Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Posts tagged ‘catholic’

New Year Resolutions for Our Catechists

Paul with Grandkids and iPad

As I was reading Isaac Pineda’s blog post “3 New Year’s resolutions educators should consider,” I thought – What New Year resolutions do we need to inspire our catechists in this wonderful 2014?

I invite you to share this post with your catechists, as we are in a year where the Digital Culture will continue to surround our ministry.  We need to become Digital and Connected Disciples!

Become a connected catechist.

I love what Isaac says – “Becoming a connected educator (catechist) is one of the widest decisions that will have an impact on you, the kids you teach and everyone around you.  But, what does it mean? It’s simply harnessing the power of technology to leverage your instructions.  It’s incorporating technology in your teaching practice to boost student engagement and motivation.  It’s a commitment to become a lifelong learner.”

How can we do this?  Someone in the parish needs to lead others to become “connected catechists”.  It may be your DRE, or there may be a tech savvy catechist who collaborates with the parish DRE and mentors others in the parish to improve their technology skills.  One of the best training programs is Digital Discipleship Boot Camp.  Read 21 Inspiring Messages and hear from those who have completed this training.

This program is now completely ONLINE and can be completed from the comfort of your home or office. The Winter Session begins on February 4, 2014 and the Summer Session begins on June 10.  Check out the schedule and register here. Of course, if you would like a trainer to come to your location, we can work with you in a blended format where Modules One and Two are presented at a location of your choice and the other modules are presented online.

Once you are a connected catechist, then you become the pioneer, adapting what you have learned to enhance what you do in your classroom.  Come and visit the following websites:

  • Catechesis 2.0 – Several bloggers share tools that can be easily used for Digital Storytellling and more.
  • ACyberPilgrim –  a conversation about Digital Discipleship
  • Digital Catechesis  – A worldwide community for advancing the effective use of technology in all areas of faith formation.  There is a wonderful video library here that members of this online group have shared and used in their ministries.

I invite you to come back to any of the three blogs to share your story of becoming a connected catechist.  We need to inspire one another on this new journey!  In this New Year, do resolve to learn all that you are able so that you can truly inspire your students to become Digital Disciples in this ever evolving Digital World!

Happy New Year!

HNYear-2014

We have a Pope!

I was home today when I received a call from a friend that there was “White Smoke”.

Within seconds I turned on the TV and with the world, I was waiting to be greeted by our new Pope.  As I watched the audience in the square, there were numerous people holding up iPads, cell phones, and digital and video cameras as they recorded the announcement of “Habemus Papam” and the first greeting to the world by our new Pope Francis!

Within minutes, people were tweeting, emailing, blogging and announcing to their family, friends, and colleagues the historical event they were witnessing at this moment.  Of course, the media giants were there as well.  Yet, every one of us today has the capability (if we want) to communicate to our friends and families the top story of the day!  What a wonderful and incredible world we live in!

If you were paying attention to the tweets, you would have noticed that there were tweets from President Barack Obama, Cardinal Dolan, Catholic Sun, John L. Allen, Jr., Father Shane Johnson, CBS News, and everyday folks like you and me.  Regardless of where you were at – in Rome, in the USA, in South America, in Africa or wherever – the whole world was sharing and chatting with one another.

pope-twitter-1

And this evening (3/13/13) I used Google Images to see what photos I could find about our new Pope.  Of course, these images were downloaded to a variety of locations, and yet within a short period of time, they were e-catalogued and available to the world! Here they are…

popefrancis-1

Within minutes, there are photos, comments by others, and more available online for others to view and read.  Even his first remarks are available to the world to go back and read, especially if you missed this historic moment.

pope-remarks

I was especially moved by his reflection–

Now let’s begin this journey, bishop and people, this journey of the church of Rome, which is the one that presides in charity over all the churches — a journey of brotherhood, love and trust among us. Let us pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there be a great brotherhood. I hope this journey of the church that we begin today — and I will be helped by my cardinal vicar, here present — will be fruitful for the evangelization of this so beautiful city. (Pope Francis)

We have the capability today, to be brothers and sisters to one another despite the geographic distances that we often allow to separate us.  We truly can be Digital Disciples, evangelizing one another in ways we have never imagined before!

What is a Blog Tour?

Have you ever heard of a blog tour?  I haven’t!  Not until I received an email from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, with this invite –  “You (ACyberPilgrim)  are cordially invited to participate in a blog tour on the subject of religion and media, featuring Dr. Mary E. Hess, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN.”

