It might be interesting for some group members here to read something John wrote here on the PLC five years ago in 2011 on the topic of using CI instruction in the Latin classroom:
Here is the Latin text John referred to in the previous post. Given as a reading after nine days of only the Circling with Balls activity to start the year, I would venture to state that for a first year class to be comfortably reading texts like the one below in only their second week, something must be being done right in John’s classroom. All that auditory input and discussion to start the year seems to have produced some unmistakably positive results, because kids in only their second week of Latin are comfortable with reading this text (because it is about them):
Hi Ben –
I am so excited to be able to tell you that I am breaking through. For the first time in two years, I can begin to relax and be comfortable with who I am in front of my students. I am not feeling constantly judged and scrutinized. You know how trying that first (and to an extent) that second year was for me. You were there to help me through it. In all of my classes this year I have begun with personalized work in Latin, and I have no doubt that this is the way to go, and no student attitude will sway me from making my students the center of my Latin work. And, I’m no longer teaching those kids who were infected with fear.
I got called by a member of our PLC a “grandstander” for promoting the Invisibles. And Diana Noonan chewed me out in a comment here a few months ago over my position re: testing, which position more reflects what Claire Ensor is saying, for those who have been reading the blog consistently over recent months and who, like me, perhaps also embrace Claire’s enlightened approach to how we test our kids in language classes (no summative assessments, but rather compassionate formative assessments that measure what kids can do and not what they cannot do).
John shares some important links below, echoing a point made by Robert here recently. That John’s administrators responded positively to these articles is a testimony to his hard work over the past three years to change a deeply entrenched class culture at Berkeley High School, an effort that I find phenomenal. I can only imagine the heartache involved. Out there in the Bay Area he’s had no Diana Noonan to lead the way, guns a’blazing:
Ultimately, Latin instruction became a gatekeeper, to filter out non 4%ers. It’s no wonder so many Latin programs were shut down during the educational reforms of the 60’s and 70’s. They ones that remained, either embraced more progressive “reading” approaches, or were allowed to continue because of their high prestige environments. As we here know, teaching a language as a subject, is inherently discriminatory. That was the purpose of grammar-translation in the first place. There are some great articles on this issue. I shared them with my admins, who LOVED them.
Here is a request from David Talone who was our very first Teacher of the Month so many years ago! I have simply not had time to write up those Teacher of the Month articles each month but if you search that term here you will find some familiar names of recipients. It would be nice to have the time to continue that monthly award but who has the luxury of time and besides we are all teachers of the month all the time.
Greetings! I ran into Donna Tatum-Johns this past weekend and she said that you were out in India with Linda Li. That sounds fabulous. I hope you are enjoying retirement!
Bob Patrick continues:
Let me address the edges of “impure CI”. This is not criticism. This is what we all contend with.
- “using more and more spoken Latin” Surprisingly, this may have little to do with CI and may work against it. This is the tantalizing temptation of spoken Latin intensives that happen each summer in various locations. I am a beneficiary and lover of these intensives, but they also unintentionally mislead Latin teachers who attend them into thinking that they must take the experience back home to their classrooms and do the same thing that they did at the intensive. All that does is frustrate students and teachers alike.
The CI teacher’s almost sole focus is delivering understandable messages in Latin, every day, to all of her/his students. This DOES mean speaking Latin,but it won’t be flashy, sexy, sophisticated, or Ciceronian Latin. Not even in Latin 4. It will be the kind of Latin that babies understand, and preschoolers understand, and third graders understand. I don’t have to be an advanced Latin speaker to teach Latin with CI at the high school level–even in the fourth year. No worries. No one is going to accuse me of being an advanced Latin speaker, but I walk into my classroom and deliver understandable messages in compelling ways to my students at every level. What’s better? I can tell when I am NOT doing that, and I’m getting better at knowing how to remedy that problem on the spot. Takes practice.
