For as long as I’ve been in catechetical ministry (over 40 years!), I’ve heard catechetical ministers pleading for something different when it comes to doing faith formation with junior high kids—and rightly so! Young people in junior high (seventh and eighth grades) are at a critical stage in their faith development, as their “image of God received in childhood is refashioned.” (Directory for Catechesis, 247) The worst thing we can do is to continue to treat them as though they are no different than younger children.
So what is this elusive “something different”? In simple terms, it means something that feels less like school (a strictly academic endeavor) and more like the catechumenate, with an emphasis on accompaniment, ongoing conversion, liturgical language, meaningful relationships, affective dynamics, a missionary character, and a “climate in which questions are welcomed and brought into contact with the presentation of the Gospel.” (DC, 247)
Does that sound like flipping the traditional classroom on its head? Well, yes. The approach I’m advocating is indeed referred to as the “flipped classroom” approach, also called a “youth ministry approach.” In the flipped classroom model, young people work at home at their own pace with textbook and video assignments to grow in their knowledge of the teachings of the Catholic Church before meeting as a group for faith formation. In the group, they then engage in an interactive session review and then work together to explore faith concepts further. In small groups, they work on projects and discuss essential questions, pray together for themselves and others, and are called to actively witness to the teachings of Christ in the world.
I’m thrilled to share that this flipped classroom approach is now available in the new edition of Finding God Grades 7 and 8, available August, 2021!
The Finding God Grades 7 and 8 Flipped Classroom format includes a Missionary Discipleship Challenge for each session. Young people use this challenge to undertake activities that build their capacity for discipleship as they grow into joyful witnesses of the Catholic faith.
As if that is not enough, Finding God Grades 7 and 8 now feature enhanced multimedia, which allows young people to transcend book learning by incorporating rich multimedia that amplifies the affective features of the text and draws them into a deeper, more meaningful relationship with Christ. The enhanced multimedia includes interactive quizzes and decision-making scenarios, engaging videos, guided reflections and meditations, and even a podcast, all helping form participants as lifelong disciples of Jesus.