Sunday, June 2, 2013

Chapman's Homer: The Blooper Reel

Okay, I finished grading 3 classes worth of Latin final exams, and today's post is brought to you courtesy of the 8th grade class.  I love them, but I'm ready for them to move on, and hopefully learn to take better notes.  Only a few of them listened carefully enough to my passionate and, I may say, highly humorous reading of H.A Guerber's Myths of Greece and Rome.  (Wow, look at that, available as a free e-book.  I have the old-fashioned kind).  Seriously, I ham it up with tie-ins to popular movies, and you would be amazed at how many Disney princess fairy tales have their literary roots in mythology.  I see it as a chance to practice note-taking skills and gain familiarity with the plots of the literature they will be encountering in its original source form at High School level.  They are supposed to turn in a creatively-presented page for each of the 16 units we cover in the year, and I'm very generous with my grading rubric.

My final exams are tough.  The 8th grade one had 275 points on it, although well-prepared students tested out of the concrete vocabulary and grammar sections.  It just about killed me grading the sentence translation section.  I seem to internalize every grammatical error, as if it's my fault that the students didn't get something.  As I grade, I can feel the tightness creeping up my spine and into my neck and shoulders.  After all the hard work of grammar and translation, I look at the mythology matching section, with its 25 letters spelling out a super-secret message, as kind of a fun reward for the students for making it through the hard stuff.  We had to rush a bit through the story of Aeneas, so I even gave them the last 3 of the problems as freebies.  But no... only 3 students nailed that section perfectly, and the rest missed at least 6, with 3 students missing 15 or more.  How is that even possible?  My headache just keeps getting worse.  What can you do, except laugh?
  • The Trojan horse was his idea... Hector?
  • Rightful husband of Helen... Hector? Agamemnon?
  • Commander of the Greek forces... Hector?
  • Ulysses' faithful wife... Circe?
  • The enchantress who turned men into pigs... Penelope?
  • Ran fast, distracted by golden apples... Polyphemus? Telemachus? Oedipus?  At least the one who guessed Iphigenia got the gender right.
  • Son of Venus and Anchises... Telemachus? Meleager? Patroclus? (psst... we're in the section about the Aeneid!)
  • Devoted Gemini... Menelaus?
  • Evil Cyclops... Castor and Pollux?
The next ones are a bit shocking, brace yourselves...
  • Stole Helen from her rightful husband... Penelope?!
  • Hero of the Trojans, killed #12 (best friend of #11- the almost invincible hero of the Greeks)... good gracious, Penelope again?
  • Ulysses' son... Dido?
Maybe in 9th grade they'll develop some note-taking skills.

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