During our Webinar on Wednesday evening, many catechists sent in some excellent questions. Here’s a sampling along with my responses. There’s more to come in the days ahead!
Q: where can we get the opening prayer that you used?
A: I adapted the prayer from Catechetical Sunday prayers which you can find at the U.S. Bishops’ Web site:
Q: I teach kids under the age of 10 and I would love some tips on how to make reading aloud from the textbooks more interesting for the kids
A: Take a look at some reading strategies that I’ve described in my blog starting with this one and continuing with the next 3 posts:
Q: I teach third graders, how would you suggest getting them to learn and remember the key words
A: Take a look at this post that describes an activity I think you’ll find helpful!
Q: Any tips when teaching multiple grades in one combined class (ex: 5th to 8th grade)?
A: Kathy, that’s a big challenge! But I know that a number of catechists face that. I’m hoping that some catechists with that experience will share some of their wisdom. In the meantime, here’s a Website (not a religious Website) that shares some pretty good thoughts about teaching multiple ages:
Q: for the first time I’ve been asked to “test” the students after each lesson and after the unit. I find that awkward because I don’t want to have to “teach to a test.” This would be 4th grade. I’m feeling like I have to cover everything. Your thoughts about testing?
A: Laura, it’s possible to test (assess) without simply teaching to the test. Assessment is actually a valuable tool for us to help determine to what extent young people are integrating and retaining the truths of our Catholic faith. Take a look at some posts I’ve done on the topic starting with this post and the three that follow: https://catechistsjourney.loyolapress.com/2007/01/06/assessment-in-catechesis-part-1/
Q: I teach 4th grade and I like to keep classes interesting for them by using games or activities. Is there a good website to use as a resource for games/activities?
A: Lisa, I recommend the Activity Finder at the Loyola Press Website. You can find that at: http://www.loyolapress.com/finding-god-activity-finder.aspx (you’ll need to register)
Q: What about field trips?
A: Joey, I think field trips are a good idea as long as they have a specific relation to what you are teaching and as long as you have the cooperation and support of your catechetical leader and the parents of the children and have seen to all of the legal aspects involved (permission slips, chaperones, etc.) Perhaps the best point that can be made about field trips is to associate them with the Catholic practice of going on pilgrimages. This way, the kids will recognize a different set of expectations on them and on their behavior.
Comment: It is very important to be “over” prepared. The children know when you are grabbing at straws and you will lose their attention fast.
Q: How do you feel about preparing the lessons that coincide with the liturgical calendar vs. the book’s order?
A: Sandra, in many ways this can be very helpful to us because the Church’s liturgical calendar shapes and forms us and so if we follow it, it is like benefitting from its tutelage! When we teach from the liturgical calendar, we have the entire Church reinforcing what we are teaching through their/our worship. The kids who go to church will see, hear, and experience the very things we are talking about in our classes. In fact, the RCIA is designed to follow the liturgical calendar and we can learn a lot from that.