Community in the Latin Classroom · Latin Club/Junior Classical League · Seasonal Activities

March Madness, Latin Style

I am not really a sports enthusiast. I do watch a lot of basketball and I love UGA football, but I don’t know much about the logistics of the game. I do love a good competition, though, and I really, really love Latin… thus, March Madness, Latin style, also known as Martia Dementia.

I used Martia Dementia in Latin I CP last year, and I’m using it again this year with the same class now that they are in Latin II. I actually wasn’t planning to do this again for whatever reason, but some of my students asked about it today. They all really enjoyed it last year, and I am all about anything that gets them to have fun while using Latin.

Here’s how we did it. Our awesome librarians printed a large poster of a blank single-elimination blind draw bracket for me from Print Your Brackets. I kept this poster on the wall in my room and filled in the bracket as we progressed through the tournament. You could also print the seeded bracket, but I would randomly seed students for this (e.g. draw a name for 1 seed, 2 seed, and so on). I then had students claim a character from CLC Unit 1. I kept track of who represented whom in a Google spreadsheet.

Once we did that, I randomly assigned matches to students. Once they saw their opponent for the first round, they got to work on answering this question in Latin: “Why is your character more likely to survive the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius than your opponent’s character?” They were tasked with answering this in one sentence.

I gave them sentence starters (_______ supererit quod…) and we brainstormed vocabulary that they might want to use (fortior, callidior). This was a great way to practice using comparatives and superlatives in a fun context.

I gave them about 15 minutes to work on this in class. Then the next day we held the first round. Students faced their opponents in the front of the room and explained in Latin why their character would survive the eruption. Once each “match” was completed, the students voted anonymously on who had won – although, as with all decisions in my classroom, I have the final say (this is also known as the “I am in charge of everything” rule). We played one round of the tournament each day, so it only took about three or four days total for the entire activity, using between 5 and 20 minutes (depending on the round) in class each day.

One thing I was really worried about with this activity was that students would try to pull the thing that I always did in elementary school when we played dodgeball: purposefully trying to get out early to avoid having to play. I was pretty pleasantly surprised that each student really did try hard to win their match, and they were excited to come up with new sentences to beat their next opponent.

This year, we are bringing Martia Dementia back, but we are using (mostly) the characters from Unit 2, while bringing a few Unit 1 characters back from the dead. Our question this time is “Who would survive the vias periculosas of Alexandria?”

I think you could play Martia Dementia using any number of premises: FVR books, historical figures, mythological creatures/figures, etc. It really just depends on your class and their interests.

A final consideration: I don’t grade this event. It’s just something fun for us to work on in class. If I did grade it, it would be a classwork/daily work grade.

In other Latin March Madness news…

  • We are doing another version of March Madness in Latin II CP. This version is “real” March Madness. One of my students requested that we make a class bracket, and after doing a quick poll with the class, I approved. The catch was that they had to justify their choices in Latin. To facilitate this process, I split the class into four groups, each one choosing a region. Each group will complete the bracket for their region, and we will decide the Final Four and championship outcomes together. The groups have to turn in a list of sentences justifying each choice. Now, some of my kids aren’t that into basketball, and they are not going to be able to give an eloquent Latin explanation of why they made each choice. This is where I think you have to have a little fun with things like this. They are free to justify their answers however they wish. If they like the mascot better, fine. If they just dislike a certain school, fine. As long as they can explain their choice in Latin, I’m happy. To help them out, I gave them some sentence starters they can use if they want (____ est melior quam ____ quod…; ____ vincet quod…), and we (again) brainstormed vocabulary (fortis, longus, etc.).
    Each group must submit their sentences before I enter our class bracket into…
  • The Latin Club March Madness tournament. I had this idea yesterday morning, and I’m pretty excited about it. We are hosting a Latin Club March Madness group through the ESPN Tournament Challenge website. I emailed the kids about it and put up flyers with a QR code to the site and the password for the group. So far, we’ve got 30 students signed up. We can’t play for money or prizes per our school rules, but I’ve got designs to start a small “Hall of Fame” in my classroom for the winner. I’d really like to make this an annual tradition. It’s one of those things that might not be directly Latin-related, but it’s something fun that builds community and fosters friendly competition.

