Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Teacher Tips for the Start of the Semester

For some, this past week marked the start of a new school year. For others, it stood as a reminder that the next school year is just around the corner. Regardless of whether your next semester has started or not, you will always find that you can never be too prepared for the school year. In this post, I will explore the ways you can get your classics classes off on the right foot. Using lessons in Latin phrases, maps, and deities and mythology, teachers can put students on the right track from the start and give them an early chance to get a good handle on their Greek or Latin.

One fun way to start the semester, particularly a Latin one, is to show your class how frequently people use the language today. State mottoes, court houses, even many clocks contain remnants of Latin, and this may be something your students don't know. The beginning of the semester is a great time to expose students to Latin's prevalence, in case they have any doubts of how alive it really is. Slide shows of images containing these common phrases will help students see this. If students enjoy this, have them work from Latin Everywhere, Everyday: A Latin Phrase Workbook to learn more Latin phrases still used today!

Maps often prove effective in the classroom, regardless of the subject. Using maps with geography familiar to your language students, such as the Mediterranean, allows for students to gain a grasp of some simple vocabulary. Questions and demonstrative pronouns, simply from the context of the map activity, slowly become familiar. For example, by pointing to Italy and announcing to the class, "Haec est Italia," students can, without any background in Latin, understand "This is Italy," or something close to it. With appropriate hand gestures and a quizzical countenance, the teacher can then ask, "Ubi est Italia?" By repeating this process throughout the Mediterranean, students have the potential to learn the words for island, Rome, Italy, Greece, and interrogative words, as well as demonstrative pronouns, and even begin to learn the verb "to be," without receiving their first formal lesson! If this lesson goes well, try incorporating A Roman Map Workbook into some lessons later on down the line. For those using Latin for the New Millennium, every review unit features Latin phrases, mottoes, and terms still in use today.

Understandably, not every student loves maps as much as I do, but who doesn't love a good myth about Zeus's exploits or the hunts of Artemis? Using simple sentences to reconstruct a myth and supplying the appropriate images to accompany it will both command the students's attention and keep them engaged. As with the maps, teachers can help students get an understanding of the story with the appropriate context and with hand gestures and facial movements. In this way, students can acquire the Latin or Greek for words such as god or goddess, father and mother, son and daughter. This lesson also provides an opportunity for students to learn the words for certain objects related to deities, such as lightning bolt, owl, stag, or epithets such as far-shooter or grey-eyed.

Do you have other means of starting the semester? Have you tried things that have worked wonderfully or failed miserably? Leave a question or comment below! I would love to hear from you.

-Connor Hart