Our First Class SSR

[Disclaimer: This year, in my Latin III Prose class, I used SSR (Sustained Silent Reading) to mean the time at the start or end of my class when students chose a novella, magazine, comic, etc. to read on their own. I have since been informed that SSR is generally used to mean the reading of the same novella with a class, and FVR (Free Voluntary Reading) is what’s used for what was happening in my Latin III class. Mea culpa.]

We have begun reading Rufus et arma atra by Lance Piantaggini in my two Latin I classes as of yesterday. This is the very first time I’ve tried a class novella. We’ll all be reading the same book at the same time. I’m both excited and a little terrified. I don’t know yet how it’s going to go overall, but here’s the plan:

Yesterday, I started our time off (after assigning books and explaining the principles of SSR) with a look at and a discussion on the phrases/structures and noun & adjective phrases common to the first chapter.

We then started reading for 10 minutes. Everyone read the same book, but they are reading at their own pace. Reflection: 10 minutes is far too long! The fastest and strongest readers finished in 5 minutes, the weaker ones were bored and gave up within those same 5 minutes. So, next class, we’ll be reading for 5-7 minutes instead.

As the students read, they answered some comprehension questions (from the Teacher’s Materials). I used the English versions of the questions, and asked students to answer in Latin with sentences, clauses, or phrases from the chapter.

Once I get 75-80% of the comprehension questions turned in for each chapter, we’ll take one of the reading times to play the Quadrant Race (also from the Teacher’s Materials) for that chapter.

At the end of each class, we’ll do a few Dictatio (that Teacher’s Materials is a god-send… gratias ago, Minerva et Lance!) on going throughout. Not yesterday – we ran out of time – but I’m thinking the final 5-3 minutes of my original 10 minutes plan will be used for this activity.

After everyone has turned in their comprehension questions for each chapter, we’ll take another reading time, plus a bit more, to complete a Story Listening activity with the first of the chapter’s extension readings.

(I am tossing around the idea of doing a Ping-Pong Reading with one or two of the Extended Readings provided in the Teacher’s Materials.)

We have a little less than a month left in school and I can’t think of a better way to end off the year, give the students confidence in their language proficiency, and keep them wanting to come back next year.

As a final note, while I’ve been out on medical leave, I worked on creating tiered versions of Ritchie’s Fabulae Faciles‘ Perseus and Hyginus’ Fabulae‘s Hercules to use with Latin I alongside this novella. I have purposefully chosen words and structures found in the novella as well as the vocabulary we covered in Latin I previously in the first tier. This is my first attempt at backward tier-ing intermediate Latin to a novice/beginner level. It has been an adventure to say the least.

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