The Daily Lesson Plan: Talk & Read

Teachers unaccustomed to speaking the target language in class are often a bit lost when it comes to providing input. Instead, the more familiar rule-based lectures and paired speaking activities of PPP (present, practice, produce), target culture projects, and perhaps target language movies all become quite alluring, seducing teachers back to the pedagogy of yore. Here’s a way to conceptualize class in a clearer way that maximizes input:

  1. Talk about something
  2. Read something

Now, from the student perspective, this would be “listen & read,” but the “talk” portion of class is very much led by the teacher, especially in beginning years, so it’s easier to think of this in terms of what you, the teacher, must do. Don’t get fooled by anyone thinking this is the kind of “teacher-centered” lesson that’s frowned upon. The content is student-centered, it’s just that students can’t express themselves fully in the target language. They don’t have to, and this is expected. They need input. Case closed. The “read” portion could be any reading activity, either independent, led by you, in pairs, groups, or all of the above…

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Do Now & Text-Generating Routines

Classes feel a bit different this year—to say the least—meeting between just 40 and 44 minutes daily. That certainly doesn’t sound like much time for high school, but it’s growing on me. In fact, I’d even say that this is an ideal amount of time to spend in a second language each day, so no complaints, here. Due to the need for super efficient timing, though, my daily structure now looks like this:

  1. Do Now
  2. Activity 1 (or first part of a longer activity)
    -Brain Break-
  3. READ (independently)
  4. Activity 2 (or second part of a longer activity)

To give you a sense of how this looks, on Tuesday we held the first round of student interviews (i.e. Discipulus Illustris/Persona Especial), students read about last Friday’s basketball game, then I asked questions about what we learned from the student in the spotlight, typing into a Google Doc as students copied the Latin into their notebooks (i.e. Write & Discuss). That was it! Thinking of the class day as two parts is really easy to plan for. Also, since classes meet daily, I’ve decided to alternate activities. This makes the week feel like there’s more variety without adding too much. Here are my alternating daily routines for these first weeks of school…

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Are My Students Reading Every Day?

No? Why not?

After thinking it over—and I can think things over for a long, long time—I can’t find a compelling reason why students shouldn’t be reading every day, either independently, in pairs/groups/whole class, or both. This year’s students have already read independently for twice as long as last year’s students did…by the end of Quarter 1!!!!

Reading is probably the best source of input, and although I value class time interaction, the reason for all that interaction amounts to being able to read Latin. In fact, I would still place all my eggs in the reading basket when teaching a modern language, too, knowing that interpersonal communication *might* occur outside of the classroom, but that it also might not. However, books can accompany us wherever we go, and literacy is probably the most important skill to promote and build across all content areas, as well as language class.

Bottom line, reading is paramount. Looking back at last year’s plans, there were days when students didn’t read, but I can’t justify that, even for a few minutes at some point between activities. Therefore, I’ve now built reading time into my plans for each day…like…ALL of them…! How?!

Halfway through class, and before ANY reading or any other input-based activity, students read independently for 3 minutes. That’s it!

For example, last week I finished class with TPR (Total Physical Response), but guess what? Students had 3 minutes of independent reading time with their first text. This was after a brain break in the middle of class, and that’s in 40 to 44 minute classes. If I still taught for 1 hour, I’d set a timer for 25, quick break, then read. Every. Day.

Of course, the insistence on this routine means I need a text every day, but that doesn’t mean the text must be long. That also doesn’t mean that a new text is needed every day. While students certainly could be given new text daily, especially with judicious use of copying a text written/typed out during class (i.e. Write & Discuss), a longer text could last a couple days, or even the whole week.

So, if your students aren’t reading every day, what can you do to build in this time?

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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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)