It’s the spring of 64 AD, and as dawn breaks over the Subura in Rome, a young woman calls from high in a tenement block to her aunt working in a taberna below. While her father collects the rent from the other tenants, a falling tile narrowly misses a senator’s son passing through the streets in a litter. Was it an accident? In the Subura, your life hangs by a thread.
In a few months Rome, heart of an empire, will burn. Like Nero, the residents of the Subura have their own ideas about the cause. Our cast of characters must flee. One travels west, to Lugdunum in Gaul, then on to Lusitania. Another turns south, through Pompeii, where business opportunities present themselves, to Carthage and the north coast of Africa. Others, members of a new religious cult, find their way east to Athens and Ephesus, in search of safety. And Nero, now the hunter, will soon himself become the prey...
Much has changed since the storylines of the UK’s existing reading courses were written (between 30 and 50 years ago), both in terms of our understanding of Roman civilisation and in terms of the issues which are important to students and teachers. A new course provides an opportunity to reconsider some priorities, provide a more balanced coverage of women and men, show the diversity of the Roman empire and address other issues which teachers tell us are important to them and their students.
While the course will take a story-based reading approach as its core means of developing reading proficiency, we know that many teachers want to employ a range of teaching and learning strategies. So we also intend to create from the outset, as options for those who wish to use them, activities which develop English into Latin writing skills as well as resources which will seek to promote speaking and listening skills.
We’re developing the software which will provide detailed analyses of the linguistic features and vocabulary which individual students appear to understand, and which they appear to need further help or practice with. The aim is to enable teachers and students to focus more precisely on targeting gaps in individual students’ knowledge and thereby help them make greater progress in the time available.
One of the most important aspects of the new course is that all profits will be used to support Classics teaching in schools. As we will be authoring and publishing the course, approximately 65% of the cost of the books will go back in to supporting Classics departments. It’s for this reason that we established ourselves as a ‘Community Interest Company’ and ensured that we have to give our profits back to the community.
We're authoring 32 chapters of material, which will be spread across 2 or 3 student textbooks. In addition we'll be authoring Teacher's Guides, student study books/ancillary print materials and a website. The website will host a wide range of digital learning and assessment resources, together with data on student performance for teachers and students, and digital versions of the textbooks.
This is a fresh start with a lot of new opportunities. As we're in the development phase, we'd love to hear your thoughts on language, culture and history content, and on teaching approaches. Let us know what your ideal course would contain by completing our survey and/or coming to our conference in London on 16th June.
Hands Up is a community venture, where teachers work to support each other. If you’d like to help us trial, design, create and/or deliver resources, do feel free to get in touch. You may be an ideas person, be great on linguistic detail, have excellent artistic or photographic skills, write engaging stories (in English or Latin), or have a good knowledge of Roman sites – whatever your particular skill, we’d love to hear from you.
We expect to have the first two years of the course ready by summer 2020. In the meantime try our CATENA game. You have three minutes to find as many Latin words (two letters or more) as you can in the grid. You have to build up a word by chaining adjacent letters together. When the game is finished you will see all the words you could have found, with the words you actually found highlighted in red. Click or tap on any word in the list to see the headword it comes from as well as a possible parsing for this form. Click or tap again to hide this extra information. Good luck!