Teacher to Teacher
Roman Moe: Inserting a little fun into Julius Caesar.
The question was, though, what to do with it. I certainly didn’t want to grade a bunch of busy work. Besides, I was anxious to break loose from the riveting “Brutus used logos but Antony used pathos!” death march we had been taking together through the text. We all needed to be shaken up a bit. Thus, “Roman Moe” was born. “Roman Moe” can be easily adapted to be anything from a one day shot to a full week lesson plan. Now if you own a copy of Moe’s Café (and if you don’t, feel free to stop reading right now and go purchase a copy; I’m not going anywhere), then you already know that the “Moe Method” is a term Bob and I use for a technique of eliciting creative writing from students. We present them with a prompt (person, place, situation, etc.) and then immediately ask ten questions about the scenario.
Enthusiastic writers always have plenty to say; the less enthused find themselves surprised that they had so much to say. In the case of “Roman Moe“, I had the students imagine that they were Romans who had just discovered that Julius Caesar had been assassinated. Since they had just seen the film, I knew they had enough background in Roman history to pull this off. I had anticipated that there might be a problem coming up with suitable names for the new characters, so I GOOGLED “Roman names” and immediately found so many that it’s hard to imagine the Romans being able to have used them all. After we created our characters, we shared some of their more salient attributes and generally had a congenial time. Then I broke them into groups of four and told them to write a scene (enclosed) in which these four Romans discussed how they felt about Caesar’s death.
Finally, they presented the scenes in class and I graded them on the fly using a very basic rubric (enclosed). If you’re looking for a one day shot, you can spend the first half of a class period creating the characters and then the second half discussing their possible reactions to the stunning news. If you’re feeling more ambitious, you can lead a discussion about the incident but have the students stay “in character”: “Those of us in the gladiator union feel pretty upset whenever those sissy senators pull something like this!” “That’s just the sort of nonsense we Vestal Virgins have had to put up with since the days of Romulus and Remus!”
If you want to take the full week approach, you can set it up like this:
Get the note-taking sheet here.
Script Writing Assignment enclosed.
Script Rubric and Presentation Rubic.
As the Romans say, Bona Fortuna!
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