Input-Based Strategies & Activities

**Check out the EZ conversions for remote learning!**
**Updated 3.2.21 with Mike Peto’s Read-Aloud**
**Check out the companion post on Getting Texts!**

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. Use a blank storyboard, or a single paper with different characters represented all mashed up. Also see Storyboard Dictation for more structure. Students might only be able to draw parts of what they hear, especially for longer stories. Consider a followup activity during which the teacher repeats a sentence from the beginning, then asks who drew that part. If any student has, use a document camera to treat the student drawing like a Picture Talk (see Getting Texts).
  • Listen & Draw Whiteboards (Donna Tatum Johns)
    Teacher says aloud a simple phrase, or very short sentence as students draw it on white boards. This is particularly helpful at the beginning of the year.
  • Kindergarten Day Reading/Storytelling while Drawing (SwD) (sources unknown)
    Read a story aloud to students. Optional drawing while doing so.

No Prep
Usually just projected text, sometimes less

  • Mike Peto’s Read-Aloud
    1) Teacher reads aloud as students listen
    2) Reread paragraph-by-paragraph as students ask clarifying questions to help understanding (English is fine)
    3) Reread again as students come up with comprehension questions that the teacher has to answer (English is fine)
  • Weekend BINGO (Michelle Dawson)
    A whole-class BINGO board filled with prompts about what students did over the weekend. Randomly call out numbers, and first student to complete row or column wins.
  • Game of Quotes (shared by Senora Chase, from Jessie Oelke)
    Team-based follow up to independent reading, and/or longer text. Read about it, and get the Slides here.
  • Guessing Game (shared by Kaitlin Leppert, from Luke Worthington)
    Determine categories (e.g. cibus, animālia, urbēs, colōrēs, etc.). On a piece of paper, students write a target language word that falls under each category, then tear paper to make small cards. Collect, randomly draw, then describe the word. Students must listen to 3 clues before trying to guess the word. Award correct guesses with the card.  Most cards wins.
  • Copy/Change/Continue (me)
    Project one student-written text (i.e. typed/edited Timed Write), and for 10 minutes, students a) copy the story into their notebooks, b) have the option to change details, then c) continue the story by writing until the timer goes off. Follow up with a quick share and discussion for more input. Opt. Discuss one student’s changes/continued story at length, end class with Write & Discuss, and students now have 2 new texts to read that night!
  • 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 (Update) (a.k.a. “Word Chunk Team Game” from Ben Slavic, update by Tina Hargaten, and adapted by me)
    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/sentence 2x, then a student is randomly selected. Student’s team stands up, says team name, does gesture *at the same time* and ALL TRANSLATE TOGETHER. Understandable translation gets a point. At 3 points, the team gets 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.
  • Team Translate (i.e. my adaptation of Trashketball)
    Same as Trashketball Translation above, yet no basketball, just most points wins.
  • 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).
  • Picture 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.
    – THIS Quick Quiz is in the TL (Target Language).
    Project a picture, then make 4 True/False statements about it. You could use a screenshot from a MovieTalk you just finished (e.g. choose a random point in the timeline), whatever you were discussing during PictureTalk, or an entirely new image.
  • Classroom Quick 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.
    – THIS Quick Quiz is also in the TL (Target Language).

    Make 4 True/False statements about anything in the room! Have a map? Say something about a location. Have a Word Wall? Say something about a word. Have furniture? Talk about its size, or shape. Being observed? Talk about that person.  Want to walk around? Narrate what it is you’re doing (i.e. TPR).
  • Tense Test
    – Yes, my quizzes are input-based, and No Prep!
    – You don’t even have to project a text for this. It’s all-listening.
    Say anything. Instead of True/False, students write X/Present for whichever tense you use. Have a picture? Describe exactly what’s going on for the present, or anything else for a different tense. No picture? On the spot, say anything. Then, offer students the choice of “X/Present.” N.B. If what you just said was in the present tense, add any other tense as that other option. If what you said was a different tense, be sure to include that in the options! 
  • Pronunciation Quiz
    – Yes, my quizzes are input-based, and No Prep!
    Read aloud some Latin as-is for True. Change the length of a vowel, or ignore double consonants for False. That’s it!
  • Poetry Quiz
    – Yes, my quizzes are input-based, and No Prep!
    Recite a line of poetry as-is for True, or change the rhythm for False (i.e. vowel lengths, elisions, syllable quantities). That’s it!

