Thursday, June 4, 2020

Catholic Kids Bulletin: I switched Email servers...I bet my new post is in the spam folder...

Hi! I updated a MILLION things on my blog this week, so I now have a new email provider.

I just published a new post and if you were already on my email list--you should get an email tonight. Please check your spam/junk folder and tell your email that it's not junk so you'll continue to see emails when new bulletins are ready!

The new email was sent from and the subject was
Help Kids Learn at Mass with Weekly Bulletins | New Bulletin from Catholic Kids

If you need the June here. 

If you want to check out my cute new here. If you need to re-subscribe, there is an email form on the left side of the new page. 

Thanks for being loyal followers and supporting CKB!


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Can You Teach Religion with PACKETS & Keep Students Engaged?

Can You Teach Religion with PACKETS & Keep Students Engaged? I say it's possible and here are some tips to making packets that include deep thought, activities, discussion, and learning.

Using Packets to teach Religion & Keep Students Engaged and Organized

I'm done with school for the year--but going back to summer school in a few weeks. I know a few of you have weeks to go before you've reached the end of this crazy school year. This will help you finish strong or prepare for the beginning of next year .... I love using packets to teach religion! 

At my school, students have limited digital access, so we've been relying on PACKETS during the last 2 months of school. I'm hoping we will be back in the classroom in the fall, but shockingly, I'm going to stick with the packets! It's such a convenient way for students to keep all the information for a unit in one place. When it's time to study for a test, EVERYTHING they need to know is in one (large?) packet. They don't need a textbook or a binder or a million different worksheets. But, they can't be boring packets--the work still needs to be engaging, while the packets keep it organized. 

I have a few packets in my store that I'll link to throughout if you need some quick resources, but if you're creating your own resources, here are ideas that you may want to include to help your students ENJOY the packet.

Key things I include in packets to keep students engaged and learning...

The Bible as a Textbook

I've searched through many, MANY textbooks, but I haven't found anything that speaks to my students as well as the Bible. We use the CEV translation in my classroom, and there are things that I don't love about that version, but I recently heard it described as a cliff-notes version of the bible and I love that idea. It's easy to read and easy to understand.

Most of my packets include a lot of bible reading and summarization--so the basis of their learning is digging into God's Word.

 a way that inspires discussion & debate

Whenever I introduce vocabulary, I give the students the definitions and then ask them to find examples and non-examples. From the time the words are introduced, the students are expected to think about, manipulate, and analyze the words...not just memorize the definition.

My favorite part of that class period is listening to students debate about topics such as whether zombies are an example of a resurrection or a nonexample. Because they're moving so they're like alive again kind of like resurrected, but they're Undead and Jesus wasn't Undead, he was alive again. Not the Living Dead. There's so much theology in that bizarre argument, I love it! 

Even as we've been distance learning, I have had the students continue to put examples and non-examples, even though they don't get to be in a classroom to discuss it. But looking back at their answers, I have learned some delightful things. Devout was a recent vocab word, and I loved to see which students identified themselves as an example of devout and which were a non-example.

Bible Memory Verses

My packets also include a memory verse. I didn't grow up memorizing verses consciously, but as an adult, I realized how many of those church songs are full of Bible verses. "Here I Am Lord" is Isaiah 6:8. "Be not afraid, I go before you always," is from Deuteronomy 31:8. The church music that I grew up on was full of scripture. Many of my students don't grow up going to church every weekend--so they need a bit more structure to get the bible into their memories. 

The first page of the packet includes a Bible verse with the words scrambled. I don't usually devote class time to completing the unscrambling, and I give them the answers to that in other places, but a lot of the students like to have that extra something to think about during pauses in class. They'll be unscrambling and thinking of the Bible verse each time they get their packets out. 

I also ask the students to write down the verse in some artistic way and think about when this first might be helpful in their lives. My hope is that the students will be thinking about Philippians 4:6 during times like today when the world is a bit upside down

 Act of the Apostles & Early Church Lesson Plan Philippians 4:6

Graphic Organizers

As I create each packet--my goal is to for students to DO SOMETHING with the information. First, students summarize information from the Bible. Then, the answer questions or complete graphic organizers so they have to do something with that information. 

 Nicene Creed Study as a part of Church History Unit Lesson Plan
It helps students understand information and move it to memory by manipulating the information in different ways. I still have students get caught up in finding the perfect "right answer", so I started to include in the instructions that there is no right answer. If you can explain your answer in a way that makes sense, it is right....that's learningThe graphic organizer is not the place for perfect cookie-cutter answer, it's a place for ideas and thinking and pulling apart of information. 
Christian Church History Unit Lesson Plan

Study Guide

While I don't spend class time drilling the "right answer," I still want an assessment that is easy to study for and easy to grade. The last page of the packet has 30 questions that will be on the test. I'm hoping that my advanced students learn WAY MORE than that information. But, the struggling students need something clear and concise so they can study and be successful with the objectives. I also supply students with Quizzizz links so students can (hopefully) see that if they put in the effort, they will be successful on the test.

What do you add to your packets to keep students engaged?

Click on the links below to check out a few packets if you need easy resources for your classroom(I use these packets with high school students, but about 40% of my students are special education so a lot of them have a different reading level than grade level. These packets are designed that they could be used with any translation--so if your students can read a bible, they will be able to handle the content in the packets.)

 Act of the Apostles & Early Church Lesson Plan