Adapting Latin: No Excuses & Every-Text Tier Challenge

I’ve been writing my next book on the zodiac signs and their associated myths for months now. Despite being intended for the beginning Latin learner, I thought each myth could use an additional, even simpler, version in the final book. Today, it took me only 7 minutes to adapt one of the myths—that I’ve been writing for months—to about 1/4 the length using fewer words. Every teacher can do this kind of thing. Every.

No excuses.

My Every-Text Tier Challenge goes out to all language teachers. To accept and claim honor after observing greater comprehension from students, just take tomorrow’s text—because there’s no good reason your students aren’t reading every day—and write a simplified version of it…right now. Don’t worry about changing formatting if it’s perfect for printing or something. You can project the simplified version tomorrow and read with students just before they read the original (as part of the simple Talk & Read daily lesson plan format). Oh, and does the text have some twists, or juicy details? Leave them out in the simplified version, and you’re on your way to creating an embedded reading.

Keep doing this for every text until you can adapt Latin (or whatever) so fast you don’t have to think about it. No excuses. “No time” is the usual excuse I hear for not doing this kind of thing, but that tends to come from teachers doing too much planning, quiz creating, and/or too much grading. Just do less of all that, and do more simplifying of texts.

Why Bother?
Bottom line, all students will benefit from reading a simple- to super-simple version of a text. There’s also a very good chance that particular students even need a text at a much lower level to truly receive CI (i.e. input that’s *actually* comprehensible, and not just partly- to incomprehensible input).

Oh, and if it takes you too long to adapt your Latin (or whatever), that’s a really good sign that the original text is too high level for students to read, anyway (i.e. also a sign that you need to be giving more comprehensible texts that provide more comprehensible input). So, I challenge you to the Every-Text Tier Challenge. Of course, there’s no need to share this work, especially with Latin shaming still lingering about, so it’s truly the honor system, here. However, I encourage you to discuss the process of simplifying texts in fōra varia, especially if you’re unsure where to begin, or have questions about this important strategy to make language more comprehensible.

For Every Sentence, What Can You Add?

Cognates
The Super Clear Cognate list is up to 475! Aside from making posters of a small selection of them to have more readily available to use during class, I’ve forgotten major plans I had for the growing resource. Late July, I posted the following to Latin Best Practices Facebook group:

My latest plan is to browse the list before writing any texts (e.g. editing class stories, adapting ancient texts, etc.), and just adding at least 1 cognate—maybe per part of speech (while also REMEMBERING that adverb forms exist).

Exempla:
– Have dialogue? Toss in a cognate instead of “dicit!”
– Describing size? Check for more interesting adjectives!
– Introducing a new character? Give them a role!

Yeah…that didn’t really happen. Granted, I did use compacta for something small, but I haven’t made this part of my workflow of typing up the day’s events in class to read the next day. So, despite writing 1300 total words for learners by second week, I wonder if I could’ve been providing more varied input as we focus on those frequent verbs. The good news is that one week won’t have disastrous negative effects, which means I can implement the new workflow right away.

Every Sentence
In addition to the cognates, consider what you can add after every sentence. Not only does this increase exposure to vocabulary, but also creates more of an image. Instead of moving onto the next sentence, action, though, or event…

  • …could you describe something you just wrote?
  • …could you restate the whole message from a different perspective, then add another detail (known, or possible), like how an action was done?
  • …could you add a nōn sentence?
  • …could you give background motivation for what just occurred based on character traits, or what they like/dislike?

The answer to all those is probably “yes.” Don’t get carried away with bogging down the text with super long sentences, but do consider how you might elaborate and expand the input without introducing any new words beyond those super clear cognates. This is one way to deliberately spiral (i.e. recycle) vocabulary that has already been used.

 

Basics: Current Ideas & Summary of Recurring Blog Posts

All Of My Daily Activities, etc.
– input-based strategies & activities
– how to get texts

If this stuff interests you, consider putting a few things in place to support the move towards a more comprehension-based and communicative approach. Here are the practices fundamental to my teaching, making the daily stuff possible:

Grammar
Textbooks
Curriculum
Grading
Course Grade
D.E.A.
Assessments
Speaking & Writing

Continue reading for explanations of each…

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Story Template Using Top 16 Verbs

Keith Toda just posted about writing simple texts and parallel stories for extensive reading use, such as during Free Voluntary Reading (FVR). Follow this template to create simple texts from scratch using the Sweet Sēdecim (Top 16). Also follow this template starting with any text (e.g. the simplest version of an Embedded Reading, a parallel story, a textbook chapter, a Write & Discuss, details from Discipulus Illustris, a myth, etc.). This will get you practice writing for the novice:

  1. Setup:
    (is, is in, likes)
  2. Conflict:
    (there isn’t, doesn’t have, wants [to ___], wants to go)
    Interactions: (sees, hears, says, thinks, knows)
  3. New Location(s):
    (leaves, comes to, is in, goes)
    – Interactions: (sees, hears, says, thinks, knows)
  4. Resolution/Unresolved Ending:
    (if item/object: someone carries, puts, gives, if action: character is able)


Example:
Here’s a 250 total word length story I could add to the FVR shelf as another comprehensible option…

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Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) Myths & Starting Your Library For $0 – $250

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!

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Student-Provided CI Training & Output to Input

Can’t get to a workshop, or conference? Well, first try Comprehensible Online, which starts tomorrow! Otherwise, have you watched every CI YouTube video out there, and want more training? Take a step back, be a CI ninja, and realize who’s in front of you each day. Our own students are usually an overlooked source for training us to provide comprehensible input (CI)! Sure, we hone our questioning skillz every day, but students can provide something more…

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