Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Today’s challenge – teaching differently!  Many of our  mindsets go back to traditional 20th Century teaching models that are:

  • Textbook driven
  • Passive learning
  • Teacher-centered: teacher is center of attention and provider of information
  • Print is the primary vehicle of learning and assessment
  • Lessons focus on the lower level of Bloom’s Taxonomy – knowledge, comprehension, and application

Some say – This is the way we were brought upThis teaching style worked for us, so it will work for them! Yet we need to teach differently today.  How we will do this  will come with grace, time, and creativity! We need to listen for the stories of the “best practices” that are possible.

I’d like to share a pioneer “best practice” story with you.  I met Joy Jenkins at a conference.  As we chatted, I learned that she was changing her teaching position from Math to Bible History in a public school system .  Her recent email to me shares the following:

Currently I am writing the curriculum for Bible History in 6th, 7th and 8th grade as well as overlaying 21st Century skills.  The process has been challenging, but amazing.  We have been  studying the Persian Empire.  Students are using iPod touches, MacBooks and digital cameras for their learning.  Student created projects have included the use of PhotoBooth, GarageBand, Comic Life, iMovie, digital cameras, iPhoto, Green Screen, iWebb, Keynote, Stickies, Pages and of course iTunes!  Students also used iPods to hear podcasts from the text, calculate math problems, research and take notes.   Student projects included self projects, iMovies, video journals, email, on-line surveys and blogs.  I have only had the students for 9-weeks, but we have been able to accomplish many things.  I have also used EDU 2.0 as a class resource.

Everything has been project based learning as my classroom has been a paperless classroom.

So what makes this possible?  First – creativity!  Joy sees the potential of what can be done with what is available today in the classroom!  She has a VISION!  (Do we not say without a vision, we perish!)  Yes, after the vision there is funding (in this case from outside resources).  Many of us are bemoaning the fact that our budgets keep getting cut.  However, do we have a vision to invite others to join and support? Here’s a bit of Joy’s vision –

Just so you know a little bit about me, I am a public school 21st Century Model Classroom teacher for the Rowan Salisbury School System in North Carolina.  I am also the AT&T Northwest Region 7 Teacher of the Year for North Carolina 2010 – 2011.  When I decided to change from math to Bible History, many colleagues thought I was crazy.  But I saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to merge Bible History and 21st Century skills.  I am very aware that I have a unique and wonderful opportunity.

Wow!  Bible History merits the unique and wonderful opportunity of merging Bible History and 21st Century Skills into the teaching of this wonderful subject!  What would the teaching of our faith be like if all of us could have the same drive and passion as Joy with what we are teaching our children today?

What would our teaching be like if we just integrated one technology tool into our weekly class sessions?  Surely that is possible, even on a bare bones budget!

Whiteboard Baptism

21st Century Student

What is our question for this week?  What do I need so that I can achieve the same passion and purpose as Joy has in her teaching mission?  If you would, share your spark, so that we are “igniting” one another to teach differently!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Comments on: "Meet Joy Jenkins: 21st Century Teacher of Bible History" (5)

  1. angela ann zukowski said:

    Great work here, Carolyn! By the way, did you hear yesterday on the morning NPR that in 5 years Websites will be gone with a new reality in place? I didn’t hear it all – it was only the end piece. I am sure you would love to do some research on the comment! Have a good day!


  2. Thank you Angela Ann! Yes, over the last several months folks have been saying that a Facebook type interface will be the web style that we will be using for our everyday websites. If fact, one of my “Twitter” messages highlighted that topic in the last week or so!

  3. As I continue to reflect on being a 21st Century teacher, I just read an article by Laura Turner where she identifies 20 Technology Skills An Educator Should Have. As I read through the skills, I wonder, who in the catechetical community is training PCL’s, DRE’s, Catechists and any of our catechetical ministers in these areas? Is it not time to begin thinking of how we need to train and form others to become comfortable with these tools?

  4. Carmen Cayon said:

    Inspires me to continue to look at what we do as parish leaders with the sensitivity to what is happening in our world. Our world is changing every day because of technological improvements. In our parish our challenge is that not everyone has access to technology, but mostly, they tend to be recently immigrated persons. One of my catechists is just learning how to send emails and recently came in excited to show me a PowerPoint he created for one of his sessions. He has found that technology makes his work as a catechist easier and allows him ability to be creative with how the information can be delivered. Another challenge is that our parish cannot afford lots of the technology. We share one laptop and projector for all the ministries! Baby steps……

  5. Carmen, you speak of a very real challenge of many parishes – how can we afford what we need? For those who are moving in this direction, how are you handling the funding issues related to technology? How are you starting with small budgets? As we train our catechists to move into this digital world, where do we begin and what creative ways are we discovering to “fund” what we need to do?

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