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Before we get into anything else, I want to clarify the class schedule for the next several weeks. The original pre-season schedule has been changed, and the schedule posted in last weekend’s bulletin is wrong. Ugh.

Also, we have about 11 or 12 students participating in the Christmas pageant as narrators or shepherds. Several came up to me last night and said they want to be a part of the production, so parents may not know about it. Please see below for more details on this.

As best I can figure out, here is what the schedule looks like between now and Christmas.

 Dec 5 – All students report for CCD at 6:30 pm. The narrators and shepherds who are participating in the Christmas pageant will have a rehearsal. The rest of the class will have a regular class session.

Dec 12 – No regular CCD class, but the Christmas pageant narrators and shepherds will have a rehearsal and a pizza party. Everyone else has the night off.

Dec 19 – Christmas pageant in the church at 6:30 pm. Everyone is welcome. I think the children and parents should go straight to the church that evening. I’ll clarify that and let you know before then.

Dec 24 – The Christmas pageant will be a part of the 6 o’clock Christmas Eve Mass. We have three 5th grade narrators whose parents have indicated they can participate.

Also, there will be a single dress rehearsal for the children in the pageant on Saturday morning (exact time TBA) December 15.

Here is a list of the 5th grade students who have volunteered to be narrators for the Wednesday, Dec 19, pageant program. Please note the three children who have also indicated their availability for the Dec 24 program.

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

A couple of our class also volunteered to be shepherds. To be honest, it was a last minute “cattle call” and I’m not sure who is part of the shepherd gang and who is not. Please ask your child if he or she is a shepherd. If so, let me know if the schedule above presents a problem for you. Also, if the shepherds can be available for the Christmas Eve Mass, that would be great. If not, let me know so I can pass it on to the “director” Lynn Hogan.

Is that as clear as mud? Feel free to call or email me if you have any questions. Contact info in the “About ” tab above.

Last night was spent getting the Christmas pageant crew organized. The eight or so students went to the church to watch. Eventually they got bored. So I took them around the church and pointed out some features like the stained class images and statues, and we went through the Stations of the Cross. One of our students, Carter, who  is an altar server, took the class behind the altar and showed the prep room.

As you can see above, our schedule between now and Christmas is going to be a little messy. We’ll have a regular class session for the students not involved in the Christmas pageant next week. However, our next major subject to cover is the Sacrament of Confirmation and I think we’ll hold off on that until after the Christmas break when we’ll have the entire class back together.

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We had a fairly wild class. We tried something different, and it really didn’t work very well. Lesson learned.

The subject was the Sacrament of Baptism. We skipped over the first of the two chapters in the text that deal with Baptism. So we started with some basic information. We talked about the three main effects of Baptism.

1. Provides a source of God’s love (grace.)

2. Wipes us free from sin. Short discussion on the concept of Original Sin.

3. Initiates us into the Church, God’s family, the Body of Christ.

We then divided the class into four groups and assigned each group one section of the next chapter (five) to read and prepare to teach to the rest of the class.

Group one focused on the differences between baptizing adults and older children versus infants. Also talked about preparation for Baptism and godparents.

Group two focused on the initial parts of the Baptism ceremony including Sacred Chrism, the Sign of the Cross and prayers.

Group three dealt mostly with the significance of water in the Sacrament.

Group four focused on the manner of applying the Holy Water (immersion vs sprinkling) and the significance of the white garment and candle.

We did this on a small scale a few weeks ago and it worked out fairly well. Unfortunately, last night it was very difficult to get most of the students to focus on the task. They were much more interested in chatting and joking with their friends, even if they were not part of their group. I take the “blame” for that. I should have seen it coming, but by time it was obvious it wasn’t working, there was not sufficient time in the class period to change course. We plowed on through to the finish. However, we are going to carefully think about it before we try this teaching technique again.

We finished up, as we have for the past several weeks, by asking each student what they learned that evening. Every child was able to cite some topic we had discussed with very little duplication among them. I realize asking a student to name just one thing they learned is not setting the bar very high. Nonetheless, it is rewarding to get that small piece of feedback.

