Examining the Story: Connections and Comparisons, III

salvēte, sodālēs! In this rather brief post, we’ll look at ways that learners might demonstrate the Connections they’ve made between elements of a story (like the one we’ve been playing with for the last week) and elements of other academic disciplines. Last time, we made a pretty long list of possible Connections, such as

  • Roman slavery with American slavery (or slavery in other societies);
  • Roman gender attitudes with those of the United States today, or of some other period in American history, or some other culture with which the learner is familiar;
  • Latin words used in the story with English derivatives or cognates, or with derivatives in the Romance languages (a number of community members are suspicious of excessively emphasizing derivatives and cognates as a language or vocabulary activity, but when the learner notices one, I think it’s obviously a Connection that might be explored);
  • Latin syntactic or morphological elements with their English equivalents;
  • Roman ideas about pets and pests with the ideas of other cultures;
  • the “typical” Roman diet of different social classes, with the “typical” diet in other cultures, including perhaps the learner’s own culture; or
  • “typical” Roman housing for various social classes with “typical” housing in other cultures.

Of course, a given learner might be interested in a Connection I never thought of: Roman tableware with its contemporary equivalents? Roman tableware manufacturing with its modern equivalents? The mining operations that produced the metal for the tableware with mining operations today? The possibilities are as endless as the interests of the learners.

But once a learner has become interested in a particular Connection, what then? How might he or she explore the Connection further, and how might he or she share the results of this exploration with the community? For starters, it would obviously be easy to adapt the kinds of presentations that teachers have always assigned to their students. For example, learners might:

  • collect background links (or even conduct research in – gasp! – a physical library, if one is geographically accessible), perhaps tagging them with a site like Del.icio.us as our faithful reader Laura G suggested in a recent comment;
  • create self-checking comprehension quizzes about these links, perhaps using a free Javascript quiz creator like Hot Potatoes, or perhaps an online quiz-creation site;
  • condense the information (and the connections they made) into an illustrated presentation, perhaps using Google Docs or a slide-sharing site like () so that the presentation would “always” be available to future learners;
  • create a story or non-fiction Latin piece exploring the connections;
  • blog about the connections, and share a link to their blogs; or
  • participate in a threaded discussion – perhaps hosted by a site like Yahoo! Groups, or perhaps actually hosted by us at the Tres Columnae site. I’ll have more to say about this notion on Saturday, when we examine the logistics of the Continuing Virtual Seminar.

In the end, though, Tres Columnae participants will pursue Connections (and Comparisons, and all other aspects of language learning) from a perspective of Ownership. If you’re interested in a particular Connection, you can explore it as much as you’d like; if you’re not interested in another, you need not pursue it. Such accommodation of individual learning preferences is very difficult for a factory-model school (after all, that production line is supposed to produce a standardized product, not an individualized one), but it’s natural – and, I think, unavoidable – in the Joyful Learning Community that we’re aiming to build with Tres Columnae.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • How do you feel about the possible Connections themselves – and about the possible products?
  • What about assessment? We’ll have more to say about that tomorrow, but what do you think now? How on earth could anyone assess so many different products – and who should do the assessing, anyway?
  • How do these Connections relate to the more personal Comparisons that learners will also be encouraged to make?

Tune in next time for more about Connections, about assessment of Connections, and about Comparisons. Then we’ll look more closely at the Continuing Virtual Seminar, the natural home for Connections and Comparisons in the Tres Columnae system. What will these things look like, and how will they actually work? We’ll find out soon.

I don’t want to specify a timeline for the next few posts, as there’s a major winter storm headed towards my face-to-face world as I write this.  No power,  no Joyful Latin Learning Posts! 🙂   In the meantime, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus! And please keep those comments and emails coming. 🙂

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Your introduction, “In this rather brief post, . . .” reminds me of the opening of Book 2 in the Aeneid, “. . . et breviter Troiae supremum audire laborem . . .” Aeneas narrates a brief account in two books (which takes me nearly two hours to read alound). Your “brief” remarks are well-considered, articulate, and longer than I can get many of my students to write for a LONG essay! 🙂 I love it!

    The thematic “web” of connections is something that I have students create when they are beginning the study of a topic. It really amazes them how complicated and interwoven their webs become! The more complicated their webs, the more enthusiastic the students are and generally the more they get from their study.

    On the issue of assessment of learning, I try to identify what I consider “minimum standards of competency” for a few specific areas per unit (like slavery, the accusative case, first person plural verbs) and give the students the choice of the method for demonstrating their mastery (writing, multiple choice, and other non traditional methods). Often I ask the students to create a rubric before starting and again at the end, and then fill them both out so that they can determine whether they feel they have succeeded. Finally, I ask the question, “Are you satisfied with what you learned or do you want to learn more about the topic?” I think this question works really well with Tres Columnae because the process is individually driven.

    Okay . . . off to lunch.

    • Randy,
      I was thinking about that very line in the Aeneid this morning … after I’d published this “rather brief” post! 🙂 In my face-to-face teaching world, we’re on a semester block schedule, so new classes began this week. It’s a tradition in my Latin IV and AP classes that we do the “Dreaded Aeneid Test” (which is actually neither dreadful nor a test) on the first Friday of class, so they were working on that today … with a slightly shortened class due to an approaching winter storm. Anyway, the group that was preparing questions for Book III got to the end and said, “Wait, is Aeneas still talking?” 🙂

      I am quite fond of thematic webs and use them frequently for vocabulary work with my face-to-face students. It would be great to incorporate them as a student-product option in Tres Columnae. And I love your assessment ideas! Having students create an initial rubric, revise it, and complete both rubrics at the end is a tremendous way to build Ownership of the process as well as the content of learning. And what a great question to ask learners … or to have them ask themselves!

      Hope you’ve had a good lunch, and that the rest of your day and weekend will be pleasant and trouble-free.


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