Figs and Vines: Tending Humble Vocations

Those who tend fig trees like the prophet Amos have a humble vocation. When Amos is told to stop prophesying, he responds, “I’m no prophet. I’m a common herdsman, a sheep breeder. I pick sycamore figs.” In our humble positions as teachers, administrators, and learners, we are also fig-pickers, perhaps even fig-piercers if we break through the tough skin to allow maturity to come in our students. We don’t need a prophet label or wealth or great title to do our work well, to hear from God and obey Him in our everyday walk. But we do need to see our work as gardeners, those who tend, prune, and even burn. In John 15 it is because we remain in the vine that Christ calls us to love each other as He has loved us. In the same breath, Christ bids us to bear fruit that remains, fruit that regenerates much like the fig.

Christine Norvell

"With a Masters in Humanities from Faulkner University's Great Books program, Christine has taught high school English in classical and homeschool worlds for eighteen years, most recently for Regent Preparatory School in Tulsa, OK for the last eleven. She currently teaches American and World Literature online for high school students at Kepler Education. Christine is a senior contributor for The Imaginative Conservative and also regularly writes for websites like The Classical Thistle, Story Warren, Circe Institute, and University Bookman. She is the author of Till We Have Faces: A Reading Companion (2020). (I've been a classical education parent for 18 years and a classical literature teacher for 13 years. I speak at youth retreats, church conferences, chapels, and other academic conferences like The Classical Thistle's regional spring conference. I've presented both workshops and keynotes.)"

Teaching Grammar in Context: The Five-Minute Lesson

It’s all in the philosophy. When we isolate grammar, we pull it from its natural context, its relationship to the words a student writes. By fastening grammar instruction to writing and immediate need, Constance Weaver’s Teaching Grammar in Context (1996) broke ground by smashing the routine use of stand-alone grammar exercises. She advocated short bites, immediate application, and no books. At two to three times a week, this strategy is effective and flexible for any subject at almost any grade level that requires writing. Teachers can adapt grammar review and new material by noting patterns with the first writing assignment of the year. Are students missing how to use possessives or homonyms? Are commas everywhere but where they need to be? The teacher’s evolving review list is not based on a textbook but what the students need now. Grammar does not need to be a chore. Join me as we learn the art of the mini-lesson and help our students consistently apply it in their own writing whatever the subject.

Christine Norvell

With a Masters in Humanities from Faulkner University's Great Books program, Christine has taught high school English in public, classical, and homeschool worlds for eighteen years. She currently teaches literature and integrated humanities courses online at Kepler Education. Christine is a senior contributor at The Imaginative Conservative and has also written for Circe, University Bookman, VoegelinView, The Classical Thistle, and StoryWarren. She is the author of Till We Have Faces: A Reading Companion (2020) and writes regularly at her teaching blog. She speaks at youth retreats, chapels, church conferences, and other academic conferences like ACCS, Mythmoot, or The Classical Thistle's regional spring conference. I've been a classical education parent for 20 years and a classical literature teacher for 13, having created Language Arts curriculum for five grades at Regent Preparatory and online coursework for Kepler Education.