Longa et Brevia, Gravia et Levia I

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs!  Today’s post will be a bit brief – hence our title – due to a pair of long days in my face-to-face world.  I left the house around 6:25 a.m. yesterday (I was fighting a cold, so decided to forego my normal morning workout at the local gym) and did not get home until 14 hours later … and most of that time I was constantly busy!  There were special events at school; typical Tuesday concerns; a district-wide meeting of world language teachers; seemingly endless PowerPoints; a church function in the early evening; and a quick trip to the grocery store just so the family and I could have food for the next few days.  Today looks to be more of the same, with a middle-school track meet thrown in for good measure.

I wonder, sometimes, if folks in the Roman world at the time of the Tres Columnae Project stories also felt that their world was too fast and too busy.  Is that a common human feeling, or just one that plagues post-industrial societies like ours?

Today is also the day that my Latin III students “officially” learn about longa et brevia, gravia et levia as we begin to work with the metrical patterns of Latin poetry.  It’s one of my favorite days – partly because it addresses the musical and rhythmic aspects of some students’ minds while speaking to the logical-mathematical aspects of others.  In a perfect world, the III’s would also work on correcting their most recent tests … and so would the 62 Latin I students who took their most recent test yesterday.  If all goes well, everyone will actually be able to do that – and in the interests of that, I should end this post in a bit.

As I think about the future, though, both for my face-to-face classroom and for the Tres Columnae Project, I certainly see the critical importance of the kinds of instantaneous feedback that Tres Columnae exercises and quizzes will provide for students and for their teachers.  Yes, it’s important to measure students’ progress, and to do so on a regular basis … it’s actually more important for the students, meā quidem sententiā, than it is for the teachers, since experienced teachers can usually tell how our students are doing with a given concept by observation and by informal measures.  But is it really a good use of teachers’ time and energy to have them constructing tests, making paper copies, distributing these, and then reading and marking each student’s answer to each question?  Having done so, one has a good sense of the class’s performance … but a self-correcting exercise would give the same (or better) information, probably in chart or graph form, and save countless hours that could better be spent on planning, working with struggling students, reflection, or even the creation of new, innovative instructional activities and materials.  That’s one reason we’re so committed to the exercise and quiz aspect of Tres Columnae Version Beta, which will be available before too long.

quid respondētis, amīcī?  What do you think about the possibilities – and the perils – of self-correcting online exercises and quizzes?

Tune in next time, when we’ll consider some other possible meanings of today’s title, focusing on the “gravia et levia” portion.  intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

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Published in: on September 15, 2010 at 10:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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