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Fall 2015


Volume 19, Issue 2 Newsletter for the Excellence Through Classics (ETC), a standing committee of the American Classical League (ACL)

Miriam Patrick (left) and Rachel Ash (right) peruse their first novel, Pluto: Fabula Amoris.

Small beginnings,

great things

Two GA colleagues pen Latin reader aimed for students in their first to second year of study of the language. He was a lonely god trapped in a thankless job. She was a young goddess

colleagues at Parkview High School in Georgia, have written an early Latin

who didn't even know she wanted to fall in love. How will they work

novella. The reader oers a new interpretation of the Pluto and Proserpina

together and will they stay together? Rachel Ash and Miriam Patrick,

myth, with a very limited vocabulary of 148 words (not counting dierent Story continues on page 7



The American Classical League’s 2016

FALL 2015

Summer Institute will take place from Saturday, June 25 Tuesday, June 28, 2015 at the University of TXAustin.



Rachel Ash and Miriam Patrick, colleagues at Parkview High School in Georgia, have written an early Latin novella.


Find ways for students to talk more than you do. They will make mistakes. This is part of language learning, and they will gain confidence and engage more by doing it. 

CREATING A LIVING MAP PAGE 8 The author began using a shower curtain on which her students could portray Caesar’s adventures, depict his battles, and even label the conquered and vanquished.

From the Chair: Recognizing the giants on whose shoulders we stand "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Isaac Newton, letter to Robert Hooke, 1676 Salvēte, omnēs

Last year I attended the 51st annual meeting of the Classical Association of the Empire State (CAES) in Albany, NY. It was a warm, collegial group, and toward the end of the banquet, the participants were invited to come to the speaker’s podium and say why they became Latin teachers. Person after person stood and told stories of their own Latin teachers, teachers whose passion was evident, who inspired their students, who encouraged them, who showed them that teaching—Latin teaching — was an actual, viable, real-life job, and a fun one at that. We all felt a sense of profound gratitude for having known these teachers, and for getting to hear the stories of others just like our own. By the end of the banquet the tears were flowing, as we all recognized the giants on whose shoulders we stand. I must admit that I feel the same way going into ACL Institute. Latin teachers are so generous, and so willing to share; I get almost starstruck being in the same room with some of the giants of our profession.

A story is a great way to hook students; the narrative arc is compelling and satisfying; it mimics the stories that students read in textbooks and other 3rd person narratives; it’s exciting, and nothing is ever the same from class to class, year to year; and if nothing else it’s a great way to introduce and work more with vocabulary. Students internalize the rules of language, not by learning the rules per se (though in many classes they do eventually learn the rules) but by hearing understandable messages over and over. Comprehensible input can be as simple as greeting students at the door with a smile and wave and a hearty, “Salvēte, discipulī!” which is a simple, understandable message to students. TPRS and CI are making a real splash not because they are new, but because they are effective.

I offer my deepest gratitude to those willing to be a part of our special, warm, amazing community. It is on their shoulders that, I, and you, stand.

This previous summer I focused on learning more about Comprehensible Input (CI). I’ve been teaching using TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) for several years now, which is a method that works very well for me and for the 5th–8th graders I teach. TPRS focuses on telling stories to students that are interesting, understandable, and compelling, using targeted vocabulary structures and personalized with student input.

New giants arise to take the place of those who came before us. Tireless, hardworking men and women who are dedicated to Latin, to their students, to making the profession that much better, to sharing what they’ve learned.

We hear from a few in this issue of PRIMA: Jason Slanga of SALVI, offering tips for providing ways to speak in Latin the classroom; Miriam Patrick and Rachel Ash, who have written a reader a valuable form of comprehensible input for beginning Latin students, thus filling a much-needed gap; Shelly McCormick, offering tips for making Caesar that much more understandable with shower-curtain maps, an activity that could quickly and easily be used with spoken Latin. Of course, online, we also have blogs written by Latin teachers such as Keith Toda(todallycomprehensiblelatin.blogspot. com), Miriam Patrick and Rachel Ash


ETC chair, Michelle Gerard Ramahlo, is a Middle School Latin teacher at Seven Bridges Middle School, Chappaqua, New York.

