Extensive Reading Project

The Challenge

To write high interest stories based strictly (when it comes to verbs) on the 50 Most Important Verbs list.

Supporting Research and Consideration

Three decades of research indicate that one of the most significant ways to supply understandable messages in the second language (CI) is through reading that is both compelling for the student and understandable in that language.  That combination is represented in the CI literature as i + 1.  Latin teachers really have access to no such reading, and so we are left in the position of creating our own.  No textbooks in the US offer extensive reading that meets this criteria.  Some do offer compelling stories, but  they do so in an intensive way (increasingly difficult).  They also shelter grammar but not vocabulary which is just the opposite of what CI requires:  to shelter the vocabulary and not the grammar.  We now have a growing number of Latin teachers interested in and practicing CI in their classrooms.  If we join ranks in this project, we could rather quickly create a nice collection of stories, chapter books and novellas rooted in the 50 Most Important Verbs list plus selected other words.

Project Guidelines and Requirements:

Those who participate in the project agree to the following:

1. The story you write must adhere solely  to the 50 Most Important Verbs list when it comes to verbs, but obviously will need to include other parts of speech.  The writer will choose other Latin words that he/she knows to be most common or most understandable as cognates.  This is a subjective call, but this is also where the expertise of the Latin teacher comes into play.  You know what your own students will recognize; you have access to Lewis and Short online or a hard copy of your own, word frequency lists such as those at Dickinson’s and St. Louis University. and perhaps others.  You can determine how common a word is; you can choose to use synonyms and cognates that make a word more understandable; you can exercise common sense always preferring what will be most obvious to students over what Cicero might have written.

2. As you write, you should keep a running list of the vocab (with English equivalents) you are using and turn that in with the draft.  This will make proof-reading and editing easier.

3. The successful readers in other languages in CI classrooms limit the total number of vocab to 200-250 for a novella or chapter book.  For a short story, the total number could easily be well under that–50-150.

4. There is an easy test for the readability of any text that we put in front of language learners.  Consider the total number of words written in a story.  List those instances of a word that may not be readily recognized appears.  Divide that number by the total for a percentage of readability.  If I have written a novella of 2000 words in it, and I see that 170 times I have used a word (could be the same word, multiple times) that may be difficult for students to understand, 170/2000 = almost 9%.  That yields a readability of 91%.  It has been determined that a story that is not 90% or higher in readability will not work for these kinds of readings.  In this case, with the readability on the cutoff line, I might want to go in and see if I can use more recognizable words and reduce that number of 170 instances to something like 100 which would yield a readability score of 95%.  So, in submitting a story, novella or chapter book, include the readability number as you determine it–total difficult words divided by total words written. This does require your own subjective sense of how many words will be difficult, but you are the expert, and your expert opinion counts.

5. Is the story you have written compelling?  The best way to insure a compelling story is to get your own students to help you with story starters or tell them about your story idea and see what they think.  Would they read such a book if it was easy enough?

6. Avoid writing stories that are extensions of or take-offs on the textbook series that you use.  This is important for at least two reasons:  You will limit the interest level of your story to students and teachers who use your textbook; and, you will likely be in violation of copyright.

7. Stories that meet the above requirements will have your name as the author and the copyright symbol and the year under your name.  You will always own the copyright, but you agree to offer it in this collection for free on LBPCIR.  Because chapter books and novellas might be nice to have in hard copy, the free pdf versions could also be offered through Lulu or another self-publishing company for those who want to have collections in their classroom simply for the cost of publishing and shipping.

8. Editing–before sending it in, have one other Latin teacher proof-read.  LBP moderators reserve the right to proof as well and ask for changes if need be.

Send drafts or questions to robert.patrick59@gmail.com


Welcome to our Latin Comprehensible Input Resources website!

Each posting on this site contains a method, technique or description that you can put to use in your Latin classroom.

These postings are also searchable according to tags on the right hand column.

Don’t forget to visit our Downloadable Materials page for additional resources This is where you will find information and research about Comprehensible Input, to educate school administrators, colleagues and parents.

