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Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

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September 13, 2011

A Book of Reflections for Teachers

A Book of Reflections for TeachersPrayer and reflection must be a cornerstone of success for any teacher. Teachers are extremely busy. With constant lesson planning, grading, extra-curricular activities, and the many jobs teachers take on, setting aside time for reflection can be hard for teachers to do. Five minutes of reflection can open the door for hours of spirit-filled activity throughout the day.

We are excited about a new book of reflections for teachers called 5 Minutes with Christ: Spiritual Nourishment for Busy Teachers edited by Fr. Lou DelFra and Ann Primus Berends. The book is a collection of reflections on the Gospels by teachers, principals, and associates of the Alliance for Catholic Education program of the University of Notre Dame.

If you are looking for a short devotional book specifically written for use by teachers and educators, then you'll love 5 Minutes with Christ. Each entry has a quote from Scripture, a reflection about teaching, and a short prayer. It is an easy way to integrate prayer into the short amount of time before school or in between classes and will provide you with some thoughts to reflect on for the rest of the day.

Teacher Reflections in 5 Minutes with Christ

Can't see the video? Click here to view it on YouTube.

Sample Reflections for Teachers

Listed below are small snippets from the reflections and prayers in the book.

“Lord, help us to be humble students of Christ the Teacher, learning his ways and pointing others to the path of life.”
The Visitation, Meghann Robinson Kirzeder

“Lord, keep us open to your will for us. Grant us the strength to respond to your call with enthusiastic, generous hearts.”
Jesus in the Temple, Sarah Greene

“A teacher’s life is full of challenges, and we can be tempted to take the easy way out. Christ the Teacher shows us a different way.”
The Temptation of Jesus, Ricky Austin

“When our patience is tried by the more raucous members of our classrooms, it is helpful to remember that Christ the Teacher did not call already-perfect students, but those who would love him and persevere in his will.”
The Appointing of the Twelve Apostles, Barbara Jane Sloan

“Yet, in Christ’s eyes there are no hopeless causes, no unteachable students, just lost children looking for a teacher who will have the patience and love to pick them up when they fall.”
The Parable of the Lost Sheep, Colleen Gannon

"Christ the Teacher is constantly reminding his disciples that there is no reason to fear because the Father is always welcoming us."
Jesus' Teaching on Prayer, Kate Linden

“Studies will watch how we respond to adversity in our own lives, how we carry our crosses. Do we do so with humble, trusting hearts?”
Gethsemane, Sarah Lamphier

“Thank you, Lord Jesus, that with you I am never alone. As you gave and forgave in your loneliest hour, help me to do the same today.”
The Crucifixion, Michael Suso

“Christ’s invitation to action, evangelization, and ministry—ultimately, an invitation to joy—removes the paralysis of fear. This invitation spreads joy to the Church, for God’s life indeed echoes among us today.”
Jesus Appears to the Women, Chuck Lamphier


About the Alliance for Catholic Education

Alliance for Catholic Education The book was developed by the University of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education, better known as ACE. In its nearly two decades of existence, the ACE program has developed leaders in Catholic education that are changing the face of schools across the country. All of the contributors to the book are in some way connected to the ACE program as teachers or members of the ACE Advocates. To find out more about the many programs offering service to Catholic schools, check out the Alliance for Catholic Education website.

August 26, 2011

5 Ways Teachers Can Use Screencasts to Engage Student Learning

I love creating screencasts. After I did it once, I realized how easy it can be. A screencast is a video recording of someone's computer screen with an audio recording of someone's voice. With free programs/apps like Screenr, Screecast-o-matic, and Screncastle, teachers can make very creative recordings for their students.

How can teachers integrate screencasts into their instruction?

5 Ways Teachers Can Use Screencasts

1. Explain Homework Assignments by Video

Have you ever had a student completely misunderstand a homework assignment or come into class with their homework incomplete because they "didn't get it." I have. It drove me crazy.

Pull up the assignment on your computer screen. Hook up a microphone if your computer doesn't have one. Record a clear explanation of the homework assignment and show students how to complete it on the screen. Post it to YouTube (its free) or Vimeo (free too) and if you have a webpage, wiki, or Moodle page, post it there.

