Friday, July 31, 2009

Painting of Joseph and His Brothers

"Joseph Reveals His Identity" by Peter von Cornelius, German, 1783-1867
This picture is used in the 7th-8th grade English assignments for the second week of homework.
  1. Where is Joseph in this picture?
  2. Describe at least three people in this picture. Include their posture, expressions, and what they might be thinking.
  3. What is in the background of the picture?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Easter Week Classwork for Monday

Easter Week: Classwork for Monday, April 6

Our classwork for April 6 consists of reading some of the students' essays on The Great Commission & The Great Commandment, watching part of a video about Jesus, discussing a chapter from from the book Rainbow Garden by Patricia St. John, and listening to a Welsh hymn.

The following questions and activities related to Rainbow Garden are for class discussion:

  1. Elaine and Janet, in the chapter from Rainbow Garden, realize that they need to keep clean hearts. Write a paragraph about how you can have a clean heart and a clear conscience.

  2. In Rainbow Garden, what methods did Elaine and Janet use to learn about the Bible? What methods do you use?

  3. Elaine and Janet lived in Wales. Click to see pictures of villages in Wales.

  4. In Wales, Palm Sunday is called Flowering Sunday, and families traditionally visit the graves of their relatives to lay flowers on the graves. On this day they also have famous Welsh singing contests which are known as Gymansa Ganu. Choirs from various chapels in the area come together to take part in these festivals, and at these festivals special conductors are invited. In Wales a feature of Easter used to be the preaching services held in the chapels. There would be another on the Saturday night, and then three on Easter Sunday itself. The town of Ffestiniog used to hold another three services on Easter Monday as well. People would flock to these services at which ministers from other towns and villages would be asked as guest preachers. These preachers would take these events of the first Holy Week to use in sermons.

  5. The Welsh language can be daunting. The name of a tiny village in Anglesey is “Llanfairpwllgwymgyllgogerychwyrndrobwillllantysiliogogogoch” which means “Church of St. Mary in the Hollow by the White Aspen near the Rapid Whirlpool and Church of St. Tysilio by the Red Cave.” In the Welsh alphabet, there are seven vowels (including w and y) and they do not use the letters j, k, v, x, and z. However, ch, dd, ff, ll, ph, and th are considered to be their own letters. The letter f is pronounced like a v, and dd is pronounced like th in the word them.

  6. Listen to a beautiful Welsh hymn on YouTube and click on the "more info" link to the right of the video. Read the description there and write down the English name of the hymn.

Easter Week Assignment for Tuesday

Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Theme: Palm Sunday and Cleansing

Palm Sunday, which is a week before Easter, commemorates the entrance of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem as children waved palm fronds. Palm Sunday marks the start of Holy Week.

This painting was created by George & Diana Voyajolu, Iconographers, Kamena Vourla, Greece. The Entry into Jerusalem. Byzantine style, contemporary artists.

Study Guide for Tuesday

  1. Read Matthew 21:1-17. This passage references the Old Testament three times. Copy down a quote in at least one of the verses (5, 13, or 16). Then read the Old Testament references, along with other adjacent verses in context: Isaiah 62:11-12, Isaiah 56:6-8, and Psalm 8:1-4.

  2. When Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem, the first place he went was the temple, where he “cleansed” it of all of the unholy things that were going on there. The temple is a symbol of our own hearts that Jesus wants to cleanse and transform into houses of prayer where he can dwell. Read Psalm 51:1-12 and think about it. Copy down the first verse.
  3. The hymn “All Glory, Laud and Honor” is about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Read the words and listen to the music on-line at: All Glory, Laud and Honor. Read about the hymn and lyricist at Hymn Story and Theoldulph of Orleans. Write down when and where Theodulph lived and died.

  4. Click on each of these links to see a classic painting. For each one, tell me who the artist was, as well as about what year the painting was created. Entry Into Jerusalem and Christ's Entry Into Jerusalem. Then look at this stained glass: Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and write at least one sentence about it. Be sure to read the descriptions!

  5. Choose one thing from today's assignments -- either a Scripture, the hymn, or a piece of artwork -- and write a response paragraph of at least five sentences that describe it and tell of your personal opinions about it.

Easter Week Assignment for Wednesday

Wednesday, April 7, 2009
Theme: The Last Supper and the Trial

  1. The painting "The Last Supper" (above) is by Leonardo da Vinci. He painted it in 1498 on the refectory (dining room) wall in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. It is 15 feet high and 29 feet long! Click on the picture to enlarge it. Then, pay attention to the details in the picture and write down a few sentences about what story it is telling.

