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  #1  
Old Sep 10, '06, 7:40 pm
matthew1624 matthew1624 is offline
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Default First time Catechist (6th Grade)

Okay, after about 6 years of studying scripture and theology, and a lot of time dedicated in apologetics I thought it was about time to get involved in religious education. My wife and I will be teaching 6th grade and for now our patron Saint for the Year will be St. Jerome and our motto will be "Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ." I plan on challenging them through the year in getting to know their scriptures really well. The Finding God book (assigned by the DRE) for 6th graders will be focusing primarily on the OT. Another theme I'll be bringing in to the classroom is St. Augustine's quote regarding both Testaments, "The New is hidden in the Old and the Old is revealed in the New..." I'm looking forward to teaching but I have to admit that I'm not sure what to expect. Based on what I've shared so far, do you think I'm on the right track? Do any of you have any experience in religious education, especially teaching 11 and 12 year olds? Any suggestions or comments as to what to expect would be appreciated.

God Bless...
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  #2  
Old Sep 11, '06, 5:21 am
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: First time Catechist (6th Grade)

God bless you for responding to this call of the Holy Spirit. In my humble opinion as a DRE still scrambling for catechists, in a parish with some of the most well-prepared well-educated adults in the diocese, and adult who has the knowledge and background and does not participate in formal catechesis, evangelization or apologetics in his parish or diocese is reneging on his baptismal promises and will be judged on it.

sigh, as i catch my breath after that rant. Especially the idea that you and your wife will work together is excellent, a wonderful idea especially for this age group. Kids in jr high need to see examples of good strong Catholic men, and good strong Catholic couples.

usually 6th grade is based on Salvation History as revealed in the OT, 7th grade on the fulfillment of the Covenant in Christ and life of Christ, and 8th grade on the Church and church history.

there are some good links here on typology, which our kids really get into. check out the scripture forum.

there are many ways to use drama, skits, journals, songs, art and other activities to draw out and reflect on the message in the Bible story, but don't forget to begin with the proclamation of the story from the actual bible. some kids never make the connection between readings at Mass or in their textbook, and the Bible which is their source.
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  #3  
Old Sep 11, '06, 5:39 am
mercygate mercygate is offline
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Default Re: First time Catechist (6th Grade)

I taught 6th grade for the first time last year. My pastor gave me advice: Assume nothing.

Well, NOTHING is exactly what they knew. Some of 'em didn't know how to genuflect (or why) or how to make the sign of the cross. Forget about confession: once a year, when it was arranged through CCD.

Our program is called Parents and Children Together. My parents were invisible last year. This year, I will pass a sign-up sheet around at the first session when they all attend andI ask that one parent attend each class [one parent total; not one parent from each family each week], and I will also go over in class a written guide on how to behave in church. We will also review the written RULES OF ENGAGEMENT for class sessions: homework assignments are to be signed by a parent, and anyone unprepared will not participate in class discussions.

Sixth grade has GREAT material, and my kids were pretty enthusiastic about it last year. Last year I had each kid bring his own Bible, but that was awful (Precious Moments Bible? Gideon Bible? . . .) Our DRE is going to buy them all St. Joseph NAB student bibles this year.

We will begin each class with a quiet moment in which the students will write out the Bible memory verse assigned for that week. We will also do find-the-verse Bible drill games to help them learn to find their way around the Bible.
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  #4  
Old Sep 11, '06, 7:30 am
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: First time Catechist (6th Grade)

our jr hi catechists have asked for the little pamphlet The Bible and You from Channing-Bette which is a good, easy intro, books of the bible, timeline etc. We will use that, plus a short video for middle grades called What is the Bible from Oblate Media the firstt 4 weeks as we learn to navigate the bible. Every month for the rest of the year we will cover one main segment of OT salvation histor-creation, noah, abraham, jacob and joseph, Moses, David etc.
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  #5  
Old Sep 11, '06, 6:36 pm
Pong Pong is offline
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Default Re: First time Catechist (6th Grade)

JMJ

As a fellow catechist of 6th and 7th graders, let me offer you this advice: your plan is good, bu don't plan on it. I know that sounds quite odd, but as excited as you (and hopefully all us catechists) are about sharing the faith, we must remember that the children must be heard. Answer their questions most of all. I think you will find after a few weeks that they have so many questions about everything that you will be struggling to answer them all and keep on track.

They will ask you things that might make you uncomfortable. It happens. But always remember that you are the voice of Christ to them, if you don't explain, someone else might, and it most likely will not be what they need to hear.

