Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

May 12, 2010

Teaching Theology with Technology Webinar Follow-up

How have you integrated technology into religious education this year? In a Webinar presented in May 2010, Ave Maria Press’s Adolescent Catechetical Specialist, Jared Dees, offered numerous examples of ways theology teachers can implement technology into their religious instruction. His hypothesis is that even though the tools have changed, the way people learn has not changed. Technology offers some great opportunities to engage students using teaching strategies that teachers have been using for years before the Internet was available.

Presentation Outline: Examination of tools and technology for:
1. Direct Instruction (Lecture)
2. Individual Assignments (Handouts)
3. Graphic Organizers
4. Videos
5. Student Research Projects
6. Collaborative Learning Projects



Prior to the presentation, participants were asked to share their most effective activity using technology. Those activities are listed here:

1. Interactive discussions using Edmodo, a Facebook-like classroom tool.

2. teaching Plato's Allegory of the Cave to an IB Theory of Knowledge class using an animated version on smartboard

3. assigning projects to my students using Microsoft Publisher; the students must integrate content and creativity into a brochure, newsletter, etc depending on the topic

4. Same as above... PowerPoint (through the SmartBoard) is a powerful tool and becomes more potent when engaged with other weblinks.

5. Classroom discussion and lesson are the most effective way that I use technology. Notes can be turned into a lesson review. Hyperlinks in powerpoints can take advantage of video clips. Teaching a lesson on Baptismal symbols for example, can link to the uses of water in the world and the social justice issue of clean water today. It can also make the lesson more global by showing students the way people from other countries in other parts of the world see water as sacred and use it their religious ceremonies.

6. Getting students involved in creating presentations using technology has some benefits for our students, but perhaps not as many benefits as schools that have smartboards in every room or laptops for every student. It's not that our students don't have home access to computers and other things like ipods, or kindle, it's that availability at school is limited.

7. Webquests

8. Using the internet to access online videos of shows or movies or topical Youtube. ALso being able to put PPT presentations or assignments on line for student use and review.

9. When teaching about heresy - I often find popular songs and some older songs where when you listen to the song, it sounds completely different than what is actually said - making a connection to heretical and Church teaching, and why the heresy's popped up in the first place.

10. Powerpoints

11. My favorite activity of the past year was a feature on Edline called "discussion." I use it to pose thought-provoking questions for my students to which they post replies. I find the students are much more inclined to participate in these on-line discussions than to respond in class. Although I took many of the questions from my text, I also had the freedom to have them respond to articles from our Catholic newspaper (We receive copies for each senior.), to give feedback on speakers, and to address various topics in the general secular news that related to the topics of our synthesis course. I posted a new discussion question each week.

12. Power Point Review Jeopardy Game

13. Power point presentations

14. One recent activity that seemed to work well. During a viewing of Dead Man Walking students were on the website TodaysMeet, which is basically just chat intended for backchanneling. As they watched the movie, they were able to type questions about things they did not understand and get them cleared up right away. Often I did not have to respond because classmates would answer the questions. Students also commented on what they were watching, and raised their own issues regarding capital punishment based on what they were seeing.

15. Each of the first two evenings, I posted questions for discussion on Moodle related to what they had seen during the day. These two procedures allowed us to get into conversation about the video without waiting until after the three class periods it took to show the whole movie.

16. reflective notes on qualities of human nature I designed

17. When introducing students to Christology, I created a blog for the class. They interviewed three people, asking them questions about the theme, "Who do you say that I am?" The students blogged about their findings and then commented on their peers' posts. It was an easy, effective, and manageable way for students to see and reflect on the work other students had completed.

18. I have the students go to a Darfur website and play an online game about life there.

19. I also have students create 5 slide powerpoint presentations on Poverty which must include audio-visuals

20. Frontline PBS The Undertaking

21. Teaching values by the use of Youtube.

22. Students write journals on laptops and submit them via e-amil. Journal question is on smartboard.

23. Powerpoint meditation on images of Jesus, accompanied by music

24. I think this would be using games such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Jeopardy and Are You Smarter than Your Parish Priest?

25. NONE. Everytime I attempt to use technology I literally loose 10-15 minutes of my 39 minutes of class time.

26. I had my students redo Psalm 139 into modern day message and many of them chose the smart board & powerpoint to display thier psalms. They were beautiful.

27. Also, I had my students do a values activity where they could choose teen ads, commercials, or music and they made use of commercials and music from youtube.

28. Catholic videos form YouTube and other sites with discussion and interpretation of the message afterwards, tying it back to the lesson of the day.

29. Watching some videos from God Tube or You Tube (The Last Lecture, Inspirational Videos as prayers,) Kids love the visuals instead of just talking!!

30. I sometimes throw a film clip into a lesson, otherwise I am not terribly techno-savvy

31. Communication and evangelization through Facebook, emails, webpages, etc. Texting is also used in some areas. Without being able to reach them to communicate, all of the technology in the world couldn't work.

32. With my senior Grief and Loss class I use our Moodle to create a series of forums around the bioethics of end of life decisions. Along with the forum, I also use the wiki aspect of Moodle - which invovles the students working in groups to create a wiki page on a specific aspect of euthanasia. Both the forums and the wiki lead into classroom discussions on the topic. In the past I have used Blogger for this project, but my school currently created our Moodle and I found this to be easier to use with 100+ students.

33. student prepared projects—especially a 'perfect world" video assignment.

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