  2. All four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) include the story of the "Last Supper" but each one differs in how they present what happened. Read Matthew 26:17-35, Mark 14:12-31, and John 13:1-37. Write down at least one detail in each passage that wasn't in the others. What parts of the story do all of them include? What is one thing that you can apply in your own life from these passages?

  3. Read about Gethsemane and the trial at Matthew 26:36-75. Copy down the four section headings from the Scripture passage.

  4. The painting "Ecce Homo" is by Swiss artist, Antonio Ciseri (October 25, 1821 – March 8, 1891). "Ecce Homo" means "Behold the Man." The scene is Jesus' trial before Pontius Pilate, who is listening to the crowd. Please click on it to enlarge it. Write a two sentence response to it.

Easter Week Assignments for Thursday

Thursday, April 9
Theme: The Death of Christ

Study Guide for Thursday

  1. Read Isaiah 53:1-12 and Psalm 22:1-18. These prophecies were written hundreds of years before Jesus was born, yet they foretell his death as the Messiah. Copy at least two verses from one of these passages. Write down at least two words from Isaiah 53 which are synonyms for the word sin.
  2. Click on When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. Read the lyrics, listen to the audio, and click on the verse reference. Copy down the Bible verse and the first stanza (four lines) of the hymn. Who is the lyricist (the man who wrote the words)? About how many centuries ago were the words written?

  3. Michelangelo sculpted the Pietà during the Renaissance era. ("Renaissance" is a French word which means rebirth.) Look at the sculpture carefully, and then write two sentences describing it. Then write another sentence telling who made it (including his last name), when it was created and where it is now. Then go to to find out what “pietà” means, and write the definition. What would it have been like to be Mary, holding Jesus' body after it was removed from the cross?
  4. Read Luke 23:26-56 and let it sink in. Imagine what it would have been like for you to be right there. Write several sentences as if you were making an entry in your journal the next day. You will continue this tomorrow in the assignment about the resurrection.

  5. Read the poem below and copy the first stanza.

by Mary Whitcomb Hess after a homily by Saint Amphilochius in the 4th Century

They stretch Him
On a Cross to die ---
Our Lord Who first
Stretched out the sky

Whose countenance
The cherubim
Dare not gaze on …
They spat on Him

And gave Him gall
To drink
Though He
Brings us wells
Of eternity.

He prays for them
“Father, forgive…”
For He was born
That all might live.

Round the sealed tomb
Of Him they’ve slain
They set a guard
In vain, in vain

Round Him
Creation can’t contain
Who dies for us
To rise again.


6. This tapestry below, "The Crucifixion" by Pieter Pannemaker, is found in the National Gallery of Art. You can click on it to enlarge it. How can you use your creative skills -- in visual arts, music, writing, or public speaking -- to communicate the message of Christ?

Easter Week Assignment for Friday

Friday, April 10, 2009

Theme: The Resurrection

"The Resurrection of Christ" was painted by Russian Orthodox artist Mikhail Nesterov at end of the 1890s.

Study Guide for Friday

  1. Read the story of the resurrection and the ascension in Matthew 28 and Luke 24. Copy at least one verse from each passage.

  2. Continue the journal entry you started yesterday, writing as if you were there when these things happened.

  3. Listen to Christ the Lord is Risen Today! by Charles Wesley. What word appears at the end of each line, and what is an alternate spelling for this word?

  4. Read a blog post by Julia Knowles on her 3 month mission trip to Bolivia: *Behold, I am making all things new* :) Revelation 21 At the bottom, she talks about heaven. What famous preacher did she quote and when did he preach his sermon, "No Tears in Heaven"? (Be sure to pray for Julia today, April 10, as she flies home!).

  5. Look at the painting, "Le Jour des Morts" (The Day of Death) by William Beaugereau in 1859. According to 1 Corinthians 15:35-58, what hope do we have because of the resurrection of Christ?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Great Commandment and the Great Commission

(Note: Please pardon the odd and inconsistent font. Blogger seems to be having a problem this morning.)

Yesterday, in the 7th-8th grade English class, I assigned a persuasive essay on why Christians need to obey both the Great Commandment (love your neighbor) and the Great Commission (preach the gospel). We talked about how some people succumb to the either-or fallacy of focusing on one to the exclusion of the other. Julie Brackin and I also role-played a conversation between a Christian and an agnostic using the "Are You Good Enough?" booklet that Metro Life Church has been providing for outreach. I have compiled a list of Scriptures about the subject to help them as they research their essays. I trust that they will helpful to all of us. After each passage, there is a link to that entire chapter on so you can read them in the larger context.

