A few weeks ago, one of my Intensive Elementary Latin students asked me “What is a good grade for this class?” After I answered her, the question stuck with me. The next day in class, I reminded my students that they had only started learning Latin at the end of August and that they really had learned a lot since then, so they should feel good about their progress. Her question has still stuck with me. Whenever I come back to this question, my thoughts for the students are: “Are you satisfied with your grade given how much you have invested in the class?” and more so “Are you happy with what you’ve learned?” As a teacher, my thoughts come back to: what have my students learned? Are they on the right path to where I want them to be? So then, I need to know: where do I want them to be? That’s what the Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) tell me.
Since Intensive Latin is a regularly offered course that fits into a Latin sequence, the SLOs were written for me. Through the SLOs, the Department of Classics told me where my students should know at the end of the semester and at the end of the school year (If it were not a regularly offered class, I would have written my own. Tweeking or adding to pre-fabricated SLOs to fit your own preferences for the course are also helpful to make the class your own.). Recently, I have found these SLOs very helpful for me to remind me what my students should be focused on.
And that’s the key: designing the course around the SLOs so that you achieve them. When I taught Roman Civilization, my major activity was a paper that I wanted my students to use primary sources in order to write. With that goal and due date in mind, I worked backwards using Bloom’s Taxonomy to figure out what skills to teach when so that my students could analyze ancient literature well enough to write their papers. Now, with Latin, I know that I need to go through the grammar covered by our textbook, but I also need to prepare my students to read (and enjoy and discuss) non-textbook Latin at the end of the year (and for next school year). That goal has been in my mind more often recently as I choose assignments or search for passages that are not just about teaching them grammar, but about reading Latin.
These goals have been good to remember 2/3 of the way through the semester. Remembering the SLOs helps me stay on track and teach what I should teach.