Jump to content


Where classical school and homeschool teachers talk.



Discussion Starts Here.

For the Children's Sake.

Learn from Others.

Add Your Voice to the Conversation.

Glad You Are Here.

Give Us Your Question.


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by JTB_5

  1. Welcome, Sara! What has brought you to ClassicalU Forum?
  2. How do you make haste slowly in your lesson planning? What does it look like in your classroom or homeschool environment?
  3. Anthea, I've not read The Black Arrow, so I can't honestly comment on its value. The nice thing about Dickens (or Shakespeare) is that there are inexpensive editions. I hope whatever choice you make turns out well!
  4. I love Tolkien and Lewis, but your list is pretty heavy on fantasy. Shakespeare would be a good choice, but only if you have the students read it in parts (or watch the play before or after reading). What about something like Robinson Crusoe or a Dickens book like Great Expectations? Lord of the Flies would be an appropriate choice for that age, as well.
  5. I suppose there are some general principles that could be laid out, but I also imagine that applying them will look different depending on the age of the student and the objective. An example from my own teaching: I have my senior rhetoric students memorize and perform several speeches from Shakespeare. My goal is three-fold: 1) to have etched in their mind well-crafted words, 2) to better understand human nature, which Shakespeare displays so well, and 3) to have better command of their own rhetorical delivery. First, I perform the speech for the students, to show them a model of what they will themselves look like when they've completed the task. From this point forward, we'll practice the speech in class daily as a simple repetitive exercise until the students have the speech memorized. I have a variety of exercises beyond bare repetition to help the students enjoy the activity in different capacities (for example, I'll have one student be an actor and another be a director who must order changes of emotion--angry, sad, happy, contemplative, etc.--just to get the students thinking about what such emotions would look and sound like with the words). Second, we watch other examples of actor portrayals and discuss the different choices that the actors have made. This allows the students to see that the character isn't limited to one way of portrayal, but it also sets up opportunity for debate once we've read the play and have to draw some hard conclusions about the character that will close off some interpretations actors have made. I also use John Barton's Playing Shakespeare video series to help students understand some of the principles that go into performing a character in Shakespeare. Third, we read aloud the play together, pausing to make sure everyone understands the action, and to discuss the character whose speech we are memorizing at various points in the play. At this point the students know the speech pretty well, but having it in context often brings out things they hadn't considered before, and maybe even impact how they've imagined the pace or emotion of the speech that they've been assuming (or adopting from one of the examples). By this time the students have pretty well memorized the speech and made their own choices about performing the character. Fourth, we watch a version the play together to put the whole package together and as a kind of celebration of their work. Even my weakest speaking students perform beyond their average ability, and they all come to some clearer understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare's characters (and I hope, though it is harder to tell, of human characters), though they don't always agree with me :-).
  6. David Smith gave a talk at the Alcuin Retreat in 2014 (I think), which used to be available, but has since disappeared. He taught an upper level German language course to college students in a unique way that perfectly illustrates what "attention getting and keeping" can look like. Instead of giving a spoken lecture on German culture, he decided to open a window into a very tiny slice of Germany during a time when non-Germans would consider most Germans to be monsters: WWII. His goal was to have his students see Germans as human beings with whom they could relate--to make the foreigner into a neighbor. He did this by having a sign at the classroom door indicating that the students should enter silently. The room was darkened and a single black and white photograph was projected onto the front wall or board in the room. After giving the students a few minutes to just look at the photograph he began asking them questions, beginning with very basic things like "how many people are in the picture." When the students seemed to be getting hasty or too rhythmic in their responses, he would interject another question that would challenge an observation or get the students to think again, more carefully. What this did was cause the natural curiosity of the students to engage in the story behind the photograph--Who were these people? What were they doing? Where were they doing it? Why were they doing it? The picture happened to be one of Sophie Scholl and her brother, two university students who secretly protested the Nazi government