quo contendimus? V

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! I hope yesterday’s post wasn’t too repetitive for you all! In looking over it, I was afraid I’d simply rehashed what I said on Tuesday and Wednesday; if so, I hope you’ll forgive me. We’ll definitely try to break some new ground today as we consider this critical point about the exercises and quizzes for Lectiō Secunda:

But we think there might be some steps we skipped. We’d really like to know what you think, too.

If you think back to last week’s posts, especially this one and this one about Differentiated Instruction, you probably realize what I think is missing. There seems to be an assumption that everyone will need to do all parts of every exercise – in other words, that everyone is starting at the same point (knowing nothing about the nominative-genitive distinction) and will need to travel the same route (all the exercises) at more or less the same pace in order to reach the goal. Of course, that’s probably not true.

  • Some learners may come to us with prior experience, either with Latin or with another language (German, Russian, Polish, Greek, …) with noun inflections.
  • Some may be “quick learners” who grasp everything almost instantaneously, needing little practice.
  • Some may struggle with the concept and need some additional practice.

So how does the Tres Columnae Project accommodate different types of learners? Of course, if you’re using the project materials in a “regular” classroom, the teacher can obviously decide which exercises – or how much of a given exercise – to assign. In doing so, the teacher will most likely consider the needs of the learner … although, of course, it’s not necessary for the teacher to do so. Some teachers might well ask all their students to proceed through the materials in lockstep and according to a fixed, unalterable plan developed by the teacher. (We hope none of you will choose to do that, but we do have to admit it’s possible.)

For our homeschooled learners, a parent could obviously play the deciding role if necessary. Of course, many homeschooling families choose that option because they want their children to develop autonomy and ownership of their learning. So in many cases the learners themselves could fill the regulating, differentiating function. But what about learners who don’t have much self-confidence? And what if there was a school, or a homeschooling cooperative, or a group of adult learners using the Tres Columnae Project materials without a trained teacher? In other words, is it possible to differentiate instruction effectively in the absence of an instructor?

We certainly don’t think that such a situation is ideal, but we recognize the possibility. We also recognize that, over time, some young or inexperienced teachers might want a helping hand as they work to devise the right learning paths for their students. So, while the Tres Columnae Project can’t do all the work of matching the task to the learner, it can do quite a bit to help teachers and learners choose appropriate tasks, levels of difficulty, and amounts of work. Here are some ways that can happen even as early as Lectiō Secunda.

If you think back to Wednesday’s list of the existing instructional activities for Lectiō Secunda, you’ll probably remember that we begin with

Fabella Prīma, which contains sentences that introduce genitive case forms in a simple, highly comprehensible way

and we continue with

Quid Novī? I, which helps learners make a comparison between the genitive endings and English possessive markers.

At the end of the quid novī? we can easily invite our learners to rank their comfort with the idea of genitive-case nouns on a scale from 1-5, where 1 is something like “I really have no idea what you just said” and 5 means “I grasp the concept and can recognize the forms easily.” Then it’s just a matter of developing suggested ITINERA (small ones, in this case) for the different levels of self-rating. For example,

  • If you chose 1 or 2, we might provide some more examples of English possessives and Latin genitives, then an exercise where our learners choose the right Latin form (nominative or genitive) to complete a Latin sentence … possibly even with an English version provided. For example, given Lūcius fīlius _____ est (Lucius is Valerius’ son), the learner would choose between Valerius and Valeriī. In previous posts like this one, we’ve considered the types of feedback such an exercise can provide for right and wrong answers. It’s possible to set up exercises like this such that they automatically end themselves after a learner has a certain number of consecutive right answers; we might do that, or we might count on the learners themselves to decide when they are ready to move on.
  • If you chose 3 or 4, your ITER would skip over the examples and proceed directly to the exercise … or perhaps a similar one without an English prompt. (We’d probably include sentences without English prompts later in the “1 or 2” exercise in any case.) Again, the exercise might end itself after the learner had a certain number of answers correct in a row, or might leave the learners themselves in charge.
  • For a 5, the ITER would lead directly to a self-checking quiz similar in structure to the last sentences in the exercise for the “3 or 4” ITER. If you, the learner, did not demonstrate proficiency on the quiz, its feedback would suggest that you go back to one of the other ITINERA … again, depending on your overall score.

While we assume that most learners know themselves well and would tend to rate themselves accurately over time, we also recognize that there are a lot of not-so-confident learners out there – not to mention a lot of formerly-confident learners who have been led to take a passive stance by poor school experiences. Like a released prisoner adjusting to freedom, such learners may need a “halfway house” with a bit more structure for a while … and the Tres Columnae Project can provide it for them. After a while, though, we think our learners will be more than capable of managing their own learning and assessing their own progress. But we certainly encourage all of our teachers and learners to use the structures and supports for as long as necessary, and we definitely want teacher-subscribers to play an active role in guiding, assessing, and encouraging the learners in their classes.

quid respondētis, amicī?

  • What do you think of our model for differentiating instruction in pursuit of our common goal for all learners?
  • What do you think of the goal itself?
  • Do you get the picture, or would you like some more specific examples of how the  Tres Columnae Project can use differentiated assignments in the context of a Joyful Learning Community?

Tune in on Monday, when we’ll respond to your comments, wrap up this thread, and preview the next few topics for blog posts. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Published in: on July 31, 2010 at 12:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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