The Louisiana Classicist

June 29, 2013

ACL Institute: The N00b Report

Filed under: meetings — Ann E. M. Ostrom @ 8:00 am
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Maggie Wrenn and Ann Ostrom are attending the 2013 ACL Institute. Here is Maggie’s report.


WP_000621 (1)

which goddess is this?

This is Maggie Wrenn reporting from the 2013 ACL Institute in Memphis, Tennessee! This is my first trip to the ACL Institute and so, as the Louisiana newbie, I thought I should give a report from the field. I should also add that I have an interesting perspective since I am currently a teacher of both Latin and Greek at the high school level.

The Institute kicked off with a diverse group of sessions ranging in theme from Caesar and AP Latin to Aphrodite in the Museum of Fine Arts. Since we are starting a 7th grade Classics program this year, I attended a session succinctly entitled “Fun with Projects” and was immediately sucked in by the excitement and creativity of the presenter, Donna Winstanley. The workshop included instructions, explanations, and examples of fun projects that the kids can do to help reinforce lessons and expand their knowledge of the subject material. Ms. Winstanley also had projects that her students use to help promote the classics in their school such as decorating a kleenex box with a classical theme. I had the opportunity to try my hand at this during the workshop portion of the talk and found it to be both educational and fun. My group made a Venus themed kleenex box and I can see how this could be a cool publicity project for JCL and also an opportunity to reinforce lessons learned in class (gods, symbols,myths, etc.). What a rousing session for my first taste of ACL Institute!

Since that first session, the other sessions I have attended, both today and yesterday, have varied in their quality and relevance. I did learn in one session that the committee writing the National Roman Civ Exam and the Etymology Exam will be distributing syllabi for these tests in an attempt to give students a better opportunity for success. As my students take both of these online exams, I was excited to hear this.

At another session I learned about a wonderful new online project that will shortly be available for Latin students all over the world. It is called the Latin Primary Source Project and was created by Racquel Yerbury. The goal of the project is for advanced Latin students to be presented with primary source material that does not have a published translation which they translate, annotate, and send in. The translation is then submitted to scholarly review and, potentially, published as part of a broader volume. What an amazing thing for high schoolers to be involved in!

Of course, as a Greek teacher, I was looking forward to attending the only session dedicated entirely to Greek. It was a panel presentation by Paul Properzio, Mark Pearsall, and our own Willie Major. It was enlightening to see how three different teachers tackle the same problems in the classroom. However, all of the speakers emphasized two points; take the time to teach the basics right and encourage students to comprehend what they read, not just translate it. Although this session was eye-opening in many ways, I can’t help but be disappointed by the lack of Greek related sessions. There were NO sessions on Greek life and culture which I found surprising.

I have met many new colleagues and seen many old friends over the past few days. I was pleased to see Dennis Webb and Willie Major who have both been so helpful and kind. I met teachers from across the country who face the same struggles as I do everyday (lack of space, student disinterest, etc.) and I was able to hear some of their solutions and attempted solutions. I even met a fellow Greek teacher all the way from Ontario, Canada who was full of great ideas that I hope to integrate into my own classroom.

As you perhaps can tell I am having a great time at “big people JCL” convention. Although there are no spirit contests or certamen matches there is still a great time to be had by all. The receptions every night have been really fun and Ann and I have mixed and mingled the night away. It is hard to believe that this ACL Institute is coming to an end, but tomorrow is the last day (time to pick up the books I want at 50% off!).

In closing let me just say that this trip has been a wonderful experience for me as a new teacher. I have gotten resources, planning materials and, best of all, new ideas that I can’t wait to integrate into my own classroom this fall. Every year we encourage our students to go to NJCL convention and those who do come back and tell their friends that they “have to go to nationals!” and “it’s super fun”. Well I have been to ACL and I am here to tell you that you should must go to ACL Institute at least once. Join with your fellow Greek and Latin teachers from across the nation/globe and share ideas, get feedback, and have fun! See you in Williamsburg…


June 28, 2013

Dispatches from ACL Institute day 1

Filed under: meetings,Uncategorized — Ann E. M. Ostrom @ 10:43 pm
Tags: , , ,

WP_000609 (1)Maggie Wrenn and Ann Ostrom drove from Baton Rouge to theUniversity of Memphis on Wednesday. Here is Ann’s report:

We did not participate in any pre-Institute workshops, but chose instead to find barbecue at Central BBQ.

WP_000612 (1)Sessions did not begin on Thursday until 1:30, so we took the opportunity to do some sightseeing. Graceland? Beale Street? Fie on these places. We happened upon Rhodes College and decided to wander around the grounds. The buildings were lovely Tennessee limestone (I think, I’m no geologist), and the campus library was full of cushy chairs and nooks for studying.

Then it was off to the Brooks Museum of Art, which houses some nice classical pieces, including a Roman Lar, a mosaic featuring the head of a bull, and a head of Nero. [pictures will follow later when internet connection is more reliable.]

American Classical League

American Classical League

After lunch, the sessions began, and the teaching resources and materials area opened! On the first day alone, presenters shared with their audiences such varied topics as themes and essential questions in the AP test, projects, Aphrodite in art in Boston, using technology, AP statistical results, report on online contests, kinds and strategies of assessment, and the image of home in the Aeneid. Something for almost everyone (a Greek topics will show up on Day 2).

I feel I learned or could adapt something from each of the workshops I saw that first day. AP remains a personal challenge to me, but I have a few new things I might like to try this year, and Bob Cape’s comments about student performance this year helped solidify some things about AP grading and scoring for me.

However, I now have to complain about the fact that, because I was attending some popular talks, I did not always receive a handout. Worse, very few people (but not none, so yay for the technocrats) said they could provide us with a link to the handout in some sort of cloud storage; most apologized and asked that we send an email to request a copy later. [As I write this in the middle of Day 2, this problem of handouts and lack of cloud sharing continues.]

We are not the only members of a Louisiana contingent; Willie Major is presenting on Greek on Day 2, and Dennis Webb is also here in his capacity as a committee member in the NJCL.

Another report on Day 2 will follow!

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