A Call to Catholic Teachers

I just finished reading Jonathan Doyle’s new book Tools & Fuels last night. IMG_1083It is a truly inspirational book with simple advice for anyone involved in Catholic education. Doyle takes the reader on a journey of discovery. From viewing Catholic schools as a mission, “(That) they exist as an integral part of the mission that is the Catholic Church” to his mantra of, “you can’t do a supernatural task with only natural resources” Jonathan expertly narrows the focus of Catholic schools down to simply putting Christ at the center. It’s something so simple and so easy to put into action but many in Catholic education make it much more difficult than it needs to be.

I have seen first-hand how many Catholic schools focus more on college prep, test scores, and analyzing data than they do on putting Jesus at the center of all that they do. Mr. Doyle issues a clarion call to step back and put our total dependence on God, only then can we become Saints, beat burnout, and save the world.

Weaving personal experiences, stories of saints, and quotes from Popes and theologians IMG_1087into the narrative seamlessly makes for a captivating read. I can identify with the life experiences Jonathan shares on a very personal level. This man pours every fiber of his being into showing how the Catholic teacher is called by God to a vocation that is so important (helping form Saints) that only a total dependence on His help can we accomplish what He wants us to do.

I applaud Mr. Doyle for his energy, zeal, and willingness to be countercultural in a very disturbing point in our history. If you are a Catholic teacher, you MUST read this book. If there is one book you read this summer (other than the Bible) read this book! I’m just a high school teacher from Iowa but I truly think that if you teach, administrate, counsel, or work in a Catholic school that this book will change your life.

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The Search for 21st Century Pedagogy and Minecraft in the Classroom

Right from the start I will state that as a teacher and life-long learner I am not an expert at any one thing but that I have knowledge of and interests in many different things. My university adviser used to call this type of teacher a generalist. I would like to eventually get an EdD but try as I might, it would be very difficult to specialize in the general. I hope I haven’t lost you yet.

Doctorate Degree

For the past couple of weeks I have been dwelling on an image that Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal) uses in his book Digital Leadership. The image has 21st Century Pedagogy at the center of a web diagram take a look at the image here. I am still wondering what a 21st Century Pedagogy is?

Why is This Important?

I know that many of you might be thinking, don’t worry about it, just go with the flow, or golly gee willakers man it’s summer! Well, for me and the students I will be serving in the future it is very important. Is there a true 21st Century Pedagogy? What is going to help me help my students become the best that they can be? Along with Mr. Sheninger’s book I have been reading Dr. Steve Wheeler’s (@timbuckteeth) posts on his blog Learning with e’s. Steve’s last fifteen posts each center on a different pedagogy. There are so many different pedagogies that my head is spinning just trying to keep them all straight. Add to that the Digital Overload I blogged about last week and, BAM! Instant headache Batman.

MinecraftEDU in My Class?                                                                    MCEDU

Why not? I believe that Minecraft (MC)  can and should be used in at least one class per year. The pixelated block sandbox game designed by some Swedes is super awesome! At my house the two youngest kids (ages 6 and 8) have been playing the game for about six months. The impact it has had on my kids as consumers of information and creators is nothing short of amazing. The conversations that we have around the supper table have changed. We now hear words like spawn, ether, mobs, biomes, armor, health, creation, design, recipe, and creeper. The kids are also researching videos to learn about others who have embraced MC (these of course have to be approved by mom or dad). Their spelling has improved. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing my six year old so excited about her “creation” that she is showing me, except when she gets to introducing me to her tamed wolves and self corrects the spelling of the name she gave to one! My son is so excited that we spend time looking for family friendly servers to play in multi-player mode, and he wants to create MC videos to put on YouTube.

Minecraft EDU is a version of regular MC that can be controlled by and designed by teachers. It also has a store house of lesson plans and its own Wiki. As a humanities teacher, I love the World Of Humanities lessons as it is a ready built world that kids can be directed through and teacher created creativity can be added. 

But I Heard You Were Teaching Religion

Yes I will be teaching religion, but I will still use MC or MinecraftEDU. How? I haven’t figured out the particulars yet, but I have this vision of my kids going through the Book of Exodus and designing and collaborating on designing the world as Moses and the people of Israel saw it. But, you don’t want to turn religion into a game. I know, but what’s wrong with using a game that has kids using 21st Century skills and tools to better understand the BC world and scripture? Nothing. 

Of course, the results will come out this coming school year and I will have to process through the entire process, standards, and assessment pieces, but I’m still going to use it to get kids hooked on sacred scripture. What are you going to do to get kids hooked into your class?