A- in Conjugating, D in Comprehending

**UPDATE 9.28.17** Episode 65 of Tea with BVP, entitled “Does Instruction Speed Up Acquisition,” confirms much of what’s in this post.

I just looked up the 3rd person plural future active indicative form of habēre—or—expressed in a more comprehensible way, I just looked up how to say “they will have.” Before I looked it up, though, habēbunt didn’t sound right in my head. It didn’t sound right because I haven’t received enough input of that word. I also haven’t received enough input of other words with the same ending in different contexts. If I did, I’d have a better chance of being able to extract the parts during my parsing (i.e. moment-by-moment computation of sentence structure during comprehension), and wouldn’t have had to think about how to express “they will have.”

No one dare say that I didn’t study my endings, because I totally did. I got an A- in paradigms. I knew them forwards and backwards, UK and North American order, too! That was after I got a D in comprehension the first time I took Latin because the pace was too fast, and my memory insufficient to learn Latin. Or so I thought…

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Parātus sum

Preparing for the new school year is kind of crazy. I just read how someone feels like they have to “learn how to teach all over again.” This resonates with me. It’s the 5th time asking myself “OK, but what do I DO?!” just before everything starts. I’m preparing to plan a little more than I normally would, at least in the beginning, but really just to sleep well at night. This is exactly like what Jason Fritze mentioned about writing a quick story script ahead of time, even if you plan to roll with compelling diversions and give students most of the control over story details (noted in my NTPRS 2017 Takeaways). I know that once things get rolling I’ll be able to relax, and the daily stress will dissipate. I’m prepared for stress, and in doing so will avoid anxiety. In my first year, another teacher shared with me how he began his 9th year filled with anxiety, and later vowed to prepare enough so that he could replace it with stress. He knew how to deal with stress, but anxiety was too much, even for an experienced teacher. Here’s how I’ve prepared myself for the upcoming year:

CI Program Checklist Summary
What, you thought this blog was only for readers other than myself? No way. The checklist still holds up, and I use it to make sure everything’s printed and ready to go. I might not use the PPTs on my website—the ones that I really needed when I first began actually speaking Latin in class—but the processes are the same so I review and refresh.

Setting up my room, and Grading
Clean room, clean mind. New this year is an updated Word Wall. I’ll keep track of new words (rather than print lists to refer to), and nest under appropriate question word poster.


Since I have 3 sections of Latin I (i.e. Tues, Wed, Thurs), each class will have their own Word wall panels. To make these, I folded a sheet of tear-away paper over construction paper for rigidity, and punched a single hole to be suspended by push pins. The other class panels hide behind the ones shown, and are rotated each day at the start of class. Can someone saaaaay “student job?”



Strategy Cards
Not unlike Terry Waltz’s Squid For Brains “Circle-Up!” cards that guide you along the path of randomized circling questions, etc., I laminated some cards with strategies I’d like to implement in the classroom. After NTPRS 2017, I knew that there were just sooooo many new yet simple strategies to try, but that I would likely forget about them. These cards took me 10min. to make, and are comprised of general “Class Strategies,” and then more specific “Story Strategies” I’ll use while storyasking. Yes, this is slightly artificial, but not that long ago I actually had to “practice” just speaking to students in Latin…think about THAT! These cards are for honing my craft so that making Latin more comprehensible becomes more automatic. This is professional development.



New Refocusers
Sometimes we need to refocus. I experienced this firsthand with Alina Filipescu’s “mira, escucha, estamos en la lucha!” chant. It was fun, and worked to lower the affective filter. The best ones I’ve seen/heard have rhythm, or just rhyme. We should use them in Latin class, so Traci Dougherty and I were tossing ideas back and forth. It’s definitely the Pīsō in me, but I struggled with sacrificing a fun chant for accurate vowel quantities—what made a good rhythm didn’t reflect how we actually say those words, etc. So, here are my two refocusers that are metrically sound:

1) “Quid agis, nihil magis” (rhythm = quid Agis, NIhil MAgis)
2) “in lūdō, vidēmus, audīmus et, rogāmus” (rhythm = in LŪdō, viDĒmus//auDĪmus et, roGĀmus)

Both work well as a call & response (either teacher/students, or left side/right side). To initiate the left side/right side, just clap the rhythm as a cue before students chant. The second one has the added bonus of reinforcing my Daily Engagement Agreements (DEA).


2017-18 Classroom Setup: Syllabus, Rules, & Grading

I’ve been writing about Assessment & Grading for a while. That writing has earned me slots presenting at the local, regional, and national level, which means this is a hot topic not to be overlooked. I’m not surprised. Grading systems influence assessment, which drive content, and even the slightest adjustments can have profound effects on one’s teaching. For example, the simple decision to grade homework comes with considerable baggage…

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Latin Stories Videos Series: Mīnōtaurus

This video series is inspired by Mike Peto’s straightforward Story Listening videos in Spanish, and Eric Herman’s structured English Class videos, both shared by John Piazza last month in an effort to get ones like these in Latin. Here’s the Minotaur myth retold using 21 unique words. The story is 229 words total in length.

1) Class
2) Story (Google Doc link found in YouTube video description)
3) Questions

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NTPRS 2017 Takeaways

Before having the opportunity to present a couple workshops, my mind was blown quite sufficiently during the week. Overall, the Advanced Track with Alina Filipescu and Jason Fritze got me thinking about aaaaaaaall the things I’ve forgotten to do, or stopped doing (for no good reason) over the years. Thankfully, most of them are going to be soooooo easy to [re]implement. As for the others, I’ll pick 2 at a time to add—not replace—until they become automatic. This will probably take the entire year; there’s no rush!

Jason referred to high-leverage strategies—those yielding amazing results with minimal effort (i.e. juice vs. squeeze), and I’m grateful that he called our attention to everything Alina was doing while teaching us Romanian. ce excelent! I’ll indicate some high-leverage strategies, and will go as far as to classify them as “non-negotiable” for my own teaching, using the letters “NN.” I’ll also indicate strategies to update or re-implement with the word “Update!” and those I’d like to try for the first time with the word “New!” I encourage you to give them all a try. Here are the takeaways organized by presenter:

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NTPRS 2017 Resources

Here are links to my Thursday and Friday NTPRS presentations, and related posts for a) those who attended and are interested in reading more, b) those who slept in past 8am (I am slightly envious of that), but wanted to attend, or c) those who weren’t at the conference at all, but find the topics interesting just the same.

NTPRS 2017 – No Prep Grading & Assessment (PPT)
NTPRS 2017 – Same Skills Different Game (PPT)

Related Blog Posts:
No Prep Grading & Assessment

Same Skills Different Game

NTPRS 2017: 10 Workshops On Assessment & Grading!

Assessment & Grading is, by far, the most frequent topic I’m asked about, and this year’s National TPRS Conference features 10 of those workshops on Thursday and Friday! Based on the descriptions, there’s a mix of proficiency people, skill people, tech-tool people, speaking people, rubric people, and more! I’ll be presenting one of those workshops, and have noticed that my thinking is a little different. I do recommend getting to as many of the 10 as you can, so in case you miss out on mine, here’s a brief look at what I’m about…

I have a very simple approach to assessment because the answer is always RLMTL (i.e. Reading and Listening to More Target Language). That is, there is NO assessment I could give that WOULD NOT result in me providing more input. Therefore, my assessments are input-based, and very brief. In fact, what many consider assessments—for me—are actually just simple quizzes used to report scores (see below).

I prefer to assess students authentically.

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