Integrating Local Resources into the Classroom

“Five Days in Classical Rome”

Lesson plan by Rox J. Brandstatter

Contact: John Gruber-Miller

Introduction | Trip Agenda| Evaluation | Sites Worksheet


This hypothetical class of fifteen high school students will be visiting Rome in the spring of 1998. There are many issues that are not discussed here, i.e. proper supervision of the students, exact travel plans to and from Rome, and finances. However, the intent of the plans is to provide a prototype for an individual or a group to visit ancient and historical Roman sites in a brief five day visit.

Although my group of students will actually be staying for ten days, this paper will concentrate on the first six days. It is assumed that following this classical visit, most students will want to visit more modern sites, like the Vatican, the Spanish Steps, and Trevi Fountain. Undoubtedly, the group would also participate in a trip or two outside of Rome.

Prior to departing, many classes and meetings with parents will have been held to discuss the many aspects of the trip. Highly emphasized will be the habits of Americans and how ones attitudes and behavior must be examined prior to visiting a foreign country. Courtesy will be of great importance, while we also consider the habits and customs of the Roman population. The students must understand that the “American Way” is not always right, and that the customs and lifestyles of others must be appreciated.

Travel will be on Alitalia, allowing students to begin some degree of culture-change awareness even on the plane, as many Italians and other Europeans regularly use this airline. Upon arriving at Leonardo de Vinci airport in Rome, the group will be bussed to the Novana Hotel, near the Piazza Navona in the heart of Rome. Arriving on a Sunday afternoon, the group’s first obligation is to meet in the dining room of the hotel at 4:00. Here currency will be dispensed and explained. Also we will discuss tomorrow’s plans, and will show a slide show of Piazza Navona and the Parthenon. Following dinner at 6:30 p.m., students will take an hour informal walk through the Piazza Navona with a chaperone. We’ll return early to the hotel, in observance of jet lag.

Trip Agenda

Day 1

7:30 Continental breakfast


9:00 Meet for departure. A visit to Piazza Navona (formerly the stadium of Domitian). Also, a walk through immediate neighborhood to observe local open-air markets and buying habits. LUNCH ON OWN.

  1:00 Regroup for a walking tour to the Parthenon. Students will have their study guides in hand. Our guide, hired from a local travel bureau and fluent in both English and Italian, will lead and answer any questions the students may have.

6:00 Dinner at the hotel. Informal discussion of the day’s activities.

  7:30 Meeting in the Caesar Room to discuss tomorrow’s activities. View slide show and distribute study guides.
Day 2 7:30 Continental Breakfast
  9:00 Regroup for walking tour to Circus Maximus
  10:30 Colosseum



1:00 The Forum


3:30-5:00 Students allowed to explore the Forum area, Colosseum on their own. Regroup at 5:00 to walk back to the hotel.


6:30 Dinner in hotel dining room with informal discussion of the day’s activities.


7:30 Meet in Caesar Room for slide show of tomorrow’s activities and distribution of study guides.

Day 3 7:30 Continental Breakfast

8:30 Meet in front of hotel to catch bus to Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli



1:30 Appian Way and aqueducts


3:30 Catacombs at Via Appia Antica

  7:30 Dinner at Ristorante Da Giggi, a small family owned restaurant near the hotel.
  9:30 Caesar Room- distribution of study guides and discussion of tomorrow’s format.
Day 4 7:30 Continental Breakfast. Instructor will display a large map of Rome to discuss today’s activities. Following last night’s dinner and meeting, students will verbally outline their plans for the day. They are expected to break into groups of three, and explore Rome on their own for an entire day. An instructor or chaperone will accompany each group, but only in an observatory capacity. Students will plan the entire day, and make all decisions (unless, of course, adult help is needed!). Everyone will spend at least two hours in the Capitoline Museum. After last night’s planning meeting, the groups will turn in their plans for the day to the instructor and will be responsible for oral presentations tonight on two sites per group. Recommendations: Columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius, city walls, baths, Ara Pacis of Augustus.

6:30 Meet for dinner in hotel in Caesar Room. Oral presentations by each group (15-20 minutes each) of their “day in Rome.”

Day 5 7:30 Continental Breakfast. Distribution of today’s study guides and discussion of the plans.

9:30 Depart on walking tour to Markets of Trajan, Bridges of the Tiber, Tiberine Island, and the Mausoleum of Augustus and Hadrian.


  6:00 Dinner at hotel. Discussion of the day and the week. Also, plans to move hotel site tomorrow to begin a more relaxed informal visit of Rome, to include modern history


Upon returning home, the class will continue with its Rome unit for ten more days. Slides will be pooled, and five groups of three will be responsible to create their own slide show on Rome and their trip. The show cannot last more than forty-five minutes, and must be accompanied by background music. Each group will present their show to the class, and will ultimately be responsible to show the production to one other class in our school building and one organization outside of school (church, family reunion, civic activity, groups or clubs). This slide show, including the adequate completion of study guides and other materials, will constitute seventy percent of their total grade. The remaining thirty percent will be derived from a final written exam.

By the end of this eight week course on Ancient Rome, the students will have learned many aspects of Roman history. They will be responsible for knowing dates, emperors, the difference between the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, the distinct roles of men and women, housing, identification of architectural styles, family life, military victories and defeats, political makeup and workings, and the role of slaves in Roman society. Also, each student will know a brief explanation of Gibbon’s book The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and be able to offer their own explanation for the fall of Rome.

Above all, it is hoped that the student will be able to draw a parallel between Rome and modern America. They will understand that there are differences and similarities, and that the study of antiquity has many valuable lessons. Hopefully, students will become interested in historical and cultural aspects of society, and will continue a life of curiosity and introspection about such matters.

Worksheet for sites visited

Classical Rome Tour

Spring 1998

Name Date

Site visited

1. Use one word to describe what you saw:

2. Write one sentence describing this site.

3. What role did this building/site play in ancient Rome?

4. What efforts have been made to retain this site for a modern audience?

5. Why is it important to preserve this site?

6. Describe the architectural style of this site.

7. What did you learn about the dates of usage, architect, or different uses over the years?

8. Compare the site to modern-day construction/architecture. How does it differ? How is it similar?

For an alternate trip to Rome designed primarily for college students,
visit Roman Archaeology in Italy, Cornell College.