Alternative Assessment in the Classics Classroom
A CPL Pedagogy Panel for CAMWS 2000
Knoxville, Tennessee
Saturday, April 8, 2000
Time to be announced


In this pedagogy panel sponsored by the CAMWS Committee for the Promotion of Latin, a group of Latin/Classics educators will discuss issues related to the philosophy and application of alternative forms of assessment and will offer some ways to implement such techniques in Latin and Classics classrooms at the secondary and university levels. Members of the audience will be encouraged to share their own their own experiences with alternative assessment.

Tom Sienkewicz
Chair of the CAMWS Committee for the Promotion of Latin
Capron Professor of Classics at Monmouth College
in Monmouth, Illinois

Dawn LaFon
("Alternative Assessments: The New Adventures of Super Ultra Magistra et Discipuli")
Latin Teacher at White Station High School in Memphis, Tennessee

Sally Davis  ("Heri Didici: A Student-based form of Alternative Assessment")
Latin Teacher, Arlington (Virginia) Public Schools

Rita A. Ryan ("Creative Methods of Assessment in an Inner-City College Prep Public School")
Latin Teacher, Omaha (Nebraska) Central High School

Sheila Dickison ("Old and New Ways to Place Students in College Latin Courses")
Professor of Classics at the University of Florida
in Gainesville, Florida 

Michele Valerie Ronnick ("Six Ideas for the Classics Classroom to Supplement Assessments by Standard Exams")
Associate Professor of Classics at Wayne State University
in Detroit, Michigan

"Alternative Assessments: The New Adventures of Super Ultra Magistra et Discipuli" by Dawn LaFon

Alternative assessments can be used in every level of Latin from elementary to college to measure what students know, to give them a chance to show you what they know and more importantly to make them think about what they know and how to communicate that to you. Using the upper level of Bloom's taxonomy and multiple intelligences, activities are developed which are time efficient grading wise, creative, fun and sure to please students, parents, and administrators. From stained glass windows colored according to noun case or verb tense to portfolios that illustrate Latin in our lives, alternative assessments are the way to greet the millennium in your classroom.

"Heri Didici: A Student-based form of Alternative Assessment" by Sally Davis
I describe a type of alternative assessment which I call Heri Didici. Each quarter, each of my Latin I classes divide themselves into pairs. At the beginning of each day's class, one pair presents 6 (3 each) things that they learned yesterday. Each student will say something 1) about the language 2) something in the language and 3) something about Graeco-Roman culture or etymology.

The task is entirely up to the students -- the teacher stays out of it. The other students can prompt, remind, of ask questions. They also will be responsible for scoring the presentation. Each student will do at least two of these presentations each quarter, and each presentation will be counted the same as a weekly quiz grade. (about 10% of the quarter grade.)

Scoring rubrics are explained to the class during the first week. Rubrics are based on the importance of the material and the effectiveness of the presentation. The advantages of this assessment process are as follows: the whole class is involved; they are forced to note the important points of each class; they get practice saying Latin aloud; great routine for starting the class; they do the review and they assess the review; since they assess each other, they develop sympathy and a group spirit.

The best thing about this method is that it puts much more of the responsibility for learning the material in the hands of students! This method can be extended to other aspects of learning Latin, as the students warm up to it and become comfortable with it.

"Creative Methods of Assessment in an Inner-City College Prep Public School" by Rita A. Ryan
Central High School, home of the first sanctioned Latin Club and the first chapter of the National Honor Society in the United States, continues to be creative and innovative in Latin methodology. Several assessment activities will be described, each of which is directly related to the expected learning outcomes of Latin in the Omaha Public School District.

Students are particularly receptive of one of the most effective methods. High School Latin students teach the basic elements of the Latin language to students in the elementary schools. As any novice teacher soon realizes, to teach an aspect of grammar or syntax you must first thoroughly understand it.

Several assessment projects utilize the internet, e.g, research on the web to compare Greco-Roman mythology (e.g., the flood myths in Ovid's Metamorphoses) with various world mythologies; or comparing classical Mediterranean epic heroes (Aeneas, Achilles, Odysseus) with other epic heroes (AP Syllabus) and identifying modern heroes to support or refute the classical definition of hero.

Creative projects for assessment include research and reconstruction of Roman roads and bridges, sundails and water clocks, and the construction of extremely creative maps of Gaul in various media.

Still another project which brings together the Latin language and its literature with the creative skills of the students is the construction of original Latin valentines for the feast of Lupercalia, using actual phrases from Pompeiian graffiti and original Latin literary sources.

"Old and New Ways to Place Students in College Latin Courses" by Sheila Dickison
This presentation will start from several issues raised in the special CW issue on articulating the curriculum from School to College (September/October 1998) and will particularly address the matter of using NLE, AP, SAT II and local placement exams to place students in college courses. As a college administrator who works closely with placement issues I will also provide some prospective from that side of the equation. I will conclude by suggesting some ways in which secondary/college classicists can work to close the divide between the curricula at different levels.

"Six Ideas for the Classics Classroom to Supplement Assessments by Standard Exams" by Michele Ronnick
In this presentation six assessment ideas will be suggested for use in various classroom settings ranging from elementary and secondary school levels to college and university courses. These include common types of classes such as myth, history, civilization, and original language. Of course each of them need to be negotiated on an individual basis by the instructor based on his/her students and his/her institution.

1) Have students write "imaginary dialogues" in the fashion of Walter Savage Landor or "imaginary letters" as Ovid did. These could be written, read aloud, and even used at district Latin fora, if the organizers have set up a section for oral presentations.

2) Those pupils with talents in the fine arts could illustrate a particular written passage rather than writing a philological or historical analysis of it. Collage, paint, pen and ink, clay, even musical interpretations could be allowed.

3) Elementary or secondary school students might enjoy making a game (which could be computer-based perhaps). A board game like Monopoly could be designed based on the streets and neighborhoods of ancient Rome or Athens. All manner of action games could be invented from obvious war games like Hannibal ad Portam to cultural salvation games in which one

fights off evil book burning monks and saves the works of Aristotle in contrast to the plot of Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose. Students could also make a paper doll or a set of them whose various outfits would be historically correct.

4) Students in the lower grades could cultivate a "Garden of Mythology." Some space out-of-doors, or access to a sunny window or two in a regularly occupied classroom would be needed. Plants which would be very easy to grow and whose stories are interesting include a) mint plants

(mentha) b) hyacinth c) narcissus d) iris. But the range is much wider. Bring Linnaeus and botanical Latin into the classroom.

5) Students in college level classes in Latin composition could write up two or three pages on some aspect of local history . The first draft could be turned in at midterm, and then refined for a final project. The instructor could put these together as a booklet for the teachers in his/her local high schools. This would be useful for the PTA/ open house nights.

6) For an easy mythology project at any level, ask students to find equivalents from the past 500 years or so for the twelve Olympians. They must defend their answers in well structured and well reasoned prose.

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