Using an Embedded Neo-Latin Twitter List as a Do-Now

Our assistant principal talked to us about the evaluation process and how his focus this year would be on the beginning of class and how class opened. I have always been conflicted about do-nows; I like the idea but I’m bad at doing little things regularly (like setting up and distributing a do-now) and I like that first few minutes of class to check in with students and build relationships.

I’d been using the Pope’s Latin twitter feed for a while now as a quick check in (when they’re not too proselytizing) and had been noticing neo-Latin / Latin tweets. It occurred to me that I could embed Latin tweets in our LMS and use that as a do-now that the kids might enjoy, that I wouldn’t have to set up, and that I still could use as time to check in with students.

(And, just in case, though I assume that, if you’re here, you have at least a passing knowledge of Twitter, Twitter is a useful language tool because of the 140 character limit, i.e. that limit naturally minimizes the complexity of sentences and language.)

First the technical. I’d embedded twitter feeds before, but they had always been my own tweets (back when I used Twitter instead of the much preferred Remind (101)); I quickly realized that I couldn’t (at least as far as I could tell) embed a twitter timeline. With a little research, however, I learned that I can embed a Twitter list, likely a better alternative to embedding the timeline because there is more customization available.

A Twitter list, in case you don’t know, is simply a curated timeline; it allows you to customize which accounts are included. (In the interest of full disclosure, before I knew what a list was, I revised a dormant account that I had used for class with the intention of customizing that timeline, not realizing that I could create a list and embed it via my existing account). So I gathered about 20 or so accounts that tweeted largely in Latin, and created a list. (And my Latin teacher Twitter account is @dehlatinteach rather than the account associated with that list, if you’re interested in following.)

So I embedded that list on the home page of my Latin course’s LMS:

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Students choose a tweet or two from the timeline / list and submit it to a discussion board (so that everyone can see them and so that I can gather them under one heading, i.e. instead of having a separate submission for each day for each student, I have all of a given students’ tweets in one place).

Here is the list embedded [for some reason it’s linking rather than embedding; working on that]:


And so far it’s gone well. My concern about do-nows, that essentially they are a hoop I’m forcing students to jump through, seems to have been addressed: not only are students completing the assignment, but they also seem excited to do so.

The bigger picture goal here of course is to focus on proficiency (buzzword, I realize), so we minimize talk of translation and focus more on meaning, which we all appreciate as well.

So so far so good with the embedded Twitter list do-now. If you can get over / figure out the technical aspect on your end, it’s a great way to start a class.

Thoreau’s Latin Letter

I was on a field trip at the Concord (MA) Museum today for a non-Latin class; it and the Pierpont Morgan are exhibiting Thoreau’s journals alongside his possessions. The Concord Museum has the possessions and the Morgan has the journals; the exhibit just left the Morgan and is now at the Museum. Our guide said that this is the first time that they have been together and, likely, the last time in our lifetime that they will be together.

The exhibit was great, of course. But I was pleasantly surprised to see some Latin in the exhibit, and I decided that my Latin class and I would look at these documents for class today (right when I got back from the field trip).

There is a flyer for Harvard’s commencement (in which Thoreau is featured) and a letter that he wrote to his sister. The plan was for the students to transcribe the letter (and deal with the handwriting), and then we’ll read it and the flyer together. My students, of course, quickly found a transcription online but, to their credit, largely ignored it and worked with the handwriting. It also took longer than I thought (as it often does).

I Googled Thoreau’s Latin letters and found this quick entry but that seems to be about it, at least at the top level of a Google search. The entry references a volume that reproduces both the Latin and the English (which is what my students found); you can download those pages here (though you do have to skip around a bit) and here is the title page for citation purposes:


I hadn’t even noticed too when I first saw the letter that he includes a local variant of Horace’s Mt. Soracte poem.

But it was a cool thing to do and to read. I reproduce them here, as well as the placards for the letter.

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