Technology in the Latin Classroom

More Kahoot Jumble Ideas

Long time, no blog! I don’t really have an excuse. I was going to say that I went to Iceland, but I went to Iceland before my last blog post, so… foiled by my own dang self.

Anyway!

A few months ago, I wrote a post about the possible uses of Kahoot Jumble as a post-reading activity. I’ve had a few ideas since then about how we can use this feature of Kahoot; I’ll just list them below. Again, I don’t think Jumble is as useful as it could be. You should be able to use regular Kahoot questions and Jumble questions in the same quiz, but alas, I don’t run the world or any part of it.

Any type of sequencing activity should work well with Jumble, including:

  • Putting the days of the week, the months, the seasons, etc. in order
  • Putting tenses in order (for example: pluperfect, perfect/imperfect, present, future)
  • Ordering characters in a story from youngest to oldest or vice versa
  • Putting positive, comparative, and superlative adjectives in order
    • I think you have to have 4 things to order in each question, so I would do this by using “non adjective.” For example: non iratus, iratus, iratior, iratissimus
  • Putting events in logical order
    • For example: I wake up. I take a shower. I put on clothes. I leave for school.
  • Putting historical events in order
  • Putting phrases in order according to transition words
    • For example: First, I get home. Second, I do my homework. Next, I watch TV. Finally, I go to bed.
  • Putting meals or courses in order
  • Putting numbers (cardinal or ordinal) in order
  • If you can find a GIF of someone doing something in a recognizable order, you can upload the GIF as part of the question. Then you could have students arrange the sentences to accurately reflect the order in which the person does that thing. (Could that be a more convoluted sentence? I’m sorry – I’m tired!)

I would use the quiz to target a specific sequence or set of vocabulary words, like days of the week or transition words, and do no more than 10 questions in a quiz (otherwise it becomes easily tiresome and repetitive).

I’m sure there are thousands of other ways to use this feature – let me know your thoughts!

Thoughts on Teaching

Reality Checks

About two weeks ago, I was telling my Latin I CP class what we would be doing for the day: activity X, then Y, then Z, and so on. I don’t remember exactly what happened – maybe I had forgotten to print something out for an activity, or the Internet was spotty, or any number of things – but I realized that one of the activities wasn’t going to work out. So I said this to my students, and what I heard in response was, “Yay!” and “Oh… darn” and all sorts of other really disheartening things.

Talk about a reality check.

The rest of the conversation kind of went like this:

Me: “Hey y’all, you know you’re being rude and disrespectful when you say things like that.”
Student A: “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be. But I don’t like that game. It’s boring.”
Student B: “And I don’t like when we do speed dating. It’s too slow.” (I know. It’s speed dating. But I guess the speed for their rotations was too slow?)
Student C: “And I hate quizzes!”

Time out. We had a serious heart-to-heart about expressing dissatisfaction respectfully and constructively, but while we were having this (pretty productive) conversation, all sorts of things were running through my head. “Are they learning anything?” “Do they seriously just hate this class?” “Is there anything they enjoy about being here?”

I second-guess (and third- and fourth-guess, if those things are possible) myself a lot as a teacher. Part of it is being so young and lacking experience, part of it is teaching in a different way than I was taught, and part of it is working in a program with two other teachers where I need to make sure that my students are ready when they go to Latin II, then III, then AP. I constantly ask myself, deservedly or undeservedly, whether my students are going to be ready for their next teacher, whether they enjoy coming to class, whether they tell their friends to take Latin.

So for me, ruminating on these questions I was asking myself in this moment would have not only been easy, it would have been habit. But instead of doing my normal thing (worrying), I did the productive thing, which was to just ask them.

“Hey y’all, what do you like about this class?”

“Quizlet Live!” “Word races!” “Relays!” “The videos!” “The stories!”

Oh.

Well, then.

Talk about a reality check.

These moments remind me that my anxieties and wildest dreams live on the edges of reality. Not every student is going to love every activity we do, but they are not dreading coming to my class. I truly believe that the majority of my students do enjoy Latin (whatever “Latin” means for them – Quizlet Live, games, grammar) and enjoy the Latin class that we have together every day.

This doesn’t mean I’m ignoring my students’ critiques. If they don’t like X activity, and if I don’t think it’s necessary for our class, we can drop it. If they want speed dating to go faster, I can make it happen. If they love word races, we can do them more often. I always want my classroom to be responsive to my students’ wants, needs, and interests.

