Wednesday, October 29, 2014


This is a quick 10 minute post-reading activity which I learned from the great Carol Gaab this summer at NTPRS. It is a wonderful way to review a reading as a group discussion, and it brings in a degree of critical thinking.

The premise is simple: 
  1. Following a short reading which you have just read with students, show a series of statements about which students will have to make inferences as either possible or probable from the story.
  2. For each statement, ask students "estne possibile? estne probabile?"
  3. Ask students for justification from the story. Depending on their level and speaking ability, they may respond in English.
Latin 1 example:

Bill dicit, “mater, ego canem volo.” mater respondet, “cur tu canem vis?” Bill respondet, “quod ego amicum non habeo. mater dicit, “cur tu amicum non habes?” Bill dicit, “quod nemo me amat! Publix canes vendit.” mater dicit, “ego pecuniam non habeo, sed ego mensam habeo! visne mensam?” Bill clamat, “mensa non est amicus! canis est amicus!” mater dicit, “sed ego pecuniam non habeo!” Bill est tristis, quod amicum non habet, et mater pecuniam non habet.  TO BE CONTINUED...

estne possibile? probabile?
  • Bill est discipulus
  • Bill patrem non habet
  • Bill est popularis
  • mater Billem non amat
  • mater pecuniam habet sed est mendax 
  • mater est robotica
  1. This is a great critical thinking activity, because it forces students to base their response on what happened in the story and to make inferences on what was stated and on what was not stated.
  2. You may have to explain the difference between possible and probable to students.
  3. It is a great comprehension check, because students need to have understood what they read in order to respond
  4. In my Latin 1 classes, while students do not have the ability yet to respond easily in full sentences, when they offer their justification in English, I will restate it in Latin.
  5. It is fun to see students respond in this activity. I have found that the quietest students often are the ones who vocally respond the most.
  6. In many ways, this activity helps students think outside the box. For example, for the statement, "Bill patrem non habet," there is nothing in the story which explicity states that Bill does or does not have a father. Since a father is not mentioned, many inferred that Bill's mother is a single parent (since she says that she does not have money), but other inferred it to mean that Bill is asking his mother first before asking his father. Others inferred that Bill has a father but this is the type of question one would ask a mother, not a father. There is no correct answer for this particular statement, but it is fun to see what students infer and for them to hear each other.   
  7. Carol Gaab adds in another level by asking "is it logical?"
  8. This is another way to review a story in a different way. As Carol Gaab always says, "The brain CRAVES novelty." 


  1. It's possible = fieri potest = it can happen...

    possibilis exists, but I wouldn't say "est possibile" for it's possible. Am I wrong?

  2. I had debated using "fieri potest ut..." but since I was working with Latin 1's, where I was going for just a basic response, I decided to go with the cognate "possibile" instead (since "probabile" was a cognate also), even though I knew that "fieri potest ut..." was the more acceptable way.

  3. Aquinas uses "possibile est" frequently. Your website is very helpful, Keith. Thanks!