9th grade catechism

I am not sure if this is the correct forum for this question and if not, I would appreciate anyone telling me where to post it.

I have been asked by our parish priest to teach 9th grade catechism this year. Currently, they use the 9th grade “Creed” program from RCL Benziger. Just browsing this forum, I see many are not really happy with it, and I do know my priest didn’t like the 11th grade program they had. He did leave it a bit open for me to find another program. I have very little time to do this, as it is nearly 6 weeks until the first class!

I have looked at the Creed program for 5th graders from Ignatius and I do like the format. If anything, I will teach from that (and the Catechism) and form the discussion from there.

So my questions are these:

First, does anyone know of a 9th grade program that doesn’t fluff up the truth? I want solid stuff, but able to help the kids understand. I have never taught 9th grade (or any other grade for that matter) and to be able to have a guide would help.

Second, since it is my first time teaching 9th grade, are there any tools I should perhaps look for in teaching? Anything would help, as teaching is not my forte!

Lastly, I have some suspicions as to what to expect in this “i-pod” world, but if anyone would like to maybe enlighten me more as what I may expect, especially for those who teach the upper grade levels.

Thanks in advance to all!

I think the biggest problem will be keeping their attention. That can only be done by making the material interesting(lots of visuals, dicussions and participation). Definitely teach with confidence because if you show any weakness they will eat you up.

My Infantry instructor in the Marines used to call us(Generation X) the Tang generation…add water turn to instant garbage though he rarely used the word garbage. With the newer “i-Pod Generation” attention spans are much shorter, they argue everything, they need an explanation for everything and they look for instant gratification…much like all generations when they are in their younger stages. As such I would suggest shorter lesson plans as discussions will definitely shorten what is covered.

I am by no means a teacher and have no tools to point you towards but I have been an instructor just up to recent and have been involved teaching the Milennials(Generation Y)…it is a treat:eek:

You’ll be fine though. Get plenty of Celexa or Trazodone and wll will be well. J/K

Do you mean the Understanding the Catechism series by RCL? There are four books intended to be one year in a Catholic HS or 2 years of CCE. If you are just using the one book - the Creed - and trying to fill a whole year, that might be why it seems “light” to you. I actually like the series (and I am a Faith and Life fan) but we use two books each year for 9th and 10th grade. I teach 9th and use Creed for the first half and Prayer for the second but, if it was my choice, I would combine ‘Creed’ and ‘Liturgy and the Sacraments’. I don’t find the text “fluffy” at all but many of the exercises suggested in the teachers manual are.

One of the things you need to determine is the readiness of your class. In my case, most years, only two or three of my students are regularly attending Mass and most of them haven’t been to CCE since they received First Communion. The RCL series has lots of “meat” including a lot of references back to the CCC (which we use a lot in class) and some Bible study mixed in. It also has homework, which I require. :slight_smile: But it isn’t “overload” for the kids who are not coming from a strong religious education background.

With only 6 weeks, I don’t think you will have enough time to review new material, order it and prepare your first lessons. If it were me, I would use the RCL book your first time around and then you will have a foundation to use if you want to look for something different for next year.

Check with your diocesan office of catechesis for an approved textbook listing. Start there.

The list is huge! Our priest is already looking at it and has some ideas, but I figure instead of trying to find one that isn’t questionable, might as well come here and see what others think.

we don’t have approved texts for HS in this diocese yet.

we have been using Introduction to Catholicism, the 9th grade text intended for Catholic high schools in the Didache series from Midwest Theological Forum, but we cover it over 9th & 10th grade CCD. this was a huge investment, but the books have held up well, and we got a grant to cover part of the cost. The catechists like them because everything is there, and it is even more helpful for them. It comes with a catechist guide both in a binder and on a CD, with tests, and other aides.

However, and this is a biggie, the text is still less important than the catechist, but the text gives the framework and “what we have to teach this year” so don’t get hung up on the book if that is what you have, if the catechist is good he or she makes up for what the book misses. If the catechist is not prepared, does not have a firm lively faith to share, the book is not much help, no matter how good it is.

It is nearly impossible to teach from a text book in a traditional classroom method in the evening after these kids have had a full day of school, sports, band practice etc.

Look into getting this book for yourself (there is link to ordering on the cuf.org site or emmaus road), in fact, also get the scripture book (4th in the series) but don’t invest in student books unless and until pastor approves and you find out if books work at all.

the kids have the actual book in their hands for only part of the lesson, but many read more on their own, because they just cannot buckle down to a book for 1.5 hours in the evening. There are other ways to impart the information, and that is the challenge for the catechist.

I have just advised a new DRE on a limited budget who has been given responsibility for HS including confirmation for the first time (her pastor just cancelled lifeteen which they had for years) to get the Teen Catechism by Fr. McBride from Our Sunday Visitor, this is still my best recommend for starting a program with new catechists, lessons are short but substantive, it follows the CCC, it is a great intro to the CCC, it involves discussion, presentation, Q&A, scripture, music in a good suggested lesson plan (get inexpensive catechist guide separately). Together with OSV’s bible guide for Teens it is a comprehensive program and easy to initiate. You don’t even need to give the kids books if the catechist is prepared, but if it helps you to keep them focused, less of an expense the first year.

the big question as always with HS is where are they in the Confirmation process? here 9th grade is remote prep for Confirmation in 10th grade.

we have a sizeable group of kids coming to 9th grade for the first time–RCIA, or Catholic with no sacraments, no formal RE at all–or who have never come since 1st communion and have little or no grounding in the faith. We are starting a new class for them using One Faith One Lord from Sadlier, which is a “catch-up catechism” to bring them up to speed, so they can go on to prepare for sacraments the 2nd year.