(, ( Lance Piantaggini, and of course, Bob Patrick (, which offer rationale, tips, tricks, and ideas for teaching Latin using CI. We can keep that feeling of Institute alive by participating in online discussions and by reading blogs. When the closest Latin teacher may be hours away, the online communities offer instant answers, empathy and ideas. The ETC page on Facebook and ETC on Twitter all are linked to Latin teachers and elementary teachers who share their ideas and methods. I offer my deepest gratitude to those willing to be a part of our special, warm, amazing community. It is on their shoulders that, I, and you, stand. Curā ut valeās,

Michelle Gerard Ramahlo Chair, ETC

From the Editor:

Making magic happen Magical things happen in the classroom. And teachers of the classics are one of the most inventive bunches out there making magic happen daily in their classrooms. Creativity goes hand-inhand with what we do best. And the teaching of classics has come a long way from the very traditional confines of grammartranslation classes. Technology, an emphasis on oral language and comprehensible input and a charge to reach out to an everexpanding inclusive student audience have kept several of us late at night and questioning how to best deliver our craft. Well, fear not. This issue brings several opportunities to retro-fit your teacher’s toolbox. There are some among us who have seen a need in the classroom and have run to and not away from this opportunity to be creative, try something different and be brave enough to share their experiences with others.

McCormick is the World Languages and Cultures Department Chair and teaches all levels of Latin I through IV-AP McCormick creates a living map that provides a talking point for her younger students and a teaching aid for her AP students as they make the forced march through the literary topography of Caesar.

Not only are these teachers giving of themselves, these individuals are doing it freely. I don’t know about you, but I like free!

We should always strive to be the best in what we do. The mission of Excellence Through Classics (ETC) is to lead to the growth and development our field for others through our outreach.

Rachel Ash and Miriam Patrick, two educators from GA, are an educational two-some who have authored a novella to be used with introductory Latin students. In addition to publishing a short book – it’s on my bucket list of things to do, they both continue to blog about their experiences and have made many, if not all, of their ancillary materials free. Again, free, people!

No, it’s not about me, it’s not all about you, it’s about all of us. Let’s continue to focus on our students and being the best we can be. I salute our three Fall 2016 PRIMA contributors for leading the way. Lastly, PRIMA is looking to increase its outreach and I would appreciate hearing from those who would like to write as contributors or join the editorial board.

Jason Slanga, who has worked extensively with SALVI -- Septentrionale Americanum Latinitatis Vivae Institutum: North American Institute for Living Latin Studies – relays his personal odyssey in learning and practicing the Latin language.

Hearing from peers and featuring best practices is what PRIMA and ETC is all about. Please e-mail me directly if you are interested in writing!

At the time of my notes, Slanga was preparing himself for the Biduum Latinum Oklahomense—a full-immersion Latin weekend workshop held at the lovely Postoak Lodge & Retreat just outside Tulsa, OK. I got to him just before he was to take his vow to fully integrate himself into this weekend’s activities.

Thanks again to all who have contributed to this issue. Keep up the good work. Excelsior! Micheal A. Posey Editor, PRIMA

Shelly McCormick chronicles how she is able to unpack Caesar with the help of a $1 prop – a shower curtain. I know…a shower curtain! I can’t wait to try this project.


Working Towards a Living Latin Classroom Today's Latin classes look, sound very different than they did a few years ago When people ask me how I got into Latin, I always respond “The Spanish classes were full.” My career has been filled with these kinds of seemingly random twists of fate. After college I was hired at a school that already had a thriving Latin program, working with someone who would grow from just being a mentor to a colleague and someone as close to me as family.

While many observers to my classroom have experienced an environment without English, they do not see the years of work that it took to reach that point. My recommendation to all teachers setting out on Don't undertake this this path is to start slowly. Begin with greetings and journey alone. commands. It is a simple way to start each class by Collaborate with your saying “Salvete, colleagues in modern discipuli!” and having the language classrooms. class respond “Salve, magister/magistra!”

Take time to observe

A few years later I would find myself running the kitchen at a week long Latin immersion event. In another instance, a simple technology presentation eventually found me on the board of the Maryland Foreign Language Association. These experiences have turned my Latin experience into something far different from what I imagined in college, a language which truly comes alive in the classroom, where we can check our English at the door. Find ways for The transition to a classroom where Latin itself is the means of instruction, where teachers and students not only consume the language, but produce it extemporaneously, both verbally and in writing, includes a number of obstacles.

