Friday, July 18, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Seven Books You Might Like




Summer has enabled me to keep working my way through the endless stack of books that I am always meaning to read.  On my trip to Colorado, I had a bag dedicated just for books.  My brother-in-law teased me about my daily book consumption, and my sister says that I should get a Kindle so that there is more room in the car next time.  I was just glad to get to read to my heart’s content. I also have been working on a few books that are more study related, but here are seven of the “lighter” books that I have enjoyed recently.  Starting at the bottom of the stack in the picture above:

If you are fan of The Pioneer Woman, you are familiar with her story of going from a jet-setting city girl to the wife of a rancher.  This memoir tells of her courtship and marriage in typical honest, funny, and intriguing Pioneer Woman style.  If you are looking for a light romantic read, I highly recommend it.

I do love Austen’s books, and I don’t mind an adaptation here and there either.  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was an interesting and successful social media experiment that modernized the story of Pride & Prejudice.  This book is a companion for the video series and can be read independently or alongside the YouTube videos.  This is by far the best thought out modernization of any of Austen’s books that I have read.  The creators really thought through what life would be like for the Bennets, Bingleys, and Darcys in 2014.  It was creative and well done, and also very fun.

You’d have to be living under a rock to have not heard about this one or the movie adaptation that came out earlier this summer.  I was persuaded by my youth group girls to read it, and I didn’t mind.  I think that it is what A Walk to Remember was to my generation.  My favorite part?  The Fr. Robert Barron commentary I read about it and the connection to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Again, another Austen spinoff.  This one was a $0.50 thrift store find, and it was worth the gamble.  A modern day Jane Austen expert “finds herself” after a bit of a midlife crisis.  She explores the landmarks of Austen throughout England while traversing on a scavenger hunt of sorts.  Plausible? No.  Enjoyable? Yes.

I was asked to review this book after visiting another youth group in my area.  That church had been offered to host a concert and event, during which this book would be passed out to any youth in attendance “of dating age.”  I read it and I don’t think I quite agree with "dating age," but I suppose that varies from person to person.  I would recommend it for older high schoolers and college students.  Sex, drugs, and rock & roll have a strong presence, but so do forgiveness, sacrifice, redemption, and truth.  This book reminded me of other Catholic fiction like Pierced by a Sword, but for a teen audience.

I have already mentioned this book here, but I am loving it more and more as time goes on.  I am already rereading it with a group of my college students from youth group, and the quality of the content and the awesome writing style are quickly making this one of my favorite books.  This book gives an intimate look into the life of St. John Paul II through the eyes of people that knew him well, as well as a summary of five of his most important devotions/teachings.  It is not comprehensive, but it sure is mighty, and I think that it would be a great book for people at any part of their spiritual walk.  If you are not already a JP2 fan, you will be by the time you finish this book.

Biblical fiction can sometimes make me cringe.  Reading the real story straight from the Bible is always better, and sometimes the fictionalizations just stray too far into the imagination for me to be comfortable.  This book caught my attention though, and I am glad that I gave it a chance.  Telling the story of Ruth, starting before her marriage to Naomi’s son and ending after the birth of her and Boaz’s son, it exhibits beautiful story telling.  It was easy to enter in and get lost in the world of Ruth, to contemplate her decisions, and to see God’s hand in her life.  Just a few hours after finishing it, I passed it off to my sister, and I don’t think she looked up again until she was almost halfway through it.  I loved it and will be looking for more of Tessa Afshar’s books. 

So what have you been reading this summer?  Got any recommendations for me? :)

Go visit Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Youth Bible Study- The Moral Virtues

This past spring, my young adult Bible Study explored the seven virtues.  This study also connected the lives of the Saints and challenges to evangelize.  We thought these tied in so well because the Saints give us the example of heroic virtue, and our call to evangelize is one way to live the virtues out.

The leaders of the Bible Study and I worked together to gather the material and choose the scripture verses and Saints to discuss.  I think that we were able to create a pretty unique look at the virtues, and with the their permission, I plan on using a slightly adapted version of the study with my Youth Group kids this fall.  (Thanks J, H, & J!)  I simplified the outlines a bit and changed the wording to make it more teen friendly.  I'd like to share those outlines here so that someone else might get some use out of them as well.

This post contains the outlines (two pages each, booklet style) for each of the Moral Virtues- temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice.  The other three outlines for the Theological Virtues (meant to be taught first) can be found here.

