Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for March, 2012

How Do We Eat the Elephant?


I’m back after a wonderful weekend of giving workshops during the 2012 LA Religious Education  Congress in Anaheim, California.  What I so enjoy at the conference is the energy and the gathering of Catholics who come to the conference (from all over the world) to be renewed and refreshed.  To enjoy some of the keynotes, presentations, and liturgies come and visit the LA Religious Education Congress YouTube channel.

To get a sense of the energy shared during this Congress, come and view the Opening Rite and Welcome!

As I reflect on the experience of presenting two workshops – CaTECHchesis with TECH Tools and Sharing Your Journey via Digital Storytelling – I so appreciate the hunger and curiosity of the 700+ participants who attended these two sessions.  I want to thank all who attended and to remind each of you that we can only eat an elephant one piece at a time!

If you felt overwhelmed with the information that was shared, you are not alone!  Many of us were not raised with the technology that our students have easy access to today!  My suggestion – eat the elephant one piece at a time!  Start with ONE tool that you like, try it. Weave it again into a lesson.  When you are feeling more comfortable, look back at your notes and try another tool.

Remember, it takes time and patience to learn a new language.  And today, there is a Digital Culture, with a language that is part of it, and of course new skills to learn!  Just like learning French, Spanish, or any other foreign language and culture – it takes time and a desire to learn the culture, language, and skills.

If you are curious and are wondering what was covered in these workshops, do not hesitate to visit the PowerPoints from the workshops:

CaTECHchesis with TECH Tools,  and

 Sharing Your Journey via Digital Storytelling

I would love to hear from you, what you are doing with technology in your catechetical ministry.  You could share now or come back to this post later to share your thoughts and ideas.

Or, you may simply want to “Like” this post!  If you do – Click the LIKE button below.  Thank you!

©2012, Caroline Cerveny

Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts

Here’s a CONTEST you may be interested in!  Loyola Press is inviting catechists and their students to be part of a contest that encourages children to explore the inspiring and sometimes-surprising ways they experience God’s presence in their everyday lives.  Catechists and students can team together to create a short video that answers the question: Where do you find God?  Parishes are eligible to win the following prizes:

First prize: Parish-wide adoption of the new edition of Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts (grades 1-6)

Second Prize: $1,000 Loyola Press product gift certificate

Third Prize: $500 Loyola Press product gift certificate

What do you need to do?  Create a video that is at least thirty seconds in length and no longer than two minutes.  Parish staff members must upload entries at  by April 20, 2012.  Winners will be determined by online voting, so entries should be submitted as soon as possible to allow plenty of time to vote.

For those who are religious educators in a parish program without available equipment, tell your students about the project and theme – Where do I find God?  And invite them to create videos with their families at home.  All the information the child needs about the contest, a parent can assist them with by going to the contest website.

Watch this video to learn more about the contest.

If the children create their videos at home, they can bring their video to your classroom on a thumb drive to share with the class.  All you need is one computer to show the videos to the class.  Invite your students to choose the one that will represent their class.

Click the “like” button if you plan on engaging your class in this project.

I Only Have ONE Computer for my Class!

The other day, I listened to a parish DRE share her story of receiving several “good” used computers from parishioners who recently bought newer equipment.  What does it mean to get a “good” computer.  Simply – It works when it is turned on.

To get some idea of what you want a good computer to be, you may want to read how others purchase used equipment.  These two articles may be helpful:

Buying a Second Hand PC

10-Step Guide to Buying a Used Laptop That Works

Once you have equipment to use, what can you do in a classroom with ONE-Computer?  Plenty!  I was recently reading Grace’s Post How to Manage a One-Computer Classroom and would like to adapt her tips to fit the religion classroom:

Tip #1: Having an agreement for using the computer in the classroom is important.  Check out several of the Acceptable Use Policies and then prepare a statement for your class or program.  Here are a few models to review:

Internet Acceptable Use Policy Template

Sample Letter To Parents

Other models can be located by doing an Internet Search.

Tip#2: Place the computer in an accessible and easily supervised place.  Easy access to assist students is important as well as seeing what is being done on the computer is important.