 

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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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Hello, parents!

Mrs. Rudolphi and I are looking forward to teaching your child’s CCD class on Wednesday evenings.

The 5th grade curriculum will focus on the liturgy and the sacraments. While we have some material to cover, including some memorization, we also hope to make the short time we will spend together rewarding and enjoyable for your child.

It has been our experience that, when they get going, 5th graders and full of interesting questions. If it has anything remotely related to God, the Church, religion, or living, we will talk about it.

Please understand I will have your child for less than an hour just once a week. You can do several things to help us make this a productive experience for your son or daughter.

  • Ask your child if we have given them a task to do during the week and assist them with it.
  • Please have your child to the school before 6:30 p.m.
  • Please support us and encourage your child to come to CCD class willingly and with enthusiasm.

As we will be covering the sacraments, including matrimony and anointing of the sick, our class discussion may come in close contact to real-life events in your child’s life (death in the family, divorce, etc.) If there is something I should know in order to be appropriately sensitive, please tell me.

We have only three class-rules, and we hope you will help us reinforce these to your children.

1. Show up.

2. Participate

3. Don’t be a “jerk.”

(You might be surprised how well 5th graders understand Rule #3. It almost never requires any further explanation.)

You are most welcome to sit-in on the class at any time.

I hope you will stay abreast of what’s happening with your child on Wednesday evenings. To help you do so (and for the fourth year), I have created this blog/Web site.  I will try to keep it updated on a weekly basis with reports on the class activity and announcements.

I will leave the full rundown of last year’s class is here on the site, so if you would like to get an idea of what is ahead, you can look backwards and see.

Feel free to contact Mrs. Rudolphi or myself for any reason. Our contact information is under the “About ” tab at the top of this page.

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We had a fairly interesting class last night. We finished up the Sacrament of Matrimony. It was our plan to also cover Holy Orders, but that didn’t happen.

As we did last week, we emphasized the Church’s teaching that the marriage vow is a life-long commitment.  We talked about the concept of “fidelity. (We also emphasized that we are trying to teach them the way they should approach marriage when they are older, and in no way are judging or criticizing anyone they may know or in their family who may be divorced.)

We pointed out that Matrimony is the only sacrament in which the participants are the ministers, and the priest or deacon is just a witness, to put God’s blessing and “seal of approval” on the union.

We emphasized the importance of a family as being a building block of the Church. We talked a little about responsibilities in a family – both the adults and children.  We let the students brainstorm for a while to come up with responsibilities. They did a pretty good job for both groups.

Mrs. Rudolphi and I did have one awkward moment.  Mrs. R said she was anticipating a question about gay marriage, but, fortunately, that did not arise. Instead, the question stemmed from a paragraph in the textbook.

“The deacon or priest asks the couple three important questions…Will they lovingly accept children from God and raise them in the faith?”

“So Mr. Sullivan, suppose it’s not a good time for a couple to have children? Like maybe one of them is in the military and is being sent away. What can they do then?”

We responded that the Church does not approve of artificial means of birth control, but there are other, natural means a couple can use. And then we said that we really don’t have permission from their parents to get involved any more deeply in that kind of subject, and strongly suggested that they talk with their parents.

I don’t know if that was the best response, but it was the best I could come up with on short notice.

Next week, we plan to cover the Sacrament of Holy Orders very briefly. We will devote the remainder of that class and the next class (after the Easter break) to covering the Ten Commandments. This was part of the 5th grade curriculum when we used the older text, but it is not part of the new Sadlier text. However, in past years, the classes when we discussed the Commandments were some of the best of the entire year. We usually get the students to consider some concepts they haven’t thought of before. It generates lots of questions, ideas and discussion. So we are going to finish off the year with that subject.

As always, parents are most welcome to come and sit in on the class. If you have been holding back and waiting for an interesting one, these next two classes just might be “it.”

Please take a moment to glance at the schedule of classes under the tab at the top of this page. We have class next week (April 4). We are off the week after Easter, but then back for two final classes.

