The Christmas Story told using Social Networking

Here are two videos that tell the Christmas Story using social networking and social media! Helps bring the nativity into the 21st century.

How social media, web and mobile tell the story of the Nativity.
Christmas story told through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Wikipedia, Google Maps, GMail, Foursquare, Amazon…

Times change, the feeling remains the same.

This video is an artistic take on how the story of the nativity might have read had a social network existed at the time of Jesus’s birth. Follow this historical period as it unfolds as a digital narrative. This vignette is great for highlighting the truths and circumstances of our Savior’s birth in a fresh, unique way.


Christingle! An activity based learning tool for religion class during Advent and Christmas


Christmas and Advent are my favorite time in the liturgical calendar. As a religion teacher I love finding new creative ideas to engage my class and advent is the best time to do this! There are vast amounts of resources available to teachers during this christmas season.

This week is the last week of school before the Christmas Holidays begin and I always try to make the last lesson with my class fun, memorable but also intellectually engaging. In previous years my class have made advent wreaths, angles for the top of their christmas trees and even their own manger and this year was proving pretty tough to think of more creative lesson plans. So, I began to think back to my own school days and remembered the Christingle! 

There are many different stories about the origin of the Christingle. However, we do know that it originated in Germany. Each church celebrate Christingle in their own unique way but the meaning of Christingle always remains the same.

One story I found which I immediately grew quite found of was this:

“there were three children, who were very poor, but wanted to give a gift to Jesus, like the other families at church were doing. The only nice thing they had was an orange, so they decided to give him that. The top was going slightly green, so the eldest cut it out and put a candle in the hole. They thought it looked dull, so the youngest girl took her best red ribbon from her hair and attached it round the middle with toothpicks. The middle child had the idea to put a few pieces of dried fruit on the ends of the sticks. They took it to the church for the Christmas mass, and whereas the other children sneered at their meagre gift, the priest took their gift and showed it as an example of true understanding of the meaning of Christmas.”

Christingle means ‘Christ’s Light” and is a symbol of Christian faith. It is made up of different parts:

Orange– this represents the world

Four Cocktail Sticks– the four seasons or the four corners of the world.

Dried Fruit (or sweets)– remind Christians of God’s gifts to the world including kindness and love. Also are a symbol of God’s creations.

Red Ribbon– goes all round the ‘world’ and being the colour of love to remind us the Jesus loves us and reminds us to show us how much we love him especially at Christmas. (one other meaning is that red symbolizes blood to remind us that Jesus died for us but for younger children I personally prefer the symbol of love, especially at Christmas)

Candle– it is nice to use a birthday candle because it reminds the children that Christmas Day is after all, Jesus’ birthday. The light of the candle also reminds us the Jesus is the light of our world.


The Finished Product:


Lesson Plan: The Rosary (relating to the rosary in today’s world for teenagers)

Lesson Outline

Students will read the outlines of the Leaving Certificate Applied Syllabus on Prayer. They will highlight and underline the key points that they must know when writing up about what they have learnt within each lesson in their journals.

Students will watch a power point containing images of celebrities wearing rosary beads and people with rosary bead tattoos. Students will discuss and write down reasons why they believe people get tattoos of the rosary beads and wear them around their necks.

Students will examine the life of three celebrities: Cheryl Cole, The Situation and Eminem. All three of these celebrities went through a hard time in their own personal lives. Such as drug abuse and rehab and a divorce.

Students will realize that we should not judge those who wear Rosary beads. We should consider that some people wear them as a reminder of their struggle, to feel comforted by something greater than themselves such as Mary or Jesus.

Students will consider 3 questions:

1) Who is there to support you in your life?

2) Who loves you unconditionally?

3) When you were young and you had a fight with your friends, brother or sister, fell off your bike, needed somebody to talk to who was there to make you feel better?

Students will discover that just like we have turned to our mother for comfort as we grew up. Many people today turn to Mary the mother of Jesus for comfort. They do this by praying the Rosary.

Students will study the History of the Rosary. They will write out a quick timetable containing the key developments of the Rosary from the 4th to the present day.

Students will examine The Betrothal of The Arnolfini by Jan Van Eyck. This picture will show how the Rosary beads have evolved over time and have been around for centuries.

Worksheet to accompany.

The Prodigal Son, Forgiveness Pope John Paul II forgives his Shooter Ali Agca


Intended Learning Outcomes:  

  • Students will be able to recall the story of May 13th 1981 when Ali Agca shot Pope John Paul II.
  • Students will be able to highlight similarities between the parable of the Prodigal Son and the story depicting the shooting of Pope John Paul II.
  • Students will understand the importance of forgiveness within the Christian faith
  • Students will understand concept of “morally good” actions.

Assessment of Learning Outcomes.

Students will part take in Group Work. Each group will consist of two pupils. As a team they will construct a newspaper article retelling the story of May 13th 1981 when Ali Agca shot Pope John Paul II. The article must contain Key Words from both the story of the Prodigal Son and of Pope John Paul’s shooting i.e Forgiveness, Sinner, God, Jesus, Ali Agca, Prodigal Son.

 Lesson Outline

Students will watch a short video clip recalling the main events of May 13th 1981, the day Pope John Paul II was shot. As a class the pupils will then identify the two main people involved in the story. They will then outline comparisons and similarities between the characters within the parable of the Prodigal Son and the day of May 13th 1981. i.e Ali Agca represents the younger son from the prodigal son who sinned against his father.

Students will watch a short video clip showing Pope John Paul visiting Ali Agca in prison and forgiving him for shooting him on May 13th 1981. They will then consider and answer questions verbally and on a sheet considering the action of forgiveness.

