The New AP – an Integrated Approach

Posted on August 15, 2014 by


Jaime Claymore, PhD., teaches Latin at Mountainview High School.

When I attended one of the first training sessions for the new AP Latin syllabus, I was excited about less Vergil, Caesar, and a chance for a new start…new exam, perhaps a more thoughtful approach, and the comparison.

“That is a travesty.” The words of my Committee Chair as we sat waiting for the degree ceremony when I told him what I would be teaching in the next year, and that I had never taken a Vergil class. “The stars were not aligned in my Latin class career for me to take Vergil’s Aeneid,” I had said. And I didn’t take Latin in high school… So my understanding of the Aeneid had always been self-taught, or what I gleaned from seminars, colleagues, and other AP trainings. Now, with a chance to teach less Vergil and add Caesar, I felt more confident and I had the chance to prepare my own class – finally.

This was not the opinion of many of my AP training classmates, many of whom were dismayed by the decreased Vergil lines and/or upset by the addition of Caesar, a dull (?) and easy (?) author lacking pizazz (?). I had never taken a formal Caesar class, at least with the subject matter being him as author versus him as leader, politician, triumvir.

As we learned about the new syllabus, compared it to the old one, I became more and more excited: one of the recently written texts for the course had been written by my mentor, Hans Friedrich-Mueller. His commentary provides – for me at least – a reminiscent tone of undergrad Latin courses, always keeping in mind the student and learner. Reading through each passage of Caesar and each line of Vergil wasn’t the most thrilling experience, but we did it, the 30+ Latin teachers in a seminar room at UGA’s Continuing Ed Center. At least it was air-conditioned.

I spent much of my time trying to figure out how to make this stuff interesting to my students, whose favorite pastimes have never included translation. Many of the teachers argued back and forth about the best way to present, teach, discuss the material. We collectively came up with plans to work our exercises, questions, essay topics and activities on passages that we had prepared for the class itself. A brilliant plan – as we all walked away from the class with a year’s worth of material – and it wasn’t even July yet! But the question remained, at least for me, what about pacing? What about schedule?

The AP program now requires that teachers submit a plan of attack for every AP class taught in America so that they can be sure that students have a fighting chance to earn good scores on their tests. With the plans must come a schedule. Many of my colleagues had decided to teach Caesar in the fall and Vergil in the spring, hoping that the easier prose of Caesar would be a better start. I had my doubts, however, that Caesar’s prose was “easier” or that it would be a good idea to bore my students to tears with 4 months of non-stop Caesar. So I began to play with the selections, their lengths and topics. I also paid close attention to what the new AP added to the curriculum – themes.

After careful consideration, I decided to integrate the authors. The first year teaching my plan did not come with an approved syllabus of my own, rather, like most other new-syllabus teachers, I submitted one of the pre-written and published syllabi as “my plan.” I got my feet wet with my plan, used many of the pre-written ideas, activities, and exercises from the summer AP seminar training and walked away a happy camper: 9 class participants, 7 exam participants: 1-5, 3-4s, 2-3s and a 2. Passing rate of 86% and average score of 3.57. Of those 7, 3 of them were only 3rd year Latin students, the others 4 th years.

With a year of AP under my belt, I was asked to review and then revise the newly created AP Latin course for the Georgia Virtual School. This task forced me to really pay attention to planning, pacing, and scheduling over the course of a semester, down to the day. I also read through all of the material again, wrote tests and quiz questions, essay topics, and discussion questions. I created grammar and device activities which were accompanied by samples and explanations of grammar topics. Yet the schedule that GaVS needed to use was Caesar in one semester and Vergil in the other.

Reflecting on this caused me to invest further in my approach, knowing that the built-comparison of Caesar and Vergil was a key component in the new syllabus.

If Caesar is taught in the fall and Vergil is taught in the spring, or even vice versa, when does the student have time to compare the styles, approaches, vocabulary and themes of each author in each work? When is there a moment to compare Caesar and Vergil, or Caesar and Aeneas, or Achates and Cicero? When is there time for the student to understand the differences in Gallic religious practices and Trojan sacrifices, with careful examination of DBG 6.16 and Aeneid 2.40-52? My conclusion was that I would have to add a small component to the tests in the Spring semester, which brought those ideas to the forefront of the students thoughts. Or, I would have to add an in-class essay experience (“Is this a test grade?”), or add to the workload of my AP kids but adding a take-home essay (“What is this worth, magistra?”, about which there would be little time for preparation or discussion. How could these mini-talks or questions be an effective way to prepare my students for the AP Exam comparison, which is a virtual guarantee? Even intra-text comparison times would be limited because of pacing.

As a new year has begun, I have taken the experiences from my first year teaching the Caesar/Vergil syllabus and combined them with the rigorous work from my summer of writing for GaVS and created what I have concluded to be an even more organized approach to the syllabus – an integrated, activity filled schedule. This schedule allows me to teach every passage and line of the Latin, provides opportunities for reflection and discussion, makes use of practice essays, and permits students to see comparison from the very beginning. I get all the Latin done by mid-April, leaving the last few weeks of class for review, practice, and reflection.