This exchange was recently posted to Latin Best Practices:
Jocelyn wrote: As far as what is “impure CI” – that is a good question – one that I think needs an answer by someone better versed in the method than I. I guess I consider myself an “impure CI” user because while I am using more and more spoken Latin in my classroom, I also explain grammatical forms and ask students to write them. I try to limit the glossing in my stories to a minimum but even then there are words I think students should know but don’t so they wind up looking them up.
Joseph Carroll has just joined us (from Vermont) so welcome Joe! He has some questions about starting to implement CI practices mid way through the year. Here is the text of what he’d like to get some feedback on:
Shalom, everyone! I’m new to the PLC and delighted to be here. I’m in my 9th year teaching Latin and can barely get through one more day of grammar-translation. I’m looking to start implementing some CI practices in class and, slowly but surely, transition into a classroom that uses CI methods as the primary mechanism for language instruction. Tall order, I know, but that’s why I’m posting here!
John Piazza (CA) and John Bracey (MA) not only share the same first name. They also are at the forefront of change in the Latin world in the U.S. We all know Bracey’s riveting story of being an oak in a storm in his building (understatement) over recent years, but Piazza’s is pretty much the same. Piazza sent me this yesterday and if I weren’t so old I would have done a cartwheel:
Hi Ben – exciting news. Just had my follow-up meeting from my first observation with my new administration. I am on cloud nine. She is a long time ESL teacher, and she knows the politics of my school, and she is committed to equity. In short, she gets it, and today’s meeting confirmed this. My evaluation basically said that I was not doing enough work in the target language, at higher levels on Blooms taxonomy. I said I was more than happy to oblige, but what about the traditional expectations as well as the AP exam and my traditional college who teaches it? She told me that those are no longer our priorities, because they are not best practices in language teaching, and they exclude most students. As for the privileged parents and my colleague, she told me not to worry about them. In other words I’ve been given marching orders, and I have been given protection, without qualification. There will certainly be bumps on this road, especially while I am graduating out the legacy students. But this is very exciting, and represents the next step forward for me. The chaos and strife that have occurred on my campus, have also resulted in a renewed commitment by the administration to equitable practices in all classes at all levels. No school administrator anywhere in this country can any longer afford to ignore the direct connection between exclusive pedagogy and the perpetuation of racist institutional practices. I would recommend that any CI teacher who is facing resistance call out their school’s commitment to equity.
I’m just reposting this because it is so astounding. It’s from Lance:
Ben, I consider this post from the ACL jobs website a huge win in the TCI world, and frankly, haven’t seen one like it:
“Ability to speak Latin is not required but highly desirable. Current Latin teachers use Comprehensible Input methods in the classroom and align with current research for foreign language teaching and proficiency guidelines according to best practices. Experience in Comprehensible Input methods not required, but highly desirable. Successful candidates must be willing to learn and grow and to nurture collaborative relationships that improve and refine best practices.”
The author continues:
These last 3 years I have been beaten down pretty badly by these few kids. I have had to give up many other things to make my transition to CI. They have ruined much in their tenure with me. Now, I don’t even try to speak Latin with them too much. They can’t handle it. They don’t want that kind of rigor. The funny thing is that the parents and my administrator threw around the term rigor, but they have no idea what they are talking about.
Finally, my admin said that she was going to contact our Secondary Curriculum director to see about what the goals of our program should be, specifically levels 4 and 5. The funny thing is that I am the most knowledgeable person in our district of 20 FL teachers when it comes to standards and research. I not only know what the standards are, but how to use them. I rebutted when my admin accused me of not teaching grammar, a common compliant among these few students/parents. I said to her quite confidently that I teach the standards and there is not a grammar standards. I teach for reading, writing, listening, and speaking comprehension and proficiency. She didn’t have much to say beyond admitting that she had no idea what the standards were. Quite absurd!
Here, in two parts, is an anonymous response to the story about that Latin teacher published here a few days ago. The responder is also a Latin teacher.
