Thursday, January 26, 2017

Resources & Variants: Surrender On Six

Salvēte omnēs!

Today's post introduces an ongoing series that I think many in the blogging community will appreciate. I'm calling it 'Resources & Variants', or 'R&V' for short. These posts will take another look at an activity or idea that can be found on someone else's blog and offer up something to make it easier for a teacher to implement in their classroom (resources), and provide options to help fit the activity with your class or help keep things interesting when returning to the activity over and over (variants).

So, the awesome activity on the docket today is 'Surrender on Six', which Keith Toda learned from  two other teachers at his school, including Pomegranate Beginnings' Miriam Patrick. If you aren't familiar with it or want a refresh, here's Keith's original post:

The resources I have to share with you are pretty simple, but anything helps, right? The first one is for students to use, and the second is for you as the teacher to set up the activity effectively.

First, if your students have access to technology, you can have them 'roll the die' using this handy feature from I am fortunate that my students have access to laptops every day, and I like using this type of rolling for the activity, for a few reasons:

  1. It makes easier for me to supervise - you can read the roll from across the room instead of having to be perched over the top of a group's table. 
  2. It prevents students from doing things with the die that you'd rather they not do. Things like try to cheat the roll, keep it away from another student, roll it onto the floor each time, etc. Manipulatives are great, but experienced teachers know that sometimes they can cause issues that aren't really worth it. In my opinion, this is one of those times.
  3. You can assign responsible students to be the 'roller' who clicks the button each time. Each group will need 2 'rollers', a primary and a backup (for when the primary is busying writing!) A single person clicking goes much quicker than a group of people rolling a physical die, so it really speeds things up!
Next up:
Follow this link to get a template for creating the answer sheets students use during the activity. Hopefully the directions below will help you print them easily! 😄

First, highlight all the cells on the sheet:

Now click File > Print.

Set your Print Settings like this:
  • Options: Selection
  • Layout: Actual Size & Landscape
  • None of the boxes checked

Then click the blue Print button on the lower left (highlighted in red).

Now you've got a screen that looks like this:

You should see something that has a page break (like where the orange arrow points).

Check the box for 'Two-sided'.

Click the blue Print button at the top.

This will print out double-sided sheets with your entire answer document. Yeah!

I've included 3 styles of answer sheet. You can choose the one you want using the tabs at the bottom:

  1. A simple vocabulary-only template. 
  2. A template to play 'sentence-style' as Keith describes as his post-reading CI-variant. 
  3. A template with an in-line place to keep track of points. I use this one for a variant on Keith's variant. Variant, you say? Sure! Let's move on to that section of the post, where you can find little twists to keep your students on their toes. 


Bonus Point Scoring Variant:
This is the slight twist on Keith's CI variant, where each word in a sentence is worth a point. I created it as an incentive for students to try entire sentences and as a way to add bonus points to the activity, since everyone loves bonus points more than regular points. 😋 Each word in a sentence is still worth 1 point, but a complete sentence is worth a bonus point! 

Rainbow Rounds:
I really like to do this format. I will set a timer for a period of 7 to 10 mintues and the students compete using a specific colored marker. I have a pretty substantial number and variety of Sharpies in my classroom, including more fine and ultra fine tips than any one person should own, so I will hand a red marker to each team for the first round, the 'Red Round'. The second round could be 'Orange Round', etc. Using this format, we can usually play 3 to 4 rounds per class period and declare winners within each group, plus a winning group for each round, plus an overall winning student, plus an overall winning group. At the end, the papers look beautiful.

Other awesome of Rainbow Rounds:
  • When I review the sheets, I learn a lot about what is easy for students and what is not. Those things that are the easiest will come earlier in the rainbow, and you can see patterns where students skip over things, leaving them as some of the few things left to answer toward the end of the rainbow. 
  • Chunking the class period into rounds allows you to add some flexibility to your lesson. If you need to work with a small group of students, or an individual student, they can sit out for one round, get the time or assistance they need, and still get a chance to play the other rounds. 
This variant involves the team keeping track of the rolls a little bit, so it is best played once your students know the game well. If three consecutive students roll a '1', all three students get to write one thing before passing the writing utensil/magic marker back to the person who earned it with the '6' roll. So if you're playing 'sentence-style', that means they write one sentence apiece, if you're playing vocabulary words alone, that means they write one definition apiece.

