To complete your work this semester, I’d like to ask you to write a formal letter of assessment. Building on the process surveys you’ve completed over the course of the spring, you’ll consider the work you’ve done, the goals you’ve met, the challenges you’ve faced, and you’ll think a little about what comes next for you in your life with Latin. At the end, you’ll assign yourself a final grade for the course.
Review Your Work
First, take a look back over the work you’ve completed this semester. Draw on the course schedule, assignment instructions, the reflections you submitted after your presentation and performance, your process surveys, and the feedback you’ve received from me; You should have received copies of your process survey responses in your email, but let me know if you are missing any you’d like to review. Look through your notes, annotated texts, contributions to shared workspaces; excavate any evidence you can that will help you trace the labor you’ve performed for this course.
Write Me a Letter
Write me a letter about the work you’ve done in this course. It should be 600-900 words (2-3 double spaced pages; no more, no less!). Your style can be informal and conversational, but the letter should be polished and thoughtful: I strongly recommend beginning with an outline, composing a first draft, then editing and polishing your letter. This is the culmination of your work this semester, so take your time to make it reflect the effort you’ve put into your work!
Here are some prompts to consider as you are working on your letter (based partially on the work of Jesse Stommel):
- As you reviewed your work from this semester, what intellectual patterns emerged for you? Were there particular topics in Plautine studies you were engaged by? Were there themes in our texts you ended up particularly focused on? Were there interpretive questions you found answers to, or are continuing to explore?
- Trace your goals and achievements over the semester. What goals did you have in mind for the course at the start of the term? How did those goals evolve, or get replaced by new goals as the semester went on? What did you achieve this semester that you’re particularly proud of?
- What challenges did you face this semester? What elements of the course felt particularly difficult to you? How did you face those challenges?
- Focus on the moments when you were in charge of the class – your research presentation and your scene performance. What did you contribute to the course in those moments? What do you think or hope students got out of the portions of class you led?
- How did your engagement with Latin evolve over the course of the semester? Did your approach to preparing and reading change? Did you find aspects of your Latin improving? Did you become more comfortable with Plautus’ style?
- We focused our reading together on the themes of “slavery and freedom” in Plautus. How did your understanding of the dynamics of enslavement and the experiences of enslaved people develop over the course of the semester?
- What will you take forward with you from this class into future classes or life in general?
- What prompts do you wish I had asked you?
You don’t need to respond to every prompt. Pick the prompt(s) that speak to you, and take your time making a plan for how to answer them in a way that’s meaningful to you and that captures your experience of our work together. Once you’ve written a draft of your letter, I encourage you let it sit for a day or two, then re-read, revise, and polish until it’s something you’re proud of.
Finally, give yourself a grade for the course, on the BiCo 4.0 grading scale (4.0/3.7/3.3/3.0 etc.). This is the grade you will receive on your transcript. Be generous with yourself: in my experience, when I ask students to grade themselves, they are almost always more harsh than I would have been. In my view, your grade should reflect the labor and effort you put into the course.
I reserve the right to alter your final grade; if I choose to do so, it will almost certainly be because I think you deserve a better grade than you gave yourself. I’ll respond to your letter with feedback explaining why I think you’ve earned the grade you’re ultimately assigned.
Repeated from the syllabus, here are my thoughts about what a final grade might mean in this course. I encourage you to expand on these ideas and to grade yourself accordingly.
- 4.0: You went way above and beyond this semester. You did all the reading thoroughly and carefully, and came into class eager to discuss it. You sought out frequent opportunities to improve your Latin, and worked hard to improve your fluency. You attended nearly every meeting of class, and participated thoughtfully in whatever the class’s work was that day; when you couldn’t attend, you made a distinct effort to make up for your absences. Your presentations and performances were thoughtfully and thoroughly prepared in ways that engaged and brought other students into the conversation. You supported other people in the class, and accepted their support gracefully.
- 3.0: You met basic expectations this semester. You did most of the reading, but sometimes not as thoroughly as you might have. You worked to improve your Latin, but missed some opportunities to do so, perhaps relying too much on translations or translators. Your attendance was regular but not outstanding, and you didn’t always find ways to make up for your absences. You gave the required presentations and performances, but didn’t always plan them in ways that engaged the class or made room for their participation. You neglected opportunities to benefit from feedback.
- 2.0: You participated in the course, but didn’t live up to expectations. You regularly came to class unprepared, or missed class entirely; perhaps you failed to prepare one of your required presentations. You made some efforts this semester, but it’s clear to you and to me that this class was a low priority for you. [For the record, from my point of view there is no one in the course who fits this description. If you’re thinking of giving yourself something in the 2.0-2.7 range, I would encourage you to take another look at your work with a more generous eye.]
If you think your work falls in between these grade points, consider a #.7 or #.3 option.
If everyone chooses to award themselves a 4.0 in the course, I will not be displeased.
Submit Your Letter
Email your letter to me (in any format you choose) by the submission deadline:
- Seniors: noon on May 6th
- Non-Seniors: noon on May 12th
These deadlines are set by the college and cannot be extended; whatever you have by the deadline, send me!