All the Things… that disrupt acquisition.

This winter has been incredible, mostly in frustrating ways.  As we prepare to end this week, we have had 1 full normal week of school since 3rd quarter began.  Between special schedules for ACT testing, 2 hour delays, 2 hour early releases and snow days it has been extremely difficult to maintain any momentum in acquisition.  I find myself coming back to the same structures that we seem to have been working on for the whole year.  But we have to spiral back because all of these breaks in input continue to break the flow of acquisition.  It is interesting that students seem to be acquiring these words which makes me wonder if I should intentionally plan to spiral back like this more often.

But even so, we can’t keep having the same conversations in Latin.  I am craving novelty so today I brought out a community building activity with Latin 2.  Latin 2 has been reading about the 1st and 2nd Punic wars, which I’m finding can be tough to accomplish in Latin.  There are other versions of this activity on the web but I call it Dramatic Partner Reading.  This works best with a text that has dialogue.  I did the following to prep the activity:

  1. I pulled out points of dialogue from a recent passage which has Hannibal and one of his legates discussing events as they are about to begin crossing the Alps with an army.
  2. I put dialogue onto slides in readable amounts.  There should be at least 2 characters with a line but it can be okay to have 1 character read more than the other.
  3. I make it clear which text belongs with each character by color coding text on the slides.
  4. The first slide is titled “legete” which means read.
  5. I then copy the same slide 2-3 times and I add to the title things like “legete celeriter”, read fast, “legete igne”, read with or on fire, “legete cum manibus”, read with your hands any any other silly ways I can think of reading a text.

With the slides ready to go, I start by calling up two students who hold the job of actor in my classes.  I like to start with these students because they have expressed a desire to perform by choosing this job.

  1. Students read the text once to experience the text.
  2. Students re-read the text in the ways I ask with each slide.
  3. We laugh.
  4. We laugh a lot.
  5. If it works, I ask comprehension checks of the class about the reading.

This has been a perfect activity today to reestablish community with these groups.  With all of the disruption we’ve experienced, it was exactly what we needed.  We needed to laugh and experience some joy as we came back after a special schedule day for ACT testing.  But more happened.  Students connected to the actors which made the reading compelling.  They re-read the passage as they followed along with the dramatic readers.  Some even asked me questions about the specifics of the historical event.

I prefer this activity as a pre-reading activity to expose readers to a text.  Next we will complete T/F partner reads when students read together and make T/F statements about the text.  Lastly, we will use their T/F statements to review the events of the text.

Today I discovered that it was more important to focus on the students in front of me than to drive them forward on some line of acquisition.  Community often creates a compelling narrative.  What are some moments for you in the near future to focus on community with your students?

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