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Posts Tagged ‘mt. sinai’

We had a very good class last week. We finished up the last three of the Ten Commandments.

False witness – Most of the class had a pretty good general idea of what this was all about. However, we expanded the discussion to include issues more relevant to them, like gossip and rumors.

Two “covet” commandments – We described “covet” as to want something so badly that you are willing to commit a wrong to get it. Regarding coveting a neighbor’s goods, it pointed out that it is OK to admire something like a new phone or something similar a friend gets. But when you want it so badly you are willing to steal it, it is coveting.

We didn’t spend a lot of time on the issue of coveting another’s wife or husband, but we did point out that God so values marriage that two of the commandments refer to it. The adultery commandment applies to the people within the marriage, but the covet commandment addresses someone outside the relationship. Interestingly enough, this general concept showed up in the exercise that comprised the rest of the class.

We then retold the story of Moses and Mt. Sinai with a minor revision. In this story there was a group of fifth graders in the crowd when Moses presented the Commandments. The fifth graders objected, saying there wasn’t really much there that applied to them, since they are really into murder and aren’t even sure what that adultery thing is. They sent Moses back up the mountain to ask God for another set of Commandments, this one relevant to 5th graders. We broke the class into groups of two and three and gave them poster boards and markers. We told them to imagine they are God, and to come up with a second set of Commandments, this one applying to the issues fifth graders face.

Once we got the group of guys to stop squabbling over who was going to write what, it went smoothly and very well. It’s always interesting to see what they come up with.

“Don’t bust your friend’s crush.” That was one I had to ask about.

We had each group present their list to the class. Everyone did great. Mrs. Rudolphi and I were very pleased.

This week we will start our two-part lesson on Reconciliation be examining the concept of forgiveness. See ya then!

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We had a really good class last night. I hope your children came home talking about it. If not, ask them.

We stepped outside the normal curriculum to take a look at the Ten Commandments. This subject used to be a part of the 5th grade curriculum, but it dropped out when we switched textbooks a few years ago. However, since these classes produced such engagement and energy, I kept them a part of our curriculum.

Last night was no exception. The students engaged and participated with interest. They generated lots of ideas, questions, etc., even from some of the students who are sometimes more reticent. Two of our students, who do not normally volunteer to read aloud did so.

We had one really funny incident. We were discussing the 4th Commandment (Honor your father and mother.). As one point of discussion, I was trying to drive the class towards the idea that as parents get elderly, it is the responsibility of their children to care for them. One of our students said: “Well, when people get old they become week and feeble, and need hearing aids.” As you may know, I wear hearing aids and have done so for more than 25 years. So I pulled one off and replied, “You mean like this one?” The poor girl’s mouth dropped open and she turned beet red. We laughed and I told her it was OK. But the whole thing was very funny.

But back to the lesson…

We started by telling the story of the Israelites escape from Egypt and how they came the base of Mt. Sinai. We talked about how they were worshiping idols, generally misbehaving and needed a set of rules to live by. We then had the students take turns reading aloud from Exodus Chapter 20, which is the first description of the Commandments.

We distributed a listing of the Commandments that included a chart showing how they are numbered differently in different religions. (Most Protestant churches break up the first three “God Commandments” into four and combine the “covet commandments” into just one.) We pointed out that this is only an issue when you discuss a particular commandment with a Protestant friend. If you are discussing the Fourth Commandment, a Catholic would be talking about “Honor your mother and father,” but the Protestant friend would be talking about keeping holy the Sabbath. We walked our way through the first seven Commandments with these key points.

#1 “I am the Lord your God…” We discussed how worshiping statues and other idols was common in the time of Moses. However, we asked the students to think of things in today’s world that some people may elevate to a priority higher than God. They came up with things like money, popularity, music stars, gambling, alcohol abuse, drugs, and even electronic games.

#2 “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of God” We talked about using God’s name improperly. We also pointed out that the early Jewish people took this commandment so far as to give God a name that could not be pronounced. It eventually evolved into Yahweh or Jehovah.

#3 “Keep holy the Sabbath” We discussed why Christians changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, and the requirement to attend Mass on Sunday.

#4. “Honor your father and mother” As mentioned above, we emphasized the need to love and respect your parents throughout their life and to help and support them when they need it.

#5 “You shall not kill” Not a lot of discussion here. We talked a little about self-defense and war, but didn’t go very deep into other issues.

#6 “You shall not commit adultery” Surprisingly, the first student I called up on could define adultery. We emphasized the importance of the marriage vows, but did not wander far afield on this one.

#7 “You shall not steal” Again, this one was pretty obvious to the class. We did broaden the definition to go beyond just physical objects to include intangibles like ideas, software, pirated music downloads, and so on.

Next week, we will finish off with the last three (false witness and the two “covet commandments.”) We will then break them into groups and have them come up with a set of commandments relevant for today’s 5th graders. That is always fun.

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We had an interesting class last night. The students responded very well to a group project for the first half of the class, but some were somewhat less cooperative during the discussion phase during the second half. This really is not a surprise. We seem to go through this nearly every year around this time. We have become comfortable with each other, but also the wear of the weekly grind starts to show. As I have said in the past, this is overall a really good group. But the more we engage in a less restrictive, open-discussion kind of program, the tougher it is to keep some of our band focused on the main class activity. We have to work to keep it from degenerating into a total  free-for-all.  Defying gender stereotypes, it is a few of our boys who are the real chatterboxes. For our next regular class (not until March 26), I think I’ll separate the boys’ social club and tighten up a little on our discussion format.

I had not originally planned to milk the Ten Commandments for three entire class periods, but I’m glad I did. Our class last night focused on one activity. I introduced it by telling a story of Moses receiving the Commandments from God with some alterations. When he came down from Mount Sinai, the Israelites realized that many of the Commandments, as presented, had little relevance to fifth graders.

“Do you mean like that ‘covet your neighbor’s wife’ thing, Mr. Sullivan?” asked one student.

“Yeah, that’s what I mean.”

So Moses went back up to the mountain and told God that he needed some additional commandments that would address the issues facing fifth graders. I broke the class into three groups of three or four and asked them to imagine, just for the purposes of this exercise, that they were God. What kind of commandments would God issue that would be relevant to today’s fifth graders? I gave them a piece of poster board and a marker to list their commandments.

This part of the exercise went pretty well. One group worked well as a team and produced an excellent group product. Another team didn’t work well together, but each student came up with their own list. The third group quickly came up with a list of five commandments, then crossed them out, and spent the rest of the class squabbling among themselves. Sigh.

I was really impressed with what the students came up with. For the most part, they took the assignment seriously and came up with some very interesting commandments.

When that was complete, we went around and had each group present their commandments and discussed them. This was a bit of a struggle, but we got through it.

We spent the last few minutes of the class discussing the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Out next CCD session will be in three weeks, March 19, and it will be a Lenten Penance service just for CCD students and their families. I passed out and briefly discussed a “cheat sheet” for students’ examination of their conscience and the procedure for confession. I strongly encouraged them to attend with their families. (And I extend that encouragement to you parents!)

Mrs. Hubert asked me to send out an email, which I will do, to make sure everyone knows the schedule for the next several weeks.

March 5 – Ash Wednesday.  There will be a Mass and ashes service in the church at 7 pm. We encourage everyone to attend with their family.

March 12 – No class due to the public school system spring break. Enjoy!

March 19 – Lenten Penance Service in the church at 6:30 pm, for all CCD students and their families.

March 26 – Back in the classroom for a regular CCD class.

We hope to see everyone at the Ash Wednesday Mass next week and then back for CCD following the spring break.

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