Instead of “raise your hands,” try “tollite manus.” Students will become accustomed to hearing Latin words and sentences, and responding appropriately. You in turn will become more confident using the language yourself.

them, and steal anything

My 2nd recommendation is to script everything. Knowing what you will say ahead of time will ease any anxiety you may have.

students to

talk more than you do. They will make mistakes. This is part of language learning, and they will gain confidence and engage more by doing it.

These include a hesitancy to move away from what is familiar, the way we learned as students and what has worked for us for years. Many teachers also doubt their own proficiency, not only in speaking Latin, but in the myriad and overwhelming methods used to teach language (the world of language education has no shortage of jargon, or conflicting view points).

This could be a very grammar oriented activity, like a substitution or transformation drill, or a story that you want to practice with the class, using lots of question-andanswer. Whatever it is, write it down, so that you have a reference when you're in the middle of the activity. Write it down, even if you think you don't have to.

Finally, and this is probably the most difficult, be quiet. Find ways for students to talk more than you do. Allow students to converse with one another, rather than just with the teacher. They will make mistakes. This is part of language learning, and they will gain confidence and engage more by doing it. It will also reveal to you what things are most important to students, and what language they are ready to learn.


Our contributor, Jason Slanga, has traveled to Italy under the auspices of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Slanga has spent his career learning to teach Latin as an active, spoken language and training other teachers to do the same through SALVI:

Don't undertake this journey alone. Collaborate with your colleagues in modern language classrooms. Take time to observe them, and steal anything you can. Become a member of your local and regional language associations, and attend their conferences (where there is a primary focus on pedagogy). Find other Latin teachers also trying to teach in the target language, so that you have someone to lean on when things get tough. Reach out to people online. There are several groups (check out Latin Best Practices) and regular events (try #langchat, Thursday nights on Twitter) full of other teachers, some Latin, some not, who are happy to answer your questions. Whatever you do, heed the advice of my friend Nancy Llewellyn: serva patientiam.

Contact Mr. Slanga at

The National Association of Secondary School Principals has placed the National Mythology Exam on the NASSP National Advisory List of Contests and Activities for 2010-2011.

National Mythology Exam and the Exploratory Latin Exam sponsored by the

American Classical League Excellence Through Classics Committee


MEET THE AUTHORS: Currently residing in Georgia, Ash has been teaching for thirteen years in three different states. Her teaching style and focus is always research-based methods that complement all learning styles, and her philosophy is about inclusive classrooms and learning. It is due to her wish to educate all types of students that Ash learned about and began researching first TPRS as a language-delivery style, and later the umbrella teaching philosophy that is comprehensible input. Ash has presented over educational technology, learning styles, and, most commonly, comprehensible methodology at the local, state, and national level. She is currently seeking her Master of Arts in Latin and plans to continue in graduate school to earn her Ph.D.

Continued from page 1 forms, black and white illustrations for each chapter and a full glossary in the back. The book runs approximately 1,050 words with a very limited vocabulary. The pair not only worked to publish the book on Amazon, but they also offer the novella in complete form online for free and are compiling teacher resources for the novella, also offered online for free. The book’s resources can be accessed here: http:// publications.html. Pomegranate Beginnings was founded by Ash and Patrick once they realized how similar their teaching philosophies were. Their shared enthusiasm for the Classics has made writing the book, maintaining a blog, and offering their ideas and activities a joy for both teachers. The magistrae published their book for a simple reason. For years, both wanted a book like this one to use in their classes, and they finally decided to create the book they wanted themselves.

reading that does not have a high variety of vocabulary) even through Latin II.

Patrick has been teaching for six years in public schools and has long been passionate about Latin and teaching. Patrick strives to teach all types of students and uses research based teaching methods in her classroom. In addition to teaching, Patrick maintains membership in the professional teacher community, and attends and presents at local, regional, and national levels. She has presented on a variety of topics, most recently, focusing on Comprehensible Input methods and ideas. Patrick is currently working on a Master’s of Arts degree in Latin and plans to continue her studies to obtain a Ph.D. as well.

Cover of Pluto: Fabula Amoris, published by Pomegranate Beginnings and available now on Amazon.

The reader offers a novel interpretation of the Pluto and Proserpina myth with limited vocabulary for early Latin students

Patrick is beginning the novel with her own students this fall and Ash plans “to utilize the novella for my Latin II students as a quick warm up back to Latin when we return from winter break in January.”

