Middle School Ancient Literature
This course introduces students to the ideas, events, and cast of characters that molded the social, political, religious, scientific, economic, and technological history and literature from the Ancient and Classical World.
We believe that the Biblical mandate to “love thy neighbor” extends even to human beings that came before us. We desire to know and understand how people in the past lived, what they valued, and how they made sense of the world. Augustine wrote that humans are defined by their loves. We can get a sense of the “loves” of past people and cultures by studying their world and by reading the works that they read. This is an act of Christian charity or love that should stir us to humility and gratitude. Students will be seeking truth, beauty, and understanding through history and literature. My hope is that students come out of this course with a historical mindedness that produces a deeper love of God and love for our neighbor.
This course aims to introduce students to several of the “great books” of classical literature. Classes will consist of seminar-style discussion of the reading, with the instructor serving as the facilitator. The goal is to encourage a deeper understanding and appreciation for the readings and their timeless truths through thoughtful dialogue on a book’s characters, plot, themes, and cultural context. Students are expected to participate actively in these discussions by formulating thoughtful questions and interacting with their peers.
Students are asked to consider and engage carefully crafted questions as their window into “the Great Conversation.” Occasionally, the teacher will present biographical, literary, and historical context through brief lectures, but all other classes are seminar-style discussions on the classical texts. Students are assessed for their curiosity, participation, and diligence during discussions, as well as by means of short response papers, essays, and occasional quizzes.
This class is paired with our middle-school course on ancient history, taught by the same teacher, and scheduled back-to-back with that course in a “block.” Students who take both courses receive a discount. This course may also be taken as a standalone literature study. Because of this arrangement, and the nature of history and literature, there will necessarily be overlap between the two classes. This integrative experience of history and literature is one of the benefits of the classical model.
Placement: Please read about our new process above.
This course is suitable for rising 7th–9th graders. Students are expected to have proficient reading and writing skills as well as the interest and capacity for engaging in discussion about literature and history. Students suited for this course will also be cultivating the following scholarship skills:
- Actively and independently engage in note-taking: I expect that students will need to grow in this skill as note-taking is not always well-developed among rising college students. Students should be generally aware of this skill and willing to flex this muscle.
- Apply teacher critiques
- Adhere to deadlines
- Be responsible for class and project preparedness
- Take initiative to ask questions for understanding and comprehension: This is very important for discussions and classical learning. It can be daunting for students who are less outgoing. Regardless of where a student’s natural abilities are in this area, the student needs to have a willingness to develop this skill.
How much time will students spend on homework?
I aim to give around 2 hours of homework every week for each class (a total of 4 hours of homework for both history/literature). Most of this will be reading, annotating, short assignments, etc.
How does this course compare to the upper-school ancient literature course?
The chief differences between the middle-school and upper-school levels for this course are noted below. While there will be some overlap of content taught, the upper-school course will be much more challenging and assume a more mature student with more background knowledge and greater reading, writing, and scholarship facility.
How is faith integrated with these courses?
These seminar-style discussions unfold organically. One could approach the texts with a focus on defensive critiques of classical authors. By contrast, we seek to read charitably. We treat classic authors as if they were friends, gleaning every available truth while also examining them from a robustly Christian perspective.
At Scholé Academy, we have carefully considered how we should engage our contemporary culture as those who believe that Christ is the Truth (John 14:6), and that all truth has its source in him. We think it is important to provide our upper school students (in grades 7-12) with tools and opportunities for critically examining various cultural trends, issues and mores through the lens of orthodox, Christian beliefs. Being confident in the truth revealed to us in creation, the Scriptures, and the tradition of the church, we are not afraid to follow the truth and its implications nor to address error and falsehood. … Read more about our Faith & Culture.
For each skill instructors have determined whether it is a prerequisite skill or a skill to be developed throughout the course. For lower school, instructors indicate where parent support is expected.
- With Parent Support: Skills that most lower school students will need help with.
- Developing: Skills that the instructor will help develop and emphasize throughout the year.
- Mastered: Prerequisite skills that the instructor is expecting students to possess.
- With Parent Support
- Be able to set notifications settings to alert the student of class announcements, homework assignments, due dates, instructor comments made on assignments, instructor comments made on individual student submissions, instructor comments made on graded items, etc.
- Be responsible for reviewing teacher feedback, suggestions and comments about student work and employing that feedback as necessary.
- Be able to manage Canvas assignments and submissions (view assignments, check for teacher messages, submit homework as pdf file, submit revisions if necessary, set Canvas notifications for the class, view class notifications when posted, etc.).
- Be able to review notifications ongoing throughout the year; notifications which include: class announcements, homework assignments, due dates, instructor comments made on assignments, instructor comments made on individual student submissions, instructor comments made on graded items, etc.
