Latin Video from David Maust

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19 thoughts on “Latin Video from David Maust”

  1. That guy with the hoodie was the very model of a shy teenager. I don’t know Latin, but I could here the reps on the structures. You’ve grown a lot since Las Vegas, David. The kids knew some Latin! You have a kind of built in sense of play with the words, of connecting voice tonalities to funny ideas. It was relaxed and flowing and in the target language with very little English and you stayed in bounds. My critique is what I learned from Von that same conference about Checking for Understanding, and also what was the focus of every kid? I heard side talking. Other than that, it was a nice successful video and thank you for sharing it. Other comments? What did we see?

    1. Ben, thanks so much for the encouragement and critique. I have to admit, I just had fun with this script and really enjoyed the suggestions the kids made. The kids were committed to their choices and owned them and that always makes the story flow well.

      We had done PQA the day before on the structures, then made the first location of the story. I was enjoying the kid being at the back of the room so much, just walking around back there like he had nothing better to do that just pace around. I thought it was hilarious (some kids did, some didn’t) and had the character in each period do that. I felt it gave a cool 3rd dimension to being in the language and was somehow like being “there,” in the story.

      So in this class, after the first location we took a brain break and I got out the video camera and filmed me doing a retell of the story and then the making of the second location, mainly because I liked the vibe of the kid walking around and us pointing at him, talking about him.

      And James, that’s why the structures aren’t up on the board – because they were earlier and we had a lot of reps already.

      I agree Ben, there was too much side talking. Usually this particular class (Latin 2) is pretty good about focus, but on this day, by this point in the block period they were losing attention and I just wasn’t on top of hushing them up well. Actually, this whole year so far has had a rocky start for me with classroom management and talking, all periods seem to have good and bad days, except for my 1st period Latin 1 which is super quiet and I’m getting great reps.

      Maybe it’s because we started two weeks earlier this year than we used to? Maybe it’s because I’m working with 2 mixed level classes (levels 2,3,4) of 40 kids (these two classes are tough ones, especially because the older kids are more lax with talking and interupting). I have a pretty rowdy Latin 1 sixth period too; lots of great personalities, but lots of heavy blurters and anxious energy.

      Whatever it is, the mojo has just been off and the only thing that seems to help is going slower and keeping in bounds (the biggest factors really), beginning each day with a reminder about the rules, strict jGR grades, moving seats, etc.

      Thanks for posting and for the feedback too! -David

      1. …lots of heavy blurters and anxious energy….

        In my opinion this is your main area of work and focus this year David, the side talking. Don’t allow any of that. I did for the first 10 or so of the 13 years I have been doing this work and I do think it takes years to find whatever it is within us that calls bullshit and stops such behavior in our classroom.

        It certainly doesn’t help that you have all those huge classes out there in CA although that one didn’t look that big. Comments from others on this topic of blurting and side talking? Let’s discuss this. There are posts here somewhere.

        What’s the first thing we must do to get the side comments stopped? There should be no chatter and I think it is not so much about technique but finding something inside us that stops it in our classrooms.

        Of course, the answer to the problem is to stop the first blurt and go not a step further into the class. It’s like a series of very small brush fires in the field we are standing in. If we don’t stomp out the first one we will soon have a classroom that is burning up all the comprehensible input

        Comprehensible input is directed straight at the unconscious mind. There is no focus on anything analytical, the words, the parts of speech, etc. All the input is processed unconsciously and the focus is on the meaning. But if we allow side talking the unconscious mind can no more do its work of processing the new input than a person can watch a movie in a crowded theatre in which everyone is talking leisurely out loud about other things.

        I think honestly that the reason those Classroom Rules exist was mainly exactly because of blurting and side talking. All the work I was doing, all the intense passion for trying to make this way of teaching work in my own classroom (a process that is never ending), it all hinged on enforcing those Classroom Rules with the laser pointer at each single offense.

        Once I started truly enforcing those rules, my life changed in this work. I just had to learn to smile patiently, wait, point the laser at the set of rules on the wall, look at the kid, expect the change, and, if it was not forthcoming, pursue that kid via phone calls, conversations in the hall, looks during class that had a bitchy edge inside my smile somewhere, and then, when it happened again, do it again.


        1. Ben, thanks for the intervention. I’m re-norming today.

          I made a series of consequences for when I have to stop and tell anyone to follow a rule, any rule. If I have to redirect a person and say their name, then they receive a consequence:

          1st offense – I hold them 10 min. during Embedded Support and they do an activity (translate a passage or something boring).

          2nd offense – I hold them 20 min during Embedded Support and they do an activity.

          -3rd offense – All the above and call home.

