A Year in F7 – Week 3 – Latin I

Lesson Plans

shlubi saves the dayShlubi the isopod saves the day . . . 

Monday – Day 9

  1. Calendar Talk (5 – 10 minutes)

Targets: hodie, cras, heri, erit, erat, numbers (in context)

Sing “felicem natalem tibi” as needed

Prep Time: 0 minutes

  1. Ask-a-Story (in two 12-15 minute sections)

assign new student jobs: scriba (scribe), custos temporis (time keeper), pictor (artist), iudex (question writer), magister/magistra secunda (teacher number two, the settler of disputes), histriones (actors)

Prep Time: 0 minutes

Note about prep time: although I have no physical materials to create ahead of time, I do spend some prep time going over possible question sequences in my head, rehearsing creating a story to an empty room, watching video of other teachers. After a while, most of my prep time is taken up with thinking through the activity and practicing my skills—almost like an actor rehearsing for a part in an improvised show (can you tell I have a bit of a theater background?).

  1. Brain Break (as needed): TPR Review
  2. Ask-a-Story Quizverum an falsum (true or false)

Prep Time: 0 minutes

Total Prep Time: 0 minutes


Tuesday – Day 10

I felt that Monday’s class got a little out of hand.  A most of the were caused (I feel) by unclear expectations (what behavior constitutes “blurting,” and what doesn’t) and by attempting to introduce too many words too quickly.  I saw some confused students towards the end of class. I decided therefore to not continue with the story, but to give the students more exposure to the structures and phrases introduced yesterday.

  1. Write and Discuss/Read and Draw
  2. Vocabulary Game “Reverse Pictionary”

Really the point is to practice procedures necessary for passing out the whiteboards, markers, and erasers and putting them back.

  1. Picture Talk: from student work produced during the Read and Draw activity

This will allow me to work in more circle and repetition for less familiar words.

  1. Ask-a-Story (Part II) – continue yesterday’s story, time permitting.


Wednesday – Day 11

  1. Circling/Karaoke Translation

This is based on Tuesday’s Write and Discuss text.  I added some easy cognates and add more repetition.  I also add a few details to the story for novelty.  I just project the text, engage the whole class in a choral translation, and pause to circle words or phrases that the students are less confident about.

Prep Time: 20 minutes (time spent typing up and expanding the Write and Discuss texts from class).

  1. Ridiculum!

This is basically “stultus” (known by many other names depending on the language you teach).  My students generally think the word “ridiculum” is funny and enjoy shouting that out.  I have also made the phrase “ridiculum est!” and “absurdum est!”  Really any negative rejoinder will do.

Prep Time: 0 minutes

3. Ask-a-Story – Pars III (15 minutes)

               Prep Time: 0 minutes

               Total Prep Time: 20 minutes


Thursday – Day 12

  1. Picture Talk (add to pictures?)

               ask a lot of questions – tell students it is a quiz?

               student names on cards, collect cards, write down notes

  1. Alternate Story – Pictatio
  2. ActingAlternate Story (with Actors) – story from another period

continue the “quiz” (use the familiar academic school structure)

curious as to whether it just makes the students too nervous.

  1. Break Break (as needed)


Friday – Day 13

  1. Quizlet Live (using the diagram function)

The Word Chunk game is very popular among TPRS teachers (and others using communicative methods), but this game has never really clicked with me, or with my classes.  Since my school is a one-to-one school, I’ve used Quizlet live to do essentially the same thing as the Word Chunk game, only more efficiently (the game play is faster, there are way more reps, student engagement is high, each individual student plays each round). Switching up the teams every round keeps the students moving. Generally, we play for about twenty minutes (which means around 12-14 matches).  I usually have to stop them after twenty minutes—they always want to play another round.

               Prep Time: 10-15 minutes per text (x 3 classes)

  1. Dicatatio

A good cool-down activity after the frantic Quizlet Live.  The text is based on the Ask-A-Story text that each class created this week (and that the students just reviewed during the Quizlet Live game.

