Saturday, November 5, 2011

Off-book teaching

As usual, I'm teaching Latin. Yesterday we had a fire drill that interrupted the last few minutes of class. Did I let that stop me? Not a chance. As soon as we got to a useful place to be, we started back up with Latin class. (Now I do need to confess that I've got some really wonderful kids who are all in class voluntarily—the wonders of working with homeschoolers.)

Since our books were still in the church basement school, we obviously had to do something different. So I took it viva voce. We talked about how to express that we are hungry or cold, since we were sneaking up on lunch on a near-freezing day. I also took a chance to show that those verbs were normal and conjugated like all the others through some simple interaction with the students. We also talked about what sorts of foods we liked, which required learning about "mihi placet." This is worth mentioning since you can't say "I like…" in Latin. "Mihi placet" has about three odd things packed away for English-speaking students. I explained none of them. I just used "mihi placet", and the students followed. Did they understand? Enough, but certainly not completely. Is that bad? No. It's fine. We'll get to that in the future. I fully expect it will be easier for them then.

In the end, I think some real learning happened because we went off-book. I wish we could do that more often, but meeting once a week makes that tricky. Or maybe I'm just not creative enough for pulling that trick off yet.

Anyway, if you're teaching a language, you never know when going off-book may cause some real learning to happen.