All posts tagged: samiburr

The Rosary: Back to the Basics

I became aware early in the year that the task of catechizing their children overwhelmed the parents of my students. They walked into my room and felt out of their depth. They were perfectly at ease criticizing the approach of the new Social Studies teacher but walked on pins and needles asking me about my curriculum. One interaction at parent-teacher conferences summed this up: a couple sat in front of me, clearly trying to find out more about the Religion class’s content than their son’s performance. “You know,” said dad, “this is really important. This class is why we come here.” After an uncomfortable pause he added, “So what are you guys talking about in Religion?” He knew it was important that they learned about their faith, he just had no idea what that looked like. This conundrum of invested but confused parents popped up again when I decided to do a day on the Rosary. It was actually our second Rosary day, and this time I told the students to bring in a rosary …

Telling the Story in Teaching Religion

My constant beef with middle school religion textbooks: There is no story. They just contain a hodge-podge of information strung together. Even when a particular grade level’s book has a theme, the chapters still follow each other like a gaudy striped scarf instead of a tapestry that weaves a picture. In one unit of seventh grade, the chapters cover giving alms and St. Francis, the Eucharist, the two great commandments, and then the raising of Lazarus. Now, these are all areas ripe for discussion, which I would love to share with my seventh grade students. However, a random bunch of topics is not memorable. It is not relevant. It leads to students asking questions like, “Am I ever going to need to know any of this?” and “Why are we learning this?” and “How do we even know any of this is true, anyway?” At the beginning of Unit 3 (not ideal, but better late than never) I finally attempted to give all three grades some context. I talked about the story of salvation: God’s …

An image of Jesus Christ in blue and gold. He holds the Scriptures in his hands.

Lectio Divina with Middle Schoolers

Lectio Divina, or praying with Scripture, is one of my favorite forms of prayer. Taking time to read a passage of the Bible, meditate on what it might be saying for my own life, and responding in prayer to God has been an enjoyable and fruitful part of my spiritual practice since I was introduced to Lectio in high school. Perhaps because of the way I was taught to pray Lectio Divina, I have always been very quick to latch onto one word or phrase in the passage. Being taught how to meditate on Scripture as a high school student, this was a very helpful way to direct my thoughts and truly have a personal interaction with the text. Focusing on one word or phrase allowed me to make the passage personal, instead of just thinking about the most common interpretation. So, naturally, I emphasize this a lot while leading Lectio Divina in my classroom (at the start of class every Monday). When we get to the slide for step 2, “Meditate,” I read or …