Mary is a wonderful friend, so I was delighted to be included in this blog tour.  Here is a wonderful opportunity to learn something new about using a blog to carry on a conversation with others in a virtual environment.

How does this work? 

I’ve been invited to submit questions on religion and media that I feel would be of interest to readers of ACyberPilgrim.

When will this happen?

On Wednesday, May 2nd – Mary will start the conversation with her response to –

The field of educational technology is over 35 years old and media literacy over 50 years – both are important to today’s  world of religion and media.  How do we as faith-based ministers catch up with a fast-paced media world to learn and to be exposed to the best practices of both educational technology and media literacy with church leaders who may be resistant to the use of media in church ministry?  Just the other day a Media Center Coordinator casually shared the following with me –

There is a commercial in our area that talks about digital learning… students will never need to leave home… and learn all they want.  It just scared the heebie-jeebies right out of me to think of a whole generation with no interaction with others… and book smart, not street smart – and that does say something else.  Please don’t think I’m meaning this in a negative way, or don’t want things to change….. OH MY… what would this world be if we never evolved and learned!  It is just the speed and lack of thinking that I hear when I learn what CAN be done… not the controlled methods that I’m sure Catholic and well planned schools will use.  As we clip budgets, people who “knew” are being let go, and people hired are in charge that do not have the skills and education to make these decisions well, and we all know the “makers” of these products don’t care one iota the impact… they just want the sell.  They use some cute marketing… but it goes out to the public that isn’t quite ready for it all… and I only mean ready in the prepared sense.. because social networking sure is a hit.

What I’m hearing in this comment is the following:

  • A judgment that “students will never need to leave home”
  • Fright that a “whole generation with no interaction with others”

The questions that come to mind are the following –

  • How do I keep up with this world? “It is just the speed and lack of thinking that I hear when I learn what CAN be done”
  • How do we teach the faith in a world that is more participatory and democratic? – “not the controlled methods” we are used to, and
  • How do we hire and/or train ministers today in a world that is now a Digital World?

What’s our role in the Blog Tour?

Come back to hear what Mary has to say about the growing fields of educational technology and media literacy in ministry.  I will post Mary’s initial response to the conversation late on Tuesday evening.  Throughout the day – Wednesday, May 2nd – you are invited to continue the conversation with Mary.  Your comments and/or questions will be a wonderful part of the conversation.  Mary will be available all day to respond to our conversation with her.

I look forward to being part of the Blog Tour with all of you!  See you soon!

How Do We Eat the Elephant?

Of course, ONE PIECE AT A TIME!

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

Wikis in Your Religion Classroom

What is a wiki?

Well I love the Wikis in Plain English Video!  Watch it now to learn more about what is an editable webpage/site that is great for collaboration.

To learn more about what wiki you might use, you could use the WikiMatrix.  The three wiki’s that are often recommended are:

To learn more about these wikis, check these titles on the left side of the WikiMatrix and click on the compare button.

Wiki Comp

Your screen will show a comparison of these tools covering the areas of:

  • General Features
  • Hosting Features
  • Security/Anti Spam
  • Development/Support
  • Common Features
  • Special Features
  • Links
  • Syntax Features
  • Usability
  • Statistics
  • Output
  • Media and Files
  • Extras, and
  • Syntax Examples

Your goal is to choose a wiki that will help you to complete the project you are working on.  Once you have chosen a tool, then you need to decide on a project.

Wiki Project Ideas

Often it is helpful to search the websites to see what projects are already listed.  Just having the opportunity to study what others have done, will give you some ideas of what you may want to do with your class.

Following are examples from both Christian and Catholic Schools who have used a wiki with their students.

David Lipscomb Campus School in Nashville, Tennessee.  Here you will find various examples of what classrooms are working on with a wiki.  The mission of David Lipscomb Campus School is to serve students so that they may master knowledge and skills appropriate to them and become Christ-like in attitude and behavior.

