Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Declension Relay

Activity Name
   Declension Relay

   for students to review the case endings of Latin nouns and adjectives

   Students will be able to...
   -choose the correct set of endings for particular nouns and adjectives
   -utilize an ending correctly based on case and number
   -maintain a constant stem throughout a declension
   -spell the endings correctly

   1.2 (from CAMWS)

   Whiteboard and markers, or equivalent

   20 minutes (10-15 to complete the declensions, 5-10 to check the work as a class)

Description of Activity
   Split the class into two even teams (e.g., by numbering 1-2-1-2... or "girls vs. boys"). Each team is responsible for declining its assigned noun-adjective pair on the board. I normally write out something like the following template on the board for them to fill in:

Have the students line up single-file in front of their team's spot on the board. Give each team only one marker: The students are to take turns one-at-a-time to decline their words. Tell the students: "When it is your turn, you may only write one word on the board, that is, for example, one form of mater or one form of pulchra." When a person is done writing a word on the board, he or she is to hand off the marker to the next teammate in line and go to the back of the line. In this way the teams will keep cycling through their lines until the declension is complete.

After both teams have finished, go over the results as a class. As an example, Team 1 from above might end up with something like this:

Here you could discuss the incorrect forms matrarum and matrebus as well as how the team mistakenly dropped out the "-r-" from the stem of pulchra starting in the genitive plural.

The team to finish first is the winning team, but only if they made no mistakes. If there are mistakes, the winning team is the team with the fewest total mistakes. A tie goes to the team that finished first.

Some final thoughts:
  • If you have a lot of board space, you could split the class into more than two teams and give each their own declension to work on. This way more students would be active more of the time.
  • The game can be made more challenging by 1) having the students translate each noun-adjective pair alongside their declensions (e.g., mater pulchra, "the beautiful mother," matris pulchrae, "of the beautiful mother," "matri pulchrae," "to/for the beautiful mother," and so on) or 2) having students provide the labels for nom., gen., dat., acc., abl., sg., and pl.
  • For motivation, I sometimes award extra credit on a quiz to the winning team.
   The work of both teams is checked and discussed after the declensions have been completed.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    Declension Endings via Songs

    The only way I have ever been successful in teaching the endings of the five declensions is with songs. I have seen a whole class fail a quiz on the third declension, for example, only to pass it with flying colors, having learned the tune, no more than two weeks later.

    A sample:

    Yes, this means you have to sing in front of the class. Yes, you will need to become a choir director. Yes, your students will think it is silly. But they will memorize their endings, and that is all that matters. Just own it, and your students will buy into it. Go slowly, only teaching a new song when your students have mastered the previous one and only teaching the declensions your students need to know (for most this will be the first, second, and third).

    Here is a link to the playlist on my YouTube channel with the songs for all five declensions: