Posts Tagged ‘Latin’

An off day

Today my Latin 1 class didn’t go very well. It wasn’t a bad class, nothing dramatic happened. But nothing really clicked either.

This year our school has switched to a rotating schedule with 7 classes that drops one class each day. So today my Latin 1 class met for the first time since last Thursday, a 3 day break.  Since the beginning of the second marking period, this class has met for 5 straight days only one week; between holidays, a parent conference day, and the rotation of the schedule this class has very little consistency. We also enjoyed our annual Saturnalia celebration two weeks ago, which is one of my favorite days of the year, but certainly turns our focus away from Latin grammar for more than a few days.

So now I find myself trying to review case endings and reviewing prepositional phrases that take either the ablative or accusative case in the last few days before vacation. I have a fun activity planned for tomorrow, kind of a cross between Simon Says and Dodge Ball using a Nerf football to keep everyone on their toes. But today was all about reviewing nouns, prepositions, case endings and vocabulary.

I’m finding that the biggest challenge (drawback?) to this schedule is the absolute lack of consistency. So often when I used to be able to find a groove with my class and logically end a unit with a quiz or activity, I’m now scrambling to fit the quiz in a day early because I won’t see them for a day or two or three. When students are out for a field trip, illness, or college visit – and then their class doesn’t meet the next day –  they easily can be away from Latin learning for nearly a week. No matter how many resources a teacher provides (on-line notes, posting homework on Edline, offering on-line “office hours”) the lack of routine makes language learning a real challenge. Gifted language learners seem to be getting along okay, since they can basically teach themselves. But the majority of my students have to work hard to master the vocabulary and grammar. Not hearing the language, not reading the words, not reviewing the grammar five days each week means that each day in class requires more time reviewing and less time moving forward.

So class didn’t go very well. And the study hall that met in our room the period before left the window open on a cold December day.  And 5 students came to class late. And 4 more students needed to use the bathroom.

Today was not a great day for learning Latin. I did the best I could. I hope that my students learned a little. Tomorrow will be a better day.  I’ve got my Nerf football ready to go!


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As another school year starts, it is a good time for me to gather together some resources that I find useful for my teaching. People are often surprised that I teach Latin (“They still teach that?!”), and even more surprised when I tell them of some of the useful on-line resources that are available. I already have blogged here, below you’ll find some additional resources that I find useful.  So, in no particular order, here are some Latin resources you might like to check out:

As I’ve mentioned before, LatinTeach is an excellent resource for all things Latin. The blog keeps me informed of current events in the Latin teaching community (e.g. changes in the AP Latin exam or who’s using Latin in the news). It gives the Roman date each day and provides some great links to resources for Roman culture and Latin teaching. If you are looking for one website for Latin education, this is the place.

If you are looking for Latin reading resources in your classroom, the Tar Heel Reader has a number of digital books created for and by Latin students.   There are over 250 short illustrated digital books, some designed to accompany a textbook series (I noted several designed to be read along side Cambridge Latin Course) and others that nicely review grammar topics such as prepositional phrases or singular/plural. I noted several nicely written mythology stories that appear to have been illustrated by the folks from South Park (appropriate for class, but in the familiar style). In addition, Laura Gibbs (more on her in a moment) has included a Tar Heel Reader a large number of illustrated Aesop’s fables in Latin. I expect to use this site as a resource for readings with my students, but also as an inspiration for them to create similar stories and perhaps share them with other Latin students through the Tar Heel Reader.

I also blogged about Laura Gibbs who has created Latin Via Fables: Aesopus. This comprehensive Ning is devoted to Aesop’s Fables in Latin. She has provided the text, audio recordings, video (some of which are links to the Tar Heel Reader), exercises and quizzes to accompany each story.  Since it is a Ning, it is a social network that allows you to join and a communicate with others interested in Latin and Aesop’s Fables. Ms. Gibbs also writes the Bestiaria Latina Blog.   Here she provides daily proverbs, fables and calendar information. In addition, she cross posts her Twitter updates for @IVLIVSCAESAR, with a different sentence from Plutarch’s Life of Caesar each day.

Teachers interested in advanced Latin resources need to be familiar with the Perseus Project out of Tufts University.  This amazing classical resource contains both the Latin and the English for a huge number of Latin texts. In the screen capture of the opening lines of the Aeneid (below), you can see that Perseus provides not just the Latin text, but it allows you to click on a word to bring up parses, dictionary information and word frequency. On the right you can click to two different translations, see a list of reference materials, and find an on-line dictionary to further assist you – or your students – with the translation.  If you have not explored this site, I’d highly recommend it. I would be surprised if many students have not already taken advantage of this resource. Note that one can explore what are called Exhibits on the Perseus site. These are resources on Hercules and the Ancient Olympics that are written in English.


Barbara McManus has created an excellent cultural resource for students of ancient Rome. VROMA is both “an online learning environment (MOO) and a collection of internet resources.  I have not used the MOO with my students, but it if you are interested in virtual worlds, it is worth checking out. Her cultural resources are a standard starting point for my classes when it comes to discussion of clothing, names, the Roman house, etc.

Although he doesn’t write exclusively about Latin, Shelly at TeachPaperless is worth reading. He teaches Latin and Art History in a paperless classroom; all student work is produced through blogs and on other digital platforms. He keeps a Twitter feed on a screen in his classroom and students can provide a “lifeline” for other students as they work. This may not be the classroom that you recognize today, but his might very well be the classroom that will be the norm in only a few years’ time.

Finally, any discussion of on-line resources wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include some of the classics folks on Twitter:
@Julius_Caesar – in the persona of Caesar
@ClassicsNHHS – a thriving Latin program
@Hannibal248 – in the persona of the Carthaginian general
@MarcusTullius43 – in the persona of Cicero
@MagistraAguirre – a high school Latin teacher
@CarolineLawrenc – the author of the Roman Mysteries novels
@IVLIVSCAESAR – daily sentences from Plutarch by Laura Gibbs
@Caecilius – A middle school Latin teacher
@MagisterHoran – Check out his “Ask a Latin Teacher” posts
@GaryCorby – A novelist whose books are located in Ancient Greece

Some of these folks tweet as their persona, others provide useful resources for Latin, Greek, or ancient history.

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PerseusDigLibThere are so many websites out there, and yet not too many of them focus specifically on Latin and teaching Latin.  I think that Latin teachers are often expected to be as dusty as some of the texts we teach, living somewhere in the 1st century instead of the 21st. In reality there are some great on-line tools that every Latin teacher should subscribe to – or at least check out to see how they can supplement all the traditional tools.

Most Latin and Greek teachers are familiar with Perseus. This on-line tool originally created by Tufts University is a great reference to find original texts (and translations), word frequency, alternate forms, and more. There are art & archaeology, culture, and mythology resources. Teachers (particularly of advanced levels) should explore Perseus to get a better sense of how they and their students can take advantage of its vast resources.

There are several on-line dictionaries out there, but not all of them are very user-friendly.  TeachPaperless recently recommended that I use University of Notre Dame’s Latin Dictionary and Grammar Aid.  I’ve now linked this dictionary to my class pages because of its simplicity and accuracy.

To keep track of Latin in the news and other classical tidbits, I subscribe to LatinTeach, “a blog dedicated to the teaching and learning of Latin and the Classics.” Recent posts have shared professional development and courses available to Latin teachers and links on the anniversary of the founding of Rome.  When my colleagues ask me where I found the latest Classics news to share, more often than not it’s from LatinTeach.

Two such Classical resources that might be particularly useful to Latin teachers of all levels  are Pompeiiana and Latin Via Fables.  Teachers might remember Pompeiiana, the newsletter created by Bernard Barcio, that was mailed to schools once each month during the school year for nearly 20 years.  These included comics, puzzles, games, articles, and news updates for students of Latin. Recently the rights to these publications were granted to Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers who are now releasing the original newsletters online one issue at a time.  Clearly the most timely material, such as movie reviews or song title translations, is out of date.  But in Pompeiiana there remains a broad range of activities that are still relevent today.

Latin Via Fables is a Ning created by Laura Gibbs, the author of Aesop’s Fables and Latin Via Proverbs, among other titles.  This resource for teachers includes discussion groups, quizzes, vocabulary and many other tools that make reading the fables more valuable as a teaching/learning tool.

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