A Journey into the Ablative   Recently updated !

Today’s Feature Post is brought to you by Sara Cain, who teaches at Monomoy Regional Middle School in Chatham, MA.


Practicing the ablative case is an excellent opportunity for student movement. In Grade 6, on our 8th class meeting, we do an activity called “The Longest Journey.” The classroom is set up with about 12 different Roman place names taped on walls and windows around the room. Students, in groups of 2-4, are told that they must get their group (and their Magistra!) from Africa to Roma, making as many stops around the Imperium Romanum as possible. To make a stop, the group must simply write a grammatically correct Latin sentence. The first stop is the same for everyone, so I give them this model sentence: Marcellus, Clara, Tullia, et Magistra in Africā sunt. The group, of course, does not need to stay together while travelling (an opportunity to practice est and sunt), and some groups even choose to leave Magistra alone in Africā for the entire trip.


I usually give 10 minutes for groups to plan their journeys and then we get up in front of our peers – who are anxious to count and beat the number of stops each group has – and travel around the classroom to the places taped up around the room. See the Final Product in action on YouTube. For Grade 6 Latin, I read the scripts in order to fix mistakes as we go. In upper levels, I might insist that group members read their scripts while audience members listen to mistakes and earn extra points for raising their hands and offering helpful edits to their peers.


This activity can be tailored to fit upper levels of Latin by increasing the complexity of the sentences that the students must write. When we revisit the activity, we add in second declension places (in Aegyptō, in Nilō, in Rhenō, in opppidō Brundisiō) to practice the second declension ablative. Teachers could also choose places that are plural in nature (Athenis, Bruxelles) to provide practice of singular and plural. Another step up would be to use sentence formulas with different prepositions in them: Marcellus ex Aegyptō (ad urbem) Romam venit. The focus could be anything from the locative to verbs of movement to the deponent (vehor) with ablatives of means (nāvi, raedā, equō, etc).


This is an engaging, controlled way to practice Latin composition with students at any level. The assessment of the activity can be as simple as participation points or as complex as using a writing rubric and giving each group a score on indicators such as comprehensibility, mechanics, variety of vocabulary and use of the grammatical structure(s) identified.


Nuntii – 7 Feb 2016   Recently updated !



  • Fabulous offerings from ASCANIUS Youth Classics Institute, including opportunities to volunteer.
  • Registration for SALVI’s Rusticationes Tirorum, Veteranorum, and their Pedagogy Seminar is now open for July 2016.  For more information, or to find out how to apply for the Amy High Fellowship, point your browser at Latin.org.
  • The Boston Area Classics Calendar has a lot going on, and a weekly email digest of upcoming events.
  • If you live in the western Massachusetts, northern Connecticut, or southern Vermont area you may be interested in Amherst College’s list of upcoming and past lectures in the Pioneer Valley.
  • The Massachusetts Foreign Language Association (MaFLA) is looking for applicants for it’s Elaine G. Batting Scholarship.
  • The Annual Harry de Forest Smith Scholarship Exam in Greek:
    • For students of Greek, Amherst College offers a freshman scholarship to be awarded on the basis of a competitive examination taken in their senior year of high school. The next examination is scheduled for Friday, February 12, 2016, in each school in which there is one or more candidate(s) for the scholarship. Announcement of the award will be made when the successful competitor is notified of admission to Amherst College, on or about April 1. In order to qualify the competitor must have made application for admission to Amherst College. (The deadline for regular applications to Amherst College was January 1, 2016.) The holder of the scholarship will be required to take one of the regular courses in the Department of Greek during the freshman year at Amherst. For more information contact:  Classics@amherst.edu
  • National Latin Teacher Recruitment Week is fast approaching.   We need more teachers ready to take up the charge, as we know from the article which Ronnie Ancona and Kathleen Durkin wrote for Amphorahttps://classicalstudies.org/amphora/there-shortage-certified-latin-teachers-please-spread-word-0.  NLTRW traditionally is the first week in March, but you can take any day or week to talk to your students about becoming a Latin teacher.  There are many resources to be found here, http://www.promotelatin.org/nltrw, including a mini-grant application.  Grants of up to $200 can be requested every other year by a program and can be put toward receptions, speakers, giveaways, and more.  It would be especially wonderful to see more K-12 teachers taking advantage of the funding opportunities available.
  • The Society for Classical Studies has some fellowships, awards, and grants with upcoming deadlines, which range from February 19th through March 4th. Check out the David D. and Rosemary H. Coffin Fellowship, the Pedagogy Awards, and the Zeph Stewart Latin Teacher Training Awards.


  • The Paideia Institute is hosting a Living Latin in New York City event February 13-14, 2016.   See their website for additional programs and events!


  • Live in western MA or northern CT and want to practice speaking in Latin? There is a large group that meets every Thursday at 7 p.m. in Hadley, MA! For details, contact TJ Howell.
  • In the Boston area? Check out the Active Latin Meetup page for events.