The main reason for my long silence is that I’m now teaching full-time instead of 3/5ths, due to a sudden and unanticipated personnel change three weeks ago. Besides Latin IV (AP Vergil) and 6th-grade Geography (fall only), I’m now teaching all three levels of Middle School Latin (A, B, and C), instead of just Latin C. Since I seem to have a previously-unsuspected talent for handling middle-schoolers, I will be teaching the same classes next year, except that the AP class will be Latin V (AP Catullus and either Horace or Ovid). With fifteen students in Latin B, my average class-size is up from 5.3 to 7.6, which is still very reasonable.
A few things I’ve learned, in no particular order:
- One way to keep 6th-grade Geographers happy: bring in samples of products from the various countries we are covering. Though Barbadian hurricane glasses (to take one example) are interesting, edible samples go over particularly well: since the students are supposed to have had U.S. geography in 4th grade, we started with Canada (maple donuts) and Mexico (guacamole), before moving on to Central and South America, then Africa, then Europe (cheese). We jump into the Middle East (dates) on Monday.
- Another way to keep young Geographers happy: provide individual blow-up plastic globes (only $5.99 each). This wouldn’t work with a larger class, but it makes learning about latitudes and longitudes, the Prime Meridian, polar great circles, and so on much easier and more ‘hands-on’. The globes all stay in a big cardboard box when not in use.
- For all classes: What with recalcitrant xerox machines and very small classes, it’s easier to make all the needed copies of tests and handouts with my own little Deskjet. That also allows me to make them in color, which helps keep the middle-schoolers happy.