The winter issue of Today’s Catholic Teacher shares renewed ways to bring the season of Advent into our classrooms. The issue also discusses current shifts in educational reform to incorporate computer science standards into the elementary curriculum. I was intrigued by Susan Brooks-Young’s article, “Beyond Computer Literacy,” as I did not have the privilege of a computer science education. Yet both my sons have learned to code with robots and the Scratch Jr. program in elementary technology classes.
The 2019 winner in the Technology Integration category of the Innovations in Catholic Education is Our Lady of Perpetual Help Mission Grammar School in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The school’s iPad initiative highlights how technology can be infused across an elementary school using real-world applications. While the implementation at each grade level varies, the school ensures that all students are exposed to technology at school, as many scholars do not have access at home.
Carolyn Astfalk shares a great list of books and online resources for increased student engagement on page 12. Similarly, “Ignite the Love of Reading” by Lori Hadacek Chaplin provides readers with suggestions for increasing reading engagement. Our older son has always found reading to be a challenge, so when he professed his love of reading this summer, we were beyond delighted. When pressed about why he now loves reading, he said, “Well, I really only like this one book!” It is a graphic novel with a super-exciting plot. Chaplin highlights how important it is to find books that match each child’s interests, and also notes the benefits of reading aloud to children — even big ones! When I taught disengaged high school seniors during the last month of school, I began to read aloud to them, and they loved it!
Even at the college level, I have worked to engage my students in reading. I recently undertook a project to develop enhanced reading skills in my first-year students because I realized many of them spent little time engaging with difficult readings. I now complete a “think aloud” activity before they tackle the first philosophical reading of the semester. The process visually shows how close and active reading is necessary to grasp more challenging literary works. It helps my students see how important and enjoyable reading can be if you learn new ways to approach more difficult texts.
I recently completed a Mental Health First Aid certification, and I was moved by Michele Faehnle’s article, “Identify At-Risk Students.” After working for the last two decades with adolescents and young adults, I believe the message Faehnle shares is critical: Teachers can make a powerful impact on mental health identification and suicide prevention. The article highlights myths, notes risk factors, and provides ways of engaging in discussions with students.
Peace and blessings this Christmas season,
Dr. Lisa D’Souza
All content copyright © Today’s Catholic Teacher/Bayard.com. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for classroom/parish use with full attribution as long as the content is unaltered from its original form. To request permission to reprint online, email firstname.lastname@example.org.