30 Hours & First Novella

With students meeting 1x/week—this year only—we just had the 30th class of the year. I compared this to our calendar for next year, which is as if it’s October 9th meeting every day of the week. Now, with constant reminders of routines (since at least one week passes from class to class), and typical testing/school interruptions, and Northeast snow, those 30 class hours could amount to fewer total hours of input (25, 20, 15?!). Total input hours is tough to calculate, though, so we’ll just stick with 30 for the purpose of this post! What does that mean for reading? Cue the first novella…

rufus lutulentus cover

Rūfus lutulentus is written with 20 words, and meaning is established for 5 more within the text. It’s intended to be the very first novella for any Latin student, able to be read within the first few months (e.g. October/November). I’m curious to see how this goes considering my students have had 30 hours of Latin over 8 months, not 2 or 3! Is the spaced exposure of 30 input hours not enough? Has the consistent reading of short texts students understand prepared them to read Rūfus with ease? Have students been exposed to a wide enough net of input, or will there still be words they don’t know?

While answers to the former questions will soon be revealed, I can at least look into the last one before we begin. My students have been exposed to—dare I say know?—all the words except cōramdecet, lutulārī, lutulentus, nefās, therma, and ubīque, of which meaning is established for most. Also, these words are recycled often throughout the text in order to expose students to the new/less-commonly used words. Therefore, I’m not worried about that.

Novella Reading Process
It’s interesting that without intentionally targeting the vocabulary for this novella, the high-frequency words naturally occurred throughout the year. Thus, there’s no need for me to pre-teach anything. Next week, we’ll sit in a circle, have a quick meeting in English to see if anyone has gross siblings, move into Latin with Personalized Questions & Answers (PQA), and then Read & Discuss. This activity is me reading aloud, asking what the Latin means in English, doing more PQA in Latin, and asking for volunteers to read, and/or say what’s going on, in English. At this time, I’ll also show students how to use the glossary—something teachers easily overlook.

The goal is reading the first two chapters together as a class, especially since most of the words in vocab-sheltered novellas appear within the first couple chaptersRūfus lutulentus is a short novella at about 1200 words in total length. Still, there’s enough within those first two chapters to discuss, such the calendar days, Palatine, Circus Maximus, Forum, Colosseum, and Pantheon! On the second class, a week later, I intend to begin with Sustained Silent Reading (SSR)—not quite Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) because everyone’s reading the same book—and then hold a class discussion. Since it’s their first SSR time, I’ll set it at 5min. From there, we might read another chapter together, and do a different input activity/game. If students are still interested, we’ll keep going for a third, and fourth class. If this were a typical year, I’d read until the novella novelty wore off, and/or we finished about half the book together, then would put it on the FVR shelf for students to finish on their own. The third and fourth classes should look the same, yet with a slight increase to the SSR time, and maybe a Write & Discuss summary of the whole book, and/or what we’ve read. Had my students been doing timed writes (which they haven’t), I’d probably give them time to write their own ending, and/or continue the story. Students have a lot of opinions about books, and a timed write follow-up gives them an opportunity to express preferences/improvements. To recap:

Day 1

  • Meeting in English
  • PQA
  • Read & Discuss

Day 2

  • SSR
  • *Read & Discuss*
  • Input Activity/Game

Day 3/4

  • SSR
  • Input Activity/Game
  • Write & Discuss

As you can see, my whole-class first novella process is no-frills. There are other ways to read novellas, though, and these are relatively new resources for teachers to be working with. So, what are you doing in your classes?

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