Parents will definitely appreciate an in-depth explanation of the homework assignment.

2. Supplement Your Lectures Online

Do you ever feel like you don't have enough time to teach everything? Create short videos to explain concepts you weren't able to cover in class and require students to watch them. Engage them in a discussion about it in class and clarify things that were a bit unclear. This saves time in class for critical thinking and creative discussion.

3. Answer Frequently Asked Questions with a Screencast

Do you find yourself answering the same questions over and over again, year after year? Take your best answers to these questions, create a simple screencast to share the answer. When the question comes up in class, point them to the video, show it in class, or expand on the recording in person.

4. Digital Story-Telling

The most powerful way to express an idea is to use stories, not just facts. Create or summarize a story using images and an audio reading. If you are a mac person, you could also use iMovie and give your stories a little Ken Burns effect.

5. Student-Created Screencasts

If the students have the technology at home or if you can get them access to it at school, have them create screencasts as assessments, class prayers, and questions about assignments.

A Simple Way to Make a Screencast

In the screencast below, I simiply summarize the five tips written above using PowerPoint and Screenr. I am recording just one slide with five images. It took me 20 minutes to create and 10 minutes to record and upload to YouTube.

The Master Screencaster: Salman Khan

Just for fun, let's take a look at the master screencaster, Salman Khan from Khan Academy. He is being called a revolutionary for his educational videos.

You can be revolutionary too. Create some screencasts.

August 19, 2011

New YouTube Videos for Religion Class

It is no secret that kids love to watch movies and videos. Some of them come to expect it in the classroom. Just below Google and Facebook, YouTube is the third most popular website in the world. Teens are likely to watch videos online frequently each week. Why not start showing videos in religion class on a frequent basis?

Teachers have been asking us for more video in our online resources. In addition to the release of the Jesus Christ DVD Collection, we have assembled a list of YouTube videos that correspond to the Jesus Christ Series, the first three books of the USCCB Curriculum Framework.

These videos connect directly with each chapter of the Jesus Christ series books and correspond to the activities within the TWE. They cover a wide range of topics and bring religious education into the modern age.

You can find these YouTube videos in the Classroom Resources on this site or:

We have also created a list of videos for Exploring Religions of Our World, a course that needs the be supplemented with visual images of the major world religions.

Sample YouTube Videos for the Jesus Christ Series

But YouTube is Blocked by My Catholic School!

If you are having trouble accessing the YouTube videos at school, check out Nick Senger's tutorial on how to download and use YouTube videos.

August 10, 2011

How Are Students Using Technology?

Technology has become an integral part of the life of all students these days. Between laptops, iPods, smart phones, tablets/iPads, social networks, TV, and video games, students spend hours plugged in to something. So how does that affect the way young people learn?

In the infographic below, you will see statistics of a number of surveys of college students. Though high school students will differ in many areas, you can imagine how their responses would not be so far off. Try surveying some of your classes to get an idea of how they feel about these issues.

Students Love Technology

The question is:

Do you embrace technology and harness its power to reach young people OR resist these new changes and try to convince students to learn in traditional ways?

July 12, 2011

Nine Textbook Reading Strategies That Will Engage Your Students

If you use one of the Ave Maria Press Teacher Wraparaound Editions, you'll notice that most of the time we suggest that teachers assign reading for class as homework to free up valuable class time. The problem, as most teachers know, is that it is a challenge to get the kids to actually do the reading. This list of textbook reading strategies should go a long way in helping students read and comprehend their textbooks. The strategies should give students concrete ways in which they can engage with the textbook.

Textbook Reading Strategies

1. Pre-assessment

Before you assign the reading, have students take a quick quiz or complete a writing prompt that takes a pre-assessment of their understanding of the material. Not only will it allow you to get a handle on what you will need to teach when you cover the reading, it will give students a context for the reading ahead of time. As a follow-up assignment. Give the pre-assessment to them as bell work the next class session and have them correct their mistakes.

