Routine lessons on Feb. 19

It’s hard to believe I only have a few more weeks to do this. Today is a good day to blog on b/c the activities were humdrum, although Latin did start a new phase. I got an idea off one of the listservs about reading logs. I went to the archives but didn’t see anything more than what I had already thought of: take a story… or part of one since some are quite long… and have them read it and take notes on it. The next day they get a quiz over it using their notes. The notes can be anything from a translation into English to a summary in English of Latin to a story board to an outline…. whatever they think will help them pass the quiz.
It is the bane of teachers using a reading technique, i.e. where the major source of input is reading, that kids don’t want to read. English teachers, history teachers, all have the same problem. But for me, the stories in CLC are so compact 25 to 45 lines usually that they can easily be quizzed on for content. It puts the onus of doing the reading on the students; most will do so and the ones that don’t will see their grade drop precipitously. That’s OK b/c they are second year students who I’ve carried along for a long time; most are excellent students who will easily get full “points” for the notes and easily pass the quizzes. The few who can’t hack it can chalk it up to chickens coming home to roost.
During the class period we’ll do grammar, thanks to the school administration who wants students who go on to Latin III to be prepared for the grammar queen. I love teaching grammar it just doesn’t lend to proficiency in the TL. Oh well. When people are so shortsighted they can’t see the difference between grammar study and acquiring a language, that’s not my fault. I met with admins, loaned them an excellent book (Rod Ellis’ SLA), sent them selected students’ work with comments illustrating how they were learning Latin as Latin and not as a code to be broken and transformed into English before it could be understood….. as I said before, Oh well.
I introduced to all my classes the concept of a language starting from scratch: a creole. We have the Lord’s Prayer in Haitain Creole (Kweyol) first, then we’ll go to the English so-called Pidgin from the Cameroons. I avoid doing that first b/c it sounds very funny to us and I don’t want to start the topic of creoles with the idea they just talk funny. Given that most Creole speakers are Black, we have the added problem of all the stereotypes these kids bring with them.
In Spanish I gave the students a list in English of 28 words from our reading, then had them go through and off the top of their heads write the English. Each class averaged about half, which satisfied me very much. Some got 9 or 10, other 19 or 20, average 14. Then we watched Episode Four of Destinos. Good attention on that. We did the prayer as explained above. In first hour there are a couple of students who fail to do things like write down the words; that’ll show up in their notebooks as a deficiency and result in a 50 in the grade book, bringing their overall score down. I push like this toward the end b/c most kids have caught on to the way I teach and like it. The ones who still feel a need to screw up can now see their grade drop and I’m covered b/c the lower grades derive from clear-cut assignments they just decided not to do when just about everyone else did them.
Tomorrow I give the Latin quiz and the next assignment and then a grammar lesson. I’ll describe that after I give the lesson. I’ll also be teaching some grammar in Spanish, concentrating on present tense verbs (what else?).

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