during WWII (along with several other students), and who the Nazi eventually caught and executed. The students not only were engaged in the photograph and its story, but were introduced to Germans, real Germans who did real things with which the students themselves would be sympathetic to and identify with as university students and haters of Naziism themselves. I think Smith's illustration shows the potential of getting attention, but also shows how much thought and planning it can take to ensure that attention is directed toward some desired end. Truth, Goodness, and Beauty are abstract values, which must be attended to in the concrete particulars where they are manifest. The job of the teacher or the parent is to train a child's attention on the concrete in such a way that the abstract values become apparent--if not to the mind and affections both, then at least to the affections.
  7. Some aspects of teaching style vary depending upon the age of the student, but one constant is imitation. Whether in writing or in speaking, the most palpable and long-lasting agent for student development comes through the imitation of good examples and the recognition of error through observing and analyzing bad examples. Above any other methods, I'd say imitation is the only failsafe. I like to use Corbett's method of writing imitation, which he lays out in Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. I've also taken the Four Categories of Change and collected the figures of speech associated with them and had students insert figures of speech into samples of prose, or write their own prose using the figures. It makes for some clunky and bad style in many cases, but it does force them to think about what the figures look like, mean, and how they get used. I've also had student find certain figures of speech in Shakespeare plays (usually Julius Caesar, but I've also used Merchant of Venice). Familiarity with the figures doesn't necessarily improve style, but does help them recognize it a bit. As resources on the figures, I've also found Ward Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric and Classical English Metaphor indispensable aides.
  8. Thanks for posting this, Patrick! I recall listening to that podcast episode. One of my side projects is to read through several translations of The Iliad (and also the Odyssey) and get familiar enough to use it to supplement rhetorical instruction (if not eventually replace it!)
  9. If one takes the term "religious" broadly, then I don't think it is possible to have a classical education without religious foundation. It has never been done before in the history of man, and modern education that has sought to eliminate religious authority has jettisoned classical as well--precisely because the two cannot be separated, I'd argue.
  10. We are surrounded by easy distractions. It takes no effort to give over to them. Poverty has its own temptations, but they seem far less numerous than those of luxury. God help us!
  11. I know that laziness is a part of it--it requires much less effort to plop kids down in front of a screen than to keep their attention with your own creativity and purpose. Also, perhaps, bad faith in children's own ability to find creative activities for themselves in the down times of life. I also think a lack of training for parents contributes--many parents today were children of television and video games in their own childhood, so it takes a lot of undoing or making up for lack of experience.
  12. Good luck! If you want some help planning, I can put you in touch with someone here who did a lot of the planning. I know our event was pretty intensive because they had a theme each year and had volunteers help decorate and set it up. Let me know!
  13. I am no expert, but I suspect that a deeper appreciation of music (of any kind, but particularly classical music) comes through advancement in music literacy. Along those lines, Jarrod Richey has been doing a lot in the Classical Education community toward helping educators and parents give music literacy to their students and children. http://www.jarrodrichey.com/ I haven't read his book, but I know of some of the things Jarrod has been doing that, to me, seem very exciting and helpful.
  14. I do wish that ACCS and SCL had scholarships available for homeschool educators. I would never be able to go to either without help from the school where I work.
  15. Our school has a formal dance in the late Winter (February) that they spend several weeks learning the dances and etiquette for. It has gone very well and many of the parents (and teachers) have participated.
  16. We have a few field trips that we do in middle and upper schools--often combined with grammar schools. When the students in grammar and logic are learning about the solar system, they take a trip together to the local planetarium. When the students in grammar and logic are learning about animal kingdoms, they take a trip together to the local zoo. We have a dedicated Marine Biology class for seniors, and they take a monthly trip to the bay to take samples. The Jrs. and Srs. take a trip to Washington D.C. and NYC in alternating years. The Srs. take a trip with the Kindergarteners to pick strawberries. There are a few others I'm probably missing as well. Pedagogically, I think the combined grammar/logic trips give the older students an opportunity to serve the smaller children and gain some experience with responsibility. I'm not sure how much they get academically. The Marine Biology trips are very good experience. The Jr./Sr. trips are very rewarding, but also require a lot of fundraising. The Sr./K5 trip is mostly just fun.
