was "dumbed down" for kids with IEP (individualized education plans--that is, special ed kids of one sort or another).

This person was volunteering the name of a person who has done much at the university level with LD students:

>Colorado State Univ does a lot with LD and foreign language. The head
>of the program is a Latinist whose name is escaping me....

[and I replied:]
Barbara Hill. Here's a flyer I designed with her material (the old flyer wasn't very attractive, I thought):

[but here is from the original note, where the teacher is considering changing the course to a social studies course instead of recognizing that actually she has a wonderful opportunity to help these kids in general with their language skills in English and even Latin:]

Unfortunately, this course has become a
>dumping ground for kids - they know LL&C as the "dumb class" or "Latin
>for retards". I am looking to change the curriculum to more of a social
>studies-type course - reading in translation, etc, but still be able to
>do enough of the language for it to count as a foreign lanugage course
>(so kids who have difficulty in this can get FL credit).
> I am wondering if anyone out there has or knows of a similar course -
>Latin for low-level students, which might include great amounts of
>culture and history.

[and this was my long-winded reply which I thought was worth including here:]

We just call it Latin at my school. I would say 80% or more of my kids would fall into this category. They come with little academic preparedness and can do fine. The change you need is not in the material but in understanding the approach and what creates stumbling blocks for these students.

First and foremost, many students with learning disabilities have little to no phonemic awareness. Latin is good for them because pronunciation is consistent. Of course, you have to make certain you are aware of pronunciation and syllabification rules and that you apply them consistently yourself and ALWAYS use/write macrons. You don't need to require them of the students, but require them of yourself so that the students constantly see what they hear accurately and consistently, whether you are looking at the text, doing flashcards, or whatever. The difficulties in phonemic awareness are not only in letter pairs but in recognizing whole syllables. I was told once that current researchers think that if kids do not learn how to hear and see syllables at an early age that it is difficult to reprogram the brain--so these kids will have real difficulties if you don't build in a means for seeing all parts of the word. Be aware of this and make sure students say all syllables slowly and clearly.

You will need to increase the amount of oral Latin they are exposed to and required to say. This does not necessarily mean putting them on the spot, but you can certainly read a story TO them and then have them read it WITH you as you walk around the room, listening to make certain each student is reading.

I also assign 2 lines of text per stage (already typed out on a separate sheet in their folders) which we practice together for a minute or two at the beginning of class which they are then required to phone in and leave on my voicemail. I grade on a a simple rubric, and most students do well.

Warm-ups are a favorite tool of mine where I try to get the kids to stretch themselves and take the risks that most are afraid to take, esp if they have low self-esteem. I use warm-ups to get them to do things like sort "amazons" (1st decl), "dudes" (2nd) and "mixers" (3rd), having them set up a simple table and sort words like ancilla, servus, canis, mAtrem, vIllam, mercAtOrem, etc. I do the same with verbs from very early on, getting them to think about a-stem, e-stem and i-stem--there's plenty of time later to explain that there's a 3rd, 3rd -io and 4th conjugation.

I teach students how to do "rigorous reading"--circling endings of words so that they focus on the changes. I use in context vocab quizzes and take half off if they don't have plurals or "I" or "you" or whatever is required for the context. Some people think vocab quizzes should be straight vocab, but I find that with warning and practice, these vocab quizzes help develop that skill to pay attention to detail. I might add that when they do rigorous reading (circling endings, etc) that they also get a total of 2 points extra credit. They can get 5 more extra credit for English or Spanish derivatives, and, admittedly, if they can be bothered, 10 points for flashcards. Yes, that does sound excessive, doesn't it? Well, none of it is fluff. It all goes toward mastering the language, doesn't it? 2 points to build an attention to detail, 5 for connection with their own language(s), and 10 for true outside of class work, a skill they will need to develop later on for higher work in Latin. Besides, few go after all those points and parents think I'm more than reasonable when jr is failing AND they help jr work on his flashcards.

I encourage rigorous reading on tests and teach students to definitely write on the tests, to circle information, to write down mnemonic devices (this year's best is my infinitive cheer), etc, and I do give points here and there for what I consider "showing their work." When they begin to show their work more in the margins, they also begin to choose the right answers because they are informed and not guessing.

The difference in the QUALITY of the overall performance on tests has been amazing. Do I have a bunch of brilliant A students? No, of course not. But I also do NOT have anyone just not taking the test at all--no one is giving up before they begin, like a few years ago. It's a rare day when someone makes below a 60 on a test (ok, not really a bragging point) and the majority of my students pass every test. And I do have my fair share of A's.
When you teach them about context clues (which many of us would think was obvious but is NOT obvious to these students), you will find that they read the reading comp questions more closely AND they have a better chance at finding the answer in the text.

In addition to teaching rigorous reading and looking for context clues, I also hammer home good reading skills--prereading (title, any vocab below the story, forming some ideas from those and then reading the text in word order ALL BEFORE actually reading the questions. I teach them to check off the sentence they just found the answer in because my questions are all in order. This keeps them from jumping around in the passage. And most of all I TEACH THEM TO ASK FOR HELP AND NOT GIVE UP. That is critical.

I also use to review sections of the test. Yes, they do preview in this fashion about 3/4 of the test. (NOT the site passage mentioned above with the reading comp questions which are short answer.) When they are working one on one with the computer, I'm able to check people individually for mastery and do some spot teaching to explain the finer details which they might have missed. I see a lot of lightbulbs go on when we do the quia games and I won't be giving them up anytime soon.

Take a look at Blooms Taxonomy, and think about what is traditionally expected of top-notch Latin students--mainly memorization and synthesis/analysis. That is, the lowest level of cognitive skills plus the highest without the middle steps. Some kids just can't make this leap on their own and it's not their fault. Too many Latin teachers in the past have treated such students as inferior and not worth having in class if they could just do the "obvious"--put together that -am ending with the direct object. You will have to help the students make these connections, repeatedly hammering it home.

For instance, I use a reading card (left corner clipped--1/2 inch by 2 inch
rectangle) so that the kids are forced to just deal with the Latin as it comes along. So if a sentence starts with an accusative:


the student must metaphrase "Someone verbed the dog." Having a metaphrasing framework gives the brain something to "hang" all these weird endings on.
And if you start using a reading card when the Latin is REALLY simple, then it is easier to slowly increase the difficulty and use the card effectively.

Cambridge is extremely good for these students because it does start slowly with very simple sentences and focusing on only a couple of grammatical concepts at a time. Ecce, in contrast, (and I'm not slamming Ecce, just pointing out a difference, O beloved colleagues who teach from Ecce) has a more sophisticated sentence structure from the very first story, including relative clauses, ablative of time when, appositives, etc--probably too much for students who somehow missed the boat on language development/phonemic awareness when in the very early grades. So be glad you have a textbook so keenly suited for this particular group of students.

Before you convince yourself that you've got a class that perhaps you wish you didn't have, consider how much you will grow as a teacher by having to figure out how to break it all down and reinforce the Latin so that everyone can learn.

Even the stupidest person in Rome could speak in Latin. It has nothing to do with intelligence, but everything to do with figuring out the best way to help a student aquire that language.