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  #1  
Old Jul 6, '05, 2:36 pm
kmktexas kmktexas is offline
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Default Fourth Grade Religious Ed - Help

I have just been notified that I will be teaching Fouth Grade CCE this fall. I previously taught the younger ones; PK, Kindergarten and 2nd grade. I lost my place when I went overseas last year and the DRE wanted me to start over as a classroom aide. I declined and thought that was the end of it.

Surprise!!! She told me to take fourth grade. The fourth grade class is typically smaller than the younger grades - a lot of parents don't send their kids much after First Communion until closer to Confirmation or Quince. That means I should have more time to do fun and in-depth things and less time corralling and quieting.

Any ideas for good material for this age group? The text is the Loyola Press "Christ Our Life" which isn't the greatest but not the worst either, by far. I would love to find things that focus on the Catechism, the Church year and the Mass.

Thanks.
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  #2  
Old Jul 6, '05, 3:04 pm
Toni Toni is offline
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Default Re: Fourth Grade Religious Ed - Help

You will love 4th grade I am sure. For resources I would use NCE National Consultants for education published by Circle Press and/or Faith and life. Just a thought a great addition to the Christ our Life series. It isn't great as you say but has more water than bread add the bread with the others.
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  #3  
Old Jul 8, '05, 11:30 am
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: Fourth Grade Religious Ed - Help

you have a great age group, just about my favorite, old enough to get into real discussions, young enough not to be jaded, and girls have not discovered cooties on the boys yet. Christ our Life is a good series, check out your catechist manual for tips on this age group, and supplemental ideas.

You are focusing on the commandments and beatitudes. This age group loves to focus on the right way and wrong way to do things, what is "fair", justice, they want to know the rules, and understand that their are consequences. They still cannot do much abstract reasoning and moral theology, but they understand there are times when you have to look beyond the rules to the reason behind the rule.

Loyola has a great supplemental series for each age level, which are going out of print but available from the re-sellers, Educational Resources, Communications Co etc. Another great resource is 100 Ideas based on the Catechism from Ignatius Press.

This age loves the classic bible stories about heroes who obeyed God and won over enemies, like David and Daniel, or those who disobeyed and were punished. They love to act out bible stories.

The love skits and working together in teams. Having them come up with real life situations involving commandments and beatitudes, and act out solutions is a lot of fun. They are also more capable and can really get into crafts, but only use arts and crafts when they really support the object of the lesson, not just as time fillers. They like to have something well done and attractive to take home to remember the lesson by.

find short video clips to illustrate various moral decisions they face - but don't play more than 5 minutes of a video. talk about issues they run into all the time: bullying, lying, cheating, new kid in school, obedience. They are now old enough to share their own stories without rambling as younger kids do.

you will have a great year.
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  #4  
Old Jul 9, '05, 6:59 am
kmktexas kmktexas is offline
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Default Re: Fourth Grade Religious Ed - Help

Thanks for all of your suggestions.

I tried to find out more about NCE but the website I found seems to be more a resource for people opening Catholic schools than for teachers/catechists. Do you (Toni) have a better link I might use?

I used Faith and Life for my kids when we were overseas last year. I have the 4th grade material since that was the grade for my oldest at the time and I have 100 Ideas .... The problem we face is that the majority of our kids are ESL and so the reading level of a lot of the material is too hard for them even though it is appropriate for most 4th graders.

I am very happy to hear good things about the COL teachers manual for 4th grade. The Kindergarten one was very good but the 2nd grade one was very bad. I checked the Loyola website but didn't see the supplements. If they are going out of print, they might not be there anymore but I will try the reseller you suggested.

Puzzleannie, Do you have any suggestions for the videos? In our parish, the teachers buy all our own stuff except the books themselves. This isn't usually a problem except that some resellers only want to sell to the parish directly, not to individuals.

We have Catechist day in August. The classes tend to be very "we are the world" and not much in terms of useful tools or techniques. There is a good book vendor that comes every other year, so hopefully this will be the year.
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  #5  
Old Jul 9, '05, 7:41 am
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: Fourth Grade Religious Ed - Help

check your diocesan office, we have a media center with lots of Spanish language videos, they can be mailed back and forth if you live to far away, still cheaper than buying. when I get back to the office I will send names of publishers of Spanish language materials, there is a big spanish bookstore in Chicago that sells videos. We had to compromise for a bilingual text for Spanish classes, chosen because we have the dual aim of helping the kids, and adults and home learn English. The two best are new Creemos from Sadlier, and El Camino from Benziger, but they and the catechist guides are expensive. Texts are not the greatest in content so catechist must be able to supplement.

