grammar


Leftovers on the Whiteboard

It’s the time of year a teacher begins to wonder whether or not everything’s been taught.  Sitting at my desk with a view of the whiteboard, I read the lengthy list of Latin verbs we dissected today.  My notes for our final paper are still on the board.  As we listed some main characters from the books we read this year, my students continued to express their awe of all they had completed this year.  Someone said, “That was this year!  I thought Estella happened last year!”  The names of Asian mountains, Pamirs and Tian Shan, are left on my board from the geography bee we enjoy holding at the end of the week.  Beautiful African maps that were colored and labeled by each student hang on my walls.  Piles of notebooks to be graded spill almost into the hallway.  One student, without stopping to think, called out the answer to the question about why Texas’ statehood was denied after we gained our independence from Mexico.

I’m hoping they’ve learned.  I’m hoping they’ve learned more of history, grammar and advanced mathematical procedures.  I’m hoping they’ve learned how to translate Latin sentences with relative ease.  I’m hoping they’ve learned how to get along in a world that isn’t always easy to deal with.  Most of all, I’m hoping they’ve learned that their sixth grade teacher loves them deeply!


Ursa Major and Ursa Minor

Third graders are so amazing. We were making prepositional phrases with their new prepositions and they wanted to say “in front of a bear” in Latin. I told them the word for bear is ursus, ursi and we declined it to see which form we needed for our prepositional phrase. I remembered that they study astronomy in science and asked them if they had learned about Ursa Major and Ursa Minor (lit. Great Bear and Little Bear) which contain the Big and Little Dippers. Most of them were somewhat familiar with these so I asked them why it was ursa and not ursus. Hands went up. It’s because it is a mama bear with her cub. They figured this out because they know that the “a” ending makes it feminine. We also talked about Ursa Major and Ursa Minor being constellations. Since cum is one of their new Latin prepositions, we talked about the roots of the word constellation. When cum is used as a prefix it often means together. The Latin word for star is stella. So constellation literally means stars that are together.