This is part 1:
I wanted to respond here to this post as it resonates so clearly with me. While I don’t know who this teacher is, I know that she is suffering because I too am suffering. This post describes what has been happening to me for the past 3 years. 3 years of certain kids and parents refusing to get on board to what I was doing. It all came to a head last week. One of my traditionally trained kids decided to drop my class. She didn’t communicate that she was dropping nor had she tried to be a part of my class. She went to the principal and complained and because she is a “good” kid, the principal believed her. She bemoaned that she wasn’t learning anything new in the class and that it was beneath her. The reality is that she didn’t want to engage with CI. She is interested in linguistics and the analytic aspects of language. I know because that’s the way I a taught her in her first 3 years.
A teacher in our PLC has endured repeated attacks all year – her first year in the school – for doing CI in her Latin classes. I won’t mention the teacher’s name because it isn’t important. The story is important, because in my view it is unprecedented.
The attacks have come from parents who want Latin to be taught in the old way. Everybody has been happy in this elitist East Coast school for decades, and they don’t want things to change. The smart Ivy League bound kids took Latin beyond level 1 and that was it. The other kids dropped out. That’s the way it has always been in this school.
This just in from Bob Patrick:
The Director of FL for my district was just at my school. (For context, our school district is the largest in GA–167,000 students, the largest employer in GA, and one of the largest in the US. It was awarded the Broad Prize for best urban school district in the US two years ago, and it is the single largest customer of Cambridge University Press via our Latin books).
We are doing book review and purchase of new books in FL over the next 18 districts. Largely because of the work I, Keith Toda and many others in various languages have been doing with CI in the district, he is telling publishers in general that they need to come in prepared to talk about how their books work in a CI environment. He just told me that when they told the Cambridge Press folks that, “they seemed confused.”
We are lucky to have an article and videos by one of our own PLC members and one of the five finalists in 2014 for ACTFL’s National Teacher of the Year – Dr. Robert Patrick in Atlanta, Georgia. The article and video clips appeared this week in the newsletter of the Classical Association of New England.
In my opinion, the video we are privileged to see here is in particular a tour de force in pacing, something we all have trouble with because – let’s just say it – we just plain go too fast when we deliver comprehensible input to our students. Bob’s pacing is perfect, and eminently understandable.
Our PLC members Bob Patrick, John Piazza, and David Maust have begun putting together the CI stuff that’s showing up on their Latin Best Practices list on a Word Press site so that CI Latin teachers can find them with ease. (I think John and Bob are the founders of that list but I’m not sure.) Bob tells me that their old Latin Yahoo group is showing it’s age and it’s not easy to find stuff so they are launching this new initiative. It’s public but they have not announced it yet:
Here is the other missive I have wanted to publish from Bob Patrick. It describes a variation on Jason Fritze’s “Running Dictation”. Kind of a Latin version. Love the addition of the “Help Desk” and the scoring option:
Here is an activity that I created out of several pieces of other things which I have done recently with my Latin 3 students. My Latin 1’s will get a chance at this next week sometime. It is a combination of dictatio, the Word chunk game and the creation of a friend of mine, Nancy Llewellyn of SALVI and Rusticatio which she calls “running dictation”, and some inspiration from Evan Gardner’s Where Are Your Keys. I am calling this “Dictatio Currendo”. What follows is a description of how I did it with comments at the bottom which helped me fine tune this. If you try it, I’d love to learn from what you learn to make this better. I recommend this as something to do toward the end of a unit, where students are fairly confident with the vocab/structures and the story lines, and when you are exhausted and need a break. This activity needs to be done outside or in a gymnasium.
