Cricket and Conscience and Conversation

March 14, 2017 Denise Gorss 0

I love when someone answers a question with a wild guess or a funny remark, but then that answer proves right on target. Such was the case in a recent lesson on making moral choices and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I was explaining that we need to form our consciences to be able to make good moral choices. Since I learned long ago never to take for granted the students’ vocabulary knowledge, I backed up […]

The Vocabulary of Lent

February 28, 2017 Denise Gorss 2

As we look to observe Lent with our students, I am thinking about the language of Lent and how to ensure that my seventh-graders know the Church’s vocabulary related to the season. I shared a post on the Vocabulary of Christmas two months ago, and many of the techniques for helping children understand key terms could apply here as well. But one of the advantages of Lent, from a catechetical perspective, is that it is […]

30 Extra Minutes to Fill

February 7, 2017 Denise Gorss 4

My plan was to cover Finding God, Grade 7, Chapter 9, as part of a session on family and mission. I’ve used the general plan before with success, but knew early on it wasn’t quite working this night. The young people were attentive, but not interactive. And so I found myself at the end of my lesson plan with almost 30 minutes of our 90-minute session to go! While I didn’t have an extra activity […]

The Prayer Before Meals Opens a Conversation About Real-Life Prayer

January 24, 2017 Denise Gorss 4

In the middle of a session, the conversation turned to the Prayer Before Meals, and I asked my seventh-graders if they knew that prayer. One girl volunteered that she knew it in Spanish, so I invited her to recite it for our group. But aside from that girl, no one indicated they knew the prayer. I directed the young people to look at the words of the prayer in the book. The same girl who […]

Lifting Hearts and Eyes to Mary with a Living Rosary and Balloon Release

December 13, 2016 Special Contributor 1

There’s no doubt that St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in San Antonio, Texas has a passion for Mary and her discipleship. Lessons about the Rosary are incorporated in religious instruction at all grade levels and focus especially on Mary during the Month of the Rosary in October. Fifteen years ago, St. Gregory’s seventh-grade students started asking questions about Marian apparitions and how they connected to the Mysteries of the Rosary. The students were asked […]

10 Ways to Celebrate Advent with Your Class—Without Rushing to Christmas

December 6, 2016 Denise Gorss 2

Editor’s note: We’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of Catechist’s Journey this week by sharing catechetical top-10 lists each day and giving away Loyola Press prize packages. Enter for your chance to win the Dear Pope Francis Family Kit today; details below. With stores decorating for Christmas as early as Halloween, movie channels already showing holiday flicks, and restaurants playing Christmas music in November, it’s easy for the young people we serve to want to jump […]

When and How to Introduce Advent

November 22, 2016 Denise Gorss 0

The first week of Advent begins on the Sunday following Thanksgiving. While that is usual, it forces me to make a choice in how to introduce Advent: Do I talk about the season early, before Thanksgiving? Or do I wait until after the holiday break, when the season has already started? I’ve alternated my approach through the years, but I usually like to at least introduce Advent before the holiday, inviting the young people to […]

Patron Saints Election Results

November 8, 2016 Denise Gorss 3

At the time I write this, my group of seventh graders has narrowed down the pool of saintly candidates to three as we move toward electing a patron saint for our classroom. The finalists are St. Mary, St. Francis Xavier, and Blessed Miguel Pro. Mary is polling as the current leader, but who knows what the final tally will say. You may recall that when I originally shared this activity of electing a patron saint, […]

Classroom Management Techniques: Call-and-Response

October 25, 2016 Denise Gorss 6

A few years ago, I started using a new technique for getting the young people’s attention: call-and-response. When I would say, “God is good,” the young people would respond, “all the time.” Then I would say, “And all the time,” to which the young people would respond, “God is good.” I borrowed the idea from another catechist and the specific phrase from a priest who served at a local parish. The technique’s effectiveness has been […]

A Plan for the First Session of Seventh Grade

October 11, 2016 Denise Gorss 2

I’m never sure what to expect on the first day of religious education. How many students will show up? What will they be like? How long will the opening prayer service and send-off to classrooms take? A catechist always needs to be flexible, but the first day of sessions makes that quality even more important. This year I had 14 young people on my roster, 13 of whom attended the first session. I expect the […]

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