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Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices

Latin: Music and Manuscripts Class Context

When they are able to connect something that happened 2,000 years ago with something that’s happening today, they become invested and it makes the language learning process that much more valuable.

– Lauri Dabbieri



Latin II-III

  • The Pliny Ghost Story (1st quarter)
  • Book Four of Julius Caesar’s De bello Gallico

Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis

Survey of Latin Poetry From the Late Republic and Early Empire

  • Ovid
  • Vergil
  • Catullus

Latin IV AP

College Board AP Vergil Syllabus

  • The Aeneid

School Profile

Lauri Dabbieri teaches Latin I-IV at Westfield High School in Chantilly, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. The 2,400-student high school draws from a diverse community that includes federal government and military employees, as well as technology industry professionals. French, German, Japanese, and Spanish are also offered at the high school.

Lesson Design

Ms. Dabbieri uses the Standards to plan her Latin II-III lessons. She starts with the desired outcomes, then works backward to design individual activities. At the time of this lesson, the Fairfax County Program of Study (POS) didn’t include a program for Latin III (see Resources); Ms. Dabbieri helped draft the POS based on the Standards. The POS sets overarching themes, while giving teachers autonomy to choose texts and topics within the themes. For her Latin IV classes, Ms. Dabbieri follows the College Board Vergil Syllabus to prepare her students for the Advanced Placement Exam.

The Lesson

In this lesson, the Latin II-III students and Latin IV Advanced Placement students worked together to create original manuscripts based on passages they had read. This was a culminating activity for the Latin II-III students, following a nine-week unit on reading and translating Cicero. Although Ms. Dabbieri occasionally combines the two groups for hands-on projects, the groups do not normally work together. Latin IV students focus on translations that prepare them for the AP Exam. Latin II-III students work on a Latin III curriculum. (Due to overenrollment in Latin II, 12 students from that class were chosen to join the Latin III class and take the Latin III curriculum. They moved on to Latin IV after this class.) The unit concluded with a written assessment.

Key Teaching Strategies

  • Color Coding: The teacher color-codes text to help students discern certain structures or vocabulary words that have a common link.
  • Comparing Themes and Works Across Media: The teacher creates lessons that have students compare themes or specific works as they are rendered in film, literature, music, art, or other media.
  • Providing Corrective Feedback: In a process of negotiation, the teacher mediates student learning by verbally or nonverbally helping the student focus on a point of confusion around a language form.
  • Translating Literary Texts: The teacher has students read and translate classic texts to derive meaning, analyze the grammatical structures and vocabulary, and render the text in English.

Series Directory

Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices


Produced by WGBH Educational Foundation with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. 2003. 2016.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-731-2