Saturday, December 20, 2014

Story Library

Recently on Twitter, I was having a discussion with some other Latin teachers about the paucity of CI-based Latin stories which we could use. Although there are Anne Matava story scripts, there are very few CI-based stories which have been written in Latin by Latin teachers.

If you use a reading-based method textbook like Ecce Romani or Cambridge Latin Course, yes, you do have stories, but as those readings are not CI-based, the stories are vocabulary driven, i.e., they focus on too much vocabulary way much too quickly. The stories become rather long and have too many unfamiliar words in them, thereby, disrupting reading flow.

As a result of this discussion, I have decided to add a Story Library section to my blog (this can be found in the top menu), which are the stories which I wrote and used with my Latin 1 students this semester. This Story Library page is still a work in progress and by no means are the stories 100% representative of Comprehenisble Input. You can see, however, my attempts at writing a CI-based story and what elements I tried to incorporate.

Hope this will motivate others to write and to publish their CI-based stories online.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

ACTFL '14 Report

I attended the annual ACTFL Convention a few weeks ago, so I thought I would write up a short report of what went on. This time it was in San Antonio, and it was my 2nd ACTFL, after having attended the convention in Orlando in 2013.

The Upsides
  • The keynote speaker for the General Assembly was Annie Griffiths, one of the first woman photographers for National Geographic. When I heard that she was going to be the keynote speaker, I was a bit disappointed, as I had never heard of her before, and last year's speaker was the dynamic Tony Wagner, who spoke on the need for innovation and creativity. But wow, was I wrong about Annie Griffiths! She spoke of her travels throughout the world, documenting it through pictures. The entire audience was absolutely captivated by both what she had to say and the messages delivered through her pictures. Although the below video is not Annie's ACTFL speech, much of it contains what she spoke about.
  • I was very focused and only attended those sessions which were on Comprehensible Input (thanks to TPRS Publishing for creating a list of CI sessions before the convention), and there were a number of them! Although there were many Latin sessions offered at ACTFL, nothing really caught my eye as something which would further me as a Latin teacher. In fact, because I had not attended any of the Latin sessions at ACTFL, there were many Latin teachers whom I knew that did not even know I was there until the ACL reception on Saturday evening!  
  • Getting to interact with many CI teachers whom I follow on Twitter or had met at NTPRS. I will admit that I was rather starstruck seeing them! 
  • The American Classical League/National Latin Exam sponsored a reception at the San Antonio Museum of Art on Saturday evening. The museum houses a wonderful collection of ancient/classical art, so a very apt place to hold a classical reception. I had a very enjoyable time, seeing many of my colleagues whom i only see at the ACL Summer Institute!
The Downsides: 
  • Now if you have never attended an ACTFL Convention, let me say this: it is absolutely MAMMOTH! There are over 4,500 language teachers in attendance - I am more accustomed to the 250 Latin teachers at an ACL Summer Institute or even 500 language teachers at a FLAG conference, so it is very easy to feel lost at ACTFL. The exhibition hall of materials itself is HUGE!
  • There are around 50 sessions going on every hour, so trying to narrow down choices can be overwhelming (thanks to the ACTFL app which helped filter out sessions by language, keywords, etc).
  • Because the sessions were 50-60 minutes long, I felt like presenters were trying to cover WAY too much in that amount of time, so I was bombarded with a lot of information all at once. Luckily, many of the presenters posted their materials online, so I can sift through them at my own pace. I wish that ACTFL would offer 90-minute sessions, because many of the sessions which I attended would make great longer sessions.
  • Three sessions on Comprehensible Input were scheduled at the same time on late Friday afternoon.
  • Earlier in the week, I had gotten a cold, and flying on a plane to San Antonio did not help out. Throw in a kind of balmy, humid weather and a full day of the convention, so by Friday night, I was not feeling well at all. I had to cancel out on a Cena Latina (to which I was really looking forward since I have not done any real conversational Latin since Rusticatio this summer), and ended up going to bed really early that evening.
Next year's ACTFL will be held in San Diego, CA, so consider attending!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Quick Draw

Here is another fun Comprehensible Input activity, which I tried out for the first time this week. I learned Quick Draw from Lauren Watson, a fellow CI French teacher in my district (she is the one who gave me the idea for Scrambled Eggs). Lauren, in turn, learned this activity from Dr. Sherah Carr, who had conducted some professional development at Lauren's school awhile back. This is a fun way for students to review already-acquired vocabulary.

The activity is called Quick Draw and for good reason! It is essentially Pictionary involving white boards and a great SILENT partner activity! You will need to create a powerpoint, where each slide has a category (such as nouns, adjectives, verbs, emotions, anything, etc) and four vocabulary words which relate to that category. Here are Lauren's directions:
  1. Students are in pairs, and each have a dry erase board with markers.
  2. Designate Partner A and Partner B.  
  3. Each partner divides his/her dry erase board in quads with a marker. Number the quads 1-4
  4. For Round 1, Partner A faces the screen and Partner B turns their back to the screen.  Project the PPT. I tell everyone the category for each round.  
  5. Partner A looks at the list of words on the screen and draws a picture for each vocab. word.  S/he draws picture 1 in quad 1, picture 2 in quad 2...etc.
  6. Partner B writes the vocabulary word which s/he thinks the picture represents in the appropriate quad.  
  7. They can't talk or gesture or write words/numbers - ONLY pictures.  
  8. The round ends with the first pair who successfully finishes all 4. 
  9. Switch roles between partners for the next round
My variation: Instead of having the round end with the first pair who successfully finishes all 4, I gave 75-seconds for each round. This way, there was still a feeling of having to draw quickly but it gave the slow processors a chance. At the end of each round, I had teams simply tally their score, and they kept a running tally throughout the game,

  1. Students LOVED this activity and asked for more rounds (even though we had played 5 rounds!). 
  2. The silent aspect of guessing the words makes it a lot more manageable and enjoyable for students. I have played regular Pictionary with students before, and it always gets really loud.
  3. Giving students a set amount of time helped lower the affective filter, because it was not a competition to finish first.
  4. I was surprised at how easily most students were able to write down the vocabulary words, based only upon a picture. This is more proof to me that when limiting vocabulary and targeting high frequency words, acquisition occurs more quickly and naturally.
  5. So many different modalities are addressed in this activity!
  6. The categories help students focus on which words will be used. I threw in an "anything" category (meaning it could be "any" vocabulary word) at the end, and although it made it more difficult, students still enjoyed it.
I will definitely add this activity to my arsenal (which means I will do it every 5-6 weeks in order to preserve the novelty). Thanks, Lauren, for yet another great activity!