Tip #3: Have a faith project for the student to work on.  Some examples of projects are:

Word Clouds and Prayer

A Scripture Digital Storytelling Prayer Experience

Thinking Creatively – A Lenten Challenge

Using VoiceThread for Advent Prayer

Tip #4:  Check out the videos other catechists are using in their classrooms in the Digital Catechesis Video Library (A Free Registration).  Project the computer screen so the entire class can see a video you may want to use for prayer at the beginning or end of class.  Or you may simply want to engage your students with vivid images, sound, or music that has a wonderful message and fits into your lesson objectives through a short video.

Tip #5: Use an auto response system.  A great way catechists can engage students is to include lessons designed for group participation.  With an auto response system, students can further contribute from their seats.  Mouse Mischief, a FREE response system that uses multiple wireless mice, allows teachers to integrate surveys, polls, questions, and drawing activity slides into PowerPoint.  (Grace)

Tip #6:  Give some thought and planning to what can we done with ONE computer in your classroom.  Do a Google Search using “one computer classroom,” “one computer classroom ideas,” or “one computer classroom activities”  will provide a wealth of resources to explore, like – One Computer Classroom.

If you have found yourself saying, “We’ll never have a computer in the classroom – it’s just beyond our budget.”  Now challenge yourself with, “If we had just ONE computer in our classroom, what could we possibly do to engage our students to learn more about their faith by using technology as a supportive part of our teaching?

I would love to hear your stories of how you are engaging your students with just ONE computer in your classroom.  You are invited to share your stories here!

If you like this post, please remember to click the “Like” button!

©2012, Caroline Cerveny

Stations of the Cross – Multimedia for Lent

Loyola Press has prepared a wonderful multimedia stations of the cross* for children.  There is a PDF document that you can download and/or print out.  In addition, there is a wonderful multimedia meditation with music and images that could be shared with your families or used in your classroom with your students.

Let’s just brainstorm quickly how you could use this multimedia presentation:

  1. Email the families of the children in your program or class. Encourage parents to share the stations prayer with their children.   Include a short invitation to your parish Stations of the Cross that will be held at your parish during Lent. Remember to include the link of this meditation in your email message.  Link:
  2. Open or close your class (or meeting) with the online meditation.  If you do not have access to the Internet, you can download a copy of the PDF file to your computer showing the meditation on your computer screen and/or projecting the image on a screen using a LCD projector.  Invite different students to say the prayer for each station.  You may want to have a CD Player with an appropriate choice of music in the background.
  3. If you do not have a way to show the multimedia presentation, print the meditation out and go over to your church.  You can distribute a copy of the prayer for each of the stations to the students and as you proceed from station to station, the student can read the prayer for the group.

To engage the students in being very involved in creating their stations of the cross, once you have a printed copy of the meditation distribute the sections of the meditation to small groups and/or individual students.  Invite them to create their own images for the station using any variety of media – pens, markers, crayons, etc.  Invite them to bring their drawings to class.  Collect the images and ask a high school student to scan the images for you.  Once they are in a Digital format, work with your webmaster to add the stations that have been created by your students to the parish website.

If students have access to a computer either in the classroom or at home, direct them to a shared folder using Google Docs – Presentation.  If you need information about this Google option, go to (GDocs Presentation ) or Google Docs Tutorial.  If you are interested in embedding this presentation into your blog, go to Embedding Google Docs in Your Blog Posts ) .

Of course there are other tools that you can use to create an image of the Station that you have been assigned.  For those using mobile tools (especially the iPad), you may want to encourage your families to work on creating their own Stations of the Cross with their children.  For the types of tools to recommend to your families, go to – Top 10 Apps for Digital Storytelling.  Often these tools will allow you to share links of completed projects with others.  You can ask your families to email to you the links of their meditations.  These links can then be included on your websites and/or blogs.

If you are looking for other Stations of the Cross Meditations, either for your classroom or to suggest to your families, you may want to explore:

Children’s Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross Carousel

Stations of the Cross for Teens

You Tube Videos – Stations of the Cross – A puppet version of the Stations of the Cross. The puppet show is created by Jesuit Brother Edward Sheehy.

Would love to hear your stories and ideas of how you are using online videos and involving your students this Lent using electronic tools.

If you like this article, click the “Like” button or add your comment to this blog.  Or, forward to others who are interested in Stations of the Cross with their children.

* The stations images are from Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, Inc., Hanceville, Alabama as shown in the Loyola Press website article “Multimedia Stations of the Cross for Children”?

(c)2012,  Caroline Cerveny

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