Building Mental Highways with Latin

by Alex Terwelp

When I was 18 years old, my mother fell on the ice and developed a brain hemorrhage. As a result, she lost her speech and had to start over again; luckily, it was much quicker to learn the second time around. The doctors described it as the signals from the brain, which usually take the highways to get to their destination, now needed to take the back roads and figure it all out. This analogy helped me understand the situation I found myself in five years later when I became a Latin teacher.

When children are born, they develop roughly 80% of their brain capacity by age two. Adolescents’ brains grow to fill out the remaining 20%. After teaching for a few years, I began to realize that my 7th graders did not have the highways built yet, and the construction would continue into their early twenties. I recognized it was my job to be the brain foreman for as much time as I had them in class. After this epiphany, I stuck the foot in the door of my school’s student support office because I knew my role as a Latin teacher was more than teaching Latin. However, I soon realized that Latin did me the favor of supporting my students in the development of executive functioning skills – Latin is the vehicle that brings these skills to my students.

Below I have selected a few executive functioning skills that I believe Latin can help build:

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Jamboard – A Virtual Whiteboard and So Much More!

by Maureen Lamb
@latintechtools

Want to get your students excited to start class? Start by having them join a Jam of the day! When I first started using Jamboard, it felt much clunkier and lagged more than Slides, so I did not use it very often. However, Jamboard has received some significant updates the past few months which has made it more functional than ever. Google for Education has announced that another update is coming soon, which will allow for search history on Jams to see who has contributed what and when. 

At its core, Jamboard is a virtual collaborative whiteboard. Within that whiteboard, there are options to add many things, including backgrounds, text, shapes, images, screen shots, and sticky notes.  Individual Jamboards are called Jams, and you can have up to 20 Jams going at a time. Although you cannot assign Jams using “@” like you can with Google Slides and Google Docs, it is easy to assign students to Jams by adding sticky notes indicating which student or group of students is assigned to each. 

Curious to know what you can do with a Jamboard? Here are five of my favorite ways to use it:

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Transitioning to Proficiency Part II: Baby Steps to Comprehensive Input

by Alex Terwelp

I have a two-year-old son, and watching him grow, I have discovered there is nothing more fundamental than the process of a child learning to walk. I see four stages to this process, namely supported standing, cruising, staggering, and finally, walking. We can apply the metaphor of learning to walk to a journey toward Comprehensible Input (CI). I am taking that journey in my Latin Classroom, one step, and one stage, at a time.

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Engaging All Students with Google Slides

by Maureen Lamb
@latintechtools

At a Google for Education conference in 2017, another educator referred to Google Slides as the swiss army knife of the Google Suite. At the time, I really thought it was just a digital answer to PowerPoint. I had not used it extensively except to upload my existing PowerPoint slides onto my Google Drive. 

Well, I was in for a shock when I began exploring all the amazing features! I Immediately started converting almost all my Google Docs to slides because of the wonderful functionality of the program. Some of my favorite key features of Google Slides are the ability to assign slides to different students or student groups, to ask and answer questions interactively, and for students to add notes on their slides.

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Representing Women in Greek and Latin Classes

By Maureen Lamb
@latintechtools

Many Latin and ancient Greek textbooks, and even the AP® exam, focus largely on the experiences of aristocratic Roman men. But as a high school teacher, I want my students to see that there is more to the language and culture than just the experiences of free, wealthy men. The good news is there are many opportunities to teach texts about and by women in Latin and ancient Greek.

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Io Saturnalia!

By Alex Terwelp

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and what better way to express your joy than a sacrifice to the god Saturn? The Romans had some odd festivals and traditions, and Saturnalia was one of them. It was a special event that provided liberation to slaves, gambling across the city, and crowned the “King of Saturnalia.” The celebration began on December 17th and eventually was extended to incorporate days up to the 23rd. Beginning with a sacrifice to Saturn, everyone would partake in a public feast.  Back at home, masters would serve their slaves food, and the guests would elect a “King of Saturnalia” to provide direction for the night. Groups would also exchange small and typically gag gifts, “White Elephant” style. As Catullus so accurately stated, it was “the best of days.”

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The Imagination Within Latin

by Alex Terwelp

When I was little, imagination drove my sand empire and my castle in the woods. It brought me playmates made of dancing leaves and shadows in the sunlight. As I grew older, it sparked my curiosity about adulthood, and it led me to a career that fuels others’ imaginations. 

Some believe imagination wanes as we mature, but it only takes looking at ancient Roman culture to know it exists in people of all ages. It led to the naming of the constellations, the building of arches and roadways, and the creation of the Julian calendar. Indeed, imagination drove the Roman Empire. 

Students benefit immensely from using their imagination to make connections with abstractions. You will not find a student in your career who has met an ancient Roman or has visited ancient Rome. Because they cannot immerse themselves in the culture, students must imagine everything. 

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