What To Do Next?

[It is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind… Thanks to an amazing CI Curriculum Picinic on Saturday with Tina Hargaden and Kaitlin Leppert, I have done just that. I am now editing my Latin II plans to focus on Roman values through cycles of description, narration, informational and opinion writing.]

I’ve basically completed my plan for Latin I next year – and assuming all goes well – a few more years, too. I’m sure there will be changes, but I’m happy with the overall plan. It is a nice balance of CI activities and targeted vocabulary by themes (as part of the county curriculum). If you’d like to take a look, I invite you to check out the outline (by theme) under Latin I on the top menu.

Now, onto Latin II…

To be honest, I hate teaching Latin II. Not the students. I like them. Not really the curriculum either – I love teaching about the Trojan War, Romulus and the Roman kings, and Hannibal through the Gracchi brothers. I hate the grammar, the rush of trying to get students from the “fun and ease” of Latin I to the really cool “real Latin” of Latin III. That leap to “real Latin” is a killer. And, Latin II is where it is supposed to happen. All of a sudden, the students are required to remember everything, or most of everything, from Latin I (summer be damned) and then double, almost triple the amount of vocabulary and grammatical concepts before the first days of Latin III. It is plain ridiculous.

I have long felt that Latin I is a good blend of Novice Mid students, with a handful of Novice High students by the end of the school year. Latin III takes off from an Intermediate Mid level and is ideally supposed to end with students in the Intermediate High range. That way, students are set for AP Latin within a another year – Latin IV being mostly authentic, unaltered Latin from various genres. This all leaves Latin II taking students from a Novice Mid level to an Intermediate Mid level. Hell, I’m usually thrilled if students end the Latin II year at a Novice High level. As I stated above, and I’ll reiterate, IT IS PLAIN RIDICULOUS!

Anyways, this is what our curriculum requests. So, my dilemma this year is finding a balance between CI and this RIDICULOUS expectation.

I’ve been writing out idea after idea in my little notebook… tweaking the ideas until they inevitably crash and burn, as Latin II is wont to do. Tina Hargaden is working on a new book, Stepping Stones: Beyond Year One, which I’m eagerly anticipating… hoping I can mesh CI and my curriculum with suggestions from the book for Latin II (and maybe Latin III) as I have done with Latin I and ANATTY (A Natural Approach to the Year).

Until then, I think I’ve settled on the best plan as I can manage:

Free Voluntary Reading from the get-go. Every other day. 10 minutes.

Use the first semester to ease back from summer with a lot of repetitive vocabulary from Latin I and similar personal themes (wants, needs, daily routines, etc.), allowing for an expansion upon what they remember and learned previously, without a lot of new expectations and still focused on themselves. Then, moving onto some broad themes – war, immigration, and beginnings – that deal with current and past events and can be personalized with opinions and experiences. This will also allow me to introduce and discuss the necessary curriculum units on the Trojan War, Romulus and the foundation of Rome, as well as the Roman kings.

The second semester… I’m still planning… but, I hope to further expand the broad themes from the first semester to focus on Hannibal and the Punic Wars. Lastly, I’m looking to move onto politics and leadership as broad themes – both recycling the first semester’s themes and topics, along with the students’ own opinions, experiences, and current events.

I’m not sure how well this is going to work, overall, but I do like the idea of introducing opinions and experiences into controversial topics/themes. As far as compelling, I am curious if my students will find it as engaging as I think they will. Having an opinion is a teenager’s life…

To get the grammar covered, I’m going to make a concerted effort to use advanced grammar more and more, comprehensibly, in context, during our daily communications.

By the way, my ideal plan would be to basically use the Latin I lesson plans, with some new activities, and focus on more “advanced” grammatical constructions in my communication. Keeping the vocabulary sheltered and letting students play more with the “advanced” grammar, comprehensibly, seems to me an ideal transition from Latin I to Latin III. Alas, this is not an option.

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