This is a long but super excellent article from our own David Maust. It includes video and discussion of same.
I hope you are well! I put up some videos from my class last week on my youtube channel – davidmaustwhittier. This is a new thing for me, but has been a goal this year. I posted the videos to Latin Best Practices a few days ago and wanted to let you know as well, if you want to put it up on the blog. I already got some good responses and questions, which I have included below in case you want to post any of this too as an explanation of some things that are of note in the video. The link for the video playlist is:
Sorry I haven’t been as active on the blog lately, it’s just been a busy couple of weeks. I hope to catch up soon.
MY (DAVID MAUST’S) POST TO LATIN BEST PRACTICES:
Inspired by Dan’s encouragement to put up some more videos and my own goal to try and do this for this year, I posted a couple videos of CI teaching from my classroom. Here you can see how the word walls and cards from Circling with Balls are used.
Posting videos is a new thing for me, and makes me a little self-conscious since I know my teaching is far from perfect and it’s always difficult to watch one’s own mistakes. But I’m trying to remember that our teaching and our students’ learning are all works in progress. I think that sharing both our mistakes and successes is how we can grow most in our profession.
I also always want to describe what CI teaching looks like, but words can’t do it all, so I’m hoping some short videos may explain some things that words cannot. I hope you find them helpful!
Here’s a note I put on the videos that I’ll repeat here:
These first videos from one of my Latin 1 classes show some examples of PQA, or Personal Question and Answer in which I “circle” a target structure by asking questions with the structure in order to get information from the class. I am genuinely interested in what the kids have to say and try to show this in PQA through my emotional reaction. This way we have a real conversation. Kids are supposed to be attentive during this time. They can have nothing on their desks or laps, cannot take notes, must make eye contact with me and should gesture the words (especially when I ask them to by saying “ostendite mihi” — show me).
The information I get during PQA in these clips grows into a mini story. In the first video I use a picture of two of our artists in class who like to draw and we form a story from the pictures they draw. In the second we take Adam’s card, who drew a picture of himself sleeping and make a story with that by asking various questions. This story grew somewhat over about 25 minutes. Eventually we discovered that Adam was sleeping at home and dreaming about Meshuggha (our class gnome) and Cthulhu (a sea monster) who were in Chuck E. Cheese. Meshuggha ate pizza and Cthulhu ate little boys and girls. That was the whole story, and was all suggested by the kids as I asked them for information.
Things to watch for: use of gesturing as a way of engaging the kin-esthetic part of language learning and to encourage participation; student use of non-verbal cues and short verbal cues to respond to help foster participation (i.e. hand over head means “I don’t understand:).
Things I noticed that I need to work on: less English on my part; more comprehension checks (asking students to translate short phrases); demanding more group responses, non-verbal or verbal (yes / no) when I ask the class a question.
JEFF BRICKLER ASKED ABOUT SIGNING AND I RESPONDED:
I used to have the kids come up with the gestures, but just like you said, it became too difficult for me to remember them all.
Now I try to use an ASL (American Sign Language) gesture, but if it is too complicated or doesn’t resonate with the kids, or doesn’t exist, then we make up our own and I only make up one for all classes. It is a big hassle for me to do a different one with each class. I always do the wrong one and it throws everyone off. In the video I am using some ASL and some not. I made this transition to trying to use ASL as the default sign this year.
I really like this online video dictionary for ASL. I have a TA or a kid from the class sit at my desk and they look up a word when I tell them to, so I don’t have to walk over to my desk and get on the computer. Everyone looses focus if I do that. The link is:
DAVID TALONE ASKED SOME QUESTIONS (HERE IS HIS EMAIL):
A hearty thanks for putting up the videos. I have never seen any videos of Latin TPRS before so it was very nice to see it being put into practice. Your kids (from their voices, at least) seemed quite at ease in the environment and with the amount of Latin being used. How large are these classes? I also loved the way you quickly dealt in English with the kids who were off focus and then switched back to Latin. The comprehension checks in English were great as well. I didn’t think that you were using a lot of English at all (maybe not in comparison to me!) I also liked the use of “Adamus dicit” and also “Adamus dixit” before repeating his answer – sliding in present and past in natural ways and giving them practice with dicere, while also repeating the answer.
The signing stuff is something that I am not particularly great at, and I let the kids do their own signs and ask them to remember them (they do so much more than I). I just don’t want to worry about another level of language. For me, the signs are like looking for derivatives or any other association that will help you remember the word – I always encourage the kids to do so, but whatever works for them is fine by me. More power to you if you can keep the signs straight on top of everything else.
When was this video shot in the school year? I ask only because I am surprised by the all the Latin that you are putting in. The vocabulary you are already working with, with these kids seems really large and complicated to me (though they seem to handle it just fine!). Specifically, I was surprised by “delineat¨ (I had to look it up just to double check that I even knew what it was!), “licet” “necesse” “domi” “conclavi scholari”, and all the infinitives.
