Map work

We tested yesterday over their ability to read a brand new story and extract information from it and analyze it (characters, setting, plot, events, etc.). Everyone appeared to do well. So now I want to start assigning readings with each one being reported on in this way while we do other things in class. However, I will follow up on the readings by having students use their “forma fabulae” “form of the story” to discuss in a round-table the story.

It was nice that in a video I showed them today on the archaeological investigations going on now under Rome itself, they showed a map of the city known as “forma urbis” “form of the city”; it kind of validated my Latinizing this format for breaking a story down into its elements, something they do in their English classes.

Next week, we launch our map-based class discussions. At the heart of them will be the maps and what I call the “action sheets” or “folium actionis” (that Latin formation probably violates the genius of the language, but even in English it is an awkward mouthfull). The action sheets are nothing more than a sheet that they may start from scratch or that I have a template for. In its early stages, we talk in routines, putting their name, the date, etc. on it.

For the map work, I have gone through a lot of books and will copy out a variety of maps, most of them detailing the classical world. This is teaching across the curriculum like crazy because we are doing it in Latin, learning geography and history, and it helps with literature and language skills because many of the Latin geographic names are now used poetically or as obtuse references, such as Anatolia for Turkey, Dacia for the Balkans, Pannonia for Hungary, Batavia for Holland, Helvetia for Switzerland, etc.

We have some developed characters in our stories who travel, so we can trace their travels. We can also speculate on the glancing contacts between the Roman world and the lands of India and the Chinese Empire. The splitting of the Empire into East and West is esp appropriate for students who all study Roman Catholic church history. The spread of Christianity is part of that.

The best part is that it offers lots of opportunities to color. The students also have a chance to have their stereotypes blown. We can look at Osama bin Ladin’s ambition for a Spanish caliphate as something other than a pipe dream, as a harkening back to a real time that the Islamic world led in science, the arts, exploration, and civic accomplishments. Many of our students are hopelessly narrow in their outlook and as a prep school, our job is to prepare them for the broader world they will encounter. Here in AZ, that means a greater appreciation of the contribution of the Latin-American culture found here in abundance and the Roman origins of much of the local architecture, city planning, concepts of civic life, and so on tie right in to what we study.

The hard part for me is to do this in Latin without introducing too much esoteric vocabulary. Fortunately, many of the words are cognate with what I call SAT words, those latinate words that make up the bulk of our higher level vocabulary. It challenges me to be creative as well, coming up with fantasy trips with sound effects, music, etc. which will allow the students to absorb the language along with visualization and sound.

I’ll report on this next week. Tomorrow, we make Valentine’s Day cards. Amo, amas, amat.

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