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For more information on how to use this site, please visit the “About” link at the top of this page.

Thanks for visiting.

Bob Patrick, John Piazza and David Maust (co-moderators of Latin–Best Practices)

Student Jobs

Student Jobs in the CI Classroom

Many teachers have mitigated if not solved their classroom management difficulties by assigning jobs, sometimes as many as 10 or more jobs within a single class. The immediate effect of assigning jobs is that students have an immediate personalized task that the teacher has entrusted them with. Then they begin to take ownership of even the most basic procedures of the class, and are far less likely to want to disrupt those procedures for the sake of pride or reputation. Rather, the sense of pride will come from taking on responsibility of running some aspect of the class–and maybe even keeping some of their classmates in line.

The following is taken largely from Ben Slavic’s compilation of student jobs and edited slightly for Latin teachers to use.  Latin job names have been supplied and Ben and Others’ descriptions included.

Dinumeratores (3)  The counters do so much. They do things that we are not even aware of, functioning as a kind of social glue. They bring us together in pursuit of a common goal. Pure gold. They write the new words for the day on a small piece of paper,and put a hash mark next to the word each time you say it.  You may ask themto tell you when you have used a word 15, 20, 25 or ? times.

Examinator (1 or 2) during the telling or asking of a story, or during an R and D, these students write test/quiz questions based on the class conversation.

Scriptor: Often a 4 percenter who looks bored or who wants more:  the scriptor’s job is to write down everything you say in Latin.  Best used during the asking or telling of a story.   This way, at the end of class, you have a script of the story which you can then edit and give back to the class at the end of the week or the next day for reading silently, R and D and timed writes.

Artifex or Pictor: May have several.  Job is to draw pictures of whatever story is being discussed. Can be used with the story that the scriptor writes for illustrated stories.  Add the questions that the Examinator has created and you have review questions as well.

Distributor: passes out and takes up whatever the teacher needs that day.

Dictator(there can be two of these) they quickly decide on things like if the house is red or blue, where and when something happens, so that the teacher doesn’t have to take a side–when asking a story.

Effutior– blurts out the English meaning of a word when someone is caught on it.

Word Chunk Team (WCT) Controller 1 (this is the most left out kid in class who couldn’t even get into a group. He gets to pick which team raised their hand first – see resources/workshop handouts for Work Chunk Team details.)

Word Chunk Team Controller 2 (another kid in need of feeling needed – this one judges synchronicity of group signed responses.)

Word Chunk Team Controller 3 (keeps score and also watches – very important – to see if all the heads in the group go together to consult before the hands are raised. A group with one dominant member has to be broken up.

16. Rex/Regina Gesticulorum – this is the athlete with too much energy who is given the responsibility of jumping up whenver they want to, usually when the teacher uses one of the target structures and who then reminds the class what the gesture is–hilarious, informative and very very useful. And it completely engages the kid with too much energy.

Magister Sonorum – either via a machine or actually produced by the kid to accompany a story.

Dux Lectorum. This is the kid who leads the class in the choral reading of texts. She reads slowly and loudly and literally brings the class along with her. Extra credit for that. Extra credit for all of these. Why? Because kids are lovers of extra credit and because we want buy-in.

Monitor Anglicorum – kid who can make the most annoying sound in class sounds off at the slightest sign that the teacher may be going into an English rant or when the class needs to take a quiz (sometimes we just need to stop the CAI and take the quiz. The kid sounds off and the teacher thanks her/him profusely and segues right back into Latin. The message to the rest of the students is clear. We’re here to listen to Latin, not to listen to the teacher talk about Latin in English.

Horologiarius – This kid times how long the class can go in the TL. Class times are written on the board. The kids get competitive and class pride is often on the line.

