Wednesday, October 10, 2018

3 First-Year Teachers Tell Their Stories: Meet M.

(For an introduction to this blog series, see our first post. To read our first two teacher profiles, click here and here.)

Memento mori! M. has enhanced her classroom
door with skeletons for Halloween.

Meet M., a first-year Latin teacher at a small private K–9 school in the metropolitan New York area. M. teaches fourth through eighth grade; her class sizes tend to be small, fewer than ten students each.

Classroom setup: M. has her own classroom; while small, it accommodates her classes well. Her tables are arranged in a square so that everyone can see one another. Because her students are younger, she wants to make sure the room seems “fun”—she has hung up posters showing Pompeii, Roman monuments, and classical art. She also has posted key Latin vocabulary for students to reference during class, including a days of the week poster illustrated using Lego scenes.

Goals: M.’s goals for the year center on organization and communication:
1. Stay organized—there are so many different things to remember in all aspects of teaching!
2. Implement effective communication with parents.
3. Learn how to use movie talks to engage students while preteaching vocabulary and target structures.

Like K., M. also hopes to maintain her work-life balance as she learns all the requirements of her new school, develops curricula for multiple grade levels, and creates a classroom community.

Methodologies and Approaches to Teaching: M. has already begun using comprehensible input (CI)
methods with her younger students. While fourth grade is more of an exploratory class featuring plenty of games and introductory activities, she is experimenting with different active Latin techniques in her fifth and sixth grade classes. Because her seventh and eighth grade students are already accustomed to a grammar-translation approach, she is maintaining a more traditional teaching style in order to avoid derailing them.

Tips and Tricks: M. highly recommends using the Facebook forum Latin Teacher Idea Exchange for inspiration when planning classes. She notes that collaboration is essential; while she is the only Latin teacher at her school, she has a group of Latin teacher friends across the country who can offer support and suggestions when needed.

Most Looking Forward To: M. is most excited about building good relationships with her new students. She is looking forward to the time when her classes know each other well enough to have inside jokes and when her students feel like they can trust and confide in her.

First Day Hook: M. didn’t have a specific means of “hooking” students on the first day of class, but rather focused on getting to know her students and using her energy—and her experience with techniques from the theater—to engage her students.

M.’s first week of school went by in a blur, challenging yet satisfying. She explains:

The first day felt like a whole week. I was utterly exhausted. The spoken Latin with the fifth and sixth graders is a blast, and they are awesome. Hearing students speaking Latin in the halls makes my day—and they aren’t doing it to impress me, I hear it off in the distance! I want to keep this up with them and improve my own spoken Latin abilities.

M.’s enthusiasm and passion for teaching is readily apparent. Good luck during the upcoming school year, M.!

—Amelia Wallace, Editor

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

3 First-Year Teachers Tell Their Stories: Meet K.

(For an introduction to this blog series, see our first post. To read our first teacher profile, click here.)

Students colored in images depicting the foundation myths of Rome.
Many chose to use whimsical color schemes; they then labeled the colors
using the Latin terms.
Meet K., a first-year Latin teacher at a public middle school in the northeast. Students at this school come from a mixture of suburban and rural areas. K. teaches two sections of Latin 1A (seventh grade) and two sections of Latin 1B (eighth grade); she also travels to the neighboring high school, where she teaches Latin 2. K. has explained some of her strategies and goals for the year, as described below.

Classroom setup: While K. has her own devoted classroom for her middle school students, she shares a classroom with two other teachers at the high school. Her middle school classroom has desks set up in pairs to facilitate group work. To brighten up her room, which lacks windows, she is using colorful bulletin board backing. She is leaving some wall space blank in hopes of decorating extensively with student projects, but has already posted a word wall as a helpful reference for students.

Goals: K. has several goals for her first year:
1. Cultivate a love of Latin and the ancient world among her students.
2. Create a classroom environment that feels safe and inclusive for all of her students.
3. Achieve a work-life balance so that she not only meets her students' needs but also attends to her own.

