whatsinyourteachingbag


What’s in my teaching bag: Roman Carbohydrates

Food is a great vehicle for learning. In addition to the fact that students tend to enjoy creating and consuming it, food is vitally important; it has sustained us as a species and defined our societies. It stands at the crossroads of history, language, culture, biological and agricultural science, and economics. In short, as a focus of study, it has a great deal of potential. However, in terms of bringing food studies into the Latin classroom, the Roman palate offers certain impediments. Romans commonly favored dishes like baked mackerel, grain mush, and liquified, fermented fish guts (liquamen or garum). While you can titillate a few students by describing black fish juices and porridge, ultimately, as a teacher in Middle School I needed a recipe or type of food that would pull the whole class’s interest and make them all clamor for more. 

Several years ago, after learning about the ancient loaves of bread preserved in the ash of Mt. Vesuvius, I realized that this might be just the ticket: an appealing, familiar, tasty cornerstone of Roman cuisine with direct links to our modern diet. Every so often I would come across a resource–a helpful tutorial from the British museum, the website Pass the Garum, as well as plenty of other sites–and at last I came to the conclusion that Ceres was on my side. It was time to bring this idea to the classroom. Why let French class have all the fun?

I picked out helpful terms and ideas from the resources available on Roman bread-making, double checked with my school’s kitchen to ensure that baking could take place, designated a day for the project on our calendar, and we were ready to go. I also created a post-project reflection to punctuate our work and to give students a chance to delve back into their materials and consider the significance of what they had done. In addition to complementing our unit on Pompeii and daily life for this quarter, the project provided ample opportunity to cross the border into other areas of study, as we discussed the amazing properties of yeast and gluten and the processes of refining grains, in addition to Roman farmers, the horrea where grain was stored, the bakeries in Pompeii, the Roman diet, and the derivatives of panis in English and Romance languages. It was an experiential project and led to some pretty interesting lines of inquiry.

For the purposes of time and space, instead of detailing the project in its entirety, I will include a few take-aways for me from this project:

I. dē fermentō: Yeast is fascinating. When I started this project, I knew that yeast was responsible for leavening bread and I wondered where Romans got it. The only bread yeast I used came in packets or jars at the grocery store. I soon found out that this perky little fungus is so plentiful in the environment that in order to create a bread starter, the Romans had to do no more than mix flour and water and wait. They probably did it by mistake. When the bubbles appear, you know your yeast is alive and you feed it until it is highly active. For the sourdough starter, I had my class make one sample of the initial starter and I cultivated it until it was time to use. There are myriad recipes for sourdough starter online, all of which I’m sure will work. I have tried making starter with different types of flour (white unbleached, white bleached, and rye) and water (both filtered and chlorinated from the tap) and the yeast have never failed to spring to life. The yeast industrial complex apparently has us all fooled.     

II. dē gaudiō: Students do indeed love making and eating food. It was a field trip within the confines of the school. They enjoyed the messy work of mixing, kneading, and shaping their loaves, and they couldn’t get enough of the baked product, which turned out to be beyond delicious. Fluffy, warm, and nutty. The room smelled like a million denariī:

bread

III. dē cibō: If you’re not into baking, this might not be the project for you. In the process of tailoring the recipe and designing the activity, I made a half dozen different loaves of bread and babied sourdough starter for days. As a lover of food–and bread in particular–I enjoyed the process, but it may not be your cup of tea.

IV. dē labore: As an addition to our unit on Pompeii, this was a lovely project. Students were invested in the process of making bread and learning about it along the way. This said, it took hours of planning, shopping, coordination, and a day of dedicated class time. If you are already running short on time, it might not be your first choice. Nonetheless, it could be a fun activity for a Latin or History club at your school.

V. dē faciendō: Here is the recipe I used (dē faciendō panem). I adapted and simplified it somewhat from several recipes for Roman bread and sourdough bread. I hope you can try it out and let me know what happens!

 


What’s in our bags?

As a new school year gets underway, we, the editors of the CANE Blog, would like to introduce ourselves and give you a sneak peak into the tools we find useful for a new year.