Excuse my ignorance, but are you using a text as well or is it all stories of your own creation? It doesn’t surprise me much that the kids can understand that vocabulary, it`s just for me, using Cambridge, I try to use words that I know will come up in Cambridge even if they aren’t perfect equivalents, i.e. “pingit” for “delineat”, “in villa” for “domi”, “delectat” for “placet”. I do it not because they can’t handle the other words, but because in the stories from the book they won’t get practice with them, and I already don’t have time to circle. The same with the infinitives – they don’t come up until the second book, so if I introduced them now, they wouldn’t get as much practice with them. I know they can handle them, and I know they are useful, but…
One last question – it seems like we are skipping the part where you establish meaning with vocabulary (other than the classroom), but are you leaving the vocabulary you are working on that day up on the board somewhere (i.e. dormire placet) for them to see? My kids really need that visual piece that I can laser point to.
Again, thanks so much for putting this up! I hope none of my barrage of questions offended you or seemed critical. I really would like to improve my own technique and you have given me a lot of things to think about.
JOHN PIAZZA POSTED ABOUT POSTING VIDEO:
Thanks so much for posting footage of you in your classroom. For all teachers, this is a big leap out of one’s safety zone, but doing so is also a big leap forward for everyone interested in seeing a Latin CI classroom in action. Thanks, everyone, for responding positively to David, and recognizing how much he’s putting himself out here and feels safe enough in our online community to do so.
This really is the next step in our work as we consider trying out new things in our classes. I encourage anyone interested to post footage of their classroom (as long as they have the permissions–also consider vimeo with a password for privacy) and we will do our best to give supportive constructive comments. I am working on the permissions and logistics parts, but I hope to be recording some of my classes as well.
So thanks again David and everyone for making this such a positive learning experience for us all.
I RESPOND TO DAVE AND JOHN:
Hi Dave and John,
John, thanks for the encouragement. You’re right, putting up video is a difficult thing and I am appreciative of the positive feedback. Thanks all for this.
Dave, great questions and I’m glad the video was helpful for you. I’ll answer your questions in the order you asked them.
On signing, I really would recommend you to try to use it. I used to use it occasionally, but after doing a late night coaching session with Ben Slavic and John Piazza at NTPRS this summer, was convinced to make it a priority this year. It is well worth it. Not only does it help immensely with establishing meaning – really almost effortlessly by just doing a sign, but it also: slows me down when I speak (going SLOW), it is great for the kinesthetic learners (to use Ben’s words, it makes the language more “visceral” – and therefore the kids are thinking less about it with their conscious brains when I’m talking if they are signing), it clarifies meaning without English, it gives kids a non-disruptive way to participate (I mandate them to sign with them when I give the command “ostendite mihi”) and it is an easy non-English way to clarify meaning. After about a week of using a structure, I feel I can stop signing it, but sometimes I do so anyway. I wouldn’t sign on an oral test though, especially if I want to know if the word itself is acquired rather than just the sign.
This was shot about 19 days into the school year so we had established some vocab already – but I make a conscious effort to keep “in bounds,” speaking only vocab I know they know and introducing anything new very slowly. When I took this video we had been doing about 4 weeks of Circling with Balls and were just doing our first Anne Matava Story that week (Afraid of the Package). I am currently still going through the last of the circling with balls cards just to break up time from stories. The past three weeks I’ve done a story a week (Afraid of the Package- Matava; Come Here- Tripp; Talks Too Much- Matava). This has been a good pace.
The Latin 1 class in the video has about 35 kids at the time it was taken, but has 30 now because some have transferred to my other Latin 1 section because of Athletics conflicts. My larger Latin class now has 41.
Although Cambridge is the textbook I use, I hold off starting it for sometime. Last year I didn’t start the textbook until mid 2nd semester, and completed 7 stages. This year I’m not sure if I will use a textbook in Latin 1. My textbook for Latin 1 is now really Anne Matava’s story scripts and Jim Tripp’s Scripts and some of my own as well as PQA that will develop into stories. The kids seem to respond much better to this kind of CI than textbook stories in my classes. I think this is so because the input is more compelling and because vocabulary is sheltered and grammar isn’t. Textbook sheltering of grammar makes stories sound artificial and I think are inherently less compelling to kids for this reason. Also the kids get blasted with vocabulary and it destroys their confidence when they can’t process it all. The difference I see with starting with 3 structures for a story and only allowing a couple more to come in as they become necessary compared with trying to teach kids a textbook story with 15 new vocabulary words is incredible.
There is just something about the combination of compelling input, sheltered vocab and unsheltered grammar, delivered in a well-disciplined and trained classroom, with a teacher and students who trust each other and care about one another. This is my goal – to foster a classroom like this. There are always imperfections of course, but this is the goal I have for my students and myself.
As far as using structures like placet, necesse est, licet, etc. they will get these in Cambridge at some point, so why not teach them? I like to use placet (rather than delectat) just because it gives a lot more practice with hearing dative forms early on – same with necesse and licet. As long as you are circling slowly, est. meaning well, doing gestures and getting the reps (or some combintion of these), the kids will acquire the structure – there really are in my opinion no structures that are more difficult than others, maybe sentence structures, but not really individual structures.
As far as establishing meaning, you are right, most of what I am doing in these videos is a combination of using some already established vocab and establishing meaning for anything new. You might notice that the kids give me the hand over the head sign with “in conclavi scholari,” so I establish it by typing it up on the projected Word doc. That’s all there really is to establishing meaning for me. Type it up with a translation, make a gesture (usually check the ASL dictionary or make our own) and start using it in PQA or the story.
I’ll try to get a story up soon and I have some footage from my Latin 3 class too.