And as for my students not learning anything… let me show you something from a recent vocabulary quiz. My Latin I students don’t know anything about conjugating, other than “-nt” is plural and “-t” is singular. They also know some of the perfect tense markers and endings, and they can recognize imperfect tense.

On this quiz, students had to write the word for “She caught sight of.” This is a stage 7 vocab word in CLC. In stage 7, they are still getting a conjugated verb in their vocabulary listings instead of principal parts, which means that for “catches sight of,” they’re seeing “conspicit: conspexit.”

One student had trouble remembering that “she caught sight of” is “conspexit.” So this student wrote the following on their quiz:

conspicitavit

For those of you non-Latin people reading, “conspicitavit” is kind of like writing “runned” as the past tense of “run.” If you look at the “c” in this student’s answer, you can see where I started to mark it wrong with my red pen. But I thought about it: “x” is a new perfect tense “sign” these students have just been introduced to. This student has internalized “-avit” as looking like perfect tense, and they’re not wrong. This student is learning the patterns of language, and while they haven’t internalized “x” yet, they do have that “-avit” down.

It might not look like it at first glance, but my students are learning Latin and things about Latin. The more they see and hear verbs like duco, conspico, and dico, the more they will get that “x” down. The more they see and hear Latin, the more they will get Latin. And despite all my worries about whether students are actually learning anything in my class, I end up with reality checks like the one above that let me see that they are, in fact, learning.

Community in the Latin Classroom

Back to School… Again

At our school, students switch teachers after first semester. This is the way it worked at the high school I went to, but we were on a 4×4 block (similar to how colleges work), so you had an entire new slate of classes spring semester. At the school where I work, this isn’t the case. For the most part, with the exception of some 1/2 year electives and other classes, our students have the same classes all year long, but their schedules are rearranged so that they have new teachers.

I’m not 100% sure why this happens – I haven’t really ever asked anyone who would know. What it means on my end is that I keep some of my “old” (fall semester) students and get some “new” students who had another teacher for Latin I during the fall. I should note that I keep my Latin I CP class (CP = generally – but not always – students with learning or attention disorders, learning disabilities, etc.) the entire year.

Our first day of spring semester was Thursday. It’s a little nerve-wracking for me. The first day of school is like the most awkward blind date, at least on my end. I don’t know a lot of the kids, they don’t know me, we’re blinking at each other while we’re waiting for familiarity to set in. It’s even weirder this semester, since we had an early release day Friday for the snow/ice storm, meaning our classes were only 22 minutes long. I get through these days by mentally projecting myself to early March, when I know that I will be comfortable around the kids, they will be comfortable around me, and I won’t need to explain “how” we do anything in my class, since they’ll already know.

But there’s work to be done before getting to that comfort. Most of the ways that I get to know my students are informal. I ask them how they’re doing, I greet them in the hall (a Spanish teacher friend of mine said the only Latin word she knows is salve, since all the Latin students and teachers say it to each other in the hall constantly!), I try to go to their plays and games and shows, and I really try to pay attention to those moments of their lives that happen outside the parameters of “class” and “learning.” (I know, “learning” happens wherever, and “class” is so much more than learning Latin, but I hope you know what I mean here.) In this respect, I do what so many of us teachers do: notice that he looks more tired this week than last week, remember that she has a test tomorrow in math that she really needs a good grade on, and on and on.

But there’s also the formal things that are built into class time. The first of these is our class prayer, the way that we’re required to start class (Catholic school, remember). Another thing is I do is something I’ve been really surprised by called “question on the back” (sorry, no clever name here). When students take mini vocab quizzes (future post on that), I often ask them a question whose answer they should write on the back of their paper. Nothing to be graded, just interesting, and they never have to answer. These questions range from basics like “What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?” to “If you could re-live any moment in your life, what would it be?” I did this for a few quizzes, and on the first quiz that I forgot to do it on, the kids actually said before turning in the quiz: “No question on the back? Come on, Ms. B!”

The other thing I do in the “formal” category of getting to know my students is the student survey, a staple in many classrooms. Mine counts as a homework grade to give students some incentive to do it, and I try to have a mix of academic and personal questions. If you’d like to use it or adapt it, here’s the link (fall and spring versions):

Next year, I’ll probably change the questions asking what the students’ least favorite subjects are, or at least find a way to re-write them. These surveys have been so helpful to me in giving me a peek into my students’ lives outside of school. If I have multiple students, for example, write Adventure Time for their favorite TV show, I might use GIFs or stills from the show for writing exercises or vocabulary Kahoots. Anything to make class interesting!

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.