Gabriel Bakale

Onward, to my thirteenth year of teaching Latin here in Massachusetts.  I’ve been at the same public high school for my entire career, and, despite the occasional setback (such as when our courses were cruelly reduced to merely counting for Foreign Language credit, rather than either for Foreign Language or Unified Arts — meaning that students were once able to take Latin in lieu of Woodshop), I’ve seen the program steadily grow in both enrollment and the diversity of our course-offerings.  While I do incorporate some spoken Latin into my teaching, and can appreciate the efficacy of the methods associated with it, I will admit that I remain, for a variety of reasons, fairly traditional in my own pedagogy.

I recently posted some comments of dubious utility on this very blog regarding what texts I was planning on using to get Sisyphus’ boulder rolling this year (as it can feel around this time, when one notes how much seems to have been forgotten over the summer).  I should also mention my fondness for Kahoot!, though this resource would only be in my metaphorical “bag,” as I have so far failed, despite my best efforts, to capture the elusive Internet.  It takes so little time to put together a review game with Kahoot!, and I can have the students play individually or in groups, with our Chromebooks or with their own phones.

Emily Landau

I’m in my tenth year of teaching Latin in independent single-sex (male) boarding schools. My academic background is in Silver Age Latin (particularly Tacitus, Seneca, and Horace), historiography, and historical linguistics. I’m fond of spoken Latin, Latin orthography, etymology, the reading method of language acquisition, and the fact that our profession is finally moving away from the endless recitation of declensions of conjugations. Mirabile visu!

In my bag you’ll likely find my Macbook Air, one or more volumes of the Cambridge Latin Course, the script for whatever show I’m directing that trimester (I’m also head of drama), and exactly one functioning writing utensil. If you ask me if I have a pen or pencil, I will pretend to search through my bag for a minute, and then sadly tell you that no, I can’t find one.

Stephen Farrand

Salvete, contubernales! I’ve been teaching Latin to high school students, on and off, for 30 years. I’ve worked in both private and public schools in 4 states. I hope to finish my career with my current job at Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki, where I work part-time. I have been a proponent of oral Latin in the classroom for a long time: I remember sitting at a Mensa Latina at CANE with Alan Dobsevage in about 1989, and I shocked my fiancee by speaking Latin to my uncle (a Jesuit) at a family gathering in 1990. I’ve also worked hard to learn Russian, so I speak a modern language with a case system like Latin’s and flexible word order.

My best tool is Google Classroom. As a part-time teacher, it’s a really convenient way for my students to stay in touch with me when I’m off campus, and for me to get assignments and handouts to them. I like the fact that it puts documents, audio and video clips on an equal footing.  I have my students listen to and make audio recordings quite a lot, and this summer I began to familiarize myself with Garage Band editing. I have a ways to go, but I think it’s going to be worth the effort. And I’m big on colored markers–always travel with a full set from room to room (I haven’t had my own classroom since 1989!)

Jenny Dean

Salvēte! I teach middle school Latin at a small independent day school in Connecticut. This will be my fifth year teaching Latin at this level. My teaching bag includes a bunch of old things and a few fun and new. Since I started teaching, I have enjoyed using a cache of small whiteboards left in my classroom by a previous (genius) teacher. They are fun for kids to draw on and useful props in a variety of games and activities. Another item which has been stuffed in my bag for a while now is a set of long swaths of fabric, which function as quick a toga, a hood, a cape, or whatever a student might need. Costumes help students get into character and leave their non-Latin selves outside the door. A new item in my bag will be a whole new set of highlighters, which will be helpful for color coding sentences. Diagramming or color coding can be a great way for some students to see simple sentence structure and remember the function of different parts of speech. Lastly, my bag this year will include the camaraderie of a new Latin teacher. Although I will miss my former colleague, I’m so excited to welcome a new Classics friend into the faculty at my school, and I look forward to collaborating with him on field trips, student events, and curriculum design.


What’s still in our teaching bags.

Lydia’s Bag

Here’s the list of what I was using at the start of the year.

