Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dickens at Christmas

On Christmases past, we've read A Christmas Carol together as a family, but this year we settled for watching the old classic Alastair Sim movie as we have to finish Pickwick papers read-together. It was interesting to discover here that Dickens commissioned the artist John Leech to produce 4 hand-colored etchings and 4 wood engravings for the volume. Leech had been forced to abandon his medical studies (he excelled at anatomical drawing) because of the bankruptcy of his family, but was able to support himself as an artist and became the chief cartoonist for Punch.

Recently for our son's Veritas Press Omnibus classs he had fun with the challenge of writing in Charles Dickens' maximalist style. The assignment was to expand a sentence in a Dickensian fashion (for those of you who are curious, Dickens was not infrequently paid by the number of words...)

The starter sentence: "Beebo Appleby walked into the room, looked out the window, and patted his jacket pocket. He heard his mother's footsteps approaching and turned to the door to greet her."

Our son's: "Beebo Horatius Appleby wheezed and puffed through his plump, pursed lips as he waddled his massive girth into the narrow parlor of his cozy country cottage. In the dim light cast by the fireplace, one might almost have mistaken him for a great bespectacled Christmas goose (a goose, by the way, ample enough to feed a very large, and very hungry family.) His chubby face was ruddy and moist with perspiration, but the haunted look in his sunken, squinting eyes suggested this was less a product of physical exertion than of some secret strain. As his inertia carried him over to the window and he absently gazed at the gently drifting snow, glowing eerily in the moonlight like a ghost-filled graveyard, his hand moved, almost unbidden, to his breastpocket. In it was his father's last will and testament, which he realized, much to his discomfort, that he would have to discuss with his grieving mother. All of a sudden, he heard a rap-tap-tapping coming down the hall in his direction. He steeled himself in preparation for what he was about to endure, and turned towards the door."

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Getting Ready for Christmas - Virtual Volunteering to Help a Christian Homeless Ministry

We're getting ready for Christmas, and we had been talking with our teen son about taking on a volunteer experience to 'give back' some of his blessings that have come his way. We also had talked about making a choice that might build on what we thought some of our personal gifts might be. As a result of this discussion, he searched the options for volunteering at and decided to sign up as a web ministry intern with Hoskins Park Ministry, a ministry to the homeless in Charlotte, North Carolina. If you would like to support the homeless this Christmas season, consider donating to their cause. Theirs is really a mustard seed ministry, coming along side individual men, women, and families, helping bridge the gap between emergency shelters and independent living. They help provide safe homes, Christian fellowship, and practical living, medical, and other assistance that helps people get out of the cycle of poverty and abuse. There are limits that people can stay in emergency housing, and especially with the grim outlook on jobs, without places like Hoskins Park, the previously-homeless have a hard time getting back on track, holding down jobs, and being able to afford rent and utilities.

He's only just started working with Hoskins Park (first trying to improve the website design, but also search engine optimization), but we've had family meetings together trying to help with suggestions, and its already been a blessing...and hopefully we can offer some help to them. If you haven't thought engaging in a volunteer work as a family, we highly recommend it. Right now we just have great plans. Maybe later in the upcoming year, we'll be able to update with what we've been able to accomplish.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Loyalist vs. Patriot Debate in American History

Our son had fun writing his Patriot position for the upcoming class debate in his Omnibus course. He is supposed to counter the argument that the colonialists should be grateful to England for her protection.

He found this link and the Declaration of Independence very helpful for his research. This is a great activity for synthesizing information about the origins of revolutionary war, making arguments, and persuasion / rhetoric.

His speech:

My fellow Patriots, it has been suggested that the Colonists should be grateful or indebted to the British. I vehemently disagree.

Some have said that we should be grateful to the British for fighting with us in the French and Indian War. After all, they say, our men fought alongside your men, and our men died alongside your men. The Colonists and the Crown both helped win the war against the French and the Indians, and both of us benefited from the defeat.

I pose that England did not enter the war simply to aid us, though, but solely to fatten herself. The British now hold vast tracts of land in America and freely trade fish and fur.

