When I taught with a grammar laden syllabus I struggled to find ways to facilitate students to actually read. Everything we did seemed completely dependent upon me and I always felt it was a waste of time as few students seemed to make connections. The most important aspect for reading is to have material that students can understand. It’s become clear to me the longer I teach that many students tell themselves that they do not enjoy reading. But my observations of students over our self directed reading program is that they like reading but they do not like all of the extra stuff that we add on to reading. But add in any kind of struggle and those students, who view themselves as not enjoying reading, are going to give up. Here are some ways from wiser teachers that I use to engage students in reading Latin together along with some observations.
The first is popcorn reading from Bob Patrick’s Latin Best Practices. This seems to work best when students are set up in row formations. In pairs, one student reads the 1st Latin sentence. When finished, the second student delivers the meaning of the Latin sentence into English. Next, student 2 reads Latin and student 1 delivers the English meaning. Some things that happen during popcorn reading:
- Some students talk. It’s important to walk around the room. Most students will begin reading with proximity from the teacher. For the few who don’t, simply join the pair and begin reading Latin for them. Then ask them what it means and keep going. They will realize it’s better if they read together and just socialize a bit.
- This is a golden time to listen to what students struggle with in pronunciation and what they struggle with in meaning. Jot down notes when there are patterns and construct input coming up around these areas.
Another Reading Activity that I’ve recently tried comes from Magister P’s website. Silent T/F reading. Students read silently for a designated time. After the timer is up they have a set amount of time to draw 2 images based on what they just read. One is true based on the story and the other is false to the story. When finished, we swap images with a partner and try to decide which image is true and which is false based on the text. Some observations:
- Many students will tend to pick the 1st true item they find and there can be many of the same images. I tried 2 minute reading times the first time I did it. Next time I will try longer times to see if students spread out their true images a bit.
- Collect the images and create an image talk the next day out of the most recognizable images.
- Collect the images and use the false images to create a parallel story.
These are two ways to facilitate students reading together. I’m finding it valuable to switch up with activities that require reading Latin out loud with silent reading activities. It is good to hear what students struggle with in respect to pronunciation, but some become caught up in the anxiety of pronouncing things correctly and are distracting from meaning. Comprehensible reading is more important than the activity as the activity is simply a way to help students engage in reading. As I go further with this work of comprehended input I am often reminded that many times we add too much complexity into our work. Many times these complexities interfere with learning. In respect to acquisition, we need students to enjoy reading to some degree. There is simply no better way to facilitate their independent acquisition of vocabulary than reading. As you plan ways to facilitate reading ask yourself: Does the activity complicate reading too much? If it does, do something else.