If you’re interested, the rest of our program for HS includes TOB for Teens (6 segements presented by a team, 10th grade), T3 Bible Timeline (8 segments, 9th grade), Confirmed in the Spirit from Loyola (10th grade), Intro to Catholicism Chapt 1-16 (Creed and Sacraments) in 9th grade, Intro Chap. 17-28 (commandments, morality and prayer) in 10th grade. Post-confirmation class rotates, apologetics, contemporary moral issues, and selected bible studies.

The Didache series for High School is the very best I have seen.

If it is approved, use it!

What about checking the Catholic Home School curriculums to see what they utilize for catechism in the high school levels? Like Seton.

I would strictly teach out of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Baltimore Catechism and Bible. Plain and simple

Let me preface by saying I don’t teach 9th Grade

But I have a copy of the Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, and it looks pretty solid, packed full of information. Depending on when your lessons are (as puzzlannie said, getting them to dive into this book after a full day of school may be impossible, but if your program is on Saturdays, like ours is, this may work), depending on how much time you have, your setting (this looks almost like a textbook, so it would fit in better with a classroom type deal), and, of course, whether or not it is on your Diocesan approved list, this may be what you want.

If anyone has ideas/suggestions or would like to seek them for youth ministry, please join the group I just began. I’m hoping we’ll all be able to help each other to have beautiful and effective youth ministries (and properly catechize our kiddos) at our respective parishes. The link is below.

this is admirable and they should certainly be presented with the CCC (what the Church has given us for instruction now, not the BC) and a Bible, and taught how to use them and their use should be part of most if not all your lessons. However I predict you will find it extremely difficult, even with adults, to base an entire class on only this for a resource, unless you, the catechists, are extremely well-versed and can teach for an hour an a half without having to flip through the book. The language of the CCC is dense and packed with meaning, and quite frankly is far about the reading level of most of our teens here, and many of our adults.

if you wish to base a high school program on these resources may I suggest the teen pack or confirmation pack from contemplative corner, an inexpensive series of paperback handbooks, one on the rosary, one on the CCC and an excellent scripture guide/journal. It teaches solid basis of Catholic doctrine and practice, and has a strong apologetics stance. It was compiled by those who teach teens in areas of the south where Catholics are a minority, with the help of their students. It now has a catechist guide that sets out an entire program of instruction linked to the CCC and Bible.

A huge unanswered question for OP is what previous instruction have these children had (Catholic school, CCD in Jr. High, no instruction) and whether or not they have been confirmed, and is this remote or immediate preparation for confirmation. What is their first language, their reading level, other factors about this particular group of children.

btw youth ministry is not primarily about formal religious instruction or confirmation prep, although most youth ministers have that responsibility in their parishes. While many of the “programs” out there (Total Youth Ministry is the best example) are heavy on the “what is going on in their lives” aspect and focusing on issues of immediate importance to them, the best also have solid doctrinal basis. You cannot ignore issues they confront everyday.

Thanks for your input. I do have one question. Why would you not use the Baltimore Catechism??? It is still valid and answers the simplest questions such as “Why did God make us?”. I feel that the Baltimore Catechism gives the best answer in this case.

because it is not the tool our bishops have given us at this time. The tool is the CCC, the gift of the US Bishops in using it effectively for adult evangelization is the USCCA, and the tool that presents it in a Q&A format (so comfortable to those of us who grew up with the BC) is the Compendium to the CCC. I am obliged by my commission to work under the guidance of our bishop, not to make up my own rules. I am also obliged to make sure our instruction goes beyond merely requiring memorization (although that is a critical part of good catechesis) and includes understanding of the meaning of what is being memorized, and the content of the doctrine, and how the youth are to live out their beliefs in their own lives. So I need resources that help my catechists do this.

Take a look at “Father McBride’s Teen Catechism” which is based on the CCC and is approved.

I have taught 9th grade and I will say although there will be weeks you could tear your hair out, it will be one of the BEST things you have ever done! It was my favorite age-group to teach (I like 6th through 9th grades) Here are my hints:

  1. Teach with authority. KNOW that what you say is truth. This means you will have to do a lot of reading and learning yourself.

  2. If you do not know an answer, admit it and let them know you will find the answer. Then at the next meeting, let them know what you found out. Do not forget to follow through or you will lose your credibility.

  3. Use lecture sparingly. They hate it. Use visual aides, music, and as much creativity as possible. Try to incorporate some craft ideas. They may at first moan and groan that crafts are for babies, but if the crafts you do are age-appropriate, they will grow to love it and it will become their favorite thing to do!

  4. Do not try to act like you are their age! My 9th grade class loved it when I acted like I did when I was a 9th grader - used language like “groovy”, once dressed in tie-dyed shirt, etc…they hate it when you try to act like they do or use their language. Don’t be afraid to act silly!

  5. FOOD! They like to eat at this age. Make sure if it is at all possible to have drinks and snacks. The only time we did not have food was during Lent when we had only water and pretzels!!! (As symbolic food to eat!)

And you have to pray for “your kids” and let them know you are doing it! It does make a difference!

God bless you for taking this on!

Why kinds of crafts and music do you suggest? How do you tie that in with the lesson plan?

We don’t do crafts with 9th graders. I sometimes use music. I tie it in when we study liturgy and use it for background music when they are working on somehthing quietly (a quiz or writing a reflection).

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