Click here for the Bible Study guide on the virtue of temperance:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMY0hBVlZOY3c3REE/edit?usp=sharing
Click here for the Bible Study guide on the virtue of fortitude:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMMDFfb3dkZXhnUU0/edit?usp=sharing
Click here for the Bible Study guide on the virtue of prudence:
Click here for the Bible Study guide on the virtue of justice:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMNjQ1elJkVzhPRTA/edit?usp=sharing


You might also like these activities on virtue formation:
Virtue Graphic Organizer Notes
The Moral Virtues: Printable coloring notes for the 4 moral virtues
The Theological Virtues: Printable coloring notes for the 3 theological virtues
Theological Virtue Symbols Coloring Page
Act of Faith, Act of Hope, Act of Love Printables
You are a Treasure in Clay

Monday, July 14, 2014

Youth Bible Study- The Theological Virtues

This past spring, my young adult Bible Study explored the seven virtues.  This study also connected the lives of the Saints and challenges to evangelize.  We thought these tied in so well because the Saints give us the example of heroic virtue, and our call to evangelize is one way to live the virtues out.

The leaders of the Bible Study and I worked together to gather the material and choose the scripture verses and Saints to discuss.  I think that we were able to create a pretty unique look at the virtues, and with the their permission, I plan on using a slightly adapted version of the study with my Youth Group kids this fall.  (Thanks J, H, & J!)  I simplified the outlines a bit and changed the wording to make it more teen friendly.  I'd like to share those outlines here so that someone else might get some use out of them as well.

This post contains the outlines (two pages each, booklet style) for each of the Theological Virtues- faith, hope, and charity.  The other four outlines for the Moral Virtues are posted here.

Click here for the Bible Study guide on the virtue of faith:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMRGMtT1dxOS1JQnc/edit?usp=sharing
 Click here for the Bible Study guide on the virtue of hope:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMU2dRS0tkMldsbFk/edit?usp=sharing
 Click here for the Bible Study guide on the virtue of charity:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMTlc0OVFXZ25BMjg/edit?usp=sharing

Visit this post for the next four Bible Studies on the Moral Virtues.


You might also like these activities on virtue formation:
Virtue Graphic Organizer Notes
The Moral Virtues: Printable coloring notes for the 4 moral virtues
The Theological Virtues: Printable coloring notes for the 3 theological virtues
Theological Virtue Symbols Coloring Page
Act of Faith, Act of Hope, Act of Love Printables
You are a Treasure in Clay

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Who Do You Follow? Youth Group Lesson

I had the privilege of speaking to a newly formed youth group at a nearby parish a few weeks ago.  After consulting with their leaders, I presented a talk called "Who Do You Follow" focusing on using social media as a young Catholic.  It was an adaptation of a couple of other lessons I had given to my own youth group in the past.

I was inspired by this great video, portraying what social media networks might have looked like if they were around during the time of Jesus's ministry, death, and resurrection.

Follow from Igniter Media on Vimeo.

The basic idea of this lesson:
-Technology is a huge part of our world.
-We are meant to know, love, and serve God.
-We can use technology to follow Christ in every aspect of our lives.

Click here for the leader discussion guide:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMUmxodGUzUElMVFE/edit?usp=sharing

I also made a card to handout to the kids with the verse and main idea of the lesson.  Click on either picture for the two page printable:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMdjBTNExHYUVOd00/edit?usp=sharinghttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMdjBTNExHYUVOd00/edit?usp=sharing

I also had a powerpoint with the key points (and the embedded video to make the presentation easier).  It is a little harder to share a power point through Google Drive, so if you download this, be aware that the fonts and images will probably be messed up, and the embedded video will not work.  I decided to go ahead and share it because you can easily reformat it, re link the video, and adapt it to the needs of your group.  Click here for the power point:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMLXRadTlZb3BscmM/edit?usp=sharing

Also, this is another version of this lesson that I used during Lent as we neared Holy Week.  We did not focus on technology and its use so much, but instead watched this video and talked about the people who followed Jesus and then turned on him.  We used this handout, which can be folded in half vertically and flipped back and forth to show the contrast of faith vs. betrayal. Click here for that handout:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMTXowVGJiSTNTWFE/edit?usp=sharing

Monday, July 7, 2014

Shrinking Summaries Writing Strategy



Summarizing is a very important reading and writing strategy for kids to learn, especially when working with non fiction.

Here are few things that my students work on developing throughout their year in 5th grade:
1.  Summaries should contain only the most important information.  We use the 5Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why) as a guide for pulling out those most important things to focus on.
2.  Summaries should cut out unnecessary details.  Including too much information defeats the purpose of the summary.  All included info should be critical to the topic.
3.  Summaries should be written in your own words.  Plagiarism can be difficult to understand at 5th grade, but we work on originality and rewording.
4.  Summaries should be fact and not opinion.
5.  Summaries should contain a beginning, middle, and end, just like other forms of writing.


One strategy I use with my students to develop their summary writing is called Shrinking Summaries.  The idea is to write successively shorter summaries about the same topic, eventually reaching the most important information and identifying the main idea.

