Thanks to my wife’s willingness to brave the streets of LA, I was able to observe today at the Mirman School for Gifted Children.
Jacque Myers, the sole Latin teacher, teaches six classes of Latin – in one day! I so admire her energy, flexibility, commitment to CI (Comprehensible Input) practices, and willingness to share with me.
Today I witnessed the incredible gift that CI brings to students. The Upper School, where Jacque teaches, includes students from ages 10-14. Jacque taught class in Latin, and every student was engaged. The students knew signs/gestures for their vocabulary words, understood ordinal numbers well enough to talk about days in the calendar, pages in their textbooks, and lines of text, and both asked and answered questions in Latin. Jacque chose student actors in each class by randomly picking names of students on Popsicle sticks. The students were willing to play whatever part was chosen for them, and they dramatized their stories to indicate comprehension. Jacque checked vocabulary comprehension a number of different ways in the four different levels I observed:
- Give a word and expect students to respond with sign or gesture
- Give a sign or gesture and expect students to respond with the word
- Show a picture and expect students to identify the word
- Show the words and give a Latin definition of the word – the students then identify the word
Every class followed a similar agenda:
- Words/phrases of the week – usually reviewed on Fridays, but this week Thursday was the last day of the week
- Calendar – class recitation of the full date, “Hodie est Dies Iovis, ante diem undevicesimum Kalendas Februarias.”
- Vocabulary Review (vide supra)
- Reading of story by teacher
- Acting of story by students
- Reading comprehension worksheet
- Final activity – game or something students choose to do
I loved the student work on the walls and the labeling of items in the room.
Jacque shared openly with me her goals for each of her classes, her struggles and achievements. If I didn’t already love Latin, watching these students would have made me fall in love. They were having fun, learning, interacting with each other and the teachers and demonstrating typical middle-school behavior. They clearly enjoyed watching the video camera (although this changed a bit as the age increased), and they weren’t embarrassed to display their excitement.