Refresher Day – final details

Steve Llewellyn, the Director, has sent me the final mailing about Saturday's ARLT Refresher Day, which is available as a Word document (sorry about that, but Open Office will read it) here.

He asks me to say:

Sorry for the lateness of the final details. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to know more.

His phone number is 01406 371406

View the detailed programme as a web page here.

SATS – two peoples divided by a single language?

We in the UK know what we mean by SATS, but we don't necessarily know what Americans mean by them.

I had an email today from the US, explaining the difference like this:

In the US, we have two different things called SATs. We have an achievement test for the young students (which began as the Stanford Achievement Test), and we have a college entrance exam (which began as the Scholastic Aptitude Test).

It does not have the specific content area testing that I believe your
A-levels do. It has three sections: a mathematical reasoning test, a
verbal reasoning test, and a newly added writing skills section that
includes a 25-minute essay.

Apparently students in the UK have been able to take the SAT for admission to US colleges for a long time, at regular administration dates.

My American correspondent has heard of some sort of study that was carried out in UK schools recently, using the American tests or something like them.

Can anyone throw light on this? (If you can, and you don't want the trouble of registering before posting your answer, please log in with the username “arltvisitor” and the password “arltblog”.)

Coloured Parthenon

Explorator led me to this from Physorg.com:

“A recent cleaning operation by laser revealed traces of haematite (red), Egyptian blue and malachite-azurite (green-blue) on the sculptures of the western frieze,” senior archaeologist Evi Papakonstantinou-Zioti told AFP.

While archaeologists had found traces of the first two colours elsewhere on the temple years ago, the malachite-azurite colouring was only revealed in the latest restoration process, Papakonstantinou-Zioti said.

Given the testimony of ancient writers, it is not unlikely that the Parthenon's trademark columns were also coloured, she added.

We knew about coloured statues (see photos on this blog), but coloured columns are startling to me.

The subject reminds me of my first visit to Greece, when my friend Mark and I were being shown round the Agora museum by an Athenian with whom Mark had some sort of link, I can't remember what. In those days, the late fifties, a sculpture with remains of red paint was on open display under the museum portico. Mark's Athnian acquaintance read the notice about the paint, calmly chipped a flake off with his thumbnail, and said “Oh yes, so there is.”

Have your say on coursework – soon, please!

This is from Julie Wilkinson, Classics lead practitioner (Specialist Schools and Academies trust)

I have been asked by Chris Maynard (the Principal Officer at QCA with responsibility for Classics) to respond on behalf of the classics teaching community to the latest ruminations from the DfES on the future of GCSE coursework.

The aim of the review is to address the following: – the need for a consistent approach to coursework in similar subjects – that it should test skills and attributes that cannot be tested by a terminal examination – concerns about fairness – how to reduce the cumulative burden of coursework across a range of subjects.

As you are doubtless aware, QCA has recently published a report highlighting some of the problems with coursework – the increasingly indiscriminate use of the internet, the growing commercialisation of ready-made projects, the talents of parents, the uncertainty amongst teachers as to how much help is allowed etc. The full report can be
read at www.qca.org.uk/2586_15523.html .

The crux of the argument for all Classics GCSE specifications is that, because coursework is optional, 'it cannot be the only way to assess that part of the subject, and therefore there is doubt that it is the most valid form of assessment' (Maynard's words).

So I would be really grateful if you could spare a few moments to let me have your thoughts on any or all of the following questions, making it clear whether you are referring to Latin, Greek or Class Civ:

  1. Does internal assessment have a distinctive purpose in Classics subjects that is not assessed by written exams?
  2. What would be the implications of its removal in terms of teaching and learning?
  3. In the forthcoming revision of GCSEs, would you like to see the addition of an Assessment Objective that was not subject-specific, addressing such skills as planning, evaluation and analysis? (NB The current AOs for Classics can be downloaded from the QCA website)

This is an opportunity for Classics teachers to have a say in assessment development so please consult colleagues (and students?) and (because QCA is operating to its customary stingy time frame) reply to me by March 6. This has to be the absolute deadline as I will be off work collating responses the day after before immediately responding to Chris.

Please feel free to add any other comments you may have about
coursework.

Alan Clague is also involved in the same consultation so it is
possible that you will be reached by both of us. Please reply to one
or other!

Thanks in anticipation of your support.

Julie Wilkinson
classics lead practitioner
(Specialist Schools and Academies trust)
juliek.wilkinson@virgin.net

Asterix game gets 10 out of 10

Your pupils would be rather pleased to get the marks that Ben Jabituya gives to a new computer game.

Asterix & Obelix: Kick Buttix
This game with Asterix and Obelix really kicks buttix!
By BenJabituya
This Review's Trust Rating: Unrated

February 16, 2006 – I just got this game, popped it in my PS2 and was really awed. For those of you who don't know about Asterix, He's more popular in France. Here's how the story goes:

The year is 50 BC and Gaul is entirely occupied by the Romans. Well not entirely…One small village of indomitable Gauls still holds out against the invaders. And life is not easy for the Roman legionairies who garrison the fortified camps of Totorum, Aquarium & Compendium…

You are Asterix, the indomitable Gaulish warrior. You team up with Obelix, the Roman bashin', wild boar lovin', menhir deliveryman as well as Dogmatix, whose bite is worse than his bark for the no-good Romans.

Save the Gaulish villagers, hunt down some wild boars to replenish your energy, collect magic potion gourds to gain invincibility.

Reader's Ratings for Asterix & Obelix: Kick Buttix (PS2)

10 Presentation
Great storyline
10 Graphics
Crisp and nicely rendered in 3D
10 Sound
Awesome voice acting and soundtrack
10 Gameplay
Real solid gameplay with accurate control
10 Lasting Appeal
Asterix enthusiasts will praise this game
10 OVERALL
(out of 10 / not an average)

Are you descended from the Romans?

BBC News has this report:

DNA donors wanted for UK gene map

Researchers are looking for 300 volunteers to donate DNA to trace the ancestors of modern-day East Anglians.

The team at the University of East Anglia wants volunteers who were born in the same place as their parents and four grandparents.

As part of the People of the British Isles project they want to trace the influence of invaders from the Celts and Romans to the Angles and Saxons.

Volunteers from Norfolk or Suffolk will be asked to give a small blood sample.
The DNA will be extracted from the sample and used by geneticists to build the Norfolk and Suffolk part of the map.

The only criteria are that volunteers must be over 18 and born in the same part of East Anglia as their parents and all four of their grandparents.

Latin and Portuguese

From 'Gringoes':

By Jim Smith
A Little History of Portuguese

After Spanish, Portuguese is the second most widely spoken Romance language. It is eighth in the world in terms of number of speakers. There are over 165 million Portuguese-speaking people in the world; a sizable portion of the world population. For example, more than 150 million people speak Brasilian Portuguese, and another 10 million people speak Portuguese in Portugal. There are even some 4.6 million people in Africa who speak Portuguese. In addition, there are also half a million Portuguese speaking people in the United States.

Continental Portuguese is a modern version of the colloquial Roman Latin (from which all Romance languages evolved) spoken by the Romans who occupied the Iberian Peninsula for more than 500 years. It was a simplified version of Latin that avoided passive verb forms, complicated tenses, and the entire declension system. The variety of influences on Portuguese stems from the consecutive invasions of Visigoths and Muslims in later years, not to mention influences from France and Spain due to the proximity of those countries to Portugal.

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