Teaching (and Learning) the Greek Alphabet

This semester I had over 40 students enroll in Ancient Greek, which was something of a coup.  My follow-up has been a bit too typical: within a week, the class number was down to 30 (after I asked them to learn the alphabet in 1 day).

I end the semester with 24. Along the way I have experimented with some changes in the class including weekly reflective homework assignments (detailing studying activities, challenges and questions), pre-recorded lectures, and final projects.

The final projects are 10% of the overall grade and have the following assignment prompt:

Assignment: The purpose of the project is to allow students to investigate some aspect of beginning Greek more deeply and to learn it by teaching it in some way. Students should make a short video, create a PowerPoint presentation, design a webpage, or create some other reusable tool presenting some part of Greek morphology or syntax covered in the first semester. Each presentation should include basic content (the information) and suggestions for practice (exercises). Students are encouraged to create presentations that are ‘fun’.

And I have also provided students with a grading rubric:

Grading Rubric:               Accuracy of Content:        30%

Clarity of Presentation:     30%

Effectiveness of Exercise:  10%

Creativity, ’Fun’:               20%

Length, Format, etc.            10%

I like the idea of this assignment both on pedagogical grounds (students get to participate, create a product, etc.) and from personal experience.  When I was in high school we had to give presentations in Latin II and it was my job to teach the double dative. Not only did teaching it force me to overcome adolescent giggles at the name, but it also ensured that I never forgot either the dative of reference or the dative of purpose.

The student projects are starting to roll in.  Along with some of the other outcomes of the class–both my failures and student successes–I will share some of these over the following weeks.

Several students are interested in the problem of the alphabet. Here’s a video addressing that problem:

Now, whatever comes of the grading rubric, I can say one thing about this video.  My children came up as I was watching it and my five-year old daughter immediately asked to see the whole alphabet. Then she had to write it herself! (A small victory for projects, I’d say.)

alphabet

5 thoughts on “Teaching (and Learning) the Greek Alphabet

  1. The slow pace of the alphabet song obscures the mnemonic aid which I found helpful as a neophyte learning the alphabet: zeta “ate a” theta.

    Also, I think that your children’s enthusiasm for the alphabet (and Greek frog noises) demonstrates that kids love learning this stuff before they become so rigorously institutionalized in schools.

    1. I agree that the institutionalization is a real problem. The Montessori method, which I can’t completely back but like, takes advantage of the native love of learning. Then we do everything we can to kill it….

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