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Now that we finally have a Boy’s version of the Be Yourself Journal, it can be a great tool in a Catholic school classroom or in a religious education program!
As a 7th and 8th grade teacher, I used journal prompts in the morning to start the day and our religion classes.
In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, curriculum guidelines for each grade level (from grade 1 to grade 8) included “Journal keeping”. I imagine many other diocese include this same guide or at least recommendation.
The following is an excerpt from the course guidelines:
This prayer form (tool) enables a student to reflect on the goals and directions of his/her life, and
to appreciate and deepen a personal relationship with a loving Father. It provides a method to
assess these experiences.
The document then continues with many examples of techniques that could be used:
Some examples include: journaling may be in the form of an informal letter; reflecting on personal talents and gifts; responding to Scripture passages and inspirational quotes, etc.
All of these techniques and more are within both the Boy and Girl Be Yourself Journals!
Here are some ideas on how and when to incorporate the journal into your daily lesson plans.
First act of the day
You can.not.escape.the paperwork.
You have to take roll; collect permission slips, notes, and whatever the main office needs from you.
Journaling is a great activity for the students while you are doing those monotonous tasks.
When I taught, I would write a journal prompt on the board before the students were in the classroom for the day. When they came in and we began our day, I had to take roll and often do other things like collect permission slips, absentee notes and other paperwork that had to be done but did not allow my attention to be on my students but instead paperwork.
This was the perfect time for journaling.
Have the students choose what to do within a certain section or guide them more with directives like:
Today choose a coloring page to color.
Today, do something within the prayer section of the book.
Today, fill out one of the first 5 pages.
At the end of each marking period, I would call each student up and have them stand next to me as I quickly flipped through the book. I wanted to make sure the student had worked on the journal as instructed, but I didn’t read or stare at any page for more than a second, that way each student’s privacy was respected. I wanted them to feel like they could truly use it. It was an easy way to get a good grade and often brought up the student’s average.
Use as an anticipatory set
Is that a flashback from college? I can’t believe I remember that term from “How to write a lesson plan 101”, but, I do.
Some teachers call it a warm up or a “hook”; but to remind you what this is, here is the definition from cultofpedagogy.com:
(noun) A brief portion of a lesson given at the very beginning to get students’ attention, activate prior knowledge, and prepare them for the day’s learning. Also known as advance organizer, hook, or set induction.
The point of the anticipatory set is to get students curious, wake up their brains, and give them a taste of what they are about to learn.
Talking about God’s creation or gratitude in prayer?
Play “Would You Rather”?
Discussing Jesus’ Miracles? There’s a great page on that in the Boy’s Journal.
This is also a great opportunity to use activities that are only in one journal. Use the girls and the boys to get ideas on how to start discussing Jesus’ miracles; how to be a peacemaker; ways to live the faith when busy, etc.
Take activities out of the book and create life size group projects.
Virtue Graffiti Wall
Got a chalkboard or white board – hand it over to the students.
(see Boy’s Journal)
Create a Billboard
Roll out the butcher paper and take out the poster boards.
(see Boy’s Journal)
Create a prayer corner in the classroom.
(See Girl’s Journal – what’s your prayer style and decorate a prayer room)
Hope News Report.
(See Boy’s Journal)
Writing in the Sand Slide Show.
From the Boy’s Journal: Live near a beach or a playground with a sandbox? Send students out for a homework assignment. Read John 8:3-0. Discuss how it feels when you are “ganged up on”. Ask students to think abnd pray about what Jesus would say to bullies today. Direct them to write this message in the sand and take a picture of what they wrote. Put all the pictures in a slide show and watch together as a class!
Bonus idea: Take the students to Eucharistic Adoration with their journals! It can be very difficult to quiet the mind; these journals guide the reader to turn their thoughts toward God.
Are you located “across the pond” in the United Kingdom? If so, great news! You can purchase the Be Yourself Journal in the U.K. through the Catholic Mothers website!
Got more ideas??? Share them in the comments!
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