Thursday, May 9, 2019

Graffiti from the Romans to Today

For the past few years of teaching the first level of Latin (Latin 101 and Latin I), I have included a fun end-of-the-year day of looking at funny, obscene, and salacious graffiti left by Latin speakers. I decided to continue this tradition, but I was inspired to put a new spin on it this year. Instead of simply translating and commenting on samples of graffiti, I have expanded the lesson to include an exploration into the contemporary points of view on graffiti.

Here's the lesson plan:

1) I introduced the topic of graffiti via the first few slides in the slideshow. We created a class definition of graffiti before looking at the dictionary entry for the word. We also explored the issue: are graffiti art, a crime, or both? 

2) I introduced the Latin vocabulary for agreeing and disagreeing. Then each student received 8 stickers with which to express their opinion on 8 statements posted around the classroom. After students responded to the statements and returned to their seats, I summarized the results.

3) Returning to the slideshow, we examined several misconceptions about graffiti: Only gangs and criminals make graffiti. (We watched a video from last month on graffiti as a form of political expression in Sudan), We can learn a lot from graffiti. (I presented the importance of graffiti to the study of Latin and its speakers, especially as a means for the non-elites to have a voice), and Most people feel the same way about graffiti (We examined perspectives on graffiti that differ from the negativity that we have in the US). 

4) We then read examples of Roman and medieval graffiti, inscriptions, and proverbs. A couple were talking epitaphs and a few were toilet humor graffiti - all of which got strong reactions from the class.

The slideshow:

The consensus statements posted around the classroom:
Click here to view the document in its original formatting.

Samples from one of my classes:

The worksheet with Latin graffiti, inscriptions, and proverbs:

Click here to view the document in its original formatting.


  1. would you be willing to share your slide show? I was just planning a graffiti unit and I came across your site from Pomegranate beginnings. I look forward to perusing your site in more depth. Thank you so much for sharing all of your great work. As a somewhat new teacher and one who wants to keep things interesting, it is such a blessing to have teachers like you who are sharing their methods...and madness!

    1. You're welcome! As a newer teacher, I get it! Let me know how you adapt it for your classes and how they like it!