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Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

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May 28, 2019

Do You Offer Your Students Extra Credit?

What is your opinion on offering extra credit to students especially during exam time? A college professor, Deborah J. Cohan, explains why she changed her mind on offering extra credit and some of its benefits in the article “A professor explains why she offers extra credit in her classroom.”

In our research with high school theology teachers, we have likewise found a majority do offer extra credit opportunities to their students. Hence we have included some questions and assignments in the Chapter Review portions of our text to help facilitate those opportunities. Some of the questions and assignments are based on the overall Focus Question of the chapter. Others are directly related to the particular section content. Even teachers who do not offer extra credit have shared that they use these questions and assignment as study guides to help their students prepare for quizzes and exams.


April 30, 2019

Church History: Comparing and Contrasting Alternate Beliefs

Helping students engage and remember Church history can be very overwhelming and is often abstract.    

The following cards offer a quick template that can assist students to quickly label, compare, and contrast specific factors of heresies, schisms, and various creeds that differ from the tenets of Roman Catholicism.  This type of assignment can also be beneficial for developing research skills, through digital literacy, and negotiating web resources to find the correct information.  For easy and creative access: use a hole punch and keep the grid cards on a ring for quick comparison.

Some of the groupings that I have used for this activity have included: Gnosticism, Arianism, Apollinarism, Nestorianism, Lutheranism, Calvinism, Mormonism, Anabaptist, Mennonite, Seventh Day Adventist, Islam, Iconoclasm, Methodist, Anglicanism, the Hussites, Presbyterianism, Baptist, and Scientology. Scour a Church history text for items that can serve to head up other groupings.



Group: ________________


Time period: __________________


Name of the founder of the movement:




Country of origin:




Main Tenets


1 –



2 –



3 -




Grouping: _______________


Time period: __________________


Name of the founder of the movement:




Country of origin:




Main Tenets


1 –



2 –



3 -

Written by:

Thomas Malewitz, M.T.S., Ph.D.

St. Xavier High School (Louisville, KY)

April 4, 2019

Five Tools for Implementing Technology in a Theology Classroom

In 2006 I had my first experience teaching in a 1:1 environment using technology. At the time, students had laptops and the classroom had a SMART board. Today, technology in the classroom includes e-textbooks and learning management systems (LMS). Since then I have worked with the iPad, Chromebook, and Surface Pro to integrate technology-based pedagogical methods into Christian religious education. From this experience, I would like to share five tools for implementing digital technology in a theology classroom.


  1. Nearpod


Nearpod is a web-based application that engages students in the teacher’s presentation of the class content and offers immediate assessment of student learning. With Nearpod, a teacher can create slides or upload an already prepared PowerPoint, Google Slide, or PDF. Additionally, a teacher can insert interactive slides to poll students’ views on a topic or ethical question, evaluate the student’ prior knowledge on a topic, or create a real-time formative assessment after a concept has been presented.

For example, a teacher could create a multiple-choice, true-false, matching pairs, or fill in the blanks questions quiz. The open-ended question slide permits students to express their thoughts on the topic, as well as respond to application or evaluation questions. The teacher can then show student responses on the main classroom display. Lastly, the teacher may opt to have students view the presentation on their 1:1 device. This allows students to follow the teacher presentation on their device or work at their own pace. Some limitations with Nearpod are its inability to allow users to rearrange the textboxes on a slide to make room for other textboxes or images, write on a slide while presenting, and to animate the content on a slide so the content does not appear all at once.


  1. Wooclap

Wooclap is a web-based application like Nearpod. However, Wooclap offers several interactive features not available in Nearpod, e.g. brainstorming, a rating-scale, finding a correct area on an image, prioritization, and sorting. Wooclap too allows for live messaging, gamification, and is compatible with PowerPoint. Compatibility with PowerPoint allows the user to insert Wooclap interactive slides into one’s PowerPoint presentation. Wooclap shares the same limitations noted for Nearpod. Unlike Nearpod (that is designed for educators), Wooclap is tailored for a broader population. Consequently, while Wooclap offers more features, Nearpod attends more to specific needs of educators.


  1. Kami

Kami is also a web-based application that allows the user to annotate e-books and PDFs. In Kami, the user can highlight text, use textbooks to make annotations, add notes on the side, draw and handwrite, and insert audio annotations. This means students can interact with their class textbook on PDF as they would with a hardcopy textbook. Moreover, students can add typed, hand-written, or audio annotations. Teachers can also go paperless as students can download handouts, complete them on Kami, and then submit the annotated assignment to the class’ LMS. As Kami is designed for educators, Kami offers blogs for educators to share best practices.