The Great Commandment and the Great Commission

The Great Commandment:

Matthew 22:34 “But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”” Matthew 22

The Great Commission:

Matthew 28:16 “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28


The following Scriptures are about the Great Commandment (love one another), the Great Commission (preach the gospel), and the core essentials of the gospel message.

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3

John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13

John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’” John 14

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1

Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4

Romans 1:14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Romans 1

Romans 10:14 “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10

2 Corinthians 5:11 “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience… 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5

Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2

Colossians 1:27 “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” Colossians 1

1 Timothy 6:18-19 “They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6

James 2:14 “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2

1 Peter 2:12 “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2

1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

December 7th and 8th Grade English Classes

Dear friends,

In the 7th-8th grade English class, we are doing a two week series of on-line lessons on Advent using Scripture, fine art, music, poetry, and film. I have already posted the homework assignments for 8 days, which you can find by clicking here: Advent Assignments. This week's assignments are at the top.

As a recap of what we did during the two Monday classes in December:

December 1:
  • Read and discussed Luke 1
  • Read student Thanksgiving stories and poems
  • Looked at pictures from the book One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham and discussed the concept that the Biblical story of redemption does not begin with the birth of Christ but with creation
  • Read an abridged version of classic O. Henry short story The Gift of the Magi
  • Listened to Christmas music by Sara Groves.

December 8:

  • Read and discussed Luke 6,
  • Read student responses to last week's art and literature assignments
  • Looked at all of the Giotto paintings on the life of Christ and read two poetic essays from Madeline L'Engle's book The Glorious Impossible
  • Read my new poem "The Story Did Not Start with a Stable and a Star" (which is also included in the December 10 assignment)
  • Compared three different versions (Celine Dion, National Christian Choir, and Sara Groves) of the song "O Holy Night"
We probably did a few other things each of these weeks, and we certainly took some bunny trails off of the aforementioned topics, but those are the main things.

Anyone is welcome to use the lessons I have posted. You can always adapt them for younger or older students.

Virginia Knowles

Christmas Costume Day

Dear friends,

I took several pictures on Christmas Costume Day. Enjoy!

Our fearless Katrina. Please note the whimsical snow people on her festive red sweater! I am so thankful for her initiative in getting this group started a few years ago, and her tireless effort to make it both educationally effective and fantastically fun!

Jenn and Terri decked out with the jollies in the Fun Zone!

Denise at the white board and Kim with kids
Cleaning up her coffee cake crumbs!

Two high school students with teachers Beverly, Tina, and Clare

Sunny's fourth grade math class

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

This post is the 7th-8th grade English assignment for Tuesday, December 9.

  1. Read Luke 7. Which verses are related to the painting below? How does this story relate to why Jesus had to come to earth in the first place?

"The Magdalen" by Bernardino Luini in 1525

(National Gallery of Art)

2. Read this poem, which is based on the Bible story in Luke 7:36-50. According to this poem, how is the symbolism of the broken alabaster jar related to how we should live for Jesus?

"Alabaster Jar"
by Virginia Knowles

Alabaster jar, costly sweet perfume
Devotion broke it open, fragrance filled the room.
Poured over Jesus’ head, anointing for the grave,
Some saw only money lost, but Jesus blessed the love she gave.
Broken and poured out, broken and poured out
But there’s no waste of life, just fragrant sacrifice
And it’s all because of love.

Can you see his love? Messiah on the cross
Body broken, blood poured out, for our sin’s redemption cost
Can you see his power? Victory over death!
Hell could not contain him, nor quench his living breath
Broken and poured out, broken and poured out
But there’s no waste of life, just fragrant sacrifice
And it’s all because of love.

Lord, break me for your glory, pour me for your name.
Let me share his sufferings and power just the same.
Crucified with Christ is what I want to be,
For when I’ve died to my old life, I’ll rise up to be free.
Broken and poured out, broken and poured out
But there’s no waste of life, just fragrant sacrifice
And it’s all because of love.

3. Read Luke 5:27-32 and Luke 18:9-14. Write a paragraph explaing how Jesus wants us to view ourselves, and how he wants us treat those who have lived sinful lifestyles.

4. With your parent's permission, visit the Magdalena, Released from Shame web site and click on "Discover Their Story" to scroll over each of the four women and see short videos about them. This movie is produced by The Jesus Film Project, a division of Campus Crusade.