Thursday, June 30, 2016

Movie Talks

Movie Talks are becoming more and more a staple of CI strategies which teachers are implementing in their classrooms. The premise is simple: take a very short movie or a clip from a movie (preferably one with little or no dialogue) and when showing it to students, pause it at certain points to deliver understandable messages to students (circling, discussing what is going on). 

Even though I had seen presentations on Movie Talks at various conferences, I deliberately held off on doing them, because quite honestly, they looked very difficult to facilitate. In addition, a Movie Talk seemed like it would take A LOT of planning, because not only would I have to find a short movie to fit my particular lesson needs, but I would also have to script it for places to pause and to ask questions/discuss. To me, it just appeared WAY too much effort for the result.

However, at last summer's NTPRS conference, I got the chance to experience a Movie Talk myself as a student in a session where Alina Filepescu was teaching Romanian. She seamlessly presented a Movie Talk to us in very comprehensible Romanian and had us interacting with the movie short in the target language. More importantly though, because the movie short which she was using was incredibly compelling, I was so focused on movie short that Romanian simply was the vehicle to learn what happened next, so the learning became subconscious.  

As a result, this past school year, I did a few Movie Talks. Yes, I struggled with them, but I found that students really enjoyed them and that they did lead to language acquisition. As a result, I will continue to implement Movie Talks.

Miriam Patrick has written up a great set of directions for implementing a Movie Talk on her blog Pomegranate Beginnings. With her permission, here is how she prepares a Movie Talk.

Set Up
Choose your video. I chose films based on, primarily, the vocabulary I was working with. I can edit the grammar to be whatever I want for whatever level I want, but the vocabulary needs to be sheltered, so this was key. For this particular unit, I was focusing on words like polypus (octopus), transcendit (climb across), and tam/adeo/tantus...ut... (he was so.... that...). YouTube has a wide variety of videos. All one has to do is search for Pixar Shorts, Disney Shorts, or movie shorts.

Write Your Script. You won't need it except for the first few times you use it, but it is good to have it written down, especially since you will be pausing the video in key spots. I found this to be, by far, the most time consuming of the project, but even then, if you have chosen a video and know your end goals clearly, it did not take more than a few minutes.

Set up support activities. This is a great CI activity that you can use for one day or for multiple days. You can use other activities like TPR and TPRS with this. After we spent the first day going through this video, we then did it daily for a while, but only once, and paired with embedded readings, PQA, and TPRS.

                                                                (taken from the blog Pomegranate Beginnings)

Back to me now. 

1) Using your script, show the video but stop at the times where you wish to talk about is in the screen.
2) Circle, and ask questions about what is on the screen.
3) If you wish, ask a responsible student to serve as the "Movie Talk pauser" - this student will need a copy of the script to know when to pause.

Movie Talks can be used in a couple different ways. One way is to preteach vocabulary (which is how Miriam describes in her directions). The following is a screencast of me demonstrating how to do a Movie Talk - I would not use a screencast to do with this students, but in this, you can see how I implement circling and PQAs in Movie Talk. I did this particular Movie Talk recently at the ACL Summer Institute as part of a presentation. The Movie Talk is not very long, but you will get the idea.

Movie Talk to Preteach Vocabulary

Movie Talk as a Predictor

You can also use movie shorts to get the class to predict what they will happen when you pause the movie. This takes a bit more language control though due to the output. Last summer at Rusticatio, Justin Slocum Bailey demonstrated how to do this. As a group, we all had whiteboards, and when he paused the video, he asked us what we thought happened next. Following that, we would share them in small groups and then he asked us for examples to share with the group as a whole. After that, he would unpause the movie, pause it again at a particular point and restart the process all over again.

The following is an example of this activity with the same movie clip as above. Students would not have seen this video clip prior.

So consider doing a Movie Talk.Yes, they take A LOT of planning, but in the end, it is worth it. 

  • List of possible Movie Talk shorts - this is a four page list of movie shorts compiled by Rachel Ash and Miriam Patrick
  • Movie Talk database - this is a MASSIVE searchable Google database started by Jason Fritze. As it is a collaborative document, new Movie Talks can be added.
  • Mike Coxon explaining and demonstrating how to do a Movie Talk

  • Alina Filepescu demonstrating a Movie Talk in Spanish

Monday, June 27, 2016

"Brando Brown Canem Vult" Novel Review

I am currently at the ACL Summer Institute (the national Latin teacher conference) in Austin, Texas. I always love the ACL Summer Institute, because it gives me the chance to see friends from across the country and to meet new ones. I gave two CI presentations yesterday, and I felt that they both went really well. A CI critical mass is definitely developing here in the Latin teaching community. I am more excited, however, that Brandon Brown Wants a Dog is now available in Latin! Yesterday, the novel had its unveiling sale here at the ACL Summer Institute (my friend Ginny Lindzey bought the first copy).

