A Year In F7 – Week 1, Day 1

One day down!

The first week is a bit of a slow start with two days of student orientation—so no Latin Monday and Tuesday.  The first real class (Wednesday) was mostly taken up with boring procedural/syllabus stuff.  I did assign them a password (a simple “salve!”), which I will begin using tomorrow. I also made use of Bob Patrick’s “ubi sunt telephona?” script when going over my cellphone policy.

The script goes . . .

ubi sunt telephona? where are your phones?

in manibus? in your hands?

minime! no!

in gremio? in your lap?


in fundis? in your pockets?


in sacellis? in your bookbags?


NOTA BENE: I then have my student put their cellphones in their book bags, and put their bags in a designated part of the room, out of the way.  That becomes the first thing that they do every day when they enter the room (after the password).

I also spent a good deal of time discussing (in incredibly basic terms) how CI-based, communicative language teaching works, and described what the students should be doing when we are interacting in Latin. For example:

DON’T . . .

(1) try to memorize all the words on the board.  If you are mentally focused on memorizing, you are not receiving any messages.

(2)  worry if you don’t know why something means this or that (or how the sentence works).  Some students struggle (especially if they have analytical-type brains) with trying to figure out how everything works, and it can be hard for them to just relax and listen.

(3) write anything down unless I tell you to.

DO . . .

  1. Focus on the message. Did you understand the message (i.e. was the input comprehendED? Then you are doing what you need to do to acquire Latin.
  2. Respond to prompts. This doesn’t have to be output. Interaction can be a prescripted response (e.g. “certe” or “minime”) a nod, a look of bewilderment—all of that is interaction.

I passed out index cards to prepare for Card Talk (also called “Circling with Balls”), and just barely had enough time to collect the cards before the end of class.  But now I have something strong with which to start tomorrow’s class.

The questions I asked (adapted from Bob Patrick and Lance Piantaggini) were . . .


  1. Why did you sign up for Latin this year?
  2. Tell me what pet(s) you have OR what pet(s) you don’t have, but what to have.
  3. Tell me what you play (sports, games, instruments, activities) OR what sports/games/instruments/ you want to play, but don’t.

With my advanced students (Latin III/IV), I decided to try “Two Truths and a Lie” for some more open-ended Card Talk.  I asked them to write two statements about their summer that are true, and one that is false.  They were permitted to write in English or Latin (most chose to write in Latin).  To create some boundaries for their output and the subsequent discussion, I posted a list of suggested verbs to get them started.  The list was:

iter fēcī: I travelled

vīsitāvī: I visited

lūsī: I played

spectāvī: I watched

lēgī: I read

dormīvī: I slept

versātus/a sum: I hung out/spent time

labōrāvī: I worked

We ended up playing most of the class period (after the syllabus business was taken care of).  I read someone’s statements in Latin, and the students wrote the sentence which they believed was false on a whiteboard.  Afterwards, I briefly interviewed the person whose statements I read, expanding on interesting and amusing details.  The students had a lot of expose to less common past tense forms (especially the first and second person perfect and imperfect). Students always want to play this game again the next day, and I often must be careful not to overuse it.  It is a bit of an “advanced” CI game (for the teacher), because it can involve some extemporizing.  A less confident teacher might want to collect the cards at the end of one class period, in order to prepare statements for the next (that’s what I used to do until I got more comfortable).  After class, I typed up some of the sentences and changed some details for a quick “Verum an Falsum” opener for tomorrow’s class.

So, my prep time getting ready for Day 2 was . . .

Latin I: 0 minutes (I have their cards ready for Card Talk tomorrow)

Latin III/IV: 15 minutes

  1. creating some “Verum an Falsum” statements for tomorrow (10 minutes)
  2. finding a blank calendar for Calendar Talk (5 minutes)

Total Prep Time: 15 minutes

Plenty of time left over to start studying my seating chart and start learning some of my new student’s names . . .

5 thoughts on “A Year In F7 – Week 1, Day 1

  1. Excellent idea with the upper levels. I think I will copy you in a week in a half when I start. Thank you for sharing your thought process as it is extremely helpful to see how another Latinist organizes input.


  2. Thanks so much for doing this! I don’t start classes until the Tuesday after Labor Day,  so I have plenty of time to learn from you.  For years now, I’ve started out the first day of Latin I only speaking Latin,  something all my students remember forever.  But I’ve never known how to proceed from there. (The students learn greetings,  how are you? etc. Names of various things around the room,  names of countries,  and all the numbers from one to ten.  They really do learn all of these things in just one coisas period because the TPR method is so effective.) But then I plunge into reading the first story in Ecce Romani. It begs down after about four stories.  I’ve got the next two weeks to prepare. I need to make a better routine for one thing.  And the whole school is going to work on the cell phone problem this year.  Your questions and answers in Latin are perfect! I’m excited to get started.  Do you teach in a block schedule? I have 90 minute classroom routines to prepare.  Do you have any suggestions about how to structure the time? I have a couple of half-boiled ideas myself. I’m eager to know what you think.  Thanks again,J Reder WhiteMagister Albus 

    Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone


    1. Magister Albus, I’m pleased that you have found this blog helpful! I haven’t taught on a block schedule in a while, and it may actually be a good future post idea to discuss how this might be adapted to a 90 schedule. It’s really just about pacing and breaks. I think of class happing in 10 minute, 15 miniute, or 20 minute chunks (depending on how involved or engaging the activity is). My advice would be to switch types of activities often, and include some “brain breaks” in between. CI/TPRS is great for longer class periods because can be very engaging for students, and it is extremely flexible. If student are REALLY into an activity, you can engage them for a long time. Once their attention starts to wane, you can just switch to something else. The more you give students choices and active ways to be involved, the more buy-in you will have. But as I said, it might be a good idea to flesh this out into its own post.


    2. Magister Albus (Albe?),
      I also teach with Ecce in 90 minute blocks and am looking to add more Latin in my teaching. I would love to collaborate with you, since it seems like we are in a similar place. My email is Ruth_Loop@ccpsnet.net and/or I’m on FB.

      Magister Olimpi,
      Thank you so much for all of your detailed plans and observations. I’m following your “journey” eagerly and plan to implement as many of your ideas as I can. Did you scaffold the Jason reading?


      1. I did a bit. The difficulty in the Jason reading for my students was really just some of the vocabulary and a bit of syntax. E. g. “horum ex numero” came up in this weeks reading. They know the words but the syntax gave them pause. So I just rewrote the text with synonyms and slightly adjusted syntax to make it more comprehensible. I am compiling and polishing my Ritchie-based tiers and adaptations (for Perseus and Jason) into something that I can publish in the near future.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s