I tweeted earlier today about some games for use in the Latin classroom, and mentioned that I would blog about my favorite. Apologies to the originator of this game.*
CIRCUS FACTIONS is a great game for getting students up and moving while actively reviewing and correcting various points. It’s particularly effective for dealing with lists, like conjugating verbs or declining nouns. It’s highly adaptable, and I’m sure you can think of other applications, but it can be used profitably at any level.
Students are divided into the four famous teams from the circus races, which were supposed to have represented the four seasons:
- FACTIO PRASINA (‘the greens,’ representing the spring).
- FACTIO RVSSATA (‘the reds,’ representing the summer).
- FACTIO VENETA (‘the blues,’ representing the autumn).
- FACTIO ALBATA (‘the whites,’ representing the winter).
Teams can be chosen however you like (counting off by numbers, etc.), but one thing I’ve done to good effect in the past is to choose teams that divide students as equally as possible by ability level, the effort each student puts in, or by grades earned. Students don’t need to know how the teams have been chosen (you can pretend it’s random, and can swap players around occasionally to keep up the illusion), but consciously dividing groups allows you to ensure that no one group will dominate the game to such a degree that others become discouraged.
Choose a reasonable starting line some distance away from the board (not too far, not too close), and clear any and all obstacles away. Each team lines up in single file, the first member holding a piece of chalk or a dry erase marker. (It’s great if you can match these in some way to the team’s color.)
The images in this post are tacked up at the board above where each team is to complete its list.
- The first student from each team dashes to the board on the teacher’s command and completes the first item in the list.
- The first racer returns to the starting line where the next racer waits and passes the chalk (or marker) like a baton in a relay race.
- This and each successive racer has two options (and only two): either to complete the next item in the list, or to make one correction to something that has already been done.
- Teams earn points based on the order in which they finish, and the final winner is determined by adding up the points earned in successive races.
This can be an incredibly fun game, but, like most, I wouldn’t overdo it. Make it something students beg for.
* I learned the game when I began taking courses for New Jersey’s Alternate Route to Certification. The sequence of courses is technically sequential, but you can begin at any stage, completing the earlier sections that you’ve missed later in time. When I started a group of teachers was completing their assignments from the last unit, and this consisted of presenting games for classroom use. I’m notorious for not remembering names (Sarah teases me for not knowing the names of any of my college roommates), so I can’t recall the teacher who presented this to the class. If you’re him (or know him), please let me know.