Technology in the Latin Classroom · Vocabulary

A New Quiz Game: Gimkit

Or, as my students call it, “the money game.”

We play Kahoot, Quizlet Live, and Quizizz from time to time in class, and I do like each of those sites (some more than others). Recently, though, I found a new site called Gimkit that I absolutely love, and I’m excited to share it with you all.

I first found out about this on Reddit, where the students (yes, high school students) who created it posted about it on one of the teaching subreddits. They asked for feedback and we gave it to them (including, importantly, changing the name from something else to what it is now), and the resulting product is just outstanding.

Let me tell you some of the best features about this site:

  • There are multiple ways to play – not just team or individual, but different four different modes of play that keep the novelty alive. Students can race to be the first to hit a “dollar amount” you decide (the game calls its points “dollars”); they can work together to reach a dollar amount as a class; and more.
  • You can create different types of questions: multiple choice or typed answers.
  • You can “import” from Quizlet. I think it’s a tiny bit disingenuous to say you can import directly from Quizlet, but basically, you can go to Quizlet, export your Quizlet set as plain text, then paste it into Gimkit. Gimkit will then create a multiple-choice game using your Quizlet terms. This takes all of maybe 3 minutes if you are really familiar with Quizlet – and if you’re not, it might take you 5 minutes, thanks to Gimkit’s excellent instructions on how to do this.
  • The questions repeat! Unlike Kahoot, Quizlet Live, or Quizizz, where you see each question once, your students are going to see the questions multiple times, giving them repeated exposure to whatever you’re quizzing them on.
  • IT’S FUN! This is currently our most beloved game. I don’t know what it is about this game, but my students just love it.

I do want to tell you that the site costs money (it’s run by high school students!), but I think the fees are pretty fair, and they give you multiple payment options (monthly vs. yearly). I’m paying about $8/month right now to finish out the school year on the monthly subscription, and it’s completely worth it. If you want to try it out with no commitment, the site lets you create 3 kits (games) for free. That’s how I decided to take the plunge and purchase the subscription.

If you want to know more and watch a demo game, I’ve made a video for you walking you through what the game looks like.

Let me know what you think!

Assignment/Assessment Ideas · Vocabulary

Sub Day Options

I hate taking off work. It’s a pain to prepare work and instructions for a sub, and I would like my students be able to work on something meaningful and worth their time. On the other hand, sometimes it can be hard to give them something that I can trust them to do if I’m not there – and, if I’m being honest, that doesn’t require me to grade a whole stack of papers when I return from wherever I’ve been.

So here’s my list of go-to assignments for when I need to be out. Some of these options might fall into the “busy work” category for some teachers, to which I can only say… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I don’t feel bad because we do almost no busy work otherwise in my classes, and I truly believe a worksheet once in a blue moon is not going to kill a kid.

Low Prep 

  • Workbook pages and/or worksheets from our textbook series (Cambridge) and other series.
  • Crossword puzzles created using the website Armored Penguin. I usually make these puzzles about vocabulary, but you could really do any number of things, like questions about a story you’ve been reading. I like crossword puzzles because of their self-checking aspect.
  • Old National Latin Exams. The easiest way to assign these is to just print them off and pair them with a Scantron or something like ZipGrade, but over the past year I’ve slowly put together some Google Form versions of these so that they are self-grading.
  • Reading comprehension questions about Cambridge stories from Quia and Quizizz. You can print these off or have students take them online (I think you need a paid account on Quia to do this, but this option is free on Quizizz).
  • “Tests” from Quizlet. Every Quizlet set has the option to create a test, and you can adjust the settings so that the test creates different types of questions (fill-in-the-blank, matching, short answer, true/false). You can print these off for students. I’ve also had students complete activities on Quizlet, but you need a paid teacher account to keep track of what students have done.

No Prep – good for emergencies or the “sub folder” because they can be adapted to any chapter, stage, story, etc.

