My Latin 3 class is beginning with the subjunctive. We had begun our verb review just prior to midterms, so it seemed worthwhile to continue / reiterate the verb review prior to introducing the new subjunctive material. I was planning a fairly standard approach (read: lecture) but (literally walking down the stairs to class) I decided that such an approach flew in the face of everything I had been working on and thinking about certainly this year and the year or two before this year.

I instead approached it in a way that I had used before (in a more open-ended way) with my literature classes but that I hadn’t with my Latin class. I left it up to them. I told them that they had 20 minutes to make a verb review sheet. I gave them the criteria (rules, endings, examples) and turned them loose. They (initially?) did not love it. Most of them needed / wanted clarification. They needed some help with terminology (my fault): what is the indicative? (It’s the mood that indicated definitiveness (vs. the subjunctive which indicates uncertainty): I like Latin (vs. I might like Latin).) But, after some starting up, they began to get it and complete what I had asked them to complete. Some of them, much to my pleasant surprise, even recalled and rewatched some of the videos I had posted for them during our initial verb review. (That, I’ll admit, made me happy.)

Now what I’d like to say is that all of the verb questions and difficulties were answered, that they left class excited about the Latin verb in all of its wondrous forms, that, more important, they learned how to learn. I’m pretty sure none of that is true. What I do know, however, is that many more of them were on task than if I had been lecturing, that their chances of learning increased because they were actively involved in the process, both in the hunting / researching and in the keeping / copying, and that I was able to work with them more closely on individual questions than if someone had asked those same questions to me before the whole class.

I’m still getting used to this process, this stepping away from the stage process, but I am liking it so far and hope to continue with it. I need to beef up the processes and the mechanics of it (exit tickets, more formative assessments, etc.) but I’m happy about it so far.

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