  1. What did the Pope do? What else could he have done?
  2. What were the effects of his actions?
  3. Why did Pope John Paul forgive Ali Agca?
  4. Is this a ‘morally good’ action?

They will then progress onto more personalized questions such as:

  1. Can we learn from the actions of Pope John Paul II?
  2. How does this persons actions challenge each of us?

Students will now be spilt into groups of two. They will be given the task of compiling a short newspaper article incorporating the key words and message of forgiveness in the Prodigal son and the shooting of Pope John Paul II. The article should reflect the message of ‘Forgiveness within the Christian community’ and how important it is. They will also have to choose an appropriate title and picture for the article. When they complete their tasks a select number of groups will read their articles and they will be handed up for correction.

Football Style Behaviour Cards

Football Style Behaviour Cards

I recently stumbled across a book by Nicola S. Morgan entitled Quick, Easy and Effective Behaviour Management Ideas for the Classroom.

I am constantly looking for new initiative ways to promote and encourage good behaviour in my classroom and to discourage any negative behaviour from entering my classroom. I also teach children with special needs in particular autism so looking for new classroom management techniques that are all inclusive is vital.

Within this book I found a behavior management system called Football style behavior cards. There are two main cards the “Yellow Card” and the “Red Card”.

Yellow Card

The Yellow Card acts as a warning to a child that they are displaying inappropriate behavior. This card is shown to the child and a warning strike is placed on the strike card on the classroom wall. If the child displays inappropriate behaviour for a second time they are shown another yellow card, which is also recorded on the Strike Chart. If the student proceeds to display inappropriate behaviour for a third time in the same day the child is shown the Red Card.

Red Card

When a child displays inappropriate behaviour for a third time on the same day or in the same class they are given a Red Card. A strike is once again placed on the strike board and you then follow the discipline of the school note in the journal, detention etc. If they receive three red cards in one week the school behaviour policy will need to be implemented further.

Time Out

The time out system is an effective and widely used approach when dealing with children and students who display challenging behaviors. When a student displays inappropriate behaviour place them in an environment with limited sensory stimulation (Desk facing blank wall) or send them to a designated room within the school. Here they can reflect on their behaviour and calm down. This time is not used as a punishment but a time for the child to clam down.

Chill Out Time or the Green Card

“Chill out time” is an effective way for a child to remove themselves from a situation before they react inappropriately. They do this by showing the teacher a Green Card or verbally asking for some chill out time. This is particularly useful for any students who have special needs in your classroom. Designate an appropriate safe area within your classroom where the child can go for 5 minutes to calm down, listen to music, read a book, draw a picture or just sit and think. This space can be used pro-actively to prevent behaviours. It can also be used after behaviour occurs to give the student a chance to re-focus.

Edmodo Review: Social Networking for the classroom. Educational web 2.0 tool.


Edmodo is a social learning platform for teachers, students and parents. As educators we are constantly looking for new ways to bring technology into the classroom. Edmodo is a social networking site developed for teachers and students to bring social media into the classroom is a secure and educational way.

Our students are growing up in a society where social media sites such as Facebook are the hot topic of any social gathering and conversation.  Edmodo is is very similiar to Facebook  which immediately appeals to students however it is a controlled, secure and safe environment for all students.

One a the main concerns of any educator when introducing web based tools into the classroom is security and safety of our students. Edmodo has a number of features to ease the minds of all teachers and parents alike.

1)    Passcode: In order to join a class, the student must have a passcode which can be provided by the teacher. This passcode can be changed by the teacher at any time. If a student shares the code outside the class, the teacher can change it, without affecting students already joined in the group. Parents can also be give a unqiue passcode that allows them to check on the work progress of their own child.

2)    Anonymous posting is not possible.

3)    Each edmodo class group is managed and controlled by the teacher.

4)    Students can only communicate to the whole class or to the teacher – private messages between students are not possible.

5)    Teachers can delete inappropriate posts.

Possible Issues may include:

  1. Students can post inappropriate posts so this will need to be monitored.
  2. Students may use this social site for social networking more than academic purposes.
  3. Students who don’t have the internet at home may be at a disadventage.

Ways to use Edmodo in the classroom:

  • Teachers can post messages for their students and students can post to the group
  • Teachers and students can share content and materials including web links and videos relating to given topic
  • Teachers can post classroom assignments, encourage discussions and track progress online.
  • Parents can track the progress of their child online.
  • Teachers can also grade assignments online providing convenient feedback for all students.
  • Enables teachers to network with other teachers to share ideas and resources.
  • Students and teachers can connect via mobile smart phones and be updated with the latest posts.
  • It has a calendar feature, which helps track assignments and events.
  • There can be co-teachers within a group, which is great if you co-teach a class and to swap ideas and resources.

Quotes from teachers using Edmodo in the classroom:

“Students love the ability to turn in assignments that can be typed without the worry or frustration of handwriting pages that may inevitably get lost.”


“Edmodo helps Parents or guardians to monitor achievement the children in school and help them identify ways of collaborating with teachers and student to achieve learning objectives in school.”


“Students submit essays and I use the comment features to score and provide feedback – so much easier than dragging a stack of papers back and forth from school to home. It’s also a fantastic resource for group projects. The group feature allows me to assign students to reading groups or to project groups, which enables them to collaborate from home and asynchronously.”


“It also can be accessed with an app on most smartphones so students can keep up with discussions and assignments anywhere. I have found that my students are very engaged in class discussions when using the program and helps me to “hear” from those students who don’t participate that much in class.”


“It also has tons of teacher communities where you can collaborate with teachers around the world who are teaching the same thing you are. You can also collaborate with classrooms.”

Useful Video to watch on Edmodo: