Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lessons from Latin

I enjoy teaching my boys at our large dry erase board. We can all work on tasks at the same time and sometimes even as collaborators. William and I are still working on mastering Latin declensions. We use each other’s work to check our own and if one of us thinks of a good memory technique, we share it with our Challenge class.

Our memory tricks may not help you because they are ours. Our brains thought of them, so a mental path was forged that’s now easy to follow. You need to bushwhack your own brain-paths by looking for patterns in everything you learn.

For instance, this is one way we memorize Latin Conjugations. Our Challenge B class developed this together, so the students tend to remember it. We meet weekly for academics to share great thoughts and to make them our own. 

For singular verbs we write ‘lost’. The ‘l’ is actually the macron over the ‘o’ for first person singular, the ‘s’ is second person singular, and the ‘t’ is third person singular. For plural, we blended the words to sound like an awful negative: “mustisnt”. ‘Mus’ is the first person plural ending, ‘tis’ is the second person plural ending, and ‘nt’ is the third person plural ending.

Then after we write out our individual charts, we still open the Latin book and check our work. There are many endings to learn and instantly checking helps us to develop good learning habits.

Those of you in Foundations may be wondering why the Latin tricks when we memorize them in Foundations. Well, when I first learned vowels, I said AEIOU. Now I just know them because I’ve used them many, many ways. I learned the alphabet song long before I learned how to read and write. Now the song is basically useless – except when I’m looking up the fourth letter in a word in a dictionary to check spelling. Then the song is entirely useful.

The same holds with the Latin declensions and conjugations. Students should memorize and use them in many, many ways so that they no longer see the endings but see through them while translating and thinking in Latin. So we chant endings, write them in charts, make up stories and funny words for them, and look for patterns. 

Active learners do this for EVERYTHING they learn, often without knowing that is what they do. Active learners seem smart, but really, they know to look for patterns. Anyone can be shown to be a pattern finder and then they will begin to know they too are smart.

- Leigh

1 comment:

Ahermitt said...

I love the way you say "we" learn and "we" memorize. So many people fail to realize that homeschooling often means parents and kids learning together. It really does make you one smart momma!