Roman clothing lesson plan

This week’s feature is a lesson plan by Katy Ganino Reddick.
We all have activities we repeat from year to year even though we are not completely happy with them. For years my unit on Roman clothing was just that. For seventh graders in their first semester of Latin (Ecce Romani 1a), my learning goals for clothing were basic: recognize the names of five basic Roman garments and know whether they would be worn by a man or a woman. Earlier in my career, students dressed up dolls, stuffed animals, action figures, etc., but that never really addressed the differences of male and female dress. Also, the quality of projects varied so greatly – from students who created toga praextextas for themselves to students who wrapped their G.I.Joe figures in Kleenex. There had to be a better way.
So last year I approached our tech integration specialist, Bill Kurtz, and explained I wanted to create a clothing project inspired by paper dolls. Bill took the idea and ran with it. The answer to the problem was in the magic of Photoshop. Students would dress themselves up Roman style- digitally!
The most interesting person for a student to dress Roman style was themself . . . and a celebrity of the opposite sex. Out came the green screen and each student’s photo was taken while the rest were downloading jpegs of that celebrity. Then student took images of Roman clothing and layered those on their photos. Bill and I had previously collected appropriate images. Both figures were placed on a Roman backdrop. The last step was for students to write four sentences describing what they and their celebrity pals were wearing.
Many students LOVED the opportunity to work with Photoshop and I loved that they were getting the opportunity to use some pretty fabulous and useful technology. We better addressed the learning goals and the learning focused on the process just as much as the product.
Katy Ganino Reddick has been teaching Latin at the middle school level for the past thirteen years. She holds a B.A. in Classics and Art History from Williams College and a M.A.T. in Latin and Classical Humanities from Boston University and is a frequent participant at both the CANE Summer Institute and the Conventiculum Bostoniensis.