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