https://classroom.google.com and enter the appropriate class code (see above).
What's New for 2016-2017?
With the shift to block scheduling, it will be more important than ever for students to make use of Google Classroom. Like last year, I will be using Google Classroom to post lesson plans, provide reminders of "Next Day Preparation," links to websites, and more. Students will need to activate their accounts/reset passwords as soon as possible.
I will continue to incorporate more instruction in the target language (Latin). Latin 1, in fact, will be very different from previous years because I will be teaching using comprehensible input. Most of our class time will be conducted entirely in Latin but in a way that is comprehensible to all. (See "Why Speak Latin?" below.)
In all classes, I will now be limiting vocabulary to the Dickinson Core Latin Vocabulary--a list of 1000 most frequently used Latin words. This will significantly shorten many of the vocabulary lists, which will provide more time for mastering the key vocabulary.
Junior Classical League (JCL) Competitions
Latin 1s are expressly invited and encouraged to participate in the Junior Classical League. We are in Area F JCL. In the fall we will have a series of Certamen (quiz bowl) events at various schools in the Austin area. In the spring is the Area F JCL Convention, followed a month later by the State JCL convention in San Antonio. Nationals is in the summer in Alabama. I have yet to take Dripping Springs students to Nationals, but I feel like this will be a year of firsts.
Here is the current list of upcoming events:
Why teach Latin? Why even study Latin? I could quote facts and figures about the number of English words which derive from Latin. I could discuss improvements in verbal scores on exams or improvements in understanding grammar. I could talk about the development of logical thinking skills or indeed higher level thinking skills and the increase in the ability to analyze and evaluate things for details and overall effects. I could review the many things we in western culture have inherited from the Romans, from law and government to literature and art. I could sing its usefulness for careers in law and medicine, not to mention the biological sciences because of terminology.
But I study Latin and I teach Latin because I think what those writers of 2000 plus years ago (as well as those from later periods) had to say is still very important and deeply meaningful, especially in their own words. The wrote of living and dying, of wars and peace, of love and loss, of deeply moral philosophy and the dangers of immorality. These are all timely topics worthy of our attention, and worthy to hear in the writers' own words.
Moreover, I do not believe that Latin is a language for the elite, but is a language for everyone--from the academically gifted to the learning disabled. I try to teach in a manner that makes Latin accessible to all and enjoyable for all. My doors are always open, especially to those who truly just want to learn, or perhaps just catch my contagious enthusiasm.
Why Speak Latin?
This year the question may well be (for Latin 1) "Why speak Latin?" For years I have been dissatisfied with the lack of true acquisition and building of a mental representation of Latin in my students. While I love the Cambridge Latin Course and thoroughly understand its reading philosophy (and believe I teach it well), it still isn't enough to develop an internalization of the language because there just isn't enough "comprehensible input." For many years I have personally attended week long immersion programs that utilize many of the techniques I will be using in class to full effect this year.
To read more about the desire of many Latin teachers to move to a comprehensible input model of teaching Latin, please read this wonderful article by my friend and mentor Justin Slocum Bailey entitled "Teaching Latin to Humans."