Monday, October 15, 2012

Vindolanda Mini-Class

I've been asked to teach a "mini"-class for prospective 7th graders at one of our schools Family Visit Days, when we'll host applicants.  The classes are broken down into 20-minute slots for no more than 20 students, and we'll run each class 6 times.  Thanks to the format, it's very difficult to teach a language-based mini-class, let alone one in Latin, but I have an idea that I'm eager to try.
I explored Hadrian's Wall a few years ago and have since been very interested in the military letters found along the wall, chiefly in the Roman fort at Vindolanda.  With that in mind, I've decided to do a very short writing project with the kids, having them write "Vindolanda" letters of their own.  I'll use Google Earth to "travel" to Hadrian's Wall and show them just how far they were from Rome (maybe also briefly using Stanford's ORBIS project?), then give them the Roman cursive script used along the wall and some Latin phrases in a Google Doc as a starting point.  They'll write their letters on a small piece of balsa wood using a black marker (cf. the famous letter 291 below), and I'll paste a QR code (found above) on the back of each "tablet" that will direct them to the same Google Doc, on which I'll allow comments, in case they have any questions or comments after they leave the classroom.  It'll be fun to see how many kids visit the Google Doc after the classes are over.
This project should be a great way to learn actively a little bit about the formalities of Roman letter writing, including names and dates, while working within an actual historical framework.  And it'll be a nice personal project that students will be able to take home with them.  I'm eagerly looking forward to putting some ideas I've had over the past few months to the test.