Lately I have been inspired by Jon Cowart, a Spanish teacher in Tennessee who works with urban kids and uses his own modification of a CI-based approach. One of his adaptations is to have students putting pencil to paper frequently, at the beginning of class and at the end, as well as during activities that many CI teachers do, like asking or telling stories. Cowart says that doing this helps kids to regulate themselves so that they can listen and receive the language input. This is something that can help any classroom management challenge, regardless of the demographic of one’s classroom.
Recently I found his Weekly Packet, which he shared as a word doc on the facebook group CI LIFTOFF. I have shared it here (giving him full credit), as well as my own adaptation (which is in Latin, in addition to containing a few changes.
Cowart’s weekly packet
My version of Cowart’s weekly packet (word doc template)
PDF of my first weekly packet (with additional worksheet page and song of the week attached)
Update after 5 weeks of using the packet (originally posted to Latin Best Practices Facebook group:
Weekly packet update: So I have been using weekly packets with my Latin 1 classes for about 5-6 weeks now. Here are a few thoughts, mostly positive, about the process.
1. It is keeping students anchored in terms of daily expectations. They now know that they must write in the date, month, weather, and some sort of warmup.
2. They hold ME accountable on the days that I haven’t started class in a predictable way.
3. Often I don’t know exactly what I will be “covering” in a given week. If I do know, I can simply add a page or two to the packet. If not, I know that students will have a place to add new information, and because they will have to copy it all in, this limits the amount of new info (especially vocab) that I will be providing.
4. checking off these packets has been a pretty fast process. I don’t spend more than about 15 seconds on each. It becomes immediately clear how a student is doing depending on what they have (or haven’t written). Of course some students may be acquiring even if they don’t take notes, and for them, tests, quizzes and my observations of them in class will balance this, but the packet is a good “red flag.” If I need to check in with parents, I can snap pics of specific pages for student evidence.
5. When students ask what to review, or how to prepare for a test, I can say “review your packets.”
6. While finishing up grades last week (end of quarter 1) I put on a documentary film, and told students they must take notes in their packets, which I would be collecting at the end of class (it was friday). It’s easy to change up what you’re doing, and still have some clear accountability–students know that something needs to be in those pages, unless I tell them that it doesn’t.
7. The first page (with the “quid fecisti” box, gives me a very clear sense of their progression in using Latin. Every week I ask them to write about their weekend in English and Latin, but to use more Latin each week. It is really cool to see what they come up with, ,where they insert English, and what phrases they make a part of their new vocabulary (after asking me, or looking something up).
8. Not sure, long term, how these packets will be used. Long term written samples still go on separate sheets for their writing portfolio (johnpiazza.net/latin-writing-portfolio), whereas the packets are more for “process” than “product.” I will probably tell them that they don’t need them at the end of the semester, but will tell them to “recycle” them in a pile in my room, so I can take some samples before getting rid of them.
Overall, these packets have really provided my beginning students (and me) with some necessary daily and weekly structure, but not in a way that limits me from going in different directions as needed. I will continue to post my actual packet examples as I create and/or scan them (especially in pdf for students to download/print if they lose them).