One of the illustrations from the book. The image represents Proserpina's childhood with her mother Ceres.

Aside from official class use, the novel is a warm, playful account of the “love story” of Pluto and Proserpina and an enjoyable read for anyone interested in Latin.

Contact Ms. Ash at Contact Ms. Patrick at

The book was written for students in their first year of Latin—not only their first year but at the end of their first quarter. However, Ash and Patrick both agree that the book could be useful for limited extended reading (a longer


NEWS & NOTES Shelly McCormick works at Clear Lake High School in Houston, TX, where she is the World Languages and Cultures Department Chair, and teaches all levels of Latin I through IV-AP.

Teaching Roman geography on a shoestring budget

Take a trip back in time to Ancient Rome! Explore Caesar’s battles and adventures creatively with your students Story continues on page 9


Continued from page 8

The first time I ever taught Caesar in my upper-level Latin classes (before it became part of the Advanced Placement exam), the students were bored, interested neither in where Caesar placed his encampments nor where the Belgae, Aquitani, or Galli lived. Battles blended into one another. We trudged through as many chapters as we could before I lost them completely. I knew I had to do something different the next year or be in danger of becoming bored myself. At a generic foreign language teacher workshop, another teacher had described how she used a shower curtain for some project that she did with her students (I cannot remember what). It was sturdy, didn’t tear without difficulty, and was easy to add to. It occurred to me that we could make Caesar more alive if the students could see where he was going and what he was doing more vividly. And I began using a shower curtain on which the students could portray his adventures, depict his battles, and even label the conquered and vanquished. I’ve been creating a Caesar shower curtain for over ten years now and making that map is actually what keeps some students in Latin through

Advanced Placement – they want to make their own. No two maps ever look the same – it depends on the personality of the students involved. Sometimes it’s amazing and other times it can be rather sparse. Before we even begin reading, using an overhead projector and a map of France, we trace the outline of all of Gaul, northern Hispania and Italia, southern Britannia, and just a bit of western Germania onto a plain white shower curtain (cost: $1 at the Dollar Store).

This past year my students were exceptionally active, and they labelled the name of every town where Caesar wintered his troops. They drew some of his generals on cardstock, and as the generals moved in the story, so did they move about the map, held on with scotch tape. For fun, we watched a clip from the 2006 film “The Wicker Man” with Nicolas Cage when reading about the Druids. Needless to say, Nicolas Cage’s head appeared on the map the next day, in the middle of a hand-drawn wicker man.

While reading the first On average, we add to the map chapters, students will go to at least once a week, the map and add the sometimes as much as three or mountains, rivers, and tribes four times. described by Caesar. It is the students’ It is the students’ invention and They’ll add the invention and responsibility, not mine. huts of the Lately, each class wants responsibility, not Helvetians, and mine. Lately, each to outdo the map sometimes even created the year before, class wants to draw their rafts. so they seem to be outdo the map The students getting more colorful created the year themselves and more detailed. before, so they typically decide seem to be getting It is a great tool for what to put on more colorful and the map and helping the students when. understand an more detailed. otherwise difficult story When Caesar line with so many tribes, “invades” places, and characters. Britannia (for lack of a better word), the students will often And Caesar isn’t boring paste small ships and horses anymore. swimming in the English Contact Ms. McCormick Channel.


ETC Executive Committee Michelle Ramahlo Chair

Ruth Ann Besse Secretary

Krystal Kubichek Vice Chair

K.C. Kless Immediate Past Chair

Allison Fiegel National Mythology Chair

Megan Gorman Elementary Latin Chair

Andrew Carroll Exam Activity Packet Editor

Sherwin Little Administrator

Zee Ann Poerio Classics Club Chair

Micheal A. Posey PRIMA editor

Deadline for PRIMA SPRING submissions is March 15!

ETC is now on Facebook (search for Excellence Through Classics). Like us now! Follow us on Twitter (search for etclassics).

The American Classical League Excellence Through Classics for Elementary and Middle Levels 860 NW WASHINGTON BLVD. SUITE A HAMILTON, OH 45013


PRIMA-Fall 2015  

Newsletter sponsored by Excellence Through Classics (ETC), a standing organization of the American Classical League (ACL).

PRIMA-Fall 2015  

Newsletter sponsored by Excellence Through Classics (ETC), a standing organization of the American Classical League (ACL).