Previously, I wrote about how I used an activity structure like tenisia to help my students review a text in order to establish meaning. Tenisia was best used as a post-reading activity to consolidate what was read and to reinforce meaning.
I decided to give it a shot in another application – in a cloze sentence activity.
In Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata, there are pensa – activities that check student understanding for morphological knowledge, vocabulary, and comprehension via pensa A, B, and C, respectively. I decided to give it a shot by having the students line up facing one another, as they normally do with tenisia, and have them trade back and forth on completing a sentence and translating it back.
Each pair would spend two minutes going back and forth – one would read the Latin while the other verified it was correct and supply an English translation. Once the two minutes was up, partners would switch, check in with their new partner, and begin again.
In some ways, this was better than students doing the activity on their own. Normally, students rush through the exercise so that they can be done with it and lighten the burden of their work load. What I found was that with students freed up from writing, they were able to focus more on the application and the processing of the language. They reached out to one another for help and they would guide one another and help each other along the way.
What is great about the rotations is that you would get different pairings – slower processing students would be linked up with faster processors. They could learn from each other. Students were less intimidated to do so with a spotlight on them in front of the entire class and were more relaxed – which not only enabled them to ask more questions from each other, but also helped remove those inhibiting factors like affective filters that limit student language acquisition.
A Wrap Up With a Twist
After the students were done going back and forth, and had reached the end of their pensum A activity, I decided to consolidate it in a fun, spontaneous way – the Telephone Game.
Normally, the telephone game is played whispering from one student to another to see how far off the original word or sentence was. Although this has an application, like getting students to develop their listening and comprehension skills, my aim was to help students get in more repetitions with comprehensible material, thereby reinforcing their understanding of the language.
I had the students sit in a circle (I prefer this as I do not like to communicate the message that the class is all about me!) and randomly selected one student to start things off. Here is the trick, the student who starts it all off has to finish by restating what everyone previous had said. And so it went; students would read a sentence in Latin and supply the correct ending via the cloze sentence activity. The next student would restate what came before plus the new sentence they were responsible for. Students were to start from the very beginning every time.
What this did was force students to listen and repeat; it gave them the repetitions I was looking for but also had them listen and recall the language.
Now, there were shortcomings. What to do with students who were somewhere in the middle and felt like they could safely disengage? One idea I did have was to give them a ball and they would toss it to the next person who was responsible for repeating and taking on the new sentence. This randomness would invite more anticipation but only up until they did their part.
All in all, a fun activity to wrap up things with. Students had fun, felt the pressure to be successful, and would also provide the feedback we want as teachers to make sure our students are getting the material.