As you explore the varied wiki projects, look for the wiki’s that are focused on the subject of religion –

  • Mr. Parham’s Senior Bible Case for Faith, and
  • Mr. Abood’s 7th grade Bible class

Checkout the FlatPlanet Project with two classes:

The aim of the project was to use the internet to work together and explore:

  • Current Environmental Issues
  • The way these issues are being dealt with in the respective countries
  • Exploration of any International Agreements on these issues
  • The Catholic Moral Responsibility for these issues

The article – 50 Ways to Use Wikis for a More Collaborative & Interactive Classroom will provide you with 50 different ideas.  No, they are not for a religion classroom.  However, as I read through the suggestions, mentally I was translating them to fit the needs of the religion classroom.  For example:

  • Virtual Field Trips.  Have your students research pilgrimage locations they would like to go on a pilgrimage (or field trip), and get them to share images and information about the location.  Or,
  • Classroom Scrapbook. Invite your students to share news about what they are involved in at their parish, include photos of their activities, and talk about their current achievements in their religion classroom on a wiki page.

Now that you have some ideas of what you might do with a wiki in your Religion class, plan for what you can do with this tool.  We look forward to hearing your story here in the comments section.  Remember, you can come back to this section and add your comments after you have completed a Wiki Project with your students.  Good luck!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Religion Classroom Blogging

Blog

So, you have a good idea of what it is like to create a blog! You’re ready now to do something with your students. Where will you start?

I love this Edutopia article by Helen Echlin – Digital Discussion: Take Your Class to the Internet (or How to set up a blog in your classroom).

However, you’ll notice that the suggestions are not specifically for religion teachers. Yet, are there ideas that inspire us to figure out what we could do in a religion classroom with a blog? Of course – YES! We can adapt and use many of these ideas in our religion classrooms. There are many BEST PRACTICES in other subject areas. Read on and let your imagination be inspired to adapt these ideas so that they will “fit” your religion classroom.

Let’s begin this conversation of what could we do with a blog in the religion classroom! As I share some thoughts, I invite you to contribute your suggestions via the comments section. Following are some suggestions for blogging with your students:

  • It is important to have an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). Check here for a AUP Model. Remember, schools have been involved with technology for several years. Look at their best practices and adapt the language to fit your faith-based organization. The school office in your diocese may have a model format that is already being used in the schools.
  • Introduce “blogging” to your class group. If you are working with 8th graders, refer back to the Constructing Constructiveness: A Sample Blogging Lesson Plan note in the article. Revise this so that it fits your class. Remember, a wheel was invented “once” and since then it is constantly improved upon to fit the vehicle it is on. Same with blogging ideas, learn to see how Best Practices in other subject areas can quickly and easily be adapted to fit your class situation. If you are working with other grade levels, how could you adapt this lesson plan to fit your class?
  • Liturgical Seasons. Check out the online Liturgical Calendar for 2011 or the explanation of the Liturgical Seasons.  Set up the blog so that you are inviting students to blog about the current liturgical season. What does it mean for them? What happens in the parish during this time? Invite your students to take digital photos that show how this liturgical season is celebrated in the parish. Perhaps they would like to talk about one saint of the week (especially in Ordinary time) that they have learned something about. Write a very short article for them about the season and then ask specific questions that you would like them to respond to.
  • Saints: Set-up a page for each student. Invite them to identify the saint they are named after and to write a short article about the life of this saint. Invite students (you may want to assign students) to comment about each other’s saints. What did they learn about this saint? What is important about their lives that inspires us today?
  • Church Leadership: In order to help your students understand the various levels of Church leadership we have in the Catholic Church, you may want to focus on church leadership/membership in the Catholic Church. Here you can cover – Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, Monsignors, Priests, Religious, Laity. Here is where you can direct your students to a variety of websites from the Vatican, Your Diocese, and Parish to locate the information you are inviting them to research. For links you would like your students to use, here is where you may want to use a “social bookmarking” website (More about Social Bookmarking in a future article). Create the group of links you would like your students to use for this assignment. It will save them time and direct them to good Catholic websites that are credible, reliable, and non-biased.

These are just a few suggestions for a class blog activity. As you learn more about blogs and engage your students in blogging experiences, we look forward to hearing your stories about what is working and even what may not have worked in your class setting.

Blog Poll


Online Collaboration & Communication Tools

I’m back to my desk after being very involved in the Interactive Connections Conference that was held in Orlando, Florida last week. In the near future I will share more about the conference.

Overall most of us have been involved in collaboration and communication while teaching or in our ministry endeavors. The Webster Dictionary states that collaboration involves- to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor. Yes, we do collaborate in so many ways! We love seeing each other and meeting face-to-face!