Student Secretary – Judy Dubois in France has a student secretary in each class who gives participation points to students. She explains: “I give the secretary (who changes each class) a class list and their job is to tally the number of times students raise their hand and speak. When an answer or suggestion is particularly good or the question difficult, I give bonus points. If a student gets out of hand, they get a “yellow card” I rarely have to give a “red card”. Of course, this is France, so everyone knows that yellow card is a referee’s warning and red card puts you out of the game. The secretary writes yellow card or red card besides the student’s name. This system is much simpler for me because I don’t have to stop to write it down or give a lecture, I just say “yellow card” and go on with the lesson.”

English Patrol – this student shouts “desiste!” if English is used. Timer will go back to zero.

Actores – will synchronize actions to teacher’s speaking or reading. It’s a job in that we always like to use our best, least distractible actors.

Gratitae— I am grateful to _____ who helped me by ______.  OR I saw Betsy give Alfred a low five when he spoke French in the hallway to Prof. Slavic. She was really encouraging to him. We also have a person who calls on the other people to give their appreciation — usually it is an encourager and we limit them to 3 a day. I have 20 minutes to knock out a community meeting.

Benignitates — a notebook or post-it notes (I like the hear ones) where a student records acts of kindness witnessed in the class. They are read once a week on your kindergarten day. They are not written in the TL (unless it is AP). This person reads at the end of the week a few of the acts of kindness they witnessed.

Grex Curae — a couple of folks who write encouraging notes to absent students and kids who are in need of an “I noticed you . . .” Try to do at least two a week yourself per class.

Master Vocab List Compiler – this kid writes down every new TL word that is introduced over the course of the year, and  perhaps puts a check next to the ones that have been circled and/or included in the story. This way, it’s no mystery what words are fair game in each class. By having each section keep track of it, it gives them the ownership. Now, they have to prep us, and we come into class and stay focused on our unique job: keeping the CI train rolling.

Timed Write Portfolio Analysis

Timed Write Portolio Analysis

Nomen: _____________________________________Date: ____________________

1)      Organize your Timed Writes in chronological order according to date.

2)      How many timed writes do you have?  _______

3)      Lowest word count ______ / date_____   Highest word count______ / date_______

4)      Read through them carefully and identify which you consider to be your best and your worst.  Record the dates of those here:

My best ________________________

My worst _______________________

5)      Describe in detail what makes your best one the best.  Use the back if needed.





1)      Have you made progress in Latin, based on this analysis?      Yes   No     (circle one)

2)      List the insights that you can take away from this writing experiment.





What grade do you give yourself for this work?  Explain below.  _______/100



Timed Writes

Timed Write

It must be noted, first, that a TW is not a form of Comprehensible Input.  It is actually a form of production and should not be required of students until it is clear that they are capable of producing and with material with which they are thoroughly familiar.  Timed writes are best done as an ongoing collection in a portfolio style work.  Students in each class should have a folder with their names on it and into which they put each timed write.  A timed write works like this.

  • students are given a half sheet of paper,and they take out a pencil
  • the teacher asks them to put the date and the title of the story about which they will be writing at the top.  This is very important in portfolio work.
  • When the teacher says begin, students write as much as they can about the identified story in Latin.  If they reach a point where they have said all that they can about the story, and time remains, they begin to make things up to go along with the story.  In other words, they write until time is called.  Time is called by saying (as some timer goes off) “If you are in the middle of a sentence, you may finish the sentence.  Then, count all of your words.  Write the number large at the bottom of the page, and circle it.  Place your TW in your portfolio.
  • How long should a timed write be? With beginners who are ready to do some production, start with 5 minutes.  When they complain that this is not enough time, increase to 10, then to 15.  Ultimately 20 minutes is a good time for timed writes.  Advanced students may be given 30 minutes or longer to write about something they’ve ready or on a topic that has been discussed.
  • In any timed write, the ONLY question is how many words, in Latin, did you write.  This is not an analysis of grammar or spelling.  It’s an opportunity for students to produce in the language they are learning.
  • At the end of the semester, students may be invited to do some meta-analysis of their portfolio.  See a suggested way of doing this on the next page.

