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Posts Tagged ‘Advent’

I just looked and realized that, once again, I did not post an update on last week’s class. I might be losing my mind.

In any case, last week, we covered the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The subject is important, but the class wasn’t the most interesting. The major point we tried to drive home was that as Catholics, we believe that Christ is truly present (Real Presence) in the consecrated bread and wine. The Eucharist is not merely symbolic, as is practiced in some Protestant churches.

Given the importance of that sacrament, I thought it would be a good idea to spend a little more time on it and reinforce the concepts. So we had the students complete the end-of-chapter exercises and then we discussed their answers. Several students, who were not there last week, had some difficulty, but they were allowed to look for the answers in the preceding chapter. Actually, the textbook publishers really make it fairly easy. Most of the answers to the review exercises are highlighted in red text in the book. We allowed them to work with a partner, but most of the class preferred to just work on their own.

We only had about 20 minutes left when we completed our discussion of the Eucharist. (I am the Les Miles of class time management. If you don’t recognize the reference, ask a college football fan.) I wanted to cover a short chapter on the liturgical year. We really didn’t have time to go step-by-step through the chapter. So instead we just talked a little about the liturgical year and the Church’s upcoming “New Years Day” on November 30 (First Sunday of Advent.)

We will have no class next week, as it is the evening before Thanksgiving. We’re back on December 3. The rest of our classes until the Christmas break will be devoted to preparation for the Christmas Pageant. The third grade will provide the actors and the fifth grade will provide the narrators. I polled the class to get an idea of who wants to read and who would just as soon be one of the shepherds or whatever.

What I really need from parents is an idea of who I can count on for our two “performances.” The first performance will be during the regular last regular CCD class session before the break, December 17. Unless I hear otherwise, I will assume that all the children will be available for that program.

The second program will be at the children’s Mass on Christmas Eve afternoon. I’m not sure of the exact time. We know that some of our students may not be available for that program because of travel plans, other family plans or whatever. So what I need to know is who will be available or not for Christmas Eve. I will sort out the readers and give them assignments based on that information. Some students may read at one program, and some may read at both. We’ll just have to see how the chips fall.

So parents, please send me an email and let me know if your child will be available to participate in the Christmas Eve program. We had one student who said her family might be travelling as early as the December 17 date. If this is also the case with any students, please let me know that also.

My email is: savannahmike1130 at gmail.com (Obviously, insert the @ sign in place of “at.”)

I will also be sending out an email to all the parents for whom I have addresses this weekend with the same request.

I hope your family has a great Thanksgiving holiday. I know I have a lot to be thankful for, including the opportunity to work with your fantastic children. See y’all in December.

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I didn’t write an update last week, but I didn’t even realize it until I sat down to write this update. Sorry ‘bout that. Actually, the two classes were really one lesson, just split into two weeks, so this should work. .

I’d like to start by praising this group of students once again. The class is fairly large — 18 at full attendance. They can be energetic and enthusiastic, but when it is time to calm down and listen, they can do that. They are generally interested in what we are doing and want to participate. What this means is we can create some lessons that are a little risky from a teaching standpoint, but more interesting for the students. For example, as I will describe below, last night, we had them role-play the Sacrament of Baptism, complete with water and oil (olive.) With some other classes, this could have degenerated into total chaos, but with this class it worked. We had no water fight and no one spilled the olive oil on anyone else. And hopefully, it is more interesting than just reading about it from the text. Please help us reinforce this behavior with your children.

Last week, we started a discussion of the Sacrament of Baptism. We began with a discussion of the three purposes of Baptism.

1.) To join us with God
2.) To bring us into the Church
3.) To wipe our souls clean or original and any other sins

We pointed out that usually a Baptism is administered by a priest or deacon, but in the event of an emergency, anyone can perform a Baptism. We mentioned that this is very unusual, and most often occurs in the case of a newborn infant that is not expected to live long enough for a priest to get to the hospital.

All of this opened the floor to a wide-ranging set of questions. We let this run its course, which pretty-much took the rest of the class period. This caused us to postpone our role-play exercise until the following week. On the other hand, if the students are asking appropriate questions, it means they are interested in the subject. I would rather discuss a topic that interests the students than to adhere to our own arbitrary timetable. This is time consuming, because we don’t usually just answer the question immediately. We will turn it around and ask the student, “What do you think?”, then involve other students and take the discussion from there.

Last night, we divided the class into three groups of five or six students. We showed them three pages in the text that describe the celebration of Baptism. We told them we wanted them to work as a team to teach and role-play this process. We had props, including a little water, some olive oil, candles and white tee-shirts (white garment.)

The actual presentations were a little chaotic. If you were watching them, you might not have learned much. However, since we had all three groups do the entire ceremony (rather than breaking it up), we hope they learned and will remember something through their participation.

Looking ahead, we have only one more regular class period before the Christmas break. The Advent program will be November 19. The class sessions between Thanksgiving and Christmas will be taken up by practice for the Christmas Pageant. Originally, I planned to cover the Eucharist before Thanksgiving. I need to take a look and see the best way to tackle the lesson schedule.

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We had a very nice Advent program last night. Most of our parents were there. Thanks for coming and participating!