  • Magic puzzles. This is something I think you have to have done together in class once or twice before to make sure students know how to do them when you’re not there. Magic puzzles are a vocabulary activity, although you could also use them to match something like a character and a description. I usually have students hold their magic puzzles until I get back. Then they cut them up and switch with a neighbor to try to complete their neighbor’s puzzle. Here’s an example I made a few years ago for my students.
    Magic puzzle example.jpg
  • National Latin Exams, like I mentioned above. Reserve a set for your emergency sub plans.
  • 4-word stories. I have created a template for these for my students (feel free to use it) that has up to 12 frames. Normally when we do these in class, I just do an adapted version of what Keith talks about in his blog post: I give the students XYZ number of words they can choose from and then tell them something like “you must have XYZ number of sentences that are compound sentences.” To create instructions that could apply to any lesson or unit, however, I would just say that students must use at least XYZ number of words from the vocabulary list or Quizlet set for that chapter/story/stage. One last thing: if assigning for sub work, I would not let students work in groups, only in pairs (if they can be trusted to behave for a sub) or alone.
  • Reading guides (here’s my template), which we use in our program as a regular assignment. The idea of a reading guide (h/t Maria Kepler) is that students read a story on their own before coming to class and write down vocabulary and structures that give them trouble or are unfamiliar. When we do these as homework in Latin II (about twice a week), I just assign them a story and a number of lines, usually no more than 20. For a sub folder assignment, I would use instructions that say that students should use the next story in their book.

There are also options that are a little bit more prep-heavy like having students complete an EdPuzzle or a student-paced Pear Deck. I haven’t done either of these for sub days, but depending on what you do with them, you could get close to replicating a normal day in class.

Catholicity · Community in the Latin Classroom · Vocabulary

Prayers: Community, Vocabulary, and Some Ideas for Non-Religious Schools

I want to start this post out by stating two things: 1) I work at a Catholic school, and 2) I am not Catholic. This blog isn’t the place for me to hash out my personal religious beliefs, but I do want to make clear the setting in which I work and my place in it.

Anyway! Despite not being Catholic, I haven’t had a very difficult time working at a Catholic school. True, I did study (because I am a crazy person) for my first ever mass by watching YouTube videos, and I also was a little out of the loop on some of the prayers: Hail Mary, the Memorare, etc. But I love going to work every day, and at least at my school, I don’t particularly feel out of place as a non-Catholic.

One of the requirements of our classes – so much so that it is the first or second item on the sheet for our formal observations – is that we start each class with prayer. We also pray as a school once during second period (morning announcements) and at the end of the day (afternoon announcements). I’ve always thought it would be cool to watch the security cameras during announcements, since you are supposed to stop if you are in the hall during prayer. I like the idea of everyone stopping at the same time to do something together.

But I’m getting off track. We start each class with prayer. In my history class, I lead it, and we switch between Hail Mary and Our Father (the Lord’s prayer). In Latin, until we get to second semester with our aedile election project (to be explained in a future post), I also lead. Here’s how that looks:

  • Discipuli/amici, quis preces habet? Students/friends (depending on my feeling toward them that day :P), who has intentions? (Read about intentions here if you’re unfamiliar, as I was, but the way it’s used in our school is essentially “who are you praying for today?”)
  • Students raise their hands and name their preces. From the very first time we do them, I echo whatever they say in Latin. After a week or so, they have a vocabulary built up to say these in Latin.
  • Then we make the Sign of the Cross (in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti) and recite a prayer in Latin together. For Latin I in the fall, this is either Ave Maria or Gloria Patri. We close with the Sign of the Cross again.

One of the reasons I love that we start with prayer is that it builds community in our classroom. Students hear each other’s prayers – and they are really actually listening. I think they all understand that this time is intended to be a sacred, solemn time, so (most of them) cut out any goofing off. Some students pray for the same thing every day, and their classmates all know their daily intentions. This is not an uncommon occurrence in my class:

  • Me: amici, quis preces habet?
  • Student: quattuor res. Oh, and John isn’t here today, so John’s mater.

This leads me to a more selfish reason that I love starting with prayer: it is a pretty low-stress way for us to build vocabulary. We have a sort of core prayer vocabulary that the students end up acquiring: mater, pater, familia, amicus/a, certamen, athletae, fabula, examen, res, morbus, etc. They also get number practice in, and it’s sometimes an interesting exercise in translating to Latin (“Ms. B., how do you say wildfire in Latin?”). They also hear a lot of vocabulary before we see it in Cambridge: res, quis, etc. It’s pretty cool to watch students see quis in the textbook for the first time and hear “We know this word! Quis preces habet!”

