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We had a fun class last night. At least Mrs. Rudolphi and I enjoyed it.

We finished up our coverage of the Ten Commandments with a group exercise that the students really seemed to get into. You may recall that last week, we sent them off with a homework assignment. Their task was to imagine that Moses went back up Mt. Sinai and asked God for a second set of commandments, this time focused on issues relevant to 5th graders. They were to imagine they were God and to come up with those 5th grader Commandments.

We broke the class into four groups of 3-5 students and gave each group a poster board and marker. We have them 15 minutes to come up with as many Commandments as they could. They went to work diligently. They were a little rowdy and noisy, but each group produced very nice, well thought-out Commandments. We had each group present their work product to the rest of the class, and I quizzed them a little on what they had developed.

It is our goal each week to try to get the students to actually think and not just listen or read. Hopefully, something they have to think or do themselves, will be more likely to stick with them after they leave the room. That is the idea behind an exercise like that. Mrs. R and I cannot emphasize enough how happy we are that the students in this class are generally behaved, engaged and manageable. We don’t expect them to be perfect little angels, and they are not. They can be a little chatty and sometimes boisterous. But we do not have any students who are actively trying to sabotage what we are trying to do, and that is not always the case. The up-side for the students is, that because of their behavior, we are able to present activities like the one last night, which they seem to find interesting and enjoy. You can’t do that if you are worried about who is setting the trash can on fire. (Just kidding.)

We had only about 20 minutes left in the class period when we finished the Commandments exercise, not enough time to even start another lesson. Our opening prayer was the Lord’s Prayer and that gave me an idea. After a quick consult with Mrs. R, we decided to walk the class through the Lord’s Prayer and help them understand what they are actually saying to God when they recite the prayer. As we suspected, the entire class admitted that they didn’t understand the prayer, and they simply recited the prayer because they had memorized it. We took each line, analyzed it and discussed it. Again, they were very engaged and seemed to develop some understanding through the process.

We have no class for the next two weeks, but there are Wednesday evening activities to which we encouraged the students to ask their parents to bring them. Next week is Ash Wednesday. Mass and ashes at 7:00 pm. The following week is the Book of Kells program. Information is available here.

When we come back on March 4th we will begin a two-week lesson on the Sacrament of Reconciliation and prepare the students for the CCD Penance Service on March 25.

Sorry for the late posting. This past week has just been busy.

We had a pretty good class last week. We covered the last seven Commandments. We had a lively and interesting discussion. How can you not have fun when the subjects include lying, cheating, stealing and killing?

We spent a fair amount of time discussing the fourth “Honor your father and mother” Commandment. We discussed the importance of that Commandment when parents become older and may become dependent upon their children.

As always, the concept of coveting was a new one for the students. They seemed to catch on to it however.

“Bearing false witness” was a little obscure until we talked about it for a while. We asked and discussed whether gossip would be covered by that Commandment.

The concept of adultery is always one we try to handle with some delicacy. We used it to confirm the sanctity of marriage. We also pointed out that there are two Commandments that address the sin. The sixth prohibits it on the part of one of the partners in the marriage. The ninth prohibits a third party outside the marriage from getting between the couple.

I left them with a homework assignment. I asked them to imagine that Moses came back down Mt. Sinai with a second set of commandments specifically targeted towards fifth graders. I asked them to think of what some of those commandments might be. This week, we will break the class into small groups and ask them to create their own stone tablets (poster boards and markers) with the fifth grade Commandments. We will also discuss the upcoming season of Lent.

As expected we have a schedule change, and I think it will be for the better. We will have a Penance Service specifically for the 3-8 grade CCD students and their families on Wednesday, March 25.

Also, for our last class on April 29, we will have a real, live Baptism. One of our parish families has agreed to have their child baptized on a Wednesday night with the entire CCD group in attendance. (The baby is the same child who played the Baby Jesus at the Christmas Pageant. She will be back for an encore performance.) We did this several years ago, and it turned out great. Monsignor Costigan talked his way through the ceremony and explained each step and its meaning. This is a “must see” event.

