Tuesday, July 14, 2015

PreReading for a Classical Text

A few weeks ago at ACL, I was asked a number of times, "So how do you use CI to prepare students for a classical text?" Maybe a better question should be "What pre-reading activities/strateges do you use to prepare students for a classical text?" 

Under the traditional method, when it came to classical readings, we would give students a text, a dictionary, and say, "Go translate (and good luck, because you will need it)." We would do this, because we were under the impression that students already knew ALL of the necessary grammar and if they did not know a word, they could just look it up. Unfortunately, students would end up looking up probably 80% of the words, and heaven forbid, if it were an idiomatic expression or a phrase needing a note of some kind. The 4%ers could complete the task, but the remaining were floundering. 

If you are new to CI and are wanting to use CI methodology, here is an example of how I introduced students to a classical text. A few years ago, I was teaching Latin 3, and I was wanting to expose students to some passages from the AP syllabus, so I chose the scene in Book 1 where Aeneas and Achates first see the city of Carthage being built. I felt that there was enough plot to keep students interested, and that there was a degree of repetition happening to keep it comprehensible.

Because I was still kind of new to CI at that time, I decided to preview vocabulary/structures using a dictation. By this point, my students were very familiar with dictations.

Prior to the dication, though, I had to select which vocabulary/structures which I was going to preview. I decided on the following words:

1) quondam
2) sulcus
3) arx
4) mirari
5) magalium
6) subvolvere
7) collis
8) moenia
9) concludere

Day 1
I gave a dictation of the following. See here for directions about how to do a dictatio. The dictation was about three students: Colleen, Ray and Sahil.

1) Colleen ira affecta est, quod quondam Ray eam in sulco deiecerat.
2) in sulco a Raye deiecta, Colleen ultionem voluit et arcem in colle aedificavit.
3) arce in colle aedificata, Colleen invitavit ut arcem videat.
4) arce a Rayo viso, non miratus est, sed risit, dicens “ille non est arx, sed magalium!
5) arce vocato “magalium,” Colleen Rayem humi deiecit, et Ray de colle subvolvit.
6) Ray subvolvit in sulco, quem Colleen quondam effoderat.
7) Ray non ascendere e sulco poterat, quod Colleen sulcum moenis conclusit.
8) conclusus in sulco moenis, Ray tristitia affectus est et lacrimavit.
9) Sahil ad sulcum festinavit, et arcem miratus est.
10) mirans arcem, Sahil clamavit, “O fortunatus est vir qui arcem aedificavit!”
11) Sahilo audito, Colleen ira affecta est et in sulco Sahilem deiecit.

Following the dictation, we did a choral reading of the passage to establish meaning.

Day 2
1) I did a review of the dictation with a powerpoint, calling attention to particular vocabulary words. This was done was a choral reading.

2) I then introduced an embedded reading of the passage written in prose (as Nancy Llewellyn likes to call it, an enodatio):

Aeneas miratur molem (aedificia) in Karthagō - molēs erant quondam magalia, sed nunc sunt moles. Aeneas quoque miratur portās, strepitum urbis et strata viārum (paved roads). Tyriī (the Tyrians) sunt ardentēs (ablaze), et instant (they press on): pars Tyriī ducunt (extend) murōs, pars Tyriī aedificant arcem, et pars Tyriī subvolvunt saxa manibus; pars Tyriī quaerunt locum domō (for a home), et concludunt locum sulcō.

Tyriī legunt (choose) iura (leges), magistratūs et sanctum senatum. Hic (here), aliī (pars Tyrii) effodiunt portus. hic, aliī (pars Tyrii) locant alta fundamenta (foundations) theatrīs. Tyriī excidunt (carve out) immanēs (magnas) columnās e rupibus (cliffs). columnae sunt alta decora (ornamenta) scaenīs futurīs (for future stages). Aeneas dicit, “O fortunatī sunt homines quorum moenia iam (nunc) surgunt!”

3) I then had the class do a choral reading of this, since this was the first time for them to see it. I asked some comprehension questions and circled in Latin about the passage.

Day 3
1) Students did a 20-minute Read and Draw of the embedded prose passage. See here for a description. 
2) Following this, students did a 8-minute timed write of the passage, using the Read and Draw as a guide. When they finished writing the passage, they continued writing what happened next. 

Day 4
1) I gave students another version of the reading, this time as an outline - they read this silently:

molem = aedificia
quondam = olim

pars = alii
moliri = aedificant
subvolvere = subvolvunt

pars = alii
optare = quaerunt
iura = leges

I. Aeneas miratur
A. molem (quondam magalia) et
B. portas et
C. strepitum(que)
D. et strata viarum[1].

II. ardentes Tyrii instant[2].

III. pars (Tyrii)
A. ducere[3] muros
B. et moliri arcem et
C. subvolvere saxa manibus

IV. pars optare locum tecto[4] et concludere sulco.            

V. (Tyrii) legunt[5]
A. iura et
B. magistratus et
C. sanctum senatum

VI. hic[6], alii (Tyrii) effodiunt portus

VII. hic, (alii Tyrii) locant alta fundamenta[7] theatris

VIII. (alii Tyrii) excidunt[8] immanis columnas (e) rupibus[9] scaenis decora alta futuris[10].

IX. Aeneas ait, “O fortunati (homines), quorum moenia iam surgunt!”

[1] strata viarum = paved roads
[2] ardentes Tyrii instant = the blazing Tyrians press on
[3] ducere = are extending
[4] tecto = for a house (tecto = roof – what poetic device is this?
[5] legunt = choose
[6] hic - here
[7] fundamenta - foundations
[8] excidunt = dig out
[9] rupibus = cliffs
[10] scaenis decora alta futuris – lofty decorations for future stages

2) Finally, they saw the original text:

miratur molem Aeneas, magalia quondam,
miratur portas strepitumque et strata viarum.
Instant ardentes Tyrii: pars ducere muros,
molirique arcem et manibus subvolvere saxa,
pars optare locum tecto et concludere sulco.               5

iura magistratusque legunt sanctumque senatum;       
hic portus alii effodiunt; hic alta theatris
fundamenta locant alii, immanisque columnas
rupibus excidunt, scaenis decora alta futuris.

'O fortunati, quorum iam moenia surgunt!'               10

3) As an assessment, I gave them the following two pictures and they had to label them using the text. In many ways, it was easy for them to do since they had already done a Read and Draw of the prose version.

1) Yes, it took four days to get students to read the original text, but at the same time, they were able TO READ the original Latin by then without really translating.
2) Most students told me how easy it was to read the original, even with the funky dactyllic hexameter word order. My response, "Well, it should have been! You read it multiple times, different ways and you knew most of the vocabulary by the time you got to how Vergil wrote it."

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