2. Pre-reading: Skim the Reading Assignment

All to often we tend to just start reading without any idea where the text is going. Encourage students to skim the headings and sub-headings of a reading assignment before they read. This will give them a context for the reading itself.

3. Pre-reading: Examine the Pictures

Ave Maria Press textbooks have engaging and symbolic pictures that connect to the text. Have students examine the pictures in the text and form predictions about what they are going to read.

4. Pre-reading: Predictions and Questions

In addition to skimming and examining the pictures of the text, have the students go a step further and write out predictions or questions about what they think the text is about. After they complete the reading assignment, have them critique their predictions or answer their questions.

5. Outline the Reading Assignment

One of the best ways to take notes on a reading assignment is to outline it. Have the students start by copying the headings and sub-headings or paraphrasing them on a sheet of paper or word processing document. While they read, they should jot down the key points made in each section. Encourage students to have 2+ details under each sub-heading.

6. Summarize each Heading or Section

In addition to just completing the reading, have the students write a 1-2 sentence summary of each section of the reading assignment. Point out what specific headings from the textbook you want them to summarize to avoid confusion.

7. Highlight or Underline the Key Points

One of the many reading skills that need real development is highlighting and underlining. Beginners tend to highlight everything to the point that a page is bleeding to death in yellow, pink, and green ink. Don't let your students do this. Highlight parts of the text that you want to come back to later. If something is important, you should highlight the key phrases that illustrate the whole point. The more particular you about what you highlight, the more important you will view the highlighted text when you review the textbook.

8. Complete a Directed Reading Guide

Some of the most popular classroom resources we share with Ave Maria Press textbooks are the Directed Reading Guides. These worksheets are filled with questions, fill-in-the-blank statements, True or False statements, and essay prompts that relate directly to the reading. Either use these worksheets or create your own so students can engage in the text.

9. Re-read the Textbook Reading Assignment

When they finish the reading assignment, challenge them to spend an additional 2-3 minutes (that's it!) on re-reading the most important sections of the assignment. This re-reading should be more like skimming since the text will still be very familiar and fresh in their minds. This is one of the best ways to increase comprehension and it only takes a few minutes.

June 16, 2011

A Review of for the Religion Classroom

I recently came across a great, free online tool at I wasn't sure what to make of it at first, but I asked around on Twitter and got some great feedback. I tested it out and hope teachers will find some great uses for it in the religion classroom. for Religion allows you to create study materials for quizzes and tests. Just enter in a term/definition or question/answer. One of the coolest tools is the ability to create a diagram quiz. This is great for visual learners and maps.

I created to short samples, one from Jesus Christ: His Mission and Ministry, the book designed for the second course in the USCCB Curriculum Framework, and a map quiz from our old testament textbook.

Here is a quick look around at and these two quizzes:

June 3, 2011

SMART Board Tutorial: Using Tabs with Interactive Questions and Answers

SMARTBoards are not glorified LCD projectors. If you are able to use the SMARTBoard Notebook software properly, you will find yourself ditching PowerPoint for a new kind of direct instruction. One of the many features offered in SMART Notebook, is the ability to create tabs with answers hidden behind an image or outside of the screen. This is a great way to add some interactivity to your presentations. It also provides students with the opportunity to come up to the board and move things (and we all know how much they love to play with the SMART Boards).

(Click to watch SMART Board Tutorial: Using Tabs with Interactive Questions and Answers.)

Creating Tabs with Interactive Questions and Answers

  1. Add an image to hide the answer.
  2. Add a tab or create one yourself.
  3. Replace the label of the tab (i.e. Pull) for a question or word.
  4. Type the answer to the question or the definition of the word.
  5. Arrange the question tab and the answer and group them.
  6. Lock the image that will hide the answer and bring it to the front if necessary.
  7. Move the tab so that the answer is hidden behind the image.

Click on the image below to download the sample SMART Notebook file with the tabs in the video:

SMART Board Tutorial Tabs with Interactive Questions and Answers

For more edtech tips like this, visit Ave Maria Press tech tips.

