I provided free Catechist Training Webinars on August 19 & 20 (Part One) and August 26 & 27 (Part Two). Recordings are available for those who were unable to participate or would like to share it with others.
Let’s continue our post-webinar Q & A! 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 from Webinar participants. You can then click on REPLY to add your thoughts. Let’s talk!
Kristan L. asks…
When should art activities take place in a lesson?
Kristan, there is no one time that art must be relegated to in a lesson. You can use an art activity to engage the students at the beginning. An art activity can be the vehicle through which you present the contect of your lesson. It can also serve as a prayerful expression of what they have learned. Finally, an art activity can be a type of assessment at the end of your lesson, helping you to see if the learners have grapsed the concepts taught.
Bonnie W. asks…
Any place you know of to get CATHOLIC teaching resources? I’m looking for a New Testament for the 10 year old set and stuff for the classroom
Bonnie, I suggest you take a look at my list of Useful Links on the bottom right hand side of my homepage. I offer lots of links to good resources for Catholic teaching. A good Bible for ages 10-13 is the Breakthrough Bible by St. Mary’s Press: http://www.smp.org/AlternateDetail.cfm?AltId=69
Debra A. asks…
Why does Christ Our Life use 3 steps: centering, sharing, acting rather than the 4 you just mentioned?
Debra, not all texts use the same steps for the catechetical process. I outlined 4 steps as used in the Finding God program which I teach. I’ve seen anywhere from 3 to 5 steps involved depending on the text. Dr. Thomas Groome who articluated the catechetical process in his groundbreaking book Christian Religious Education, actually identified 5 steps. What’s important to know is that the catechetical process, whether it follows 3 steps or 5, begins with engaging the life experience of the participants, introduces the Gospel message (and shows how the Gospel message sheds light on lived experience), and then sends the learner forth to a new lived experience guided by the Gospel. COL’s “centering, sharing, and acting follow the same logic as the 4 steps that I laid out: engage, explore, reflect, and respond. I like the 4 steps of Finding God because it ensures that prayer (reflect) is an integral part of the lesson and not just an add on.
Susan G. asks…
Are 10 year olds too young to understand the BIG picture of salvation history?
Susan, 10 year olds are not too young as long as the BIG picture of salvation history is taught to them in an age-appropriate manner. 10 year olds love stories and basically, salvation history is a story (a narrative) – an epic one at that, but a story nonetheless. It is precisely at this age that children can be grasping the overall thrust of the story of salvation history and a general chronology of the events of salvation history.
Judy P. asks…
How much flexibilty can we assume we have in staying with the catechist lesson or touching on our own ideas?
Judy, the key here is in what you mean by “our own ideas.” Essentially, we are not teaching our own ideas but are teaching the truths of our faith as they’ve been handed to us. I assume by “our own ideas” you are referring to “our own approaches” or methodologies. Usually, as new catechists, it’s good to go “by the book” until you get a handle on things. As you become more experienced, however, there is no limit to the amount of flexibility you can bring to presenting the content of a lesson, as long as you remain faithful to that content.
Mary Z. asks…
When you teach assorted age groups, how do you know what kind of door we should enter into?
Mary, it is quite a challenge for catechists to teach a group that involves various age groups for precisely the reason you identify: what life experience (their door) is most appropriate? In most cases, you need to “cater to” the lowest common denominator, finding something that the youngest can relate to that hopefully the older participants can still relate to without feeling childish. In many cases, it is helpful to enlist the help of the older participants in teaching the younger ones. In this way, the older ones realize that they need to reach the level of the younger ones and, in doing so, they are able to incorporate the content for themselves.
Sue V. asks…
I am a DRE and I usually try to prepare a lesson plan for my catechists, but I wonder if they would be more prepared and engaged if they prepare their own lesson plan.
Sue, while I’m sure your catechists appreciate the development of lesson plans that you do for them, they would also no doubt benefit from participating in the process. Perhaps you can experiment with a half-and-half arrangement in which you lay down the basics of the curriculum and the lesson plans and invite them to work in teams to develop the specifics of how the lesson will be carried out.
Joe, Enjoyed the webinar and I am looking forward to another. As October approaches, I am attempting a ‘living rosary’ of the students in the school on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Do you have any ideas?
Pat, I did a very simple living Rosary many years ago so I don’t have anything extraordinary to share. I know there are some folks out there who have done some creative things…let’s hear from ya!
Joe, I am really enjoying working through your webinar – thank you! I must say, your students are fortunate to have you as their catechist, and we are fortunate that you are so sharing in your experiences!.
I have a question for you regarding testing, quizzes and grading. The church I teach catechism for has a difference in opinion for how progress resports should be organized, and how children should be assessed. There seems to be concensus that, in lower grades, just as in regular school, children are not graded but pass or fail. (btw, no one fails – which should be the case. I wonder why children aren’t given numbers – 1 for excellent, 2 for working hard and 3, needing further work). In upper grades (4th and on), it gets murkier. The DRE wants us to record tests and quizzes and give letter grades. Several teachers resist this (actually, most of the professional teachers) and just want a pass or fail. I can go either way (I am not a pro teacher, but would like to give tests periodically to let their parents know how they’re doing).
Do you have opinions either way on this issue? What does the parish you teach for doRight now we are at an impasse and I don’t know what exactly to tell my 6th graders as far as what will be expected them (regarding assessments, etc).
I would appreciate your prayful opinions and experience in this area. I am tired of our children getting inconsistent feedback, depending on which class/teacher they’re in.
Hi Margaret and thanks for your email. First of all, I do believe that assessment in some way, shape, or form is important in catechesis. We need to know whether or not and to what extent the faith is being grasped by our learners. Be sure to see my posts about assessment beginning on January 6, 2007.
I also posted about report cards on January 21, 2008. Bottom line is, I’m not a big fan of grades in religious education because that equates it with an academic pursuit. I do, however, believe that formal assessment, coupled with informal assessment, and some form of feedback is crucial for apprenticeship in discipleship.
Enjoyed # 2, when is # 3……
Especially setting up a prayer/meditation, I am looking forward to using it in my class….
This year I have two students, one fifth and one sixth grade, one boy, one girl.
I would like to find a project, report that would require us working together during our hour. I would discuss/share Catechism while working. Just two kids for an hour is just too long for only reading discussing w/a craft thrown in.
Any ideas, I am hoping to find something that will require more than one week to finish… Thank You, Lynn