What's This Obsession with FUN?

As I surf around various web pages and blogs where catechists are in discussion with one another, I can’t help but notice an obsession that many catechists have with the idea of making their classes FUN. Now, before you start thinking that I’m some kind of sourpuss, let me explain that I know what catechists are talking about. They are concerned when kids are bored and rightly so. However, I think that our goal is […]

Assessment in Catechesis: Authentic Assessment

Authentic assessment is exactly what the name implies: it is genuine and real. Authentic assessment is performance-based: learners put into action what they’ve been learning. Beyond being able to speak or write about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, learners must have opportunities to live out the call to discipleship. Service Experiences—Provide suggestions for specific ways that your learners can put their faith into practice serving others, either individually or as a […]

Assessment in Catechesis: Informal Assessment

Informal assessment asks the question: What can you do with what you know and how do you do it? Ongoing—Include opportunities to assess your participants’ grasp of concepts by observing their participation in discussions, group work, prayer/reflection, and service to others. Specific Tasks—Include specific opportunities to evaluate verbal (oral and written) and non-verbal (drawn, crafted, etc.) expressions and responses. These need not be quizzes or tests but may simply be activities that invite your participants […]

Assessment in Catechesis: Formal Assessment

A formal assessment asks the question: What do you know or understand? This type of assessment, accomplished in either written or oral forms, models Jesus’ attempts to assess his disciples’ understanding of his teaching and actions. When using quizzes or tests, keep the following in mind: Make sure that the items included on your quizzes or tests are consistent with the learning outcomes for your lessons. Provide your learners with opportunities for self-assessment. In other […]

Assessment in Catechesis: Introduction

How do we measure effectiveness in catechesis? How do we know whether or not we have achieved our learning outcomes? We may feel as though we’ve had a very good session. One catechist I know judges success on whether or not the participants “had fun.”  That’s not a very reliable method of assessing whether or not someone has been further equipped to live as a disciple of Jesus. In catechesis, we are constantly assessing whether […]

Traditional Prayers – "Family Heirlooms"

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be taking aside each student and checking to see if he or she has taken to heart (memorized) a certain number of traditional Catholic prayers as spelled out by the parish curriculum. Before I do that, however, I plan to explain to the young people the importance and the value of knowing traditional prayers. Kids sometimes think that memorizing is a waste of time. But taking to heart […]

How Do I Get Them to See?

One of the frustrations I experience as a catechist is trying to get the young people to recognize the gravity of the material we are covering. One week, we were learning about the cross of Jesus. What could be more profound? A couple of students had the giggles that night and couldn’t seem to control themselves. I try to handle discipline problems with an even hand and a calm demeanor, but I admit that inside […]

Stumbling into the Profound

In catechesis, we are always inches away from profound issues. Recently, I was collecting some confirmation assignments when one of my students told me that she hadn’t finished hers because “it was a bad week.” She wanted to know if it would be OK with the DRE if she turned in her material the following week. I urged her to be sure to do so. Several more times, she mentioned that “it was a bad […]

No Happy Medium

Working with eighth graders, I find that there seems to be no happy medium when it comes to their energy level. I can have them simply read from the text, which gets boring and makes them lethargic, or I can engage them in activities (my preference), which gets them overly excited and creates discipline problems! Sometimes, I feel like my own worst enemy: I get the kids engaged, and then I’m doing all I can […]

Ups and Downs

Some weeks, I feel like being a catechist is the greatest gift on earth and that I have influenced the lives of young people in profoundly significant ways. Other weeks, I feel like I’m completely inadequate and that I’m wasting my breath. Suffice it to say, there are ups and downs to being a catechist. What’s your greatest joy in being a catechist? What is the greatest challenge you face as a catechist?  

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