Well, our first week of school is done.
Here’s an overview of what we did in class (Latin I – I do teach a total of 5 preps of Latin, from Latin I through AP Latin). We are on an A/B block schedule, so I only saw the students three times this week, for about an hour and a half each day. The next three posts will each encompass one day of this first week, with an in-depth look at what I did each day and my reflections.
I started class with white card stock and a student questionnaire on the desks. I stood at the door to greet my new students. I handed each student a creature card (similar to Martina Bex’s character cards) to match at the desk which became their seat for the day. While I got myself settled and the minutiae of the class done after the bell rang, the students made name cards, on the card stock, and worked on answering the student questionnaire.
After a few minutes, I began with taking roll. I refer to roll as numeratio, a Roman military term. I placed desk dictionaries on the corner of each desk beside the creature card for students to reference as necessary for quick “memorized” responses and routines.
Following numeratio, I taught the students my call-and-response for the first quarter. As well as the basics of the gestures involved and my expectations regarding their participation with the response, I also took a moment to teach them the when and why of call-and-response activities.
Next, we took a quick “tour” of the classroom, in English, to draw their attention to necessary references (the word walls, our question stop light, the cell phone holder, and class rules). We spent a lot of time on their basic jobs – listen to understand and participate in class activities – as well as mine – communicate clearly. We quickly went over the finer points of those jobs and rules, aka reminders, to help them do their jobs.
I then asked the students to do a Partner Retell activity with each other about what things were where and what their jobs are and what my job is.
Before class ended, I introduced a simple conversation: Hello. My name is… It is nice to meet you. We wrote the conversation out in Latin, practiced each part of it, then I walked around the classroom and held a conversation with each student. A few times, I wandered off a bit from my scripted conversation to ask students a question about themselves. Most of the questions I asked were about their family and if I knew or taught a sibling (I teach a lot of siblings/family dynasties).
To end class, I did a very basic circling of some students’ names and I asked the class a few specific questions about the non-scripted words I used during our introductions. Students answered on their whiteboards, which I held up as visual guides to meaning, as I finished class in the target language.
I spoke too fast. I forgot that going slow would be overly “painful” for me. It was. It felt unnatural, so I sped up. Mea culpa.
I was organized in first block (kept to the scripted conversation better, with only a few expanded conversations), but got easily side-tracked and a bit too chaotic with last block. I did not stay in bounds in either class, but was much worse in last block. I’m not 100% positive that my best choice was to go outside the scripted conversation the first day. Though, most students mentioned at the start of day 2, that they loved the first day!
I felt rushed. I need to remember to breathe. I forgot about brain breaks – we should have done at least one. It would have been better for us all. Some students were obviously struggling to catch up and though I noted it, I didn’t react appropriately, slow down, or check for comprehension as often as I needed to.
I forgot that quality understandable input is better than quantity (of less) understandable input. I tried to get too many words, too much Latin, in on the first day.
I can do better!
[An overview of Day 2 and my reflections on how that day went will be posted by Monday noon.]