New Beginnings, II

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, one possible use for the Tres Columnae Project materials is as a self-paced review for students returning to Latin. Of course, we’d be thrilled if you also decided to use the materials with your Latin I students, and we’d be ecstatic if you decided to use them in place of a traditional textbook. But for many teachers and students in Latin II and above, the beginning of the year seems to hold a special dread. You know you need to do some sort of review before jumping into new material, but what’s the best way?

  • Some teachers go through an undifferentiated and lengthy process of reteaching everything (or “everything important”) from Latin I. Depending on how you do this, and how much mastery of “old stuff” you want from your students, this can take weeks or months! Of course, by the end, many students will be utterly bored and others will still be completely lost … but you, the teacher, can pat yourself on the back because you “did a thorough review.” I have often been that teacher! 🙂
  • Other teachers attempt to diagnose their students’ areas of strength and weakness, then devise review activities that meet those needs. I’ve been that teacher as well! The problem, of course, is devising the activities and finding the materials. You don’t want to do exactly the same work that the students did in Latin I, but you may not have anything else to use. And you can’t very well re-issue the Latin I textbooks; after all, the current Latin I students are using those!
  • Still other teachers jump into new material right away and pause, as needed, to review things that turn out to be problematic for their students. I don’t think I’ve ever been that teacher :-), but I admire their bravery. The problem with this approach, for me at least, is that I don’t like unpleasant surprises. I would much rather find out in advance that 65% of my class need to review a particular grammatical feature; that way, I can plan ahead and provide them with what they need. An impromptu adjustment in midstream of a lesson can be exciting, but it can quickly deteriorate into “I shall lecture while you take notes, then yell at you because you can’t apply the information from the notes.” I prefer a world with less yelling; it’s much less stressful for everyone concerned! 🙂

In place of these common options, I think the Tres Columnae materials, especially the ones that we’ve made available for Lectiōnēs I-XX on the Version Alpha Wiki site, can provide a really positive alternative. Of course, we’d love for you to choose a paid subscription for your students (those will be available by the end of this month), but we think that even the free materials would provide your upper-level students with an enjoyable, engaging, and different approach to review. Here’s one possible pathway through the materials:

  1. Obviously, if they’ve retained any vocabulary or reading strategies, Latin II students would find the fabellae and fābulae of Lectiōnēs I-II supremely easy to read. That effortless direct comprehension is a big boost in confidence! If you want to check their comprehension, you might use some of the exercises in the Instructure Public Demo course; students can’t keep a permanent record of their scores in the demo, of course, but they can print out or save their results for you to look at.
  2. Depending on the textbook and pacing, your students might not have been exposed to the genitive case in Latin I, so they’d run into “something new” ­– but something easy to understand, and something that hooks a lot of other things together for them – early on. We’ll have a lot of genitive exercises (and even some, designed for my own students, that review other cases) as early as Lectiō II in the “real” exercises and quizzes. You might want to see about subscriptions for your classes, but you’re certainly welcome to make up your own “stuff” for use with your students.
  3. Lectiōnēs I-XX are, of course, written in the present tense. They introduce passive, deponent, and subjunctive forms along the way, so there might be something new for your students. If you want to review other tenses, you might ask your students to rewrite a story in the tense (or tenses) that made the most sense; they could even compare versions and discuss different choices they had made. We’d love for you to Submit these to the project, of course, but you could also keep them and use them just with your own classes if that made more sense to you.
  4. Once you finished the formal review process, you might have your students use the Tres Columnae stories for extensive-reading practice. We’ll provide comprehension exercises for our subscribers, of course, but you could certainly make up your own … or just have your students make summaries of your own design if you want an “accountability” check.
  5. Along the way, you might have students participate in a Virtual Seminar or two that seemed interesting. If you don’t want to subscribe, you might just share the opening question with them (those will be freely visible to everybody) and have them respond to you, or to each other, by email.

In any case, we think you’ll end up with a much more engaging, thoughtful, and enjoyable review for your upper-level Latin students, and with a lot less time, effort, and angst on your part.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • What have you typically done for review with your Latin II students?
  • Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the results?
  • What do you think of this possible way to incorporate Tres Columnae materials in a review for upper-level students?
  • Can you see other, different, better ways to use Tres Columnae materials with an upper-level class?
  • We think it would be especially helpful to use these materials with a combined class; in fact, my fall-semester Latin II-and-III class last year was a big inspiration for me in that regard. What do you think about that?

Tune in next time, when we’ll explore your responses and look at ways to use the Tres Columnae materials with a beginning class. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Published in: on August 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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