But, my fellow Patriots, there are many questions we should ask ourselves regarding our gratitude to Britain. Should we be grateful for the British blockade of our trade with the rest of the world, impoverishing the hardworking citizens of this country and making us reliant on the scraps King George gives us? Should we be grateful for England's refusal to pay us back for the loans we were forced to give Her Majesty for the war? Should we be grateful that Parliament has abolished our laws and stifled our entire system of government? And should we be grateful that the Crown has sent us armed troops for the purpose of threatening us, shielding them from any punishment should they murder our citizens? Should we be grateful for the deaths of Samuel Gray, James Caldwell, Samuel Maverick, Patrick Carr, and Crispus Attucks, all of whom were murdered by the British troops in the Boston Massacre?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Classical Education: Don't Let This Happen to You...Oh no, I forgot to think!

You'd think classical educators (parents and formal teachers) would be among the last to commit this mistake, but perhaps this yet another mistake. Because classical texts are so difficult to decode in the first place, we think our work is done if our kids can read the Great Books, understand basically what they mean, and do well enough in the challenging work assigned to them. But it is surprisingly easy for all of us to be swept up in the work of this education (Latin nouns to decline, etc.) that we forget to think and we forget to ask our children to think, too.

Oh no, you might say. I'm not ready. I'm just getting through Aeschylus, and want to be through Zeno before I...

Well, there's no time like today. It's not enough to work through the texts. Our kids need practice thinking through why they believe what they do, and they need to practice thinking, considering other viewpoints, and really grappling to understand why they believe what they do, where are their gray areas, and what they might reconsider.

We've recently as a family been watching and debating the issues of Michael Sandel's Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do course at Harvard. It was last available on the Internet 3 years ago and its replaying with free videos on, Discussion guides, and Discussions forums (haven't tried the latter). The content is for older children and preview it to see if it might be appropriate for you. Sandel presents some extreme cases to get participants to reflect on what they believe and why.

Last night, we had a spirited discussion at home as Brock put our son in the 'hot seat' having to answer some of the discussion guide questions such as:

1. Is it unjust for the government to require people to wear seatbelts and not engage in self-endangering activities?
2. Should the government legalize narcotics?
3. Should there be a minimum wage?

We're on Lecture 3 out of 12, and Sandel discussed the viewpoint of Libertarianism and Robert Nozick. We've just finished Jeremy Bentham and Utilitarianism and John Stuart Mill's view of liberty and higher and lower good. A surprisingly wide discussion of topics arose from this film, rights of individuals and statism, the definition of good in a pluralistic society, economics, and political differences.

I think it's especially important to connect classical ideas with contemporary challenges and its programs like this that help bridge the gap

So whether you're a lifelong or newly minted student of classical education, don't forget to think!

Artist: Roy Lichtenstein

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Largest Anglo-Saxon Treasure Found in the UK

An amateur treasure hunter with a metal detector found the largest Anglo-Saxon treasure ever discovered. It was found on a friend's farm. The inscription above is from the Bible.

Anglo Saxon Treasure

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Classical Argumentation like the Ancients

This summer our son is taking a course "Molding Your Argument" from It's already turning out to be a great course. The assignments were first to write brief paragraphs argue the pros and cons of a position (he chose censorship in the movies". Next he was asked to elaborate on the paragraphs with specific guidelines (3 sentences pieces of evidence per paragraph). His next assignment is even tougher - they are to emulate the argumentation style of Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas apparently begins arguing a position that he does not believe in - then provides a compelling counter-argument, ending with a pithy summation.

I think it's so great to give kids the chance to manipulate arguments independent of the content - because that's a lot of the art of writing - and much can be gained from imitation. For gifted kids who get the analysis-paralysis ("Don't know what I want to say because I can think of pros and cons boths ways") - this is a perfect outlet.

He gave us his permission to post his work:

Week 1:

Should movies be censored?

Movies should be censored because messages of extreme violence and overt sexuality are harmful to the mental well-being of viewers and, ultimately, to the community as a whole.

Research in the field of psychology has shown that violence in the media increases aggression. Also, in the cases of murder and other serious crimes inflicting pain and suffering, perpetrators have admitted that movies had a role in inspiring their actions. Finally, movies have a powerful desensitizing effect on morality so that extreme negative images of sexuality and hatred can be a corrupting influence on impressionable audiences.
Given this clear evidence of the impact movies have on viewers, movies should be censored.

