Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Posts tagged ‘K through 12’

Understanding the Life of Jesus

I’m always looking for wonderful examples of what others are doing to integrate technology into the teaching of Religion. I’d like to share “Understanding the Life of Jesus: an INCARNATION CATHOLIC School Big6 Research Project created by Rhonda Carrier.

Here is the project —

I encourage you to explore the project.  For those in Catholic Schools, you’ll see how Rhonda has applied the Common Core standards to this project.  More importantly, you begin to see how our students can be engaged with digital tools to expand and research faith topics.

Rhonda, thank you!  Excellent project!  For those who would like to meet Rhonda, I encourage you to attend the 5th Annual INTERACTIVE CONNECTIONS Conference in Orlando, Florida.  Here you will have the opportunity to learn from Rhonda how she is integrating technology into the religion classroom.

For those who are catechists at the parish level, these are the kinds of projects you would like to learn about, as you can easily apply what you learn here with your children.

Harness the Power of Technology


Students Using a Laptop Computer

Annunciata Catholic Academy

In the June/July 2011 issue of Learning & Leading with Technology, the feature article by Arne Duncan, the U.S. secretary of education , tells us how we can “Harness the Power of Technology”  in the classroom.

As I read the article, I felt challenged as a religious educator!  Classrooms all around us are changing!  Yet, the methodology we use for religious education is changing very slowly.

Allow me to highlight several of the article comments for you.  You may even want to substitute “catechist” for the term “teacher.”

Innovative teachers like you are leading this technological transformation in our classrooms today. You use powerful resources to engage students, deepen their understanding, expand their creativity, and help them solve problems. Because you have the passion, knowledge, and experience, you can prepare your colleagues to follow your lead and play a pivotal role in our national effort to transform our schools into innovative learning environments.

I understand that you face considerable challenges as you create digital learning environments. Some schools are rich with technology but are still stuck in the 20th century model of teaching and learning. Some teachers still see technology as an add-on to their lesson plans rather than integral to the process of teaching and learning.

Much like the printing press allowed people to learn from books as well as teachers, digital technology offers learners powerful new environments that include simulations, animations, scaffolded and guided practice sets, and experts who may be far away. With your firsthand experiences, you are uniquely qualified to articulate, showcase, and explore the power of technologies for learning.

So, how will catechetical leaders harness the power of technology in their teaching the faith?  Where are the current stories?  Perhaps you will share your story.  In addition –

Let’s have a chat about the following this week –

  1. Are we ready for this classroom transformation?
  2. What is holding us back from moving into becoming a 21st Century catechist?
  3. How do we immerse ourselves in the transformation that is already taking place around us?

Let us begin a conversation to see what we are thinking and feeling!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Summer 2011

I’m back after a couple of weeks of giving presentations and getting ready for the Summer Institute for Technology in Ministry that is being held in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, starting next week.  Continue to visit ACyberPilgrim during the summer weeks.  Of course – YOU – are an important part of the blog conversation.  Come and join the conversation during the summer weeks.  Continue to watch for articles that will provide you with ideas to implement in your catechetical ministry.

Summer Opportunities for You

If you are wondering about how you can learn more about technology during the summer, visit the Edutopia website LEARN SOMETHING NEW THIS SUMMER (http://www.edutopia.org/blog/professional-development-series )!

Learn Something New This Summer

Yes, the audience for these materials are focused on school educators for every other subject, but religion!  I would encourage you to approach with an open mind!  Remember that educational technology as a field has over 20 years of experience.  However, religious educators were not often part of these earlier conversations.

The result – other subjects offer us “best practices” that we can quickly adapt to meet the needs of students in our religion classrooms.  Go to “Techniques for Teaching Vocabulary to Elementary Students” (http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teaching-vocabulary-elementary-gaetan-pappalardo) .  Is there anything here that can be applied to religion vocabulary in the classroom?  If not, what has worked for you?  Would you be willing to share these “best practices” with others via this blog?  Just click on “comments” and add your suggestion!

Check out the “2011 Summer Rejuvenation Guide: Ten Teacher Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Summer (http://www.edutopia.org/summer-rejuvenation-classroom-resource-guide ).  There may be ONE suggestion that YOU are looking for!

Summer Guide

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

The Complete Catechist Guide To Using Skype

Educators have used many digital  tools in their classrooms. We can learn from them! Edublogger Sue Waters on April 11, 2011 posted a wonderful article outlining everything you need to know about Skype including:

  1. Setting up Skype
  2. Using Skype
  3. To using Skype effectively within your classroom

Thank you Sue for all the helps and hints about Skype.  What we can now focus on is, how might we use SKYPE in the religion classroom or in an adult Faith Formation experience? I’ll begin the conversation and would encourage those who are reading this blog to continue the conversation with your suggestions and ideas.

