I’ve had a lot of prep time for a couple years now. How?! Not because of my teaching schedules, but because I constantly streamline practices to ensure I can actually complete my work during the workday. Most of this time is spent typing up class texts for students, as well as researching teaching practices online. Last week, however, I spent waaaaaay too much of that prep time crunching numbers with voyant-tools.org. Here are some insights into the vocab my students were exposed to this year throughout all class texts, and 8 of my novellas (reading over 45,000 total words!). N.B this includes all words read in class except for those appearing in the first 6 capitula of Lingua Latīna Per Sē Illustrāta that we read at the very end of the year. The stats:
550 unique words recycled throughout the year (there were 960 total, but 410 appeared just a handful of times!)
30% came from the first 8 Pisoverse novellas (Rūfus lutulentus through Quīntus et nox horrifica), and not found in class texts.
290 appeared in at least a few forms (i.e. not only 3rd person singular present for verbs, or nominative/accusative for nouns).
2470 different forms of words (grammar!)
45% came from the 8 Pisoverse novellas, not class texts.
This is a lot like Latin Clue!, which was a fun way to end exploring Roman housing, but really only a one-off activity. The Gladiator Game, however, is much simpler, has faster game play, and is more likely to be repeatable. My students did this 2-3 different days over a couple weeks while exploring the topic of Roman gladiators, and reading Rūfus et arma ātra, as well as Rūfus et gladiātōrēs. The basic idea is for students to choose a gladiator’s actions during a fight. In this game, you can take on more of a GM (Game Master) role for no-prep, and maximum flexibility, or set up some things during your planning period beforehand and run it during class.
Either way, you’ll need to determine some details. I’ve found that VERBA cards serve this purpose nicely. Otherwise, determine a list using basic storyasking strategies (e.g. “should there be a lion, or giraffe?”), write them on the board, assign a number to each, and anytime you’d “draw,” instead just roll dice and choose from the list. Perhaps this is best to do after a few times when students have a better sense of the game. How many details? Try 5 for each category and see how long you can play the game. You’ll need…
– gladiator type & name – opponents – wounds – health – attacks
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…
Here’s that first post with a longer explanation. Otherwise, the process:
Students get a copy of fragmenta Pīsōnis
Silient Sustained Reading (SSR) of the nefās estsection for 10 minutes.
The new section is a little longer with 107 total words in length, but it also contains four lines of dactylic hexameter. If students finish before the timer goes off, they should reread the previous section, lutulentus ubīque.
After the 10 minutes of SSR, I’ll play the audio, then ask questions about the prose description, and finally recite the featured line of poetry.