We will have no CCD class next week, November 27, since it is the day before Thanksgiving. We’ll be back the following week, December 4.

When we meet again, I will be getting things organized for the Christmas pageant, including polling the class to see who wants to be a reader/narrator for the two productions. The key question is “Which students will be available to participate in the program at 4 pm Mass on Christmas Eve?” We know parents control the answer to that question. So, please, shoot me an email, reply to this posting or send me a note to let me know if I can include your child in the lineup for that program. If not, we’ll just assign him/her solely to the first program which will be presented during the regular CCD class time slot on Wednesday, December 18.

And one last detail. In last week’s posting, I mentioned there will probably be a Saturday morning rehearsal for the pageant. Now I know, it will be held on Saturday, December 14, from 9:30-11 am in the church. We would like all our readers to be there, but it’s not a deal-breaker if your family has other commitments for that morning. Keep me informed and we’ll work with you.

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I have assembled a schedule of lessons for the rest of the CCD year. Just so you’ll know, this is highly optimistic. There are all kinds of things that can and will divert us from this plan, but at least it gives us a yard stick to measure how far behind we are at any time.

By the way, several years ago, we arranged for a family in our parish to have their newborn son baptized on a Wednesday evening. We used the Baptism ceremony as a teaching tool. It worked out very well for both the CCD classes and the family. Monsignor Costigan did everything the same as he would otherwise. The ceremony was held n the church with no shortcuts. The only differences were that Monsignor explained what he was doing and its significance at each step. And the child had about 150 honorary godparents in attendance. That child’s older sister happens to be in our class this year. We would love to do this again this year, if only we can find parents with a child in need of baptizing who are willing to go along with it. If you are such a parent, or you know someone who might be willing, please let me know.

Here is the tentative class schedule.

 Oct 30 – Eucharist 1 Ch 10

 Nov 6 – Eucharist 2 Ch 11

 Nov 13 – Liturgical Year & Advent Ch 6 & 13

 Nov 20 – Advent Project (family)

 Dec 4 – Christmas Pageant prep

 Dec 11 – Christmas Pageant prep

 Dec 18 – Christmas Pageant program (Family)

 Jan 15 – Confirmation Ch 8

 Jan 22 – Confirmation Ch 9

 Jan 29 – Prayer – Ch 12

 Feb 5 – Ten Commandments (not in textbook)

 Feb 12 – Ten Commandments

 Feb 19 – Reconciliation Ch 16

 Feb 26 – Lent and Easter Triduum Ch 20 & 21

 March 19 – Lent Project (Family)

 March 26 — Anointing of the Sick Ch 18

 April 2 – Matrimony Ch 24

 April 9 – Holy Orders Ch 25

 April 16 – Easter Ch 27

 April 23 – Open

 April 30 – Last Class

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Our CCD schedule has been a little weird for the past few weeks and will continue so until the Christmas break. Here’s the story.

December 12 (next week) 6-730 pm – Rehearsal for the nine students and two shepherds who are in the Christmas pageant on December 19 and (in some cases) December 24. This includes:

Readers

  • Danielle C (also Dec 24)
  • Brendan C
  • Caroline J
  • Jacob E
  • Elizabeth Anne C (also Dec 24)
  • Jake F (also Dec 24)
  • Autumn H
  • Madeline H (also Dec 24)
  • Hannah B

Shepherds

  • Will G
  • Carter P

There may be another shepherd. I’m not sure. Check with your child. If he/she says they are a shepherd, they probably are.

The remainder of the class has the night off.

Please drop-off and pick-up your child at the church. The school will be closed that evening.

Please note – The start time on December 12 will be 6:00 pm. If you can’t get your child to the church by then, it won’t be the end of the world, but if you can accommodate the earlier time, it would be great.

Also, the students will be served pizza after the rehearsal.

Saturday, December 15 – A final rehearsal for the Christmas pageant for readers and shepherds. I believe it is at 10 am. We’ll confirm that next week.

Wednesday, December 19 6:30 pm – Christmas pageant in church, followed by refreshments and snacks in the school gym. Everyone should attend, as it this is essentially a regular CCD time slot. This will be the final CCD class before the Christmas break. We hope parents will join their children for the pageant, but if you are not able to do so, drop off your child at the church, but pick up at the school.

Monday, December 24, 6:00 pm Mass – The four readers who have volunteered to participate in the pageant-portion of the Mass should attend. Please have your child there early. 5:30 pm would be good. Certainly no later than 5:45 pm. Please have them dressed nicely. The readers for this Mass are Danielle, Elizabeth Anne, Jake F and Madeline.

Questions? Call or email me.

Last night, half the class was involved in the rehearsal for the pageant, which left me with only around nine students for a class. We had an informal discussion of the season of Advent, focusing on the concept of preparing ourselves spiritually for the coming of Christ. Then we went over to the church and listened to their classmates work on their readings.

 

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It was great having the opportunity to meet with this year’s 5th grade CCD class last night.  Mrs. Rudolphi was travelling on business yesterday, so my wife, Patty, came along to assist.

