First Text: A Year To Year Comparison

After the first orientation day of just 12 minute “classes,” I typed up statements using the drawings students did while responding to “what do you like/like to do?” Even though I followed the same plan for the first day as last year, the higher execution of it this year has been…well…crazy.

Last year, each class section read just 50 total words of Latin (10 unique words). This year? There’s 520 total words using 54 unique (17 of which cognates)!!!! Yeah. That’s how much Latin I’ll be able to provide this week after just one very brief meeting, and a decent number of hours writing/typing. Oh, and I’m not keeping track of that kind of work at this point in the school year, doing what I need to do to start off in a calm and confident manner, putting in any extra time beyond the school day I need.

So, how does this year end up including SOOOOO much more input?! First of all, I made sure every 9th grade student was included in the text, clearing the time needed to write about them. Otherwise, I updated a few things. This post looks at those changes…

sample of 2018-19 first text
sample of this year’s first text

The differences you can probably see between the two comparison pics are the following…

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Syra et animālia: Published! & The Pisoverse FVR Readers

The companion text to Syra sōla is now available on Amazon.

Rūfus lutulentus, Rūfus et arma ātra, Agrippīna: māter fortis, and now Syra sōla all have companion texts, either as collections of additional stories via Expanded Readings (i.e. Rūfus et Lūcia: līberī lutulentī, Syra et animālia, and Rūfus et gladiātōrēs), or a parallel novella via Choose-Your-Own-Level Readings (i.e. Līvia: māter ēloquens). These books have a colored border, and more than one unique word count button to show the range throughout (depending on the level one reads), which corresponds the other Pisoverse books (i.e. light blue <50 words; dark blue 50-100 words; purple 100+ words). This word count button is intended to inform teachers of relative reading level, and help learners choose a book during Free Voluntary Reading (FVR). Thus, I refer to all these companion texts as “FVR readers.”

N.B. Even though the companion texts are all based on existing novellas, learners don’t need to have read the originals! They can exist independently as FVR reading options.

Syra et animālia is the latest addition to the FVR readers. The new companion text to Syra sōla features the most super clear cognates in a Pisoverse novella to date, with 60! In this book, Syra encounters various animals around Rome on her quest for a pet. Familiar Pisoverse characters make appearances throughout, such as the arrogant Terrex, who we learn has a pet ape he doesn’t like and never named, and a pet peacock he adores, named Pāvopapī!

Here’s how the FVR readers work, and can be used…

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The 1-Class CALP & Comprehensible Content-Based Instruction (CCBI)

At iFLT 2019, Martina Bex presented on content-based instruction (CBI), only with an important caveat you’d expect from the conference: a focus on comprehension, hence CCBI. I was delighted to see how similar her three steps were to the framework I’ve been developing with John Bracey, David Maust, and John Piazza, which we presented at ACL’s Centennial Institute. Martina uses slightly different terms taken from Bloom’s Taxonomy to describe the same process we’re using (hers on the left, ours on the right):

Knowledge = Connect
Comprehension = Explore
Analysis/Synthesize = Create

Martina’s presentation showed how simple the process can be, making the concept of teaching Roman content in Latin more approachable. How? The format she shared was for a single class. Of course, the idea is not to teach random new content every day, but instead to have each day’s content within a larger unit, but still, this “bite-sized” approach feels more manageable for anyone looking to teach content in the target language. So how does that differ from the unit template the John’s and I shared at ACL?

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Novellas: Mira Canion’s Quick Read

Mira Canion just presented at iFLT 2019 on how to read novellas quickly. Why quickly? Mira had many reasons; one being if the level is a little too hard for your slowest processors; another if the book is starting to drag out. This latter option is good for anyone who tried to teach a novella over the course of a few weeks or more. I can also see how for most Latin teachers, there still aren’t enough titles available that perfectly match the reading level of the class. Mira’s “Quick Read” stuck out in my mind…

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Tiberius et Gallisēna ultima: Published!

Here it is.

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“Tiberius is on the run. Fleeing from an attacking Germanic tribe, the soldier finds himself separated from the Roman army. Trying to escape Gaul, he gets help from an unexpected source—a magical druid priestess (a “Gaul” in his language, “Celt” in hers). With her help, can Tiberius survive the punishing landscape of Gaul with the Germanic tribe in pursuit, and make his way home to see Rufus, Piso, and Agrippina once again?

Tiberius et Gallisēna ultima is over 3200 total words in length. It’s written with 155 unique words (excluding different forms of words, names, and meaning established within the text), 36 of which are cognates, and over 75% of which appear in Caesar’s Dē Bellō Gallicō, making this novella a quick read for anyone interested in the ancient text. Tiberius is available…

1) Just 3 weeks away in-person at 2019 ACL’s 100th Institute June 27-29 (discounted copies, any 5 for $25)!!!
2) Amazon
3) Free Preview (first 6 of 12 chapters, no illustrations)

“The message of avoiding grammar is a good one…”

This is the fourth year I’ve been writing about classroom practices that make languages more comprehensible for all students. Recently, one of my replies got quite a bit of support. I’m a little surprised because I haven’t changed my tune, but something in the following simply clicked for people. Perhaps the message contains enough of everything all in one place. I’m not sure. Regardless, I’m sharing it here in case it gets lost in the ether. For context, I replied to comment about both teaching grammar, and providing input:

“Yes it is possible to do both, but you just have to recognize what’s happening when you do. If you like to teach grammar, teach grammar, just don’t expect it to cause acquisition. Input does.

They are two different data sets. In very specific conditions, we can use the grammar data to help communicate. Most people never do. Some people like that. Some hate that. No one actually needs it.

The “grammar is evil” or related message refers to teaching in a way that excludes students, like grading on that separate data set that isn’t necessary for all (but maybe enjoyable for some). Grammar itself isn’t evil, but many teachers unknowingly exclude students because of it.

So, if you include everyone you can, and teach grammar, and they get it, and they’re acquiring, go ahead, please! The message of avoiding grammar is a good one for most teachers until they get to a point of providing enough input and focusing on meaning.”

45,000 Total Words Read!

I had some time during end of the year cleaning, keeping a single copy of each co-created class text, and had fun with counting words. Those texts were also analyzed for vocab in this post. Anyway, I wrote about the solid start to the year up through 55 hours of CI, then the April update at the 100 hour mark. So, here we are at the end of the first year of Latin just 20 classes later (120 total hours of CI). Students have read on their own for 238 total minutes (just under 4 hours) of Sustained Silent Reading (SSR), and 270 minutes (4.5 hours) of Free Voluntary Reading (FVR)…

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