Let’s do more post-webinar Q & A! I appreciate how so many of you are adding your wisdom in response to the questions.
To access the Q & A, click on the COMMENTS link just below and to the left. You’ll see a number of comments from Joe, each representing a different question. You can then click on REPLY to add your thoughts. Let’s talk!
Joe V. asks…
Are there some ood Websites where we can get class worksheets if we think we will have time left over?
I recommend that you first check your publisher’s Website…most offer extra activities. I know that this is true for findinggod.com and christourlife.com from Loyola Press. In addition, check out 4Catholiceducators.com, catholiccatechist.org, catholicmom.com, Resources for Catholic Educators at http://www.sil.net/RelEd, just to name a few. I’m sure we’ll hear from others about more resources.
Victor R. asks…
I teach 2nd graders and many of them have no idea about church, they do not know the basics, and their family does not enforce the faith, beyond sending them to class. How do I ensure that what I teach them sinks in and grasp their faith?
Victor, this is a challenge we all face…it is difficult to teach when the family does not reinforce. However, it is not impossible…God can overcome anything. It sounds to me like you need to focus on the very basics that you feel they don’t know and to reinforce them through repetition…in other words, don’t just assume that they’ll learn it in a once and done approach. Keep coming at them, presenting the basics in a variety of ways and incorporating ways that you can informally and perhaps formally assess their learning. By all means, do what you can to invite the parents to be more involved. Send home some materials asking the parents to work with their children in learning some of the basics that you are teaching. Back to the idea of assessment: unless we assess, we clearly have no idea whether or not they are grasping what we’re teaching. For more about assessment, see my posts beginning January 6, 2007: https://catechistsjourney.loyolapress.com/2007/01/06/assessment-in-catechesis-part-1/
An idea, I have been ‘tinkering’ with since the first ‘class’.
You said you asked each child one thing they learned @ the end of class, so they would have something to tell Mom & Dad, (Sidenote: little ones should almost always bring home a paper of some kind, even if it is just a colored picture)
I am thinking about having the students bring to class the next week an answer to a question they had to ask their parents, a worksheet of some kind etc. I realize it is a small seed….
Lynn, nice idea!
As far as assesment, I found that the Trivial pursuit game works great, I make up the questions from the book’s tests and other
items from class discussions. The kids know more than they realize and I am loose w/the rules so they can help each other w/clues. I have also had the parents participate, which worked well.
Lynn, how do you have the parents participate?
They play too, sometimes teamed up with their child or single player….a few years ago our DRE want us to have parent teacher conferences and I did not like the idea, she wanted us to evaluate our students, behavior, etc. Sooo,
I had the parents come in w/their child and we played trivial prusit. The parents and kids spent time together and the parents were able to see what the kids had learned.
William S. asks…
What other ways aside from popular music do you use to get the students hooked on the theme for the lesson?
William, the options are limitless. Some of my favorites are the following:
-icebreaker activities that teach a point
-short clips from a TV show or movie
-discussion of a current event
-searching through magazines or newspapers for stories related to the theme
-asking them to write down a brief thought related to the theme
For me, the important thing is that, somehow, I’ll be able use the activity as a transition/introduction into the lesson. I call them “holy segues!” Something that allows me to say, after the engage step, that our lesson will explore something similar to what we just did.
Often, I think of my “hook” by identifying the “problem” to which today’s lesson will provide a “solution” – sort of a “bad news/good news” approach. Remember how Johnny Carson used to tell “good news/bad news” jokes? This reverses it: we identify the bad news first (brought to light by the engage activity) and then introduce the good news (literally, the Good News of Jesus).
You may also want to check out http://www.mycatholicvoice.com and look at their video collection. Search for “one minute in the head of a catholic” and for videos by 36 Parables. Depending on the age group, these may be usefull. You can also filter videos by categories like “CCD”, “Youth”, etc.
Susan C. asks…
How do we get and keep older students excited? My students have been participating, but only when I really push them to participate. I would like to see more interaction from them!