Methodologies and Approaches to Teaching: K. will be building off a curriculum that was already in place when she came to her school. She also will be working with the high school teacher in her district to ensure that her students are well-prepared for high school. The curriculum is fairly traditional, but she also plans to include some spoken Latin components and will read a novella with her eighth grade students.

Tips and Tricks: K. is excited to implement a variety of activities and techniques that she learned through pedagogy coursework and student teaching. To reinforce vocabulary, she likes using online tools such as Quizlet and Memrise, in addition to games such as Reverse Pictionary and charades. She also appreciates the use of word walls to ease students into speaking Latin. 

Most Looking Forward To: K. is most excited about sharing her love of the ancient world with her students. In particular, she is extremely passionate about archaeology and material culture and hopes to include both disciplines in her classes.

First Day Hook: K. presented an “About Me” PowerPoint in Latin to introduce herself to her students. She is hoping that sharing things about herself will be the first step toward encouraging a strong community in the classroom. Students also had the chance to pick animal terms as their Latin names. [editor’s note: I sincerely hope that at least one student has chosen Camelopardalis as their name]

K.’s passion for ensuring student well-being and encouraging student curiosity in the ancient world clearly comes through. Here’s to a great year, K.!

—Amelia Wallace, Editor

Monday, October 01, 2018

Dolus aut Dulce 2018

Last year's winner, Vincent Marcellino aka Vincentius,
as Imperator Marcellinus.

The days are growing shorter and there’s a chill in the air, which means it’s time for Bolchazy-Carducci’s annual Halloween costume contest, Dolus aut Dulce! We love seeing our participants’ creativity in making classics-related costumes and can’t wait to see what’s in store this year. Whether you are someone who happens to have spent time wrapped in the quintessential sheet-toga (and who among us hasn’t) or you take pleasure in crafting elaborate themed costumes, please send us your photos!

To enter our classics costume contest, all you need to do is follow @BCPublishers on Twitter and then tweet us your costume photo using the hashtag #BCPub. There are two entry categories, individual and group costume. The winner in each category will receive a $50 book credit. Once the contest has ended, the Bolchazy editorial board will judge all submissions and award one prize per category based on the following criteria: creativity, quality, and connection to classics. One entry per Twitter account, please. For group contest submissions, the prize will go to the owner of the Twitter account who submitted the photo unless otherwise specified.

No need to wait until October 31st to send a picture. And, you don’t have to strictly limit yourself to Halloween pictures—if you have a photo of yourself dressed in classical costume for a non-Halloween-related reason, feel free to submit it! We will start accepting photos this week and will continue to accept pictures until 11:59 PM CT on Wednesday, November 7th.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

3 First-Year Latin Teachers Tell Their Stories: Meet C.

C.'s bulletin board featuring the B-C calendar,
Latin postcards, and more!

(For an introduction to this blog series, see our first post.)

Meet C., a first-year Latin and English teacher at a suburban public high school in the western region of the United States. Students at this school come from varied socioeconomic backgrounds. C.’s course load includes two sections of Latin 1, one section of Latin 2, one section of AP Latin, and two sections of English 10. C. has explained some of his strategies and goals for the year, as described below.

Classroom setup: C. has his own classroom and has approached setting it up according to the principle that nothing should be “decorated for the sake of being decorated.” To facilitate learning, he is posting a word wall of Latin I’s nova vocabula and is also using signs to remind students of key question words and useful phrases. C. further notes that he has hung up the B-C Roman calendar, scilicet.

Goals: C. has three major goals for his first year:
1. Create units and learning materials that he can use long term.
2. Increase his program’s visibility and grow his enrollment.
3. Expose his students to spoken Latin and language acquisition strategies.

Methodologies and Approaches to Teaching: C. is trying to provide balance in his class activities, hoping to devote just as much time to comprehensible input (CI) and spoken Latin strategies in a day as he does grammar-focused instruction. Due to his A/B block schedule with 75-minute class periods on alternating days, he can provide a real variety of activities in a single class session.

