Faith that Works

Teaching middle schoolers how to live and practice their faith

Advent is right around the corner, and in the past few years I have shared some of my favorite Advent traditions and how to use them in a classroom or at home.  You can read about the Jesse Tree and the Jesse Tree Swap, or see the plans for Advent bookmarks and party poppers.

This year I still plan on doing all these things, but I am also looking for ways to help my students reflect more on the season of Advent and what the themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love can mean in their own lives.  So I am focusing on developing some Advent meditations for students to complete in their prayer journals.

The prayer journaling program is one of the things I am most proud of in my job.  A few years ago I asked students to bring a composition book to use as a prayer journal in 7th grade.  When I started teaching 8th grade religion, I simply held onto the journals over the summer and we used them again.  At their end of the year retreat, students took their prayer journals home with them.  I have a great 6th grade religion teacher coworker, and she thought that it would be great to have students prayer journal all through middle school, so now the composition book full of prayers travels with them from grade to grade and leaves the middle school with the student.  It’s always a beautiful moment when students take the journal home filled with years of building a relationship with God.

So for Advent this year, my goal is to use prayer journals every single day in class.  At the beginning of each week of Advent I will post a set of seven verses from the Bible about the theme of the week: hope, peace, joy, love.  With my seventh graders they will be writing these in their journal at the beginning of each class period.  The 8th graders will be using a concordance to find their own own verses and create Advent bookmarks.

Each week I will also post a small reflection on the theme of the week and a few question prompts for students to use in their journals.  I look forward to celebrating Advent with you and with my classes!

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