We put this strategy into use after reading the chapter in our religion textbooks about the Easter Season.  After our normal class discussion, I asked the kids to write a solid paragraph about what we had learned relating to Easter.  Their paragraph had to follow the five guidelines above, and it had to fit in half a page in their writing notebooks.
After completing that paragraph, the students were then handed a 3"x5" index card.  They had to take their first summary, cut out more information, and write a new summary paragraph containing only the most important details.  This was a challenge for some of them.
We attached their index card with a single piece of tape under the summary in their notebooks, flipped it up, and stuck a post it note underneath.  They then had to summarize the content in a single sentence.
Finally, under the post it note, the kids had to write a word or two that stated the main idea of all of the information.
Shrinking summaries!  A great notebooking activity to stretch students' writing skills.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Seven Quick Takes- What I've Been Up To

1. I've been MIA from this blog for a bit...but for good reason I suppose.  Rest.  Recovery from the end of the school year.  Summer busyness.  And VACATION!

I actually still in the beautiful state of Colorado...
...visiting with all of these lovely people.  My sister and brother-in-law S&S and I roadtripped out to CO to see our other sister and brother-in-law E&L.  This pic was the first time we had all been together in six months.

2.  We have had plenty of adventures and also plenty of rest and relaxation time, which has been awesome.  Many of our adventures have involved driving in the mountains.  This fun road had Steph a little nervous, but had a beautiful view:
3. We did some shopping in everything from touristy-small-mountainside towns to a giant outlet mall.  All of us came home with some great new clothes, even the guys :).

4. I got to celebrate my birthday in CO.  (We also celebrated Steven's birthday, the 4th of July, and E&L's anniversary, all on this trip!)  My birthday was capped with our only trip for ice cream.  We have eaten out a few times, but actually have done a lot of cooking and had some pretty delicious meals, if I say so myself.  Emily suggested we all cook dinner together once a week, but the almost 1000 mile drive might be a deterrent.

5. We visited some of the beautiful parks, including Garden of the Gods.  Steph, our resident photographer, always had at least one and sometimes three cameras with her. 
The result is:
a. She has all of the good shots on her camera, and the rest of us have to be patient while we wait for her to edit them.
b. She is often behind and not in front of the camera.  I thought this one was cute of her, though :)
Here are the boys doing some climbing and seeing the landscape.  The boys were more adventurous than the girls, and even did the Incline, a challenging mile long, 2000 foot elevation climb comprised of all steps.  Yay for them, the girls stayed home and watched a romantic comedy in our pjs.

6.  We also made a day trip to Estes Park, which was everyone's favorite event.  We enjoyed visiting the shops, loved our coffee which we drank next to a rushing mountain stream, and then drove up into Rocky Mountain National Park.

 Beautiful doesn't even begin to describe it.
 
 It was also pretty crazy to go from a hot summer day to super chilly temps.  At the top, there was still tons of snow, but right next to it were cute little mountain flowers.  God is pretty original!

7. One of our last adventures was to visit Holy Cross Abbey in Canon City.  It is not a functioning Abbey any longer, but has been reopened as an event center, office space, museum, etc.  There is also a winery on the grounds.  It was so cool to see how they are taking a holy space and beautiful historic building and using it in a new way.
 I also wanted to steal some of their "historic" furniture.  Take these chairs for example.  They would look great outside of my apartment.
And this hutch.  It is fabulous.  I am sure that it wouldn't be missed from the former Abbey Sacristy, right?  Unfortunately, it won't fit in the car on the return trip.  Darn.
The trip isn't over yet, so I am sure that I will have more stories and more picture to share.  Hope your summer is off to a fabulous start!

Thanks to Jen for hosting! Go visit Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fulton Sheen Journaling

I love using this simple tool in my classroom.  This post shows how I created the board and used it for our virtue formation project.  Back in this post, I explained one way that I use this simple poster-board-and-plastic-sleeve created tool for student discussion and evaluation after watching videos in the classroom.  Here is another quick way to use it to promote discussion before a writing assignment.

This example was from some brainstorming for a journal writing assignment based around the question "Why Should Fulton Sheen be a Saint?"  I have several other Fulton Sheen related journal ideas and a printable posted here.

To get the kids thinking, I posted the journal writing question using the plastic sleeve at the top of the poster board.  We set the goal of them creating five reasons why they thought Sheen would create a great example for the Church.  I happened to have these great post its with room for a list of five (from the dollar bin in Target), so it was easy for them to organize their ideas.

When they were finished, they shared their reasons with the class and stuck their post it on their square.  We instantly had an anchor poster for our discussion and I had an evaluation tool.

The following day when we were ready to write, the kids pulled their post it off the poster, stuck it in their writing notebook, and used the ideas for the details in their journaling assignment.



I'd love to hear how other classrooms use this same idea!