Help with religious education

My wife and I teach religious education for our parish. Our class is made up of 6th-8th graders. We attempt to emphasize the sacraments and what I’ll call Bible basics.
I feel that we’re having to stretch things out due to the age/maturity levels that we’re not getting much of a lesson across. Not only that but the older kids are hearing repetitive lessons when a new class comes up.

Any suggestions?

I taught 7th grade and I have a few thoughts:

1.) Use technology whenever possible. One of the most powerful lessons I did was a lesson on the Stations of the Cross. I made a PowerPoint presentation depicting various artwork. The kids were transfixed and actually listened :slight_smile: Also, encourage them to download Catholic Apps.

2.) Ask them what they want to learn or what questions they have. At the beginning of the year, I asked them to write down 3 things that they want to learn more about and they didn’t have to put their name on the paper. Then, try to incorporate those things into the lessons.

3.) Provide them with journal prompts, prayer prompts, etc. that they can use throughout the week.

4.) Ask them to learn a lesson and ‘teach it’ to the class. This works best in groups.

5.) Assign a “Saint” Project where they work at home with their families to learn about a particular saint and then turn in a mini-report about the saint. I provide a 2 page “worksheet” that they fill in. It’s exciting when they learn about incorrupt saints and saints who did “cool” things…like Padre Pio.

6.) Learn how to be a really good story teller. Take a Bible story and make it REAL for them. Better yet, ask them to read the story and then act it out!

7.) Introduce apologetics. Give them a topic and ask them to “defend their faith.”

7th grade was my favorite year teaching! I’m teaching 4 year olds this year and need a nap afterwards :slight_smile: Good luck!!

I think the problem really lies at home. I mean some of the kids look like they would really like to be somewhere else when they show up so its really hard to spark their interest in the little bit of time that we have them each week. I’ve even challenged them to learn the books of the New Testament with the reward of a gift card of their favorite restaurant and so far no takers. Most of them can find scripture in the Bible now(book, chapter, and verse) so I guess maybe we’re making some progress.

Thanks for the other ideas.

I think the problem really lies at home. I mean some of the kids look like they would really like to be somewhere else when they show up so its really hard to spark their interest in the little bit of time that we have them each week. I’ve even challenged them to learn the books of the New Testament with the reward of a gift card of their favorite restaurant and so far no takers. Most of them can find scripture in the Bible now(book, chapter, and verse) so I guess maybe we’re making some progress.

Thanks for the other ideas.

You are not alone Jtexas. The bottom line is that we are lucky to have the kids anywhere from 25-30 hours a year for catechesis. If it is not reinforced at home, and Mass is not attended, the challenge is further magnified. Each year a new group enters and I am often shocked at the low retention level as it relates to even the most basic aspects of our faith. My lesson plan is often derailed because I have to constantly backtrack to explain some fundamental teaching that I assumed was known. What to do? Accept the derailments and make sure the kids understand the fundamental building blocks of our faith (Incarnation, Passion, Pentecost, Sacraments, etc …). In fact, in certain classes I abandoned the formal lesson plan, and concentrated each week on stepping the children through the Apostle’s Creed. You would be surprised to find out just how much you can cover with that simple lesson plan. One other note, my best classes are usually the ones that I was successful in bringing that lesson alive. Supplement your teaching with historical evidence and stories by whatever means and the kids will respond. Best wishes.

Playing ‘games’ also helped me. I would let them wad up pieces of paper and stand in 2 lines then ask a question (start with the basics like name a sacrament and work up to harder ones like name all 7 sacraments). Whichever team got the answer right first would get to “shoot” their paper into a trash can. If they made it they got a ‘point.’ They got very competitive about this, and by the end of the year…they had memorized a lot of stuff that they didn’t know before.

Also—Watch the movie “Encounter.” You can stream it on Netflix. While it is not a “Catholic” movie, it is a Christian movie and you may want to encourage the kids to watch it. It is phenomenal and shows how Jesus truly loves all of us.

And honestly, they may seem like they don’t care and are interested because they are trying to be cool for their peers, but at the end of the year if you have reached just one child for Jesus, then you have done something right! God’s will WILL be done, and he is using you to do it! How blessed are you!

If Jesus could take 5 loves and 2 fish and feed 5000, imagine what he can do with 25-30 hours a year! :thumbsup:

I agree with all of these except parts of numbers three and five. As a junior in a Catholic high school, I have always been in the Catholic education system. Therefore, the only religious ed that I ever had was before First Communion and Confirmation. However, as asystem who has been through the works with this kind of stiff, I would have to say that, with number three, the prayer prompts are good, but us kids usually hate writing a journal FOR school. Also, with number five, we don’t want to have to do a whole mini-project for CCD! Maybe work with your pastor to get “A Catholic Child’s Illustrated Lives of the Saints” by L.E. McCullough for all the kids. Maybe fill out a worksheet like he said, but please, no projects!

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