Tips and Tricks: Here’s how C. describes one of the favorite classroom activities he learned as a student teacher:

Teach your students Latin words for classroom objects and verbs in the imperative, then tell them that you are a robot that only understands commands given in Latin. Students must command you around the room to do things like walk to the door, pick up the book, stand up, sit down, etc. When students see what power they have, shenanigans ensue, and they forget they're using Latin because they're loving the activity so much. The next day, divide them into teams to command their team's robot to accomplish a task before their opponents'.

Most Looking Forward To: C. is most looking forward to his spring Latin Fair field trip. The Latin Fair will give his students the opportunity to interact with other Latin students across his region; his students will present Latin videos at the event and will participate in certamen tournaments.

First Day Hook: To hook students on the first day of Latin, C. played a ball game with students in which they threw a ball to one another while introducing themselves using nomen mihi/tibi/ei est.

C. has been teaching at his new school for several weeks and feels that so far, he has been pretty successful at working toward his goals. He summarizes his teaching philosophy as follows:

C.'s word wall, with nova vocabula and a
continuum of how to say yes and no.
What I really want for my students is for them to leave my class every day forgetting that they were in a high school class. Students spend hours and hours sitting in desks, facing a screen, or listening to a lecturer. This behavior would drive any adult mad. No wonder cell phones and other distractors in classrooms are becoming an epidemic! Kids are craving novelty, excitement, humor, movement, and genuine deep learning. This is what I hope to give them every day.

C. clearly hopes to help his students learn and grow as individuals. Here’s to a great year, C.!

—Amelia Wallace, Editor 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

3 First-Year Latin Teachers Share Their Stories: An Introduction

Wax tablet and stylus, a school supply essential
for ancient Roman students. 
(© Creative Commons 3.0/Peter van der Sluijs)

The beginning of the school year has come and gone, which means teachers have already put the finishing touches on classroom d├ęcor, finalized course syllabi, researched new methodologies and techniques to integrate into the curriculum, and at last welcomed students! Of course, despite all the meticulous preparation and planning from the very beginning, keeping up with the many demands of teaching frequently feels like a work in progress—and no one knows that better than first-year teachers.

This school year, the Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers Blog will follow three first-year Latin teachers, posting about their experiences in the classroom—the goals they want to achieve, the challenges they face, the pedagogical approaches they want to explore. While the three teachers are working in different environments and with different age groups, they all share a similar passion for their teaching subjects and a commitment to their students.

You’ll see some trends among these teachers. In particular, they list as a major goal the desire to create a classroom that is welcoming and comfortable for all students. They are all interested in incorporating active Latin elements into their pedagogy and are eager to implement ideas they encountered during their schooling and student teaching. At the same time, because these teachers are stepping into already established Latin programs, they will be integrating their ideas and interests with existing curricula to varying degrees. In terms of expected challenges, the three are concerned about maintaining a work-life balance, especially because they must plan out new curricular units, create materials, and figure out what learning activities work well for them. At the same time, they will also be acclimating to the norms and expectations at their new schools.

In this installment of the teacher series, we’ll meet our teachers:

  •  C. teaches Latin and English at a public high school in the western United States; this year, he will be teaching two sections of sophomore English, two sections of Latin 1, and one section each of Latin 2 and AP Latin. He is the only Latin teacher in his district.
  • K. teaches Latin primarily at a public middle school in the northeast and travels to the neighboring high school to teach one class. Her course load includes two sections of Latin 1A (seventh grade), two sections of Latin 1B (eighth grade), and one section of Latin 2 (primarily ninth grade). She is the only Latin teacher at her middle school, but she collaborates regularly with the high school teacher in her district.
  • M. teaches Latin to elementary and middle school students at a small private school in the New York metropolitan area. Her students range from fourth to eighth graders. She is the only Latin teacher at her school.

Stay tuned for the next blog posts for a more in-depth introduction to our teachers. And, make sure to check back for subsequent updates! 

—Amelia Wallace, Editor