Susan, in a sense, you answer your own question when you say that you “really push them to participate.” The majority of the older students that I have had experience teaching are not motivated to participate in religion class. It is our job as catechists to create an environment that makes participation safe, comfortable, and enriching for them. Call it “pushing” or call it “inviting” or whatever you want, but the onus is on us to engage them. The trick is, to be subtle about it. By that, I mean, we can’t just shove them in front of a class and expect them to talk. We do things like toss a foam ball to a student to indicate that it is his or her turn to speak after which they can toss it to another. Suddenly, their focus in on the foam ball while you are stealthily extracting answers from them…they are less self-conscious. Another approach is to invite them to choose an object that represents their answer – kind of a show-and-tell. This way, they feel they are talking about an object when they are in reality talking about themselves. Youth ministers have tons of approaches like these up their sleeves and we can learn a lot from them for junior high catechesis.
Greg O. asks…
So many catechist’s brag that they “don’t use the book.” Your thoughts on that?
Greg, when catechists say that, I do have some concern. Sometimes, what they mean is that they know how to teach the concepts in the book without having to actually read from the book. In such cases, these are often veteran catechists who have learned how to engage their learners in a variety of ways while teaching the stated curriculum. Other times, and this is when I am most concerned, catechists are just bored with the idea of reading from the book or, they don’t know how to creatively bring the text’s concepts to life, so they just disregard it and bring in their own “curriculum” which often consists of having fun in a vaguely religious context. The fact of the matter is, we have a responsibility to teach a stated curriculum. The bishops have ensured that catechetical textbooks are in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and we have been called as catechists to join them in their role as teachers of the faith. Tossing aside the text book is a dangerous practice because it too often leaves us without the proper context within which we are to teach.
Having said all that, the textbook is not the be all and end all of catechesis. You have heard me talk already about making sure that we do “off the page” activities that bring the text to life. Textbooks are a valuable and needed resource for catechesis, however, we should not hesitate to find other resources that reinforce or bring to life the concepts outlined in the text.
Thanks for answering my question Joe. I’m going to take away the goals of “creatively bringing the text’s concept’s to life” and “valuable and needed resource” as something for me to shoot for this year.
Kathy H. asks…
Do you think hands-on crafts are too immature for 8th graders?
Kathy, absolutely NOT! I don’t think anyone is ever too old to do a craft as part of religious education. God’s first act of creation was crafting the universe…a work of divine imagination. We tap into that same divine imagination when we express ourselves creatively. Now, certainly, we must make sure that whatever crafts we have chosen are age-appropriate. I have found that my 8th graders can really enjoy doing a craft activity as long as it does not make them feel that they are doing something baby-ish or childish. If you get a chance, take a look at the book: Crafting Faith: 101 Ways to Help Kids Grow in Their Faith by Laurine M. Easton (Loyola Press).
Joe (I think) said once that crafts can offer a sense of security to junior high kids in their struggle between adulthood and childhood…I tried some simple crafts and watching their giddiness was rather fun. This was for 7th graders anyway…by 8th grade who knows!
By the way, I manage adults here at the office and that craft idea also works on them (except we call them “team building” or “character building” here of course). Great Fun.
Joe, Will you be @ the congress in Ca ,if not will your books be sold there?
Me and my books will be there! I’ll be doing a workshop…stay tuned for more info.
Joe, I was very pleased to take part of the Webinar. Thank you for this wonderful experiance. I will be taking your workshop @congress and telling my friends to do so.
will you be signing your books while there @
congress? I’m real excitied to take your workshop
Thanks, Lynn, I look forward to visiting CA during the late winter! I’ll most likely be signing books there too!
Question: Does anyone have: 1) a website or resource for secular video clips that can be downloaded for inclusion in a learning session (preferably referenced in some manner)? 2) A reference or listing of secular popular current songs again indexed in some manner? ..that can help connect and support the Catholic message being taught. Thanks. John
John, see my post on popular music and catechesis, especially the reference to Cornerstone Media, Inc.