Dictatio currendo

Dictatio Currendo

1. Students are in groups of 4 at one end of a courtyard, gymnasium or large space.

2. On Cardboard presentation boards are 3-5 sheets of paper with Latin sentences written on them.

3. Teacher sits half-way between off to the side as the “auxilium”.

4. When the start is given, the first runner runs to the board, reads the first sentence and runs back to his/her group and gives the dictation.  This runner returns as often as is necessary to get the whole sentence dictated to the group.

5. The group then must collaborate on the meaning of the sentence and write it beneath the dictation.  If they need help, they send a runner to Magister/Magistra who is sitting at the mensa auxilii.

6. When finished with the first, group sends the second runner, and process continues until all group members have all 10 sentences written and translated.  When finished, they turn them in.


Grade for each student is based on

–accuracy of Latin–5 points per sentence

–acceptability of translation–5 points per sentence

–completion of all–if a sentence or more is not completed, partial or no credit is given.
On the following day, teacher supplies a copy of the sentences and acceptable translations. Small groups grade each other’s paper with teacher’s consultation.  Students who did not complete all or who do poorly can come in and work on these individually to earn back all credit.  

This is a variation of the running dictation that is often a part of the Rusticatio sponsored by SALVI.

Popcorn Reading

Popcorn reading

1. The reading is one that you have been preparing them to read by circling vocab, asking/telling stories, PQA, etc.

2. Arrange desks so that  partners are facing each other.  I created three rows in my classroom of two desks facing each other. There were 6 pairs in each row, hence 36 chairs arranged this way.

3. Partners sit facing each other.  They each have the reading in front of them.  One partners reads the first line of the reading to an endpoint of punctuation (which may bleed over onto the next line).  The second partners then gives the meaning of that line.  Then, the one who just translated reads the next whole line to end punctuation.  The first one gives translation.  They continue this way taking turns as reader and then translator for two minutes.  They can help each other with pronunciaiton and with translation.  If they get stuck, they raise their hands for your help.

4. At the end of two minutes, you call time and ask one side of each row to get up and move down one seat so that now everyone in the room has a new partners.  Partners check in with each other about how far each got in the story.  They always begin with the place that was farthest back in the story so that no one misses anything and so that there is plenty of overlap (aka repetitions).  Then, you start them up again for two more minutes.

5. You as teacher run around and offer help where partners cannot help each other.  They raise their hands and you move around to them.  This gives you a VERY good sense of sticking points which you can design a CI lesson for on the next day.

6. Continue this way for as many two minute rotations as you want.  I did 20 minute rotations and that seemed very good.  At the end, I asked for feedback about what was happening–a little metacognition about how they are learning.  If there is time for a little comprehension quiz, all the better.

Variation:  If space allows, the same thing can be accomplished with students standing in concentric circles with the inner circle facing out and the outer circle facing in.  When “change” is sounded, students on the inside simply move one person to the right.  If you have an uneven number, the inner circle should have the extra person and there will always be one person who reads along at each change.

Language Experience

Language Experience

This is a very simple way to get students to help you create and write stories.  A student or a small group of students sits down next to the teacher who is at the computer, and they begin to tell a story, in English. The teacher types the story in Latin.  The following day, the teacher has copies of the story for students to read.  They may illustrate it.  The teacher may do an R and D session with them jor a Readers’ Theater.  After processing the story in whatever way the teacher decides, a timed write can follow.  If the teacher does this on a regular basis, the teacher will amass a nice collection of student generated stories in Latin for future classroom use.

Readers’ Theater

Readers’ Theater

Take a story that the group has already read or is ready to read and write it up as a script.  Some texts do this for us.  Identify students to read and act each roll, including narrator who may also read stage direction portions.  The teacher’s job is stage director who will not let them get away with anything but outstanding performances.  Most stories will be short enough for multiple productions of the same story, sometimes in the same class period.  The group can vote on who did the best production, or you can establish 3-4 judges (American’s Got Talent-style) to vote on the best performers and overall performances.  The goal here is 1) to identify places that are not understood and make them understood.  This becomes obvious when a performer does a flat reading.  The teacher/director must stop the performance and find out what is not understood, offer a better way to read/act the line and then move on;   2) to get lost in the fun of the story. Lots of laughter ought to be an indicator of this, especially if you require the audience to be active with vocal responses to the story (ooh, aaah, boooh, euge!, eheu! papapae! etc).  You can always follow a series of Readers’ Theater with a timed write.


