Quartus infans II

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Yesterday was an interesting day – at one point I described it as an “up-and-down” day in an email to a friend. I started the day with a really positive conversation with a friend who’s a school-district-level technology administrator, and who’s also very committed to students, teachers, and learning. She had a lot of positive things to say about the Tres Columnae Project and some great suggestions (including some specific people to talk to). I also had some other good conversations this morning, and that thread about passive and impersonal verbs on the Oerberg listserv, which I mentioned in yesterday’s post, has continued to be a really interesting conversation. Since the Latin-BestPractices list has public archives, you might also want to look at this thread about Differentiated Instruction, which looks really promising, too. (Scroll down a bit to see links to previous and subsequent messages in the thread.)

One point that I made – and which I’m not sure I ever realized until I was writing it – is that the term Differentiated Instruction is really significant. What’s differentiated according to students’ needs and interests is the instruction (that is, the learning materials a teacher uses, or the processes, or the products students make to demonstrate their learning). But the Curriculum (that is, what we at Tres Columnae, with a nod to our friends at the National Paideia Center, would call the essential Knowledge, Skills, and Understandings) remains constant for everyone … or is equally open to modification for everyone, depending on your perspective. A class, or any learning environment, where the teacher (or anyone else) sets different expectations for different students – where he or she expects “more” from you or “less” from you because of what you look like or what your cumulative record says – is not an example of Differentiated Instruction … and it’s not a class where I’d want my children or even my dog to be. In a nutshell, my goal for every learner, whether in my face-to-face teaching world or in the Tres Columnae Project, is quite simple:

I will meet you where you are, and I will help you learn and do more about Latin and the Romans than you ever thought possible.

To do this, I’m willing to try almost anything … as long as it helps you, the learner. If it helps everybody, everybody is welcome to do it; if it helps some, they are welcome to do it; if it doesn’t help others, I really hope they won’t do it!

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • Does this definition of what Differentiated Instruction is, and isn’t, make sense to you?
  • How congruent is it with the goals and instructional design of your learning and teaching environment?
  • And in terms of this definition and perspective on Differentiated Instruction, is the Tres Columnae Project a good example?

I obviously must think so, and I’ll tell you why … tomorrow. But today I’d love for you to mull that over and respond, if you’d like, either by email or by a comment here.

Meanwhile, I’d like to think for a moment about the issues and questions raised by yesterday’s featured story, which you can find here on the Tres Columnae Version Alpha Wiki site if you’d like.

  • I’m most interested in your response to the character of Paulla, and her interactions with little Lollia. You’ll find echoes of strong, earthy women characters from folklore and literature in her, I’m sure. Do you like Paulla so far, or does she bother you? And what do you suppose that response says about you?
  • What about Lollius’ significantly delayed payment of Paulla? Does that change your impression of him – or, for that matter, of her?
  • And what about little Lollia?

We continue today with the next story in the sequence, which you can find at this link on the Version Alpha Wiki site if you’d like. Little Quartus is born, though of course he has no name yet … and he’s really not “little” Quartus, either:

quīnque post hōrās, Lollia īnfantem magnum partūrit. “heus!” exclāmat Paulla, “fortasse Herculēs nōmen aptissimum est!” Lollia rīdēre cōnātur; difficile tamen est eī rīdēre, quod corpus tōtum maximē dolet. “dīs grātiās agō,” tandem susurrat, “quod Herculēs alter nōn est hic īnfāns! sī enim Herculēs adest, nōnne Iphiclēs ipse in ūterō nunc iam manet? perīre mālō quam alterum īnfantem tam magnum partūrīre!”

Paulla et Lollia rīsibus et cachinnīs sē trādunt; Maccia quoque rīdēre cōnātur. subitō Lollius iānuam aperit et, “heus!” inquit, “nōnne vīcīnī mē arcessunt? quid accidit?” obstētrīcem īnfantemque cōnspicātur et “ō Maccia mea!” exclāmat. “nōnne fēlīcissimus sum omnium cīvium Herculānēnsium? quam pulcher, quam magnus est hic puer!”

Paulla īnfantem in pavīmentō pōnit et Lollius celeriter eum manibus tollit. “mī fīlī, mī fīlī,” Lollius iterum iterumque cantat.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

I’ve given you a lot of questions to ponder today, so I think we’ll save questions for this story until tomorrow. We’ll also look at the next story in the sequence, as familia Lollia celebrates Quartus’ diēs lūstricus with some generous help from their patrōnus. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Published in: on July 21, 2010 at 12:35 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have been following the debate on Best Practices as well, and I do like your mission statement. My problem with differentiated instruction is simply implementation. I’m a beginning teacher still figuring things out, and the idea of (a) determining the current level of each student, (b) creating/finding materials targeted at that level, (c) using those materials in such a way so that everyone knows what they’re doing and is comfortable with it, and (d) bringing everyone back together seems so overwhelming. I think I just need some concrete examples, which I hope to obtain from the list as well as you.

  2. Yes, implementation is the tricky part even for veteran teachers! The problem is that, for the most part, we did our learning in undifferentiated classrooms, where everyone (supposedly) did the same thing at the same time. Time and activities were the constant, but quality and learning were the variables. It’s very hard to make the shift … to imagine a world where everybody is expected to learn, and to learn well, but they do different things and take different amounts of time to get there.

    I’ll try to give some concrete examples in tomorrow’s blog post, and on Best Practices as well. grātiās tibi maximās for joining in the conversation here!

  3. […] Latin teachers are moving away from a lockstep “delivery” of a unitary curriculum. I loved this comment on yesterday’s blog post from a young teacher, who […]

  4. […] survival strategies – things like how to implement differentiated lessons in a Latin class, as Magistrastein noted on Wednesday, or how to reconcile the anti-homework movement with a concern that language learners need more […]

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