Thursday, March 20, 2014

Guess the Word/Hot Seat

This is another fun vocabulary activity involving whiteboards - I learned this at my first Rusticatio in 2010:
  1. Divide the class into 3 teams
  2. Pick one student from each team to sit in front of the classroom with their backs to the classroom board - the three students are facing their teams. I usually ask for volunteers so that no one feels like he/she is "on the spot" without his/her permission.  The rest of the class has whiteboards.
  3. On the classroom board, write a known vocabulary word
  4. The class will then draw a pictorial representation of that word on their whiteboards but not show the 3 students. If a student does not know the meaning of the word, he/she can look at a neighbor's whiteboard. Students may not use letters, numbers or any symbol found on a computer keyboard.
  5. On cue, have all of the students show the 3 students their pictures
  6. The 3 students guess the Latin vocabulary word. First one who guesses the correct word gets a point for his/her team.
  7. Variations: instead of pictures, have students write one-word synonyms or antonyms in Latin. Depending on ability, have students write definitions of the vocabulary word in Latin sentences.
  1. This is a very low-stress, highly engaging and competitive activity. 
  2. Because students are drawing their own interpretation of the vocabulary, it helps to personalize the acquisition process
  3. In order for the students to guess the word, the picture needs to be comprehensible. Sometimes, the simpler the picture is drawn, the better.
  4. Because the 3 students are looking at a variety of pictures to guess the word, they are receiving multiple comprehensible messages.
  5. Pick vocabulary words which can be easily understood from a picture. Sometimes, "concept" words, e,g, dignitas, are difficult to draw.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Vocabulary Acquisition and Flashcards, Part 2

In my last post, I discussed how flashcards are not the best way for students to acquire vocabulary, but that instead vocabulary must be presented in a meaningful and contextual way with lots of repetitions in order for acquisition to take place.

The reality though was that a number of my students really wanted me to do flashcard review with them, saying, "Our teacher last year opened every day with vocabulary flashcards (Latin to English), and that really helped." So I found myself in a quandary: was I not giving my students enough repetitions of vocabulary in understandable messages, hence, they did not feel like they had acquired anything? or was I dealing with a bunch of visual 4%ers who wanted something which felt comfortable?

So I embarked on the following "flashcard" experiment. Whether or not this is a CI activity, I do not know, so I would love to hear some feedback.

I always begin a new chapter with a dictatio (NOTE - at my school, I teach with two other Latin teachers who do not use CI, and they stick to the book and how structures/vocabulary are presented and in what order. Basically, I am bound to follow that much since my school is BIG on uniformity of a pacing calendar, but how I teach those concepts is completely up to me). On the next day, as a "bellringer," I project a vocabulary "flashcard" powerpoint with sentences from the dictatio and a visual representation of the word - new vocabulary words are underlined. Because of the dictatio and having translated them the prior day in order to establish meaning, most students are familiar enough with the sentences and know what the word already means. I read the sentence in Latin, and now ask for the meaning of the individual word in English. I do this for 3 days or so. An example below:

I can also circle questions based on the sentence in order to get in some repetitions in a context and for students to interact with the new vocabulary.

Then for the next few days, I transition to something different. I still continue to use the same visual representation as on the earlier "flashcards" but now the sentence is gone and has been replaced by an "either...or" sentence involving vocabulary - it is actually a variation of circling; I now read aloud the new sentence in Latin and ask students which Latin word it is. I do this for the next 3-4 days. An example below:

For the last 3 days or so, now all I do is project the visual representation of the word without any text. It is the same picture which has been used every day, so it is very familiar for students. Now I ask students to give me the Latin word itself. By the end, there are now about 12-14 "flashcards". An example below.

1) As this is only done as a "bellringer" class opener, it does not serve as my primary way for students to acquire new vocabulary. It takes up only about 3-4 minutes of classtime.
2) Students who asked for "flashcard review" of words are satisfied with this.
3) Associating the vocabulary with a visual really helped "cement" the word for my visual learners, as they saw now a picture in their minds, instead of a written word.
4) It served as another way to acquire vocabulary through repetitions in a somewhat meaningful way

So far, it seems to be working, but I would love some feedback on this.