Spot Check Translation

Over the past few years, I have de-emphasized traditional written translation, but there is a time and a place for it, especially if you have students who want to succeed on AP/IB exams.

What I have done instead is to use traditional written translation as a formative assessment and review activity toward the end of a unit. It gets students super-focused on accuracy and editing in English and Latin, and gives me precise information about what my students do and don’t understand.

At least once or twice during a unit or reading, I have students do a “Spot Check Translation.” I pick a passage, and project it on the screen. Students translate it in writing as accurately as possible. Often there is more text on the screen than students are required to translate. This is helpful for the speedy students, and I tell them to keep going if they finish the required passage before time is up.

Once students have finished, I pass out red pens, and then I translate aloud, going sentence by sentence, word by word, explaining the details, and taking questions as we go. It is low-pressure, because students are not being graded down for their errors. Rather, students get full credit for “showing their work.” I would only mark down if a student does not correct errors.

This allows me to get a quick glimpse as to how the class as a whole, and individual students are doing with their comprehension and translation skills. Here are a few student samples. Students do this on a  “classwork” half-sheet with lines that I print and hand out frequently for all kinds of activities, warmups, and exit slips.