Prep Time: 5 minutes (text excerpted from the Quizlet Live text)

  1. “Timed” Translation

This is really just a vocabulary assessment to see what they know—again not really “acquisition” oriented.  “Timed” is in quotation marks because I will really give the students the time that they need, just want to see what words/phrases they have down cold and what words/phrases they only recall with effort. We do get some reps in when we check the quizzes.

Prep Time: 0 minutes

Total Prep Time: 50 minutes


Reflection: Okay, the battle begins.  Monday was rough, I prepared too much, jumped into the storytelling too quickly without setting proper boundaries (i.e. what counts as providing the story with details vs interrupting/blurting), and, while I technically asked a story successfully in each class, after a while it was a struggle.  In the heat of the moment, I ended up adding too much to the story to try to win back the students’ attention.  Sometimes it worked, more often it didn’t.  I didn’t track my slower processors, and let the faster processors run the show.  In the end I had side conversations, interruptions, and a few confused students.  It wasn’t pretty.  At the end of the day on Monday, I was a bit discouraged.

So, Tuesday I did a hard reset.  We did not add any details to the story.  I went over the rules.  I explicitly stated what blurting/interrupting was and what it wasn’t.  I went more slowly.  I paused.  I remembered to teach to the eyes.  Also, as you can see in the lesson plan for Tuesday, I brought the energy down.  We did a Write and Discuss (in two halves).  After half of the text was written, I had the students draw the text.  That turned into a brief picture talk.  The written text really helped squirmy, high-energy classes focus.  I was able work in lots of repetitions today and didn’t have to expend a lot of energy.

On Wednesday, we were able to successfully pick the story back up.  My main criticism of my pacing this time is that the ending was close, but not quite right.  I added too much vocab for the ending, which made for a better story, but really didn’t reinforce anything that had come before, and most of it wasn’t repeated (in the interest of not belaboring the end of the story).   Overall though, I’d say that I’m satisfied with asking a complete story over the course of thirty minutes spread over two class periods. (not including reviewing known information and backtracking).  I can definitely feel my TPRS skills improving.

Thursday: I’m still establishing rules and boundaries, and I’ve never actually spent this long working on this aspect of class, but I am glad that I have invested the time.  I remember being very frustrated and tired around October last year, and there was a good bit of time during that semester where I felt I had only tenuous control over my classes.  Things turned around in January when I posted my classroom rules and reset everything.  So, I feel much more on top of things this year, even though I’m still getting some resistance.  After a couple of comprehension checks today (which I really need to remember to do every day) I am continuing to see a correlation between students being distracted and me moving too far too quickly.  Slowing it down and adding reps has been my best classroom management policy.

Friday: Had great success with the Quizlet Live Activity using the Diagrams function.  And while the activity is not strictly communicative (it’s closer to a traditional translation/vocabulary review activity), the students did have to frequently refer to the original story during the game.  After the dictatio, I have the students the “timed” translation.  I gave them 5 minutes to translate the ten sentences, which actually ended up being too long.  Most students finished in 2 minutes, while even my slower processors and/or slower readers were able to finish before the time limit.  I did not count this activity as a quiz, but it was an interesting glimpse into how my students are processing Latin right now.

2 thoughts on “A Year in F7 – Week 3 – Latin I

  1. Amy Gawtry

    Could I see some of your word chunk stories? I am beginning to picture in my head how you are doing this but would love some more specific details. Do you have videos of yourself doing the questioning? or ask a story text? I’m just not sure how it looks? Thanks so much…again!


    1. I don’t have videos of myself doing this, but there are many videos of teachers demonstrating a One-Word Image activity (just google One Word Image or OWI), and the story is built in a similar way (asking questions based on a loose plot). I believe that some later posts have example stories. Also, I did post this Spring about how I use the diagram function on quizlet to provide contextual repetitions of “word chunks” (you should be able to find it using the search function on the blog).

      Liked by 1 person

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