  1. Storyboard

This web-based application is a great tool for digital story telling as users can create a storyboard with scenes, characters, props, dialogue, and explanations. This is a helpful tool for presenting content and evaluating student learning, particularly when teaching a Scripture or Church history course.


  1. PowerPoint

PowerPoint’s strength lies on the user’s capability to customize the slides by mixing images, fonts, textboxes; along with the animation and transition of slides features. Additionally, when presenting, the teacher can highlight and write explanations on the slide with content or use the white screen function to have a clean whiteboard for which to offer further explanations. This is a valuable tool for classroom management as, when used with a tablet, a teacher can offer explanations from anywhere in the classroom. Lastly, the narration feature records the slide transitions and animations along with the teacher’s verbal and written explanations.

This narration can be exported into video to create Vodcasts. This is a valuable tool as students can access the lecture on their own device in class or at home. Also, students can work at their own pace. One limitation of PowerPoint is that the teacher is the active participant and students are passive recipients. However, the integration of Wooclap into PowerPoint overcomes this limitation. The integration of Wooclap also does away with the teacher having to choose between PowerPoint and another application that engages students and with switching between applications when presenting class content


Written by:
Israel Diaz, M.T.S., M.A. Theo
Department of Theology 
St. Thomas Aquinas High School


March 25, 2019

Three Rules for Living a Good Life by Lou Holtz

Lou Holtz, the Hall of Fame former Notre Dame coach, has written a new book Three Rules for Living a Good Life: A Game Plan for Graduation. The book provides a simple formula for success for young adults entering the workforce and moving toward committed relationships.

Just for fun, take a look at ten famous Lou Holtz quotations. Ask your students to pick out a favorite and tell why they chose the one they did.

1. “Motivation is simple. Eliminate those who are not motivated.”

2. “If you’re bored with life—you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things—you don’t have enough goals.”

3. “You were not born a winner, and you were not born a loser. You are what you make yourself to be.”

4. “Everyone needs something to do, someone to love, something to hope for, and something to believe in.”

5. “One thing is certain: there will be one thing that will dominate your life. I strongly suggest it be something you can be proud of.”

6. “Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”

7. “Without self-discipline, success is impossible. Period.”

8. “Virtually nothing is impossible in this world if you just put your mind to it and maintain a positive attitude.”

9. “Making a big life change is pretty scary. But you know what’s even scarier? Regret.”

10. “I can’t believe God put us on this earth to be ordinary.”

March 1, 2019

Researching Catholic Non-Violent Resisters of the 20th Century

During his 2015 address to Congress, Pope Francis spoke of four great Americans that stood as witnesses of the dignity of the human person and advocated for social justice for all: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton (Address of the Holy Father, 2015).  In this spirt, encourage your students to follow the insights of Pope Francis and research lives of individuals from Catholic tradition that advocated for social justice and non-violence alternatives through their life and witness. Assign a presentation or short essay along with the research.  

Rubric expectations might include: personal quotations, pictures, biographical information, and/or a summary of their advocacy work. (This might be a good activity to guide students in learning about digital literacy and the need of reference citations and clear supporting evidence to accurately illustrate the advocacy of the individual.)  For more creative settings invite the students to create a poster, PechaKucha, or find a series of song lyrics that connect with the mission and ministry of one of the following Catholic advocates to present for the class. 

The following are some examples of Catholic individuals who advocated for human dignity and labored for a non-violent alternative throughout the American twentieth century (supply background information on each as needed):

  • Nicholas Black Elk (1863-1950)
  • Sr. Thea Bowman (1937-1990)
  • Fr. Solanus Casey (1870-1957)
  • Cesar Chavez (1927-1993)
  • St. Marianne Cope (1838-1918)
  • Dorothy Day, OblSB (1897-1980)
  • Ms. Eileen Egan (1912-2000)
  • Ms. Dolores Huerta (1930-)
  • Fr. Emil Kapaun (1916-1951)
  • Sr. Teresa Kearney (1875-1957)
  • The Martyrs of La Paz, El Salvador (1980)
  • Sr. Mary Angeline Teresa McCrory (1893-1984)
  • Thomas “Fr. Louis” Merton, OCSO (1915-1968)
  • Fr. Stanley Rother (1935-1981)
  • Mother Soledad Sanjurjo Santos (1892-1973)
  • Fr. Aloysius Schwartz (1930-1992)
  • Ms. Eunice Kennedy Shriver (1921-2009)
  • Ms. Mary Ann Wright (1921-2009)
  • Ms. Rhoda Greer Wise (1888-1948)
  • Fr. George B. Zabelka (1915-1992

                                                    Submitted by Thomas Malewitz, Ph.D.