Movies should not be censored because it would inhibit freedom of expression, it would not deter violence or immorality, and it is unconstitutional.
Freedom of expression is an essential requirement of any democracy and censorship is in complete opposition to freedom of expression. Censorship would not deter violence or immorality; the 1930s, the time of the movie censorship guidelines of the Hays Code, was one of the most violent and corrupt times in American history.

Finally, movies should not be censored because doing so would violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads, in part, "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech."
Movies should not be censored, because freedom of expression is an essential feature of our society.


Week 2:

Movies should be censored because messages of extreme violence and overt sexuality are harmful to the mental well-being of viewers and, ultimately, to society as a whole.

First of all, research in the field of psychology has shown that violence in the media increases aggression. Psychological researchers have observed that children who watch violent shows are much more likely to hit other children and break toys. Older children who watch violent television at home were more likely to behave more aggressively in school, and when researchers followed these children over the years, they discovered that they were more likely to get in trouble with the law as teenagers.When these teenagers were 30 years old, they were more likely to be convicted of serious crimes, to use violence to discipline their children, and to treat their spouses aggressively. All of the data demonstrates the powerful effect that movies and television have on young people.

Second, movies have a powerful desensitizing effect on morality so that extreme negative images of sexuality and hatred can corrupt impressionable audiences. Studies have shown that that people who are repeatedly exposed to media violence tend to be less disturbed when they witness real world violence, and have less sympathy for its victims. Viewers who watch large amounts of media violence are less likely to show increases in physiological arousal, such as increased heart rate or change in galvanic skin responses, when they view violent acts. Also, in studies of men and women who were repeatedly exposed to sexual violence in the media, researchers have shown that attitudes and behaviors changed. Both the men and the women showed less sympathy and empathy towards rape victims. Sensitivity to the suffering and conditions of others is essential to living a moral life and a requirement of a moral society.

Third, there are also many instances in which violent movies have had a direct role in inspiring people to inflict pain, suffering, and death on others. For instance, the release of the horror thriller film Scream influenced a series of copycat murders. At least nine murders around the world have been directly linked to the movie. Movies, video games, and music with violent and hateful content have also been implicated in many mass shootings, such as the Columbine massacre. Extremely violent movies have had and will continue to have a negative effect on individuals, as well as society as a whole.

Given this clear evidence of the impact movies have on viewers, extreme content in movies should be censored. A failure to do so would inflict irreparable damage upon the moral fabric of our society. The moral health of our society is based on sensitivity, empathy, and sympathy toward the suffering of others, and an ability to interact through non-aggressive means. Overwhelming evidence indicates that when morally repugnant content escapes censorship, negative effects on society have resulted, including the increased aggressiveness and lawlessness of young people, more immoral acts, including the harming and killing of people, and the desensitization of men and women to violence and hatred. When movie makers transgress the boundaries of human decency, society has a right to censor corrupting and hatred-inciting material.


Week 3:

The right for movies to be free from censorship must be protected. Our country is founded upon principles of freedom of expression, and freedom of expression is necessary for a thriving democracy to have differences of opinion freely discussed, debated, and considered. Despite the good intentions of those who advocate the censorship of movies, there is no evidence that banning objectionable movie content would deter violence or immorality. In practice, also, it is not possible to successfully regulate censorship because morals and values differ among all people. Therefore, I strongly urge that movies should not be subjected to censorship.

For any democracy, freedom of expression is necessary for a government to truly be ruled by the people, and censorship is in complete opposition to freedom of expression. In fact, it is in direct opposition to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads, in part, "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech."
Prohibiting content cuts off discussion of controversial worldviews, and it can stifle opposing opinions.
Tyrannies and totalitarian dictatorships thrive on censorship and a lack of freedom of expression.
Do we want our democracy to become a dictatorships?

Some argue that movie censorship deters violence or immorality, but there is no good evidence that this is the case.
The 1930s, the time of the strict movie censorship guidelines of the Hays Code, was a time of gangsters and organized crime.
Violence and immorality have been ubiquitous since the time of Adam and Eve, and they cannot be prevented by media regulation.
If violent media such as movies and games are responsible for inciting violence, why has the rate of violence among children decreased since the 1990s?
Media violence is not to blame for the irresponsible actions of other people.

