About Barb Gilman
Barb Gilman is a wife, mother, and third-grade Catholic school teacher. She is the winner of the 2014 NCEA Distinguished Teacher Award for the Plains States. Active on social media, @BarbinNebraska is the co-organizer of the #CatholicEdChat on Twitter.

Reviewing the Year with Creativity, Collaboration, and Communication

At the end of the year I like to have my students reflect on all the activities and all that we have learned during our time together. Usually, I just set aside some time to write our reflections down on our whiteboard. This year, I found a new idea for my class that encourages my students’ creativity, collaboration, and communication. This activity is called a Paper Slide Video. This activity begins with students recalling all […]

Breakout Puzzles for the Religion Classroom

It’s getting to the end of the school year and the weather is beautiful. The students are restless, but I still have lessons to cover and I need to find a way to keep my students engaged. I decided that it was time to mix things up a bit and try something different: Breakout! Breakout is a game in which students have to solve puzzles and use the solutions to those puzzles to unlock a box […]

Priests Who Visit the Classroom

Twice a month, my students look forward to a visit from our associate pastor, Father Vincent. I am so glad my school makes it a priority to have a priestly presence in our halls. In my 12 years of teaching, three different priests have taken the time to visit my classes. Their 20-minute visits offer my students three benefits: the priests bring their unique perspectives, they are very good with show and tell, and they […]

Taking to Heart the Apostles’ Creed

Each year, the Archdiocese of Omaha requires all third-grade Catholic-school teachers to teach the Apostles’ Creed. Teaching young children to memorize a prayer involves some traditional and non-traditional methods. I am always looking for new methods to help my students since every class is different. What worked with one class may not work with another. I dedicate two weeks to teaching my class the Creed before giving them a test. During the first week, I […]

A Lent of Mercy

My third graders always embrace Lent. I will include all my usual Lenten activities this year, but because this is the Year of Mercy, I will be adding some new activities that will help my students perform works of mercy. The first activity will be a visual reminder of Lent. (My young students are visual learners.) Outside my classroom is a very large wall on which we usually display artwork. I will construct a very […]

Faith, Knowledge, and Service: Celebrating Catholic Schools Week

The last Sunday in January always begins a special week that Catholic school teachers find both exhilarating and exhausting: Catholic Schools Week. This week is sponsored by the National Catholic Educational Association, and this year Catholic Schools Week will be celebrated from Sunday, January 31 to February 6. As a teacher who has spent her entire career teaching in Catholic schools, I know how much we can celebrate! Catholic Schools Week is unlike any other […]

When to Leave Your Textbook Behind

In our first six weeks of school, we only finished two chapters in our religion textbook. Earlier in my teaching career, I would have worried that this slow pace might be a problem. When I first began teaching I was told, “When you reach Christmas, you must be halfway through the textbook.” Now, as a seasoned teacher, I know my textbook is not my entire curriculum. We have had many teachable moments recently when it made […]

Sharing Stories to Teach the Faith

We are a few weeks into the new school year, and my third graders are finally settling into the routine of class. Our first lesson focused on the Holy Spirit. My students learned that the Holy Spirit helps guide us to live as Christians. As we read the chapter in our textbook, my students highlighted important sentences, phrases, and vocabulary words. We stopped several times during our reading to discuss how the Spirit guides us […]

Pray, Plan, and Prepare

Here I go again! I’m starting my twelfth year of teaching third grade. Each year produces new challenges, joys, and adventures with my students. Even though I approach the new year knowing that my class will be different from previous ones, I always prepare in the same way. I always begin by praying for my new class. Over the summer I make rosaries out of twine for my new students. I learned how to make […]

A School and Parish Pilgrimage

During the last week of school, I take my third graders on a pilgrimage around our school and parish campus. I started this practice during the Jubilee Year of 2000, when I led a pilgrimage for my school community. We didn’t go far: we just walked the grounds of our campus. I loved this opportunity to experience my faith in a new way. What is a pilgrimage and why do people make them? A pilgrimage […]

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