Implementation of “Coins that tell stories” (SOI-RO-350)

Author: CRISTINA – IULIA GÎLĂ, History Teacher

School/Organization: Colegiul Național Pedagogic ”Constantin Brătescu”, Constanta

The implementation story was created by Cristina Iulia Gîlă based on the learning scenario created by Eros Grossi. This story of scenario implementation was carried out with 25 students in a seaside high school in Romania. During the lesson, students learned to  critically analyse unwritten sources to reconstruct economic and political life in ancient Rome and make connections with everyday life. It was chosen because the coins of the Roman Empire were an important source of information of those times. They provide a description of Roman society and also to study the meaning of ancient symbols or to introduce important concepts in the economy like coin value depreciation. Their study offers the possibility to reconstruct how the Romans produced their coins and what is on the obverse or reverse of the coin also  politics of officials and monuments that are now lost.

Through additional activities students learned how they can manage their personal finances responsibly and make decisions that suit their dreams.

The Implementation context  

It has been applied to the 14-15 age group in the classroom and was integrated in the History curriculum in grade 8, under the title ‘Coins tells us stories’. The theme was connected with Romanian history, as the historical space was part of the Roman Empire.

 This LS was used during three History lessons I taught to the diverse group of participants consists of  girls and boys of the National Pedagogical Highschool ”Constantin Brătescu” in Constanta. This LS was the best example of analysing historical sources, images, using comparison, discovering civilisations and cultures, reconstructing geographical routes travelled by Roman currency, a true cultural ambassador. The best way to learn history using digital tools was project-based learning. The best method to learn history using digital tools was project-based learning applicable in everyday life.

Coins- storyteller of History – Learning process

The coin comes with a lot of data and information. The coin tells a story, presents the biography of personalities, the coin presents a historical event, in a very interesting way, namely: on the surface of a piece of metal is almost the entire history of a state, have the entire biography of a personality. In this way, we can make the object “History” to be learned with passion, with interest by our students.

At the same time, studying the coin helps the student to develop critical thinking, to pay attention to details, to extract information from where, at first glance, it seems that he can learn nothing, and, at the same time, the coin, or rather the money, is attractive to everyone. It will never go out of use and all the time the coin will be that little storyteller of history.

The implementation story on the history of Roman coins has aroused the interest of the students in the richness of the local and European heritage and the symbolism used.

 The students were attracted by this topic and therefore searched for images on Europeana and compared them with the coins in the Museum of History and Archaeology in Constanta, as well as with current coins. Each of the students chose a model and then described the piece. Some of them brought family coins from their personal collection.

This Learning Scenario was implemented during face- to- face classes.

The implementation of the LS has gone through several steps: 

1. warm up – in which the importance of the currency over time was shown and described. First students will physically and symbolically analyse a national coin or euro coin, looking at both sides. Then the students answered the question: ”Why Roman coins are important for an historian?” Students will complete the answers using the interactive software Mentimeter in the classroom.  After this, students will watch a video on the importance of coins. Students take notes on the importance of Roman coins.

2. historical and economic importance of the Roman coin in the period of the Republic and the Empire  – study in National Museum of History and  Archeology  Constanta. The second History lesson takes place in the museum. Here they get acquainted with Roman coins and discuss their economic and symbolic importance with the museographer.

3. ways of producing coins in the Roman world. Another step is to watch the Edpuzzle video software and answer questions about coin production techniques in the Roman world for the flipped classroom activity. I propose to add to the learning scenario an analysis of the change on coins of the portraits of Roman rulers.

How have  the portraits of leaders changed on coins?

The next class took place in the classroom.

4. examples of coins from the Roman world using Europeana. Next, the teacher points to examples from the Europeana collections. A gallery of Roman coins | Europeana collections is used. The students choose a coin and analyse it from an iconographic and inscriptional point of view. The coin is then framed in the period and linked to historical events of the period.

5. Drawing and voting the preferred coin of ancient Rome. In the next Art class, students draw and vote for their favourite ancient coin. The students draw a self-portrait of themselves as Roman emperors, with symbols and inscriptions.After they finished, the students will upload their products on the collaborative Padlet. At the end they were asked to vote with 5 stars for their desired portrait drawn.

6. evaluate the product (drawing) according to the evaluation grid. The teacher provides the students with an evaluation grid which takes into account 3 aspects: knowledge with understanding, attractiveness and creativity.

Money then and now

Since the students were interested in the topic we gave them additional assignments. Students compare ancient and modern coins with a focus on their economic usefulness.




Learning outcomes

One of the results obtained was to establish a link between history – the chosen personality and the text written on the coins in Latin that our student deciphered, thus achieving interdisciplinarity with Latin. Another result achieved was the unravelling of the artistic representations on the coins by our students. Students also identified elements of religion, with representations of deities. Digital tools were used such as: for brainstorming – Mentimeter, Edpuzzle – for flipped activity, Padlet – to assess peer work and students’ evaluation grid.

I advise those wishing to implement a similar L S to use various coin designs from Europeana, to encourage students to look carefully at every detail and find meanings and symbols.  At the same time, another recommendation is to look for specific elements of imperial propaganda and look for connections with propaganda elements of the present day.

”Today’s history lesson was unique because we discovered using the Europeana website, the Imperial Roman coins and the meaning of the donativum – the donative given to soldiers and the reverse side which is the result of imperial propaganda – celebrating victories, the emperor’s virtues or, evoking a protective deity of the emperor. I most enjoyed creating coins with my face as Roman emperor and using the slogan Goddes of night”.  (Vlad Elena, student).

Results of the implementation

Teachers outcomes

This LS helped students to acquire scientific knowledge in an enjoyable way, using the Europeana collection, without causing tension and excitement. This LS helped students to acquire scientific knowledge in an enjoyable way, using the Europeana collection, without causing tension and excitement. Everyone worked at their own pace, which was appreciated by the students. The products of the activity were evaluated by peers and the teacher.  Young people had the opportunity to view and evaluate the work of their peers and vote for the work considered the best. I was happy to see that by using Europeana collections in the teaching-learning process students became interested in the richness of cultural heritage. The young people reported that the most enjoyable moment was drawing the coins and using the self-portrait. The lesson aroused feelings of joy, increased self-esteem, curiosity. 

If in the first lesson they thought it would be theoretical lessons about the importance of coins, in the next two lessons the focus shifted to the practical and emotional aspects. 

Thanks to Europeana we chose images that allowed their use at no extra cost and students checked licences and copyright laws. According to these lessons, students discovered the usefulness of coins and after they are no longer in circulation, they have remained in the collective memory of the communities.

Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario? Coins that tell stories created by Eros Grossi

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Do you want to discover more stories of implementation? Click here.

CC BY 4.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Università di Bologna.

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