Jamboard: Read & Teacher-Draw, and Free Reading

Add short sections of a text to the top of a Jamboard (it’s in your Google apps), read as a whole class and have students tell you how to depict what’s going on. They probably won’t be speaking the target language (TL), but that doesn’t matter. You will. If they say “oh oh oh, don’t forget their hair,” just restate in the TL: “ah, dēbeō capillōs dēlīneāre? ego possum capillōs optimōs dēlīneāre. ecce! capillōs magnōs et rīdiculōs dēlīneō!”

“Why not have students do a Read & Draw?!” Good question.

First of all, your typical Read & Draw is really just a pre-activity to get a student product we can then use to provide more input during a Picture Talk. If we’re being honest with ourselves, there are a number of ways students can produce a drawing without processing much Latin:

  • Best case: read the whole thing, then draw
  • Next best: read up to a part that looks easy to draw, stop reading, then doodle
  • Slightly worse: pick out keywords, not processing many complete messages, then draw
  • Worst case: don’t read anything, instead recalling the text from memory, then draw

This is why drawings might tell us very little about how much a student understands. It’s also a case to use Read & Draw with an unseen, perhaps parallel, text. However, student drawings are usually hilarious, which is why the Picture Talk follow-up is the more reliable source of rich input, and that’s controlled by the teacher. The Read & Teacher-Draw has a similar level of control—able to adjust input up or down depending on the student/class section. You can ensure that students are actually reading and processing the Latin by leading them through the short section of text before they suggest how to draw. This is a good option for reusing a text, which I recommend doing no more than once or twice. That is, if students are reading the same text a total of three times, that third time must be super creative to ensure input is being processed, and not just a memory of the text.

Your Jam activity could have more of a reading focus, or listening focus. For example, I prefer the speaking version, providing input in asking students how to draw something, and making statements that aren’t in the story. The alternative would involve less of that interaction, and more focus on the text of the story itself. I say give both a try and go with what you like.

Free Reading
We’ve had 10 classes of this year’s scheduled marathon-length 84 minutes. Blocks are a terrible idea for everyone. You cannot convince me otherwise. We just started independent reading time set at 10 minutes, with all students reading from their class library of co-created texts and stories, as well as the first two books we’ve read, Mārcus magulus, and Olianna et obiectum magicum. This is the earliest I’ve started independent reading (aside from giving students ~5 minutes to all read the same thing on their own). 10 minutes is 12% of the class duration, and I plan to increase that to 16 minutes (20%) in a couple months.

At this point, the free reading is more curated, since we’re limiting options to what’s in the class library, as well as the early beginner books. However, it’s still “free,” meaning students aren’t expected to complete any product. The term “free” refers to research on extensive reading. Yes, students are free to choose, but also, and perhaps more importantly, students only have to read. I’ve observed teachers sharing out their free reading practices, and think there’s a huge disconnect, here. Teachers might be drawing from what researchers on extensive reading have found to be beneficial, but are adding their own things. Those things are mostly school things. As we’re finding out, traditional school things aren’t all that great. The result is some kind of mixed bag. Either the students don’t get as much out of the free reading (because they’re filling out some kind of journal or other task), or the extra tasks place more obstacles in the way. Perhaps the most conflicting idea with free reading is providing students with mostly above-level reading options. That’s not gonna work too well.

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