Finally, censorship is impossible to successfully regulate.
The standards of moral behavior differ between people, religions, and cultures; there is no single standard of morality by which to prohibit objectionable material. Who is qualified to decide what is appropriate and what is not?
It is also impossible to regulate all the intentions of a film; for instance, a filmmaker with an anti-war sentiment might depict extreme images of violence and death, hoping to encourage his viewers to hate war.
Who is to judge?

In conclusion, it is vital that we protect the right for movies to be free from censorship because freedom of expression, whether it be in the spoken word, in print, or in film, is an essential feature of our free society. Although it is often alleged that the media incites violent and immoral behavior, violence and immorality have always been part and parcel of the human condition, and they always will be. In fact, there is evidence that violent acts in the media actually decreases real-world violence. In practice, censorship is also impossible to regulate and implement, because no single person or group can decide what is or is not appropriate, and censors cannot ban the bad thoughts and actions of others. Movie censorship is misguided and dangerous and should be opposed.

Picture Roman Orator

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Revealing the Parthenon's True Colors

Using a very sensitive technique, archeologists have been able to find traces of residual paint on figures within the Parthenon, like Egyptian Blue on the belt of Poseidon.

Parthenon's hidden color

Friday, May 1, 2009

Writing a Dante's Inferno-Like Satire

Our son recently chose to write a Dante's inferno-like satire for his Omnibus class through Veritas Academy. Here it is:

The Heaven of the Philosophers


Krister Eide

At the midpoint of my adolescence, I found myself in a dark cavern. There was a dim red glow. The air was thick, musty, and hot, as in some ancient and poorly air-conditioned library in the middle of summer. I found it difficult to breathe without collapsing.

I saw the faint outline of a man in the distance. From what I could gather, he appeared to be a middle-aged man, and as with many middle-aged men there appeared to be a good deal of him about the middle. He came forward with a reassuring smile on his face and stood beside me, then put his hand on my shoulder.

"My name is Clive. Don't worry. I'm going to guide you. You will see some fascinating things in this place." He gave me a wry smile and gestured at me to follow him.

I followed Clive into a large, dimly-lit room. The walls, the ceiling, and the floor were all made up of dingy, warped mirrors. Throughout the room, I saw men standing on pedestals, all wearing different kinds of clothing, and each facing one of the mirrors. I inched my way through the crowded room towards one of the men who grabbed my fancy by his distinguished appearance. He was a handsome-looking person who wore a powdered wig and a red velvet waistcoat with brass buttons. He was looking around the room, observing his reflection from various angles, then he caught a glimpse of us staring at him in his mirror. He smiled, adjusted his clothing, and turned towards us.

"Come in, come in", the man said. "My name is François-Marie Arouet, but you might know me better by my nom de plume of Voltaire." He turned to look at himself in the mirror again. "You caught me in the middle of one of my finest soliloquies, and I cannot be troubled to begin again. As I was saying, this simpleton Rousseau appears to demand that we walk on all fours like... like common beasts!" The man adjusted his wig. "Man, the most perfect of creatures, the archetype of angels, behaving like savages! But man, it is a noble creature. And mankind at its height--" here he adopted a noble pose and glanced at himself fondly in the mirror from the corner of his eye "--is a paragon of reason."

"What?!" came an astonished and angry cry from across the room. Another man, presumably Rousseau, leapt off his pedestal and walked towards the first man, flailing his arms in anger. "You corrupt devil!" he shouted. "I never stated that men should act like savages! We have not the purity of soul now to resume our native innocence even if we should wish it, so corrupted have we been by the evils of society! I simply stated that men in their current condition should not have everything they want handed to them on a platter! You're putting false words into my mouth. You are a vain and foolish man! You are the very face of corruption itself, dressing like a fop with your finely laced shoes and your powdered wig! You are the perfect demonstration and proof of the truth of my brilliant observations!"

"C'est ridicule! You're just reinforcing my point, now aren't you?" Voltaire's face turned the color of a beet as he clenched his fists. "You want all men to be savages, and you act like a savage! How dare you interrupt me with such nonsense!" Voltaire replied.

