Discipulus Illustris: Updated Materials and Variation

**See a  more recent post with some changes to the Quizzes**

Last week at TCI Maine ’15, Sabrina Janczak discussed and demoed Star of the Week, her process for student interviews. Although I first discovered a practical interview process from Bryce Hedstrom’s, word has it that original credit goes to Jody Noble, along with Krashen’s 1983 The Natural Approach as a source for conducting “personal interviews” in the classroom (thanks to Eric Herman and Ben Slavic for those clarifications). Before I discuss Sabrina’s process, let me state that no CI classroom should be without some variation of this year-long activity. We often talk about not being prescriptive, but this is too important to overlook. I’m not suggesting that you do this, and neither is Shia Labeouf. Make time in your schedule, and you will be amazed at the positive change in class culture/environment, and increase in student language production. YES, spontaneous language production by June is not out of the question.

There are notable changes Sabrina has made that everyone should be aware of before adapting this year-long activity to suit their own style, and community. Sabrina’s process:

– Create spreadsheet with the questions, and the response/statement frames.
– Give all students the spreadsheet ahead of time (they fill out their own answers as an activity), and distribute/collect the sheets each day you interview someone.
– Stay with a single student for 3, 4 days and exhaust the questions (they can change answers, and don’t have to stick to the ones they originally wrote).
– Create PPT (from a template for a simple switch of student details) along with a picture of the student, which he/she sends you, on each slide. The next day, present and review the student’s responses with the class (this replaces the less-formal oral review, and places a bit more emphasis on a single student at one time – drawback is that you MIGHT not get to every student).
– Give a simple quiz after every student or two.
– Just before Winter break, ask students for input to determine what questions THEY want YOU to ask for an added level of personalization to finish out the year (and provide you with more question options for next year).
– Update your spreadsheet, or add a new tab with new questions.

So, there you have it. I plan to ask students about questions they loved, hated, and wished had been asked. I’ll also experiment with creating the “wrap up” PPT for each student, but want to be sure we hear from everyone at some point.

Updated Materials (10.27.15 )

While my first materials for Discipulus Illustris were well-received, these updated ones have undergone additional classroom trials. I originally just translated Bryce’s questions, but found that I began to avoid some of them, and that others included “out of bounds” vocabulary. Also, for much younger students, many of the questions just weren’t relevant (e.g. license, college, relationships, etc.). I was also reminded that there is a missing “C” in the TCI, and it’s not Culture…it’s COMPELLING. Although I included question prompts in the accompanying PPT with Personalized Questions and Answers (PQA) in mind, many of the prompts were too normal, expected…dry. Now there’s a bit more humour, or room for humour in the new PPT presentation. I’ve included 24 questions that I’m comfortable asking, and that students enjoy answering.

The PPT presentation is the first of many to help with PQA and on-the-spot circling. Although static guides are helpful, most of us hone our craft DURING class, not on our free time, or even at conferences that offer limited hands-on experience. Therefore, I’ve included images and questions to inspire us as teachers to deliver compelling messages.

The latest update was to keep the questions about student details more open-ended so you can personalize it for each student instead of a funny image already on the screen. After more trials in the classroom, students knew what punchline was coming. In case you can’t think of an interesting way of personalizing, or the student gives a pretty boring answer, click the elipses in the lower left hand corner to take you to more options, and then the symbol in the lower right corner to go back. These are good to fall back on. You might even consider them our own Safety Nets until we can think ex tempore. Enjoy:

19 thoughts on “Discipulus Illustris: Updated Materials and Variation

  1. Pingback: DISCIPVLVS ILLVSTRIS: La Persona Especial, Latīnē | Magister P.

  2. I like your updates on the Special Person idea, Lance. I talked with Dr. Krashen extensively about it this summer at NTPRS and he never mentioned that he had come up with the idea in his 1983 book. Dr. K encouraged me to expand it and spin it for more of the year, which I have been doing, but, as you say, we need to keep it fresh. Thanks for the info on Jody Noble’s part in it too. I would credit Ben Slavic for the idea–an expansion of his Circling with Balls, just a bit more concrete

    Sabrina Janczak and Nina Barber are running with the idea and doing great work. I like their idea of asking students what questions they would like to be asked. NIna told me how well that was working and it seems so obvious to me now.

    • Exactly. Hearing Sabrina say that she barely has to come up with new questions anymore because the kids do was an “es obvio” moment for us.

      Some Latin Teachers have recently figured out how to provide more Compelling Personalization by asking the students what they want to read the next year. Students are actually driving the curriculum, and should.

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  7. I will be teaching an exploratory class that I will see probably about 40 classes worth… right now I anticipate having 21 students in the class… Should I still consider this activity, knowing that I won’t be able to get to everybody? If so, how would you handle selecting which students participate? Do you make it strictly voluntary (and risk skipping that student who would really like to participate, but is shy about volunteering)? Or random? Grātiās!

    • Yes, I would still do this! If you don’t get any volunteers there’s a reason. Try finding out what questions they would like to hear answers to if the default ones aren’t interesting enough to get started.

  8. Salve, magisterp!
    I saw Sabrina at Agen workshop 2015 and it was reaaaally ashtonishing! I didn’t realize then that it could be used in the Latin class.
    In wich level do you use it? How do you prepare the vocabulary necessary to understand the questions. It seems to me too overwheelming in a first course of latin (or at least in the first term).
    Thanks for sharing!

    • I’ve already begun using with Latin I! It’s simple—there’s no preparing! I’m not sure what’s overwhelming—all of the English is provided for each question along with first person forms (if students really want to reply in complete sentences). Generally, students answer with “yes/no,” or an individual word anyway…that’s very doable. I would use the PPT if you’re hesitant…there’s a LOT of support on those for carrying out this activity.


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    • 1) Any quiz I give is in English to remove all variables except comprehension of Latin. Then, when going over quizzes, THAT part is in Latin (e.g. “numerus ūnus erat…”).

      2) If you’re talking about ending class with Write & Discuss when students copy from the board, that’s all in Latin.

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