When The Schedule works out just right, it’s possible for me to spend the day with the District Q class and with all three groups from District Y. And if that happens on a Tuesday, I also see the Gifted Homeschoolers branch of the Latin Family … and when that happens, it can be a tiring, but joyful Tuesday. Even without the Gifted Homeschoolers, today was a tiring, but busy and joyful Friday. I could feel the power of Joyful Learning Community as we shared our newly-created familiae Romanae, and I could really feel the power as we moved to virtual breakout rooms and worked on our first-ever interactions involving characters we’d created.
It occurred to me that I ought to make an example of an interaction. So I did, and here it is, modeled on a number of similar products Latin Family members over the years have made:
We will look at a this sample interaction response for Minor Assessment #1. Their “existing” character was Valerius and Caelia’s son Lucius. They describe him this way:
- 8-year-old boy, turns 9 during stories
- usually pretty well behaved
- sometimes fights with his sisters Valeria (older) and Caeliola (younger)
- seems to get along well with parents
- best friend Caius, son of Lollius and Maccia, his father’s clients
- goes to school with Caius, Cnaeus (his cousin), Quintus Flavius (“bad boy”), and other friends. Fabius (dad’s client) is their teacher
Their “new” character is Tertius Hortensius. He goes to school with Lucius. His dad, Titus Hortensius, owns a popina in Herculaneum, and his mom, Livia, works in the family restaurant. He has a brother, Quartus, and a sister, Hortensia. They have a dog named Maximus. The Hortensius family lives in a building that belongs to the Valerius family, who also frequently eat in their restaurant.
Lucius: salve, Tertius!
Tertius: salve, Lucius!
Lucius: quid happened in ludo hodie? ego was absent because I had to go to the medicus.
Tertius: Lucius, it was a dies optimus. The ludi magister was attonitus when Quintus Flavius started to exclamat in medio class. He started to exclamat quoque. One student got perterritus and currit in via. He almost got run over by an equus and a raeda.
Lucius: vae! heu! volo I had been there!
Take a look at the rubric and see if you can figure out what level of Presentational Writing proficiency this person (or group) showed.
Obviously, at this point, these Latin Family members still need to use some English, or a Latin-English mixture. Obviously their nouns and verbs won’t be completely correctly formed. That’s why I showed them this example, which everybody agreed was somewhere in the Novice Mid to (possibly) Novice High range. “They” (my evil twin?) had successfully used familiar Latin words and phrases to communicate some information about the characters, and “they” had almost succeeded in forming a Latin sentence.
“Can we do something like that and have it ready before next time?” I asked everyone except the Latin I class, who had a slightly different task. Most said yes; a few said maybe; some feared they couldn’t. But after 25 minutes or so working in pairs or groups to create an interaction among their original characters and at least one prepared character, everybody had made real progress. And yes, they all could use Latin words and phrases to communicate an idea, and many had even made sentences.
That was exciting, especially when I look back (just two weeks!) and remember the initial fear and uncertainty. It’s like the excitement a long-gone set of Latin Family members felt, back when Former School was New School for me and for many of them. “Look what you can do!” I said … but I probably didn’t say it as often as I should have. I was younger then, too, and I “just knew” that The Textbook would work for them if we just moved fast and kept things rigorous. And for that group, in those days, that approach worked fairly well … but I wonder what would have happened if we’d embraced building meaningful things together as well as becoming a joyful learning community.
Come to think of it, some of those very Latin Family members helped teach me the power of building things together. When they were in Latin III, they got fascinated by books and book-making and libraries in the Roman world, a topic we touched on as we were reading some Latin poetry. “We need to know more!” they said, and they proposed finding out more about those topics and building a physical product. And they did.
It still occupies a place of honor in the Latin Family Zone at Former School. It’s a Roman-style bookcase filled with scrolls. I thought about “bringing it home,” but I realized that it was at home. In its home. Where it was always supposed to be. It was a meaningful thing that a particular joyful learning community had built together, and it wasn’t mine to “take with me.”
What I love about the things we’re building together these days, though, is that they can be everywhere and with all of us because they’re not confined to physical space. We may well build videos together as past Latin Family branches have done. We may make “authentic” costumes or puppets, too. But our products, shared as they are in a virtual space, will be with us when we want them. There won’t ever be a concern about taking or leaving.
And on this busy, but joyful Friday, that seems particularly important. Ownership of your products is important for a joyful community, and I’m glad we’ll be able to own things together as we build them together. I wonder what other insights and discoveries await as this remarkable journey continues!