On Teaching During a Pandemic

As it has for many teachers, this week brought a dramatic shift in my own preparations as my high school made the transition to eLearning due to the rapid spread of COVID‐19. The announcement that we would be closed through the end of March came last Friday evening, and thus I had the weekend to prepare two weeks of lessons for my students. As most of my class time is usually spent in reading aloud and discussing the texts, a fair deal of reworking of the usual lesson plans was needed in short order. What follows are just a few ways that Verbum helped me to do so with great efficiency.

As my freshmen are reading the book of Acts, I was able to locate relevant selections to share from both the Catechism and two of my favorite Biblical commentaries to use with high school students—the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament and the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture. In turn, it was a simple task to export these selections from Verbum to Word and then to compile a reading guide to share with students as a pdf.

One of my favorite Verbum features is the Cited By tool, which allows one to quickly locate every resource in one’s library that cites a particular reference. As my sophomores are just diving in to study the Sacraments of Healing, I was able to search for citations of key paragraphs from the Catechism’s treatment of the sacrament of Penance. Among other results, this returned a powerful Wednesday audience from St. John Paul II on the need for Christians to have a “penitential attitude of life.” This was a happy new find, and struck me as well worth sharing with my students as supplemental reading.

A final assist from Verbum is one that is ever ongoing for me—namely, responding to student questions. For many of the days of our eLearning, I am having students submit feedback via Google Forms to comment briefly on what they found particularly interesting, as well as any questions they are left with after completing the assigned readings. When really good questions arise, I have a host of resources at hand in my Verbum library to help me best respond.

With the great deal of uncertainty about what the final months of this academic year hold, I am glad to have Verbum at hand to support me in delivering quality content to my students.

Sancta Maria, Sedes Sapientiae – Ora Pro Nobis!

Kevin Clemens teaches freshman and sophomore theology at Benet Academy, a Benedictine high school of 1300 students located in Lisle, IL. He has been a Verbum user since 2015.

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