Last week, we started Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) in what I’m calling Free Reading Fridays, which is 10 minutes of independent reading at the start of class just before we do some kind of team game. It’s a great way to end the week. I wrote about how first year Latin students have had 143 minutes of FVR so far, but that’s been in segments of 3-5 minutes in the middle of class, with students choosing class texts from their folder. Last Friday was the first day they were able to sit in the back and choose anything from our library…Continue reading
After sharing the strong start to the year from just the first 12 minutes of day 1, and results of a textbook comparison from the first 4 weeks, I’ve now got some stats from Quarter 1. Having arrived at the first 10 week mark of the year (36 hours), the total words read is now 6,500. But that figure isn’t really what I find most remarkable. How about the fact that 39% of the total input was read in just these last two weeks, from novellas alone…Continue reading
Here it is.
“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…
**Check out Using Novellas for a growing collection of ideas**
Teachers have had many questions regarding the use of novellas in the classroom. While the easiest is to simply have them available for students to read, I’ve taken a more cumulative approach to setting aside time for independent reading this year. Here are 5 different no-prep ways to read novellas:
**ALL novellas available for Free Voluntary Reading (FVR)**
1) Whole-Class & Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) Intro
2) Whole-Class & SSR
3) SSR & Expanded Readings (ExR)
4) Audiobook, SSR & ExR
5) Poetry of the Week
Keep reading for a LOT more detail…Continue reading
This is my favorite novella yet.
Syra sōla has the second fewest unique words of all 12 other novellas—29—(excluding names, different forms, and meaning established in the text), 10 of which are super clear cognates! This novella of 1400 total words is excellent as a Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) option for beginners, a quick read for more experienced readers, and also as one of the first whole-class novellas.
About Syra sōla
Syra just wants to be alone. Good luck in Rome, right? Syra travels to the famous coastal towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in search of solitude. She encounters a merchant with several animals from Africa, including arguably the best Latin animal name, camēlopardalis (a “giraffe,” because it really DOES look like a camel-leopard!). Don’t let that word bog you down; it’s pronounced camēēēēloPARRRRdalis, with the accent on the “PAR,” and has the rhythm of repeating iambs (i.e. short long short LONG short short). Syra sōla is available…
What’s an appropriate level text for students reading independently?
That is, texts intended to be used for Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) need to be way, way, way easier to read than most teachers think…
Myth 1 – “My students aren’t ready.”
Face it, this is a myth. Your students might not be ready to spend 15min/day reading 300-word, 5k length novels, but they’re probably ready to begin self-selecting short texts like class stories to read very early on. Once you have about 5-10 class stories, make some booklets and start FVR for a few minutes 1x/week. For this reason, I intend to make TPRS a priority early in the year after some TPR. In the past, I’ve built this up too much, spending a whole class or two on a story. My new plan is more shorter stories, at least 2/week.
Myth 2 – “There aren’t enough resources.”
Curating that collection of class stories takes care of this second myth, at least for a while. Also, don’t forget about writing/adapting short texts yourself!
“Sheltering vocabulary while unsheltering grammar” refers to using ANY grammar necessary to express ideas while limiting words. This mantra has been instrumental in the design of our latest Latin novellas since it simultaneously reduces cognitive demand while casting a broad net of input, exposing students to different verb forms as they attend to fewer “big content word” meanings. Despite this unsheltering, sometimes we have to make a decision about when our story takes place! This establishes a focus—perhaps unwanted—on one tense or another.
If we, indeed, want to expose students to that broad net of input, we can respond appropriately without sacrificing any communicative value. Here are some very practical ways to conceptualize the use of different tenses in stories, and what to do in order to add variety to the verb forms used in stories and readings:
Hypermiling to add packets of text to the FVR shelf regularly!
How could it possibly be easy? Mike recommends building your FVR library by first making booklets of known class stories that are 100% comprehensible.
THAT’S SO SIMPLE!
This is obvious, yet doesn’t seem to be a common practice, especially for Latin teachers lamenting over the legitimate lack of understandable reading material! If you think about it, the typical Latin teacher engaged in collaborative storytelling/storyasking probably has 10 stories by the holiday/winter break, and maybe even twice, or thrice that! Unless the class has been reviewing old stories as part of a detail-adding, or story-improving activity (which is great, BTW), there’s a good chance that students have forgotten details from the earliest of stories and wouldn’t mind a gentle walk down memory lane. Oh, and students should be able to read them fluently (speed + accuracy), which is a great confidence booster!
So, with everything you need to build an FVR library before more hideously easy books are published and you get funding for several copies, go format those typed-up class stories for booklets, print ’em out, and start setting aside class time for reading!
How? How much time?
An FVR program is simple to begin. Remember, this is FREE reading, so it’s best to avoid assessments and accountability. If all students are reading the same book, it’s known as Sustained Silent Reading (SSR), although Mike said that he calls it that anyway just so students don’t say something snarky like “well if it’s voluntary I’m gonna just sit here.” Once you have a few materials, be sure to hold FVR consistently. If you can’t do it daily, start weekly. As far as time goes, Mike says “if students can read for 7 minutes, give them 5—you don’t want them to get bored with it.” This is good advice. I’ve been doing 15 minutes every few days, but I’ve noticed that a murmur develops towards the end…looks like I’ll drop down to 12min or so and see what happens.