Monthly Archives: October 2013

National Latin Survey Conducted by Teachers College, Columbia University

Received from Elliott Goodman at Teachers College at Columbia, the following email conveys the process and importance of an ongoing survey that will conclude in December 2013.  
“Latin teachers and students:

I am writing to request your participation in the National Latin Survey conducted by Teachers College, Columbia University. The purpose of this 10-20 minute survey is to hear from middle and high school students and teachers all across the United States and find out the many different reasons why people study and teach Latin. Your opinion is important because what you say may help authors write new Latin textbooks and provide Latin teachers with valuable information. To access the survey, please click one of the links below:



(Please copy and paste the links in your browser if they are not clickable.)

The last national survey of Latin students and teachers was conducted in the 1920s by the American Classical League. The long-term goals of the project are to produce at least two reports describing the findings; one report will be written for an audience of Latin teachers and the other report will be a full needs analysis study including all the statistical formulae for the applied linguistics community.  These reports will be submitted to peer-reviewed journals and be made available to the public for free on the project website.  Your participation in the survey is voluntary and your responses will be confidential. Students 12 and younger need parental consent to participate. If you are a teacher and would like your students to participate, please e-mail to request student surveys.

If you encounter any problems while taking the survey, please contact the principal investigator, Elliott Goodman at

Many thanks,
Elliott Goodman
Latin Teacher and Principal Investigator

To Conference or Unconference: That is the Question 1

I would like to expand upon what TJ said about conferences last week. The value of our own CANE conference is well known, and TJ has expounded on the value of a general foreign language conference (such as those offered by NECTFL, ACTFL, and MaFLA.) However, there are a few more types you may want to consider.
The first of these is a “tech conference,” or more specifically, “Educational Technology.” I have been to two such gathering recently, including RIDE’s “Innovation Powered by Technology” and MassCUE’s Annual Conference. These tend to follow a format wherein a keynote speaker delivers some inspirational thoughts at the beginning of the day, and a series of workshops, conversations, and interactive demos continue until the afternoon.
Many of the workshops focus on using technology to augment good teaching practices. As a Latin teacher, I have learned interesting perspectives and solutions to problems that all teachers have. By viewing issues outside of a Classics lens, I have gained some valuable insight, which has percolated back into my teaching. Student engagement is not just a Latin teacher or Foreign Language teacher problem; it affects educators of all stripes.
Additionally, walking through vendor booths and product demos lets you get a feel for certain technologies for which you may have had trepidation, confusion, annoyance, or any of a slew of emotions. By staying up to date with the current tools, we validate our profession and bridge the gap between old and new. As a relatively technically savvy guy, my colleagues tend to joke that it is ironic for the teacher of a “dead language” to be so current with tech tools; my response is that the unique world-view of the Classical world and the analytical skills of translating have instilled in me an appreciation for these current tools and a critical eye towards their implementation.
However, let me also sing the praises of a relatively new and somewhat “radical” form of conference – the UNconference. In this model, attendees come prepared to both share out and take in information from their peers. The schedule is set that morning; people post ideas for sessions on the wall, either as a seeker (“I want to know more about…”) or as a presenter (“I can help explain…”.) Other sessions include open-ended roundtables about various topics. There isn’t a keynote, there are no vendors (though there can be some sponsorship.)
The unconference model is more cozy and low-key. I went to EdCampRI recently and had some amazing discussions with other educators from all grade levels and subjects. One interesting talk centered around the SAMR model and how to change learning objectives to be meaningful. I don’t think this could have been possible in most traditional conferences where the presenter has most control over the flow and purpose of the session.
With all of this being said, I fully condone a mixed approach to conferences. Each style has its benefits, and we must temper this with the costs and fact that the more we are out, the less we see our students. Some conferences are free (especially unconferences) and many are on weekends. The people we meet and relationships we make often make these invaluable experiences.
Lastly, I have just realized that I didn’t mention Twitter chats, another invaluable source of information and networking. We will have to return to that in another post.
On an entirely different note, because we are close to Halloween, check out Lydia’s post from last year with spooky resources.
Thanks for reading!