Planning and Pacing Schedule

Unit Estimated Time Learning Objectives: Students Will Be Able To Readings Instructional Activities/Formative Assessments/Graded Components–Possibilities Summative Assessments
Unit 1: AP Latin Introduction and Course Familiarization 1 week understand the AP course, its requirements, material, and assessment Intro to syllabus lines and paired English Readings 1. Familiarization Activity
2. Graphic Organizer
3. Pictures-Themes Activity
4. Style Discussion
Test over material covered throughout Unit
Unit 2: Caesar’s Intervention in Gaul 3 weeks translate DBG I.1-7, understand the Gauls according to C., analyze the writings of GJC for historical and political meaning; theme focus: literary style Gallic Wars Book 1 in English
DBG I. 1-7
1. Study of Maps
2. Book I Reading
3. Book I Translation
4. Book I. 1-7 Text Questions
5. Theme Discussion
6. Essay: The Helvetian Campaign – J
7. Essay: Divisions of Gaul
8. Oral Practice
· Translation Quiz
· English Reading Quiz
· Essay
· Unit Test
Unit 3:
Vergil’s Aeneid: The Trojans Encounter a Storm
4+ weeks scan Latin poetry; understand the preludes to and the reasons for the Aeneid in history and myth; understand the circumstances surrounding the storm in Book II,
theme focus: leadership, views of non-Romans, roles of gods
I.1-209; 418-440;
Book 1
  1. Book I Reading
  2. Book I Translation Assignment
  3. Origin of the Aeneid Webquest
  4. Origin of the Aeneid Discussion
  5. Scansion Assignment/Project
  6. Oral Practice
  7. Speeches Comparison Graphic Organizer – C, I
  8. Laocoon Discussion
  9. Sightreading Ovid Assignment
· Translation Quizzes – 3
· English Reading Quiz
· Essay
· Unit Test
1 day Comparison Essay First Appearance Essay
Unit 4: Caesar’s Invasion of Britain 4 weeks translate DBG IV.24-36.1, understand war tactics, use grammar knowledge to further comprehension, theme focus: leadership Caesar, DBG IV. 24-36.1 1. Book IV Translation
2. Book IV Textual Questions
3. Vocabulary Assignment
4. Grammar Activity: Genitives and Gerundives
5. Sightreading Pliny Practice
6. Theme Discussion
7. Oral Practice
· Translation Quiz
· Essay
· Unit Test
Unit 5: Flashback to Troy 2 weeks scan and translate Latin poetry, understand the events surround the fall of Troy; theme focus: history and memory Vergil
II. 40-56; 201-249; 268-297;
Aeneid, Book II
1. Book II Reading/Summary
2. Book II Translation Assignment
3. Vergilisms Running Tally
4. Identifying Figurative Language
5. Book II Scansion Assignment
6. Speeches Comparison Graphic Organizer Project
7. Oral Practice
· Translation Quiz
· English Reading Quiz
· Essay
· Unit Test
1 day Comparison Essay
Unit 6: Revolt of the Belgians 6 weeks – SPLIT through semester translate DBG, V. 24-48, understand war strategy, analyze text via indirect speech,
theme focus: style, views of non-Romans
Caesar, DBG V. 24-38
1. Book V Translation
2. Book V Textual Questions
3. Book V Character Study Assignment
4. Book V Grammar Activity: Indirect Statement and Acc
5. Sightreading Cornelius Nepos
6. Theme Discussion
7. Oral Practice
· Translation Quizzes (2)
· Essay
· Unit Test
Unit 7: Aeneas and Dido 3 weeks scan and translate Latin poetry, understand the events that led to the “wedding” and the demise of Dido, roles of the divine in poetry; theme focus: leadership; Roman values Vergil Aeneid
IV. 160-218; 259-361; 659-705
Aeneid Book IV
1. Book IV Reading/Summary
2. Book IV Translation
3. Vergilisms Tally Assignment
4. Identifying Figurative Language
5. Fama Discussion Question
6. Scansion Assignment
7. Rumor/Fama Drawing
8. Dido Character Study Vocabulary Assignment
9. Sightreading Assignment
10. Oral Practice
· Translation Quizzes
· English Reading Quiz
· Essay
· Unit Test
1 day Comparison Essay
Unit 8: Customs of the Gauls 2 ½ weeks translate DBG, VI. 13-20, compare customs of Romans to Gauls,
analyze religious practices of Gauls, theme focus: style, views of non-Romans, roles of gods, Roman values
Caesar, DBG VI. 13-20 1. Book VI Translation
2. Book VI Textual Questions
3. Book VI Grammar Activity
4. Book VI Vocabulary Assignment
5. Book VI Reading
6. Book VII Reading
7. Sightreading Livy
8. Oral Practice
· Translation Quiz
· English Reading Quizzes (2)
· Essay
· Unit Test
Unit 9: Aeneas in the Underworld 3 ½ weeks scan and translate Latin poetry, understand the epic hero, descent into the Underworld; theme focus: Roman values, history and memory, leadership Vergil
Aeneid VI. 295-332; 384-425; 450-476; 847-899
Aeneid Books 6, 8, 12
1. End of Aeneid English Reading and Summary
2. Book VI Translation
3. Vergilisms Tally Assignment
4. Identifying Figurative Language Assignment
5. Cerberus Scansion Assignment
6. Katabasis Discussion Question
7. Sightreading Assignment
8. Oral Practice
· Translation Quizzes
· English Reading Quiz
· Essay
· Unit Test
1 day Comparison Essay
Review: Caesar and Vergil in Comparison 3 weeks Review Themes, Vocabulary, Grammar, Scansion, Contexts 1. Vergil comparison discussion/essays
2. Caesar comparison discussion/essay
3. Grammar Review
4. Literary Device Review
5. Scansion Review
6. Frequency Vocabulary Review
7. Sightreading Spot Questions
8. Frequency Vocabulary Review
9. Thematic Review
Practice AP Exam w/ identical format and questions
Semester Exam includes spot grammar and vocab questions, translations, essay, content
Review 1 week Caesar as author VS Caesar as leader
Romans vs Gauls



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