Down here in the South, school starts early (but most of us are out around Memorial Day), so we’ve got pre-planning starting this coming week, and then the kids are back August 6th. I’ve been thinking this summer about what I want to change for the upcoming year, and I have a lot of plans.
Latin I CPA
- No more bonus points. I didn’t give a ton of these anyway, but I felt like they were inflating my students’ grades in a way that didn’t reflect what they were actually learning. So this year I’m putting more of an emphasis on remediation and mastery instead of bonus points.
- Retrieval practice. One of my good friends at work uses retrieval practice with her history students and saw incredible success with it last year. This year I’m going to try it by using it as my board work (bellringer/do-now).
- Really emphasizing reading. I want to pare down some of the “extra grammar” instruction we do in Latin I CPA to supplement what’s missing in CLC so that we can use our class time more efficiently to get kids better at reading Latin. To do this, I think I’m going to put more emphasis on reading comprehension and some translating on tests and cut down on the number of “What tense is X verb?” questions. The tricky part about this is balancing that desire with getting kids ready for AP, which does ask questions like that. So this year I’ll be working on finding that balance.
Latin III/IV CP
- Writing the curriculum! This is a new class for us; well, we had III CP last year, but this year we are “untextbooking” with it. I decided to plan the fall semester around the mythology topics on the NLE syllabus, so we are going to start out with a quick gods and goddesses unit, then transition to reading an easy novella (Pluto: Fabula Amoris by Rachel Ash and Miriam Patrick) for a unit on the Underworld. After that, we will move through the Aeneid (using the prose retellings from the Jenney series), Jason (using stories from Using Latin), and Theseus (anchoring the unit with Andrew Olimpi’s novella Labyrinthus). The spring semester is still more up in the air, but I want to do some history-focused readings. If we ever break IV CP into its own class, I would love to teach Ellie Arnold’s Cloelia in a history unit.
- Reworking grading categories. Big changes happening here, so I’ll try to explain each one.
- Taking out homework as a grading category. I don’t give much homework in the first place, and I give even less to CP. I’ve decided that instead of having category for something that I really don’t use, I’m just going to use detentions (“unprepared for class”) instead if students don’t have homework (again, on the off chance that I assign it).
- Replacing tests/projects with major assessments (35%). This is mostly semantics. I’m planning to do a lot of extended projects with this class, and “tests/projects” was just an unwieldy category for me.
- Replacing quizzes with minor assessments (20%). This is actually more about practicality than semantics. I used to give “minor” projects that counted as quiz grades, but it was always hard for students to keep track of a minor project (quiz grade) vs. a major project (test grade), so I’m hoping that by calling the assignment “Such and Such Minor Assessment,” it will be easier for them to work with.
- Proficiency portfolio (15%). This is what I’m most nervous about. I’m switching over to really using the ACTFL proficiency levels with this group a) because my ultimate goal is for them to make progress in their reading proficiency and b) because this class has such a wide range of abilities that using a portfolio system to track individual growth is, in my opinion, the most equitable way to measure a student’s performance in this class. My plan is to meet 3 times a semester with students to talk about their portfolio reflections, which I’d like to post here once I can figure out who to give credit to for the parts of it I adapted (i.e. shamelessly stole).
- Habits of Strong Readers rubric (10%). I am using an adapted version (somewhat specific to my students’ behaviors) of Tina Hargaden’s Habits of Strong Readers rubric to measure my students’ behavioral habits during silent reading. I adapted her rubric because I wanted this portion of the grade (which is what I replaced homework with, by the way) to reflect not just social behaviors but metacognitive and reflective behaviors as well. I know that there is much to be said against the idea of incorporating any aspect of behavior into a student’s grade, but since what I am doing here is trying to assess their progress, it’s important to me to measure how much my students are contributing to (or inhibiting) their own progress. And… it’s only 10% of the grade.
- Taking a field trip? I’d really like to take this class to the Carlos Museum at Emory. The Carlos is an incredible resource for those of us living in the Atlanta area, and who doesn’t want to see mummies?
- Taking the ALIRA. I’d also like to have this class take the ALIRA this year as part of my focus on moving them toward a focus on proficiency. I’m also just curious to see how they would do on it.
Latin III Honors
- Honestly, just teaching this class. I’ve never taught it before! Unlike III/IV CP, there is a set curriculum already for III Honors, so that part is taken care of. I’m really excited to revisit some poetry I haven’t read in a long time, especially the works we’ll be reading by my main squeezes, Catullus and Ovid.
I know everyone reacts to the start of the year differently; some people dread it, some people love it, and for some people, it’s just the start of the year – just a return to work. I’m really excited this year because of all these new changes and because I just love my school, my coworkers, and my students (and their parents, to be honest). At the end of the day, I can’t think of anyplace else I’d rather be.