SKYPE ideas for the Religion classroom

  • Videoconference With SKYPE.  Here is an example of an expert being brought into the classroom.  Perhaps you’re working on a Confirmation project that is focusing on the poor in your town or in a location in another state or country.  Arrange for an interview with a leader from this area to speak with your students about the project.
  • Present a Scripture Story. Through ePals, an educational service that safely links students in the same city or with students in other cultures, locate a religion class in another country.  Agree on the Scripture stories you would like to work on.  Then involve the students in retelling this story as if it were being told today in their country – using the images and symbols that are part of today’s culture.  In addition to discussing the Scripture story, this provides an opportunity for sharing how Jesus is present today in the lives and stories of other cultures.
  • Conference with parents. Whether a parent has to miss a regular sacrament meeting or a concern comes up that requires speaking with a parent, Skype can provide an opportunity to connect with a parent that may not otherwise be available for a conference.
  • What suggestions do you have for using SKYPE in your religious education classroom or program?

Looking forward to hearing your wonderful ideas!

With Holy Week around the corner, circle your calendars to return to ACyberPilgrim blog next week.  I will share a Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion video reflection with you and more…

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


Ed Tech Ministry: Is there a gap?

If I felt like a gap existed between myself and the 12-year old that I met back in 1983 in the Radio Shack store, imagine how many of us feel today when we compare ourselves with a Digital Native?  Regardless of the gap we feel, it is time to learn more about educational technology.  In many ways, even though we may feel like we’re running to catch up, we are at an advantage.  Educators all around us are savvy users of educational technology, and we can learn from them! We can learn from their “best practices” and adapt what works to our faith environment.

If you take time to Google “educational technology” you will find helpful background information.  Don’t expect to learn all that is possible overnight! Remember, this field of study emerged at the university level about thirty-five to fifty years ago.  Many of the degree programs in educational technology began being part of university programs in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  Today’s teacher training programs normally require one-course in educational technology.  I am not aware of any ministry training programs at the undergraduate or graduate levels with similar requirements. Perhaps, if we want ministers to be savvy users of technology, we will need to train them to use these tools!  We need to ask – What is 21st Century Education?

One of the first educational technology conferences began in Florida, known today as the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC).    Other educational technology conferences are: International Society for Technology and Education (ISTE), Computer Using Educators, Missouri S&T, and TIES 2010 Educational Technology Conference . There are many Ed Tech conferences across the world.  Yet, if you explore these programs, we would be hard pressed to find workshops or learning sessions that would interest a religion teacher, a catechist, a youth minister, a pastor, a PCL or DRE.  Yes, many of our national organizations have included Ed Tech type of workshops in their programs.  But the “energy” that is created at a conference that solely focuses on educational technology is not generated at these conferences.

A couple of videos that offer an overview are:

A Brief History of Technology in the Classroom

and Educational Technology History

These are helpful as they visually remind us that the classroom and teaching has changed!  However, most of us who volunteer our time, may not be aware of how this learning world has changed over time.  Nor have we been trained to merge new media into our teaching method.

As a result, our parish students come to us from 21st Century classrooms, and many of our environments are very limited in 21st Century tools!  I often present workshops at the local or national level.  Many of the participants tell me, that their students are bored!  However, I also hear from participants who are using 21st century tools, that their students are engaged and enjoy learning about their faith using contemporary methodology.

Today, we need to re-imagine how we do “technology” at the parish and diocesan levels!  A little over twenty years ago, many of our Catholic Schools got very involved in creating their technology plans.  This planning provided a means for purchasing equipment and a strategy for training administrators, teachers and students to use this equipment in their learning environments.  Today, our school people need to lead our parishes in Technology Planning for ALL parish ministries – school, catechetical, youth ministry, young adult, RCIA, and all existing parish ministries.  Today’s assumption – All ministers need today’s digital tools!

More importantly, we need to join together to attend conferences like FETC to network and to strategize how we can truly be 21st century catechetical leaders.  We need to “walk the walk and talk the talk” of a 21st Century faith leader who remains rooted not only in the values of our faith.  How we integrate 21st century tools into our ministries will make a difference with those we share our faith with. Only time will show this to be true!

The question becomes today – How will all ministries and ministers have access to and be trained to use the technologies that are currently evolving today?  Perhaps this week’s conversation – Share how your parish is moving into the 21st Century?  What are you doing that is bringing new energy and excitement to sharing the faith?

Note: If you are still curious, check out these two websites – National Office of Educational Technology and Teachers Use of Educational Technology in Public Schools (PDF).  We begin to see in these documents what is happening all around us.

So, let the conversation begin for this week!

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