Obviously, for a non-religious school, this short activity (it takes maybe 3 minutes at most) isn’t directly transferable. But there are some ways to adapt it or incorporate mindfulness using Latin into non-religious classrooms. Here are a few ideas:

  • I worked with a teacher once who had a “Let it Go” (Frozen-themed) box, where students wrote anything that was weighing on their mind and threw it in the box, symbolically “letting it go.”
  • You could let students write what’s on their mind on a sticky note and place it in a dedicated place in the room, anonymously or not. Padlet is the same idea, but digital.
  • You could ask students “What’s on your mind?” (maybe Quid est in vestris/nostris animis? off the top of my head) and have them volunteer the same way ours do, although this might be getting close to looking too much like a religious practice.
  • And then there’s always the classic journaling.

I think it’s important that these things don’t necessarily have to be in Latin. Like I said above, what I love most about this is the community-building. Requiring it to be in Latin might cause anxiety. The other issue you may run into, especially if you do anonymous “intentions,” is a student writing something either inappropriate or alarming. It’s a risk you’d have to weigh, certainly.

Let me know if you have questions about this practice, wherever your classroom falls on the religious or non-religious spectrum.

Learning Disabilities in the Latin Classroom · Vocabulary

Noun Foldable Examples and Some Thoughts on Error Correction

I wrote last month about one of my favorite vocabulary tools: noun foldables. Now that I’m finally on Christmas break, I thought I would share some student examples so you can see what these look like from real students in their first semester of Latin.

First, a note about these students. This specific section of students, by design, is my class with a majority of students who have learning disorders. To be clear, these are not students who would be in Special Ed in public schools; many of them simply have dyslexia, dysgraphia, auditory processing disorder, ADHD/ADD, etc. This class moves at a slower pace than our other Latin I classes so that we can have an even greater focus on reading and reading comprehension.

I say this so that you keep this fact in mind as you look at these students’ work. This is an activity that is accessible to students at all readiness levels, and it can easily be differentiated. Some of these students wrote their “fabula”/description section by copying directly from the textbook (CLC 4th ed.), while others composed them themselves. Moreover, while there are definitely spelling and grammatical errors in this work, as long as the text is comprehensible, I don’t correct the work. We do have explicit grammar instruction in this class (and all my Latin classes), but for the most part, I don’t correct errors in students’ written work unless they ask or it obscures the meaning of their work.

You can see some of these errors below:

coquus
There are a number of spelling and grammar errors in this foldable, but that is overshadowed by the content. “Laborat hortus” – what a great way to hint that this person does work somewhere, just not in the garden. 

senex

cibus

servus

sanguis
I loved this student’s non-examples for “sanguis”: other liquids. This is one of the reasons I find this activity so helpful – it requires students to make connections between vocabulary words, helping to build their regard for Latin as a language. This student also did the “cibus” foldable above, about a month after she did this one. Funny (and kind of gross) that “aqua” and “vinum” are both non-examples for “cibus” and “sanguis.”

As you can see, there are errors above… accusative instead of ablative endings, 1st/2nd declension adjective endings for 3rd declension adjectives, etc. But all of it is comprehensible, and it’s what the students are able to produce right now (or when these were made). Finally, it’s low-stress for everyone. My artists get to draw, my writers get to write, and my squirmy kids (of which I have many!) get to do something. Win-win-win in my book.

 

Vocabulary

Noun Foldables

image-2
I made this one in about two minutes for this post. 

I’m taking classes to earn my teaching certification for Latin, and one of the most helpful has been my Methods class. Our professor has tons of great ideas that I’ve been able to implement in my classroom – this is one of them.

My Methods professor introduced this activity to us as a foldable, but I’ve since narrowed it down to noun foldables, since these are difficult to make with verbs and other parts of speech. These are easy to make and require very little prep on your part, and they are great for vocabulary acquisition.

