Christmas Celebration Journal: Tuesday, January 3, 2017

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In a way similar to the journals I created for my students to use during Advent, I’ll be creating and posting Christmas Celebration Journals for my students to use in class during the remaining days of the Christmas season.

After our class opening prayer, I dim the lights, put on quiet music and walk my students through a brief, prayerful, centering activity. I continue to play the music and invite them to reflect on these journal pages (what they write is for them only) and/or to gaze at the art in prayerful contemplation.

I’ll offer the journals here in two forms – a PDF to “download and go” and as a Google Slides (in case you want to modify it)

And I’ll try to use both traditional and contemporary art:

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Advent Journey Journal: First Friday of Advent

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Please download and share this journal page which I’m inviting my Sophomores to use during our Advent prayer time. Rather than write, they may also ponder and gaze at the relevant art on the slides.

PDF

Google Slides

Friday FaithPost (Part 1): Two Great Faith-Building Sites

SSJE Video

It’s an unusual Friday for me as I’m not teaching my classes. We have a number of priests visiting and students are invited to see them in the chapel to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To facilitate this, Religion teachers are asked to not have class assignments and/or activities which students would miss by participating in the sacrament. So, we’re having a “study hall” in all five of my classes. After three of these, 31% of my students have received Reconciliation.

Rather than get ahead on my grading/planning or simply wasting time web surfing, I’m choosing the middle way of posting here on the blog. I’ve got a few ideas for posts banging around in my head and I’ll use this time to share.

For the first post today, I’d like to share more about two favorite sites which I mentioned in the “lenten resources” post  a few weeks ago.

I don’t recall how exactly I discovered the Creighton Collaborative Ministries site . I found it five years ago or so and I’ve been pleased at how it’s expanded over time. The design isn’t flashy:

Creighton s Online Ministries Home Page

But the resources are fantastic and free (donations are accepted.) One of my favorite aspects is the calendar of Daily Reflections on each day’s liturgical readings:

Creighton U Daily Reflections

The reflections, composed by faculty and staff of the Jesuit Creighton University , are thought-provoking and an important aid for my prayer life. Another aspect of the site that I’ve enjoyed deeply (as long ago as when I had to burn these files to CD rather than just stream them) is the ever-increasing set of topnotch audio retreats:

Creighton Audio Retreats

Far and away, my favorite retreat leader is Fr. Larry Gillick, S.J.

I’ve listened to Fr. Larry many times and although I’ll most likely never meet him, I count him among my most important faith teachers.

I’m finding other faith teachers at the web home of the Anglican Society of St. John the Evangelist. Although they are a different branch of the Catholic tree than Roman Catholicism, I find their mission, wisdom, and vision very much compatible with RC religious orders. They are extremely skilled at using the internet for faith development – especially during the holy seasons of Advent and Lent.

Last Advent, they invited people to Tweet photos each day, on an Advent related theme, to @adventword:

SSJE Advent Word

The Tweeted images and related 140 character thoughts were clever, often funny, and inspiring. Currently, during Lent, they are offering the #growrule program with workbooks for adults and children, places to share self-reflections, and daily videos, with compelling questions to increase self-awareness:

SSJE GrowRule

I’ve been showing some of these videos to my students along with a daily Lenten Journal to guide them in reflection. Here’s the journal for reflection on this constructive offering by Br. Curtis:

It’s not too late to join this program with the brothers as “My Relationship with Creation” begins next week.

And before I post this, I need to give a shout out to my favorite, young-adult focused site: Busted Halo.

Blessings and Happy Lenting!

 

 

8 Components of a Reflective Classroom

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I think I put the finishing touches on my classroom walls today (unless any more of the student artwork falls down because of the heat in there?!?).  I do need to continue to focus on the spiritual environment which I’ll create within what I think is an attractive physical space.

I like what the blogger at Facing Today at the Facing History site defines as a “reflective classroom community” and how he describes the value of creating this environment in your classroom:

In a reflective classroom community, students work together in an engaging study of our past, and of our world today. Knowledge is constructed, not passively absorbed. And students, with both hearts and minds mobilized, are seen as subjects actively engaged in a community of learners. A trusting classroom atmosphere like this creates the space for deep, democratic learning. The creation of an environment like this requires a thoughtful approach.

For your consideration, for your own classroom, here’s the list:

  1. Mutual respect
  2. Intentional use of space
  3. A culture of questioning
  4. Thoughtful silence
  5. Student-to-Student discussions
  6. Connecting content to students’ lives to history and to the world today
  7. Allowing for a variety of ways for students to express and enrich their learning
  8. Creating space for diverse viewpoints

How do you do in creating a reflective classroom?

Stations of the Cross – Busted Halo Videos

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I’m a huge fan of the Paulist Fathers and especially their ministry through Busted Halo.

Yesterday, I continued a tradition of mine by using the fourteen Busted Halo “Stations of the Cross” videos for a prayer service with my students.  I really like the Kingdom of God theme which runs through the various stations.  The music is evocative and the art, created by Virgil Cantini, is engaging and passionate.

I’ve created a Powerpoint into which you can link the 14 videos.

Here’s the direct YouTube links to each video:

I. Jesus is Condemned

II. Jesus Carries His Cross

III. Jesus Falls for the First Time

IV. Jesus Meets His Mother

V. Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross

VI. Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

VII. Jesus Falls for the Second Time

VIII. Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

IX. Jesus Falls for the Third Time

X. Jesus is Stripped of His Clothes

XI. Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

XII. Jesus Dies on the Cross

XIII. Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross

XIV. Jesus is Placed in the Tomb

In addition to the slides from which you can link the videos, I’ve created a slide for each station.  These contain pertinent quotes from the video for the station and images from Christ in the Desert Monastery in New Mexico.

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For the background, I wanted to convey the transition in colors and themes as we move through the end of Lent, Palm Sunday, Holy Week and then Easter.

On final resource: From “Patheos” a devotional guide to the Stations of the Cross.  This includes a comparison of the Catholic and the ‘biblical’ stations as well as the art that I used in the first slides of my Powerpoint.