However, what is “new” for us is to be able to collaborate with others in an online environment. Most of us are unfamiliar with how to do this or may think that this option is beyond our budget. Some of us will come to this option with the mindset that – collaborating face-to-face (F2F) is better! So, we will not even have the desire to try the online option.

I would encourage the “Pioneers” in our midst to be the catalysts in their communities to engage others in online collaboration. The options are many! Most of the options are FREE. Check out Sean Aun’s article, Work Together: 60+ Collaborative Tools for Groups for suggested tools.

OnLine Collaboration

OnLine Collaboration

I will highlight some of the tools that Sean refers to and others that I’ve used successfully with other collaborators. I would invite those who have used any of the collaborative tools mentioned in Sean’s article (or any other tools) with success to share their stories with us.

Here are a few options for you to consider…

Doodle –  A collaborative way to coordinate groups for identifying a date/time for a meeting. All can easily collaborate to find the best date possible.

Google Docs – Here is the place to collaborate with others using word processing, spreadsheets, form building, presentation and date storage tools. How can these tools be used?

  • Documents – Invite your students to use Google documents to write a short essay. Show them how to share the document with you. You can add your comments and grade the reflection. Students can choose to create a digital portfolio of their work.
  • Spreadsheets – Invite a team of students to create a spreadsheet where they are sharing information with one another.
  • Presentations – Invite a team of students to create a prayerful reflection that is shared in class.
  • Use Google Docs to build a form with a text box (or text boxes) that correspond to question(s) you want students to respond to after class at home. Invite your students to input their thoughts into the form. This application automatically incorporates the feedback into a spreadsheet. Next class, have the printed spreadsheet in hand or show via your computer and LCD projector and open up a discussion based on what students have shared.

The gift of Google Docs is that students can work from the comfort of their home computers and collaborate creating their document at various times or at the same time of the day.

Blogs – Yes a blog is a collaborative tool! As a teacher you can focus on writing a weekly question, comment, or assignment where students are expected to comment and collaborate with each other in this virtual space. A blog can be a private or an open space for the students. You choose!

Glogster.Edu Simply put, a Glog is a kind of poster – fully designed by yourself! As a tool, a student can be creative using text, images, music and video. Think about a Who is Jesus exercise! To use in the faith-classroom, I would engage junior high students. What allows this tool to be collaborative is that others may comment on the Glog. Here is an opportunity for students to engage in a digital activity as well as to respond to other students.

John Kuglin sees presentation as another critical part of 21st century learning. It doesn’t matter what field you’re going into, you’ve got to be able to collect, organize, and pull your thoughts together—typically with a team—and then present those thoughts in a way that is understandable to other people. Collaboration and presentation are absolutely tied together.

I so appreciate what Andrew Marcinek has shared – One of our best resources as learners is our ability to connect. We can connect like never before and have the opportunity to engage with others from around the world on a daily basis. If we can learn anything from the web 2.0 generation it is that the ability to share and learn from each other is limitless.

With the many tools that are now available to us, it just takes time to explore and to see what works best for us. Here is another list of tools that you may find helpful.

Once you have used a tool for a project, come back and share your story. Many of us would love to hear what you are finding to be helpful to you in your ministry.

Hello world!

It’s been several months – I’ve been pondering and thinking about beginning a blog!  Well, today’s the day!  I’m starting!  Perhaps the best story to begin this blog with is to go back to 1983 when I was in line at a Radio Shack store in Hyde Park, Chicago.  A young man, about twelve or thirteen years of age was in front of me.  He carried on a conversation with the associate!  When I arrived at the counter to pay my bill, I must have had this blank look on my face, as the associate said, “Miss, are you okay?”

When I said that I didn’t understand a word the two of them were talking about, he grinned from ear to ear and said, “Well, go talk to Joseph.  He’s in the corner working on the computer.  He’ll explain everything to you.”

After I paid my bill, I walked over to the corner where Joseph was working on a Tandy Computer.  Forty-five minutes later I walked out of the store.  I stood on the sidewalk in front of the store for several minutes, muttering to myself “Caroline you’re outdated!”

Yes, it was the feeling of not knowing a thing about the computer that this young man was so comfortable with that motivated me to learn more about the computer.  Perhaps that is where we can start this conversation – Where did you first become aware of the gap between yourself and what we call today our wonderful Digital Natives?

I’d love to hear your story!  As I continue to share my story, I’ll also share a journey with you of how I am involved in faith-based educational technology ministry.

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

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