My observations after reading novellas *as a whole class* during COVID-19 remote learning has convinced me that audiobooks make for the best experience in that format. Narration has its value, sure, but for whole-class reading, the books with sound effects, character voices, and music, really do up the game. I’ve got three novellas coming up this spring, all with accompanying audiobooks. There will be more details upon publication of each, but here are some brief descriptions…
There are 163 fairly to super clear Latin to English (and even Spanish) cognates, and then just 7 other necessary Latin words (ad, est, et, in, nōn, quoque, sed) found within this tale of nearly 2500 words in length.
“Piso can’t seem to write any poetry. He’s distracted, and can’t sleep. What’s going on?! Is he sick?! Is it anxiety?! Has he lost his inspiration?! On Syra’s advice, Piso seeks mystical remedies that have very—different—effects. Can he persevere?”
Pīsō et Syra… is the 17th novella in the Pisoverse, the collection of Latin novellas written with sheltered (i.e. limited) vocabulary to provide more understandable reading material for the beginning Latin student. The Pisoverse now provides over 44,000 total words of Latin using a vocabulary of 645 (just about half of which—320—are cognates!).
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 Rūfusetgladiātōrēs), 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!
Anyone who knows anything about Latin will agree that the language is SOV (Subject-Object-Verb). In more friendly terms, this means that Latin how Yoda speaks resembles it does. This common understanding is just one basic assumption that drives a lot of decisions and discussions. Yet, how certain are we that Latin is as SOV as we think…
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
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
For this year’s students, learning about the Romans—in Latin—began late in October with a CALP-inspired topic exploration on Roman housing (more on this, later) after months of focusing on the self, class, and community. Exploring Roman housing took place just after students read their first novella, Quīntus et nox horrifica. Upon returning from the December holiday break, students read their second novella, Drūsilla in Subūrā, which featured city-living apartments more familiar to them after the topic exploration during the fall. Learning about the Romans will now continue throughout the year as a new weekly routine begins…
Following Carol Gaab, and M & M (i.e. Mira Canion & Martina Bex), here’s a quick post on how I’ve organized the Pisoverse. While those authors have hundreds of titles to address, I have just 8, and they’re much smaller in scope. After all, I write novellas, not novels. Still, there is method to my madness…
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!