Rousseau responded by knocking Voltaire off his pedestal and onto the ground. Voltaire lunged at Rousseau, and the two wrestled on the ground. Demons started to surround the two men, cheering on the fight. Clive whispered into my ear, "Perhaps we'd better move on to the next area."

The two of us walked on down a dark, musty corridor of mirrors. The air grew heavier and heavier, until we finally caught sight of a tiny lantern that dimly illuminated the scenery. When we got closer to it, I saw that it was being carried by an old, bearded man wearing a toga. He looked at us rather skeptically. "I am looking for a human being," he explained, "but all I can find are rascals and scoundrels." He took another look at us, and appeared disappointed by what he saw.

"Have you looked for a carpenter from Nazareth?" Clive replied. "He is the light of the world."

"Bah!" The man scowled and walked past us.

We eventually found ourselves in a somewhat larger room. I saw a dark-haired, bespectacled, mustachioed man wearing a smoking jacket. He was standing on top of a pedestal, similar to those Voltaire and Rousseau had stood upon. Despite his predicament, he seemed rather cheerful. He seemed to observe my surprise at his attitude, and this made him smile all the more. "Ah, you seem to be surprised by how contented I am."

"I must admit--" I began, but the man cut me off.

"That's because you do not understand the greatness of the tragic artistic consciousness. I will my greatness, therefore I am great, even in these surroundings. I create my heaven, therefore heaven surrounds me. I am as happy in this heaven of hells as I was in Germany! Never forget, man is the play-actor of his ideals. Little wonder these fools around me still act as fools. Yet I, I am still the tragic hero."

"It is grand, I admit," I replied, "but don't you think it's a little silly when you could go to the true heaven if you chose?"

"Ah, but you see, it wouldn't be true to me. The truest mark of a great man is his overcoming of the prejudice of truth over the creative fantasy of the individual will. Where would I be if I preferred the true heaven over my heaven? I would be a mere bit-player in God's drama, rather than the star, writer, and director of my own--uh, could you move a bit, you're standing in my light."

I shifted a bit and the man went on with this self-aggrandizing drivel. We heard words like "master" and "slave" and "power" and "will", but all these words began to swirl together in my mind. Clive looked at me and said, "Perhaps its best to move on to where this more light and more air to breathe." I was very grateful indeed!

Reference: Photograph is from Dore's Inferno

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pysanky!: Decorating Ukranian Easter Eggs

A pysanka (Ukrainian: писанка, plural: pysanky) is a Ukrainian Easter egg, decorated using beeswax in a sort of crayon-resist approach using dyes. This is our first year trying Pysanky and we loved it! Using an inexpensive kit from Michaels, we worked on these a little bit over the past two days and will do a few more before Easter.

Apparently, some people just use raw eggs, but we blew them out (punch both ends with a needle, mix yolk, then drain through one of the holes(we used an old nasal syringe from our baby days to help blow them out). The draw the designs in pencil, cover parts of the design in wax, then dye them in progressively darker dyes, covering the colors we want to preserve in wax in between colors.

Lots of tips at Also a friend told us that the dyes keep well if they are frozen in ice cube trays and stored in a bag. If you use blown out eggs, you can also insert a wire and use them a Christmas ornaments or an egg tree...

Blessings to you all this Easter!

Wikipedia: Pysanky

Friday, March 27, 2009

William Byrd: Versatile Composer of the Renaissance

William Byrd was a celebrated English composer of the Renaissance. Haec Dies is a motet from Missale Romanum. Byrd studied music under Thomas Tallis, composed Catholic masses and Anglican church services. He fell in and out of favor though, living through chaotic political and religious times of Queen Elizabeth I, James I, and Henry VIII. In addition to religious compositions, Byrd also composed madrigals and Elizabethan dance music.

A motet is a musical piece in different part with words. The word motet comes from the Latin "movere", to move. Unlike medieval motets, Renaissance motets were polyphonic with imitative counterpoint.

Latin: Haec dies quam fecit Dominus: Exultemus et laetemur in ea. Alleluia.

English: This is the day that the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it. Alleluia.

