salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! et grātiās maximās omnibus lectōribus fidēlissimīs! I really enjoyed our conversation last week about differentiated instruction in the pursuit of a common curriculum or set of learning goals. It was great to hear (or at least read) so many of your voices, both in comments here and on the CambridgeLatin and Latin-BestPractices listservs. It was also really interesting to see how much we, the broader community of Latin teachers, seem to agree on:
- we obviously want our students to learn Latin, and to enjoy learning;
- we know that different students learn differently;
- we recognize that learners will have different levels of mastery of any given skill, and that they’ll come to us with different amounts and types of background knowledge; and
- we’re struggling, like teachers in many other areas, with bridging the gap between what we want for our students and what we’ve “traditionally” done to reach them.
I put “traditionally” in quotation marks because tradition is a long and diverse thing. I would think that, if we could call up a Roman grammaticus or rhetor and have a conversation about pedagogy, he (sorry, but it would most likely be he, especially if it’s a grammaticus or rhetor) would be astounded by a lot of our Industrial-Age assumptions about teaching. If you work with students one-on-one or in a small group, as Roman teachers did, and if you work with them over a period of years, it’s hard to blame “the system” or “those parents” for gaps in your students’ knowledge! It also wouldn’t make very much sense to forge blindly ahead, introducing new knowledge and skills, when your learners hadn’t yet grasped the foundational, prerequisite knowledge. Most likely even a nineteenth-century American teacher (especially one who worked in a multi-age one-room schoolhouse) would be amazed by our systemic lack of flexibility and attention to individual students.
I can see several possible directions to take this week’s posts, but I’d like a bit of advice from you, the Tres Columnae community. What would you like to talk and think about next?
- We could certainly look at some more sample stories if you’d like.
- We could consider some more specific examples of differentiated lessons, both with and without the Tres Columnae materials.
- We could consider the things you like and don’t like about the Version Alpha Wiki site, with a view to planning the “look and feel” and the features of Version Beta.
- We could consider ways that you might use the Tres Columnae materials in a “real” school or classroom setting, especially if you have limited access to computer technology.
- We could look at the Tres Columnae exercises and quizzes from the perspective of differentiated instruction.
If I don’t hear from you, I’ll probably do the last of these – largely because I need to do some significant work on the exercises and quizzes for those first few Lectiōnēs anyway! But if you do want to talk about any of the other issues at any point, just let me know. I’d love to know what would be most interesting and helpful for you right now, that odd period of time when some teachers are imminently preparing to return to school and others may have a month or more of “freedom” left.
Tune in next time for more. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus. Thanks again for all the great comments and conversations!