Seeing is Believing
Implementing Group Calls went so much better than I could have imagined! It turned itself into a mini unit of management and pieces of trivial Roman knowledge. Originally, I was only going to teach the Level 1 students the Group Calls. But on the first day of school, my mentor teacher (MT) told me he’d like me to teach all levels the Calls, and that I would start teaching the Calls the next day. The first day was overall amazing, like seeing your favorite artist perform live. It has set a great tone for the year. The workload I went home with, however, was not ideal.
As a Unit
The Group Calls turned itself into a mini unit of class management and trivial Roman knowledge. It spanned over three days (if fire drills, irregular schedules and other things don’t get in the way). The first day was learning the Calls and knowledge. The second was doing an activity to get used to how the calls would actually work. Then the last day was implementing the groups into a “normal” lesson, where the focus is on content and not on management.
The point of the Calls is to bring content and management together. Each Call was rooted in Roman history, geography, mythology, or culture. I found the more I got into it, the more the students engaged (which seems like an obvious statement, but they were tired of all the moving so listening to the story was the most engaging). I tended to stick more towards a narrative instead of asking students to give what they knew about the topic. If I saw a student perk up when hearing a Call Name, I asked what knowledge they had.
Each class latched onto a specific call they wanted to know more about. For one class, we did a mini history lesson on the Punic Wars and the hate Spicio had for Carthage. Another two classes loved how I made them seem superior to other Latin students by knowing that there are in fact 8 hills of Rome and not 7. If you disagree, tell me what you know about the hill, Crispius. It also worked out that the table referred to as “Palatine” was in the center of the classroom. I made a big deal about who lived on the Palatine hill, which made all the students excited when I went to assign students to “hills.”
After the first day I thought of how I could review the Group Calls with the students and have them understand we won’t be moving in such a repetitive manner and actually be working in the groups. Therefore, I set to work and made an activity sheet for them to quickly complete in their groups. I definitely did not give them as much time as I wanted for the different questions asked, but I made sure to use questions that would give me information I wanted to know about my students and could use in planning. For one class I learned a lot of students like Monopoly, so I’m trying to work that into a lesson for them.
For the activity sheet, I saved myself some time and put all the Calls I have implemented on one sheet and thought of questions that worked with the nature of the Call or with how the class reacted to the Call. The last question was one I definitely wanted to give them time to answer. I can see myself asking later in the year their opinion of the Calls and if they think learning them is worth it.
For the third day, it was about showing the students how the Calls were in action. Throughout the week, we were able to review imperative commands with them. In order to see how they were doing with the commands we gave the Call “Romulus et Remus” and had them “duel” with commands. As they dueled, students tallied how many commands their partner got right. After a while they switched sides and repeated the process. I observed students and placed them in groups accordingly to how well they did during the duels.
After the duels completed, we reset to Legions, then called “It’s the year of the four emperors!” and sorted the groups to each have at least two people who were confident using commands. Within those groups, they made skits focusing on three different commands. The students highly enjoyed it the activity, just as I enjoyed watching them perform.
Any experience teacher can tell you, call sizes change a lot during the first week. Even if the number itself doesn’t change, the students taking the class can change from the original roster you printed off. Several times, I called students names for groups and three desks were empty and I had three students standing with no place to go because I called names that weren’t there.
I attempted another adaptation of putting the groups on the board so students could see them and not only hear them. I quickly decided against this adaptation because then students wanted to move before the desks were in formation and labeled. I have yet to try a delay tactic or having a student write the groups as I say them. Hopefully that will work better and allow those students that want to see the groups rather than hear them called.
One class has yet to finish the Calls and it is weird starting from the beginning with them when all other classes are finished. You’d think after already teaching these Calls five times, the sixth time would be no problem, but when you get thrown off by fire drills, weird schedule changes and only seeing this class every other day, it becomes a disorienting. I made sure to address in each class the purpose of learning these calls, whether prompted by it or not. The students would even correct me or MT if something we said differed from their first time. We met the turn minute turn over time very well. Most times, it was organizing the groups on my end that took the longest on my end of our time.
I hope at some point the students will be able to go from one group call to another without resetting to Legions first. Only time, practice and implementation of the Group Calls will help reach this goal.