Crazy Professor Reading: Dig Deeper into a text with a Role-play style Reading

This activity is a part of a series about low prep activities to decrease teaching intensity.

As the semester came to a close, I was looking for novel ways to review chapters from the novels we were reading as a class; Piso Perturbatus in Latin 1, Via Periculosa and Piso Ille Poetulus in Latin 3. I stumbled across a few posts about the crazy professor reading game, like this one. At first, I wondered if this might be a bit, too elementary but I decided to adjust the activity as a way to conduct a whole class review reading of a chapter.

I introduced the activity as:

  • Students imagine they decided to go to college and I am the craziest professor they have.
  • I read short sections of the novel with a dramatic voice. Depending on the day, I might have simply used a low and forceful voice. On days with energy, I added gestures, voice movement and unique facial expressions.
  • Students’ task was to come up with the craziest question they could related to the section I read.
  • I attempted to answer the question at a level that was much deeper than the text we were reading. This part was a little tricky as I wanted to keep answers connected to the text.

These reading sessions turned out to be useful review readings as students prepared to complete a final project or exam over the book. There were a few students who do not ask questions often who were motivated by the idea of asking a certain kind of question. A few other students became more engaged after my first response to a classmate.

For example, in Latin 3, we had read through chapter 6 of Piso ille Poetulus. In chapter 5, Piso had a dream. A student asked me what was the meaning of the dream. I responded using as many descriptive words as possible something to the effect that “Piso’s dream was simply a reflection of the societal pressures around him manifesting themselves within his subconscious. One might argue he was “more awake” during the dream compared to his interactions with his brother and parents.”

Engagement was high as students anticipated what I might say or what question a classmate might ask. Input was novel as I read with a different tone and voice than normal and students were eager to use the text to create a question. Although I won’t do this often, crazy professor reading will become a part of my during reading rotation with texts I know well because:

  • Input is comprehensible
  • The task to respond to the input is novel
  • Students interact with a different perspective from me and from more classmates offering quesitons
  • There is little prep
  • The conversation around the responses builds classroom community

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