Syra et animālia: Published! & The Pisoverse FVR Readers

The companion text to Syra sōla is now available on Amazon.

Rūfus lutulentus, Rūfus et arma ātra, Agrippīna: māter fortis, and now Syra sōla all have companion texts, either as collections of additional stories via Expanded Readings (i.e. Rūfus et Lūcia: līberī lutulentī, Syra et animālia, and Rūfus et gladiātōrēs), or a parallel novella via Choose-Your-Own-Level Readings (i.e. Līvia: māter ēloquens). These books have a colored border, and more than one unique word count button to show the range throughout (depending on the level one reads), which corresponds the other Pisoverse books (i.e. light blue <50 words; dark blue 50-100 words; purple 100+ words). This word count button is intended to inform teachers of relative reading level, and help learners choose a book during Free Voluntary Reading (FVR). Thus, I refer to all these companion texts as “FVR readers.”

N.B. Even though the companion texts are all based on existing novellas, learners don’t need to have read the originals! They can exist independently as FVR reading options.

Syra et animālia is the latest addition to the FVR readers. The new companion text to Syra sōla features the most super clear cognates in a Pisoverse novella to date, with 60! In this book, Syra encounters various animals around Rome on her quest for a pet. Familiar Pisoverse characters make appearances throughout, such as the arrogant Terrex, who we learn has a pet ape he doesn’t like and never named, and a pet peacock he adores, named Pāvopapī!

Here’s how the FVR readers work, and can be used…

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Basics: Current Ideas & Summary of Recurring Blog Posts

All Of My Daily Activities, etc.
– input-based strategies & activities
– how to get texts

If this stuff interests you, consider putting a few things in place to support the move towards a more comprehension-based and communicative approach. Here are the practices fundamental to my teaching, making the daily stuff possible:

Grammar
Textbooks
Curriculum
Grading
Course Grade
D.E.A.
Assessments
Speaking & Writing

Continue reading for explanations of each…

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The 1-Class CALP & Comprehensible Content-Based Instruction (CCBI)

At iFLT 2019, Martina Bex presented on content-based instruction (CBI), only with an important caveat you’d expect from the conference: a focus on comprehension, hence CCBI. I was delighted to see how similar her three steps were to the framework I’ve been developing with John Bracey, David Maust, and John Piazza, which we presented at ACL’s Centennial Institute. Martina uses slightly different terms taken from Bloom’s Taxonomy to describe the same process we’re using (hers on the left, ours on the right):

Knowledge = Connect
Comprehension = Explore
Analysis/Synthesize = Create

Martina’s presentation showed how simple the process can be, making the concept of teaching Roman content in Latin more approachable. How? The format she shared was for a single class. Of course, the idea is not to teach random new content every day, but instead to have each day’s content within a larger unit, but still, this “bite-sized” approach feels more manageable for anyone looking to teach content in the target language. So how does that differ from the unit template the John’s and I shared at ACL?

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Communication Breaks: Air Spelling, Two Second Turn & Talk, and Cloze

At iFLT 2019, Grant Boulanger paused to have had students close their eyes and spell a word in the air, syllable-by-syllable as he repeated it slowly. Students opened their eyes, and Grant wrote the word on the board, and continued with class.

But why?

Quite simply, this gets students to focus on listening, which Grant mentioned is important since most of what goes on in school makes use of other senses. Also, once the word is written on the board, any “mistakes” literally disappear into thin air. It’s like a fleeting dictātiō!

Consider using air spelling before establishing meaning of a new word/phrase when the class flow could use a short break from the input. In fact, this strategy is part of what I’ve been thinking of as Communication Breaks. These breaks pause or reduce input, allowing students either to think, or briefly interact in ways that lack a communicative purpose. Between these breaks and Brain Breaks, class should be over before students even know it!

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