What good could possibly come from Covid-19? Beginning late in March we were all hit hard — including here at Ruah Woods Press. We had a pause from our normal activity of Conferences and Training to rethink how we might position our ROOTED K-12 Theology of the Body curriculum to serve schools and parishes in a post-Covid world. The Unit Lesson Plans are a good seed that is being planted in the soil of this quiet time. It will bear beautiful fruit this fall when schools open — whether full time, half time, or half in-class and at home.
We have focused our resources on developing Unit Lesson Plan books to help teachers and catechists more quickly begin teaching the ROOTED curriculum. A Unit Lesson Plan book is being created for each grade — Kindergarten through Grade 5. A teacher or catechist will find 5 Lesson Plans for their grade (planned for 45 minutes per lesson). These plans are developed by a team of our ROOTED Teacher Trainers, exceptional Theology of the Body classroom teachers, and with the guidance of John Paul II Marriage and Family Institute graduates. They are derived from the world-class ROOTED curriculum that has been developed.
Here are some of the highlights of the Unit Lesson Plan books in a nutshell…
- Follows the new Standards for Christian Anthropology. The Theology of the Body standards (Standards for Christian Anthropology) that were finalized on the 100th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul IIs birth are being considered and incorporated in dioceses across the country. The Unit Lesson Plans are designed around these standards with objectives, discussion questions and activities created around teaching the main themes of Theology of the Body. This makes it practical for schools and parish religion programs to follow the lead of the diocese in bringing Theology of the Body alive in the hearts of educators and students.
- Theology of the Body Teaching Layered In. The twelve Theology of the Body themes identified in the Standards for Christian Anthropology (e.g. Creation is a Gift, Original Solitude, Purity of Heart/Virtue) are proposed throughout the progression from Kindergarten through 5th Grade. Our Unit Lesson Plan books provide a summary explanation of each theme for the teacher or catechist as they are introduced in that grade. This provides educators the background they need to approach the material with confidence. We also offer TOB Tidbits, a small Theology of the Body primer at the bottom of each worksheet, so that parents can be part of the teaching at home when the work is brought home and displayed on the fridge.
- Utilizes the ROOTED Literature-Based Approach. The Unit Lesson Plans provide a “way in” to the beautiful ROOTED curriculum. The literature approach is a profound way to awaken wonder around this teaching as story becomes part of the fabric of our memory and formation. The Unit Lesson Plans use this approach as teachers and catechists read favorites such as Blueberries for Sal or The Quiltmaker’s Gift and then are given the tools to help students begin to ponder the truths of the human person woven into these imaginative beautifully-illustrated tales.
- In-Class or Online Teaching. Each lesson plan opens with prayer, a reading of or reference to the story, discussion questions to awaken self-awareness and a worksheet or activity to embody the learning. Many of these worksheets and activities can be sent home as pdfs so Theology of the Body teaching can most readily fit a demanding program of online learning at home in this uncertain future. But of course, the same elements work just as well in person so that educators have much greater agility in meeting the needs of their students.
- Practical for Catechists and Parents. The ROOTED curriculum was designed around the student. The Unit Lesson Plan book supplied with the curriculum is designed around the needs of the educator…whether that be teacher, catechist or parent. Part of what makes Theology of the Body both rich and challenging is the language. Words matter. These Unit Lesson Plan books supply educators with the words they are reaching for to express this teaching from the first day of opening the book.
- Leads into the ROOTED curriculum. The greatest way to teach, however, is from the heart. It is our desire to work with educators who are planting seeds using the Unit Lesson Plans to someday migrate to a deeper immersion into the ROOTED curriculum as their love and knowledge of Theology of the Body grows and they gain confidence in sharing this teaching from personal witness and from the heart. The ROOTED curriculum is profoundly beautiful and will provide great freedom and life-giving expression for years — as educators learn and explore alongside their students in this journey into what it is to be human.
So, how can schools and parishes attain these Unit Lesson Plan books? They are being produced this summer and will be included in all ROOTED K-5 curriculum purchases in the fall. But even better, once printed, we will be shipping them out, free of charge to every previous purchaser of the finalized ROOTED K-5 curriculum kits. It’s our desire to cultivate the culture to help make every school and parish a TOB Campus — where every body is seen as a gift bearing the Fruits of the Holy Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity. It starts with a seed.
Steve Deiters, Director of Curriculum Development at Ruah Woods Press
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