I am SO excited about this CI novel in Latin, because I have been waiting TWO years for it. At my first NTPRS Conference in 2014, in a session with Carol Gaab, she used an English version of this novel to teach CI reading strategies. I absolutely loved the plot and thought this would be a great novel for Latin 1 students to use, but I was bummed that a Latin version had not been published yet. Finally, it is here!

The premise of the novel is very simple: Brandon Brown wants a dog. He asks his mother for a dog, but she says no, because as he is only eight years old (soon to be nine), it takes much effort to take care of a dog. When Brandon sees a lost dog at the park, he takes it, and that is when the wacky fun begins, as Brandon must now hide the dog from his family. Oh, the hilarity which ensues...

Other than being a really great story, Brando Brown Canem Vult is a wonderful example of a novice level CI Latin reader and showcases so many CI principles:

  • The reading is incredibly comprehensible. There are only 125 distinct Latin words used in the novel (not including cognates) which makes it very easy to read. There are TONS of repetitions throughout the novel. This is definitely something which I could use in the first semester of Latin 1.
  • The story is compelling. In order for students to want to read something, it has to be of great interest to them. The compelling part of a reading is the catalyst to make them want to continue reading. Back in 2014, when I first saw Brandon Brown Wants a Dog in English, Carol used excerpts, and purely based on those excerpts, I was hooked. I REALLY wanted to know how the novel ended, and I had a bunch of theories. Finally, last night, I read the entire novel in Latin, and I LOVED the ending. This shows that it is indeed possible to write something very compelling with a limited vocabulary! Although there are tons of repetitions in the novella, it did not seem repetitive at all.
  • It is a great example of "sheltering vocabulary but not grammar." There are only 125 distinct Latin words used (not including cognates) in the novel, but grammatically those words are used in so many different ways. I loved that the gerundive of purpose and indirect statements were used, because it seemed so natural in the reading. While some Latin teachers may say, "Whoa, those are upper-level complex structures! Latin 1 students aren't supposed to know that." My response, "Says who? Textbooks? You?" When sheltering vocabulary, you can run the gamut of language structures with those words. 

So I hope that you will consider looking into Brando Brown Canem Vult to add to your curriculum and to your Free Voluntary Reading library. Here is a link to the order page which also has link to the first 17 pages of the novel.

Thank you so much, Carol Gaab and TPRS Publishing for publishing this novel in Latin, and to Justin Slocum Bailey for adapting it into Latin for us Latin teachers who are wanting comprehensible readers in Latin!

FYI - A "renaissance" is occurring now among the CI Latin community, as a number of CI readers are becoming available. This is an exciting time to be a CI Latin teacher. I guess I should get on the ball and write something...

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Quomodo Dicitur Podcast Review

This past year has been quite busy for me, as I have been working full-time and taking coursework to complete my Ed.S degree in Instructional Technology from Kennesaw State University. I feel like all I have been doing for the past 15 months is either working or completing coursework in a never-ending cycle or both! Even though it is summer right now and technically, I am on vacation, my two grad school courses are 18-week classes crammed into 6 weeks, so I am busy every day studying and working on assignments due to their break-neck pace.

As a result, especially these past 10-months, I have not devoted any time to developing my own language learning. My friend Justin Slocum Bailey, founder of Indwelling Language, in his blog posting "Why All Language Teachers Should be Language Learners," adroitly explains the importance of language teachers continuing their pursuit of language learning. As much as I wholeheartedly agree with this, over the past 10 months, I have had no time. Earlier this year, I took part in the #LatinReadingChallenge but only lasted 3 weeks, as my schedule became overwhelming. This will be my first summer in 5 years where I will not be attending Rusticatio, a weeklong spoken Latin immersion "camp." I hate it when life gets in the way of what I want to do. 

