Experiences Teaching Catholic Devotions

April 18, 2017 Denise Gorss 4

During my planning of sessions this year, it occurred to me that young people in our programs never get exposed to the Stations of the Cross or many other traditional Catholic devotions. Even when I include the Stations in my plan, I’m teaching what they are, not leading or praying them with the young people. Maybe I needed to think differently about my approach, so this year I decided to try praying the Stations of […]

Passover Storytelling

April 11, 2017 Denise Gorss 6

In leading a lesson on the Last Supper and the Eucharist, I used most of my usual plan, inspired by Finding God, Grade 7, Chapter 16. And, as usual, I needed to pause in the discussion of the Last Supper to talk about the Passover. Because my group is preparing for Confirmation, three types of young people gather with me each week: those who haven’t been to religious education classes since First Eucharist and First […]

Four Ways to Encourage Silence

March 28, 2017 Denise Gorss 0

The topic of silence has come up a few times in discussions with my seventh graders, and every time it does, the young people make it obvious by their facial expressions and comments that the idea of silence isn’t one they embrace. That’s not surprising, given the fact that they get so few opportunities to practice silence in our contemporary world. But I know that silence can lead to beautiful moments of prayer and can […]

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 […]

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 […]

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