Laura Gibbs recently made an observation about the strange way declensions are taught in Latin textbooks, and in classrooms.
It is far more intuitive, and in accord with the way declensions are taught in modern declined languages, to teach them by case.
I decided to experiment with this with one class - the result was highly satisfactory. The outcome of this is a method I have developed, I call 'teaching with the hand', or Grammatical TPRS. This was my Eureka moment - that I could use the human hand to teach the declensions. Maybe it has been done before, but I've never seen such a table or image in a textbook before.
I made a tar heel reader going through the method blow by blow.
It works really well. Five declensions, one per finger. Vocative on the index finger, which is what we use to point when 'addressing' something. Second declension is on this finger.
Students immediately know the numbers of the declensions, because the paradigms are literally 'at their fingertips'
As a teacher, easy to get the class involved - simply hold up a finger, and state a verb that requires a certain case: then the student has to decline the paradigm verb for the finger held up:
e.g. The teacher calls out Ecce! and her fourth finger: the student has to decline fructus.
Video (or amo, or habeo, or some such) and the index finger, will produce dominum, or magistrum, or verbum....
O! and the pointing action will produce domine, or fili, or vergili or some such response....and rapidly, the students can be challenged and tested. They can 'see' immediately that there in only a vocative case on the 'pointing finger'.
Tests are given on blank hand sheets. (Be sure to trace your hand PALM UP, as this gives the hand that the student is looking at in front of them)
In the student's workbooks, ten large hands ( 5 for singular, 5 for plurals) are traced out from a photocopied master copy, and instead of declension tables, the students have hand pages, each headed up with a verb, or, in the nominative, with 'ecce'.
I managed to teach ALL the singular in one lesson - but only gave the nominative for homework for a formal test.
So, Laura, thank you for suggesting this, it really has made a huge difference to my approach to teaching this.
My students have grasped the differences between the cases much more quickly than they had before.
I think this method is better, as it involves 1. visual sense 2. kinesthesis (feeling, as the kids touch their fingers) 3 auditory input so it reaches a wide range of learning inputs. It is sort of like TPRS but for grammar.