Latin on Social Media

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On the 23rd, of course the Friday before December break, we had the requisite post-test pre-vacation party. Food was brought in, good times were had by all. I didn’t want it to be completely void of content, however, so I decided we would post to social media about the party. I copied the food vocab […]

via Latin on Social Media — Adventures in latin teaching


Latin Board Game Project

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We’re discussing the efficacy of final exams at school (seems we’ve been doing so for a few years now) and, since my Latin course became a bit more project-based as the year went on, I decided to try a project for the final exam rather than a more traditional exam. It took me a while to come up with something that I felt would adequately encapsulate the scope of the year but I think the idea works and, in many ways, encompasses more of the year (the full year) than the final exam would (just the second semester).

Today was the day that the games were due and, if I’m being honest, I was actually a bit overwhelmed when I entered the room. I was assaulted (in a good way) by the panoply of color and figure and 3 dimensionality that the games represented. I didn’t even know how to proceed with the class and, in retrospect, will / would have allowed for more time to play the games. I almost feel as if the time spent with the games wasn’t appropriate for the amount of work that went into them (with that said, we did spend the last week of school working on them in class, so they had plenty of class time; they did too, though, put in a good amount of time outside of class as well). So I toured the games, having each individual or group present a basic overview to me, checking off the requirements as I went. And once that was done, the class dispersed to play each other’s game. It was a fun way to end the year.

Removing Default Apple Apps from iOS Devices [from Buzzfeed]

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Check out these instructions for removing Apple’s default (and heretofore unremovable) apps: so agree about Stocks, Tips, etc., and happy to be rid of them. One tip about the instructions: when moving the app to the third new page in the folder, you have to let it go on the second page, then re-tap-and-hold for the third page to appear. (I was sliding to p.2 and then still sliding to a p.3 that wasn’t appearing.)

Thanks, Buzzfeed. Very useful.


The Cost of Comic Sans (Huff Post Infographic)

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So this was a cool intersection of my tech interests and the pseudo-academic past in which I envisioned myself sequestered in romanticized, rare book rooms / libraries throughout Europe (think Name of the Rose without the conspiracy / bloodshed; I did make it into a couple of those libraries in Rome while working on my undergrad thesis).

An infographic analyzes the impact that something as seemingly trivial as font choice can have on ink consumption and a single letter can have on paper use. (My students are constantly amazed at the Romans’ lack of use of spaces between words. I remind them that 1. it’s not has hard to read that way as you think and 2. how much space spaces take up in a book / how much paper could be saved if we remove those spaces.

Find my iPhone: Every Now and Then….

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Find my iPhone (the app) is hardly perfect. It can be disabled by someone with your phone through the settings (especially if you don’t have a passcode on your phone); it doesn’t work if the phone is powered off (and any thief worth his salt would know this and immediately power off a stolen iPhone); and it no longer matters if the thief restores your phone to its original settings via his/her computer. The simple bottom line, then, is if you’re worried about losing your phone or having it stolen, your best line of defense is a passcode, but that is a bit like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

On the other hand, Find my iPhone can be terribly useful for the klutzy, ditzy, or simply careless. Or the incredibly organized who, on occasion, can be klutzy, ditzy, or simply careless. (Can you see where this is going?)

I couldn’t find my iPad Mini. I hadn’t lost it. I wasn’t panicked. I could even narrow its location to two places. In my own house. But I still couldn’t find it. I decided to try Find my iPhone (which, as you might have guessed, can find any iOS device on your account; it really should be called Find my iOS Device; but I’m guessing that didn’t roll off the tongue so easily). I’m not sure why I decided to try it; all it would really do, I suspect, is confirm that, in fact, my iPad Mini was in my house. Which it was. And which it did.

But I (re)discovered a feature of Find my iPhone about which I had forgotten: the Play a Sound feature. Now, I had never used this before, but it seemed potentially useful in my situation, a bit like calling your cell phone from your home phone and tracking the ringer to find it. So, I hit the button (after hitting the actions button) and, lo and behold, my 10 year old (who was very excited to join in the hunt) and I heard a soft pinging, a bit like radar, from somewhere in the house. We went downstairs, to the family room, to the kitchen, checked the radiator, even back upstairs. Still the pinging but no iPad. Finally Will (10 year old) solved the problem: it’s in your suitcase, Dad. And he was right.

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 10.24.34 PM Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 10.25.02 PM

Remember those two potential locations? One was the bedroom, placed there to be packed. The other was the family room, where it recharges. Well, I was right (sort of) with the first. It had gone into the bedroom, but had in fact already been packed, the part I forgot. And then the suitcase had been moved downstairs.

But without that ping, I’d either still be looking for the iPad Mini or had been without it at least until I was unpacking my suitcase.

Find my iPhone: every now and then, those little features come in real handy.

