Grumio, in the Triclinium, with the Gladius: Integrating Culture

**Updated 12.13 with this clue tracking sheet for teams**

Latin Clue - Roman VillaEvery Latin program has that perfunctory “Roman house” unit in which students memorize the layout and names of various rooms in a vīlla or domus, and then read (or translate) a narrative loosely connected to those rooms. This got me thinking; is there a more meaningful way to learn about the Roman house through a game? To be clear, gamification usually sucks (e.g. playing a board game to teach prepositions), so the key is to align the game objective with a communicative task in Latin. On Episode 42 of Tea with BVP, Bill stated that “we communicate in order to learn, build, create, entertain, and socialize,” so what better task covering at least 3 of those purposes than a “whodunit” based on Clue™?

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Syntax Synonyms: Don’t Fear the Subjunctive

The subjunctive is usually regarded as a more advanced grammatical concept, the very mention of which can give students crippling anxiety, but EFF that—it’s not.

To begin with, in a grammatical syllabus, the subjunctive is simply unnecessarily delayed. In Lingua Latīna per sē Illustrāta, for example, it doesn’t appear until chapter 28 of 35, and in Ecce Rōmānī not until chapter 42 of 68. Given enrollment figures, it’s clear that most students don’t even encounter the subjunctive before dropping Latin in conventional programs! The reality of language and communication (yes, reading is a form of communicating—interpretation), however, is that the subjunctive is much more frequent, and can actually be less difficult to process!

What the…?!

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“Hybrid CI/Textbook”

Teachers who use this term mean well, but at the theoretical level it’s absurd.

The reason for a “Hybrid CI/Textbook” program is that teachers aren’t yet comfortable doing something radically different, or have external constraints that prevent them from having a “full/pure CI” program. In both cases, they are tethered to the textbook in some way.

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Textbook Stories: Embedded Readings (ER), and Recycled Readings (RR)

In my last post, I mentioned the importance of parallel stories. Recycled Readings (RR) is my new idea on improving textbook stories known for not providing enough repetitions of new vocabulary. To create a Recycled Reading (RR), just add a parallel character, and recycle the vocabulary from the original as you compare. In the example below, the bold text is my parallel character—Katy Perry.

Ecce Rōmānī – I (Two Roman Girls)

ecce! in pictūrā est puella, nōmine Cornēlia. in pictūrā nōn est puella, nōmine Katy. Katy est puella Americāna quae in L.A. habitat. Cornēlia est puella Rōmāna quae in Italiā habitat…etc.

This isn’t a panacea—the textbook still introduces TOO MUCH vocabulary TOO SOON, but at least now there are more repetitions and something to relate to—instant Personalized Question & Answer (PQA) material. In addition to Recycled Readings (RR), I’ll be creating Embedded Readings (ER) for each chapter using a parallel story. You can read about what I learned at NTPRS about ERs from Michele Whaley, (co-creator of Embedded Readings), here.

So, my plan is to ask a class story, read those parallel stories I shared in the last post, then read the Ecce Rōmānī parallel ERs, and finally look at the RR. From there, we might actually read the original Ecce Rōmānī text, or just move on. I’ll update the document with each chapter throughout the year:

Click here for Ecce Rōmānī Parallel Stories (ER & RR). Feel free to make a copy (under “file”), and change the details to suit the interests of your students.

 

Parallel Stories

The latest Tea with BVP episode was “Teaching Without Textbooks.” Whether you’ve already ditched the textbook, or still work alongside one, parallel stories are important. Parallel stories include the same language found in a narrative, but the details (maybe plot) change. This year, I’ll be using a mix of parallel stories that compliment a textbook’s narrative, and co-created stories via TPRS.

For years I used TPRS story scripts to ask a story and then type up and read the exact story as a class. I’m now sold on parallel readings that include all the language found in the class story during acting, but now in a new context with details unknown to the students. Following Michele Whaley’s current practices on Embedded Readings, each of our stories will have at least three versions—this builds interest along the way by withholding information (vs. knowing exactly how the class story ends).

There will be more on how I adapt a textbook’s narrative later, but for now, here’s a link to our Latin 1 parallel stories (updated throughout the year in this single document).

Negligent Motorist = 1, Lance = 0

Yesterday, the following events unfolded while riding my motorcycle:

  1. I notice a car rolling towards towards the road at a TD Bank exit driveway—the driver isn’t looking left (i.e. my direction).
  2. The driver doesn’t look my way, keeps rolling, then suddenly turns left into the road directly in front of me.
  3. I stop short. The momentum sends my motorcycle down on its right side, and me forward, also on my right side.
  4. I’m on the ground now and can’t move, but it’s for an OK reason—I realize that my helmet is stuck between the pavement and bumper of the driver’s car.
  5. The driver gets out of the car and tries to move me (idiot!).
  6. I take some time to watch horrified rubberneckers looking downward at a motorcycle on the ground and its rider partly under a car.
  7. After the disorientation dissipates, I get bored not doing anything under the car, extract myself, take off my gear, and take in the situation.
  8. Motorcycle doesn’t start (it won’t shift BELOW 3rd gear—the one it was in before going down).
  9. I wrap things up with the officer, get the moto towed, start calling insurance companies, and text Bob Patrick. No, Bob is not my emergency contact, but he just happened to have caught a typo in Discipulus Illustris, which led to a nice suggestion (i.e. Quō in annō es? for Quō in gradū es?)

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Forget about the Fossa: [Textbook] Embedded Readings Done BETTER

After attending Michele Whaley’s presentation on Embedded Readings at NTPRS, I was convinced that we’ve been playing a game of Telephone since she and Laurie Clarcq began sharing the concept back in 2012. It turns out that it’s “yes and no,” but there is an important distinction that is being made in current Embedded Reading practice. Whereas many of us THINK we’re creating Embedded Readings, most of us might be just adapting authentic texts, class stories, or textbook narratives. Those products are fine, but aren’t necessarily Embedded Readings. Most of us are missing two key features in our adapted readings that make them better:

  • Parallel Stories
  • Withholding New/Tantilizing Information (not just more words)

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