Seniors don the role of teachers in Latin classes

Christina Petlowany, ‘11, divided the class into two teams. One student balanced a balloon while answering a grammar question as another student tried to pop it.

For many years Latin teacher Jane Batarseh has required the seniors in her classes to present a topic to different classes before she writes them a college letter of recommendation.

Batarseh does this to give her material for her letter.

“I look for what I would look for in any good teacher,” Batarseh said. “An ability to communicate with the students, the knowledge of their subject, the creativity and the ability to keep the students on track.”

Batarseh suggests that students teach something that they are currently learning or something related to Latin. She said seniors often discuss historical topics or engage the students in a game.

“Sometimes I prefer that it’s the lesson we’re studying at that time,” Batarseh said. “I try to let them pick the area because I want them to do a good job.”

It might be as simple as Vinco, which is the same as Bingo but featuring Latin vocabulary instead of numbers and letters. Another possible activity is Jeopardy. Other students choose to talk about a cultural aspect that has to do with Latin.

When senior Jaspreet Gill presented to the Latin 1 class, he created a Jeopardy game and divided the class into two teams. Gill covered basic verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs, because the Latin 1 class was new to Latin and he wanted to provide an overview of everything that the class had done so far.

Gill had a variety of categories, like Grammar, Vocabulary, Declensions, Randomness and Phrases. In the Randomness category he included questions like “How many blue monkeys does it take to tame a tree?” and the answer was whatever Gill liked.

“This made the students laugh, and it made the students more responsive,” Batarseh said.

And the “teacher” learns something from the experience, too.

“I think the most valuable thing I learned was how to manage a class,” Gill said. “The first time I tried an activity with another class, it fell apart due to lack of planning. This time I was able to keep the class enthused and interested.”

Senior Lauren Larrabee also taught the Latin 1 class by using Jeopardy to quiz them on what they were learning in their chapter.

To prepare for her presentation, she met with Batarseh and organized what each word’s worth was and what part of speech it was.

“I really enjoyed teaching,” Larrabee said. “It was a lower level of Latin, so it felt really good knowing everything, and being able to teach what I know in a fun way was great. It was kind of like taking another view of learning.”

“The best part was when they asked me if I could teach them again because they had so much fun,” Larrabee said.

Senior Ryan Hoddick, with the help of Batarseh, decided to talk about the conjugation of verbs.

Hoddick had not been in Latin for two years, so he had to refresh his memory of the material. Teaching the class helped him discover how he fit in the role of the teacher.

“I had played with the idea of a teaching career when I was a sophomore and junior, but never got a real chance to lead a classroom,” Hoddick said. “This was an opportunity to look at a career path that would otherwise have gone unexplored.”

Another student chose to talk about a statue of a wolf because she had studied it in AP Art History and was intrigued by it. The “she-wolf” statue can be found at the Capitoline Museum in Rome. She spoke about the history of it and explained how it was made and the details added to the statue.

Sadie Brown, ‘10, an equestrian at the time, discussed the kinds of horses and the skills that a charioteer had to have in the arena and how fast the horses would run around the arena. She also talked about the muscle groups that the charioteer would use, specifically in his fingers.

“It was one of the best presentations that we had ever had,” Batarseh said. “It was just fascinating.”

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