A Living Language: Latin 1 at Play

Suzanne Lye on Latin 1 and Dartmouth Learning Fellows

A few minutes after class begins, I step into the Carson 61 classroom to see what’s happening. The students are already abuzz, divided into three learning teams and rapidly dissecting Latin phrases on the board. Interruptions are frequent as students yell across the room to one another with new ideas and corrections, or to flag down the instructor, Dr. Suzanne Lye, to pepper her with questions. The scene is not so much chaotic as rambunctious; like a house party where everyone is playing Monopoly. It’s a little disorienting to an outsider and prompts many questions: Where are the desks? Where am I supposed to stand? Who is the teacher here?

I’m an instructional designer, working with Lye on the development of her Latin 1 course. She’s invited me for the morning to see how the course is progressing. I’m excited to see how students are responding to Lye’s unusual teaching methods. Based in Carson 61, a campus incubator for innovations in teaching, the Latin 1 course intentionally discards many traditional ways of teaching. Students sit in working groups, not in rows. They get a preview of their quizzes and can test-out of quizzes if they’ve already mastered the material. Participation and making mistakes are often more highly valued than getting the correct answer. The focus is on process as well as results. Students of different competencies teach one another, with Lye and Shaket Chaudhary (the course’s Learning Fellow) acting as Montessori-like “guides on the side.” Lye encourages one group to prepare a study guide for the exam. “Oh, I made that already,” says a student. “I’ll share it with everyone.”

For the full article please go to the link on Dartmouth Learning Fellows