Tonight’s the night! And I’m not referring to the great 1975 Neil Young song of the same title! Tonight is my first religious ed session for the 2009-10 catechetical year! May the “wind” of the Holy Spirit be at my sails! Here’s my plan:
The theme (BIG idea) of this first session is: “We can trust in the goodness of God the Father”
- I plan to meet and greet the young people at the door as they arrive, shaking hands, and handing them an index card on which they are to immediately write the names of 5 people they trust.
- When we’re all present and accounted for, my aide (Lucy) and I will introduce ourselves.
- Next, we’ll say an opening prayer.
- We’ll pause for a half-minute of silence.
- Then I’ll invite them to stand and teach them to respond “Let us rejoice and be glad” to my greeting of “This is the day the Lord has made.” (I made a “cue card” for this)
- We’ll pass a candle (battery operated) around and have each one say something they are thankful for.
- Then, we’ll sign ourselves with the Cross on our forehead, lips, and heart as I say, “May the Word of God be in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts.”
- Finally, they will be seated and we’ll call each one forward one a time and present them with their textbook. (instrumental music in the background)
- Using a ball toss, the young people will take turns introducing themselves and mentioning the one person on their list who they trust most.
- Next, I’ll introduce our “song of the week” feature – Linkin Park’s “From the Inside” and I’ll ask them to summarize what the song is about (the difficulty of trusting others) I’ll say a few words about how difficult it can be to trust others, especially when that trust is broken. Then I’ll introduce our main focus for today, the fact that we can trust God our Father who has kept his promise to be with us.
- Using the ball toss again, we’ll take turns reading from chapter one about trusting in the goodness of God.
- If time permits, I’ll distribute Bibles and have the young people read aloud the creation account in Genesis 1 which is the basis of the chapter.
- Next, I’ll introduce the concept of “sacred space” – each of them will take a small battery operated tea candle and move to a spot in the room that they will claim as their sacred space for the year.
- With instumental music in the background and the lights dimmed, I’ll lead them on a short guided reflection based on Psalm 8 about the goodness of God’s creation. The goal here: to get them comfortable with being quiet for a few minutes and to reflect on the fact that we can trust in the goodness of God’s creation.
- When I call them back after the reflection, I’d like to do a short demonstration of how the goodness of God’s creation is not being shared equally, fairly, justly. (see my post of March 1, 2009) I’ll challenge them to go forth knowing that since they can trust in the goodness of God, they can share the abundance of God’s creation with others.
- We’ll end with a closing prayer that includes the following:
- Read aloud and sign the classroom covenant that our DRE distributes.
- each young person comes forward and signs the covenant and blesses him/herself with holy water. (instrumental music in background)
- Closing announcements: for next week, memorize the first part of the Nicene Creed about how we trust (believe) in God the Father (I’ll distribute a small worksheet with the words they are to memorize). Also, bring in a personal symbol that can become part of our prayer center for the year.
This is a great plan! I think I’m going to try that ball toss idea! I’m teaching Kindergarten this year but after reading your lesson plan, 8th grade sounds like a blast!!!
Thanks, Jennifer. Of course, let’s see how things go. Sometimes, fun ideas like the ball toss can “blow up” in your face if you have a couple of “hooligans” in your class who disregard your rules and whip it at someone’s head! I’ll let you know how it goes. If it doesn’t go well, maybe I’ll switch to kindergarten! 🙂
I love Sister Joan Chittister’s book IN SEARCH OF BELIEF. She does such a thoughtful and thought provoking chapter on each line of the creed and ends the book with a beautiful revision of the creed.
Was wondering if you have read the book and if you incorporate any of her ideas in your discussion of the creed with your 8th graders.
Your class sounds like fun. Lucky 8th graders! I like the variety of ways that you draw them in and I bet they will, too.
Thanks, Dianna, I haven’t read Sr. Joan’s book. I like to incorporate a variety of approaches to reinforce one or two main ideas…I find that kids respond to the variety.
Hi Joe. This sounds like a great lesson! I’m teaching 7th grade so I’m definitely using your general ideas for inspiration. How long are your class sessions? My first class is tonight and I’m worried about fitting everything into my allotted 60 minutes.