A Murmuration of Starlings

IMG_0659I searched high and low for a collective noun to describe a group of Latin teachers, but I came up short. Parkview High School has such a group – four full-time Latin teachers (some teaching extended day) who work together using shared lesson plans. Bob Patrick heads the World Languages Department, and Caroline Miklosovic, Rachel Ash, and Miriam Patrick round out the program. Each teacher is the core teacher for a different level of Latin offered, and that teacher shares his/her curriculum with the other teachers. The core teachers are rotated each year so that they follow their students to the next level. This is a wonderful way to provide continuity for the students. The entire program uses no specific textbook; the teachers write the readings themselves, and the vocabulary and structures are taken from the readings. 600 students take Latin, and class sizes range from 19 – 30+. I spent four full days at Parkview and had a chance to observe each level, as well as the gladiatorial fights put on by the Latin club each week. In addition to seeing four teachers work so well together, I also enjoyed observing a number of different CI and TPRS techniques in each class. Since other bloggers have already written up helpful descriptions of many of these techniques on their blogs, I have included links to those pages here.

  • Dictatio + Pictatio in Level I:  for pictatio, students include a small drawing of each sentence
  • Volleyball Reading in IV and AP
  • Embedded Reading in all levels
  • Annotation Groups in AP – Bob Patrick has students write translations in Google Drive, and he uses the annotation feature to give feedback
  • Word Chunk or Ball Game
  • Forks or Markers
  • Brain Breaks
    • Tres Pulsationes – Three Strikes:  at any point in class, the students all stand up and throw a ball to each other; if anyone speaks or drops the ball, that is a strike.  They play until there are three strikes.
    • Mindfulness Bell – Bob Patrick will occasionally program a bell to sound at various intervals, reminding everyone to take a moment out for mindfulness.
    • Publius Publicanus
    • Same Conversation
  • Movie Talk – “Soar” was the example I saw used – teachers use Zaption or EdPuzzle so students can complete this on their own if they miss class or need repetition.
  • Read, Discuss, and Draw
  • Timed Write
  • DEA – Daily Engagement Assessment + Hand Signals


Most of the classrooms have a large supply of stuffed animals, and students can take one to have at their desk at any point in class. I enjoyed watching students take advantage of this non-judgmental way of providing comfort in the classroom. In Miriam Patrick’s classroom, in addition to displaying question words, as all Latin classrooms at Parkview do, she also includes possible responses to those questions.

It was a treat to spend so much time at Parkview. I also observed a German teacher using CI.  She graciously welcomed me into her class, talked with me afterwards about her techniques, and raved about Bob as a department head. Other department members I happened to meet also spoke of what a supportive leader Bob is for all languages offered at Parkview. Bob believes in sharing the wealth. This philosophy of teaching helps spread successful techniques to the many teachers who benefit from the department’s collective knowledge and helps create Latin students who feel good about the language and their learning.


One thought on “A Murmuration of Starlings

  1. Pingback: Sisters | iacobeia

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