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Old(er) Teachers, New(er) Technology: An Informal ACL Breakfast Chat

I had the good fortune to bump into eClassics member Nicholas Young who has been teaching Latin at the high school and university levels for 38 years. It was breakfast-time at the American Classical League Summer Institute, and instead of going to some crazily early pre-conference workshop, we both had the same idea of drinking organic, free-trade coffee (all you can hold, and the only stuff that is offered by the University of New Hampshire), and kibbutzing with friends and colleagues. We picked up another seasoned Latin teacher, Gail Cooper, of the Academy of the New Church (Pennsylvania), on the way to the table and sat down to talk about AP Latin Literature, classroom technology, and Pompeii.

Regarding classroom technology, Cooper uses a SMART Board for her Latin classes. This was her first year using one (after over 30 years of teaching), and she liked it, but she felt that there is a lot more she could be doing with it. Because the SMART Board is connected to her classroom laptop, Young mentioned that she might explore using the board's native public address (PA) function to broadcast recorded Latin while students read the Latin text on the board itself.

If anyone else has been using SMART Board technology in support of their Latin classes, please feel free to post a reply to this blog entry, and I will put her in touch with you.

Young teaches in the Detroit area and is trying something new at the University of Detroit Mercy. For the first time, he will be conducting a Latin Composition course online. Both he and his administrator had discussed doing something like this for more advanced Latin students, and composition seemed to lend itself best to the online format. It is unclear as of yet what technology will be used to support the class. I recommended blogging as a means of writing Latin and then giving the chance for Young (and even other classmates) to comment/correct these writing assignments. Blogging and Latin teaching is not new, but this may be the first instance of a university-level Latin comp course being conducted online, especially if it utilizes Web 2.0 technology.

Both Young and Cooper see merit in listening to spoken Latin, especially when the text is before the students while they hear a passage all the way through for the first time. Cooper commented that when she was a student who was reading Latin out loud in class, that her comprehension of the Latin fell -- she had to read the line to herself after reading it aloud to make sure that she understood the content. Young shares this opinion. Last year he was able to use a new language lab equipped with computers. He utilized almost exclusively eClassics member Evan Millner's Latinum podcast website so his students could listen to Catullus poems, as well as all of Horace. The technology is easy to use, and the students enjoyed listening and reading simultaneously prior to deconstructing the Latin grammar of the passage or poem.

The technology exists and is freely available for Latin teachers who wish to use it, even for those instructors with decades of teaching experience. If they can learn the tech, so can you!

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