We had a very nice session last evening on the topic of David, shepherd and king. I hadn’t seen “my kids” for 3 weeks due to traveling and a holiday so it was great to see them again. I had 3 absences so the room seemed a little emptier and, for the most part, the kids were very cooperative and in good spirits. Here’s a summary of some of the high and low points:
- The kids continue to be very reverent as we do our opening procession and prayer ritual. It was fortuitous that I’ve had the kids write down their prayer intentions on a slip of paper as they enter each week because tonight’s video about David, King of Israel, included pictures of people praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem where they place little slips of paper with prayers into the cracks of the wall.
- I gave the kids a Ten Commandments Quiz since I had asked them to memorize the Commandments several weeks ago. I would say that 5 or 6 of them clearly knew their Commandments and breezed through the quiz. 2 or 3 of them had more trouble and 2 of them were completely lost. I plan to return to the Commandments before the year is out to reinforce them.
- I am always delighted at how quickly kids this age volunteer! I asked for a volunteer to dress up as a shepherd and several hands went up immediately. The young man who donned the costume was tickled and especially loved the shepherd’s staff. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we passed the staff around during class to signify the person who was speaking or reading from the text much as the kids in Lord of the Flies did as they passed the conch to signal who could talk. Kids love stuff like this and it is a great way to utilize symbols of our faith.
- Before reading the text of Finding God (pgs. 52-53) which provided a nice summary of the story of David, one of the students read from the Bible – 1Samuel 16:3-13 – which tells the story of David’s annointing.
- As is typical for my classes, we read from the text for little more than 5 minutes. The textbook set the tone and focus for the lesson and provided the content, however, the actual reading of the textbook was only a small portion of the lesson…a foundation or anchor, so to speak.
- I introduced the video – David, King of Israel – by telling them that this video was created by Jewish teachers for a Jewish audience. They were fascinated by that and asked a few questions about rabbis, Hebrew, and Yiddish!
- As I always do, I provided video guide sheets which specify what the young people are to look for in the video. This worked very effectively since a new theme was introduced every 60 seconds or so and that helped to keep their attention. We paused the video at the scenes that show the Western Wall of the Temple and had a very interesting discussion about that.
- We discussed the 7 themes related to David that the video proposed: shepherd, warrior, king, challenges, temple, Psalms, messiah. At this point, the kids were getting a bit restless and tired and discussion waned however they were very interested in the concept of the Messiah and the fact that Jews still await the Messiah while Christians accept Jesus as the Messiah.
- We then transitioned to prayer beginning with the viewing of a very nice meditation on “Shepherd Me, O God” (Marty Haugen) which gave me an opportunity to emphasize how the Psalms of David are such an important part of our liturgical and prayer life. Toward the end of the song, my aide distributed their tea-light candles and they prayerfully moved to their sacred space, taking their textbooks with them. From there, I invited them to pray the words of a prayer on pg. 54 of Finding God, with the boys taking the part of Group A and the girls Group B. This was only moderately successful since I couldn’t really hear them praying the words with me. I then invited them to spend some quiet time with our Good Shepherd which they did for a couple of minutes.
- After offering a special prayer for the husband of our DRE, a 7th grade catechist who is very ill, I sent them on their way with a Homework sheet that invites them to sit with their parents and visit some Websites that invite us to care for those most vulnerable in society just as a good king – like David – is supposed to do.
In all, we accomplished everything I had hoped to do and the kids were well-behaved and in good spirits which made for a very enjoyable experience! Next week is Advent prayer!
great props! keeps things interesting. I found the comment interesting that you read the text book for only about 5 min. to set the tone and the focus. Some teachers read the book so much it bores the kids. You will hear them say all we do is read out of the book. Or you will hear recruitment lines to get catechists: don’t worry if you do not know how to teach we have a book. but you hit the nail on the head the book is meant to be a guide and because many faith formation catechists are not teachers by nature it can become dry for the kids and the book becomes almost the entire lesson.
It would be great if we had better lesson planning methods across the board and more resources to enrich our youth programs. Thank you for sharing your ideas they are extremely helpful.
Thanks Grace. I agree with you that we need to do more to help our catechists plan lessons that take young people “beyond the book.”