FVR/SSR

Starting FVR: How

I’m following up a post from yesterday entitled “Starting FVR: Who, Why, and What.” I want to share the logistics of doing FVR in my classroom, but with one caveat first: I am doing FVR with a class of 20. I am not doing this with all of my sections, so there is nothing to keep up with between classes or among all three Latin teachers at my school.

First, sourcing the books. I put together my FVR library by using a few sources:

  • I bought (out of pocket) the novellas. You can see which ones I own in the link to my library above. My school has the funds to purchase these materials or reimburse me for them, but I bought them out of my own pocket a little at a time so that in the off chance that I ever leave my current school, I will be able to take these with me. There are a couple of titles that I am missing, but I am working on them.
  • I cobbled together stories from a few different places online: Tarheel Reader (especially anything by Anthony Gibbins – and especially his Gilbo “novel”) and the Latin Teacher Toolbox Story Database being the two big sources. There are some story collections in the Latin Teacher Toolbox database, but I compiled my own in a series of Google Docs.
    • Let me say a quick shout-out here to the librarians and library staff at my school. These ladies are amazing. They have allowed me to print several copies of each story collection and then bound all of them for me. About half of my students are using one of these bound copies for their first FVR selection, and I can’t overstate how big of a blessing it is to have these resources available.
  • I threw together my Latin I students’ 4-word stories into a Google Doc and had that printed and bound. I plan to do this with all of the 4-word stories that they write this year. I am not sure what scanner or app Keith used in the link above, but I use TinyScanner Pro on my phone and it is awesome for this, especially because you can upload directly to Google Drive. Here is a link to the Google Doc that this first round of stories ended up in; please let me know about any grammar errors, since I (somewhat notoriously, I think, among my students) do not actually proofread anything like a good teacher should.

Second, leveling the books:

  • I created my own system for leveling these books. You can see the levels in the link to my FVR library above. I wanted something that would be student-friendly; that is, I wanted students to be able to translate the levels into something they actually understood and that meant something to them. What I ended up with was Level 1-A, 1-B, 2-A, 2-B, and so on. The way that I explained this to my students was that an average student in the middle of the first semester of Latin 1 could read a Level 1-A book. An average student in the middle of the second semester of Latin 1 could read a Level 1-B book. You get the idea.
  • When making these levels, I had to consider a handful of factors. First, vocabulary. Anything that deals exclusively with CLC vocabulary from about Stage 1 to Stage 8 is Level 1-A in my mind, unless it throws in some (second factor) really advanced grammar… all of which is to say, if you do your levels the way I did, yours will probably look different. It all depends on what you target (or don’t target) as you progress through your program. We follow CLC, so that’s the guide I was using.

Third, creating the hype. I did this by:

  • Talking up the program over a few days. Some of my students were intrigued and excited, but most were apprehensive or apathetic. (It’s okay. They are teenagers, after all.)
  • Setting aside a half day in class in which I gave them a quick talk about each book in a Google Slides presentation. I then had students fill out a request form. I do not plan for them to keep filling out request forms since they will all be ending their books (and thus starting new ones) at different times, but for this first go-around when everyone would be starting at the same time, I wanted to “assign” the books based on their requests just in case there was an overwhelming demand for a given book. Luckily, each of my students was able to get their first choice.
    • You’ll see that the request form has a section that says “I think I should start at level…” I have been pretty impressed with most of my students. The majority of them chose a level that I would have chosen for them as well: out of a class of 20 in their first semester of Latin II, about 12 of them are at 1-B reading. Of the other 8, I would say about 3 of them are 2-A while the other 5 are 1-A. That’s one of the reasons I love teaching this class: there is such a wide variety of students in it, and they all learn from each other every day.
  • Making a big production of showing students where the books would be kept. I am keeping them in hanging folders with students’ names in a milk crate.
  • I had my students sign a pledge that the library (again! don’t know what I would do without them) printed for me as a poster. The pledge details the 6 rules that I needed to lay out for FVR to work in my room.

Finally, I created a reading log that each student fills out every time they read their book, even if they are doing it as an “early finisher” activity. I have been peeking at these as they read, and I am pretty excited to see most of them circling 4 and 5 for understanding. I am considering changing this to a Google Form in October so I can get consolidated instant data every time they fill it out, but I’m also not too keen on them immediately opening their computers – it always takes a minute (or more…) to get them “back to reality” when the devices come out.

I want to follow this blog post up with a more detailed “where and when” FVR post and maybe include some pictures of my classroom setup and (faceless) pictures of some of my kids reading. Fingers crossed that I can get it done this week!