Guest author: Sin Guanci (RBHS)
Usually in Latin 3, students study the rise and fall of the Roman empire and the governing system of emperors, as well as the Roman emperors themselves. Given that this year is an election year for the US, I decided to do something different. Instead of just studying ancient Roman politics and rule, I decided to have my students work on a nearly year-long case study comparing and contrasting ancient Roman government with modern American government. At first, students researched ten Roman emperors, discovering information such as, what they were known for, what their downfall was, their leadership style, etc. Next, students were tasked with researching ten presidential candidates, including their personalities, political history, stance on issues, etc. By the end of the first semester of school, I asked students to pair an emperor with a candidate, as running mates, based on the research they completed about each, and give a reason for each pairing.
When second semester began, I compiled data regarding all of the chosen pairings, and chose the six most common pairs of running mates, each comprised of one emperor and one presidential candidate. The final six pairs are: Augustus Caesar & Bernie Sanders, Tiberius & Jeb Bush, Julius Caesar & Martin O'Malley, Caligula & Trump, Trajan & Hillary Clinton, Vespasian & Ted Cruz. With the pairs chosen, I assigned two pairs to each section of Latin 3 (there are three sections), making sure that each class had a pair including one Democrat and one Republican. The next step was to create Campaign Teams for these running mate pairs. Students in each class were allowed to choose with which of the two teams assigned to their class they wanted to work. And so the Campaign Team Project was begun.
Each section of Level 3 is now split into two campaign teams, with each team having 10-13 students. The idea is that all students are a member of the PR section of a campaign team, where their candidate pairs are all running for the imaginary and ambiguous offices of "Co-Leaders of the Empire". In class this semester, the students have in-depthly studied many aspects of political campaigning, both in the ancient and modern world, including campaign slogans, campaign posters, political propaganda in general, campaign video ads, and campaign websites. All the while, they have been creating literal translations of sections of Augustus' Res Gestae (a treatise about Augustus' accomplishments as emperor) and Cicero's Commentariolum Petitionis (an essay about running for consul).
The culminating assignment of this project is that each campaign team had to create the following for their candidates: a slogan, a poster, a video ad, and a website. The website must include: candidates' bios, their stances on issues, pictures of the candidates, the team's video ad, a logo, their slogan, press releases, and speech excerpts, and campaign team credits. In addition, their websites must also include a "lingua Latina" page, which features the bios, stances, slogan, and speech excerpts in Latin. I have attached the page of team website requirements.
All faculty and admins at my school were sent the link to the project's homepage, which will link to each campaign team's website, and after looking through each team's work, they will be asked to anonymously vote for whichever pair they think would be the best "Co-Leaders of the Empire of Romerica," based on the information contained in the campaign websites.
Additionally, most campaign teams have chosen to also use social media, such as Twitter and Instagram, to propagate their team's message, and some teams have polled the voter constituency to gain the upper-hand in gearing their campaigns to what the voters want.
So, who would you vote for? Leave a comment if you dare.
Thank you Ms. Guanci for challenging your students with meaningful work!
And let me know what meaningful activities you are doing in your classes.
Leave a comment, or author the next post.
And stay tuned for election results!
World Language Teacher Support Specialist (and Language Enthusiast)