I got thinking about what I’d say my core practices were if anyone wanted to learn more about CI and get an overview of what comprehension-based and communicative language teaching (CCLT) looks like. Would it be a list of 10? Could I get that down to five? Might it be better to prioritize some practices like the top 5, 8, and 16 verbs (i.e. quaint quīnque, awesome octō, and sweet sēdecim)? Would I go specific, with concrete activities? Or, would I go broad and global, starting with principles and ideas?
I highly recommend that you do this just as an exercise during a planning period this week, making a quick list of your core practices. Doing so required me to sort out a few things in the process, and helped organize and align my practices to certain principles. Of course, terms and definitions can get tricky, here. I just saw that Reed Riggs and Diane Neubauer refer to “instructional activities (IA),” which covers a lot of what goes on in the classroom. It’s a good term. I’m using “practices” in a similar way to refer to many different methods, strategies, techniques, and activities that all fall under a CCLT approach, as well as general “teacher stuff” I find to be core as well.
Another reason for this post is that I’ve seen the “CI umbrella” graphic shared before, but that doesn’t quite fit with my understanding of things. Rather than practices falling under a CI umbrella, I envision CI instead as the result of practices under the umbrella of CCLT. I also consider such an approach a defense against incomprehensibility—the first obstacle that needs to be removed—and I thought a more aggressive graphic of a “CI shield” might best represent that.
Last year, I reported total words read up to holiday break, and it’s hard to believe that time of year is upon us again. Since part of my teacher eval goal is to increase input throughout the year, let’s compare numbers. 2018-19 students read over 20,000 total words of Latin by this time. However, this year’s students have read…uh oh…just 11,000?!?!
Something’s going on. I’m positive that students are reading more now, and for longer periods of time. Classes are now structured to be roughly half listening and half reading (i.e. Talk & Read), too. So…why don’t the numbers add up?! Surely there’s a reason. Let’s look into that, starting with this quote from last year’s post:
“Over the 55 hours of CI starting in September up to the holiday break, students read on their own for 34 total minutes of Sustained Silent Reading (SSR), and 49 minutes of Free Voluntary Reading (FVR)…“
This year’s independent reading time has skyrocketed to 99 and 233. That’s nearly 5x more independent choice reading! Now, last year’s 20,000 figure included an estimated 1,900 from FVR. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to estimate that this year’s students have read something like 9,500 total words during FVR, which would be like reading a third of this paragraph worth of Latin per minute. If so, the year-to-year comparison would be very close (i.e. 20,000 vs. 20,500). However, I’d expect the numbers to be much higher now with even more of a focus on reading. Seeing as it’s really difficult to nail down a confident number during independent choice reading due to individual differences, then, let’s just subtract all that FVR time from both years, arriving at 18,100 to compare to this year’s 11,000, which is still quite the spread. Let’s do some digging…
The low-tech/no-tech paper version of the English Quadrant Word Race (included in Pīsō Ille PoētulusTeacher’s Guide, as well as the upcoming Teacher’s Materials for Rūfus et arma ātra) is an awesome, simple, input-based competitive activity.
The more-tech version is to take 5min and make a Kahoot quiz for the whole class, or teams. On Kahoot, students earn more points the faster they answer, so you’ll get a whole class/team winner (vs. the 1 winner per pair in the low/no-tech paper version).
The process is the same—just read slowly in the target language, and when students hear you say one of the options, they choose it on their smartphone/computer.
You might have caught my variation on Martina Bex’s Word Race. While students certainly were hearing more target language, there were too many that went by too quickly while reading with enough repetition for the novice. Well, here’s an update that reaaaaaally gets students listening to the target language in a more structured, less-harried way:
Instead of one large word cloud with many English phrases from the text, create 4 smaller ones that each contain one true phrase from the text, and three other phrases. I’ve been doing 1 funny phrase, 2 possible phrases, and the 1 from the text itself.
You still read the text out loud as usual.
After the victory dance (i.e. when the faster student is first to circle/highlight the phrase they hear), announce the next quadrant so that students know to listen for the next set of phrases, and begin reading where you left off. This avoids the pacing issue of students listening for many phrases on one large word cloud, and also gives a “reset” moment to the game.
Here’s a link to the a full size template. To use it, Make a Copy to your Drive, create 4 word clouds using Wordle.net (using Mozilla Firefox, NOT Chrome), save the word cloud files, then past them into each quadrant.
This is my take on Martina Bex’s Word Race. I consider our activities to be evolved versions of “flyswatter” games that now align more closely to Second Language Acquisition principles. Skip to Martina’s process if you’re unfamiliar with it, then come back to read about my Curriculum Vocābulōrum Variation: