This and That

It’s been a busy few days in my face-to-face world! Busy … and very productive. Thanks to this share on Google+ by my friend Donna Murdoch, it looks like I won’t have to create a diagram about differentiation, personalization, and choice after all! Check out this beautiful chart by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey; it’s even downloadable (with a Creative Commons license) if you’re interested.

And thanks to this other G+ thread, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what it means to develop reading proficiency quickly. What is it that language learners need most in such an intensive course?

  • Do they need to understand the structural patterns of the language they’re learning?
  • Do they need to develop a core vocabulary?
  • Do they need to “learn to read by reading” – and if so, what’s the best mix of intensive and extensive reading experiences?
  • Is there, perhaps, a different answer for different types of learners?
  • And to what extent would the Tres Columnae Project materials be usable in a “summer intensive” experience? What extra tools or resources, if any, would need to be added to make “TC” a better fit with an environment like that?
  • Oh, and just for fun – in what ways is reading proficiency different in development from listening proficiency, and how do these “receptive” skills differ in their development from the “active” skills of speaking and writing?

I’m eager to know what you think. quid respondētis, amīcī?

Published in: on July 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm  Comments (3)  

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  1. Justin, just speaking for myself, the experience of doing the book this summer and working with Chris’s vocabulary list has really persuaded me of the value of a core vocabulary; I am hoping that my impression of its value will be borne out in the experiences of people who make use of the book. As someone creating materials, it was INCREDIBLY liberating (paradoxical as that might seem) to work within the framework of Chris’s list. I have a gauge (but, as I learned, a pretty inaccurate gauge) of what reading item has easy/difficult words in it… but quickly checking each reading item against Chris’s list (very quick and easy using Bento) and then narrowing in on the items that required only one or two more words was really brilliant; I’ve never had an experience like that before in preparing a collection of Latin texts and I loved it!
    The next test will be my own efforts to compose Aesop’s fables, staying within the realm of Chris’s vocab list. I will have to supplement it with some animals (the list is sadly short on animals!) – but beyond the “extra animals,” I am confident that I can rewrite the fables that I collected in Mille Fabulae et Una to stay within the bounds of the vocab list. I’m so excited about doing that… it is going to be sad indeed to leave Latin behind when August arrives and I have to get back to work. Thanks to Chris’s list, I had more fun with this project than I have ever had working on a Latin project before.

    • Laura, I agree, and that’s one reason I was so disappointed in the College Board’s decision not to release a core vocabulary list for the new AP syllabus. They say they have a core list of grammatical and rhetorical terms, but then they say these lists are “neither exclusive nor exhaustive.” I can certainly understand a non-exclusive, non-exhaustive core vocabulary list … but if AP students are going to be held responsible for using specific terminology, shouldn’t the terminology be specified? Grumble, grumble, grumble….

      I’m really excited to see what kinds of conversations will develop around Chris’s list.

      • I’m agnostic on what list I use – if I were teaching from a textbook, I would be tempted to use the list for that textbook of course… but I love the idea of having a list that we SHARE and which provides a common platform for us all to use in developing materials. I think what Chris has done is brilliant. I am hoping people who work with specific textbooks will develop cross-reference lists which give the chapters for the items as they appear in the textbook along with supplementary lists of which words are NOT in the textbook and the chapters where it would make the most sense to introduce those words so that students completing the textbook would have mastered the core also.

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