                                                        St. Xavier High School Louisville, KY

February 12, 2019

Comparing Parable Themes with Music Videos

An essential component for authentic catechesis is to include real-life, pertinent, and culturally relevant examples within the theology course activities (Catechesi Tradendae, 1979; Instrumentum Laboris, 2012; Evangelii Gaudium, 2013).  Jesus exemplified this by teaching through parables to relate to his audience.  Jesus’ parables challenged the audience to think critically about a moral lesson, and jar complacent/stereotypical attitudes of the time (see Luke 10:25-37).  Although we don’t use the same cultural images in our stories today we can still use similar techniques, like music videos and short films, to teach moral lessons and challenge our students to think beyond stereotypes and labels.  Music videos, like ancient parables, can be a helpful modern-day storytelling technique as well as a beneficial option for a quick theological conversation starter. 


To start a conversation for adolescents on parables choose a couple of the music videos (a few are listed below), watch the video and develop a dialogue from the following suggested questions to discuss the meaning and morals of the videos you chose.  Finally, bring the conversation back to Scripture by connecting the video to any theme of Jesus’ parables.

Suggested Questions

1) What message do you think the director wanted to express through this music video?

2) How could the video be compared to a parable? 

3) What were your first impressions of the video?

4) Who could be considered the anawim (outcast) in the video? 

5) Briefly discuss, explain, or compare/contrast the videos you chose and relate them to a parable from the Gospel. 


Suggested Videos (remember adolescents may relate to other genres or artists more than the options offered below)

- Avicii's "Hey Brother" (2013) 

- Collective Soul's "The World I Know" (1995) 

- Dave Matthew's Band "Everyday" (2001) 

- Emerson Drive's "Moments" (2006) 

- Five for Fighting’s “What If” (2013) 

- Taylor Swift’s “Mean” (2010) 

- T.I.'s "Live Your Life" (2008) 

                                                                     Submitted by Thomas Malewitz, Ph.D.

                                                                     St. Xavier High School Louisville, KY


January 28, 2019

Word Clues

Make a copy of the clues and key below.


Directions:Write a one word answer for each item. The letters below appear just once. The numbers in parenthesis indicate the number of letters in each answer.

  1. Latin translation of the Bible (7)                                        ________________________
  2. Missionary to the Gentiles (4)                                           ________________________
  3. Someone preparing for Baptism (9)                                  ________________________
  4. What you hear after the Gospel (6)                                   ________________________
  5. Betrayer of Jesus (5)                                                         ________________________
  6. Month of St. Francis of Assisi’s feat day (7)                        ________________________
  7. Place where Jesus died (7)                                                 ________________________
























Answers: 1) Vulgate; 2) Paul; 3) catechumen 4) homily 5) Judas 6) October; 7) Calvary

January 14, 2019

Nine Days for Life

Check resources for Pro-Life activities from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

January 4, 2019

Patrick J. McGeary Requiescat in Pace

Patrick J. McGeary, former marketing director at Ave Maria Press, passed away on January 1 at his home in Venice, Florida, after a two-month illness.   Pat was able to enjoy the Christmas holidays with his wife Marion, three daughters, and four grandchildren. As per his goal, he was able to watch Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl (albeit with undesired results) and the Chicago Bears in their last regular season game.

Pat was an unforgettable person. I met him for the first time at the NCCL conference in Covington, Kentucky in 1994. After I set up the booth, Pat came in and rearranged some of the books. I was taken aback, but after talking with him for a few minutes he warmed me over with an array of stories about publishing, growing up in New York City, basketball, and much more. We went out for a steak dinner that night and chatted way later than we should have.

The next night Pat invited me to go with him to the NCCL publisher’s dinner. I wasn’t that interested but Pat wanted me to meet one of his old friends. When we got there the host requested everyone in attendance stand up and “tell something unique about themselves” or something to that effect. Pat looked and me and I looked at him and we both bolted for the door along with the young and flustered Sister who had ridden in the car with us.

Pat came to work at Ave Maria Press shortly after and we enjoyed several more years of good conversations along with our regular tasks of producing, marketing, and selling our books.

In your hands, O Lord,
we humbly entrust our brother Pat.
In this life you embraced him with your tender love;
deliver him now from every evil
and bid him eternal rest.

