Latin: The Immortal Academic Language

As a commonly spoken language, Latin is as dead as Julius Caesar. However, it is still alive and well in classrooms across the world.

Why? Shouldn’t students be learning a language that is still spoken widely?

Pragmatists say yes, but then again, the word “pragmatic” comes to us from Latin.

Santa Barbara’s Laguna Blanca School requires all seventh graders to take Latin, and many choose to pursue it beyond the required year. Ms. Allison Crevi, a Latin instructor at the school, believes strongly in the language’s importance in molding young minds.

The following are the main reasons Crevi points to Latin as a valuable course of study:

- Latin is the foundation of all romance languages (Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian and Romanian), and studying it enhances the acquisition of the romance languages.

Standardized test scores are improved through the study of Latin, as students are more able to find the roots of words to decipher their meanings. Roughly 60% of English words come from Latin or Greek.

- Studying Latin past the first year allows students to read classic works in their unabridged formats.

If it has lasted this long and still produces such results, Latin will be in the classroom for centuries to come.

 

 

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iPads taking over in the Classroom

Paul Chiment predicts in gest that chiropractors may soon see a big drop in business.

That’s because Chiment, the Chairman of the Math Department at Laguna Blanca School, is a big believer in the use of Apple’s iPad to replace traditional classroom materials. He sees a day in the near future when lugging around a back-bending 50-pounds of books will not be part of a student’s day.  The veteran teacher is one of three instructors at the school who are teaching classes using the iPad. It’s where the textbooks are found, the notes are taken and the calculations are made.

“The notion that a textbook is still being used is kind of absurd,” said Chiment. Who teaches Calculus with the iPad. “Not only is [the iPad] lighter and more convenient, it is a better textbook because it has animated information and animated examples.”

English teacher Dr. Charles Donelan is also beginning a digital literary non-fiction course using the device. To foster leadership and responsibility, he has drafted a “personal growth contract” with the students to ensure they meet course requirements and maximize use of the technology to grow academically.
 
“While the first quarter of the program will largely be devoted to reading and writing shorter personal essays, in the second quarter I plan to introduce a ‘long book challenge’ in which students will be asked to read a book on the iPad that’s longer than anything they have ever read before,” said Donelan.
 
Indeed, opening to page one on a 600-page novel can be an intimidating task placed in the hands of students. Things may feel less daunting if those 600 pages are digitally stored in a lightweight device like the iPad or Kindle.

Cost-wise, Chiment sees the iPad, which runs at about $500 brand new, as a way to save money. He noted that the average Calculus textbook can cost upwards of $150, whereas on the iPad it can be for free or rented for around $20. Fully functional graphing calculators can also be downloaded at minimal cost. Over the course of an academic year, the device pays for itself in book savings alone.

Traditionalists worry about the loss of note-taking abilities and the cumbersome nature of using a stylus on a screen instead of pen and paper. Chiment says that has not been the case, especially due to an app called “Notability”, which allows students to record audio of their teachers explaining concepts as they write. Recently, one of his students was struggling with the concept of linear regression, and the iPad aided him significantly.

“He was able to sit back, take it in, absorb the content, and then take his recording that night and go get the nitty gritty details,” he explains.
 
If you have any questions for Mr. Chiment, please contact him at pchiment@lagunablanca.org.
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The Importance of Outdoor Education

Not all classrooms need to have walls, and this is especially true when it comes to science.

Outdoor education has found increasing importance in the past decade, and with the relevance of environmental issues continuing to build, hands-on learning is key.

Schools like Laguna Blanca have begun making substantial effort to give students outdoor learning opportunities. With its new outdoor program, headed up by Craig Bailes, students have increased access to engaging learning experiences in nature.

“You’re able to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom and bring it outdoors,” said Bailes, who has over two decades of experience as an outdoor guide and educator. “What we’re also doing is creating community with the families of Laguna Blanca and the faculty, bringing families together in the outdoors and sharing the experiences with their children.”

Outdoor programs like Bailes’ include activities such as kayaking, backpacking and horseback riding. Along the way, students are exposed to different habitats and learn about the plant and animal species which make them unique.

The building of a school community is also an important benefit of outdoor education. A 2004 study by the American Institute for Research surveyed sixth-grade students before and after a week of outdoor science educational programs and found increases in self-esteem, relationships with teachers and leadership skills. The students also showed an increased sense of “stewardship of the environment” with lasting impressions made about the importance of conservation and the relevance of science.

Critics of environmental education claim that students are being exposed to “biased presentations and misguided objectives” about conservation issues, which are often at the center of political debate.

One freshman student at Laguna Blanca claimed he was not a believer in global warming, but valued the outdoor educational experiences nonetheless.

“I’m not concerned about global warming, but I definitely think it’s important to be aware of the environment an avoid polluting it,” he said.

Politics aside, the physical activity and camaraderie formed in the great outdoors are indisputable benefits of learning outside of four-walled classrooms.

“It’s about connecting in different settings and using what we have in the environment to make learning as fun and engaging as possible,” said Bailes.
 

9/7/12

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ImPACT Concussion Testing

It may be funny when a cartoon character gets knocked on the head and sees stars. For athletes, it is hardly a joking matter.

From the NFL to Pee Wee Football, and in any contact sport for that matter, concussions can wreak havoc on participants. Returning to competition too soon can lead to traumatic brain injuries with permanent effects.

A relevant study by the American Journal of Sports Medicine states that 15% of all injuries reported by high school athletes end up being concussions. What’s most frightening is that a 2008 study showed 41% of prep athletes return to the field too quickly.

That’s where ImPACT testing comes in to play.

ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is a computer-based examination program which provides coaches, trainers and physicians with valuable information regarding the state of a potentially concussed athlete. Each athlete takes a “baseline” test to measure things such as reaction time and memory, which is tested again after a suspected concussion.

“It just takes out the guesswork and it’s another tool that doctors and trainers can use,” said Laguna Blanca School Athletic Director Mike Biermann.

“If the results aren’t the same, we’re going to keep that athlete off the field until they are further evaluated.”

In three years of implementation at the school, located in Santa Barbara, CA, Biermann has implemented a handful of re-tests. Three of them showed skewed results, and the athlete was subsequently kept off the field.

He pointed to the fact that many concussion symptoms do not show up right away and are not readable by simply asking the athlete if he or she is okay. ImPACT testing is a way to bring out those hidden symptoms.

Joey Eckert, a senior captain for the Owls football team, said that parents of players are also resting easier knowing that the ImPACT program is at work.

“They’re happy and we’re happy. It’s all about the safety of the players and protecting your head,” he said.

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