I said in an earlier comment today that I can’t keep up with the Latinists. Between Bob in Atlanta/Athens and John in San Francisco and David Maust in L.A. and Dan Navar (I can’t tell if he is in SoCal or still in GA) and now there is Michael in Memphis and many others, I get confused. Plus, Bob is just so active. He sends me emails I can’t even keep up with and get published here, and each one carries news about the changes. I think it important that the more we keep talking about what they are doing (Latin Best Practices) the sooner the confusion over Latin being dead or just sleeping (now waking up) will be over. So I need to catch up with Bob by publishing a few of his latest emails to me here:
Even if you don’t teach Latin, watch this from David:
I’m sure you all are busy, but if anyone has time to take a look, here’s a private video of a retell of a story and making of a second location. I wrote this script and it was a fun one that I thought I would share: “eum agnosco!” (I recognize him). Script and key structures are below:
password – maust753
Hope you are all well. Sorry I haven’t been on LBP and the PLC more – it’s just been a busy time. Hoping to catch up soon.
John relates an experience where he could see how CI gets into “the language parts of the brains”. It’s excellent:
I just wanted to share what I experienced during a camping trip this week with my 7th graders, all of whom have studied Latin with me for less than one school year, 4 days a week. On this trip, I heard SO MUCH spontaneous Latin. When they were engaged in a fun activity and were asked questions, almost inevitably you could hear a few loud shouts of “ita” (yes) “minime” (no), “res absurda” (that’s ridiculous), etc. It just fell out of their mouths. For one activity, they had to create a word scavenger hunt using compass ortienteering directions (e.g. 75 paces at 130 degrees from North) for each letter, and one of the groups–the troublemakers–chose a Latin word, “ianua” (door). These students have also been studying Spanish or Mandarin for 3 years, but I heard little to none of these languages. It really re-affirms for me that I am getting through to the language parts of their brains, when they resort to Latin when they want to express enthusiasm and joy. When I said goodbye to the group, I was sent off with a giant chorus of “vale magister” (goodbye teacher).
Chill sent this for the Latinists if they haven’t seen it already, which was originally posted on Laurie’s embedded reading blog, to prove how small the world really is:
Even if we can’t read Latin, the site is nevertheless worth a visit, as many of us have probably never seen so much Latin in one place.
We should also put our minds to getting real with Embedded Reading while we’re at it. Most of us still need training on it, I would guess, and as I understand it Laurie and Michele are both presenting on the topic both in Dallas and San Diego this summer. So go here:
David has shared a video. I really appreciate the thorough explanation of what is going on, his self reflection, and the general way he presents it, which could serve as a model for all of us if and when we choose to share our own work with others here.
Thank you David!
I have uploaded a video to Vimeo, this one asking a story in my Latin 3 class.
Here’s the link: https://vimeo.com/65488023
Use the password: maust753
Recently I put together a story that used a conditional statement and took a little video of the story formation process. I have two students in this class on home teaching and we have been videoing some in class for them to watch at home. I had also put the video up for some of our Latin cadre to see, and Ben encouraged me to post it for the PLC.
Bob Patrick, in a private email thread among the Latinists about sharing video, or not, with the Latin Best Practices (LBP) online group, memorably said:
When Latinteach was the main/only venue for Latin teachers, I often would share what I was trying and urging others to try there. I never shared a video of me teaching. I did offer short scripts of what I was doing,and without fail, one of the grammar police would attack. I remember once sending a script of what had happened in class that day in which I was circling ut purpose clauses. I made the mistake of using “vel” rather than “an” in my question for did someone go here to do this or to do that?
I want to keep the Latin discussion front and center. I am beginning to see that there is some unique stuff going on right now. Churning beneath the waters. In a small part of the ocean. That few have noticed yet. But will.
There are about seven vocal Classicists in our group and they are impacting how people view and relate to the Classic writers and the Classic languages in ways we cannot know yet, in my opinion. They are gadflies. Pucks.
About twenty five languages disappear each year on the planet. I find it interesting, however, that when we say disappear, we mean simply that no one is speaking it. It didn’t disappear, it’s just asleep. We have talked about this in relation to the Sauk language, which is a category here, if you want to pick that up. Languages cannot die, in the above sense.