May 20, 2011

How Does an Ave Maria Press eTextbook Look on the iPad?

We've been excited by the new technologies that have been born in recent years. From a catechetical publisher's perspective, there will be exciting new doors opened up for the textbooks we provide. The iPad especially is seen by many schools as a tool that offers many new opportunities. Our recent interview with Pam Vardano of Loyola College Prep, made that clear. So today we wanted to give you a quick peak into what an [Ave Maria Press eTextbook] looks like on the iPad. The images below are taken from the PDF version of Jesus Christ: God's Revelation to the World, the first book in the series that lines up with the USCCB Curriculum Framework. The app that is being used is iBooks, which is free with the iPad. (The images are slightly resized, but click on the image for the full view.)

A Full Page Spread in iBooks

Ave Maria Press eTextbook on the iPad

Zoomed-In Definition

For students with reading challenges, the ability to zoom into a text is really striking. You can see how clear the definition remains when focusing on a text. Here is the vocabulary word zoomed in as far as possible:

Scroll Through Pages

Using the Search Function in the iBooks App

For more information about Ave Maria Press eTextbooks visit:

May 12, 2011

iTeach with the iPad: An Interview with Pam Varnado

iTeach I had the pleasure of attending a fantastic presentation at NCEA in New Orleans called iTeach with an iPad given by Pam Varnado of Loyola College Prep in Shreveport, LA. Pam, her principal Frank Israel, and their colleagues discussed their experience debuting the iPad program with two trial teachers and classes. They provided a number of tips about classroom management in the digital age and the many opportunities that the iPad provides for students.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Pam this week and asked her to share some of her story and best practices in an interview that you can listen to below. During our conversation we discussed:

  • The transformation of a classroom from teacher-centered to student-centered
  • How technology engages students in learning
  • The first steps a teacher should take when given an iPad for the first time
  • iPad apps for teachers
  • iPad apps for students to take notes in class or in eTextbooks

The iTeach with the iPad Interview:

(Don't see the audio player? Try going here.)

If you would like to learn more about the program at Loyola College Prep, visit their website at

April 15, 2011

Stations of the Cross PowerPoint Prayer Reflection

PowerPoint can be a powerful tool for creating prayer reflections. Below you will find a sample Stations of the Cross PowerPoint prayer reflection and template that you can use to create your own Stations of the Cross PowerPoint. This could be something you create as a teacher or something you have your students use to create their own prayer services.

How to Create a Stations of the Cross PowerPoint

You can use the Stations of the Cross PowerPoint template or start from scratch. The major components of the template include the black background and the photo credits page. Be sure to use images that are either in the public domain or available for use with citation.

Finding Stations of the Cross Pictures

Though most people will likely use Google Image Search to find images for their PowerPoints, there is no telling whether those images are free for public use. To be safe, try using images from Flickr or the Web Gallery of Art.

If you wish to use Flickr, be sure to search and download images from the Attribution License photos. Go to to find these images.

The Web Gallery of Art is another great website that presents images of many famous works of art. Images can be copied and used from that site as long as the images are used for education purposes.

The images used in the downloadable Stations of the Cross PowerPoint below were pulled from Flickr and the Web Gallery of Art and the final page is used to cite all of the sources of the photos. Unfortunately, the quality of the photos available for free that are not under copyright is currently lacking. It might be worth going to the local church or school and taking pictures of the Way of the Cross images and statues there and using these images to develop the PowerPoints.

Stations of the Cross PowerPoint Downloads

1. Stations of the Cross PowerPoint Template
2. Stations of the Cross Prayer Reflection


April 8, 2011

What Is RSS and Why Should I Use It?

I must confess up front that I love using RSS Feeds to access theology resources and any other kind of interest I have. It has virtually replaced the need to bookmark a website. Now that websites are dynamic with blogs, newsfeeds, podcasts, videos, twitter feeds, etc., I get instant notification when a website is updated.

Many of you are reading this in an RSS feed reader. Some of you are getting it by e-mail. Others are reading it on our actual website. Today I want to introduce teachers to using RSS Feedreaders to get access to quality resources and ideas for their theology instruction. If students aren't familiar with RSS, these tips would work just as well for them.

