Drūsilla et convīvium magārum: Published!

Here’s the latest compelling, comprehensible text written with sheltered (i.e. limited) vocabulary to provide more understandable reading material for the beginning Latin student. Drūsilla et convīvium magārum features mages (i.e. witches, sorcerers, etc.), serpents, a dinner party, peacocks, and potentially pooping in a cooking-pot (fūfae! = gross!). Fun for everyone, right?

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Drūsilla is the longest Pisoverse novella to date, finishing at over 3400 total words in length. That’s over 500 words longer than Pīsō Ille Poētulus, but with half the vocab! It’s the first Pisoverse novella to venture into magic and the occult, making for quite the compelling narrative, yet still within the context of ancient Rome.

Drusilla lives next to Piso. Like many Romans, she likes to eat, especially peacocks! As the Roman army returns, she awaits a big dinner party celebrating her father’s homecoming. One day, however, she sees a suspicious figure give something to her brother. Who was it? Is her brother in danger? Is she in danger?

Drūsilla et convīvium magārum contains 58 unique words (excluding names, different forms of words, and meaning established within the text), and works well with any Roman daily life unit (e.g. home, family, food, etc.) in Latin class.

Drūsilla et convīvium magārum is available…

1) On Amazon
2) As a free preview of the first 7 chapters (of 17)
3) Email me for Purchase Orders and classroom set discounts

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Super Posters (Sweet Sēdecim)

I recently updated my classroom posters as part of the Universal Language Curriculum (ULC). I now intend to focus more deliberately on those top 16 verbs each year, every year, using whatever else is needed for communication given various topics.

Here’s the next update…Super Posters!

 

 

These new posters not only have all the plural forms, but also the past tense on the back when printed double-sided! Now, I use the past tense aaaaaaaaall the time, right from the first day of Latin 1! In fact, there’s no legitimate reason not to when teaching in a comprehension-based communicative classroom (i.e. shelter vocabulary, not grammar). Usually, my signal for past tense (i.e. hand over shoulder) is enough to convey the meaning, but these new Super Posters will be particularly helpful when there’s a completely different-looking word (i.e. stem-change). My signal works, but there are those who would prefer to have the plural forms written as well. As such, I’ve added them as another set of posters, present tense, and plural. However, these words get quite long for a highly inflected language like Latin, so I won’t be using them, myself.

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The plural forms of this word are quite long, and harder to see from the back of the room.

Due to that clutter from some verbs, my own plan is to continue posting the original ones with only singular. So, where do the Super Posters come into play? They’ve now become the laminated ones I hand out to students. In addition to holding up the poster when I use that verb, the student can flip it when they hear the past tense. Also, I can use one of these as-needed instead of writing any form students don’t understand.

I hope you find a use for these Super Posters, too!

N.B. Latin has a few past tenses. The most frequently used one, the perfect tense, has a completed aspect (like the Spanish preterite). The imperfect tense, with a continuous aspect, is used all the time, too. I chose mostly the perfect forms, especially since those can be completely different-looking from the present forms. Still, there are a few words I use mostly in the imperfect, so I included “erat” instead of “fuit,” and “sciēbat” instead of “scīvit.” If you want different tenses of any of these, make a copy of the Google doc and edit as you see fit. After all, these posters are to help YOU make Latin more comprehensible, and that might vary across different contexts.

Universal Language Curriculum (ULC) & Sweet Sēdecim (Sweet 16) Reboot

I’ve just decided to drop Obligation from the Awesome Octō (i.e. is, has, wants, likes, goes + says, thinks, owes/should), and replace it with Knowledge (i.e. knows/doesn’t know). Here are all the posters.

This is the first step towards updating and embracing the Sweet Sēdecim (+ sees, hears, comes, leaves, brings, puts, gives, is able) that many successful language teachers have been using for quite some time. The result will be focusing on a slightly larger core vocabulary—instead of just the top 8—over a longer period of time. These top 16 naturally occur across many communicative contexts. Thus, the Universal Language Curriculum (ULC) is born.

In a nutshell, though…

  1. Can be used for ANY target language
  2. Curriculum is based on expanding vocabulary
  3. Content is driven by communication and student interests
  4. A repeating single-year organized into 2 units

Unit 1 Content, Years 1 – 4 (ACTFL’s Communication, Connections, and Communities)
“Who am I?”
“Who are we?”

  • Community: town(s), school, landmarks
  • Family: members, origin/ancestry, home
  • Self: age, likes/dislikes, wishes

Unit 2 Content, Varies each year (ACTFL’s Communication, Cultures, and Comparisons)
“Who were the target language speakers?”

