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02 May Integrating Catholic Identity into the Curriculum

By Kelby Zenor, Rubicon International

When determining what to capture in your curriculum template it is important to review what is important to your school. For many Catholic Schools and Dioceses, it is examining how faith and catholic identity weave into the curriculum.

Here are a few different ways schools are choosing to bring in faith and identity into their curriculum templates:

Providing Common Language

Stephen Murphy, Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence

We are using a narrative description in the Cross-Curricular Connections section. We are including this information as we develop the science curriculum.

Before I designed the Diocese of Providence (DOP) unit template, we had developed a walk-through protocol. The checkable items for Catholic Identity and Social Teaching were part of that protocol. So I included the checkable items in the DOP unit template as a way in which teachers could indicate which Catholic values, teachings, references, etc., were integrated into the unit. Having to check items insure that teachers review what should be included in the unit. If there’s something that hadn’t been checked, they can then go back and indicate that aspect of Catholic Identity in the narrative section.

Example of Catholic Identity
Finding Ways to Integrate Faith Organically

Sally Bartos, Powers Catholic Schools, Diocese of Lansing

We met departmentally to research and brainstorm ways that we could add elements of our faith authentically. I have to admit that at first, many of our teachers struggled, and in particular our Math Department, with ways to organically introduce faith into their classrooms. However, as the process moved along, the math teachers came up with ideas like:

Category Example of Faith Integration

Our curriculum maps are always a work in progress and we meet departmentally at least twice during the school year and once during the summer to refine our maps and add our yearly building goals (i.e.- Writing across the curriculum or adding best practice teaching strategies from our professional development).

Making it Visible

Susan Steele, The Madeleine School, Archdiocese of Portland

We use the Catholic Identity section in our maps to reinforce and remind us that all of our curriculum should flow from our faith based mission/philosophy.

I think that it is a handy way for teachers to reflect on how this unit of study fits into the “big picture.” Realistically you will find that certain subjects lend themselves to this part of the map (LA, Social Studies, Science, Health, etc.) whereas Math is a bit of a reach when you try to relate Gospel stories to geometry.

It is also very helpful during our accreditation process. We can prove and have evidence that our Catholic Identity is visible and integrated into our curriculum with intentionality.

Category Example of Catholic Identity
Creating Connections Based on a Concept

Jenni Woodside, Sancta Maria Catholic Primary School

Our Charism is weaved through all our teaching and learning and when planning we deliberately make the links with our school charism, our Mary values and virtues and we try and make connections with all learning areas.

Each year we have an overarching concept for the year: e.g. 2017 – WONDERING and a concept for each term.

Term 1 – Harmony – balance

Term 2 – Curiosity – connectedness

Term 3 – Innovation – Past, Present, Future

Term 4 – Aroha – love / caring

A collaborative levelled map is where the teachers come together across the different levels to ensure that the LI is consistent across levels etc.

We have a set Religious Education Curriculum which is taught at different levels so teachers do plan separately for that but connections are made with all curriculum areas.

A team map is where teachers plan collaboratively using one map and then enter their info in different colours.

We all know that one way doesn’t fit all and what we have found is that schools work to find the way that meets the needs of their culture as they examine all the opportunities for faith integration.

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