The old order has passed away:
welcome him into paradise,
where there will be no sorrow, no weeping or pain,
but fullness of peace and joy
with your Son and the Holy Spirit
forever and ever.
R/. Amen.

                                                                                                                                --Mike Amodei


Obituary and Memorial information for Patrick J. McGeary.



December 28, 2018

Justification, Atonement, Scapegoating

These related terms—justification, atonement, and scapegoat—are connected in a Christian sense in the living, holy victim, Jesus Christ, “whose blood has become the instrument and atonement” (CCC, 1992) for our sins. Justification is given to Christians in Baptism, the sacrament of faith.

The term scapegoat is an Old Testament term (see Leviticus 16) connected with a goat sent out into the wilderness after the Jewish priest had symbolically laid the sins of the people upon it. Covenant renewal and restoration of the people were connected to the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).

Explore the idea of scapegoating with a lesson on The Lottery, a short story originally published in 1948 in the New Yorker. The story is also depicted in a 17 minute film, available on YouTube.

Several study questions are available online.

December 3, 2018

Christmas Quotations

Listed below are several Christmas quotations (gathered from Catholic Online). You might have your students do one or more of the following:

  • Design a Christmas card using one of the sayings along with their own message.
  • Research other Christmas quotations and share a favorite and why that it is so.
  • Compose their own Christmas quotations.
  • Use one of the Christmas quotations as the basis of a one-page essay on the meaning of Christmas.
  • Research and report on teachings or reflections of the saints on the meaning of Christmas. See, for example, "The Saints Teach Us about Christmas."


What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.- Agnes M. Pharo

The only real blind person at Christmas-time is he who has not Christmas in his heart.- Helen Keller

There is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, keeping Christmas.- Henry Van Dyke

"It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air."- W.T.Ellis

Do give books - religious or otherwise - for Christmas. They're never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.- Lenore Hershey

May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope; the spirit of Christmas which is peace; the heart of Christmas which is love.- Ada V. Hendricks

We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.- Winston Churchill

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.- Charles Dickens

Christmas is not just a time for festivity and merry making. It is more than that. It is a time for the contemplation of eternal things. The Christmas spirit is a spirit of giving and forgiving.- J. C. Penney ("Christmas Thoughts")

November 15, 2018

Taking the Risk of Faith

Jesus summoned a crowd with his disciples and said to them,

Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this faithless and sinless generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels

                                                                                                --Mark 8:34-38


To follow Jesus means to take a risk.

Help your students determine their “risk quotient” before they take up the questions of the risk of faith. Make a worksheet with the following items and have the students circle their responses.


  1. If I lost my way I would
  1. Stop and ask directions
  2. Check the GPS
  3. Keep driving and follow my hunches
  1. On the menu, I look for:
  1. Something familiar I know and like
  2. Something special, a little different
  3. Something I never have tried before.
  1. In playing Monopoly, I usually
  1. Play it safe and hide money under the table
  2. Hang loose, but save a little back
  3. Go for broke and gamble everything
  1. I would prefer to get
  1. An “A” in an easy course
  2. A “B” in a so-so course
  3. A “C” in a tough demanding course
  1. In choosing a job,  I would prefer
  1. A boring job with security and benefits
  2. An interesting job with some security
  3. A job with endless possibilities but no security
  1. At the amusement park I
  1. Stick to the bumper cars
  2. Get jittery on the double Ferris wheel
  3. Ride no-hands on the fastest, highest revolution roller coaster
  1. At a party, I usually
  1. Talk only to the friends I came with
  2. Get to know a few new people
  3. Try to meet most everyone who is there
  1. When I have a problem with a teacher
  1. I complain, but not to the teacher
  2. I ask a parent to talk to the teacher
  3. I talk to the teacher myself
  1. I would break off a two-year relationship
  1. Online
  2. By phone
  3. In person
  1. As a parent I would probably be
  1. Very protective
  2. Firm but fun
  3. Very permissive



Low Risker                                                           Medium Risker                                                  High Risker

10           12           14           16           18           20           24           26           28           30


When they are finished tell the value of the letters: each A=1 point, each B=2 points and each C=3 points. Have them add their point to figure their RQ scores and circle it on the scale. Tell them to share their scores with a partner.

Then divide the room by putting the high riskers in one group, the medium riskers in a second group, and the low riskers in a third group.

Have each group discuss and come to a consensus on the following questions:

  • Would you leave your parents and family to be a Christian missionary?
  • What would you give up to follow Jesus?
  • What would cause you to lose your faith in Christ?
  • What motivates you to follow Christ?