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Oh, wow! We had a very lively and interesting class last night.

We started off with a mandatory “good touch-bad touch” discussion. In light of all the news coming out of my brother’s and sisters’ alma mater (Penn State), it was probably well timed.

We went over seven or eight guidelines or pieces of advice for children to follow to avoid becoming abuse victims. I don’t have my guide sheet with me right now. I’ll update this posting in a day or so with some of the specifics. The two primary themes were “You can and should say ‘no’ to an adult who is making you feel uncomfortable” and “Talk to your parents.”

I did reference the Penn State issue in a very general way, and recommended the children ask their parents about it if they want to know more.

As has already been very obvious, this class just loves to ask questions and discuss things. So you can imagine how this subject took the lid off the can of worms. Almost none of the questions or discussions focused on personal abuse. They were much more interested in talking about stranger abduction, someone breaking into their house, and similar subjects. Mrs. Rudolphi was a tremendous help in this discussion. We let it go for a while, but eventually some of the questions just got to be absurd. Some of the students were just making up bizarre situations to keep things going. So we moved on to other things.

We really didn’t have time for a full lesson after that, so we organized a “quiz bowl.” We divided the class into four teams. We have them a few minutes to review the chapters of the Gospel of Matthew that they have (supposedly) already read (Chapters 1-5). Then we asked them questions from those chapters. We allowed it to be “open book,” but didn’t give them a whole lot of time to look up answers if they were starting from scratch. Actually, I was fairly happy at their recall. It went well.

We have no class next week due to the Thanksgiving week. We’re back on November 30. The Season of Advent will be on the agenda for that night.

Please ask your child to read Chapter 6 of Matthew, and any of the previous chapters he or she may have missed.

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Sorry. After all the buildup about this site, I’m afraid I didn’t post anything last week. a

a. ) I left for an out of town trip very early Thursday morning and did not have internet access until Monday night.

b.) We really didn’t do anything except organizational issues. Altar server coordinator Irene Nave stopped by to talk to the students about becoming altar servers.

We got things started off quickly last night.

After six years of teaching this class from the same book, we changed to a different publisher this year, so Mrs. Rudolphi and I will be feeling our way a little.

After an opening prayer, we started with the first of our “We Believe” statements – “Jesus is the Son of God.” We read the story of Jesus’s baptism in the Jordan River and the appearance of God in all three persons of the Holy Trinity. This got us discussing the concept of the Trinity. We discussed that the concept is a mystery that we can never fully comprehend. We presented several explanations with the idea that they may get close to the truth of the Trinity, but not fully explain it. This included the famous St. Patrick’s explanation of the shamrock.

One student said he always thought of the Trinity as being like a sandwich – one sandwich with several ingredients. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of the Trinity described as a sandwich, but I thought it was extremely insightful.

About that time, Father John stopped by to meet the class. He talked about the altar service. He also gave the students some additional thoughts on the Trinity. They had lots of questions.

When Fr. John left, we only had about ten minutes left in the class. We quickly covered our second major point to this chapter – “Jesus shows us God’s love.”  Jesus showed us how to live our lives by the way he lived his. The textbook referenced the story of Jesus healing the blind begger. Through this story, we explained that Jesus did not associate with the rich and powerful of his time. He befriended the poor and the outcasts.

I tried to turn that into a lesson the students could take home with them, by talking about the dynamics in most groups of 5th graders. In any class, there are typically some popular kids and also some less popular. While most kids would like to be part of the popular crowd, that is not what Jesus would want us to do. Our students could follow Jesus by being kind to and befriending all the kids in their class or school, not just the “cool” or popular ones. We didn’t have enough time to really talk about this, so I’m not sure how well that concept was received.

Next week, we’ll do a short review of last night’s material, and then finish up the chapter. The session should be more discussion and activity focused.

At the end of class, one of our students asked if she could address the class. She told her fellow students that she and her mother would be conducting a food drive close to Thanksgiving and asked them to contribute. We’ll be back with you with more specifics as they become available.

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