          -4th offense – All the above and removal to another room or outside (for a time) and assigned 40 min. after school detention

          ***”Embedded Support” is a release time of 20 min. at the end of our block period – teacher’s discretion for release; for now I’m just making my release time a detention time to re-norm)

          I usually don’t like assigning detention, but quite frankly I am in a “state of emergency” until things are re-normed.

          Maybe next semester I can change consequences if needed.

          So far my first period of the day was awesome. 6 kids blurted or put heads down and were given either 10 min. or 20 min. at Embedded Support. I also had a chance to explain choral responding vs. when I ask for information and am looking for cute answers from those with raised hands.

          Also, the movie theater analogy was great; the kids seemed to understand that one.

          Thanks, and will keep you all updated.

          1. Do keep us updated. That is definitely a focus for me this year as well – cutting ALL side talking. Thinking of standing there with a clipboard and making hashmarks that will lower their interpersonal grade. Might do it. The chances of me actually carrying through with it consistently, though, are slim. I think Ben is right – it’s more a function of finding the authority within ourselves and the understanding that, wait a second, this is all going to be IMPOSSIBLE is the son of a gun in the corner keeps talking! We have got to really consistently believe it and model it ourselves.

          2. Side conversations are not always an issue, but when they are…. it’s like a brush fire that become a massive wildfire in seconds. One of the tools I have was shared with me by my former county department head David Jahner. He calls it “Bell Procedure” but I call it a job: Bell Keeper. The Bell Keeper is the person responsible for keeping us on topic (I cannot remember the job you’ve listed here that does this).

            The Bell keeper keeps a bell like one might see at a hotel reception desk. Any time there are side conversations or we go off topic, they ring it once. The class knows that is my signal for coming back together and if they don’t, there will be consequences. We practice the bell rule each time it doesn’t work until they get it perfect and the classes take pride in being the “best class” to respond to the bell. It becomes kind of like a competition to see which class is best and meeting the bell rule.

  2. David,

    Thanks so much for posting this video! Whenever I see a new video here I feel like a man in a desert who has just found some water.

    What level class is this? I ask because I didn’t hear much traditional circling. Like structured “yes/no, then either/or, then yes/no, then who/what/where/when/why/how”-type questioning.

    I heard some “either/or” and some “yes/no,” but I am wondering if as a class everyone processes well enough to where you don’t need to hear from them a choral response. I speak as an inexperienced CIer who still takes satisfaction in a nice round of circling new vocabulary with his seniors!

    And are the new structures written on the board? Maybe some point/pause along with some “what did I just say?” would get at the checking for understanding which Ben mentioned.

    Again, thank you SO MUCH David! You have always been one of the bravest with this “video of live classes” thing.

  3. Thanks James,

    It’s Latin 2, and yes I should have been doing more comp. checks and circling. Part of the reason there is less is because it’s a retell, and energy was waning on everyone’s part toward the end of the block period.

    But I AM a huge believer in the necessity of the choral response, and overall I have been hitting hard on demanding that this year, even though you wouldn’t see that from this video.

    Dan Navar had mentioned to me in an email that he’s been trying to get his characters more into the stories, and that is an area I want to work on too. Getting the kids to be expressive, if not with words, even with gestures really helps draw focus to meaning.

  4. On the blurting and side convos. I am dealing with this right now in a second year class. It partially my fault because I didn’t norm them well last year. But it’s also just that kind of a mix of students, if you know what I mean, well meaning but loud and social with a somewhat “bitchy edge”.

    The last couple of days I have been trying something with them that I like because it lets me call them out in a way I enjoy. I’ll simply keep repeating what they talked over again and again until I am able to say it in absolute silence. In between doing so I’ll say directly to the offenders, “I’m not moving on until I am sure everyone has heard. Please stop talking/turn around/whatever.” This is nice because it gets more reps (HA!) but also makes them the enemies of the rest of the class who gets tired of being treated like babies because a couple of their fellows are choosing to act like babies. I do all of this with a smile on my face, of course, and actually enjoy myself.

    1. Yes, anything that gets another rep makes me happy, too. Dictation, Listen & Draw, and probably some other activities I’ve forgotten make students actually ask me for another time through. It always makes me happy! I wonder if the kids can tell.

  5. Thanks James, I always appreciate your ideas. Sounds good for a small percentage of blurters within a group that is mature. My situation however, is more dire – I don’t think anyone would even be able to hear me in some instances if I did this, and wouldn’t care even if they could. Talking to their friend in English is way more important to them.

    I have to go for the big guns of “hard time” until I re-norm.

    I’m not at the positive tipping point… I’m at the negative one. Hopefully I will emerge on the “other side” soon.


  6. David, James, Ben, et al.,

    You are all so correct. Without enforcing the rule and having the kids do what they are supposed, we lose everything. I too began to norm and renorm my classes. I had one class today,(same infamous class from last year) that just didn’t get it . I had to constantly stop and point to the rules. I stopped a tons of times. I made them shut up. I made them respect me. I made them do what they were supposed to do. They should do it. No, they must do it.

