It’s the winter term, and for me and my students, that means ancient Greece.
This year, there’s a twist. I decided at the beginning of the year that we were going online, and all primary source, all the time.
So in the three weeks between now and Christmas break, we’re reading as much of the Iliad as we can get through. We’ll be reading this translation by Ian Johnston of British Columbia, which is distinguished as the first online translation.
Oh, and the art files. I went through the first five books of the Iliad, and loaded them in sections into our class wiki (because I can’t be certain that the translation will be accessible through our filter). And then I dug into my digital slide-shows of Greek art history from the last few years, and pulled out seventeen images — everything from Minoan snake goddesses to the walls of Troy to Mycenaean daggers — and plugged them into relevant places in the first five books, as accompaniments to the text.
Each image links to a research project page… Six questions, the image itself, and an opportunity for an essay. Before the end of the term, they’ll take an art history quiz based on ten of the images: tell me what, when, where, and why significant. It’ll be great.
There’s one other part of this that I think is both vital and cool. This past Monday, we had a faculty meeting where we actually talked to one another, and it emerged during the meeting that we believe our students actually learn best — in academic, social, and ethical ways — when they’re performing for an audience. So they’ll perform for an audience of each other, first of all. Their research of each image will inform how I grade the quiz at the end of the first marking period of the winter term, and at the end of the term. They’ll have to rely on each other, or do extra work to make up for specific failures. By the end of the term, as well, they’ll have a library of 68 images that they understand… and based on that library, they’ll be able to talk, think, and find their way around a classical art gallery in any museum in the world.
I’m excited about the potentials here. I’ll keep you all updated with progress reports, too.