Reading Caesar has been a rite of passage for all students of Latin for centuries. If I had dime for every time some person, upon learning that I was a Latin teacher randomly yelled out, "Gallia est omnis divisa!" I would have my retirement pretty much set. I would like to say here that I have found a way to make translating Caesar a joyful and exciting experience, but alas I have not. My students love the idea of reading Caesar more than they actually enjoy his prose. Included in the "Stuff for Advanced Students" folder are three activities that have increased students' enjoyment of reading Caesar. They will add spice to the reading of Caesar but will not transform the substance.
The first is a short survey that I gave students at the beginning of the Caesar unit to introduce students to this extraordinary man and his character. It's short. It will only take you 15 minutes tops to use with your class. If you are not familiar with the life of Caesar, the correct answer on all of the questions, is "D." Incidentally, if you aren't familiar with the life of Caesar, you should read up before giving this quiz because the kids will have some questions afterwards.
The second is a Mad-Lib based upon the most read and least interesting of all Caesar's work, the aforementioned, Gallia est omnis divisa. This will help to refresh students knowledge of Caesar's vocabulary and sentence structure as well as make them giggle a bit.
The third is a larger project that I used at the end of our Caesar unit. Students, working in small groups of 3-4 students "explore" and write about the different departments or "tribes" of the school in Latin similar to the way that Caesar described Gaul. The presentation of their findings is usually quite hilarious. In the past, students have brought in "captured tribesman" from the math department or artifacts from physical education to aid their presentation. This project has always sparked the enthusiasm of the class and is a welcome break from the sedentary struggle of translating Caesar's prose. Here I must add that this imaginative project was created Lauren Donovan, the Latin teacher who proceeded me at Oakmont Regional High School. Ms. Donovan has now completed her doctorate and has moved on to teach at the University level. I was very grateful when I took over her position that she generously left me all her lesson plans as well as this very fine project.
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