William Byrd biography

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Classical Education in an Economic Recession

In the continuing gloom of an economic recession, it is possible to continue getting a first-rate classical education on a shoestring. Before redoubling your efforts, it might be a good idea to ask yourself some questions -

1. Why am I doing this?
There are many possible answers to this question, but some answers we have arrived at are the opportunity for students to develop their worldview beyond the present. In our view, a classical education offers an unparalleled opportunity to look at human events, religious and secular philosophies, crisis, challenge, and progress without a one-sided perspective of the bias of the present time.

2. What do I what my student to get out of this? Again the answers will vary, but some of our answers include: an ability to think deeply, compare, and analyze information, an ability to make and defend decisions, persuade others, and synthesize new ideas or possibilities. No wonder classical-trained individual go into diverse careers as consultants and analysts in business and tech disciplines, law, medicine, politics, and humanities.

One of the greatest opportunities of classically-educated individuals is to make difficult decisions under changing conditions. The time is ripe.

If you find yourself facing new challenges with the economic recession:

1. Find the blessing in your burden:
Cultivate more time with your children, discuss with them how you are making tough and prudent choices with changing conditions and an uncertain future. Model resilience yourself. Read biographies and watch inspiring movies together (Denzel Washington's Great Debaters, Pursuit of Happyness, biographies of Alexander Hamilton, Corrie Ten Boom, Eric Liddell).

2.Use Internet Resources - if you don't have access at home, head to the library!
Examples: Ancient Greek History Course by Donald Kagan (Open Yale Courses)
Physics for Future Presidents (more Conceptual) from UC Berkeley
Lists of more University webcasts / podcasts at Stingy Scholar and
Do It Yourself Scholar
Many AP teachers also post all their lecture notes and Powerpoints on the Internet. Some are also developing blog or wikis to make it more interactive.

For Latin (and any other language for that matter), here are extensive resources available - for instance,

KET Distance Learning Latin Courses
If you need to hear it, check out Wheelock's Latin Pronunciation pages.

Many great books are available for free online:
Project Gutenberg
Online Books at Penn
Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Baldwin Online Childrens Literature Project

Charlotte Mason Classical Education (Ambleside Online)

Used books can be swapped or bought at used book prices at: - Our online book club offers free books when you swap, trade, or exchange your used books with other book club members for free.

Deep discounts on new or used curricula can be found at

Does your child have a print disability? If so, he or she may qualify for the wonderful free resource

Photo reference: Laocoon struggling with his children.(Wikipedia)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Classical, Visual, and Rhetorical Grammar

"Let no man, therefore, look down on the elements of grammar as
small matters; not because it requires great labor to distinguish
consonants from vowels, and to divide them into the proper
number of semivowels and mutes, but because, to those entering
the recesses, as it were, of this temple, there will appear much
subtlety on points, which may not only sharpen the wits of boys,
but may exercise even the deepest erudition and knowledge."

I happen to be one of those people who breaks out in a cold sweat with the thought of grammar, but although I have learned more grammar than I thought possible when our kids started learning Latin, I've had to dig even deeper as we have dyslexia running in family.

Happily, we've discovered some wonderful resources for classical and visual approaches to grammar - and it sure beats memorizing all the rules in Warriner's.

If you need to be persuaded of the importance of grammar, check out Making a Case for Rhetorical Grammar, but in our case, we needed to troubleshoot some of the Writing problems of visual thinkers, so we wanted something reasonably direct, accessible, and memorable. Thankfully, we seem to have found this in a writer's workshop grammar book, Mechanically Inclined. There are some faults in this book (caveat emptor: some of the content of writing samples are poorly chosen - e.g. violent, tasteless etc.), but it is a very visual approach to grammar (like Image Grammar, but with better organization) and it satisfies a definite need for visual learners struggling with grammar conventions.

For every problem, Mechanically Inclined presents a student mistake, analysis of the mistake, correct examples from literature, and a visual scaffolding exercise that walks a student through correct grammatical writing. For example, in a chapter on dangling modifiers, the author provided examples of participial phrases used as openers, interrupters, and closers:

Wagging its tail, the dog approached me. Opener

The dog, wagging its tail, approached me. Interrupter

The dog approached me, wagging its tail. Closer

This approach is helpful because not because it gives students practice with sentence manipulation, but also because it allows grammatical conventions (like commas) to be naturally internalized through reading and writing, rather than rote memorization of a list of disembodied rules.

