Teacher’s Guide & Student Workbook for Pīsō

The 238 pages of support for Pīsō Ille Poētulus are finally here! In addition to invaluable information about Latin poetry, this Teacher’s Guide has 13 ready-to-go options for interacting with each chapter of Pīsō! Head to the copier, or project on board. Use them all, or choose a few per chapter; do whatever you’d like!

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We don’t teach grammar? Oooooh, sure we do…

I’m working on the Teacher’s Guide to Pīsō Ille Poētulus, and thought I’d share exactly what the practice “shelter vocabulary, unshelter grammar” looks like. To begin with, the conventional language teacher has crippling anxiety at the apparent lack of grammar in my classroom, but oooooh is it there, and oooooh is it understandable. The major difference in a comprehension-based communicative classroom like mine, however, is that grammar just isn’t taught explicitly, though pop-up explanations abound (e.g. “Mr. P, why does that word have a ‘-t‘ on it?”).

The reason my students don’t need explicit grammar instruction to understand Latin is because a) conscious grammar knowledge isn’t necessary to read Latin (or ANY language), b) internal learner constraints prevent students from noticing grammar features before they are ready, and c) grammar syllabi are sequenced in artificial ways that don’t match the order of what students are ready for. Instead of explicit grammar teaching and the grammar syllabus, students need a net of input, and that net has to be HUGE so that something particular that any given student at any given moment of time is ready to soak up is actually floating around in the input (and not just 3 person singular for 2 days, 2 weeks or 2 months, etc.).

Students who read Pīsō are exposed to a broad net of grammar. Oh, and there are some cultural topics in the target language, too. Here’s what you’ll find JUST in Chapter 1—the first 4 pages of Pīsō…

Grammar (as organized in the National Latin Exam (NLE) syllabi)

1st Rōma, poēta, mēnsa, littera, syllabae
2nd nōmen, puer, Vergilius, Rūfus, arma, amphitheātrum, verbum
3rd Pīsō, māter, mīles, pater, frāter, carmen, gladiātor, Aenēis
4th versus

Nominative: subject and predicate puer Rōmānus sum, Pīsō nōn loquitur, Rūfus nōn laetus est
Genitive:       possession versus Vergiliī
Dative:           indirect object mihi nōn placet, Rūfō nōn placet, mātrī nōn placet
                         possession nōmen mihi est, nōmen frātrī est
Accusative:   direct object mē audit, versūs scrībunt, carmina canunt, versum nōn scrīpsī, habetne arma? eum vocat, eum nōn videt
                         extent of time annōs octō nātus sum, nōn nātus sum trēs annōs
Ablative:        object of prepositions ā/ab mēnsā, ad mēnsam, dē poētīs, dē carmine, in urbe, in amphitheātrō
Vocative:       direct address Rūfe

Appositive    vult esse mīlitem
Diminutives poētulus

personal:            ego, mē, mihi, tibi
interrogative:    Cūr, Quid, Quōcum
demonstrative: eum, ille, is

1st/2nd declension Rōmānus, parvus, magnus, bonus, meus, tuus, laetus, prīmus, sōlus, pulcher
noun/adjecetive agreement puer Rōmānus, puer parvus, poēta magnus, puer bonus, versūs pulchrōs, carmina pulchra, versus pulcher, versus meus, versus tuus,  pulchrum verbum, versus prīmus

numbers:            cardinals trēs, octō

Adverbs:             ecce, ergō, iam, nōn, sīcut

Conjunctions:   et, neque…neque…, quia, sed

Enclitics:          -ne, -que

Interrogative Particle: nōnne

1st habitāre, pugnāre, vocāre
2nd salvēre, dēbēre, habēre, vidēre, rīdēre
3rd agere, scrībere, canere
4th audīre

imperative:   present active salvē!
indicative:     present active habitō, dēbet, agunt, scrībunt, canunt, habetne? pugnatne? vocat, videt, scrībō, rīdet
                          perfect active scrīpsī, scrīpsit, audīvistīne?
infinitive:      present active esse, scrībere
irregular:        esse (present est, sum, imperfect erat)
                            velle (present volō, vīs, vult)
                            īre (present it)

deponents     loqueris, loquitur, nātus sum
impersonal    placet, placent

Metrics and Poetic Devices:
scansion and terms associated with dactylic hexameter dactyl, elision, spondee


Culture (as organized in the National Latin Exam (NLE) syllabi)