We have a fairly large class. It looks like roughly 20 students as of right now. We typically pick up a few extra in the first weeks of class.

We started with opening prayer, the Hail Mary. My first “lesson” of the year was to teach the students how to properly pray the Sign of the Cross. Too many children at this age have no appreciation for the significance of it, or even realize it is a prayer.  They will quickly wave their hand in the general direction of their forehead and chest and mumble a few words. I showed them how to pray the Sign of the Cross slowly, with their handing touching their forehead, navel, the left shoulder and the right shoulder.

The next item of business was to take a picture of each of the children. I use these “head shots” to create a picture sheet of the class with their names. It allows Mrs. Rudolphi and I to connect names and faces a lot more quickly. Before I started doing this, we had to use name tags for several weeks. Remember, we only have them for less than an hour, and with a week in between classes. It’s hard to remember 20 new names and faces without a little help.

We talked about the general curriculum, which for 5th grade is the sacraments.

We discussed the class rules, which are pretty easy.

1.)   Show up.

2.)   Participate.

3.)   Don’t act like a jerk.

We emphasized the importance of respect, for both their fellow students and us, the teachers.

I could tell from our brief exposure last night that most of the students are fairly well behaved and eager to participate.  However, as expected, there are a few who can be a little rowdy and seek to be the center of attention. We’ll work with them. If that is not successful, we’ll turn to their parents to deal with them.

Parents – Please understand. We do not want to be unnecessarily strict. We like to make the class as fun as we can. And many of our discussions are fairly informal and free ranging. However, we have a relatively short period of time with the students each week. We also feel a strong need to pull everyone, even the quiet kids, into class discussions and activities. We really don’t have the latitude or the patience to compete with students who are disruptive, need to be the center of attention or feel the compulsion to entertain the class with their clowning around.

We still had roughly 30 minutes remaining in the class period, so we taught a short lesson on the liturgical year. We compared the liturgical year to the calendar year and also to other non-calendar years, like the school year and sports seasons. After going through the six seasons of the liturgical year, we finished up with a participation exercise. We read one-sentence descriptions of the various seasons (ie: This season begins on Ash Wednesday.). Whoever first identified the season got up and joined the “team” of other students who had ID’d that season.

We have a smart board in the room and I want to make use of it. Last night, however, there was some password problem that kept it out of operation.

As I mentioned in my last posting, I will not be able to attend the next two class sessions. I’ll be back on October 10. The students should still meet in the classroom at 6:30 pm. Mrs. Rudolphi will be there to organize things. As it stands right now, Father John is preparing a class for next week. Mrs. Cathy Scanlon will take them to the church for a class session the following week.

As I have mentioned before, we invite and encourage parents to sit in on the class at any time.

 

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We decided we needed a break in our routine last night, so we split the session up into two parts.

Before we started, we added about a minute of silent, personal prayer to our opening prayer. We first introduced that last week.

For the first half hour, we finished up the chapter on prayer that we had begun last week. We covered sacramentals. These are objects, blessings, etc. that remind us of some religious concept. Examples we discussed from recent experience and objects within the room included the Sign of the Cross, the Crucifix, a statue of Mary, a Rosary and others.

We briefly discussed the practice of maintaining the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle behind the altar. We talked about how this is tangible evidence of God’s presence in the church. It is why we genuflect and bow to the altar.

We also discussed Holy Days of Obligation. The class had trouble naming more than one of the six (Christmas was the easy one.) until one student found a list in the back of the textbook. Sly dog!

In case you are wondering yourself, the complete list is:

  • Solemnity of Mary Jan 1
  • Feast of the Ascension 40 days after Easter
  • Feast of the Assumption Aug 15
  • All Saints Day Nov 1
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception Dec 8
  • Christmas Dec 25

(I wonder whatever happened to the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25? That was one of the HDBs when I was growing up.)

The second half of the class was a “quiz bowl” that covered material we had taught since September. We split them up into four teams of 4-5 students each. We allowed them to consult with each other and also reference the textbook, but didn’t give them much time to look up something.  It was great to see the class lively and engaged. However, it was also somewhat disheartening to realize how little many of the students have retained from material we have covered and reviewed several times.

For example, there is no good reason why a team of five students shouldn’t be able to name the three parts of the Holy Trinity without having to look it up.

Other “easy” questions that we have covered repeatedly in different forms, but gave multiple teams difficulty,  included:

Name the three Sacraments of Initiation. (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist)

What is the sacrament by which man is made a priest or deacon? (Holy Orders)

Name three of the twelve apostles.

There are four key symbols of Baptism. Name three of them. (Holy Water, white garment, Sacred Chrism and a candle.)

What is the first season of the Church’s liturgical year? (Advent)

What is the only Sacrament of Initiation we can receive over and over again? (Eucharist)

We probably need to re-evaluate our teaching methods. If the students are not retaining the material — even after lively and engaged discussions — then we’re just wasting everybody’s time.

Any ideas?

By the way, we have backed off on our original plan to have the students read the Gospel of Matthew throughout the year. We simply do not have time to review and discuss it in class.  It may (or may not) have been a good idea in concept, but it just hasn’t worked in the roughly 50 minutes we spend together each week.

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