What is RSS? what is rss and why should i use it?

RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication." It refers to "feeds" that aggregate frequently updated websites such as blogs, news headlines, and podcasts. The RSS feed icon is seen everywhere on the web to notify web visitors that they can follow the site's updates using and RSS feed reader. You can find a good explanation for RSS at RSS in Plain English.

How do you follow websites?

Ten years ago, I had a mountain of bookmarks in my web browser that I would sift through to find the sites I visited often for resources and ideas. A few years later I discovered Google and just Googled the names of sites I liked to visit. Today, I rely on RSS and e-mail to update me when a website has something new. It saves time and energy and helps me organize what is most important to me on the web.

Four RSS Benefits Teachers

  1. Real-time updates from news websites.
  2. Get teaching ideas from blogs like Ave Maria Press Engaging Faith.
  3. Follow your favorite interests and hobbies to catch a break during your planning period or lunch.
  4. Get content sent to you rather than going out to find it.

Subscribe to Engaging Faith in Google Reader

There are many feed readers out there including Google Reader, My Yahoo, Netvibes, NewsGator, Outlook, etc. My personal preference is Google Reader. First, you need to set up a Google account, if you don't already have one. Then, you can customize your Google Reader to get updates to this and other blogs, news websites, and more.

How to Create a Google Account Video

TeacherTube has a nice short video on how to create a google account. Check that out here:
Or view it on YouTube.

How to Add a Blog to Google Reader

Can't see it? Check it out here: How to Add a Blog or News RSS Feed to Google Reader.

Subscribing to a blog is easy. In fact, you can subscribe to this one, by getting its feed here.

April 1, 2011

10 Google Search Tips for Students and Teachers

In this week's edition of Ave Maria Press tech tips, we explore a tool that is used over 400 million times per day. In the five minute video below, we share 10 Google search tips for students and teachers to use while doing research on the Web.

google search tips for students and teachers

Keep in mind this is only the basic search function in Google and doesn't even illustrate the excellent educational ways that Google Maps, Google Images, Google Video, Google Blogs, Google News, Google Scholar, etc. can be used as well.

10 Google Search Tips for Students and Teachers

Can't see the video? Check it out here.

The Ten Google Search Tips in the Video:

  1. Quotation marks (" ") — Show only the webpages that include the exact search words in the sequence in which they were entered
  2. Minus/Hyphen (-) — Excludes all webpages that have that word in it
  3. Tilde (~) — Includes results that contain synonyms of the word
  4. Asterisk (*) — Fills in the blank for words you can't remember in a series.
  5. Ellipses (...) — Returns only the search results that mention the years or numbers at both ends of the ellipses (1990...2000)
  6. define: — Provides the definitions of a word from dictionary sites
  7. OR: — Returns results that have either word on the page, but not just both
  8. site: — Searches a specific website for keywords.
  9. related: — Searches for websites similar to a site included in the search query
  10. Ctrl+F or Command+F — Though not a Google-specific function, you can search for a word in the search results by using this keyboard shortcut.

Google Search Educator Resource:

Google for Educators:

March 25, 2011

What Is a Wiki?

One of the most common questions I have been asked since the recent technology tips webinar and tech center presentation at LA Congress is: "What is a Wiki?"

Wiki is a funny word. People laugh just saying it. So, what does it mean? Where did the word come from? What is a Wiki

The best source for an answer to these questions must be the most popular wiki in the world: Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia, a wiki is "a website that allows the creation of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor." (WYSIWYG stands for "what you see is what you get" and refers to web editors that work like Word document editors that people can use to create web pages without any knowledge of HTML.) The word "wiki" comes from the a Hawaiian word for "fast" or "quick."

What makes a wiki so special?

  1. Multiple people can work on the same web page at any time.
  2. It is easy to edit and change using markup language and the WYSIWYG web editors.
  3. The only editorial review is from the other individuals developing the pages.
  4. Communities tend to congregate around wikis, making it an effective way to communicate.
  5. Webpages can be updated quickly and frequently.

