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A Day in the Life of an Active Latin Teacher

Skye Shirley

Brookline High School

I have used the recent breakthroughs in Second Language acquisition research to inform my Latin teaching strategies with a variety of students, from public to private schools, children to adults, in classrooms and on archaeological sites, and groups of two dozen to one-on-one tutorials.  Across these different settings, there are tools that I find indispensable and pedagogical questions that persist.  In this paper, I will provide a glimpse into the regular practices of a teacher using Active Latin in every class.

I will begin by sharing my own background in Active Latin and the early steps I took toward incorporating the practice, starting with an immersion summer program.  I read When Dead Tongues Speak (John Gruber-Miller, 2006), Teach the Latin, I Pray You (Paul Distler, 2001) and highly regarded texts in the field of language acquisition.  The breakthroughs of the first years of Active Latin showed me early on that this method was on the right track; from increased vocabulary retention to improved National Latin Exam scores, students’ achievements revealed that this invigorating and playful classroom energy still held them to a high academic standard.  In this paper, I will reveal my most effective “hacks” for making grammar-translation or reading textbooks fulfill the needs of Active Latin teachers.  Next, I will walk through a “day-in-the-life” of an Active Latin teacher in a public high school, from lesson planning to assessment and beyond.  A variety of techniques, both small and large scale, can be adopted by teachers of various comfort levels with the method.  Finally, I will highlight the lasting questions I ask myself and pose to the audience, so that we can strive to encounter pedagogical methods as beginnings, rather than ends in themselves.  Beyond the pedagogy wars, the fear of making mistakes in spoken Latin, and other pressures, students can nevertheless encounter Latin not as a discipline centered on grammatical ephemera, but as a dynamic and ancient mode of communication.

Session/Panel Title

What Can Active Latin Accomplish

Session/Paper Number

38.3

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