Spooky Season Stories: novellae horrificae

Autumn is probably my favorite season, and Halloween most certainly my favorite holiday. No fancy costume for me this year, but I’ll be reading a spooky tale for sure. You should, too. However, you’ve got just a couple weeks to get one of these books in time to read to students over Zoom (Kindergarten Day reading-style), or along with them via eBooks and PDF. Grab that hot apple cider, get spooky lighting, and scare your students this season!

Quīntus et nox horrifica (Amazon, eBook Polyglots, eBook on Storylabs)
Given its low word count (26 cognates, 26 other), and super short length (1100 total words), this novella can be read within a couple classes, and quite early on. In fact, we’ll start reading it on what will be just the 9th class for first year Latin students! This year, I get to use the new audiobook that came out last spring, which is killer for ambiance. My plan is to read a chapter as a whole class, then listen to its audiobook track, continuing for several chapters, and then switch entirely over to the audiobook on the second class day to finish it out.

Prologue Excerpt
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sīgna zōdiaca Vol. 2: Published!

This second of three volumes contains details about Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, and Aquarius, and features the myths of Orion and the seven sisters (Pleiades), Hercules and Chiron, Jupiter and Amalthea, and Ganymede.

The first two volumes share 84% of vocab.

Volume II itself contains 63 cognates and 92 other words (excluding names, different forms of words, and meaning established in the text). While Volume I has 63 cognates and 84 other words, both volumes share 84% of the same vocabulary (i.e. there are 15 different cognates, and 33 different other words between the two). Volume II is over 2,800 total words in length. Including all Pisoverse texts, the total number of words written for the beginning Latin student is now over 52,300 using a vocabulary of just 762.

Many details in the first four sections of astrologia are repeated from sīgna zōdiaca Vol. I to provide each reader with a basic understanding of the zodiac signs. sīgna zōdiaca Vol. 2 is available…

  1. For Sets, Packs, eBooks, Audio, and Bundle Specials, order here.
  2. Amazon
  3. eBook
  4. Audio
  5. Free preview (abridged astrologia section, and Scorpiō, no illustrations)

A Pisoverse Novella Monthly Sequence: 1st Year Latin

Every now and then I get asked which of my novellas students should read and when. Of course, that depends entirely on how novellas plan to be used. However, there *is* a logical sequence to my books, and it’s simple. Although word count isn’t everything, I’ve found that it’s most things when it comes to the beginning student reading Latin. Therefore, reading from low to high word count pretty much as-is (i.e. 20 to 155) makes the most sense.

The only time this appears to go “out of order” is with books having a high cognate count, which I read a little earlier. For example, Quīntus et nox horrifica has 52 words, but 26 are cognates. I’ve read that immediately following Rūfus lutulentus (20 words, just 1 cognate) since the reading level is close due to the similar number of unrecognizable words between the two books. See this post on how cognates increase the likelihood of Latin being understood. In the list below, I’ve also omitted the companion texts used for additional reading, activities, and as independent reading options. However, when used along with a novella, those are just read at the same time (e.g. reading Syra et animālia along with Syra sōla). Here’s the current monthly sequence I have in mind:

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Vocab Lists: Sheltering, Grammar Audit, and Creativity

**Updated 8.19.20 – The DCC core list of top 1000 Latin words has just 100 cognates.**

sīgna zōdiaca Vol. 1 was published at the end of July, bringing the total vocabulary found throughout the entire Pisoverse novellas to 737 unique words, of which 316 are found on the DCC core list, and of which 319 cognates (see my last post on cognates), including 52 found on the DCC core list (i.e. Pisoverse cognates account for over 50% of the total DCC cognates). That vocabulary size is quite low for what is now almost 50,000 total words of Latin for the beginner found in 19 books. This is what is meant by sheltering (i.e. limiting) vocabulary. Of course, that sheltering didn’t just happen by chance. There have been many decisions of what to keep and what to let go, the process deliberate, and at times methodical. In this post, I share ways to shelter vocab in novellas, and how those same practical steps apply to more informal writing done in the classroom with students…

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Cognate Over Classical & Translation Shaming

High frequency vocab? Yes, of course, although one’s context and goals are important considerations. This posts looks at why we might choose cognates over the kind of vocab more frequently found in unadapted ancient Latin (i.e. Classical Latin), and how that decision can be inhibited by a bit of elitist baggage.

What’s the best reason to use cognates? So the learner who doesn’t read outside of the classroom can understand Latin—in class—more easily. Cognates increase the likelihood of comprehensibility. Even given the range of learner vocabularies in English, the likelihood still increases. That is, there’s more of a chance that a Latin to English cognate will be understood than the chance that a completely unrecognizable Latin word will be understood. Of course, students still misunderstand cognates all the time (re: Mike Peto’s “béisbol” routine), but that’s not the point. The point is to make Latin more comprehensible, and cognates help. N.B. the only cognate-use claim here is a greater likelihood of comprehension. This has a pedagogical impact, to be sure. Choosing cognates over Classical Latin can create a learning environment more like what English-speaking students in Spanish classes experience. Why does this matter? There’s no enrollment problem with Spanish classes—something we cannot say about Latin programs.

