In Latin 1 students are driving their own learning: they have created review activities, moderated class discussions, and formulated questions about the passages of Latin literature and history that we've read.

The students began the block by working in pairs to help each other review the Latin language they’ve learned this year. Each pair came up with an interactive activity to review a particular grammar concept and set of vocabulary, and then led the whole class in participating. Some groups created out-loud verb-conjugation games that required the class to work together and listen to one another, while others used a trivia-style question-and-answer format.

More recently, as we've been practicing reading comprehension of longer passages of Latin, the students worked in small groups to lead a class discussion of one of these excerpts. And rather than presenting the passage (reading aloud, translating, and analyzing it themselves), they led their classmates in doing these things by serving as moderators and teachers.

As part of their preparation, they came up with three grammatical and three interpretive questions to ask their classmates. This meant not only understanding what the text said, but identifying which aspects of the grammar or syntax were the most complicated or interesting, and even more importantly, which aspects of the language might help us explore the text through close reading and interpretation.

Students often were able to combine their grammatical and interpretive questions, asking, for instance, about the effect of shifting perspective (3rd person verbs to 2nd) in a dedication by the Roman poet Catullus. Students also brought up important issues of cultural comparison when examining, for instance, an excerpt by the Roman historian Livy about Lucretia.

By creating and leading their own activities and discussions, the Latin students this block are practicing synthesizing, reorganizing, and reconceptualizing their knowledge, and are coming to appreciate the depth and complexity of this new language they're learning.

-- Sydney Cochran