Let me know if you have questions about how to set any of this up.

Breakout Edu · Latin Club/Junior Classical League · Technology in the Latin Classroom

Two Alternatives to Password-Protected Word Docs for Breakout Edu

Could that title be longer?

I’m planning a Breakout Edu game for GJCL Convention this year, and one of the things I kept running into trouble with was wanting to use a flashdrive for a password-protected Word doc. This is fine when we do these Breakout games at school; I am working with my own students, I know that they have devices that have Word, etc.

But at GJCL, we would run into a few problems. The big one? Nobody would have a device that could open a flashdrive. The kids there will have phones, though, and Rock Eagle does have Wi-Fi, so I’ve been trying to come up with ways to have our puzzles that would normally lead to a password-protected Word doc lead elsewhere on the Internet.

I really only had two requirements: 1) it needs to be easy to use, and 2) it needs to be free. This is what I came up with:

  • Padlet. I have used Padlet (and password-protected Padlets, at that) in class before and loved it, so why not incorporate it into a Breakout game? If you’re looking for a direct one-to-one replacement for a password-protected Word doc, I think Padlet’s got you covered, since you can put just about anything in one. One of the big pluses that you get with using Padlet for Breakout is that you can store multiple clues on the same page – but in discrete blocks. You can adjust the settings so that students can only view the Padlet, but I think it would be cool to do something where students have to drag the little Padlet notes to be in the correct order to reveal something to propel the game. You could even use the background image as part of a clue or puzzle.
Padlet setting the password
Setting the password

Padlet clues

  • Quizlet. You can password-protect Quizlet sets, even with a free account. I like the idea of using a Quizlet set in a Breakout game as a codebreaking aide (if, for example, students have discovered a set of numbers, they can use the Quizlet set to “translate” those numbers into letters to unlock a word lock).

I’m sure there are many other websites and apps that can be used for password-protecting material. I think Tumblr allows for password-protected blogs, but if you’re playing at school, it’s likely blocked by the Wi-Fi.

Hopefully the Breakout at GJCL goes well! It will be my first time hosting a workshop, period, and my first time leading a Breakout with students who aren’t mine. Wish me luck!

Latin Club/Junior Classical League · National Latin Honor Society

Latin Club Christmas Party Recap

Some of the gifts from the party

Last year, we didn’t have a Christmas party for Latin Club, but this year, with our record 110 students registered as club members, I thought it would be nice to have one. We ended up doing a cookie/candy swap (think Secret Santa, but sugary things only) with a $5 limit.

It was a huge success! We had around 50 students RSVP (so they could participate in the swap), and more showed up for the party itself. We held the party on a Friday afternoon immediately after school, and it was over in about 30-45 minutes (the perfect length, in my book).

I tried to let the students do most of the planning and setup/cleanup – here’s what worked for us if you’re thinking about doing something similar next year.

  • We set the date a few weeks in advance and made the RSVP deadline a Monday for the Friday party.
  • One of our Latin Club secretaries made the Google Form we used for the RSVPs. The questions asked:
    • Name, grade
    • Will you participate in the cookie/candy swap?
    • What cookie/candy do you want?
    • Note: next year, we will take out the “do you want to participate” question, since the whole point of the RSVP form is for people who want to participate in the swap. We also need to add on a question about allergies and dietary restrictions – two of our students who have severe, life-threatening nut allergies didn’t include this information in their responses, but their Secret Santas needed to know, especially because one of these students wanted chocolate chip cookies.
  • Another secretary made the Sign-Up Genius for our Latin Club Leadership members to bring food and drinks. This included cookies, candy canes, popcorn, pretzels, etc. I brought the serving bowls and platters.
  • I sent out the Secret Santa assignments via email. This was the most labor-intensive part for me. Next year, I need to include a tactful reminder to only buy the gifts requested, since we had at least one student get something they didn’t ask for (it was actually something they really didn’t like).

