Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Technology Spotlight - Wendell Tate and Cheryl Cheatham, Dent Middle School


Dent Middle School Latin teachers, Mr. Wendell Tate and Mrs. Cheryl Cheatham, have adopted Operation Lapis for their 7th grade Latin classes. Lapis is a role-playing game that requires students to complete missions and uncover clues. Set in Pompeii in 79AD, students must learn to read and translate Latin words and phrases in order to successfully complete their missions.

"Operation LAPIS is a two-year game-based (practomimetic) introductory course in the Latin language and in Roman culture. It may be employed on its own, or as a supplement to other materials; programs and teachers may experiment with it as a supplement and then easily transition to using Operation LAPIS in place of a traditional textbook." - Operation Lapis

Mr. Tate says "... I have seen wonderful student engagement with the LAPIS environment. Students are using the language in a much more natural way than in previous years. In past years they were using the new grammar and vocabulary to read stories and write in the target language. We still have new grammar and vocabulary for each mission. But the way in which they use it is very different way. Now they are having to use the language to bribe guards, trick evil doers, and work their characters out of tricky situations. It is truly exciting to watch the energy and teamwork in my classes."

Mrs. Cheatham shares her experience with Operation Lapis, "I tried Lapis with one sixth grade class a couple of years ago, when it was brand new. I wasn't sure what to think, and I didn't have any experience with NOT using a book. This year, I went all in on Lapis. It has been really freeing, not having to make sure that I cover every single thing in a textbook. I still use the textbook, Cambridge Latin Course, as an extra resource, but it is not the primary center of my class. The majority of the students have really responded well to Lapis. It really gives them a chance to use the language, instead of just memorizing endings and definitions. They are getting to learn the language in a more natural way."

What are the students saying about Lapis?"Learning Latin is much easier. It is also sort of an incentive, because the more Latin you use in your post, the higher your character "levels up" by learning more Latin words and getting more things for your character." - Tyler M.

"Since you get to apply your knowledge into missions, you get to fully understand the Latin. Operation Lapis is a creative way of incorporating Latin material into missions, which helps me learn Latin." - Aliece H.

"This program impacts learning in several ways. One in particular is that it is a "free" way of learning, and there are many different ways that a "Mission" could go. Because of this, students are offered a chance to explore the Roman times in more depth than other classrooms may provide." - Sarah S.

Cheryl Cheatham has been teaching Latin for fourteen years, all in Richland School District Two. She started her career at Ridge View High, but moved to Dent after four years. She added mythology to her repertoire when she began teaching at Dent.


Wendell Tate been teaching in Richland School District Two at Dent Middle School for 10 years. During this time he has taught both Latin and Greek Mythology.