For these instructions, I’ll be using Cambridge Stage 4 (4th ed.) as a reference. Here’s how it works:

  1. Assign each student a noun from the current stage. This is the only part of this activity that requires much labor on your part. I list all these nouns in a Google Sheet so I can type students’ names next to each noun. This can be tricky depending on your number of students. Since our class sizes are small, I rarely run out of nouns for students, but try these ideas:
    1. I use nouns first from the vocabulary list in each stage. In stage 4, this gives you 7 nouns (8 if you include “negotium” from “negotium agit”).
    2. Then I go through the stage and list any other nouns, glossed or otherwise. The stage 4 model sentences, for example, give you 3 nouns we haven’t seen before.
    3. I also use nouns from any outside stories we read, whether they are from the Cambridge Fabulae Ancillantes, the Minimus series, stories on Tarheel Reader, etc.
    4. Use culture-related nouns. The Stage 4 culture reading includes lares and duoviri, for example. You could also use mythological or historical figures if they are part of your curriculum.
    5. Finally, depending on whether or not we have done foldables for previous stages, I would pull in vocabulary from old stages. If you have done foldables for old stages, pull them out and let students add on to them (to their own or someone else’s).
  2. Students fold their papers so that there is a diamond in the middle. We use colored paper, but notebook, construction, or plain computer paper works fine too. Have them fold their papers horizontally (hamburger), then horizontally (hamburger) again. Then they should fold down the inside corner so that there is a folded-over triangle – my students call this the Google Docs logo. Open it up, and you should have four squares with a diamond in the middle.
  3. Students write their noun inside the diamond on the sheet: Latin word on top, English word on bottom. Establish the most important rule of the noun foldable, which is: The vocabulary word, whether in English or in Latin, can only appear inside the diamond.
  4. Students label the boxes.
    1. Top left: Illustration (pictura)
    2. Top right: Description (depictio… if you have a better idea for what to call this, please let me know)
    3. Bottom left: Examples (exempla)
    4. Bottom right: It’s not… (non est…)
  5. Then students fill in the boxes. They are pretty self-explanatory, but you will probably have to explain them a time or two. 🙂
    1. pictura: Draw a picture of the noun. Stick figures OK!
    2. depictio: This is usually the hardest for students. The description should come from the stories and from their brain. Depending on the student, you can do some scaffolding here. There are three general “levels” of depictiones…
      1. Just writing an adjective.
      2. Writing a sentence from the story with a blank where the word should be. (Example: for canis, writing “____ est in via.”)
      3. Writing a complete sentence without using the word in the diamond. “est in via,” “dormit in via,” “latrat et salit,” “est pestis,” etc.
    3. exempla: Their chief examples should be from the book/story, but they are welcome to incorporate outside “sources” too. For “mater,” e.g., students would write “Metella,” “Iulia” (mom in the Minimus story), “Mella” (mom in the Gilbo stories on Tarheel Reader), and on and on. They could also write the names of famous mothers. At our Catholic school, for example, “Mary” would be an example used by many students – but “Mother Teresa” couldn’t be, since it uses the word “mother.”
    4. non est…: These are non-examples using vocabulary that students already know. There are a few ways to do this:
      1. Words in the same category. For pavo, for example, a student might list canismusequus, etc. as non-examples, since they’re all animals.
      2. Words that are easily confused. For mus, I’d definitely put murus. Same with liberlibertus, etc.
      3. Words that are the opposite. puer for puellapater for mater, etc.
      4. If all else fails, words that start with the same letter. This is a last resort, but undoubtedly you will run into something for which you use this option.

So what do you do with these when done?

Speed dating! Line students up into two lines facing each other. Students fold their foldables so only one panel is showing. They then try to guess what the person facing them has. The first time I did this, I was really surprised by how many of my students enjoyed it and didn’t immediately give up if they couldn’t tell what they were looking at; they asked their partner for another panel, then another, then another. Most of them get it this way, and since students become “experts” on the noun they worked on, they can coach their classmates through figuring out the answer. After 30 seconds-1 minute, I have students rotate. It’s a great review game.

Finally: save these! Save all of them, even the ones that aren’t great. Put a Post-it note on those or put them in an extra file to be re-done. You will want these later on to have a quick sponge activity, and those “not-great” ones become great resources when you are short on nouns in a later stage and need a word for a student to work on. You can also go back and add on to old foldables – this is a great activity for early finishers.