Here are some very good set up guidelines especially if the story is not pre-written as a script:


1. Students are given an embedded reading from the curriculum. It focuses on four new words already circled repeatedly with students. Students read a paragraph silently.

2. Teacher reads the paragraph out loud, with emotion.

3. Students ask comprehension and vocabulary questions in Latin.

4. Teacher asks comprehension questions to ensure understanding

5. Repeat steps 1-4 with each paragraph of the story.

After finishing the story, three students previously asked to play certain characters come up. The class divides the rest of the parts (if any) in groups and teacher is narrator/director.

Teacher reads the story and all are  responsible for responding appropriately.

Students complete a time write on the story.

Word Chunk Game

Word Chunk Game

This game is both low stress on the teacher (unless students having lots of fun in your classroom stresses you out!) AND while having fun an intense vehicle of language acquisition.  It is used with material, a story for example that you have already been working on with students, so I think of this as a Friday kind of activity to review a story, especially with structures or vocabulary that has been challenging.  First the set up; then the procedures:

  • Students are divided into small groups (3-6 per group, depending on class size.  3 is better but in huge classes you may have to go with larger groups.
  • groups are in small circles around the edges of the room so that there is a long ally down the middle of the room.
  • At one end of the room, a box is set up on a stool (or some other arrangement) that approximates a basket.
  • 3-6 whiffle balls or tennnis balls are lined up at a “free throw line” some 15 fee or so away from “the basket”.  (how many balls depends on the size of your groups)
  • Teacher preps a list of sentences from the story that has already been read and which highlights structures or words new to the group.  (e.g. if relative clauses are new, most sentences should have relative clauses).  You can pull sentences directly from the story, but you can also edit them to focus on what you want to focus on.
  • Each group  must come up with a name for itself, in Latin, and a gesture that they do with the name.  Any time they raise their hand to answer a question and are called on, they must shout their name in unison while doing the gesture.  If they don’t, or even if one member doesn’t, they don’t get to answer the question and it goes to the next group.  This seems silly.  Don’t skip it.  It helps build camaraderie in the group which is necessary for how they have to work together.
  • The game proceeds like this.  Teacher reads the first sentence slowly, aloud, and continues to do so, over and over again.  Group members huddle together and decide, together, what the sentence means.  When they ALL agree on a meaning, they raise their hands.  The first group to raise their hands is called on.  The teacher identifies them by pointing, and the group shouts name and does gesture.
  • THEN (very important–this prevents one person from doing all the work) the teacher calls on someone in the group to give the answer.  ONLY that person can answer, and if the group feeds the answer, they are disqualified.  HOWEVER, if the person makes a mistake, group members may correct it.  The teacher must distinguish between FEEDING the answer and offering CORRECTIONS.  Corrections are allowed.  Feeding the answer is now.  Because the group never knows who the teacher will call on, they learn very quickly that everyone must know what the sentence means before they raise their hands.
  • If the person called on gives the correct English meaning of the sentence, the entire group goes to the free-throw line and shoots for points.  Teacher keeps score.
  • If the person does not give the correct English and the group cannot correct mistakes, the teacher calls on the group whose hands went up second, and so forth.
  • At the end of the period, the group with the most points (or groups if there is a tie) have earned bonus points that they can use on a quiz or test grade (teacher’s discretion).


This is a listening and comprehension game.  They are “re-reading” old material, which is always good.  They are helping each other understand.  Because you can focus on certain structures or words, and because you are reading slowly, clearly, over and over again, they are getting multiple repetitions of Latin that they otherwise would not have done on their own.  Students swear by how helpful this game is.  My problem is not overusing it.