- Be able to respectfully and wisely engage with other students and the instructor on Canvas discussion boards.
- Be able to respectfully, wisely and formally engage with instructor through private Canvas messaging.
- Be able to build and use alphanumeric outlines as part of the writing process.
- Be able to self-edit written submissions for grammar and spelling mistakes.
- Be able to employ the feedback of the instructor into future edits and submissions of the assignment.
- Be able to build well organized paragraphs which employ (among other skills) topic sentences, transition sentences, clear linear thinking throughout the essay.
- Be able to build a logical, well-reasoned argument through a written essay providing sound reasoning (i.e. true premises, valid arguments, sound conclusions).
- Be able to spell at grade level and employ course vocabulary cumulatively throughout the course.
- Be able to request a family or peer to edit submissions, but understands these requests should be for the purposes of raising important questions for the student to consider and suggesting minor edits. The student understands that family or peer editors should not be reworking of sentences, redefining terms, building new concepts, building arguments or writing passages for the student.
- Be able to hand-write answers in complete sentences.
- Be able to write sentences with basic sentence syntax (i.e. capitalization of first word in a sentence, punctuation at the end of each sentence, space between sentences, capitalization of proper nouns, each sentence having a subject and predicate, etc.).
- Be able to read material independently and identify questions which require clarification or further explanation from the instructor.
- Be able to mark, underline or highlight important words, definitions or concepts within a text being read both while reading independently and reading corporately as a class.
- Be able to identify key terms in a passage, and follow the author’s argument.
- Be able to listen to the author’s argument and understand it even if the student disagrees with the conclusion reached or reasons given.
- Be able to read material independently and identify the information which might be relevant to course discussions and objectives (even if the student doesn’t fully understand all of what’s being read).
- With Parent Support
- Be able to employ MLA citations for (for quoted material and referenced material) through the use of footnotes or endnotes, bibliography, work-cited page. Student should have a concept of what plagiarism is and know how to avoid it.
- Be able to employ basic MLA formatting skills (i.e. 1-inch margins, double spacing, heading on paper).
- Be able to type paragraph essays (short essays, and 5 or more page essays).
- Be able to type short answers in complete sentences.
- Follow class discussions and seminar conversations to record notes without the instructor identifying specifics.
- Be prepared to generate thoughtful questions to enhance the class discussion, to identify areas needing clarification, and to make valuable connections with other course content.
- Be prepared to thoughtfully answer questions when called on in a group setting, during class.
- Be prepared to volunteer thoughtful comments, answers and ideas in a group setting, during class.
- Follow along with instructor-led note-taking and record notes during class.
- Follow along with instructor-led workbook completion and record answers during class.
- Understand the difference between assignments given by an instructor and the necessary and independently initiated need for private study of material.
- Be able to schedule and manage multiple projects from multiple instructors and courses.
- Be able to schedule time outside of class to complete independent review of materials.
- Be able to determine the best places and ways to study at home (i.e. quiet, undistracted, utilizing various methods of review (auditory, written, visual, practice tests, flashcards, etc.).
- Be responsible to study at home for quizzes, tests and other assessments.
Sections with Mrs. Hartke
- Hamilton, Edith. Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes. (Any edition works). ISBN: 978-0446574754.
- Homer and Robert Fagles (Translator), The Odyssey. New York: Penguin Classics, 1996. ISBN: 978-0140268867
- Virgil and Frederick Ahl. The Aeneid. New York: Oxford World Classic, 2008. 9780199231959
- Lewis, C.S. ‘Til We Have Faces. New York: HarperOne, 2017
*Required materials are not included in the purchase of the course.
Lauren Della Piazza Hartke is a third generation teacher, raised by parents who instilled in her a passion for history and literature. She graduated from a Christian high school before attending Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Lauren had the opportunity to study abroad in Scotland for a semester before obtaining a B.A. in History. As a teaching assistant at Geneva College she fell in love with teaching the humanities and accordingly went on to obtain an M.A. in Public History from Georgia Southern University where she also worked as a teaching assistant and a coordinator for the Ogeechee International History Film Festival.
Lauren’s abiding interest is in educating people of all ages in all matters of history, but her favorite eras are classical and medieval Europe. Her experience in both Christian and secular higher education made her consider her own pedagogy and preference for the classical model. She firmly believes that an education in the humanities enables us to better love God and love our neighbors.
Besides reading and watching old films, Lauren loves baking, traveling, playing the piano, and hiking. She and her husband Logan live in Jacksonville, Florida where they share a house with their cat, Katya. They love cooking for friends and family members, and can frequently be found at exotic grocery stores shopping for unique ingredients. firstname.lastname@example.org
Computer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.
High-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.
Webcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)
Headset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm
Zoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. To download Zoom:
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
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This registration will be finalized when the student's placement assessment has been returned by the course instructor with placement confirmation.