Numerus Bestiae: 
Caveat - This one may not be for everyone. Knowing your students, parents, school, administrators, and community is an important part of creating a micro-culture of learning within your classroom that fits into the greater culture. Just like the previous variant, it involves students keeping track of the consecutive rolls. If three consecutive students roll a '6', the entire group shouts, 'Numerus Bestiae!' in their most evil voices (because 666 is the number of the beast). Then you, as the teacher, do something evil. You declare that all Latin words containing the letters 's' 'e' & 'x' do not count for this round and students resume playing. Depending on what Latin is in your activity that day, that could be a lot of the words! In addition to thinking about the first caveat with this variant, I would double-check my word/sentence list to make sure the activity is still feasible after removing those words. 

Connect Four:
Yes indeed, another one with numbers, but this time there's no tracking of rolls. Instead, students are rewarded for getting consecutive lines on the answer sheet correct. If a student correctly answers four lines in a row, they earn a bonus point. To see how that works, take a look at this example:

You will see that you begin counting from the top of a column. You cannot connect four across the columns. 
This answer sheet would earn a bonus for laetus - lupus and magistra - mater. Notice how once a word counts in one group of four, it does not count in another. In other words, even though the four answers from leo through magistra are correct, the groups of four can't overlap and those connections won't count. 

Wrapping Up:

Feedback, feedback, feedback! Hopefully this kind of post is useful. If it is, please let me know via social media or the comments. I do plan on repeating this format with other CI activities in the future, so if you have suggestions for which activities would be good for a second look, shoot those my way too. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Write or Wait

'Write or Wait' is a listening and writing activity to use with students when reading new material with them. It is useful as a substitute for a traditional Dictatio, a topic that Rachel Ash wrote about earlier this week. I like to think of this activity as a cross between ‘Read, Discuss, & Draw’ and a Dictatio. It isn’t precisely, but it has the feature of a Dictatio where you’re asking students to listen and write without seeing the Latin. It also reminds me of ‘Read, Discuss, & Draw’ in that the way the lesson flows with class involves a big allowance for the ‘Discuss’ portion - where the teacher clarifies meaning, uses circling techniques, perhaps calls up actors, and ensures that students understand before moving on. And if you regularly use embedded readings, the sweet spot for this activity is probably with the Tier 2 reading. 

Before we get to the good stuff, the usual ‘Scrambled Eggs’ caveat applies - I think I created this activity, but if not, please direct me to the originator so I can give them credit. If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, you can read up on what went through Paul McCartney’s mind when he first played “Yesterday” here. In any case, I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve gotten this activity from someone else, so speak up if you can help out. 

The basic idea is that the students have a choice to write or wait. 
  1. If a student has chosen write, they will try to write the entire sentence in Latin as you read it out loud. 
  2. If a student has chosen to wait, they cannot write until after you’ve written the sentence yourself. 
  1. You need a short piece of story (between 5-10 sentences is a good amount) that students haven’t read before. The activity really doesn’t work as well with seen material. I will explain why in a bit. 
  2. You also need the ability to write or project the story ‘live’. I typically use a blank Google Document for this with the font enlarged. But I think this activity could work with old-fashioned writing on the board if you have enough space. 
  3. Print that short piece of a story out so you have a copy to read for yourself.
  4. ***Spice Alert***🌶🌶🌶 To keep things interesting, I use stickers to give to the students that represent their two options - Write or Wait. I really prefer stickers that come in rolls rather than sheets for this. But before you pick some stickers, you will need to think about how to deploy them: 
    1. You can give them blank stickers of 2 different colors (like these) and have them add the words ‘write’ or ‘wait.' 
    2. You can give them blank colorful ones and then use a ‘fun’ type of sticker for the second option. Disclaimer - this is my preference.
    3. You can give them 2 different fun stickers, like these. The difficulty here can be for students to remember which sticker is which. 
  5. Decide how many of each option you want to give students. If you have  6 sentences, you can give 3 writes and 3 waits. Or 2 and 4. Or 4 and 2. Giving numbers that are far from equal, like 5 writes and just 1 wait, takes a bunch of the fun and, according to students, a bunch of fairness, out of the game.

