Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Pacing (Update)

Over the last few years, I've refined my LLPSI curriculum, methods, and pacing. I've held tightly to the philosophy that students need plenty of time to assimilate new information so that they can remember it and use it (multum, nōn multa!) To that end, I've been shrinking the size of each individual reading session, usually to less than ten lines, and increasing students' practice time with the new words acquired in each session. My new daily schedule includes a much wider variety of activities with a much shorter time assigned to each individual activity.

My classes meet five days per week for 55 minutes per class. I expect around 30 minutes of homework outside of class. For three days of the week, we work together through what I have termed "sessions." The fourth day is dedicated to vocabulary review (flashcard games) and exercises that practice the new vocabulary and grammar for the lesson. The fifth day is dedicated to a grammar quiz and Roman culture lesson (daily life in Rome, history, mythology, etc.)

For days one to three, we work through two sessions each day (six sessions for the week), one session in class, and one session at home. This allows the class to complete one Oerberg Lectiō/Lesson per week. Each of the six sessions takes 40 minutes to an hour to complete, depending on the speed of the student or class. One session comprises six activities: 1) A grammar song linked to the grammar covered in first-year Latin (these are linked to my blog under the "Sing" tab; 2) A choral recitation where students practice reading the Latin session aloud (around 5 to 10 lines); we do this as a class and it must be out loud (no silent reading); 3) A translation of the session without any resources; for this section, I usually read sentence by sentence from the section and draw pictures to illustrate the content; I try to speak mostly in Latin, but I freely define words in English on the board; 4) A collection of margin notes for new vocabulary and grammar; students use my definitions and illustrations as their margin notes in their notebook, so the translation and margin notes sections happen at the same time; 5) A short oral conversation using the new vocabulary; these are available to my students who have paid for my class, but you can invent a conversation of your own with the students using the new words, or just ask students comprehension questions in Latin; it's very important at this point to have the students write their own question using at least one of the new words; this activates their new knowledge and makes it personal to them; they should have time to ask and answer these questions with partners; 6) A reverse translation of the section; for this part, students take their English translation and try to retranslate it with good Latin; Oerberg's Latin is the key; I usually write the sentences one at a time on the board, making many mistakes that I think students could make, then I go down the rows asking students if they see any mistakes; students really like to see me make mistakes, and they think it is fun to correct me; I always let students pass if they can't find a mistake.

Students complete each "Session" on one sheet of paper divided into quadrants. Upper-left is for the translation. Upper-right is for the margin notes. Bottom-left is for the conversation notes and questions. Bottom-right is for the reverse translation.

Here's a breakdown of time for each activity: 1) 3 minutes; 2) 2 minutes; 3) 10 minutes; 4) 5 minutes; 5) 10 minutes; 6) 10 minutes. On a good day, I can get through one session in about 40 minutes. Students are responsible for completing the next session at home. By the time that they have finished one session, they remember and can use the new vocabulary and grammar for the new section of text (usually 3-5 new concepts).

Students don't get tired of the story, because they are learning to write and speak Latin with their classmates. They are not just learning to read and recognize a familiar text. The goal is text creation, not just recognition. My students' minds are too active to get bored. I haven't found the need to supplement with other texts.