Basics: Current Ideas & Summary of Recurring Blog Posts

All Of My Daily Activities, etc.
– input-based strategies & activities
– how to get texts

If this stuff interests you, consider putting a few things in place to support the move towards a more comprehension-based and communicative approach. Here are the practices fundamental to my teaching, making the daily stuff possible:

Grammar
Textbooks
Curriculum
Grading
Course Grade
D.E.A.
Assessments
Speaking & Writing

Continue reading for explanations of each…

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Hexameter.co—My New Vice

A colleague reminded me of hexameter.co, the point-earning competitive ancient Latin (and Greek) scanning site complete with leader boards home to the 5 minute rapid scan challenge.

Damnit.

I hadn’t logged in for years, but immediately became hooked once again these past two days. It’s either going to be a healthy break during the school day, or an obsession that leaves me feeling like I have a gambling addiction (i.e. you do lose points, and I’ve caught myself saying “just one more” to regain my highest rating). Here are some observations:

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Free Reading Fridays: We Need More Novellas

Last week, we started Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) in what I’m calling Free Reading Fridays, which is 10 minutes of independent reading at the start of class just before we do some kind of team game. It’s a great way to end the week. I wrote about how first year Latin students have had 143 minutes of FVR so far, but that’s been in segments of 3-5 minutes in the middle of class, with students choosing class texts from their folder. Last Friday was the first day they were able to sit in the back and choose anything from our library…

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No Ads

I started this blog in grad school, primarily as my digital CV, and on advice of a Tech presenter to scoop up the really short domain before any other “teacher P” had the idea. For nearly two years, I occasionally uploaded my work on the rhythms of Latin poetry. Then, at the start of my second year teaching, I had this short announcement about figuring some stuff out, and at the end of that 2014-15 school year, I confessed how wrong I was about “practicing” languages. I’ve been blogging regularly (304 posts) ever since.

Now, aside from scooping up the domain name, I started this blog under the “Free” version, and have been using that ever since. Among other things, this means that visitors see ads. In case there’s any question, I don’t get paid for any clicks on those. Honestly, I’ve ignored them. But ads can be annoying, especially if you don’t have a good pop-up blocker, and don’t click to remove/hide them. Therefore, I went looking into WordPress blog options…

  • Free: ads
  • Personal: no ads
  • Premium, etc.: ads, but monetization

A Premium blog would be an identical experience for visitors to how it’s always been, except that I’d have to pay monthly and have a sliiiiiim chance of making money on ad clicks, lol. I don’t like this idea, especially if the ads might be for something relevant like, say, Babble, Duolingo, or anything else I wouldn’t recommend. As such, I’ve gone ahead and upgraded to the Personal blog for the minimal cost of about a latte each month.

Enjoy reading the blog now ad-free!

Q1 Stats: 39% Of Input From Novellas

After sharing the strong start to the year from just the first 12 minutes of day 1, and results of a textbook comparison from the first 4 weeks, I’ve now got some stats from Quarter 1. Having arrived at the first 10 week mark of the year (36 hours), the total words read is now 6,500. But that figure isn’t really what I find most remarkable. How about the fact that 39% of the total input was read in just these last two weeks, from novellas alone…

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Failing Students (i.e. Denying Experience), “Struggling Students,” and Who’s Doing The Work?

This post seems to address quite a bit, but stay with me. As experts, teachers can design a quiz or test that every student would fail, instantly. Aside from designing those individual assessments, teachers can also design and implement grading systems prone to student failures.

That’s a lot of power.

When teachers fail students, especially when they haven’t been careful with their grading system, they deny students experience. Not only are these students unable to continue with their peers—a major aspect of adolescent development—but they’ll miss out on any electives having to retake the failed course for credit.

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The Daily Lesson Plan: Talk & Read

Teachers unaccustomed to speaking the target language in class are often a bit lost when it comes to providing input. Instead, the more familiar rule-based lectures and paired speaking activities of PPP (present, practice, produce), target culture projects, and perhaps target language movies all become quite alluring, seducing teachers back to the pedagogy of yore. Here’s a way to conceptualize class in a clearer way that maximizes input:

  1. Talk about something
  2. Read something

Now, from the student perspective, this would be “listen & read,” but the “talk” portion of class is very much led by the teacher, especially in beginning years, so it’s easier to think of this in terms of what you, the teacher, must do. Don’t get fooled by anyone thinking this is the kind of “teacher-centered” lesson that’s frowned upon. The content is student-centered, it’s just that students can’t express themselves fully in the target language. They don’t have to, and this is expected. They need input. Case closed. The “read” portion could be any reading activity, either independent, led by you, in pairs, groups, or all of the above…

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