On the day of the party, students brought their food and gifts to my classroom. They dropped their things off on two carts we borrowed from the maintenance crew. One thing I was a stickler about was making sure the gift was packaged at least minimally (I brought gift bags, tissue paper, gift tags, and bows from home); at the very least, they need to put their “To” and “From” on the gift tag. We didn’t do a big ceremony for the swap, since there were so many kids – we just trusted them to only grab the gift labeled for them off the table.

We held the party in a small section of our cafeteria that can be partitioned off. When we were done, a group of our National Latin Honor Society students took care of the clean-up so they could earn thirty minutes of their required two hours of service hours to the Latin faculty.

Like I said, this was a huge hit. The kids all had a great time, and it was a nice way to spend some down time with them. Next year, we might incorporate some charity aspect into the party (bringing a high-need item for a homeless shelter or a canned good with their gift, for example); it depends on what the kids want to do.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday season – see you next year!

Latin Club/Junior Classical League

Structuring our JCL (Latin Club) Chapter

First post! Welcome!

I wanted to write something about Latin Club (JCL) for my first post, since I find very little about it out there on the Internet. There are tons of great Latin pedagogy blogs, but it’s hard to find ideas for Latin Club specifically. I hope this helps if you’re thinking about building a JCL chapter.

Last year (my first year teaching), we had a fairly active JCL chapter. Our club held semi-regular meetings where we watched movies, listened to Elvis songs in Latin (fabulous!), ate lots of bad-for-you food, and spent time together. We had about 50 students or so registered in Latin Club, which meant about 15 or 20 who would regularly come to meetings. We also attended the GJCL Convention, bringing about 20 students – a big success for our first time attending as a school!

Fast forward to this year: instead of 50 registered JCL students, we have 110. Instead of 3 students attending Fall Forum (like last year), we had 14. I imagine we will have at least 30 students attending GJCL Convention in the spring. On top of this, we’re expanding the activities we’re doing as a club: a tailgate for Parochial Schools Night, a Christmas party with a Secret Santa-esque cookie/candy swap, a Google Expeditions “tour,” a Breakout Edu experience, and more.

Organizing all of this would be impossible without my two Latin teacher colleagues, our fantastic department head, and the entire team of administrators, maintenance men, and clerical staff at our school. But the other key ingredient is our leadership team.

Last year, we had officers for Latin Club, but we (read: I) didn’t have much for them to do. This year, we structured our leadership team and officer positions differently. Here’s how it works:

  1. We have Latin Club, and within that, we have a group of students called Latin Club Leadership (LCL). The only requirement to be in LCL is that you sign up for it and you come to the meetings; this means students from freshmen to seniors can feel ownership in the club.
  2. Within LCL, we have a team of officers. Our officer positions are pretty simple:
    1. Co-consuls (one junior, one senior)
    2. Secretary
    3. Historian
      This year, we have two secretaries and three historians. We opened the officer positions to anybody who wanted to claim them, so we have all four grades represented on the officer team.

So how does this work? We expect all LCL members to attend LCL meetings, where we plan the next general meeting (especially if it’s something that will involve lots of resources and/or food) and any upcoming special events, like parties or Works of Mercy (a service requirement of all students at our school). I run these meetings now, but in the future, I plan to hand the reins over to the co-consuls. Our secretaries keep the minutes in Google Docs and create Sign-Up Geniuses (and in the future, Google Forms) for upcoming events, and our historians meet to plan their ongoing project of creating the scrapbook.

I like this structure a lot. It gives the students a healthy amount of responsibility while leaving the Big Stuff (keeping track of money, registering our school for JCL, etc.) for me to do. Plus, even our freshmen feel involved in Latin from the very beginning, something that’s incredibly important to the three of us Latin teachers.

How is your club structured?