About Barb Gilman
Barb Gilman is a wife, mother, and third-grade Catholic school teacher. She is the winner of the 2014 NCEA Distinguished Teacher Award for the Plains States. Active on social media, @BarbinNebraska is the co-organizer of the #CatholicEdChat on Twitter.

Sharing the Wisdom: Wisdom from My Aunts

My parents taught me the importance of spending time with our extended family. My parents are gone now, but my husband and I would visit my aunt Jean—my father’s oldest sister, who was also my godmother—twice a month until she died this past December. We would also visit my mother’s oldest sister Lorraine, but not as frequently, since she lived several hours away. Reflecting on the faith-filled lives of these women, I recall three lessons […]

Finding Balance as a Religion Teacher

Finding balance is a very important part of every catechist’s life. We are pulled in so many directions; giving of ourselves to our students requires that we keep our eyes on the Lord, our students, and ourselves too. How do I keep myself balanced and nourished? When I was a college student, I looked forward to the camaraderie and time spent away from the busyness of college at our semester retreats. These three-day retreats were […]

Sharing Stories of Family Faith

As I reflect on how my religion class has gone so far this year, I’m struck by how often my third graders tie the concepts they learn back to their families and their relationships with one another. With each concept taught, we share stories about our experiences with our families. Building a comfortable relationship within the class that leads to students sharing family traditions is my favorite part of teaching our Catholic faith. For example, […]

Thanksgiving Poems

My school celebrates Thanksgiving with a huge food drive for a local food pantry. Classrooms of older students are paired up with classrooms of younger students. This food drive really ignites our school as the pairs of classrooms compete to bring in the most food and win a pizza lunch. My classroom celebrates Thanksgiving by sharing stories. I have the children write a poem called “A Story of Thanks,” that gives thanks using each of […]

Marian Devotions for the Classroom

I love Our Blessed Mother! My devotion to Mary is easily shared with my third graders. In my classroom there is a print of Our Lady of Guadalupe, an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, a statue of Our Lady of Grace, and a poster of Mary, Undoer of Knots. Even more images of Mary can be easily shown on an interactive whiteboard. When we celebrated the Queenship of Mary, I found 20 different […]

Collaborative Religious Art

I love the artwork that adorns the hallways of our school. While we display art made by our students, religious art decorates the building itself: the first-floor hallway ends at a beautiful mosaic of the Madonna of the Streets, and a large cream-colored bas-relief of angels playing instruments greets students at the end of the north stairwell. Most recently, our school has added collaborative art projects made by the eighth-graders as a gift from the […]

End-of-Year Reflection

Let the Lord define your life! This was our school-wide theme for the year, and it was a fitting theme for my classroom as well. As our year wound down, I once again realized that the Lord was in charge. The service projects and the textbook lessons laid out in August were perfectly suited to each of my third graders, even if we didn’t accomplish all I had hoped. I was very pleased with several […]

Pentecost in the Classroom

Pentecost is often overlooked in my third-grade classroom. Because Pentecost falls on the seventh Sunday after Easter, the school year is usually over by the time we celebrate it. Still, I was determined to celebrate it with my third graders. After reading Kathleen Butler’s article on using art in the classroom, I decided to collect artwork related to Pentecost and show it to my students. I am fortunate to have a large interactive whiteboard in […]

Third Graders and the Ten Commandments

As we move through the school year, my students become more comfortable sharing and asking questions during religion class. I welcome this opportunity to answer questions, and I’m grateful that they can do this in a safe environment that is free of judgment. I want them always to feel that God loves them. When I can’t answer a question, I admit that and promise to get back to them with an answer. If the question […]

My Vocation as a Catholic School Teacher

When I was a little girl, my big brothers teased me when I told them what I wanted to be when I grew up: “First I want to be an artist,” I had told them, “then a teacher, then a mommy, then a ballet dancer, and then a nun!” I guess I wanted it all. Now that I am older, I know that a job and a vocation are different, and part of my job […]

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