Catechists and Catholic school teachers are responsible for what can seem like daunting tasks each liturgical season: being creative with lessons that get children excited and involved, and incorporating technology in the classroom. Keven Rinaman of Calvert Catholic Schools in Tiffin, OH, took an approach during Advent 2016 that included both efforts.
As Director of Technology and former teacher at Calvert Catholic, Rinaman came up with an Advent calendar project after brainstorming with Barb Gilman and other teachers about his dream to create an activity that schools could participate in nationwide. He began developing the idea at Calvert Catholic by consulting a religion teacher and the Director of Religious Education. Their conversation led to “Advent in Action” using the Loyola Press Advent calendar.
Each classroom was assigned a different day throughout the season, including weekends. The classrooms engaged in the instruction for the day and documented it by photo or video. The submissions were then included in an online slideshow. Around 500 students and about 20 teachers were involved at Calvert Catholic, and many times, the theme guided their lesson for the day.
“Be creative and have fun. Let the students come up with what they think each theme is asking,” were the instructions that Rinaman offered. The students did just that and more. Rinaman received feedback from parents, grandparents, and alumni that they were following along daily and were delighted to watch their children in the spotlight. “For me, it was very fulfilling to see the smiles on our students’ faces in the pictures the teachers sent to me,” Rinaman shared.
Rinaman updated the calendar each day and also posted to the school’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. When there was a video involved, he uploaded it on YouTube. Based on the likes, shares, comments, and retweets on social media, families enjoyed seeing the students live out their faith.
“Projects like this allow us to show what is so special about Catholic education,” said Rinaman. He hopes to see schools across the country sharing the hashtag #AdventinAction. For those interested in trying “Advent in Action,” he suggests planning well in advance so teachers and classrooms can prepare, and to adapt the daily instructions for your situation.
“It’s very important for Catholic schools to highlight our faith in action,” Keven added. “I believe that students can demonstrate the teaching Jesus brought to us.”
How to Create a Slideshow Calendar
Keven used Google Slides to create the calendar and post it to the school website. Look over these tips and reminders, and view Calvert Catholic’s “Advent in Action” calendar for ideas.
- Sketch out an idea of what you want the slideshow calendar and each slide to look like.
- Create a page with a view of the whole calendar as the first slide.
- Make sure that each date contains a link to go to a specific slide; every date on the calendar should have its own slide.
- Set the automatic slide change to five minutes, to keep the slides from changing on viewers.
- For daily posts, include a placeholder slide for the next day with “Coming Soon_____.”
- Have materials sent by e-mail or text. The best posts contain multiple pictures that can be arranged in the picture collage apps on your mobile phone or online.
- After finishing the main template, choose the option “Publish to web,” so you can copy and paste the embed code to your school or parish website.