This week I wanted to share about a presentation I did this week for over 60 parish catechetical leaders in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. I was asked to share about flipped learning and created a presentation called “3 Essentials for Activating Family Faith.” After the enthusiastic response I am truly committed to the possibilities of flipped learning for the field of catechesis and will begin referring to flipped classrooms or flipped learning as “Flipped Catechesis!”
We looked at three essential approaches which include connecting with families using current communication methods, flipped catechesis, and accountability. Following the presentation summary I’ll share the questions and takeaways from the presentation.
My goal here was to make the case that it is absolutely essential that we connect and communicate with parishioners using current technologies. With social media we have the opportunity to connect small communities of special interest groups as well as reach large groups (which is the most obvious and common approach). Small interest groups might be considered sub-groups of ministries or education, such as moms, dads, parents of a grade level class, Rosary makers, or even prayer warriors. According to a recent poll 68% of church members want to connect with their church using social media.
In addition to connecting sub-groups we can also use social media technologies to communicate with parishioners. Creating open lines of communication is essential and we can use surveys or polls for seeking feedback or information and online tools such as Evite and Facebook help with announcing, inviting, and registering members for church ministry and educational events.
The second focus was to introduce flipped learning as an emerging educational trend that will surely impact our effectiveness as catechetical leaders. Flipped learning reverses the work that would typically be done in the class with the work done at home. Therefore, instruction that is usually teacher centered can be viewed at home and class time can be used more productively for peer to peer learning and project-based learning.
I explained that I use flipped catechesis to introduce the lesson topic, activate prior knowledge, assess student understanding of the content, and solicit questions about the topic. This is accomplished by sending students a link to an online form. From there they view a short video and answer a few questions. I have access to the answers and can adjust session time to address their needs. During the presentation we also looked at practical examples of flipping catechesis for elementary, adolescent, and adult levels.
The idea of accountability is challenging and somewhat ambiguous, however, it is essential for successful faith activation. Accountability can be accomplished through creating a culture of friendship and trust through affirmation and encouragement, but should never be attempted by setting demanding, mandatory requirements, or pitting our initiatives against family activities. We are all connected through Christ (1 Cor. 12:20-12, 26). As leaders, we share mutual responsibility with parents and children and when approached cooperatively we create an environment of personal accountability.
One parish decided to create a questionnaire to send out prior to parent sacrament meetings. Questions would be crafted to determine how parents succeed at living a sacramental life, what questions they might have about sacraments, or fears they have about preparing their children.
Another realized that in the RCIA program catechumenates possess limited prior knowledge about the Catholic Faith. By creating content and questions that could be shared prior to meetings, the DRE felt that she could better prepare participants for discussions that take place during her sessions.
A third parish staff felt that flipping catechesis for Adult Education classes would lead to better retention of the content after sessions were completed.
Final Thoughts and Challenges
A very insightful question came up that expressed the concern of how to get timid or non-tech savvy catechists to apply techniques of flipped catechesis. In other words, while the leadership has now been exposed to the promising potential of flipped catechesis, how can they get the catechists to actually do it? It is important to understand that this is new and like anything worthwhile, it will take time. This is something of an experiment for me and hasn’t taken place overnight. My advice is to take it slowly, but begin.
Consider committing to learning about it, sign up to the necessary technologies such as Google Forms and Remind, and learn it for yourself. Host catechist training and refer to the plethora of information on the internet. I have posted several articles on www.transformingcatechesis.com on how to get started and implement flipped catechesis. The rest is up to you!
Click here for the full presentation 3 Essentials for Activating Family Faith!
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