When I first got interested in Comprehensible Input, my main barrier was that I couldn't figure out "how to do it." Don't get me wrong, I was absolutely able to pick cool activities to try (Keith Toda's blog is an absolute treasure trove). And I would love those activities and want to do more. But I didn't see how I could turn all of that cool stuff into a cohesive way of planning lessons that made actual sense.
At Parkview, we are "untextbooked," which means everything we do in the classroom is really up to us. When I was first preparing to enter the untextbooked life, I was anxious about it. But now that I see how simple it is, I'm not sure I could go back to the way things were before. Here is how I understand things at this point in my career as a CI teacher:
Essentially, no matter what kind of CI teacher you want to be, you will end up planning in a cycle that has three phases: pre-reading, reading, and post-reading. You will notice that each phase contains the word "reading," and I think that's because all Latin teachers, no matter their teaching philosophy, want to help their students read Latin as the primary goal. We speak, hear, read, and write Latin on a regular basis in my classes, but I truly feel my work is "working" when I can hand students a text in Latin and they just read it. Let's talk about the pattern I currently follow to help make that happen.
This is the part where you prepare your students to read the next text you have chosen for them. I have so many fond yet oddly traumatic memories of going home from Latin class (especially in college) to try to crack a text I had never seen before, and possibly was not familiar with at all. I take a different approach in my own teaching—by the time my students encounter our next story, they are ready for it, because I have made sure of that.
How do you ensure that students are prepared to read? You teach the vocabulary that they need to know. Rather than follow a grammar syllabus, my current program carefully tracks the vocabulary we have taught and would like to teach to our students. To create pre-reading activities, we look at the story we're about to read, sift out the vocabulary and phrases we want students to work on, and then start targeting those words and phrases so that they already look familiar by the time they show up in story form. This week my Latin 1 students read indirect statements like they were nothing, because for them it was just a matter of recognizing phrases they had been hearing in class for the last few days.
How long does the pre-reading phase take? The annoying answer is, "as long as you need it to." Generally though, I will spend 2-ish days doing pre-reading, unless my students are showing clear signs that we need to slow down.
This is the part where you actually read the text! There are a lot of ways to approach this. Students should read and reread as a class, alone, and with partners. However else this phase looks, it should look like reading. Again, take the time you need, but reading a new story in my class typically takes 1-2 days.
This is the part where we sum up what we've read and I do my best to make sure students actually understand before we move on. Post-reading activities can look like review games, especially on Fridays, but they can also push students to engage deeply with the material. If your students have read a text and read it well, then they should also be ready to make inferences, draw connections between the story and other things they have read, and possibly use the story to learn more about Roman culture. Again, take the time you need—I routinely extend post-reading when it becomes clear that my students need a little more time to absorb new information. But in practice, this typically takes 1-2 days of class time.
As you might have noticed, each phase of my lesson planning cycle—pre-reading, reading, and post-reading—takes up a day or two of class time. In other words, we get through roughly one new story per week, and we are almost guaranteed to introduce a new story every other week. Rather than focus on what grammar we need to teach, our CI program leads students from story to story, in an unending chain of reading prep, reading, and digesting what we have read. Once you fall into that rhythm, the next big "issue" is keeping activities varied so that you and the students don't get bored.
I intend to expand on all of this in future posts, and to include examples of my actual lesson plans (with stories and activities!) so you can see exactly what I did, and possibly try it out yourself. But it really does just boil down to this: choose a text, prep it, read it, and review it. That untextbooked life wasn't so complicated after all!