The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a number of resources that religion teacher and catechists may find helpful on their very extensive website. Most of the information is directed toward an older audience, so you can find some good background reading for yourself. In my opinion, these are the top ten most useful pages on the site:
1. Daily Readings – use them for your own spiritual development, look them up for classroom prayers, and prepare your kids for Mass. At the top of the page you can find links to the text of the day’s readings as well as an audio reading of them. Click the “Audio” link for your kids to read along with the readings of the day. You can also click on the “Video” link for a reflection on the day’s reading.
2. Online Bible – for a quick Scripture reference from the Catholic New American Bible, save this to your favorites. Word of warning: each verse has its own line and number so it is difficult to copy and paste into a word document.
3. Catholic Communication Campaign – With a little searching you can find some helpful videos here. The videos are small, but you can expand them to full screen if you want to show them to your class. Overall, the info is more geared toward adult Catholics.
· Daily Reflections – various priests, deacons, sisters, brothers, and diocesan employees give 3-4 minute reflection on the day’s readings or the day’s saint. You can preview them ahead of time by clicking on the dates to see if you would like to integrate it into your lesson.
· One-to-One – here you’ll find video interviews of famous people. Unfortunately, most young people won’t even know who they are.
· Faith Works – there are a number of videos here about the works of mercy and social action movements in the Church. Not bad if you’re teaching social justice.
· Sacraments – Msgr. John Zenz giving short lectures on the seven sacraments. These 2-5 minute vignettes are very informative and could be a good introduction or review to lessons on the sacraments. These may be the best videos on the site.
4. Justice, Peace, and Human Development – click on the “For Educators” link for lesson plans and resources that are divided by age group. Some of the resources, particularly those developed by CRS, are offer some very creative activities and lessons.
6. Pro-life Activities – If you are teaching about any right to life issue or social action in general, then the resources here will overwhelm you. There are articles, Church documents, bishop statements, and links about how to get involved.
7. The Lenten Season – there are plenty of resources here about the season of lent, but most of them require you to buy additional books or dvds.
· What we believe – previews of books sold by the USCCB.
· What we celebrate – some helpful resources on the sacraments including a test on the Sacrament of Baptism, examination of conscience for all age groups, and Q and A about the Paschal Triduum.
· How we live – great links for social justice (Operation Rice Bowl, Seven Themes of Catholic Social Justice, PovertyUSA, and links about other social justice issues.
· How we pray – links to the Daily Readings and other prayers.
· Lenten Audio Retreats – there are short videos, but you’ll have to order the DVDs to see more.
8. Saint of the Day – for a short paragraph about the saints on their feast days, click on this link. They are short and at a middle to high school reading level, but they may be helpful summaries for you to read.
9. USCCB Departments & Programs – click here for a list of the many departments and programs sponsored by the USCCB. Depending on what you are teaching, this could be a great place to start your search for resources.
· Department of Catholic Education – although presently out of date, this site has a few important links: Catholic Schools and Public Policy, the recent Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework for the Development of Catechetical Materials for Young People of High School Age, and Catechetical Formation in Chaste Living.
10. Statistics on the US Catholic Church – if you are teaching about the Church in the United States and want to know statistics, facts and figures check this link out for great references.