These are two variations on Bob Patrick’s One Word At a Time Stories (OWATS). OWATS has been around for years, before the first novellas, in fact. I can’t say that I’ve done OWATS with much frequency, but it’s becoming more and more appealing when I scroll through various activities used to get texts.
COWATS I liked the research Miriam Patrick shared on code-switched (CS) readings, so I wanted to give a scaled-back version a try. In addition to creating CS class texts earlier in the year alongside facing English and full glossary versions, I thought the format might work well with OWATS. It did. The format was to write a story—in English—incorporating one Latin word at a time. Observations:
I saw more cohesive stories.
Groups wrote more Latin than I expected (i.e., beyond just the one word).
The stories were easy to type up in the code-switch format.
I would choose one or two stories to type up entirely in Latin and share with the class.
VOWATS This variation uses VERBA cards as the words given to students to create stories. It eliminates the prep of writing out words on paper, or creating a list, and also generates more variety (since students won’t be getting the same base of words). This could result in less repetition than COWATS or OWATS. For a tighter cluster of vocab, though, select a group of VERBA cards, keeping them in order as students come to you to get their next word. Have them write it down before heading back to their group, and then you’ll be handing out the same words to each group. Plus, zero prep besides choosing some words.
After looking at all the collaborative storytelling options for our first class story, we decided Mike Peto’s simple structure of a 20min story—tops—was exactly what we were looking for. In preparation, I suggested that we script out some basic either/or detail options, one of which being a “shadow” (i.e. non-option), and the other what we think they’d likely choose. Student teacher Magister K suggested that we look to each class’ Slide Talk slides to find something they already liked…
Last Wednesday, we did our first MovieTalk (yes, still calling it this because I have no intentions or expectations of students acquiring specific vocab, and that’s peachy according to Dr. Ashley Hastings’ 2018 note to teachers who were misinterpreting the method). Believe it or not, but Wednesday’s MovieTalk has been the *ONLY* story so far. Yep. Other than that, no stories. With student interviews (i.e. Discipulus Illustris/Special Person), discussions based on a simple prompt (i.e. Card Talk), and questions about the weekend and upcoming week (i.e. Weekend & Week Chat), class has been compelling enough without any narrative. But stories are awesome, and we have a ton of other MovieTalk texts already prepared for every other week, so I’m thinking now is a good time to get into collaborative storytelling…
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
Here are links to my Thursday and Friday NTPRS presentations, and related posts for a) those who attended and are interested in reading more, b) those who slept in past 8am (I am slightly envious of that), but wanted to attend, or c) those who weren’t at the conference at all, but find the topics interesting just the same.
Every 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™?
So much of this blog is CI-centered, but there’s a neglected tab on the navigator bar devoted to what I’ve called Rhythmic Fluency. Since I’m now teaching Latin IV (Ovid & Catullus), I’ve gone back to my rhythmic roots, and am seeing the power of those earlier metrical resources combined with my classes now containing more comprehensible Latin. Pīsō Ille Poētulus(already greatly improved since sharing a couple weeks ago) includes 22 lines of original dactylic hexameter using a limited vocabulary, thus increasing its comprehensibility potential. It is scheduled for November publication so you can brush up on your rhythmic fluency beforehand by listening to the dactylic hexameter audio files, and be prepared to read Pīsō with your students in a more compelling way by actually focusing on the meter using a resource they can hear and recite along with!
In addition to that audio, of particular interest and effectiveness is Lingua Latīna, the Latin Poetry Rhythm Card Game. If you noticed, the title of the game represents the traditional 5th & 6th foot of dactylic hexameter (i.e. — u u — —). The point of the game is to run out of cards by playing 2-3 words that form the very same rhythm of the phrase, Lingua Latīna.
I’ll be using this game throughout the year. A good way to use it would be to treat it exactly like you would a game of VERBA, either whole class first then in small groups so you can monitor, or as just one of several station options.
VERBA is an Apples to Apples clone game for language learners designed by the great folks who brought us the Picturae database. Aside from playing the game as-is following original rules (during which I monitor groups and deliver CI by asking students about their choices, etc.), I now use the white noun cards during storyasking/storytelling (e.g. “Once upon a time, there was a ______<reveal card>”).
What makes this different from TPRS? Vocabulary is limited to what’s on the cards, which is already in the target language along with a super clear image. You’re less likely to go out of bounds with infrequent target language vocabulary, or have to accept English details from students. On the other hand, you might WANT to accept English details from students (especially if they’re compelling). In that case, use the VERBA cards as non-examples for your students to reject, and then take their cute/hilarious/dark suggestion, etc.
What makes this different from using Rory’s Story Cubes?Story cubes contain images ONLY, no target language, so using VERBA might help keep your story more “on rails.” For an interesting storyasking/storytelling hybrid, use the white VERBA noun cards for details AND Rory’s Story Cubes: Actions set for verbs.