Also, I second mercygate. Many of them know precious little about the Church because their parents either don't know, or don't care to teach them anything. I always start my first class with a tour of the Church, explaining what things are and what they mean. It's very hard to expect them to show an apprecitation for the Mass when so many of them do not understand anything about it.

Well, I seem to be writing a novel now, so I will end here. Good luck, and God Bless!
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  #6  
Old Sep 12, '06, 5:04 am
mercygate mercygate is offline
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Default Re: First time Catechist (6th Grade)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pong View Post
JMJ

As a fellow catechist of 6th and 7th graders, let me offer you this advice: your plan is good, bu don't plan on it. I know that sounds quite odd, but as excited as you (and hopefully all us catechists) are about sharing the faith, we must remember that the children must be heard. Answer their questions most of all. I think you will find after a few weeks that they have so many questions about everything that you will be struggling to answer them all and keep on track.

They will ask you things that might make you uncomfortable. It happens. But always remember that you are the voice of Christ to them, if you don't explain, someone else might, and it most likely will not be what they need to hear.

Also, I second mercygate. Many of them know precious little about the Church because their parents either don't know, or don't care to teach them anything. I always start my first class with a tour of the Church, explaining what things are and what they mean. It's very hard to expect them to show an apprecitation for the Mass when so many of them do not understand anything about it.

Well, I seem to be writing a novel now, so I will end here. Good luck, and God Bless!
Just a caution about questions. YES! We need to answer questions -- even stupid questions. But beware. Sixth graders can be extremely deft at spinning a line of questioning out endlessly in order to take the teacher's mind off the lesson at hand. You need to balance it out. The kids need to learn this material, which is some of the most important they will ever encounter in their lives. Don't shortchange them by allowing a deviation into why can't women be priests . . . IOW: MANAGE your class.
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  #7  
Old Sep 12, '06, 5:39 am
Pong Pong is offline
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Default Re: First time Catechist (6th Grade)

They are going to encounter that argument for women priests- where else are they going to learn to defend the truth? Sometimes the real issues at hand, as in how their faith fits in to the real world, are as important if not more that the regular classroom material. And yes, manage your classroom of course, I am a career teacher, I can tell you that this is vitally important.
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  #8  
Old Sep 13, '06, 7:22 pm
matthew1624 matthew1624 is offline
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Default Re: First time Catechist (6th Grade)

Thanks for your comments so far. Tonight was the first night of RE. Boy, breaking the ice was very difficult. Hopefully it is just because it was the first day. I was very impressed by a few of the students who were participating rather well. That was a great feeling. We didn't get our workbooks so I had to wing most of the class. I covered some basics about the bible, i.e. how many books compose the bible, what's the difference between the OT and NT, what is prayer, and what does the word Catholic mean.

Hopefully they went away with something worth sharing.

If anyone else has any more comments or suggestions please feel free to offer them.

In Christ...
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  #9  
Old Sep 13, '06, 11:57 pm
DustinsDad DustinsDad is offline
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Default Re: First time Catechist (6th Grade)

Quote:
Originally Posted by matthew1624 View Post
...If anyone else has any more comments or suggestions please feel free to offer them.
I taught 6th grade PSR a few years ago. Awesome experience.

After examining and having serious misgivings about the "assigned" text, I went to the priest and asked if I could use the old Baltimore Catechism. He gave me the thumbs up. I used Number Two and it was great! Bought each kid a copy they could keep as their own (they're cheap). We did a lesson or two a week.

My opinion - you've got to give them the meat and potatoes of the faith first - the basics and the foundation of the faith. Most of them haven't got it yet. I'm talking basic truths about who God is, who Jesus is, what the Bible is, what the Church is, what sin is, why the Redemption was necessary, what a Sacrament is, etc. etc. etc.

Good luck and God bless!

DustinsDad
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  #10  
Old Sep 14, '06, 8:13 am
bigdawg bigdawg is offline
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Default Re: First time Catechist (6th Grade)

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Originally Posted by mercygate View Post

Sixth grade has GREAT material, and my kids were pretty enthusiastic about it last year. Last year I had each kid bring his own Bible, but that was awful (Precious Moments Bible? Gideon Bible? . . .) Our DRE is going to buy them all St. Joseph NAB student bibles this year.
Are you concerned about the footnotes in the NAB?
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  #11  
Old Sep 14, '06, 8:20 am
mercygate mercygate is offline
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Default Re: First time Catechist (6th Grade)

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Are you concerned about the footnotes in the NAB?
To some extent, I am concerned about those footnotes. But I felt it would be less confusing for the kids to be reading the same words for class that they will be hearing at Mass. I would prefer the RSV-CE (which I am recommending to parents via my "resources" list ). I will be warning the parents about those footnotes.
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  #12  
Old Sep 14, '06, 8:59 am
amills amills is offline
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Default Re: First time Catechist (6th Grade)

I sent my son to CCD last year. He said he learned nothing. At the end of the year when I got his workbook I found that it had none of the lessons done in the book. This year I signed him up for CCD but I will simply go get the book and do the CCD with him myself.