This past Monday, a new Latin podcast series called Quomodo Dicitur emerged on the scene. Hosted by Jason Slanga, Justin Slocum Bailey, and Gus Grissom, the podcast is completely in Latin - yes, spoken Latin! Yesterday, I finally took a break from my studies to take a listen, and wow, I could not get enough of it! This podcast appealed to me both as a language learner and instructional technologist on so many levels:
  1. The messages delivered in the podcast were comprehensible to me. Even though my spoken Latin listening skills are rusty, I was surprised by how much I understood! Yes, there were parts which I did not understand fully due to the speaker talking too quickly or the use of vocabulary/language structure with which I was not familiar, but I got the gist of what was being said. 
  2. The messages delivered in the podcast were compelling to me. The topic of the podcast was simply the hosts explaining their names (both American and Latin) and how they got them. For me, because I personally know Jason, Justin, and Gus, that was very compelling topic to hear. The podcast lasted for 13 1/2 minutes, and quite honestly, it did not seem that long, because I was engaged in the topic. Now I know why Gus goes by "Gus" and not Daryl, his given name (something about which I had always wondered), and I discovered that out only by hearing it in Latin!
  3. Because it is a podcast, I can listen to it whenever I want and as many times as I want in as many ways as I want wherever I want. Even though my schedule is incredibly busy, it is an easy resource to implement. I can listen to it in my car as I drive, or at the gym, or at my computer as I work. As I am already familiar with the content in the podcast now, I can listen to it again multiple times to receive repetitions of understandable language and input. I can listen to just sections of it for narrow listening purposes. For those sections where I found the speaker talking too quickly, I can slow it down in order to hear it at a comprehensible pace (although the 1/2 speed makes me feel like I am in some weird Bizarro, time warp world where everything goes really slowly). 
Podcasts are wonderful tools to implement in the classroom. They can allow students who are absent to catch up on missed work/presentations. Students can listen to podcasts as extension activities for those who are interested. As part of a flipped classroom, podcasts can allow all students to learn at their own pace. While quick-processing students may only need to hear something once, other students are able to “rewind” what they did not understand the first time or to listen as many times as they wish. In this way, podcasts allow for individualized and differentiated learning.

My spoken Latin ability is nowhere at the level displayed in the podcast. After attending six Rusticationes, I am still an Intermediate Mid/High speaker, so I am not at the level where I can speak comfortably in paragraphs recounting an event or telling a personal story. This podcast, however, will allow to me to gain much spoken Latin input to improve my spoken language ability, and that is all I want right now: INPUT. My speaking ability will improve with time as a result of an overflow of comprehensible input. Believe me, there are VERY FEW comprehensible resources out there for Latin, so I am glad to see Latinists finally seeing the need for this and rising to the occasion.

So for those of you who think that Latin is a "dead" language, I challenge you to take a listen to this first episode of Quomodo Dicitur. You will discover that Latin is actually a vibrant, living communicative language! Maximas gratias vobis, mi Iason, Iuste, et Auguste!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Find the Sentence

This is a really quick post-reading activity with a very simple premise: using a series of illustrations from a known story, students find the sentence in the story which matches the illustration. This activity only lasts around 5 minutes, but I have found that it actually works very well in terms of re-delivering understandable messages from a known story.

  1. On a word processing document, create a 2x4 table (2 rows by 4 columns). I usually set the margins to 0.5 on all sides. There will be 8 frames total. Depending on the length of the story, I will create a 2x5 table if I need 10 frames.
  2. Take 8 sentences from the story, and illustrate them OUT OF ORDER. Everyone can draw stick figures, regardless of one's drawing ability.
  3. Make enough copies for each class.
  4. Print up the story from which the illustrations came.
  1. Give each student a picture handout and a copy of the story.
  2. Tell students that they will have 5 minutes to find the sentence in the story which corresponds to the picture. 
  3. Students are to write the sentence in the target language in the frame.
  4. After 5 minutes, go over the pictures.
  1. I have found that 5 minutes sometimes is way too long. If students are very familiar with the story, it is quite easy for them to find the corresponding sentence, even in the target language!
  2. Having to find the sentence in the story forces students to re-read the story to find the sentence. Depending on how familiar they are with the story, students may know exactly where in the story to look.
  3. Though this seems like a forced way of getting students to write and even though they are copying down the sentence, students are still receiving and re-receiving understandable, comprehensible messages through reading the story to find the sentence and in writing it down.
  4. This is another way for students to demonstrate comprehension, just in a reverse way from the good ol' standby Read and Draw.

Earl elephantum vult. Earl est tristis. Aliyah elephantum habet. Aliyah est laeta.

elephantus secretum habet. elephantus est tristis. elephantus Aliyahem non vult.

Earl crustulum habet. elephantus crustulum vult. elephantus crustulum consumit. elephantus Earlem consumit.

elephantus est laetus. Earl est tristis.