Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Home Sweet Classroom- Part Two

If you haven't read my post from a few days ago, you should know that I LOVE, L-O-V-E, my new job.  So,  I'd like to take you on a tour of my classroom.

If you go back here, you will get a bit of a before shot.

Here are some current pictures with a bit of commentary:

I'm running with an owl theme.  They are so cute, and the kids love them.  I can use corny sayings like "Whoooo's Ready for some KnOWLedge?" and they laugh.  Plus, I am using "Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom" as our theme verse for the year, it all flows together nicely.
They loved making these, and I have gotten lots of compliments so far.  It sure brightened up the hallway quickly!

It looks a whole lot crazier and smaller when there are 29 little people in those desks, so don't let the empty floor and pushed in chairs fool you.
 Gotta love Mother T.
I need to take a better picture, but behind my desk is our "jobs" bulletin board.  I told the kids that they might be too old for cutsy school jobs, but the fact of the matter is, I need them- there have to be more hands passing things out, cleaning up, etc.  So I have old jean pockets with their names on them and job assignments and group work gets labeled in one place.
Love how these are working out so far- Group "offices".  Each bin has commonly needed supplies that can't fit all in their desk.  Everything is color coded and labeled, so it all ends up in the same place.  So now if we are doing a quick activity that involves use of scissors, I don't have to send them all to their lockers.  I set the office in the middle of a group of desks, and they have post it notes, highlighters, a stapler, etc.  all at their fingertips.  There is not enough space in the room for a lot of traffic flow, so items within arms' reach are wonderful.
 I am not sure we have enough books...
 Oh, good, there are some more.
I didn't inherit any mailboxes, and they are expensive, so two of these hanging file folder things are going on a test drive.  I saw something similar on pinterest, but it needed some adaptation. Once I perfect it, I'll post more details, because I think that something like it could be really useful and inexpensive for a kid's room or home office.
Another whole room shot- but I didn't realize how the curtains didn't show, so I will have to take another picture.  The new curtains changed the whole room, which isn't saying much if you remember the old ones.  And the kids love them, which is always a plus.
 Loving the technology.  Ahhhh.
Little faith corner.  Note the awesome newly painted file cabinet.  Also a favorite item with the students.
Well, I am out of pictures, but the classroom will probably look different tomorrow anyways.  So I will leave you with a 5th grade quote for the week.

(Note that I was wearing my hair in a braid.  My hair is already a popular topic among the girls.)

In a wistful tone, one of my students said, "Miss Bogner, you look just like a blond Katniss."

If you are not on the Hunger Games train, know that this is very high praise in 5th grade world. :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Creed & Notebooking

Notebooking can be a great way for CCD kids to collect a visual model of what they are learning throughout the year.  I think that the short, once a week format of most CCD programs tends to make it tough for kids to pick up where they left off. Notebooking could help.  Here are some ideas that could be used for any concept, but all of my examples are about the Creed.  I think that it would be kind of a cool way to start the CCD year, with the Creed as a base, and then move on to the curriculum.  You could then readily tie the Creed into everything that you are learning.

Click on anything black and white for a printable to get you started.

Start with a good cover.  I thought that "I Believe" is a good statement.  Then kids can look at their notebook and say that they believe everything that is contained inside.   This time, I used a Composition style notebook, but a spiral bound notebook works fine.  (I do recommend glue sticks, tape, and staples over liquid glue for obvious reasons.  A notebook that ends up only having one page because they are all glued together isn't much of a notebook.)

Add a copy of the Creed, with a twist.  Print a copy of this two-page, word by word Creed, have the students cut it apart, mix it up, and see if they can glue it back in order.  I don't recommend cutting each word apart unless you have very dedicated, detail oriented students and a lot of time.  Instead, cut it into strips, which is much more manageable.
Glue in a KWL Chart, to assess what students know before you begin (Know), as you learn (Want to Know), and as you complete your lesson (Learned).

To make the Creed a little more accessible, you can do a shrinking summary.  Hand the kids a large index card and have them write a summary of the important points of the Creed.  Then give them a smaller index card and have them par down the summary even further.  Finally, have them limit it to only a few words on a post it note or half an index card.  It can be very powerful to discover what the key words are that convey the meaning of such a large amount of text.

Try Wordle. I love Wordle.  Paste in or type a bunch of text and it randomly creates this cool word art.  Students can change the colors, fonts, layouts, etc. 
 The size of the words is proportional to the number of times the word appears in the text.  On this one, I intentionally made "The Nicene Creed" large, but the rest of the words help us to see what words are used most often.

Add some flip books or other fun things.  Directions and printable for this one abut tough words in the Creed can be found here.
Add some lift-the-flap-facts about connections between the Creed and Scripture.  There is also a blank area for writing notes.  You also could add Catechism references.

Finish up the section with a "Yes" flow chart.  Since "I Believe" is the theme, have the students add things that they can say yes, they believe.

 There are some ideas to get you started, but the possibilities are endless!

The Creed-Words to Know

 Not only is the Creed jam packed with Mysteries and Theological Concepts, but it also contains some pretty tough words, especially in the translation of the Creed for the Third Romal Missal.  Here are a few ideas for getting the meaning of those important words through to your students.

These are just the tools to use as a vehicle for discussion, but hopefully they prove helpful.

Idea One: Popsicle Sticks in a Cup
I know, creative title.  No directions needed, gather some popsicle sticks, throw them in a cup.  Take a minute to write some of the heavier words from the Creed on each stick.  Don't just worry about begotten and consubstantial, use other theological terms we sometimes take for granted kids know, like Christ, Scriptures, sins, glory, etc.
Use the sticks as a way to introduce or review words.  You could have each child randomly pick one, for example, and then challenge them to come up with a working definition using the dictionary, Catechism, and Bible.  They then have to share their definition with the class, etc.

Idea Two: My favorite beach balls. I have already written about this, but you could do a very similar concept by writing important words or phrases on the beach ball and tossing it around.

FYI, don't look too closely at this picture...because it is not a Creed Beach Ball!  I need to take a new picture :)

Idea Three: Make a vocab flip book.  These are fun, and easy to paste into a notebook (more on that later) or lapbook (folder) or hang on the wall.  I've got an example for you, but you can use this concept for anything.

Click on the document at the bottom of this post to get a printable with seven tough words from the Creed and their "workable" kid definitions.  You might not agree that these are the toughest seven words, but they were the ones that I chose because I think that kids have the least context for them.

So, to make a flip book, get several sheets of paper, preferably in different colors. (It is much prettier)
For this flipbook, I had four sheets of paper roughly 5 x 8.5".
 Line up those sheets of paper with roughly an inch between them.
Fold the stack in on itself so that the top folds down to roughly an inch from the highest flap on the bottom, making a continuous row of flaps.
 Fold, staple at the top to keep it secure, and glue into a notebook or lapbook if you like.
 Cut out the printable.
 "Seven Tough Words" label goes on the top flap.  The seven words get their own flap below.
Add the definition inside the flap, making sure it doesn't show from the outside.  This one is designed so that the definition shares a flap with the word.  You could also put in on the underneath of the flap, so it has to be flipped up to be read.
You can use this strategy for virtually any other topic or grade level- add pictures, notes, more flaps...

The Creed + Tetris

Yes, you read that title right.  The Nicene Creed and Tetris. Curious?

This is an easy activity that can be used to help memorize groups of text, in this case, the Nicene Creed.

First step- Explain to a new generation what Tetris is.  Pull up a website or app if need be.  Or better yet, a circa 1992 game console.

Just kidding.  Knowledge of Tetris is not necessary, but it is a little cooler than saying "various shaped interlocking colored block puzzle."

Real step one- Print out the Creed file below, which separates each word into it's own row and column.  It takes up three pages, and works better if printed on cardstock.

Step two- color various shaped sets of rectangles.

Step three- cut out on the lines in between colors.

Step four- throw in a ziploc bag, shake up, and had to a kid to unscramble.  This is harder than it looks- for sets of squares this small, I would try 4th grade and up.  If you want to use it with younger kids, color larger blocks of squares.  It also might be handy to have a copy of the Creed nearby to check.
 Yay, Tetris! :)

Click here for a pdf of the APOSTLES Creed, per request. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

10,000 Reasons

Wowzers, it has been a long time since I have posted.  Maybe it was because I have been vacationing on a Caribbean island where their was sun and sand and an endless stack of books but no internet access.

Or maybe it is because in the past few weeks I have packed up one apartment, moved to another, set up a classroom,  helped both of my sisters settle into their new homes (one a little more than the other...), and started my new career teaching a group of 5th graders.  Maybe that was it.

So, life has been a little crazy, but very blessed.  As I was hanging yet another poster in my classroom today, I was hit by an unexpected wave of joy.  And gratitude.  And peace.  Unfortunately, I haven't slowed down much lately to let it soak in.  So, I am staying up way too late considering my new wake-up-before-the-sun routine, and I am going to make a list about what I love about this new phase of my life.  Contrary to the song above though, I will not give you 10,000 reasons, just seven :)

1.  I love my new apartment.  It took me a while to get to say that, but now that everything has a place, I have figured out what to do with the miniscule kitchen, and I have had some time to hang out here, it feels like home.

2. I love getting to set up a classroom.  It is a lot of work, but I love rearranging, organizing, decorating...love it all.  Expect another post soon just about that- I promise.

3. I love being at a Catholic school.  Love, love, love.  I was just explaining to a friend that I am still working on switching my brain over to remember that I can bring faith into everything now- no censorship, no biting my tongue, no knowing that there is a better answer.  I so look forward to creating a Catholic community in my little nook of the world.

4.  I love that I can still work daily Mass into my day.  I thought that it was something that I was going to have to give up since I don't exactly make my own schedule anymore, but praise God, I still can hinge everything around it.

5. I love the staff I work with.  There is just something about gathering at the beginning of every work day and starting with prayer.  We are all there for the same reason, with the same focus, for our God.  It is so good.

6. I love Downton Abbey...wait!  Did that sneak its way into this list?  Sounds kind of superficial, and a little behind the trend, but I do.  I do love it.  I got to catch up on the first 13 or so episodes while packing up in O-Henry and settling in here.  And I grinned like an idiot as I watched the end of season two at 1 'o'clock in the morning while sitting on the floor in my new craft room.  I am not ashamed.

7.  I love my students.  I have only spent a short amount of time with them for the past two days, and I can already see their little personalities shining through.  It is going to be a great year!

Monday, August 6, 2012


As I was working on Youth Group events for the fall, I stumbled across this lesson on Conversion, and realized that I never added it to the blog as part of our series on virtues found in the Saints.

So, here it is- Conversion, as illustrated in the lives of Rahab and St. Ignatius of Loyola.

As C.S. Lewis said, "Every story of conversion is the story of blessed defeat."

Sunday, August 5, 2012

We are the Church Craft

Continuing my series on crafts related to the Creed...
(for the rest, check out the "I Believe" activities under the Sharing the Faith tab above)

Highlighting the Four Marks of the Church found at the end of the Nicene Creed, I made this craft as a vehicle for dicussing how the Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.

Here are some topics I would teach as I made this with kids:
-One= Christ founded one Church.  It was never his plan for us to break into smaller groups with differing beliefs.  When He comes again, we will all be united as one.
-Holy= The Church is the spotless Bride of Christ, good and holy, even though it is made up of broken and fallen people. When He comes again, the Church will enter Heaven as His Holy Bride.
-Catholic= The Church is universal.  Our faith is for all people of all cultures of all times.  When He comes again, we will see how all encompassing the Church really is.
-Apostolic= The Church is founded on the teachings of the Apostles, and continues to follow their authority today through their successors the Bishops.  We are blessed to have leadership in our time by those given authority from Christ.
-The Church is not a building, but is the people.  We are the Church, and we make up the Body of Christ.
-We believe all of these things as we say the Nicene Creed- "I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church."

So, for the craft, you will need a copy of the printable (link at the bottom of the post) and one piece of black construction paper for each kid, as well as various colored scraps of paper, glue, scissors, and a circle punch if you have one.

First mission: color the pieces on the printable.  I chose to leave the church and "Our Church Is..." white to represent it being the spotless Bride of Christ.  Then cut them out.
Second mission: cut open the doors on the solid lines and fold on the dotted lines.  A little trick for kids having trouble-fold the church in half length ways and clip on the line.  Then open it back up and cut the rest. 
 Here is what it looks like after that step-

Third mission: lay the church in the center of the black paper and trace the opening with a white crayon.  (I love finding a purpose for the neglected white crayon in my Crayola box :) )

Fourth mission: Cut or punch out circle of various colors.  This is step you could do ahead of time to speed things up if you are crafting with a large group.  Glue the circles inside the white rectangle.

Glue the church on over the circles without gluing down the doors.  Then glue on the rest of the words like this:
Fifth mission: glue the "We are the Church!" and the Ephesians verse on the inside of the doors.  This is to remind the kids that we, all of the people of God, are the Church, and we are one body.
 Sixth mission: Go share it with somebody!
 Here is the link to the printable: