Reacting to the Past

Reacting to the Past is an educational role playing game in which students take on the roles of historical figures.  Students build on their existing knowledge by researching their historical character then applying this knowledge to inform how their character would handle challenges in their time period.

After the end of the game I relate the actual historical events, and we discuss how it’s easy for people studying history to assume historical events were “always going to turn out that way”, but people at the time would have been both facing individual choices (as represented by the students’ actions) and things outside of individual or even human control (as represented by my actions).  Students were incredibly enthusiastic about Reacting to the Past, and reported feeling more interested and invested in the material they were learning about, as well as gaining a deeper understanding of the workings of Roman politics and society.

Battle(ship) of Salamis

Battle(ship) of Salamis is a fun way to practice noun and verb forms.  The links below the image let you download the board and instructions for the game.


(My contribution to this game was improving the visuals; please speak up if you are the original creator, as I'd like to give you credit.)

Graffiti Assignment

This assignment introduces students to an everyday, casual style of Latin and encourages them to think about different levels of literacy and uses of language.

Top Hat


    Top Hat encourages active learning by letting students ask and answer questions via their electronic devices.


    (Click to Expand)

    This semester I am experimenting with Top Hat in my Heroes of Classical Mythology course, which has over one hundred students. Large classes present several challenges and concerns, and so far I’ve found Top Hat helps with several of these:


    Large Scale Participation

    Instead of one-sided lecturing, my presentation slides are interspersed with question slides.  The students use their electronic devices to answer, and I get the results instantly.  This allows for regular class participation, which would otherwise be unmanageable for a class of this size.    I also sometimes ask very easy questions, which I use to find out how many students have done the readings.


    Testing for Understanding

    Besides encouraging student participation, the questions also regularly gauge their understanding of the material.  Because I get the results instantly, I can adapt my teaching throughout the class period based on the results.  The results from the following question showed me that student understanding was strong enough that I could quickly reiterate once that Caucus means "bad man", and then move on.



    Less Intimidating Participation

    Students have the option to ask questions anonymously, which will allow those students who are nervous about speaking in front of large groups to participate more fully in class and get any clarifications they might need.


    Practice Tests

    Top Hat also allows me to give students short practice tests, which provide them immediate feedback and give students the chance to build their confidence outside of a high-pressure test situation.



    My only initial concern about Top Hat was that there might be some financially struggling students who don’t have a device to use.  I prepared my old laptop to share just in case, but this scenario has not yet come up. So far, both attendance and student engagement have improved relative to similar courses taught in the past.  A number of students have said it helps them to pay attention.  A far wider spectrum of students are asking questions as well as answering them.



Prezi is a non-linear alternative to Powerpoint.  In this video, I use my "Roman House" file to demonstrate how Prezi's flexibility can be helpful when presenting. (Length: 1 minute and 55 seconds)