Geography:  Roman world Rōma

Roman Life: Entertainment gladiatorial combats
                          Military mīles, arma
                          Roman household frāter, māter, pater

History:          Prominent persons from Early Empire Vergilius

Authors:         Epic Vergilius

Lost in the Shuffle: Rhythmic Fluency

So much of this blog is CI-centered, but there’s a neglected tab on the navigator bar devoted to what I’ve called Rhythmic Fluency. Since I’m now teaching Latin IV (Ovid & Catullus), I’ve gone back to my rhythmic roots, and am seeing the power of those earlier metrical resources combined with my classes now containing more comprehensible Latin. Pīsō Ille Poētulus (already greatly improved since sharing a couple weeks ago) includes 22 lines of original dactylic hexameter using a limited vocabulary, thus increasing its comprehensibility potential. It is scheduled for November publication so you can brush up on your rhythmic fluency beforehand by listening to the dactylic hexameter audio files, and be prepared to read Pīsō with your students in a more compelling way by actually focusing on the meter using a resource they can hear and recite along with!

In addition to that audio, of particular interest and effectiveness is Lingua Latīna, the Latin Poetry Rhythm Card GameIf you noticed, the title of the game represents the traditional 5th  & 6th foot of dactylic hexameter (i.e. — u u — —). The point of the game is to run out of cards by playing 2-3 words that form the very same rhythm of the phrase, Lingua Latīna.

I’ll be using this game throughout the year. A good way to use it would be to treat it exactly like you would a game of VERBA, either whole class first then in small groups so you can monitor, or as just one of several station options.


Pīsō Ille Poētulus: A New Latin Novella

**Update 11.14.16** Piso has been published! See this announcement post.

Over the last couple years, I’ve doubled-down on pedagogy, becoming very comfortable teaching Latin, and can now place more emphasis on improving my own proficiency. Whatever my current proficiency level is, however, I’ve written a poetry-themed historical fiction novella set in Rome for the Novice reader (including 22 original lines of dactylic hexameter), which, as many have noted, we are in dire need of as a profession.

As a speaker, my Latin is not great, but it’s certainly NOT WORSE than most teachers out there. This novella, then, is an educational tool to get those teachers AND their students to read more fluently (ease + speed). It also happens to be a confidence-boosting read as an intro to Latin poetry if used in upper-levels. Pīsō Ille Poētulus now contains just 108 words (excluding names, different forms of words, and meaning established within the text, so this is quite low). I strongly feel that reading material with a low word count and frequently recycled vocabulary is a great asset to the Novice reader. Because of this parameter, decisions were made, such as esne hīc? in place of adesne? Here, I didn’t use an additional word, adesse (even if it’s a compound of other words that occur frequently), since the same, or similar meaning could be expressed with other words that already appear in the novella. Because I fully admit that my focus has been on pedagogy, I recognize that some people might have excellent suggestions to make Pīsō Ille Poētulus an even better resource for the Novice reader and our students reading Latin poetry.

So, I’m releasing the first five chapters of Pīsō Ille Poētulus (though without illustrations or all poetry audio files) for you to pilot in your classes, or at least read over Labor Day weekend. Why? This is for us—as Latin teachers—especially those who’d like to share Latin poetry with their students before the majority of them bail after year 2 or 3, and an opportunity for those with high levels of Latin proficiency to contribute to the profession.

Interested? I’m asking that you take a look at the first half of the novella, maybe run off a class copy (or project it and read through with upper-level students), and then get back to me with ways to improve it—particularly concerning the buzz about “Latinity” and “Classically Attested” and attention to Latin idiom. Keep in mind, however, the need for a Novice-level novella with a very low word count. If both can exist, hooray! If not, I’m sticking with a low word count as the priority, and you can go ahead and write a perfectly idiomatic Latin novella for Intermediate+.

Given that parameter of keeping the word count low, I’ll gladly accept suggestions for direct substitutions, especially ones that can be used in many places, or ones that don’t increase the word count by more than a word or two. Some suggestions I’ve already received have been fantastic, yet would have pushed Pīsō Ille Poētulus beyond what you’d expect from novellas with higher word counts, such as Cloeliaor Itinera Petrī. After October 1st, I’ll begin editing Pīsō Ille Poētulus for November publication. Remember, this novella is for us, so speak now or…

Click here to access Pīsō Ille Poētulus for piloting. **Update 11.14.16** Piso has been published!