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sīgna zōdiaca Vol. 1: Published!

Do you like stories about gods and monsters? Did you know that the zodiac signs are based on Greek and Roman mythology? Your zodiac sign can tell you a lot about yourself, but not everyone feels that strong connection. Are your qualities different from your sign? Are they the same? Read signa zodiaca to find out!

Introducing a new series: sīgna zōdiaca! These readers are part non-fiction, and part Classical adaptation, providing information about the zodiac signs as well as two tiered versions of associated myths. This book is the first of three volumes, each with four zodiac signs. Volume 1 starts hot off the heals of the summer, containing details about Cancer, Leo, Virgo, and Libra, and features two labors of Hercules (i.e. Nemean Lion, and Lernaean Hydra), as well as the Pluto and Persephone myth.

Although there’s no single continuous narrative, sīgna zōdiaca has been written just like the Pisoverse novellas with sheltered (i.e. limited) vocabulary. It contains 63 cognates and 84 other words (excluding names, different forms of words, and meaning established in the text), and is over 2,600 total words in length. Oh, and the Pisoverse texts now provide nearly 50,000 total words of Latin for the beginning student, using a vocabulary of under 740, over 43% of which are cognates!

While a growing list of how to use novellas is being shared, a couple uses are specific to this sīgna zōdiaca series. For example, read sīgna zōdiaca as part of a “monthly myth” routine to mark when the zodiac changes. Or, when a student’s birthday comes up, you can read about the details of their sign. Alternatively, if you’ve already planned to read a higher level text of any myths associated with the signs, read sīgna zōdiaca first to provide a bit of scaffolding. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll find out that your original text needs further adapting!

sīgna zōdiaca Vol. 1 is available…

  1. For Sets, Packs, eBooks, Audio, and Bundle Specials, order here.
  2. Amazon
  3. eBook
  4. Audio
  5. Free preview (abridged astrologia section, and Cancer, no illustrations)

Meaning-Based & Form-Based Latin Teaching: Survey Results

In a report on the 2018 National Latin Exam Survey, the number of teachers primarily using grammar-translation (478) was over twice that of the next most-used “Reading Method” option (202), and over 16 times that of the least-used “Active Latin” option (27). The other options given were CI, and TPRS. You might already see the problem there. That is all those options were labeled as “methodologies/techniques/philosophies” on the survey, likely in an attempt to account for all the differences between terms. However, such a comparison is like asking “what do you primarily do in class?” That is, there’s almost no coherency between the five options. For example, a teacher could use the TPRS method to provide CI, and in doing so be characterized as using Active Latin. The only clearly distinct option is grammar-translation, yet that still doesn’t show the extent to which grammar is present in one’s teaching (i.e. grammar is also included in “Reading Method” and possibly “Active Latin”). Therefore, I wanted to send out a new survey that focused on practices rather than terms prone to misunderstanding. I did just that in June of 2020. In this post, I share those results…

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CI, Equity, User-Error & Inequitable Practices

I don’t agree that the statement “CI is equitable” is harmful. Yet, I also don’t think the message behind “CI isn’t inherently equitable” is wrong, either. John Bracey said one can still “do racist stuff” while teaching with CI principles. Of course, we both know that’s an issue with content, not CI. Still, I get the idea behind that word “inherent.” In case you missed the Twitter hub bub, let me fill you in: People disagree with a claim that CI is “inherently equitable,” worried that such a message would lead teachers to say “well, I’m providing CI, so I guess I’m done.” I don’t think anyone’s actually saying that, but still, I understand that position to take.

Specifically, the word “inherent” seems to be the main issue. I can see how that could be seen as taking responsibility away from the teacher who should be actively balancing inequity and dismantling systemic racism. However, teachers haven’t been as disengaged from that equity work as the worry suggests. I’ve been hearing “CI levels the playing field” many times over the years from teachers reporting positive changes to their program’s demographics. What else could that mean if not equity? But OK, I get it. If “inherent” is the issue, maybe “CI is more-equitable” will do. If so, though, at what point does a teacher go from having a “more-equitable” classroom to an “equitable” one? And is there ever a “fully-equitable” classroom? I’m thinking no. So, if CI is central to equity—because you cannot do the work of bringing equity into the classroom if students aren’t understanding (i.e. step zero), and nothing has shown to be more equitable than CI, well then…

For fun, though, I’ll throw in a third perspective. Whereas you have “CI is equitable” and “nothing makes CI equitable per se,” how about “CI is the only equitable factor?” I’m sure that sounds nuts, but here it goes: Since CI is independent from all the content, methods, strategies, etc. that teachers choose, as a necessary ingredient for language acquisition, CI might be the only non-biased factor in the classroom. Trippy.

I don’t think that third perspective is really worth pursuing, though, so let’s get back to the main points. Again, I understand the message behind “CI isn’t inherently equitable” as a response to “CI is equitable.” However, I suspect the latter is said by a lot of people who aren’t actually referring to CI. Don’t get me wrong; some get it, and are definitely referring to how CI principles reshaped their language program to mirror demographics of the school. However, others are merely referring to practices they think is “CI teaching.” This will be addressed later with the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Otherwise, let’s talk equity…

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