There are a number of ways to introduce students to new stories and get them to have repeat encounters with the target language. Some of these are high-energy and some are very chill. This one requires a little prep (I came to school early today and spent 20 minutes getting it ready), but after that, the students run things themselves, for the most part. Scrambled Eggs has been circulating for years, and I personally learned it from my colleague, Miriam Patrick. But there are some variations on it that I like and will write about here.
- Write a 10-sentence story, or choose 10 sentences from your upcoming story. Keith Toda recommends that you use 100% known vocabulary, but I sometimes push this and either gloss or expect students to pull a couple of meanings from context.
- Print out your sentences and cut them into individual strips of paper. I usually print 4 sets, plus some "dead egg" responses (explained in the next section).
- Fold these sentences up and put them into Easter eggs, one sentence per egg.
- Put all the eggs into a container.
- Print off some response sheets where students can write the sentences they find. I will talk more about this momentarily!
- Divide students into pairs.
- Student A will go to the basket, pick ONE egg, and bring it back. Student B waits with the response sheet and a pen or pencil.
- Student A will open the egg and read the sentence aloud, while Student B writes it down. (Make sure students know not to open an egg until they get back to their partner.)
- You can have the students switch roles after five sentences, or after each sentence. (I like to make them switch it up every time!)
- Students might find repeat sentences, or "dead egg" responses. These can be brain breaks (if you're in Keith Toda's class), or dad jokes (if you're in my class). They have to get back up and search for another egg if the one they just chose is a bust. >:)
- Once finished with the current sentence, students put the strip of paper back in the egg and place the egg back in the container for other sentence hunters to find.
- Once a pair of students has found and recorded all of the sentences, they move on to the follow-up.
This is where you can really vary up what you're doing with this activity. It's all well and good for students to collect all of the sentences, but in order for everything to sink in, they need to do something with those sentences. There are a few solid options, depending on your goals:
- Students can translate the sentences into English after collecting them.
- Students can illustrate the sentences to show comprehension.
- You can give the students sentences that are not numbered. Then, once they have collected them all, ask them to put the sentences together in story order--they will need to understand the sentences and reason out the order of the story in order to complete this task. (I particularly like this one.)
Any of these will easily extend the exercise so that it takes a whole class period and asks the students to do more than just write sentences down. And once you've done the prep work, all you have to do is facilitate!
- A recent set of sentences I used in class for a scrambled eggs dictatio.
- A response sheet I gave my students to fill out, with a grid for drawing the sentences on the back. (They switched off when writing sentences down, then made sure each partner had a complete set at the end.)
I want my students to encounter language in ways that feel natural to them. This would be a bit easier with a modern language, given that a lot of people are still, y'know, using those. But if students are going to have accessible materials in Latin, it's on us as teachers to make them.
And we're doing it! The list of available novellas in Latin has absolutely exploded in recent years, and it is amazing to see. I would also say that reading so many of them has made my Latin better, just through repeated exposure over time—exactly what we want students to experience.
But reading is not the only way to reach students. The teenagers in my classroom are constantly online, watching YouTube videos and TikTok. Full disclosure: Me too! I am a heavy consumer of digital media myself. So I often wonder if there is a good way to let students watch things they would normally be willing to watch, but laced with Latin.
A couple of years ago, I bought a capture card and had some fun recording gameplay of Animal Crossing and Untitled Goose Game. I then voiced those over in Latin on my YouTube channel. I've been very lax about updating this channel, because everything went crazy when COVID hit. But this past week, I finally got things arranged to make it easier for me to set up that capture card and get footage to use.
Here's my first Latin video in a long time. The game itself is called Feather and I played it on the Nintendo Switch. This video is just a chill one about being a bird and flying through nature, but I have more ambitious plans for the future!