    I am so worried about covering stuff and making sure we read from the textbook. I am going to stop that. I’m going to focus on getting the class where I want them. They cannot learn a thing if they aren’t doing what they are supposed to do.

    I do have a question. When you have to talk to them, do you also follow it up with a low JGR grade for the day or the week? I was thinking that we must do both of those things. We must follow it up with hard hitting responses so that they understand that we are serious. I am also finding that I have to do this to even the “good” kids who get everything, but think the rules don’t apply to them because they are special. We can’t have that. NO, I can’t have that. The other students must feel like we hold everyone to the same standard and we should, right?

  7. David, I had an issue with my students having side conversations so I made it a competition to see which class could go the longest without speaking any English (found in jobs sections). I just started it this week. The winning class will be rewarded with a movie day, something they know I am completely against which adds to their motivation, I think. Of course my honors class is at 18 mins, one class is at 7 and the other is at 12. It has been like night/day difference this week and I haven’t pulled any hair out. =) haha. Maybe, in your mixed classes you could make it a competition between the different levels?

  8. Thanks Erica,

    I thought about this, but I think for my situation right now, my kids just need a strict dose of, “this is what we are doing and there is a negative consequence for YOU, if YOU don’t do it.” I feel like trying to make a competition for the class out of it won’t be fair to the kids who already are doing what they are supposed to be doing – and I don’t want to single out a particular student who talks and have the rest of the class saying – “that kid ruined it for us.” If the student receives a personal consequence for their actions, they only ruined something for him or herself, not for the whole class.

    Plus, my Latin 1 class 1st period can go 25 – 30 min. easily with no English interruptions (I have a timer kid), but that’s about as long as we can go without needing a short brainbreak and usually I stop the timer because I see kids starting to fade.

    STATUS REPORT at end of Day One: All three block periods did awesome! Block 1 (mixed level) had 6 people get time during Embedded Support (mostly seniors who have had bad norming in the past); Block 2 had only two kids who tried to have a side conversation; Block 3 had one student who put her head down.

    I commended everyone and I could sense that a lot of kids were happy about having a quieter, less chaotic class period.

  9. More on that second year class I mentioned earlier in this thread. Same old same old today. Well, not really, actually. They didn’t blurt or have many side conversations, but that bitchy edge sure was in full force. It’s like an invisible battle between two sides is always going on in the room, especially when we are asking stories. On the one side are the eye rollers and on the other side are me and a few others. This is really that passive aggressive archetype class that we all know.

    I know it must be because of them and not me, because this is THE ONLY class in which this dynamic exists.

    I was not overwhelmed with anger today, though. Instead, what struck me was a sadness for what could have been. We could be having so much fun; I can see it just over there. But we aren’t and we probably won’t for this whole year. It was a kind of melancholic. It was actually comforting that I didn’t start flailing in front of them. I just stood there melancholic and got my reps. I made them stay quiet and respond, that was the very least I could do. I couldn’t make them have fun. I couldn’t make them buy in. I’m glad I realized that in the moment and just made them be respectful and listen to my (not their, oh well!) reps.

    And I don’t even really care. I’m not letting it into my emotions any further than to say simply, “Oh well…”. If they want their class to be like that, well I guess they can make that choice. Those students who are with me can suffer with me too. We’ll be the better for it, I think.

    1. Sounds like a great perspective to me. Perhaps they will change over time. If not, you’re good to go.
      My unpleasant class of 7th graders last year has turned into a much better class of 8th graders – some of the dominant personalities now seem to “get” what we’re doing & enjoy themselves in conversation. It’s a significant shift. They took a long time to change.

  10. James,
    It seems like you have made a very important insight that will help you to cope with the difficulties that we all face in the CI classroom. This makes me think of two important and interrelated points we need to remind ourselves of frequently:
    1. we are not clowns
    2. you can’t get blood from a stone.

    This is to say, if a class is funny, animated and focused, we have facilitated that, and we can enjoy it, but it really comes, and should come, from the classroom dynamic, not from us. If there are even a few students who have nothing to bring to class but negativity, we cannot take on the burden of making it a positive class. We can’t conjure up goodwill when there is a serious lack of it in a class. We should not feel guilty about this. We should focus on providing CI, and giving those students an opportunity to practice a very important skill: respectful and attentive listening. It is a bummer for the student who “show up,” but even they will appreciate the calm that comes from our enforcing of the rules, even if it won’t be the most entertaining class. This is not our fault, we are making the best of the hand we are dealt. Once we can let go of that need to create a perfect CI classroom, we can be more centered, enjoy the great classes, and not let the more difficult characters ruin our day, because we are here to teach them as well–they need something else from us, something that is just as important.

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