  17. I've not heard Grant Horner in person (I did watch a video of him leading a class in Socratic dialogue), but he seems like a man with a wealth of knowledge and with the clarity to convey it. I saw that you were presenting! I submitted something this year, but was not selected. However, just the other day I received an email to participate in a panel discussion on Rethinking Rhetoric (it is about "converting" the senior thesis project to be "ethics based"). Apparently they've added two more workshops on Thursday in conjunction with the panel, which will be at the end of the day. Scott Yenor will be presenting on an "ethical rather than science-based foundation" for schools, and Chris Schlect will be presenting on "declamation as capstone." I'm interested to hear what the other panelists have to say about what schools will be "converting" from, since I have been under the assumption that most ACCS schools have humanities topics more often than scientific research topics for their senior thesis. I'm also interested in what their take will be on the term "ethics based." I could see it going in at least three directions (I even contacted Christ Schlect yesterday to see what his thoughts were on the conversation). The panel is supposed to be about the practical side of implementing "ethics based" projects in the classroom, so I wonder if, as the only non-collegiate-level teacher on the panel I'll be having to bear the load of trying to apply Yenor and Schlect's ideas to high school classroom and scope & sequence constraints. Your topic sounds very interesting Patrick. I was just speaking with a Justin Hughes the other day about using more art in teaching history. He had been putting together a slideshow for his class and discovered Khan Academy's resources on art history and was lauding their quality and the easy interface. Do you have favorite resources that you'll be sharing during your workshop?
  18. Our school is taking the teachers and some parents to the ACCS Conference (Association of Classical and Christian Schools). It has been a couple of years since I've attended an ACCS conference, but I always try to see Christopher Schlect's lectures. Recently he has been doing more on lesson planning and class lecturing/discussion/exercises. He is a masterful teacher, and is able to communicate both the big idea/theory and its application clearly. He's a must see. I've used some of his lesson planning strategies, as well as (unsuccessfully in too many cases) his maxim to punctuate lessons by having something for the first five minutes to get students engaged, and the last five minutes to either wrap things up, or leave a question for continued consideration. I also try to see Steve Turley at ACCS. He's usually got a good bit of research behind his talks, and puts things in ways that aren't obvious. His lectures tend to get me to think about what I'm doing differently, rather than change a practice. Josh Gibbs is also phenomenal. He usually balances between saying things in a way that is surprising, but also having something to implement immediately or over time. I've only been to one SCL Conference (Society for Classical Learning), but I found the atmosphere to be more intimate and relaxed (in a good way) than ACCS. I had more time to sit down and talk with people at SCL. SCL seemed to cater more to teachers as teachers, whereas ACCS seemed to aim at parents and teachers as members of the Classical Education movement. It is tough to compare because I've only been to one SCL conference, whereas I've been to four or five ACCS conferences (and they've grown bigger each year). What about you, Paul?
  19. Athenaze is Attic Greek. I don't know the value of choosing one over the other in general, but if the goal of studying is to eventually read, then the difference will be whether you want the reading of Scripture in the original Greek or the reading of Classical Greek Literature is your priority (or, perhaps whether the student will be going on to a Bible program in college where Koine will be better, or a Classics program where Attic will be better).
  20. I don't know if it would work for homeschool, but we use Athenaze I and II in our Greek classes.
  21. I've had the chance to review (but not use) both of the Rhetoric Alive! books and I think they would work quite well for homeschool education (or schoolhouse education).
  22. Hope your trip goes well, Karen! (I won't be at the meeting, by the way)
  23. That's a good idea! I hadn't planned on researching (he probably won't have time before the assessment to find them all), but doing place settings each night would be fun (probably have to do multiple names per setting in order to get them all in on time).
  24. Maybe I can have him make place cards for an imaginary dinner where all 45 Presidents are invited? The combination of artistry and occasion may make it both more fun and more conducive to memory. What do you think?
  • Create New...