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  • Writer's pictureSkye Shirley

Actūs V et VI: Exit Tickets

The weather's getting warmer and students are showing up in t-shirts and sandals. It's approaching that time of year when we turn a corner, and start to make our exits into summer. In the world of teaching, we use the term "exit ticket" to describe the small formative assessments students need to pass in order to leave class. And since this is not only my last blog post, but also my last month of graduate studies at UMass Boston (after 5 and a half years!), I think it's time for me to make and do my own exit ticket.

Extension activities often help learners move beyond the text which they have pre-read and experienced through various methods. They can be expansion activities (such as adding adverbs to a text), group reading roles, or countless other approaches. They push readers to question the classic assumption that "I get what's going on, so I'm ready to move forward to another concept or text." What more is there to be understood about a text after basic linguistic comprehension? It's a question we answer frequently in literature classes, but in language classes, teachers (like myself) and learners (also, like myself) fall into an unfortunate habit of acting as if the moment the text is comprehensible, it is comprehended enough.

This week I challenge that assumption. To help myself, I searched pinterest and Google images for extension activities, particularly ones which focused on metacognition and self-evaluation.

One of the first sources I was lucky enough to stumble upon was Senorita Rodriguez' blog "Teaching a World Language." She shares a Powerpoint full of rubrics and worksheets to help learners reflect on their reading strategies and delve deeper into a text. Many of these are much harder for me since this is an independent study, and I don't exactly have classmates to collaborate with; nevertheless, I thought the process of self-evaluation would come in handy as I look back on not just what I learned in Acts V and VII, but how I learned it.

If some of these worksheets seem childish, good. In many ways, learning a new language puts you in a position of a child, and it's only fitting that you would provide yourself with the same scaffolds a first language learner needs. Thankfully, learning a new language after learning how to read and write gives adult language learners extra resources for acquisition. My hope is that by filling out these worksheets, I'll support my learning and share a bit about what it's like to learn a second language with some of the resources I had learning English. For now, it's time to print out these worksheets, scan them, and I'll report back on what I find!

From Srta. Gonzales' Powerpoint:

It's a wonderful way to wrap up reading a text, and reflect on what you take away from it!

A second one she provided was pretty challenging to do as an autodidact, BUT I think for the most part I meet expectations in these categories. I took notes on why I gave myself each rating...

This comprehension rubric was perfect for reflecting on what I actually do while reading. Of course the last two are a bit obvious for anyone who knows me, and perhaps silly beyond an elementary level. But the ones about asking whether I pause or reread were definitely eye-opening.

And there's this cute book-mark "Think Mark" which I decided to do mostly for Acts V and VI but include some about the text as a whole. I think the idea is that you fold it in half and use it to mark your progress in a book, but it works well as an exit ticket too:

The final category was the hardest part of this whole set of exit-tickets. My recommendation of the book? Well, it was worthwhile to read to get a sense of Terence's linguistic style, and definitely thought-provoking in terms of what the Romans found funny. I love reading vulgar Latin, the Latin of conversation, the slang and elisions....

But the rape plot line is pretty un-funny to readers like myself, post #metoo movement and my own personal #metoo experiences. It's helped me to consider that the "laughs" that the Romans had about this play to come from a specific angle: relief. In a pre-paternity test world, I'd expect there was a lot of anxiety about whether or not your wife was actually pregnant with your child. And from a woman's perspective, although rape is not funny, the relief of learning your kid is indeed biologically the child of your husband might let out a relieved laugh (though not if it's the same guy who violently raped you)? I'm grasping at straws here, but what I can say is that this play made me much more curious about familial relationships in Rome, between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, and between father and maybe-not-always-biological child.

One last thing I'll mention. The "happy" ending, in which a voiceless Philumena is already married to her rapist, and the guy Pamphilus gets off mostly scott-free and with his child spared from infanticide, seems like one that perhaps only the ancient Romans would find satisfying... right? Except, apparently not. I've also been reading Walter E. Forehand's book Terence, published in 1985, in which he writes:

"We must avoid the urge to make modern social criticism of The Mother-in-Law." (104)

I think modern social criticism is always an interesting and valuable lens, and that doesn't mean we can't also be aware of our own cultural expectations in the process. And even if you don't make modern social criticism of the play, you could also avoid as a scholar writing so definitively, as Forehand did:

"Pamphilus loves Philumena" (93)

This honestly reminds me of American history textbooks which have been rightfully criticized by writing that owners "cared for and protected [slaves] like members of the family." Or perhaps I shouldn't apply "modern social criticism" to a book written in 1985?

"One of the most satisfying outcomes of the play is that Pamphilus and Philumena overcome their difficulties." (104)

I leave this play unsatisfied, and I wonder how many Romans felt the same way, and whether it was for the same reasons. But I am still very glad I read it, to get a fuller sense of Roman comedy and think more deeply about exactly the ideas Terence and Forehand bring up. This is my last post here on Roman Comedy, and I hope the exit ticket strategies are ones you might use either on yourself as learners or in your classrooms as teachers. Curate ut valeatis!

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