I think Loyola and Faith & Life are both too high reading level for our kids in this public school system, and for ESL students.
Suggestion: use the text as a gathering activity, transition time and review> put the page numbers on the board, so they know as soon as the come in to turn to that page and either do the review activity from the previous week, or start reading the new lesson.
then briefly read the new lesson together, and for the rest of the presentation and discussion get creative. One tip: don't make kids read if they are uncomfortable reading aloud in a group, it adds stress and does not facilitate learning.

go to diocesan event for catechists because you may get tips on resources, classes, other helps available for you. your best resource is other experienced catechists. don't worry of the official stuff from diocese or leadership is somewhat fluffy we-are-church, what you are after is contacts with other good people and sharing tips and resources. Networking, as it is called in the business world.

remember you are not called upon to teach the entire deposit of the faith, but your are responsible for the 4th grade curriculum. If they have already made first communion they should be well grounded in the basics. If they are not going to Mass with parents that will be your biggest challenge. Do whatever you can to foster communication with your parents and encouraging Mass attendance and regular prayer at home.

call all the textbook publishers and find the names and contacts of the sales reps in your area, they often send free sample copies of texts, catechist guides, and other good stuff, but usually only to DREs' so enlist her support. Don't get in the habit of spending too much of your own money on resources, that can rack up real fast and a lot of spouses get upset by it. Keep records and receipts because expenses MAY be deductible. If you do decide to order books or videos, have them shipped to the parish in your name and advise DRE of what you are doing. You may not introduce materials that are not approved by her and/or pastor.

if your ESL students are Vietnamese, office of Catechetics of Diocese of Galveston-Houston may be able to give tips on resources - where are you?

go back to your catechist guides and really look at the suggestions on supplemental activities there is a lot of good stuff there that will generate more ideals. A subscription in a Catechist magazine such as Catechist, Religion Teachers Journal are a good investment - parish gets discount for multiple copies to same address. Use the ideas and practical tips, you sound sharp enough to weed out the goofy stuff.

The best catechist magazine out there is the Sower, but expensive about $40 American. Maryvale Institute, Old Olscott Hill, Kingstanding, Birmingham England B449AG, phone 0121, 360-8118
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  #6  
Old Jul 9, '05, 7:51 am
kmktexas kmktexas is offline
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Default Re: Fourth Grade Religious Ed - Help

We are a very small parish so we don't have separate classes for the Spanish speaking students. So the Spanish videos won't help me much since the gringos among us wouldn't be able to understand them at all.

Is the supplement you mentioned called "Knowing Our Catholic Faith: Beleifs and Traditions"? I found it on a web search (it is recommended by a number of diocisan RE offices) but can't find anyone that sells it.

We have an irregular set up as far as First Communion goes. If history repeats, I will have a class that consists of about 1/2 who have made FC and half who have never been to CCE. Many of these kids will not know any of the prayers, not even the Sign of the Cross. The second group will either go to addtional sacrament prep classes or will be in my class until January and then join the First Communion class with the second graders. It is quite interesting to give the kids who have been there all along something with "meat" but still give the new ones the basics.
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  #7  
Old Jul 9, '05, 8:02 am
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: Fourth Grade Religious Ed - Help

we used to combine catechized and uncatechised children in older grades, but experience has proven it just does not work. You might want to volunteer to take all the older "need-1st communion" kids in one class. The other kids get very bored when you keep going back to basics, and it is really not fair to them. I strongly recommend you find a bilingual book if you do this, Creemos would be my first choice until more orthodox publishers do a better job providing alternatives. A lot of these kids even if they have a little English are going home to families where everybody speaks Spanish, especially the abuela or whoever is teaching the children their prayers. By the way, children should be allowed to learn the prayers in the language used in the home. Forcing Hispancis to learn and use English is a real sore spot in some places.

If you decide to take on this ministry of initial catechisis for older children, you can meld it with RCIA. Liguori has the best selection of resources for RCIA for adults, teens and children that work with both Spanish and English or mixed groups. Cost will be about $10 per child for a 2-yr program, plus they have a Handbook/Manuel of the Catholic faith with all the prayers, commandments, basics for about $5 (steep discounts for parishes, order through your DRE).

If your kids are in English language classes at school (as opposed to true bilingual), and you yourself do not have facility in Spanish, stay with the English-language text you have, and find something like the Manual from Liguori to send home with the kids. You will have to rely a lot more on visual and active learning, and a lot less on reading and writing with this group.

Why not just get started for this year, learn what works and what doesn't, OJT is the best way to learn.

One tip from the woman who hired me: only teach one major concept in each lesson, and reinforce that in several different ways.

as far as use of videos, one topic videos are fine if you find them, but I was thinking of perhaps a scene from a recent movie or TV show as a discussion starter, which you can rent from Blockbuster: scene from Pay if Forward with the bullies, for example to intro that topic; scene of a family argument, scene of a child entering a new school (end of Curly Sue), scene from Hope Floats where the dad leaves his daughter behind. You just show the clip and start the discussion. Be prepared, though for lots of revelations from your kids, remind them of the rules: confidentiality, what is said here stays here, we don't talk about our parents' problems here, we don't tell about other people etc.
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