Print Me!
Requires just printed copies of text

  • Lucky Reading Game (Senora Chase)
    + Whiteboards & Playing Cards
    Project this for scoring
    Students Read & Translate in groups for X minutes. All members should understand the whole text. If they finish early, predict questions teacher will ask. Each group sends a representative to the front of room (with the text). Teacher asks a question, in English or the target language, then counts down from 5 as students write their response. Correct responses allow students to draw a card, and bring back to show their group, and keep secret. Since the point values are projected on the board, but cards are kept secret until end of the game, groups don’t know who’s in the lead! A new representative is sent up, then play continues. Group members can highlight parts of the text that have been questioned, predicting what might come next.
  • The septem game! (adapted from “The sex game!” shared by Keith Toda)
    Oh, and some 10-sided dice (N.B. use any-sided die, and pick any number)
    In groups of 3-4, students get a text, as well as a 10-sided die and 1 pencil. They take turns rolling until someone gets a 7, yells out that number in the target language (TL), and begins translating sentences from the text. They continue to do so while other team members keep rolling. Once someone else gets a 7, they grab the pencil  from who was writing, and play continues. Stop after a round and reread the text. Students signal when you read the end of their translation. Continue until the winner (furthest translated) is revealed. I like doing the first round as a group, then having each student get their own paper, and compete individually within the group (and whole class). There’s still just one pencil!
  • 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 above, 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, and me)
    Assign groups a particular section of a reading. They choose words/phrases to make gestures and sounds to. Read the story aloud as each group contributes with their own sound in their own section. Have other groups learn and begin to join the presenting group’s gestures and sounds.
  • 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.”
  • Draw, Write, Pass (Martina Bex)
    Draw, Write, Pass paper

    For the first round, students read the text, choose a sentence, draw it ONLY, then pass. Then, students read the text to find the sentence the other person drew, write the Latin in the caption box, choose another sentence, draw it ONLY, then pass. Continue.

Low Prep

  • Paper Strip Bingo (Martina Bex et al.)
    – list of words
    Students tear off the top 2″ or so of a piece of paper to get a strip, then make into 5 boxes. Project a list of (10, 20?) words/phrases. Students choose 5 and write English equivalents in each box. Read the text aloud, pausing at words/phrases. When a student hears the target language word of what they have *on either end of the paper ONLY,* they yell out the English and tear off the word/phrase. Continue until the first student yells out and tears their last word/phrase and wins. N.B. You likely have to reread the text at least once, since certain words/phrases are “locked” in the middle boxes, unable to be torn.
  • Story Cube Reconstruction (me?, like OWI Profiles, below)
    – Pic of other class’ Story Cube story
    – blank graphic organizers

    Project pic of cubes. In groups, students brainstorm (set a short timer in order to keep English at a minimum) to determine the other class’ story based on the pics of the cubes. Lead a reconstruction of the other class story in the target language using the blank graphic organizer. Finish with revealing the actual story after the whole-class discussion. Use your favorite reading strategy! Type up, then you have new parallel stories to give the original class!
  • Flyswatter PictureTalk (my adaptation, shared by Keith Toda, from Jason Fritze)
    – Student drawings (e.g. products of Listen & Draw, and Silent T/F Reading)
    Place two drawings side-by-side under a document camera (or use silent T/F Reading drawings all ready to go). Two competing students head to board. Students indicate the picture you’re describing by calling out “left/right” in the target language. It’s best when you can describe things that are in both, reserving any difference for after some input.
  • Draw the Drawn Drawing (PPP) (Bob Patrick)
    List of words (10-15), 3 printed copies to save class time
    – Other 10min. input-based activity ready to go
    3 volunteers receive word list and draw on whiteboards something inspired by some of the words. They are NOT to show anyone, even each other. Engage the rest of class with another activity for 10min. Choose one drawing, and have that artist hang tight for a bit, becoming a judge. Teams of 4-6 listen to you describe one of the drawings, while just one of the team member draws on their own whiteboard (getting help from teammates about heard details). Describe 3x, adding more details/complexity to the input each time. Place drawings on the whiteboard rail, do a bit of Picture Talk, and then have the artist who was hanging out judge which drawing was best. Repeat with the 2nd, then 3rd drawings, rotating out the judge, and switching up roles within teams.
  • OWI Profiles (me?)
    – Blank Character Profiles
    Bulleted list of class character traits
    – One Word Image (OWI) drawings from a Listen & Draw
    Distribute the drawings to groups until all are gone. Groups brainstorm (set a short timer in order to keep English at a minimum) to determine another class’ character traits based on drawings. Lead a reconstruction of the other class character in the target language using a blank graphic organizer. Finish with revealing the actual traits one-by-one after the whole-class discussion.
  • 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.
  • Quid sint? (me?)
    – Card Talk followup including what a student likes, dislikes, and does, except the students don’t know which one goes with what. Discussion is what other students think.
    Students read a description about one of their peers, guessing which things they like, dislike, and do.
  • 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.
  • Read & Draw (me?)
    – Sentences copied/typed into the captions of Draw, Write, Pass paper
    Students read the sentence in the caption box, then represent that above with a drawing.
  • 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.
  • Individual Word Race (Karen Hellow Shackleton)
    Solo variation of the Word Race. Each students gets their own Word Cloud. Set a timer (e.g. 3 seconds) and students race against the clock!
  • 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.
  • Like/Dislike (Linda Li)
    Project a single image, or series of images like the Either/Or PPT
    – Add to Card Talk for more movement
    Move from one side of the room (likes) or the other (dislikes), or a space for indifference. Gets class moving once we find out someone likes something. Also, add to Card Talk for more movement.

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