  • Color-coded folders I’m still using the folders to keep my classes’ work separate. This has been working really well for me.
  • iPad I’ve been using the iPad less this year than I used to. Because of how my new room is set up, I use the projector less, and so am not really using the iPad to control it.
  • Quis the Owl, the Imperfect Sheep, Roman Bridal Veil I’m still using these frequently. The students love when I toss the animals out to the tables for them to hold during discussions.
  • Stamp I’m still using this to keep track of homework. Students in my middle school classes have started drawing ornate boxes for me to stamp inside as well as ornate boxes labeled “don’t stamp here.”
  • Latin Mallet Still useful. I’ve also added in individual whiteboards as an option when we’re doing grammar review, and the kids like that too.
  • Flags Very useful when I’m keeping track of where the different classes are.
  • Pencil case, pens I’m still using these. I’ve ordered an eyedropper fountain pen to play with for a larger capacity of ink for grading.
  • Silent pencil sharpener This is so nice to have! The students now go for it over the electric pencil sharpener.

Emily’s Bag

Here’s what I had in my bag at the start of the year.

Bubo the Owl and the Golden Snitch Ball: Still useful as always! Gives a very Hogwarts feel to the classroom.

My iPad and relevant power cords/connectors: Alesia the iPad is full of Latin apps and other fun educational tools for my classroom. Often, it is used when I need to project a text on the board. I use the app Evernote to make notes about how class went and keep a teaching notebook.  Also, the app ClassDojo is fantastic for making private notes about student performance. And of course, never underestimate the power of the Edmodo App!

Pencil Case:  Still the same deal!– 2 Purple Pens (for writing passes), my new purple fountain pen for grading, 2 blue pens (for other notes), USB flashdrive, 1 pad of yellow post-its, and 1 pad of purple post-its.

Moleskine notebooks: The notebooks have been replaced by Evernote. Poor Notebooks.

Class folders:  Still the same.  I love this system so much!!– I have color-coordinated folders for each class, in which I keep work to be graded and returned. On the front of each folder, I keep a post-it note of who needs to turn in the assignment/take the quiz.

Color-coordinated Popsicle sticks: This, I have largely given up on.

Teaching Binder: Still using this.  Love it more than ever.  My purple binder with attendance lists and paper version of my gradebook. 🙂

I have added:

Post-it flags: color coded for different classes so that I can mark where they are in the book.

Individual Whiteboards, which we use for grammar and vocab review, as well as bits of composition here and there.  The students LOVE them!

Ben’s Bag

How the year started.

I still use all the physical elements I mentioned at the beginning of the year. Perhaps the better update would be some of the software and apps I’ve found useful.

Simplenote works on Mac and mobile platforms (though not for PC, unfortunately.) It is a basic note saver that I use to keep my lesson plans organized. I prefer it over Evernote since I want to sandbox my lesson plans from general note-gathering.

Google Drive is without a doubt the most useful collaboration suite of software I’ve ever used. The simple fact that students and teachers can create, share, and collaborate between and amongst themselves is its biggest selling point. For more advanced awesomeness, there are scripts such as FormMule, Doctopus, and gClassFolders that allow a higher level of organization and sharing. I’ll do a post soon to explain their usefulness.

Twitter has been a great professional development tool. It allows me to keep an ear to new developments in the classics sphere, collaborate with other teachers (from all over the world,) read tweets in Latin, and interact with students in novel ways. This, too, deserves its own post.

eduCanon.com is a site I’ve used to curate videos. You can take a Youtube video (whether you created it or someone else did) and add pauses to it. During the pauses, you can add questions for students to answer as they watch; you get formative feedback about the assigned viewing and you’ve made the video more interactive for the student.

Ponderi.ng is an intriguing idea that let’s the teacher assign news articles for students to read and comment on. It has an interesting and intuitive interface, and I see the evolution of this tool allowing students to comment (in Latin!) on articles (in Latin!) If you’d like to help translate some of the “sentiments” into Latin, leave a comment below and I’ll show you the list.

These are just a few of many burgeoning tools. As I find new ones, I’ll be sure to keep you informed.