Sunday, June 8, 2014

Choral Reading

When reading through a story together as a class, one technique to use is group choral reading/translation. This will require:
  • projecting the story onto a screen
  • a laser pointer
When you think that the class is familiar enough with the vocabulary and language structures of a particular story, project that story onto a screen. As the teacher, read the first Latin sentence aloud to the class, using the laser pointer to point to each word as you read it left to right. THEN have the students as a group chorally translate that sentence into English, while you, using the laser pointer, point to the Latin words IN AN ENGLISH WORD ORDER. After that, move onto the next sentence, repeating the process.

Now some of you may be objecting, "Hey, I thought the idea was to get away from translating Latin into English. This does not seem very CI." And quite honestly, I had some reservations about it too in the beginning. The difference, however, is that this activity is not our primary goal: All we are trying to do is establish meaning. This is why according to Bloom's Taxonomy, translation is a low-level skill.  Translating itself is not my end goal activity, but rather it is a step towards a post-reading activity in the language. NOTE - though translating may require higher level skills in order to establish meaning, the end result is still the original product just in a different language; no new product has been created in the target language, which is the sign of critical thinking.

  1. Doing a translation into English helps establish meaning. Yes, I want students to be able to work with Latin in Latin, but it can become very easy for students to answer Latin comprehension questions about a story without needing to understand what is being communicated if they are savvy enough, e.g., a quis question usually is answered by the subject, a quid agit question is answered by the verb, etc. 
  2. In doing a choral translation, no one is put on the spot. Therefore, students' affective filters are low.
  3. Following the laser pointer in both Latin and in English helps students to see the structure of the Latin language but yet how we must construe it in English in order to establish meaning.
  4. Translating chorally is a way for students to help each other out. If a student does not know a word or form, they hear others saying it.
  5. Choral translations are a great time to do pop-up grammar/grammar timeouts, since everyone is focused on the screen.
  6. Translating a story together aloud from a screen is so much better than having students read it from a book in front of them. In a choral translation, I am able to see students' eyes and to hear their voices. If I do not hear enough students translating aloud together, then I will call them on it.


  1. Keith,

    I really like your blog. Thank you for sharing this wealth of knowledge. Have you ever looked into using Peardeck as a tech tool to assist with your choral reading? I've been using it for about a year and it gives me a lot of opportunities to engage the students, get reps in between slides, show a brain break clip, do a quick formative, or whatever I'm trying to do. It's basically like an interactive powerpoint that keeps track of responses. Again, thank you for all of your hard work teaching teachers. I know it has gone a long way in my classroom.

    Plurimas gratias tibi ago!

    1. Thanks for your comments. I am not familiar with Peardeck, but I will definitely check it out now. I just finished my degree in Instructional Technology so it is always good for me to know what is out there!

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    3. Thanks, Keith. The free version of peardeck allows you to ask multiple choice questions, number responses, and short answer or paragraph response questions. The reading would go in the text box and is projected on the screen. The title bar of the slide is for the actual question, and for multiple choice you can select which possible answers come up for the students on their device. It doesn't tell them which is correct, but that's something you can discuss as a whole. You as the teacher can hide/show the collected results as you please. There's also thumbs up/thumbs down, draggable screen dots, etc. that you can ask in addition to the slide title question (on the lower right hand corner). You can even have them DRAW (you see the value for a CI room). I combine this with my remote mouse so I can be in the back of the room and control the board. I like it as something to add to the novelty aspect of strict choral reading. Let me know if you think of any other ways to "CI" it as a tech tool. Thanks much.