In a Latin Best Practices Facebook group discussion months back, I shared that I wasn’t sure I do any pre- or post-reading. I just have a bunch of…activities. While I still think that’s true, I’ve decided to consolidate and organize everything under the pre/dum(during)/post categories to make planning even easier.
I almost can’t believe I just typed that. Planning—for me—already takes mere minutes. With broad Class Day and Culture Day unit plans established for reference, I’ve had no need to plan the class agenda more than a day or two in advance. In fact, doing so becomes a waste of time as things become irrelevant, or causes frustration when plans—inevitably—must change. N.B. I’m able to plan this way because I work under a “forward procedure” approach, which I highly recommend. Still, if there’s a way to reduce planning even further, I’m game.
I hear teachers talk about cycles a lot these days, which are kind of like longer planning routines. Since my school went to A/B day block schedule, the whole “Monday = ____ day” is pointless, and the longer 84 minute classes really messed with how I structured it all. This year was a big adjustment to say the least. So next year, I’m gonna give the cycle thing a try as it pertains to pre-, dum-, and post-reading sequences within a single class. This differs from what Elizabeth Davidson shared, noting that her sequence typically lasts 4-6 days. These past weeks, though, I’ve been using the sequences when reading a short text, such as a novella chapter, in one class. As such, the amount of pre- needed for the reading (dum-) is far more limited, as well as the scope of a post-reading wrap-up (usually a game). For the descriptions of everything that follows, see this updated list of activities, which is now organized by timing, not prep…
The Super Clear Cognate list is up to 475! Aside from making posters of a small selection of them to have more readily available to use during class, I’ve forgotten major plans I had for the growing resource. Late July, I posted the following to Latin Best Practices Facebook group:
My latest plan is to browse the list before writing any texts (e.g. editing class stories, adapting ancient texts, etc.), and just adding at least 1 cognate—maybe per part of speech (while also REMEMBERING that adverb forms exist).
– Have dialogue? Toss in a cognate instead of “dicit!”
– Describing size? Check for more interesting adjectives!
– Introducing a new character? Give them a role!
Yeah…that didn’t really happen. Granted, I did use compacta for something small, but I haven’t made this part of my workflow of typing up the day’s events in class to read the next day. So, despite writing 1300 total words for learners by second week, I wonder if I could’ve been providing more varied input as we focus on those frequent verbs. The good news is that one week won’t have disastrous negative effects, which means I can implement the new workflow right away.
In addition to the cognates, consider what you can add after every sentence. Not only does this increase exposure to vocabulary, but also creates more of an image. Instead of moving onto the next sentence, action, though, or event…
- …could you describe something you just wrote?
- …could you restate the whole message from a different perspective, then add another detail (known, or possible), like how an action was done?
- …could you add a nōn sentence?
- …could you give background motivation for what just occurred based on character traits, or what they like/dislike?
The answer to all those is probably “yes.” Don’t get carried away with bogging down the text with super long sentences, but do consider how you might elaborate and expand the input without introducing any new words beyond those super clear cognates. This is one way to deliberately spiral (i.e. recycle) vocabulary that has already been used.
Even a teacher who’s been in the classroom for 6 years has only started the school year a maximum of 6 times, and there’s a good chance that none of those years began the same way. That’s not a lot of practice!
As annual amnesia sets in, I do a LOT more scripting, thinking, planning, confusing, etc. all at the start of the year. If Kids lose knowledge after 3 months; teachers lose flow. In fact, I just posted a video to the Latin Best Practices Facebook group sharing how I ended up stuck one day during some Total Physical Response (TPR) I’ve been using as brain breaks. Naturally, I’m more aware of my teaching since there hasn’t been enough time for anything to stack up, so I’ve been thinking about the start to this year… Continue reading
I read this statement somewhere recently about researched teaching practices:
“X is at least as supported as Y.”
Since we’re talking about something that affects students, I’d begin by asking the kind of questions Eric Herman includes with each of his memos. Then I’d move away from data, and instead consider practical classroom applications, as well as personal observations and reflections (of both practices X and Y when applicable).
Recently, John Piazza reminded me of Bill VanPatten’s definition of high-frequency vocabulary as “vocabulary used often in a particular context.”
The classroom context is very important. I can tell you that pater, though the 84th most frequent Latin word (according to Logeion), doesn’t come up much in my classes. You know what does? saccus pyraulocinēticus, meaning “jet pack.” Honestly, I don’t blame kids for finding a reason to sneak that into class, and I don’t mind one bit because a) we can show how Latin works with saccus pyraulocinēticus just as much as we can pater, and b) because it’s pure buy-in that makes Latin class fun.
The high-frequency lists are useful, but don’t forget that those lists are based on literature. Realize, then, that most of your students, if not nearly all, will NEVER read Latin literature. If your class is truly communicative, vocabulary used in your room each day will be relevant to students and their interests. Once you move beyond the Quaint Quīntum, Awesome Octō, Sweet Sēdecim, Top 32, Most Important 52, etc., the “high-frequency list” words you CHOOSE to use in class might be in vain, especially if they aren’t compelling, or worse, somehow causing grief in an effort to “get through” or “cover” words that appear in X, Y, and or Z.