Does this blog title make you twitch? I want to correct it myself. How many badly conjugated verbs have you corrected on students papers and quizzes? Would about a billion be a fair estimate?
We spend an inordinate amount of time instructing students about how to correctly built Latin words. The students dutifully write lists of verbs, nouns, noun-adjective pairs and we attempt to get them to care about how to identify the stem, the linking vowel, the declension etc. They wonder and sometimes give voice to the question, "What is the point?"
The point is for students to write in Latin. If you never ask students to write anything more than a correctly declined noun, you may want to reconsider your instruction. Simply put, you could move a great deal faster and more enjoyably through the curriculum without the hassle of forcing students to create lists and lists of badly spliced nouns and verbs.
If however, you do not wish to abandon the teaching of the construction of Latin words, you need to find some compelling reason for students to write in Latin. Now here, I am borrowing a term from the Comprehensible Instruction theorists. (See links for webpages by CI practitioners.) Compelling does not mean finding a life or death scenario but an assignment that generates some enthusiasm to do well.
In addition, most students write better, take more time to write well when the expectation is that the writing will be shared - even if it is only to your Latin class. Many students are motivated by the prospect of entertaining and impressing each other than they are by receiving a grade or homework points from you.
Secondly, you need to structure the assignment so that students can be successful. Give students a highly structured, short assignment. The assignment may only be a few sentences consisting only of subjects and direct objects or a list of commands. The trick is to structure what they can do into an actual project rather than three random lines on a page.
Finally, you need to provide students the tools so that they can edit their own work or each other's work. This is an important lesson I learned as an English teacher. If a student writes something, and the teacher cover it with red pen and hand it back to them, the student has learned nothing. The teacher is the only one practicing editing skills in this scenario. More about how to do this in a subsequent blog - creatively titled "Editing,"
So to recap, generating successful writing projects can be summarized in three commandments: