Faith that Works

Teaching middle schoolers how to live and practice their faith

So this year I am embarking on what may have been a foolishly ambitious task, but I am teaching 8th grade religion with no textbook.  I am building the curriculum as I go, and learning a lot, but the general idea is that the first half of the year will be a study or Catholic moral teaching using the Ten Commandments as our anchor and the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible as our main texts.  To those texts I am connecting current events, letters and resources from the USCCB and their study of American History.  The learning curve is pretty steep (at some point I will post about the disastrous fail of teaching the theological virtues) but overall I think I am working towards a more rigorous program for my students.

In the first quarter we focused on the 1st Three Commandments and here are some lessons and resources for the 1st Commandment: I am the Lord your God, you shall not have any other gods besides me.

First of all, we used the Catechism of the Catholic Church to read about the Commandment and sins against the first commandment.  At the time, due to my own inexperience with the Catechism, I didn’t realize there was also a list of ways to keep it- but next year I will definitely use that too.  In their notes, students made a T-chart and on one side listed ways to keep the commandment, and on the other side, ways to break it.  This process took us about three days of class time.  Then we attempted to connect the theological virtues to the commandment, but that lesson didn’t really go the way that I had hoped.

After students had spent some time thinking about the commandment, we spent a class period reflecting on our own lives and how we do or do not keep the first commandment.  I created this 1st commandment reflection to guide students along the way.

When I teach this unit next year, I will restructure the theological virtues piece of the plan and also try to have students create something related to the first commandment.  My thought is to use the various ways of praying (adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, supplication) to have students design some sort of prayer opportunity for the class so that we can really be intentional about the ways to keep God first in all things.

Subscribe to the blog for more ideas for teaching commandments to middle schoolers!  Next week I will be posting about the 2nd and 3rd commandments.

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