Report from the Field – Bob Patrick

From Bob Patrick:

I want to share what I did with Latin 1 students last week, combing several CI approaches, and it was a very easy lesson. Part of why it was a very easy lesson is because I have been doing this long enough now to begin to relax into it and let it be the simple, easy work that it can be.  Part of why it was easy is because I have simply spent time making lots of mistakes, doing classes that were less than perfect, ending the day and going:  oh, so NOW I know what I should have done.

Three foundations of success:  bold design, frequent practice and frequent mistakes. – Ancient Celtic Proverb

So, I had written on the board before they came in the verbs Adesse, abesse, agere, habere, dicere, and I had them in second singular (in a column) first singular (in a column, and third singular.  None of these were new words. My aim was to make it easy for them to move in and out of various persons without stress and having to think about it. I didn’t tell them that.  I told them we were going to talk today, and I was going to show them a new way to say yes and no (because it can be done in Latin in so many ways).

This combined PQA, point and pause, TPR, some influence of circling with balls, and some initial asking of stories (but PQA can do that, too).

I had a box and a sack of stuffed animals.  My collection includes canis, feles, asinus, papilio, pistrix, lutra (otter), ursa and a catulus.  Students did not know what was in the box and sack.

I started by establishing the meaning of each word on the board–simply pointing to each, and asking for a choral response in English.

I called on a student and asked:  Adestne Sally?  Student responded:  Sally abest.  I asked several students about whether another student was here or not.  Some were, some not, so they got to practice with the two verbs and noticed that they could say abest AND non adest.  I also asked a few students “adesne?”  If they hesitated, I walked to the board and pointed to “adsum”.

After several of those, I asked a student agisne autoraedam?  She said “certe”.  I stopped and in English told her that certe was fine, but so could also simply say (and I walked and pointed to it on the board) ago.  I asked several students about  whether they drove a care, a bicycle, or whether they traveled (vehisne) by horse, buss, truck, car or bicycle.  I had to add vehis and veho to the side of the board as “icing vocabulary”.

Then, after a student answered, I told him/her to stand up and walk toward me.  Then, I told him/her to choose something from the sack or box (all in Latin, TPR commands from the first month of school. He/she would choose an animal.  I would name it:  ah papilio!  I would ask: quid papillio dicit? If they couldn’t come up with a sound that the butterfly made, I made one up.  Then, I told them to carry the animal back to their seat and sit down.

I asked the next person:  habesne papilionem?  I knew the answer would be no.  The first time, the student said minime.  I paused and said in English:  good. you can say minime, or you can say: non habeo.  That set the pattern for the rest of the class.  The rest of the class was asking if a student had a particular animal (one already chosen and in the room).  Who had the animal?  What the animal says.  If the animal drives a car, or a bicycle.

By the end of the class, there was plenty of material “in the air” to start some crazy stories, but then, time was up.

This was so easy, and we had a lot of fun.  To be honest, I think this was largely easy and fun because I allowed myself to let it be easy and fun.

that’s been a long time in coming.




3 thoughts on “Report from the Field – Bob Patrick”

  1. Hi Bob,

    I think I got the idea – but can you clarify what adestne and its similar verb forms means, and what habesne means?
    I think you had a bunch of animals and they would draw one out, then ask the student what that animal says (either letting the student make up a sound or you created one), how it travels (giving options), and introducing saying “yes” or “no” by using positive and negative forms of the same verb as the question. Latin has words for yes and no but also uses verb forms as yes/no too? (That’s what Chinese has, +- verb forms for yes and no.)

    Holding stuffed animals is highly appealing in my classroom. Anything with the classroom mascots engages interest around here. I have to be careful with when/how they get to hold them because they’re like a drug! Almost as powerful as eating something in class. I love using them and I like the idea of using them in another way. I’m going to introduce “talk, speak” in 5th grade soon. They’ve already seen a Chinese cover of “What Does the Fox Say” which goes nicely with this.

    1. adestne = is he/she here, or near? So, by asking adestne ursa? I am saying–is the bear here? Is the bear present? Then, I would turn and ask: Fred habet ursam? Does Fred have the bear? (knowing full well that Sally has the bear). And so forth. I was circling the possibility of not only responding “minime” (no) but a more Latiny way of responding: non habet (he doesn’t have it).

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