Input-Based Strategies & Activities

**Updated 5.16.18**

When choosing the class agenda beyond each particular day’s routine, it dawned on me that I couldn’t remember all my favorite activities. Thus, here are the input-based strategies & activities I’ve collected over the years, all in one place. Although this began as only reading activities, I decided that it didn’t matter as much whether students were reading or listening. Why? These input-based activities start with some kind of text either way, so beyond variety, what really matters most to me when planning for class is providing students with input, and what kind of prep goes into getting the text/activity. Everything is organized by prep, whether no instructions, no prep, printing only, or low prep. You won’t find prep-intensive activities here beyond typing, copying, and cutting paper. Oh, and for ways to get that one text to start, try here. Enjoy!

**N.B. Any activity with the word “translation” in it means translating what is already understood. This should NOT be confused with the more conventional practice of translating in order to understand.**

No Instructions

  • Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) (Krashen-coined term? for Extensive Reading)
    Booklets of class stories & novels
    Students choose a book and read.
  • Read & Discuss/Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) (source unknown)
    Printed copies of text, or whole-class reading of novels
    Students read, then discuss topic as a class.
  • Read & Translate (source unknown)
    Printed copies of text, or whole-class reading of novels
    In pairs, students translate text. Save this for when you, or the students need a break. **Do NOT use if students are unable to understand the text in Latin.**
  • Listen & Draw (source unknown)
    Students listen, and draw what they hear.  This could be used with an entire story told by the teacher, or shorter texts repeated a few times. storyboard, a single paper with different characters represented. Also see Storyboard Dictation for more structure.


No Prep
Projected text

  • Choral Translation (source unknown)
    Teacher points to words/phrases as class translates into English.
  • Classic Dictation  (source unknown)
    Teacher reads a sentence a few times. Students write down exactly what they hear, in Latin. Teacher will project the text. Students use different color pens to make changes to what they heard (vs. what the text has).
  • Storyboard Dictation (shared by Annabelle Allen)
    – Keep a stack of blank storyboards handy for No Prep

    Teacher reads a sentence a few times. Students write down exactly what they hear, in Latin. Students draw what the Latin is about in the box above while teacher repeats several times. Teacher will project the text. Students use different color pens to make changes to what they heard (vs. what the text has).
  • mendāx! (a.k.a. “Stultus,” from Keith Toda et al.)
    A student volunteer (job?) points to words as teacher translates. When the teacher intentionally makes mistakes, students yell “mendāx!
  • Blind Retell (source unknown)
    In pairs, Student A faces board, and Student B stands with back to the board. Student B retells the story from memory (in English OR in Latin). Student A (who can read the story), can help Student B whenever stuck. Students switch roles, repeat. Yes, this is a reading activity whenever Student A reads along while Student B retells, and/or whenever they read in order to help Student B.
  • Spot Check Translation (John Piazza)
    Project a short text, or section of a longer text (e.g. 10 lines). Students translate the first X lines into English (e.g. first 5), and continue if they have time (for faster processors). Set a timer for 1min/line of text (e.g. 5min). Pass out red pens & “correct” as a class, answering any questions, just like Quick Quizzes.
  • Trashketball Translation (a.k.a. “Word Chunk Team Game” from Ben Slavic)
    Setup: Students get into teams (2, 3, 4?), choose a team name, and gesture (that they all will have to do together). Gameplay: Teacher says a phrase, then a student is randomly selected. Student’s team stands up, says team name, does gesture *at the same time* and ONLY THAT STUDENT translates. If stuck, the student can get help from group. Understandable translation gets the team 3 throws (or 1 per student). Highest points wins. Cavē! This game could result in low levels of input, especially when done towards the beginning of the year at the phrase-level. For more input, consider using sentence-level messages.
  • Interactive Read Aloud (update shared by Elicia Cárdenas)
    – No Prep, but takes a bit getting used to. You’ll have to hone your skills on this one!
    Almost every word or phrase could bring texts to life. As you read, stop to engage students. Students do the actions in place (i.e. TPR), provide atmosphere by singing music, or becoming a prop. Enlist actors, check for comprehension, etc. Do everything you might do while storyasking, just with a new, completed story.
  • Quick Quiz (originally Ben Slavic)
    – Yes, my quizzes are input-based, and No Prep!