After the discussion, compare the group’s answers. Note similarities and differences between the way the different kinds of “riskers” answered the questions.

Have the students all answer in writing the following question:

  • What does it mean to risk your life in faith for Jesus?

October 31, 2018

History of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick

During Jesus' life and after his Ascension to heaven, his disciples anointed and laid hands on those were sick in order to heal them. Share this brief timeline of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick from the third century forward.

ca. 215: The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus described how at Mass, a bishop blessed the oil of the sick (olive or another plant oil), praying that the oil would bring strength to all anointed with it. Christians regarded their blessed oil as an especially effective remedy and a sign of God’s presence.

ca. 416: Pope Innocent I described in a letter how blessed oil was used for the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

428: St. Cyril of Alexandria warned Christians not to turn to pagan magicians and sorcerers when they were sick. Instead, they were to turn to God’s healing through the bishop and presbyters of the Church.

1551: The Council of Trent affirmed that “only priests (bishops and presbyters) are ministers of the Anointing of the Sick” (CCC, 1516).

1965: The Second Vatican Council wrote that “‘Extreme Unction,’ which may also and more fittingly be called ‘Anointing of the Sick,’ is not a sacrament intended only for those who are at the point of death. . . . [A]s soon as any of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, this is already a suitable time for them to receive this sacrament.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 73)


  • Define oil of the sick and Extreme Unction.
  • Research and write a two-page report on one or more religious communities whose primary apostolate is to care for the sick and suffering.
  • Interview a doctor, nurse, or someone in the medical field. Ask his or her opinion on the role of the the Spirit and prayer in the healing process. Write a one-page report detailing the results of the interview.


October 15, 2018

Seven New Saints

Pope Francis canonized seven new saints on Sunday, October 14, at St. Peter's Square in Rome. Here are short videos and other information on each new saint.

St. Paul VI

St. Oscar Romero

See also the award-winning full length feature Monsenor:The Last Journey of Oscar Romero with accompanying free study guide.

St. Francesco Spinelli

St. Nunzio Sulprizio

St. Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa

St. Katharina Kasper


October 5, 2018

Help for Children Refugees

The following important message comes from the desk of Catholic Relief Services. It asks for immediate help for children refugees, especially help in securing for them the right to go to school. Read the message and explo0re the links which include several ways your students can actively learn about and support this mission. See also the separate Share the Journey.

Seventeen years.

Not only are more people than ever displaced today, but they are displaced, on average, for 17 years. That’s close to a generation. In a strange place. With few connections. Often with little knowledge of local language and customs, and often with rights denied that most of us take for granted. A period that is supposed to be devoted to play, growth and education is too often spent worrying about their daily existence.

During war and crisis, education may seem like something minor, but it is critical to keeping children safe and building hope for the future.

That’s why agencies that serve refugees work to provide access to education for refugee children.

Have You Shared the Journey?

Eyeing the enormity of the refugee crisis, Pope Francis declared, "To give a child a seat at school is the finest gift you can give.”  Right now, a great number of refugee children, especially girls, are not able to attend. We invite you and your communities to call on your Senators to pass an important bill moving in the Senate that would help provide access to education for vulnerable children, like refugees.

So much in the present is a struggle for refugee families, but we work and pray for a chance at a meaningful future.

A Seat at School

Policies and answers are something we debate.  But solidarity is something we do.  It is how we live. That is why we continue to encourage you to Share the Journey by taking a Pilgrimage Walk.  As persons, as families, and as communities, we are putting one foot in front of the other, walking in public in solidarity with those whose lives have become a difficult journey; moving in a deeper, more meaningful way, spiritually and physically.  And then, as we go forward, we will be going forward together.

The response so far has been exciting.  Together, we have entered into the journey, and have walked more than twice around the world.  Can we do five times around?  That is our new goal.

And if we can do that, then surely we can help provide a seat in a school and the opportunity to be educated.  To all of our children.

September 19, 2018

A Catholic Hero

Share this article on hall of fame baseball player and exemplary Catholic Roberto Clemente. You may wish to have the students write their answers to the comprehension questions that follow. An additional reflection  assignment is also provided.


  1. What was early evidence of Roberto's practice of his faith?
  2. How were the people of Puerto Rico divided when Roberto grew up?
  3. What major league team originally signed Roberto?
  4. What issues did Roberto originally have with the sportswriters? his teammates?
  5. When did Roberto meet his wife?
  6. How did Roberto practice his Catholic faith while living in Pittsburgh?
  7. How did Roberto die?