Take Wikipedia, for instance. Millions of people have edited the millions of articles on Wikipedia (there are over 3 and a half million articles just in English). Once a person creates an account, they can start to suggest edits to improve the information about various topics. They can edit what others have written or include there own additions. These Wikipedians participate in a community with a common goal of improving quality information on the Internet.

Wikis in Plain English

CommonCraft creates effective video explanations of various things online. One of the most popular videos is "Wikis in Plain English." It provides some practical application that even teachers can use. The simplicity is great: edit, write, and save.

Now, don't tell me you can't see the correlation in the classroom among your colleagues or for students working on a group project!

(Common Craft also has a nice explanation of Wikipedia in Plain English)

Classroom Wikis

Many teachers have found the benefit of creating classroom wikis to encourage students to collaborate on projects outside of class online. They have also been using wikis to communicate with students and parents. They are finding that the ease of creating a wiki and opening it up for students to contribute, make it an excellent pedagogical tool.

This article is a part of a weekly series of Tech Tips offered by Ave Maria Press. Subscribe to Engaging Faith by RSS or e-mail or join the bi-weekly eNewsletter list on the left menu bar for updates.

March 22, 2011

LA Congress Tech Center Presentation

Among the many Los Angeles Religious Education Congress presentations and workshops by Ave Maria Press speakers and staff, Jared Dees offered a showcase of Ave Maria Press online classroom resources and the Xplana eTextbooks. Some of those in attendance requested a copy of that presentation, which can be found below.

LA Congress Tech Center Presentation (Ave Maria Press)

March 11, 2011

Technology Tips for Religious Educators Webinar

This is the first installment of a new series of tech tips for high school religion teachers. Each week we will be posting how-to articles, tutorials, video screencasts, interviews, and other multimedia resources to supplement your religious education needs.

Thank you to everyone you tuned in to yesterday's webinar "Technology Tips for Religious Educators." We are very proud of the online resources we have developed for teachers and we hope the tips in this presentation are helpful in your efforts to integrate technology into classroom instruction. If you would like to view a recording of this webinar, you can find it here.

Technology Tips for Religious Educators Webinar Recording

Technology Tips for Religious Educators from Ave Maria Press on Vimeo.

Ave Maria Press links mentioned in the video:

Ave Maria Press Classroom Resources:

Ave Maria Press eTextbooks:

Engaging Faith blog:

Ave Maria Press Tech Tips Series Home:

Ave Maria Press YouTube Channel:

Ave Maria Press High School Facebook Page:

Other links mentioned in the video:

Outside da Box:


SlideShare :
Scribd :
Google Sites :

Learning Management Systems:

Audio-Visual Recordings:


Religious Education Animoto Videos:

Unfortunately the Webinar recording did not pick up the sound on these two Animoto videos. You can view them below instead:

Ave Maria Press Textbook Sample:

Create your own video slideshow at

A special thanks to Barb Gilman (@BarbInNebraska on Twitter) and her class for creating this fantastic Animoto video:

March 3, 2011

Ash Wednesday Prayer Service for High School

The following Ash Wednesday prayer service is suitable for teachers to use in their classrooms, as an all-school assembly, or in a youth group setting.

Loving God, as we begin this Lenten journey toward a greater union with you, strengthen our faith through our devoted practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Open up new doors to deeper spirituality and discovery of your love. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Ash Wedesday

Reader 1:
Joel 2:12-13
Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.

Think, for a moment, about the times in your life in which you wanted recognition for something you have done. It may be a good grade on a test, an athletic accomplishment, or a favor to a friend. What rewards have you been given lately? Are there materials things, like clothes, phones, jewelry, or your body, that are a source of confidence?

God asks us during Lent to set all of our attachment to those things aside, and rely solely on him.

Reader 2:
Matthew 6:5-6
When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

(Choose between the following penitential prayers)

O Lord, who has mercy on all,
take away from me my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone,
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and enjoy you, for Christ's sake, Amen
— St. Ambrose of Milan (AD 339-397)

O Lord,
The house of my soul is narrow;
enlarge it that you may enter in.
It is ruinous, O repair it!
It displeases your sight.
I confess it, I know.
But who will cleanse it,
to whom will I cry but to you?
Cleanse me from my secret faults, O Lord,
and spare Your servant from strange sins.
— St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430)

We ask this,
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.