For older students, there is Rhetorical Grammar, a probably college-level text that teaches the art of grammar and persuasive writing.

Excerpt from a chapter on Sentence Rhythm:

The word eloquently has shifted the limelight from the topic of the speech to the senator's style of speaking; and, in doing so, it has set up a different expectation in the reader. We would not be surprised if the subject of the next sentence turned out to be he or she (the senator) rather than they (the homeless).

Haven't found many strong visual or rhetorical grammar sites freely available on the Internet, but let us know if you know of good ones. There are excerpts from Image Grammar here and here. We did find this nice link on Elaboration, however.

Institute for Excellence in Writing does have a new series entitled Classical Rhetoric Through Structure and Style. A sample chapter is posted here: here.

Previous Latin Sayings of the Week

"Soli deo gloria." - For the glory of God alone.

Christus resurrexit! Vere resurrexit! - Christ is Risen! He is risen, indeed!

"Lex malla, lex nulla." - St. Thomas Aquinas
(A bad law is no law.)

"Cantantes licet usque (minus via laedit) eamus. " - Let us go singing as far as we go: the road will be less tedious.

"Caelitus mihi vires." - My strength is from heaven.

"Magnificat anima mea Dominum, et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo Salvatore meo" - My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior (Luke 1:45)

In Omnibus Ipse Primatum Tenens “That in all things He (Christ) might have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:16-18)

"Qui bene cantat bis orat." - He who sings well, prays twice - (St Augustine)

"Nos fecisti ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te." -
Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee. (St Augustine)

"Caelitus mihi vires
." - My strength is from heaven.

"Ubi caritas et amor Deus ibi est." - Where there is charity and love, God is there.

"Nisi credideritis, non intelligetis ."

Unless you will have believed, you will not understand. - St Augustine

"Deo vindice" - With God as Protector

"Credite amori vera dicenti." - Believe love speaking the truth. (St. Jerome)

De vitiis nostris scalam nobis facimus, si vitia ipsa calcamus." - If we tread our vices under feet, we make them a ladder to rise to higher things. (St. Augustine)

Dei gratia - By the grace of God

Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum. - The Word of the Lord Endures Forever.

"Est autem fides credere quod nondum vides; cuius fidei merces est videre quod credis." - Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. (St. Augustine)

"Deo iuvante" - with God's help

"Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus." - That God may be glorified in all things

"Pax vobiscum." Peace be with you.

"Jubilate Deo." Be joyful in the Lord.

"Ille vir, haud magna cum re, sed plenus fidei." He is a man, not of ample means, but full of good faith.

"Facit enim mihi magna qui potens est." - For He that is mighty does to me great things.

"Oremus semper pro invicem." - Let us ever pray for each other.

"Distrahit animum librorum multitudo." - Seneca
A multitude of books distracts the mind.

"Nullam est nunc dictum, quod sit non dictum prius." - Terence
There is nothing said now, that has not been said before.

"Nosce te ipsum." - Plato
Know thyself.

"Non mihi, non tibi, sed nobis" - Not for you, not for me, but for us.

"Primum non nocere." - First, do no harm (Hippocrates)

"Est autem fides credere quod nondum vides; cuius fidei merces est videre quod credis." - Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. (St. Augustine)

"Deo iuvante" - with God's help

"Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus." - That God may be glorified in all things

"Pax vobiscum." Peace be with you.

"Jubilate Deo." Be joyful in the Lord.

"Ille vir, haud magna cum re, sed plenus fidei." He is a man, not of ample means, but full of good faith.

"Facit enim mihi magna qui potens est." - For He that is mighty does to me great things.

"Oremus semper pro invicem." - Let us ever pray for each other.

"Distrahit animum librorum multitudo." - Seneca
A multitude of books distracts the mind.

"Nullam est nunc dictum, quod sit non dictum prius." - Terence
There is nothing said now, that has not been said before.

"Nosce te ipsum." - Plato
Know thyself.

"Non mihi, non tibi, sed nobis" - Not for you, not for me, but for us.

"Primum non nocere." - First, do no harm (Hippocrates)

"Dei plena sunt omnia." - Cicero (All things are full of God.)