10 Incredible & FREE Resources for Catechists
As a teacher in one of the few high schools in the country to have fully embraced the iPad in the classroom, I’m pretty keen on using technology and the internet in the classroom. Here are some of the awesome resources I’ve discovered over the last few years:
- New Advent – What would we do without New Advent? Free and fast access to the Early Church Fathers, the Summa Theologica, and the Catholic Encyclopedia (the old one it offers for free is a better resource than the new one that costs $$$). Add to that the front page that keeps me and many others up-to-speed with the Catholic news. This should be in everyone Catholic’s top 5 bookmarks.
- Amazing Catechists – It’s filled to the brim with resources. Check it out.
- Catholic Icing – A lot of the things at Catholic Icing I can’t use in my classroom, but the website is worth a mention because it’s a great resource for Catholic moms and Asst. DREs like my wife, who put a lot of care and attention into PSR.
- Happy Saints – Recently featured on Catholic Icing, I had to share it. Happy Saints is a place for fun, free images of the saints to inspire young minds.
- St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology – Dr. Scott Hahn, along with some others, maintains this site. It’s a treasure trove. Seriously.
- Prezi [link fixed] – Powerpoints are a thing of the past. Their crisp, clear format was cool back when I was in high school, where I was one of the gurus of the powerpoint suite among the student body, but let’s face it: it’s getting kinda old. It’s too linear, too cookie-cutter. If you’ve ever been to a powerpoint presentation put on by the typical teacher, it’s lacking in visual presentation and probably has an extra bullet hanging out here or there that just drives you crazy. Prezi is new. Its non-linear format means you can make the text swirl around the page or take the shape of what you’re trying to describe. You can even go falling through the middle of a letter, down the rabbit hole, into a whole new section of the presentation, hidden in plain sight. Alternatively, you can make linear presentations that are meant to be linear, like the Bible timeline I made here (yes, those are my sketches below) to supplement the textbook we use in my class. You really have to see it to believe it, though.
- ClassDojo – I found this great, innovative piece of classroom management technology a couple months ago. Here’s how it works: you make a roster for each class and award points or demerits for behavior. This can all be done on your classroom computer and you can even project it onto your screen (if you have a SmartBoard, you can do it live from there). Students are in a competition for best behavior and get live feedback. You can even send behavioral reports home to parents. It’s a little too middle-schoolesque for my classroom, but that doesn’t make it any less cool.
- Google Apps for Education – Bias alert: I love Google. Are you a Catholic school administrator? Did you know you can eliminate the high costs of old-school school webmail and calendar systems, and add the power of Google cloud computing to your school’s high-tech efficiency, all in one move, for free? Your students are going online in their free time (and, you may have noticed, but their time online sometimes keeps them from doing homework). Why don’t you go online, too – beyond just the email system? You can use Google groups, collaborative documents, online forms (read: online quizzes, surveys, and even voting for class elections or homecoming court), and much more.
- Google Maps – If Google Apps weren’t enough, how about Google Maps? Did you know that you (or your students) can make Google Maps online without having to buy 20 lbs. of modeling clay that will dry out and stay in your classroom for months? They’re fun, interactive, and totally free! I made some samples for you here.
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Online) – One of the recent demonstrations of epic win going on in the USCCB today was this summers release of the digital ePub Catechism of the Catholic Church, much more navigable and searchable than what was previously available. Check it out.