In our home study for him (6th grade) we read the readings together for the following Sunday and told him to go prepare a homily on the readings. He had a difficult time coming up with a homily. So then we talked about what a homily was and why we have homilies at Sunday Mass. His homework assignment was to listen to the readings at Sunday Mass and listen to the homily and then to give a homily to us the following week. Unfortunately, the priest who gave the homily was German and you could hardly understand a word of his homily - especially for a 6th grader.

The next lesson he gave us a homily. It was beautiful. He had been able to understand the priest afterall and he reviewed the readings again. He really did get the message and was able to explain it better to me than I could have myself.

This is an activity I would recommend to use at the 6th grade level. It really got him involved in the Mass and thinking.
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Old Oct 11, '06, 11:21 am
mercygate mercygate is offline
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Default Re: First time Catechist (6th Grade)

How's it going with 6th grade CCD?

I was disappointed to learn that only 3 of my 8 students had memorized the assigned Bible verse and written out the brief homily report. The other 5 gave no excuse for not memorizing the verse nor and 4 of the remaining 5 had not attended Mass, giving no excuse.

One of my parents thinks her son should be exempt from the homily report because he visits his grandparents at the shore on Sundays and they're Catholic but they don't think going to Church is important.

Sigh.
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  #14  
Old Oct 11, '06, 7:45 pm
matthew1624 matthew1624 is offline
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Default Re: First time Catechist (6th Grade)

Quote:
Originally Posted by mercygate View Post
How's it going with 6th grade CCD?

I was disappointed to learn that only 3 of my 8 students had memorized the assigned Bible verse and written out the brief homily report. The other 5 gave no excuse for not memorizing the verse nor and 4 of the remaining 5 had not attended Mass, giving no excuse.

One of my parents thinks her son should be exempt from the homily report because he visits his grandparents at the shore on Sundays and they're Catholic but they don't think going to Church is important.

Sigh.
Mercygate,

So far it is going great. The students started out not knowing how many books were in the canon, how many comprised the OT and NT and also not knowing how to navigate the bible. After four weeks they now know the above including which books begin and end the OT and the NT. Although they didn't know the information above I can see that they are familiar with most of the stories I've shared so far. I have assigned each student a scripture passage for the year but I haven't quized them on it yet. I had them make bookmarks with their assigned passage to help them out. I'll start quizing them on it next week. I have noticed that not all students are making it to Sunday mass. I'm not sure what to do about that. On the other hand, there have been a few students who are really impressing me with their willingness to learn. You can see the desire in their eyes to learn. I've got an incredible responsibility on my hands. Please pray that I will be an effective catechist...

"A great responsibility has been imposed on us, and woe to us if we do not preach it" 1 Cor 9:16

In Christ...
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Old Oct 12, '06, 5:56 am
mercygate mercygate is offline
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Default Re: First time Catechist (6th Grade)

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Originally Posted by matthew1624 View Post
Mercygate,

So far it is going great. The students started out not knowing how many books were in the canon, how many comprised the OT and NT and also not knowing how to navigate the bible. After four weeks they now know the above including which books begin and end the OT and the NT. Although they didn't know the information above I can see that they are familiar with most of the stories I've shared so far. I have assigned each student a scripture passage for the year but I haven't quized them on it yet. I had them make bookmarks with their assigned passage to help them out. I'll start quizing them on it next week. I have noticed that not all students are making it to Sunday mass. I'm not sure what to do about that. On the other hand, there have been a few students who are really impressing me with their willingness to learn. You can see the desire in their eyes to learn. I've got an incredible responsibility on my hands. Please pray that I will be an effective catechist...

"A great responsibility has been imposed on us, and woe to us if we do not preach it" 1 Cor 9:16

In Christ...
We're just at week 2. I had them repeat after me all the names of the books in the Bible so they would know how to pronounce then. We do "find it" drills, and they really enjoy that. I know what you mean about the eagerness in their eyes.

They LOVE it when we recite the sign of the cross in Latin together!
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