  • establish suggested topics and poll students

Former Student Studies Linguistics

So, I got my first “hey Mr. P, remember me?” email from a former student. Oh no, they found me! Naw, it’s not too hard. I’m the only person on the planet with my name, so…

Anyway, here’s the gist of that email:

“It’s ___, your former student, now majoring in linguistics at _____ in no small part due to your teaching style.”

That’s interesting.

Why? Because I didn’t explicitly teach grammar or focus on information about the target language when teaching. We were communicating in the language, co-creating stories in real time, and then reading them. I was providing CI (i.e. comprehensible input…the messages students understand), learning about students, and personalizing content. Grammar wasn’t the focus of class at all, yet somehow this student was inspired to learn more about languages. That’s cool.

There’s still soooooo much resistance to teaching with CI. The classic argument is that doing so “won’t prepare students” for studying Classics, linguistics, or related fields in college. Seeing how most traditional programs aren’t doing a great job of preparing students per se anyway—rather it’s the individual student that makes it happen—I’d say we’ll see the death of the “they won’t be prepared” argument sometime soon. That’d be nice, wouldn’t it?

Unit Test “Mastery” (UTM)

Unit Test “Mastery” (UTM) is a symptom many teachers and students suffer from. The teacher:

  1. presents content (Present)
  2. provides a learning experience (Practice)
  3. announces an assessment
  4. assesses students (Produce)
  5. chooses remediation based on low performance, or moves on
  6. repeat

The consequences of UTM is that students appear to “master” the content either right away or after the remediation, which itself is usually misinterpreted as assisting a “struggling student.” The teacher then moves on, and students seldom run into the same content, even from what you might expect from cumulative courses (e.g. one-off math/science concepts, or that perfunctory “transportation unit” in which students are given a vocabulary list for all possible—and likely outdated—ways to get around Madrid, etc.).

This is symptom seriously misleads the teacher. It’s one source of validating teaching practices that don’t actually produce results they seem to be producing. For example, most language teachers attribute their understanding of language to how they were taught, yet they’ve probably just been exposed to the language daily over time, teaching similar (same?) content year after year. This looks like proficiency, yet is probably just daily recall of translated and memorized information!

In reality, communication isn’t really something anyone can master, at least not in the subject-matter-learning sense used in other content areas. There’s a lot of pressure to make language courses fit what’s expected in school, but the model fails when we have inclusive classrooms based on universal human traits, and not intellectualizing language. The best teachers are able to resist that, educating their administration, or at least find the wiggle room to provide input and encourage interaction in a second language during the school day—something all humans are hardwired for.

I encourage everyone to find alternatives to traditional units accompanied by lessons with limited flexibility. Instead, meet students where they are, and move forward. One way to think about curriculum is basing it on vocabulary frequency, but not thematic (e.g. Greetings, Getting Around, Sports, etc.). Chris Stolz has shares how Mike Peto’s entire department has taken this to an extreme with fantastic results! All of these ideas are supported by what Eric Herman has coined “Forward Procedure:”

Forward procedure is process-oriented. It focuses on where students are. That doesn’t mean you can’t have tests, but those are not pre-determined. They are created in response to what has happened in class and tailored to where students are. If there had to be an element of “standardization” between sections, this would be to agree to use the same test format, but not the same content (e.g., sections hear a different story and do a timed rewrite). Rather than focus on something to cover, it focuses on giving students what they want and need in that moment to learn. It is the approach that makes a teacher most responsible to the learner. In a second language, communicative classroom, this is a much better fit. To quote Savignon (1976): “Above all, remember that for it to be real, communication must be a personalized, spontaneous event. It cannot be programmed – but you can make it happen” (p. 20).

Infusing Myth: Chris Stolz’ Story Strategies

My curriculum map reflects how I focus on the familiar theme/essential questions of “Who am I? Who are we?” before moving onto the less-familiar distant past of ancient Romans; the rationale being that once students have had decent exposure to the Latin, they can begin reading about the target culture IN the target language, which is actually how those 4 Cs are supposed to be met (i.e. Communication in the target language is required for Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities).

Still, we know that students already find myth compelling. As such, consider this simple strategy to sprinkle class stories with a bit of mythology, avoiding an isolated “Olympian Gods/Goddesses Unit,” which seems to be just as perfunctory as “The Roman Villa”

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Balance

Few teachers manage to have balance in their lives. The best teachers definitely do. Why? They make time for it.

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Most teachers haven’t streamlined their grading, assessment, and planning practices enough to leave school at school, instead bringing school home with them, possibly forgoing other interests. There’s no time for anything else beyond necessary errands and family needs. That’s a sure path towards burnout. It’s good to balance teaching and, well, not teaching…anything other than teaching, in fact. For me, it’s drumming.

So, Magister P is taking a break today. Hi, my name is Lance, and I’m going to show you how I just put together a “quiet kit” apartment drumset. Why? Well, when your normal drumset looks like this, neighbors aren’t going to be happy…

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