So here is the schedule for the remainder of the year.

Feb 11 – Finish Commandments and Ch 20 Lent
Feb 18 – No Class –Ash Wednesday
Feb 25 – No Class — Book of Kells Program
March 4 – Ch 15 Healing
March 11 –Ch 16 Reconciliation
March 18 – No class
March 25 – Penance Service in the church
April 1 — Ch 18 Anointing of the Sick
April 8 – No Class
April 15 — Ch 24 Matrimony
April 22 – Holy orders
April 29 – Baptism Ceremony in the church

I thought we had a good class on Wednesday, but maybe not the “home run” we are always striving for.

The topic of discussion was the Ten Commandments. We began by distributing a sheet with the Commandments listed, and a photocopy of one of the chapters in Exodus where they are presented. We gave the class some of the background surrounding the story of the Israelites escape from Egypt, Moses, Mount Sinai and the stone tablets. Then we had six students read the biblical passage.

During this exercise and a subsequent discussion about taking the Lord’s name in vain, some of the children were very cute. The student assigned to read the passage with the tenth commandment stopped short. The passage contained the word “ass,” referring to an animal. He looked at me and said, “I’m not allowed to say that word.” I told him in that a context, the word referred to a donkey and it was OK to say it. As expected, it produced a round of giggles from the rest of the students. Likewise, during our discussion of using the Lord’s name, I had to grant them a “special exemption” so we could use examples and have a discussion.

We then discussed the first three commandments. We discussed what “false Gods” meant in the context of the Exodus story. However, we also brought the concept forward to the 21st century. We broke the class into three groups and asked them to brainstorm a list of false Gods in modern times — for both adults and children. We defined modern false gods as anything in life that can become more important than God, or can get between a person and God. As an example and to start the process, I suggested that for many people, money is a false god. The students caught on to the concept very quickly and all three groups produce very interesting and thought provoking lists. If they got nothing else out of the class, I hope that is one concept that will stick with them.

We then progressed into a discussion of misusing God’s name and of keeping the Sabbath. We spent some time discussing why most Christians celebrate the Sabbath on the first day of the week rather than the seventh.

All and all, it was a pretty successful class. Next week, we will tackle the remaining seven Commandments, and have the class develop a set of Commandments for modern-day 5th graders.

What follows below is simply a repetition of the email I sent out earlier this morning. If you have already read it, then this will be redundant.

Mrs. Hubert, Mrs. Rudolphi and I share a concern we think we should bring to your attention.

After class, some of our children have been heading out to meet their rides in the parking lot. This is difficult for us to control. In addition to sorting through the mild chaos of dismissal, frequently the children are being “picked up” by an older sibling. We don’t know if they are going to meet a parent in another classroom or in the parking lot.

We would like to strongly discourage this practice. The school parking lot is not a safe place for unaccompanied children. This is especially true during this time of year, when it is dark, and even more so when there is another activity happening at the school like there was this week.

So we would like to ask you, please, to come into the school building to pick up your child. Please do not ask them to meet you in the parking lot. If you have a situation where that is difficult (sleeping baby, older grandparent driver or whatever), just let us know, or instruct your child to tell us. Mrs. Rudolphi or I will be happy to walk your child (children) to your car. Seriously. We don’t mind.

Thank you very much for your cooperation on this.

Schedule Change Advisory

Parents – Please take note of a schedule change in the CCD calendar. We will NOT have class on Wednesday, February 25, because of the Book of Kells event at the church.

We strongly encourage you to mark that date on your calendar and bring your family to the program. Check the event poster below. You also can see additional information and purchase tickets via the parish Web site.

With that adjustment, here is a list of the remaining classes, and my plan of lessons.