  • Could Roberto Clemente become a saint? Read this article and then write your opinion in a three paragraph response.


September 12, 2018

NEW! Meeting Jesus in the Sacraments (Second Edition)

We welcome publication of Meeting Jesus in the Sacraments (Second Edition), a high school textbook written in an easy-to-follow spiral approach with each chapter providing detailed information around the Scriptural roots, history, matter, rites, graces, and effects of the sacraments..

Meeting Jesus in the Sacraments helps students to recognize the living presence of God’s Incarnate Son in the Seven Sacraments, especially in the Eucharist. Organized around three dimensions of the sacraments—Understanding, Celebrating, and Grace—the text unpacks the origins, rites, and effects of the Seven Sacraments in a spiral design that follows a common structure from chapter to chapter.

Accompanying the Student Text are a Teacher's Wraparound Edition and a full complement of online teacher and student resources.

If you are a high school theology teacher contact Bob Wieneke for more information on receiving review copy of Meeting Jesus in the Sacraments (Second Edition).

August 27, 2018

The Importance of Self-Concept at the Start of a School Year

Many teens start a new school year with apprehension. Some of this feeling stems the attitude—or self-concept—they have for themselves.

Self-concept refers to what you think about yourself. It is concerned with what you believe to be the truth about who you are and the gifts and talents you have. Your self-concept determines whether or not you like what you see when you look in the mirror. When you like who you are, you have self-esteem.

Self-esteem is vital for success in any endeavor, including an academic school semester. . If a student feels good about himself or herself, life is big adventure. New experiences are challenging and stimulating. Meeting new people is enjoyable. Oppositely, if a person has a poor self-image, every day can seem filled with dangers and never-ending plagued with many pitfalls and chances to fail.


Ask the students to imagine themselves at a shopping mall at three different times: 1) by themselves; 2) with a best friend; and 3) with a parent.

Ask volunteers to describe how they would feel in each of those situations. You may want to have students role play each of these situations to show how their behavior is shaped by whom they are with.


Have the students answer these questions in writing:

  1. Why do their peers act as they do in different situations?
  2. In what situations to you exhibit the real you?

August 15, 2018

Introducing Christ in the Classroom: Lesson Planning for Heart and Mind

Just in time for the start of school, Christ in the Classroom: Lesson Planning for Heart and Mind is now available!

This book by Jared Dees, creator of The Religion Teacher website, applies the four steps of lectio divina—reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation—to the ministry of catechesis. He offers a practical framework for preparing lessons that shift the primary focus of teaching from intellectual learning to encountering Christ in prayer and action. Using this method, both you and your students together come to know intimately the person of Christ at the same time that they are learning the tenets and traditions of the Church.  

Stories of success and failure from the author’s own teaching experience ground the practical wisdom of this book. Dees offers dozens of field-tested strategies, tactics, and teaching methods to effectively integrate the four steps of lectio divina into the classroom or other catechetical setting. Outfitted with these tools, both experienced and brand new religious educators will feel confident in their ability to teach effectively and also lead their students to life-changing encounters with Christ Jesus.




July 30, 2018

Helping Teens with Career Planning

Your students may not be fully in aware of the resources available at your school for career planning. Help them develop a plan and some sample questions to use in an interview with their guidance counselor. Share the format below.

State your aims.

Explain your dreams. In the best way that you can, tell your counselor the outcome that you want from your career. Reach for the sky. Share your vision.

Explore alternatives.

Ask your counselor to suggest more than one way to go about achieving your aims. What have other people done who have the same career goals? Where can you find additional information? What is the most practical alternative for you to pursue?

Identify your resources.

What do you have to do to work with as far as time, finances, and talent? Are there ways around any limitations you might have? (For example: scholarships, grants, or loans may be available to help you meet some or all of your financial obligations.)

Review the alternatives and make a decision.

Which alternative will most likely assist you in reaching your goal? Which alternative is most compatible with your resources? Combining the answers to these two questions will help you in reaching a decision.

Take the first step of your plan.

Ask your counselor to direct you to the first step of the plan. This may mean helping you to arrange an interview with a college recruiter or employer, or simply helping you with a college or job application.

Here are some other questions you may wish to ask your counselor:

  • How often am I able to see you?
  • Must I make an appointment or will one be scheduled for me?
  • Does the school have any special programs that might fit my aptitudes?
  • Can you refer me to any community organization that could help me with my post-high school plans?


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