  1. Students will need standard writing stuff in your classroom - pencil/pen, notebook paper/large index cards. 
  2. Hand out the stickers.
  3. Give students the special instructions for the stickers (e.g. write ‘wait’ on the red stickers, and leave the smiley face stickers alone).
  4. Have the projector at the ready, and have the students number the first sentence #1. Then ask ‘Write or Wait?’. Give students 10 seconds to decide and place their stickers on their papers, right next to the #1.
  5. Read the sentence out loud (Don’t put it on the board yet!) one time, at a moderately slow pace. It should be fast enough that there will be some mistakes but not so fast that no student in the class will get every word. N.B.: This takes some practice to pace it well. 
  6. Pause long enough to make sure all students have stopped writing.
  7. Now repeat the sentence out loud as you put it on the board. I love typing it, and have the good fortune of a technology setup that allows me to do that easily. You can make it work writing on the board too, though, so technology isn’t absolutely essential for this lesson. Good to remember when your school’s WiFi glitches out!
  8. Do your normal classroom procedure for clarifying meaning and confirming that students understand before you move on. In my class, that means students' to ask 'Quid significat?' questions. When they understand and want to move on, they use a thumbs-up or the ASL sign for 'all done’
  9. Repeat steps 4 through 8. 

  • Once students get into it, they will often celebrate or bemoan their choice to write or wait. This is good. This activity should produce high engagement from students - it taps into 5 of the 8 C’s of Engagement: Competition, Challenge, Curiosity, Controversy, and Choice. Here’s a quick summary of the C’s from Harvey Silver at the Thoughtful Classroom, and here’s a longer explanation if you’d like to become more familiar with them.
  • As for the idea of Choice, I absolutely love activities based on choosing one of two. The students get the benefit of a choice, and if you structure it correctly, they feel like that choice matters. In this activity, it gives them a sense of control over what they are assigned to do and allows them to shape their experience during the lesson. But you avoid many of the problems that come with giving students unlimited choice or a choice they have to persevere through even if they discover it isn’t a good one. 
  • If you’re planning on asking students a story while typing it up in front of them, as Bob Patrick describes here, this is a great way to scaffold some of the skills they will need for that kind of lesson. 
Thanks for reading!🌶🌶🌶

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Felicem Diem Natalem!

Salvete omnes! 

Welcome to my brand new blog home for 2017. I am looking forward to sharing many things with you this year, hopefully every few weeks. 

First, today’s post isn’t much of a post about teaching or learning. I wanted to start the blog today because January 3rd is the birthday of Marcus Tullius Cicero, and, well, my blog does include his name. I have chosen to do this because in the minds of many, he is the pinnacle of Latin. He was also a novus homo, a relative newcomer to the long tradition of Roman politics. I love that duality because as I appreciate the ancient world and have a reverence for history and tradition at times, I also believe in change and the search for new and better ways of doing things. But that ancient and famous Cicero, representing Latin & Classical culture, is only one part of this blog. 

In addition, this blog will be about Comprehensible Input. I believe in what CI can do for all students, and I see ways that learning about it can benefit all teachers (even teachers of subjects besides language). I have taken from the wonderful online community of teachers who have shared much about CI, and I feel it is my time to give back in the best way that I know how. So, I will ‘cover’ the topic of CI (cerō “I cover with wax” + CI) on this blog, especially as it pertains to my own Latin classroom.  

With that all said, be on the lookout for a lengthier post later this week. :-)