Jan 28 – Commandments 1
Feb 4 – Commandments 2
Feb 11 – Ch 20-21 Lent & Triduum
Feb 18 – No Class –Ash Wednesday
Feb 25 – No Class — Book of Kells Program
Feb 25 – Ch 15 Healing
March 4 –Ch 16 Reconciliation
March 11 – Ch 18 Annointing of the Sick
March 18 – No class
April 1 – Ch 24 Matrimony
April 8 – No class
April 15 – 25 Holy orders
April 22 – Unassigned
April 29 – Last Class

The list of lessons may change again. We have an event pending. If it comes through, it will take up one of the classes. To be announced.

Kells

Our classes resumed last week, but I had to be in Atlanta for work, so I missed it. Mrs. Rudolphi took over the class and began a lesson on Pentecost and Confirmation.

I was back last night, for the first regular class I have taught since before Thanksgiving. We had a real light turn-out, only 8 students of our total class of 19. I had intended to spend most of the class covering the Sacrament of Confirmation. However at around 430 pm Mrs. Hubert sent out an email advising us of a Rosary service in the church at 6:30 pm. Since I strongly suspected most of our students are not extremely familiar with the Rosary, I thought they would benefit from participating for a short while. I covered the basics of what the Rosary is all about while Mrs. R located and distributed some extra Rosary beads. Off we went. We arrived before the Rosary started and stayed for two or three decades. Then we returned to class.

Mrs. R lead a short review of last week’s lesson, and then we talked a little about the role of Confirmation and its relationship to the Pentecost.

Frankly, it wasn’t the best class we have had. A little flat. We will try to do better next week.

By the way, next week we will step outside the current textbook for the first of two classes focused on the Commandments. Based on past years, these are usually fairly interesting lessons. Usually, the students have lots of questions and we have very interesting discussions. I’m looking forward to it. We hope to see your child there.

No class January 7, 2015

Just a reminder, parents, there will be no CCD class on January 7. Classes will resume the following week, January 14. Have a great New Year!

We had a really good practice session for the Christmas pageant last night. I am very impressed at how seriously the students are taking their roles. They really want to do well and it shows. We had two full-scale run-throughs, complete with the music. Then we practiced the speaking parts over and over until we ran out of class time. Also, our shepherds are doing a very good job keeping the younger third-grade “sheep and goats” in line. A few notes:

— We would like to have one additional practice this coming Saturday morning (Dec 13) from 10-11 am. If your child has a conflict and cannot attend, it’s not the end of the world. In which case, please take special note of the next paragraph. If they do not have a conflict, please try to get them there. The practice will be at the church.

— If your child is one of our readers, please ask him to practice his/her material with you. The more repetition they have, the easier and less threatening it will be when they stand up in front of a church full of people. Emphasize they should project loud and read slow. (Many tend to read too fast and run their words together, especially as they come to the end of a sentence or the end of the reading.)

— Our first performance will be during the regular CCD class session next week (Dec 17.) Please drop off your child at the church by 6:00 pm. It is not necessary for them to be dressed up for this performance.

— Even if your child is not a reader, please bring them next Wednesday anyway. We may have some “no-shows” and may need to put them into the lineup. In any event, this is a class project and they are a part of the class.

— The second program will be during the Christmas Eve children’s mass at 4:00 pm. Please deliver your child to the school a half hour early, at 3:30 pm so we can get them organized and squared away. (A last minute rush is likely to just get them flustered.) Dress for this program should be “church clothes.” One note for the girls (and Mrs. Rudolphi has mentioned this to them), they may be sitting on the floor. So if they are wearing a dress or skirt, some kind of tights or leggings might be appropriate.

— After the program on Christmas Eve, they will be allowed to spend the rest of the Mass with their family. You may wish to give them an idea in what part of church you plan sit and leave a space for them. Mrs. R and I will probably be spending the rest of Mass in the narthex, so if you don’t connect, we’ll make sure they are OK.

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