3000 additional total words in 28 scenes and stories for the novice reader featuring more vivid descriptions of weapons, deeper character development, mud, fights with animals, retiarii, baths, rumors, mysterious odors, infants in danger, Crixaflamma’s real name, and more…
This is a different kind of teacher’s guide.
I spent about 15min entering data from the diēs Mārtis (i.e. Tuesday) Latin class K-F-D Quizzes. N.B. These are “sneaky quizzes” per my NTPRS 2017 presentation, No Prep Grading & Assessment, referring to “assessments” that satisfy most quizzing/testing requirements, yet are actually an opportunity to interact and acquire.
28 students were in class for the K-F-D Quiz. Here are some observations:
Teacher’s Materials for Rūfus et arma ātra are just days away from being published, featuring 28 additional stories that expand the unique word count, and increase sentence lengths. This will provide the novice+ student with 3000 more total words to read in Latin, and is the first of my Latin texts written with deliberate attention to super clear cognates—45 of them!
When it comes to a student-centered acquisition-rich classroom, the main responsibility of a teacher is providing input. Given time constraints, as well as what we know about general anxiety over learning languages, the input (I) should be as comprehensible (C) as possible. Therefore, the teacher would benefit from spending most of their time making the target language more comprehensible, but doing so requires training in particular strategies and techniques.
An oft neglect technique for Latin teachers is the liberal use of cognates.
Someone on Facebook posed a couple questions to those at the college/university level regarding the preparedness, and subsequent placement of incoming students.
These are excellent questions.
One comment reported that most incoming Advanced Placement (AP) students retake a lower level grammar course in college. Most! These AP students were successful in high school because of significant memorization, but aren’t prepared for grammar the way colleges expect them to be. Perhaps we should look at exposing students to grammar a different way, no?
I’ve asked these questions, myself, yet the few Classics Departments I solicited years ago didn’t collect any of that data beyond a handful of students they could remember from the current year. Oh, would that they had done so!
The low-tech/no-tech paper version of the English Quadrant Word Race (included in Pīsō Ille Poētulus Teacher’s Guide, as well as the upcoming Teacher’s Materials for Rūfus et arma ātra) is an awesome, simple, input-based competitive activity.
The more-tech version is to take 5min and make a Kahoot quiz for the whole class, or teams. On Kahoot, students earn more points the faster they answer, so you’ll get a whole class/team winner (vs. the 1 winner per pair in the low/no-tech paper version).
The process is the same—just read slowly in the target language, and when students hear you say one of the options, they choose it on their smartphone/computer.
- Caesar’s Dē Bellō Gallicō, Liber V (i.e. just book 5, though there are 8 total) has 2900 unique words, and is 7400 total words in length.
- All 4 current “Pisoverse” novellas combined have 233 unique words, and are 8445 total words in length.
- Regardless of any definition of “reading” that could possibly exist, successfully reading one of the above is an impossible task for nearly all high school students, and extremely unlikely for the remaining handful.
- The unique word count of 108 in Pīsō Ille Poētulus—the highest of my novellas—is too high for some students to read easily. That’s with just 108 words, let alone 200, let alone 400, let alone 800, 1600, or the 2900 in Caesar.
- Most students will fail to read anything close to this excerpt of just one ancient author (traditionally considered “easy Latin!”) that has 26x the vocabulary of a novella some students can’t yet read easily.
- At most, high school students receive 4 years of input (5-6 if middle school Latin?). Given that some students in years 1 and 2 might not be able to read Pīsō Ille Poētulus easily, it’s clear that realistic expectations for reading are much, much lower than we think.
- Students will be more successful reading copious amounts of Latin containing words they are familiar with.
- Sheltering vocabulary has the greatest impact on providing contexts with more familiar words.
- Students would benefit from reading more novellas under 100 unique words.
Why novellas? Read more, here.