Latin Club/Junior Classical League · National Latin Honor Society

Latin Club Christmas Party Recap

christmas-party-cropped
Some of the gifts from the party

Last year, we didn’t have a Christmas party for Latin Club, but this year, with our record 110 students registered as club members, I thought it would be nice to have one. We ended up doing a cookie/candy swap (think Secret Santa, but sugary things only) with a $5 limit.

It was a huge success! We had around 50 students RSVP (so they could participate in the swap), and more showed up for the party itself. We held the party on a Friday afternoon immediately after school, and it was over in about 30-45 minutes (the perfect length, in my book).

I tried to let the students do most of the planning and setup/cleanup – here’s what worked for us if you’re thinking about doing something similar next year.

  • We set the date a few weeks in advance and made the RSVP deadline a Monday for the Friday party.
  • One of our Latin Club secretaries made the Google Form we used for the RSVPs. The questions asked:
    • Name, grade
    • Will you participate in the cookie/candy swap?
    • What cookie/candy do you want?
    • Note: next year, we will take out the “do you want to participate” question, since the whole point of the RSVP form is for people who want to participate in the swap. We also need to add on a question about allergies and dietary restrictions – two of our students who have severe, life-threatening nut allergies didn’t include this information in their responses, but their Secret Santas needed to know, especially because one of these students wanted chocolate chip cookies.
  • Another secretary made the Sign-Up Genius for our Latin Club Leadership members to bring food and drinks. This included cookies, candy canes, popcorn, pretzels, etc. I brought the serving bowls and platters.
  • I sent out the Secret Santa assignments via email. This was the most labor-intensive part for me. Next year, I need to include a tactful reminder to only buy the gifts requested, since we had at least one student get something they didn’t ask for (it was actually something they really didn’t like).

On the day of the party, students brought their food and gifts to my classroom. They dropped their things off on two carts we borrowed from the maintenance crew. One thing I was a stickler about was making sure the gift was packaged at least minimally (I brought gift bags, tissue paper, gift tags, and bows from home); at the very least, they need to put their “To” and “From” on the gift tag. We didn’t do a big ceremony for the swap, since there were so many kids – we just trusted them to only grab the gift labeled for them off the table.

We held the party in a small section of our cafeteria that can be partitioned off. When we were done, a group of our National Latin Honor Society students took care of the clean-up so they could earn thirty minutes of their required two hours of service hours to the Latin faculty.

Like I said, this was a huge hit. The kids all had a great time, and it was a nice way to spend some down time with them. Next year, we might incorporate some charity aspect into the party (bringing a high-need item for a homeless shelter or a canned good with their gift, for example); it depends on what the kids want to do.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday season – see you next year!

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.

 

Reading Strategies · Technology in the Latin Classroom

Kahoot Jumble

As you probably know, Kahoot is incredibly popular with students. I had no idea what it was when I started teaching, but I use it on a semi-regular basis now, usually for vocabulary. (Here is an example of one of those for CLC Stage 6.)

Kahoot recently introduced a new type of quiz: Jumble. With Kahoot Jumble, students reorganize blocks, which can contain words, events, etc., into the correct order. Truth be told, I think this feature has limited use as a standalone quiz. For real functionality, I think the Kahoot team should allow you to create quizzes with multiple types of questions: Jumble, multiple-choice, and whatever else is on the horizon. But that’s not the point of this post. 🙂

I can see Jumble being a great way to do post-reading with Latin students, and I think this is something that Latin teachers of all pedagogical stripes (CI, grammar/translation, hybrid – which is kind of what I am) can use.

There are two main things I foresee myself doing with Kahoot Jumble questions: put the words in the sentence in the correct order, and put the events in the correct order. I did this in the quick Jumble I threw together to get comfortable with how the whole thing works. That Jumble is for the Stage 1 story “Cerberus.”

Here are some screenshots of the quiz:

Caecilius est in horto.jpg

cerberus-events

Ultimately, I think option #2 (put the events in order) is more useful for us as teachers and for our students’ interaction with the text. Option #1 works well for that very first stage of CLC, if that’s what you’re using, when the sentences are four words long. Option #2, however, lets you assess students’ comprehension of the text. For those of you out there who are reading novellas (I see you on Twitter, amici et amicae!), this could be a great ten-minute activity for post-reading of a passage.

The big con here is that, as far as I can tell, you are limited to four boxes of text, and those boxes of text have a character limit. This might not even be a con for many of us – it might just be a way to make us more “creative” in the ways we ask students to think about the text.