QR Code Scavenger Hunt

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I took a PD Course at Framingham State on QR Codes. I was a bit leery of it going in; can we really get a whole course out of QR Codes (even a 1 credit course)? On some level, the answer was no; the readings were fine but nothing too revolutionary, and there wasn’t too much work to be done if you had a basic familiarity with QR Codes. But what made the course worthwhile was being with the other students and teacher, all of whom had different ideas and thoughts on how to use QR Codes. That long-term brainstorming, in effect, was what made the course worthwhile.

Each of us had to do a final project for the course, and this posed a bit of a problem for me. QR Codes are a paper-based medium; anything on a screen could be more easily replicated with a link. But I’m paper free, so I had to come up with a plan that utilized paper but not in a backwards way (i.e. I didn’t want to regress to the photocopier). Not to mention the fact that I figured my Latin class would both benefit from the activity more than my English classes and that Latin would be a more straightforward discipline with which to use them.

A few people in the group had mentioned bulletin boards whereby some reference image was posted (say, the periodic tables or a map of the United States), and this seemed to me a good place to start. I toyed with sentences with QR Codes somehow linked to each workd with grammatical information. But that seemed a bit cumbersome on both the creation and the consumption side. I then moved to a more mobile scavenger hunt, whereby I would post clues around campus that were revealed with the scanning of the code. Each clue would then send the students to another location and so on. A bit of a Wayland High School Amazing Race, if you will. Each group would get points for completion, but the faster each group completed, the more points they would get (no one would be penalized by losing points; they would just gain fewer points, so that first place ‘won’ 10/10, second 5/5, third 3/3, etc.; nominal but something).

The prep work that went into it, beyond the generating of the codes (which you can see in the picture below), included making sure each group had someone with a smart phone with a QR Code reader on it, and the testing of that reader to make sure students knew how it worked. I also included a code that linked to a vocab list for some of words in the clues (I used a code rather than a list because I didn’t want them over-relying on the vocab; scanning for the vocab adds an extra step that hopefully will deter them from using it too much).

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Some problems with the plan, some going in, some realized after the fact / in the midst.

  1. I didn’t want my class of 14, certainly small to begin with, going in around in one large-ish pack. That would seem disruptive both internally and externally (i.e. to the group itself in terms of being able to participate and to the school in terms of so much noise / activity so concentrated).
  2. I didn’t want the group taking the same route, i.e. the same route, even in groups, would result in a different form of #1.
  3. I wanted to ensure that there were no shortcuts taken, i.e. seeing a code out of order and scanning it then for later or happening across all the codes out of order and finding the final place that way. (The idea of the race, I hoped, would prevent or at least hinder the sharing of locations among groups.)
  4. I wanted them to go to different places but not have to make different routes for each, so I would need to randomize the locations for each group.
  5. I wanted them to end at the same spot (the race part; I wanted to confirm).

So here are some solutions (couldn’t solve all of the problems).

  1. (Obvious) I broke the kids into groups of three or four, but of course the breaking kids into groups created #s 2, 3, and 4.
  2. I made the codes using QR Hacker, which lets you change the color of the codes as well as some other customization features. If you use QR Codes, it’s a pretty cool site. So I generated each code and then generated it in three other colors (each group had a color to follow), and made a PowerPoint, each slide of which had four (different) codes (the randomization) in their own quadrant. (I’ve included an example below, albeit from the master / key slideshow, with each location included.)
  3. Each group had to take a picture of themselves at each location and then show me those pictures in the correct order for credit. (And I had a sheet with the correct order for each group.)
  4. (And this is combined with 5.) Apparently I realized too late (and the math department confirmed this) that I can’t randomize a group in four different ways but have them be unrandomized at the end (i.e. have the route go four different ways but end up at the same spot). This unfortunately was the fatal flaw of the hunt; it produced a number of errors in the routes that ultimately I wasn’t able to fix.

Latin Scav Hunt Master copySo here’s the summary. This was a great activity. The kids enjoyed it and had a lot of fun with it (it was perfect for last block the Monday we got back from February break). The problems, though, were that it took a ton of work; the tally, including walking around campus to post all of the codes, was easily three or four hours (not something to be done every day…) and, ultimately, the randomization vs. finishing at a common point was a problem I didn’t (and not sure I can) solve, which would either mean a reconceptualization of the route (probably the easier route) or more routes. So a successful experiment, but not one that I’ll repeat too often.

Snow Day Season Fun

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Saw this via @MrLally at Burlington High School (retweeted by @patrickmlarkin) and laughed at loud. Obviously don’t get the inside jokes, but love the whole concept and enjoyed the apparently universal responses to snow day season. (And clearly my favorite is bottom-left: ‘Ridiculous weather-related portmanteau’.)


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