February 15, 2011

Examination of Conscience for Teens

Preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation is essential at the high school level. It is an excellent opportunity to catechize young people through an examination of conscience. You don't want to have students waiting in line for the Sacrament of Reconciliation thinking things like this student (from Outside da Box Productions and the Jesus Christ Video Collection).

Traditionally, reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation "ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light o the Word of God" (CCC, 1454). Typically the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments, are the focus of this examination of conscience. Giving students the time to reflect on their sins either in class or during a school assembly can make an important impact on a student's decision to receive the Sacrament and to enter into it with a contrite heart.

Examination of Conscience for Teens Handouts


Each examination of conscience below is designed around the Ten Commandments:



New App for Students with iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches


There is a new App available that has been getting a lot of buzz lately. It is called Confession: A Roman Catholic App. The app is actually an in-depth examination of conscience that is great for tech-savvy teenagers. Contact the creators at Little iApps for a special bulk price for schools.

January 31, 2011

Catholic Schools Week Prayer Service

Catholic Schools Week is a time of celebration of the bright light that Catholic schools are to the children and communities they serve. This Catholic Schools Week prayer service has a special focus on light and in a particular way the light that shines forth from the students in Catholic schools everywhere.

+ Sign of the Cross

Scripture Reading

A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew.

"You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father." (Matthew 5:13:16)

The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to You Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us pray:

Heavenly Father, Your light shines brightly in your children. You have inspired us to do good deeds in your name. Bless this school and all who work to make your will known in the world. We ask this in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.


[Have students create their own intentions to be offered during the prayer service]

The response is: Lord, let you light shine before your people.

January 3, 2011

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Prayers for Teachers and Students

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton was a Catholic convert and seen by many as the foundress of Catholic parochial schools in the United States. Her primary inspiration and attraction to the Catholic Church was the Blessed Sacrament. In honor of her feast day on January 4, consider sharing these prayers with your students and fellow teachers:

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Prayer for Students

O God,
You called Elizabeth Ann Seton to be an instrument of your loving mercy.
Despite loss and sorrow, she was an example of hope and love.
Inspire us with your Blessed Sacrament to live our life for others.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Teacher.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Prayer for Teachers

Holy Father,
You called Elizabeth Ann Seton to educate your children.
Inspire us, by her example, to find your will in the present moment.
Through her prayers, may we learn to teach others how to love like you.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Teacher.

For a couple of concise bios on Mother Seton see: 

December 8, 2010

Christmas Break Homework Assignments

Most teachers are nice enough not to give any real homework of the Christmas holidays, but there is nothing wrong with giving some inspirational homework assignments to discuss when they return in January. Consider giving these Christmas Break homework assignments a try:

  • Reflect back on Advent and thing of things you can do next year or even during Lent that will help make this season a special time of prayer.
  • Go to Mass on Christmas Day. Inspired by Jonathan Sullivan’s post about Advent Homework, ask the students to attend Mass on Christmas Day (or Christmas Eve). Many families do not do this despite the fact that it is a holy day of obligation.
  • Go to Mass on New Years Day. January 1 is a Holy Day of Obligation as well celebrating the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Most people don’t know this. Give your students a reminder and ask them to go to Mass this day as well. (Note that in some years, like 2011, attending Mass is not required because January 1 falls on a Saturday or a Monday.)
  • Say thank you in a special way to someone who gave you a present for Christmas. Write them a note, send them an email, or give them a Facebook gift.
  • Send or give a gift to someone you don’t know. Participate in giving programs, giving trees, or toy drives at your local church or just give someone a random gift that they might enjoy.

Once the students return to school, give them some time to journal and discuss the assignments they took on. Fold this into a discussion about how their Christmas breaks went this year. Talk less about what they got for Christmas and more about what they gave.

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