Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Writing in Latin, part 3 - Student-Created Comprehensible Readers

This is part 3 in a continuing series on getting students to write in the target language.

So after students have done a timed write, what can you as the teacher do with their writings? I got this idea from Kristin Duncan's TPRSTeacher blog, which she in turn had gleaned from Judith Dubois's blog Ms. D's Funny Little Classroom.

The idea is to take some of the writings and simply to edit them for the class to read the next day, and by "edit," I mean "to correct any grammar errors in the the writing." You as the teacher type up the writings but do not change anything which has been written other than the forms for grammatical purposes or for comprehension. 

Some may say, "Students should not be writing if they are going to be making tons of errors." I suppose that one could argue that, but the purpose of this is to create some more COMPREHENSIBLE readings for students. Because these have been written by students, most likely they do not include any random vocabulary which have not been acquired yet, i.e. the writings are written by students for students at a student-level. And remember: my role in this is purely as editor. The writer Oscar Wilde supposedly, when he was sending off a manuscript to his publishers, penned a note to them, saying "I’ll leave you to tidy up the woulds and shoulds, wills and shalls, thats and whichs, etc.”

The following is an example of a timed write which I had my Latin 3 students do. The text in bold is a story which I had written: first, I read it aloud to them and acted it out - any new words or forms (such as the future participle) were written on the board and whenever I came to that word, I pointed to it on the board to establish meaning; second, the class received a paper copy of the story and we read through it together, with a choral translation of it and me asking comprehension questions in Latin about the story; third, students did a 25-minute Read and Draw of the story; fourth, finally students did a 10-minute timed write of the story, using their Read/Draw pictures - when they finished, they were to continue writing what they thought happened next. I then edited their "what happened next?" part and as a class, the next day, we read through them together. What follows are five student-written, teacher-edited conclusions of the story.

Jenny erat in culina, cantans et coquens libum, quod erat dies natalis Susanis. Jenny erat positura saccharum in libo, cum subito, Cindy culinam ingressa est. Cindy donum et venenum in mensa posuit. subito Cindy displosit, et Jenny obstupefacta est. putans venenum esse saccharum, Jenny venenum in libo posuit. libum ad Susanem a Jenny portatum est. Susan gaudio affecta est et erat consumptura libum. tum quid accidit?

1) cum Susan libum gustavisset, lacrimavit. Jenny rogavit, “quid accidit?” Susan dixit, “libum est pulchrum!” Jenny gaudio affecta est et gustavit libum. subito, Jenny displosit. Susan obsupefacta est, et consumpsit libum.

 2) Cindy intravit culinam. cucurrit ad Susanem et rapuit libum. tum Cindy deiecit libum in terra. Susan erat irata quod voluit consumere libum. “libum habet venenum!” Cindy clamavit. “Jenny voluit necare te!” loctua haec verba, Cindy petivit Jennyem. Jenny cucurrit e culina. “ego sum non homo quem tu intellexisti me esse!”

3) Cerberus culinam ingressus est, et Cindy in culina apparuit. Cindy clamat, “minime, libum venenum habet!” Jenny et Susan obstupefacti sunt. “estne venenum in libo?” dixit Susan. “ita vero,” respondit Cindy. Jenny tristitia affecta est, quod Susan erat consumptura libum, et libum habet venenum. Cerberus Jennyo appropinquavit, et prope eam sedit. Jenny gaudio affecta est. Susan risit (et dixit), “ego sum laeta, quod ego non sum mortua. Cindy, tu es amica. Jenny, tu es amica.”

4) Susan libum consumpsit et erat exanimata. Jenny obstupefacta est, et erat lacrimatura. tum Cindy decidit a caelo, et servavit Susanem. Susan affecta est gratitiā, et dixit, “maximas gratias ago, quod tu es meus heros!” Cindy explicavit quid accidisset. Susan et Jenny in animo volverunt cur Cindy portavisset donum cum veneno ad diem natalem. Cindy narravit rem. Cindy voluit necare porcum scelestum, sed obstructa erat a scelesto arbore. Cindy per silvam ambulavit…

5) subito Susan a Jenny pulsata est. irata, Susan Jennyem rogavit, “cur tu me pulsavisti? ego numquam te pulso!” Jenny Susanae dixit, “O Susan, re vera, tu est optima amica.” sed Jenny Susanem iterum pulsavit, et Susan humi decidit, mortua. nunc Susan (awoke) et putans esse fabulam mirabilem, libum laeta consumpsit. sed quod libum erat malum libum, Susan iterum humi decidit, mortua. Cindy apparuit, cacchinans!

1) Because everyone in the class took part in the timed write, it is a common experience for the class. The class knows what happened prior to the student-written endings, so they are eager to see what others wrote.

2) Because these writings are student-written, they are incredibly comprehensible to read. I do not even do an English translation of it when we read through them - we read them together in Latin as Latin - I don't ask any comprehension questions but simply read the stories aloud in Latin. What I love most is hearing students laugh as they read along with me, because it shows me that they are truly interacting with the language in the language.

3) Students actually get mad at me when I do not pick their writings for the class to read. I explain to them, "I pick 5-6 writings at random. Yours will be picked eventually."

4) In my editor role, I am able to see what kinds of grammatical errors which students are making; this shows me what I need to review or where I need to slow down to help acquisition.

5) I am absolutely floored at what students come up with when it comes to creating their own endings - they are so creative!

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