The Three R’s of Education

No, it’s not Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic… in my case, it is Reading, Research, and Recovery. I am still recovering from my surgery and in my boredom (there is really only so much daytime television a sane person can watch without losing their mind) I finally decided to purchase and read some of the most recommended books on CI skills, strategies, and tools.

I purchased A Natural Approach to the Year (ANATTY to those in the know) by Tina Hargaden and Ben Slavic and The Big CI Book by Ben Slavic through Ben Slavic’s website. I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email from Ben Slavic after my purchase with even more suggestions on what to read and in what order to read them and the why and how to use of each book I purchased. If that isn’t great customer service, I don’t know what is. I’m already interested in CI, which is why I tracked down these books, but even if I wasn’t, just knowing that folks care this much about helping new-comers get the most from their research and knowledge means everything.

I am just beginning to pick through the books I purchased, but already, I’ve gleaned a few gems that have me rethinking how to start the next school year with more CI and set the tone for my classes in the first week.

Here’s my takeaway and how I intend to use these to start the year off on the right foot.

Calendar Talk – sometimes called Small Talk, an introduction to the “goal” of class and an easy, predictable way to begin class in the target language

Here’s where I’m thinking of starting the year: 

Teacher: Hodie est dies Lunae. (I write “dies Lunae” out on a blank calendar-like grid as I repeat the sentence slowly.)

Discipuli: Wow! (conditioning response from the class to a statement)

Teacher: Est mensis Augustus. (wow!) Augustus Sextilis vocabatur. (wow!) (I write “Augustus” and “aka Sextilis” also on the grid.)

Teacher: (I write the numeral for today’s date on the grid.) Qualis numerus diei est? 

Discipuli: 12! (Until comfortable with numbers, I fully expect students to answer in English.)

Teacher: Ita vero, discipuli, numerus diei est duodecim. (I write the cardinal number under the numeral on the grid.) XII est duodecim. (wow!) Hodie est dies Lunae et numerus diei est duodecim Augusti. (wow!)

As the year progresses, I hope to introduce both “heri erat” and “cras erit”, ordinals (primus, secundus, tertius, etc.) as well as tie-in the calendar talk to holidays, current events, weather, etc.

Circling – the basic principle of circling is repeating the target vocabulary as many times and in as many contexts as possible, remaining understandable


Here’s an example I plan to start the first day of class with:

Teacher: Salve, mihi nomen est Magistra Berg. (I look at student’s name card on their desk. Writing their name on their card is their first bell-ringer of the year.) Tibi nomen est John. Discipuli, ei nomen est John.

Discipuli: Wow!

Teacher: Mihi nomen est Magistra Berg. (wow!) Quid tibi nomen est?

Discipulus: John.

Teacher: Ita vero, tibi nomen est John. (wow!) Discipuli, estne ei nomen Joe aut John?

Discipuli: John!

Teacher: Ita vero, ei nomen est John (wow!) Estne ei nomen Mary?

Discipuli: No! (I don’t expect them to know this word in Latin today, although I will have “ita vero = yes” and “minime = no” on the desk cards if they happen to notice those on the first day.)

Teacher: Minime, ei nomen non est Mary. (wow!) Quid tibi nomen est? Tibi nomen est John. (wow!)

Then, I move onto another student and repeat the exchange.

Can you guess at what my target vocabulary (one of the first gems I picked up from both of the books is that in an ideal situation, I would not need to or set target vocabulary, but since I’m still in a system of targeted vocabulary and grammar by year, this is a reality for me) for the first day might be? Hint: Two of them are the two words they’ll see the most often in class (at the top of almost every worksheet/paper I will be giving them: “nomen” and “dies”.

[Side note: I still haven’t decided in what order I want to be doing these two activities on the first day.]

Finally, both of these books mention Rejoinders (the teacher says one part of the phrase and the students speak the other half of the phrase) as a way to get the class transitioned from English instruction to Latin instruction. Luckily, some other enterprising Latin teachers, Lance Piantaggini and Jenn Jarnagin, compiled a list of some cool ones to use…

My favorites:

sum stulta ==> mea culpa
nescio ==> cicero
O tempora! ==> O mores!
Post culinam ==> ad latrinam?
Mica, mica ==> parva stella!

For a complete list, see John Piazza’s page.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s