I was talking with a dear colleague the other day (hola, Irene Zingg!) and she shared with me that she was asking her students to deliberately enter her AP Spanish class left foot first. The idea is simple; she observed that in martial arts training, you would have a formal way of entering the dojo to help establish that you are crossing over from your normal, everyday life into a new context. Having studied some martial arts myself, that clicked.
I had thought about a similar idea years ago while coaching; wouldn’t it be great for students to just come to class and do a warmup of some kind, without my direction, while I got attendance and other administrative duties out of the way? This would also establish an identity and culture that is so desperately needed when working towards language acquisition.
I’ve read on other’s blogs about using a class password to help direct student attention to a new word, rejoinder, grammar, or general point of interest when coming to class. Simply put, you find a point you want to draw students’ attention to, and designate that as the password for student entry the next day. Macte!
Taking all this together, I decided to create a series of officia for my students. This would help establish a “break” from their ordinary school lives while also decentralizing the class a bit more and putting more responsibility on them. This is something that Senora Zingg touched upon and something that the class password protocol really helps create. So here is a basic, introductory, list of officia discipulōrum that I am going to be establishing – I’d love to hear everyone’s feedback!
Two major areas for these duties – general class operations and during reading activities. Since we are a CI (comprehensible input) classroom, we are trying to keep that 90%+ input framework in place. Under general operations:
- Ianitor – establishes the class password at the end of each class and only admits students into the room when they repeat the class password the next day
- Corrector – responsible for passing out and collecting red pens for checking work (filed in student portfolios) at the end of the day
For reading activities:
- Vocabularius/a – looks up the meaning of words when necessary; keeps track of words on Moenia Vocabulōrum (a “word wall” document that my students will be creating, notably for AP Latin)
- Grammaticus/a – reminds us about grammar usage; offers pop up explanations from an assigned text (also will create a central document to share with other students to keep track of grammar points of interest, particulary for AP Latin)
- Pictor/Pictrix (trying to create a “feminine” version!) – one way to help students grasp new words is to have them draw it and this allows me to have a student draw the story as it is being told
- Censor – responsible for keeping track of important names and people in an assigned reading (again, kept in a centralized, shared student document; helpful for AP Latin)
- Inquisitor – ominous sounding title that would be responsible for creating and asking pertinent questions for an assigned reading
Each of these officia would be easy to assign – just get out a deck of cards (one for each student in class) and have them randomly choose a card. Designate certain cards to signify the necessary positions for the week and assign to each kid who draws that particular card. Do this at the start of each week. Heck, make that another position – have a student responsible for assigning the positions each week or create a chart to ensure every kid gets a shot at each.