    Students get a small piece of paper, write name, and numbers 1 – 4. Then, they read the projected text. Don’t skip this step! Give them time to reaaaaaaad! The teacher says something in English about a sentence from the text. If the teacher says what the Latin means, students write “True.” If the teacher changes 1 meaning, students write “False,” the original Latin (that was changed), and what the original Latin means. Pass out red pens & “correct” as a class in Latin, answering any questions. Don’t grade these, but put the score into the gradebook (in a “Portfolio” category set to 0%), then use as evidence for a quarter grade based on holistic rubrics. If you’re low on time, make statements all true. If you want to give more support, tell students which sentence you’re saying something about (e.g. “this sentence means ‘Caesar likes to party,’ true, or false?”)
  • Vocab Quick Quiz
    – Yes, my quizzes are input-based, and No Prep!
    Super quick version of Quick Quiz. After students read the projected text, underline 4 words/phrases students will then give an English equivalent for. Pass out red pens & “correct” as a class in Latin, answering any questions.
  • K-F-D Quiz
    – Yes, my quizzes are input-based, and No Prep!
    – You don’t even have to project a text for this. It’s all-listening.
    Students get a full sheet of paper, write name, and divide paper into 3 columns (i.e. Know, Forget, and Don’t know). As the teacher reads aloud, students write down words they Know, Forget (or will probably forget), and Don’t know in the respective column. When the teacher reads a 3rd time, students give a signal when they hear words from the Forget or Don’t know. Students write down the English meanings next to the words in the Forget and Don’t know columns. Don’t grade these, but put a completion score into the gradebook (e.g. if students don’t write down English equivalents of words in their Forget or Don’t know columns, mark 2/4).


Print Me!
Requires just printed copies of text

  • Silent Volleyball Reading (update shared by Jason Fritze)
    In pairs, students read a text sentence-by-sentence. 
    Student A translates aloud while Student B reads silently. Student B translates the next sentence aloud while Student A reads silentlyCould follow up immediately with Trashketball Translation, explained at the end, which is not a reading activity, but gives more purpose to all the translating.
  • Silent True/False Reading (shared by Alina Filipescu)
    In pairs, students read silently for X minutes, then each draw 2 pics about the text (1 true, 1 FALSE). Students swap papers, and partner points to the True pic. Pairs now trade papers with another pair, and determine the new True pics with partner.
  • 2 Truths & 1 Lie (source unknown)
    – Familiarize yourself with the lettering, tearing, and passing, then this becomes auto.
    In pairs, students each get a piece of paper, write numbers 1-3 on top half, then 2 true sentences and 1 FALSE sentence from the text. The teacher goes around and letters the top of each group’s paper (e.g. if only 4 groups, writes A through D). When done, students tear off bottom half of paper (i.e. answer sheet), and write as many letters as there are groups (teacher will tell you up to what letter). Students pass top of paper to another group. Students read the other group’s sentences they received, and write the # sentence that is False next to that group’s letter on the answer sheet. When finished, teacher collects all, reads each, and calls on a student to change the False sentence to make it True.
  • Sound Effect Reading Choice (update shared by Erica Peplinski)
    In groups, students take a few minutes to come up with their own sound effects all throughout a short text. Then, assign each group a particular word/phrase. Read the story aloud as each group contributes with their own sound. Optional follow up discussion based on group sound choices.
  • Paper Airplane Translation (shared by Chris Stolz, from Terry Waltz)
    + a blank sheet of paper for each pair
    Try this step by step. I found that students couldn’t get it all at once. Also, don’t be surprised if you have to teach students how to fold a paper airplane—itself its own input activity!
    Pairs of students combine names (e.g. Tom and Lucy become “Tomlu,” etc.). Half of the teams go to one side of the room, and half on the other. The middle is off-limits. Pairs a) pick any sentence from the story, b) translate into English on the blank sheet of paper, c) sign their combo name, then d) make their sheet into a paper airplane and throw it across to the other pairs of students. All pairs then pick up a new airplane, unfold it, read the sentence, then find it in the target language in the story. Pairs then pick another sentence within 1-3 sentences after the one they have just read, translate into English, write it down, sign their name, and throw it across. From Chris “if an airplane doesn’t make it across the no-go zone, the throwers have to retrieve it by picking it up…but they cannot use their hands, heh heh, and then they throw it again. If the sentence they read is at the end of the story, they can make their next sentence the beginning.”


Low Prep

  • Quis sit? (me?)
    – Statements about students (projected, or read aloud), taken from Card Talk, Special Person Interviews, etc., as well as small pieces of paper
    Students read statements about their peers, guess who the statement is about by writing down the name (writing “sum/I am” if it’s about them), then turn in. Teacher, or student job tallies results, discuss, and reveals identities.
  • Running Dictation (source unknown)
    Text cut into sentence strips, and small pieces of paper
    Students get into pairs, write both names on a piece of paper. Student A runs to a sentence, memorizes it, runs back, and says it out loud—in Latin—to Student B. Student B writes down exactly what they hear. Both students then translate into English on the line below. Students then switch roles, and continue (i.e. Student B now runs to a sentence, Student A writes, etc.). Teams show teacher when finished, then number all sentences of the story in the correct order. The first 3 teams finished win! Follow up immediately with Trashketball Translation, at the end, which is not a reading activity, but gives more purpose to the dictation.
  • Word Race (Martina Bex)
    Printed Word Cloud with phrases from a text
    Call out English meanings as pairs race to highlight the TL. Or for more input, put all phrases in English as you read text in the TL.
  • English Quadrant Word Race (me?)
    Printed Word Cloud quadrants with 3 false English phrases/sentences, and 1 true
    Variation where the teacher reads aloud sections of the text as pairs race to highlight the English when they hear the TL.

One thought on “Input-Based Strategies & Activities

  1. Pingback: Learning Latin via Agrippina: Released! | Magister P.

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