We’ve noticed that asking questions online takes a looooooooooong time. Whether it’s processing the question (in Latin) and coming up with a response, or tech delays like unmuting and typing into chat, there are definitely obstacles to this most basic way to engage students. Here are some solutions…
Quick Quiz as Annotation Tasks
I’ve stopped Quick Quizzes entirely, but kept using the same questions as Annotation Tasks. These simple tasks keep students following along with a text by writing in their notebooks. You could call this “accountability” if it makes you feel more like a teacher of the year. Like Quick Quizzes, they’re also an opportunity to establish meaning in a different way. For example:
Ōrīōnī valdē placuērunt sorōrēs septem.
Last week in class, the task was “in your notebook, write down how many sisters Orion really liked.” This isn’t a trick. Students already read “septem” in the previous sentence along with numerals (VII), and they could even count the number of sisters in the illustration. The point of an Annotation Task is to hold attention with something VERY simple to do. As a bonus, the meaning of all the other words can be given in the question itself. An even easier question would be “who really liked the seven sisters.” A trickier question would be “what did Orion really like?” Another task entirely would be “write down what ‘sorōrēs septem’ means,” and well, you get the idea. These also serve as gradebook evidence…
Weekly Latin Work
If you’re familiar with the super reasonable weekly Latin work idea from August, I can report that this helps everyone except students who don’t have the best digital literacy and independent learner skills, which is basically all incoming 9th grade high school students!! I’m not really surprised. In the end, the weekly Latin work was still a homework assignment, however simple, and I haven’t bothered with homework for years.
For Quarter 2, we’ll be replacing this idea with an in-class version that’s even more streamlined—just one pic of notebook from class—as gradebook evidence for in-class participation. You could think of this as one exit ticket once a week. That’s it! Towards the end of class, I just drop the Bitly link into chat so students on laptops can easily type a short URL into their phone and instantly snap a pic, and voilà!
When combined with the Annotation Tasks above, you can see who was responding throughout class, even with those empty squares and muted mics. And if you get back some pretty thin-looking notes, you can follow up with students on the source of their Zoom ghosting. Seriously, just ask. I’ve learned of several different legit reasons, including a student quarantined from his COVID-positive mom along with a sibling and grandmother. Reading the myth of Orion and the Seven Sisters is pretty low in terms of that kid’s needs, right?
Cynthia Hitz’ Engagement trick:
Consider using Cynthia’s trick for additional questions. My take on that is something like:
- “This Q is for Student X…”
- “OK class, what did Student X write in their notebook?”
This can engage all students as well as show us if Student X actually writes down (when submitted at end of class). Also, whether they came up with the response on their own, or they heard their/saw classmates respond and then wrote it down afterwards doesn’t actually matter! This is a management tool.