The Prophet

A Newsletter for Catholic Educators - May 2016

Join us on our path...

As we honor Mary.


In this Issue!

  • Trending........................................................Green Screen
  • Tech Tools.....................................................Sphero
  • Principal's Perspective................................Honor your mother
  • Mustard Seed................................................Why do we honor Mary?
  • Twitter Tips


Trending......Green Screen

Simple way to turn your classroom into a movie studio.

- Stephanie Roberts, All Saints School, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Saturn, Egypt, a firehouse, and a rollercoaster. What do all these things have in common? These are places you can take your students with a few important items. Recently, at our school a family donated the money for us to invest in the materials to take our students anywhere in this world or even out of this world.


1. Tablet with a digital camera: this could be as simple as your personal smartphone. Or if you are as lucky as we are, you have a few iPads lying around.

2. Green screen: we made a purchase of a chormakey green screen setup. It came with the background felt, an extra piece of felt, lighting and the connectors and poles to create your very own studio. The cost was around $125.00 with shipping from Amazon.

3. Application: a very simple app is Green Screen by Do Ink. This can be purchased in the app store for $2.99.

4. Tripod for your tablet: this is important it gives your camera stability. I purchased ours at Amazon for under $40.00.

With these few vital pieces you can start to make your students videos and picture projects more meaningful and engaging. Since our purchase, our librarian had all the students “jump into their favorite book.” One of our 4th and 5th grade teachers are having students bring the story elements alive by putting students inside their setting. Finally, another teacher is having students become the parts of speech from crazy locations all around the world. We’ve only had it at our school for a little more than a month and teachers are excited to move it into their classroom to have students experience learning anywhere in the world. The green screen isn’t just for the weather people anymore.


Sphero Chariot Challenge

Tech Tools - Chariot STEM Challenge

Sphero chariot races bring out students engineering skills.

- Stephanie Roberts, All Saints School, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Who wants to bring engineering skills to the classroom, while having students engaged and using multiple problem solving skills? And work in collaborative groups? Yes, I just stated most of the those 21st century skills teacher are trying to include into their daily lessons. Chariot races with Spheros are a great way to get students engaged and motivated about learning!

Below are the STEM engineering steps I used to guide my students through this fun learning experience.

ASK: Students begin with the research about what chariot races use to be centuries ago. Students then compare notes and share information. I use this as a great opportunity to talk with students about primary and secondary sources.

IMAGINE: Next, each student designs different chariots on paper. Thinking of different materials they might be able use to allow their chariot to be successful on race day.

PLAN: Then, students work together to come up with one specific idea for their chariot team. This is where student's designing skills and collaboration abilities need to shine.

CREATE: Next, student actually create their design together.

IMPROVE: Finally, students test their Sphero-driven chariot. During this stage students will really show their skills of troubleshooting and problem solving. This stage is where the engineer-student really gets tested.

Once everyone has completed their Sphero-driven chariot, your classroom is ready to be turned into the Roman Colosseum. Let the races begin! Good luck and let us know how it goes. Below are some resources to get your classroom started.

Teacher materials:

Chariot STEM Challenge

Primary/Secondary Sources

Student materials:

Digital chariot race video

Student research report on chariot video

PBS - Chariot Races

Q-Files - Chariot Races

American Museum of Natural History - Chariot Races

Britannica Online - Chariot Races


Principal's Perspective

Tom Keating, Principal, Xavier High School, Cedar Rapids, IA

As we enter the Month of May, our thoughts are occupied with thoughts of summer,

graduation receptions, weddings and family trips. April showers have led to May flowers

and all seems beautiful with the world.

For as long as I can remember, the most important day in May for me has been Mother’s

Day. And while it seems considerably inadequate to dedicate only one day to those

wonderful women who brought each of us into this world, that day is a special chance to

be thankful for and reflect upon all that our mothers have done for us.

My mom passed away much too soon, in 1993. She was fifty-nine. Not a day goes by

that I don’t think of her or include her in my daily prayers. Although she passed away

long before she should have, her influence on me continues to be profound. Like most of

us, I was blessed with a mother who cared for me physically (oh, could she cook!),

emotionally and spiritually. In addition to that care, I was fortunate to have a mother who

recognized the importance of teaching her children about integrity. Although it would

often have been easier to simply give in to her children’s wishes, particularly in cases

where other parents may have been doing so, she was steadfast in her commitment to

teach us right from wrong and in her commitment to teach us about responsibility.

Whether it was marching one of us to a neighbor’s house to confess to breaking a

window with an errant ball, ignoring our protests and getting us all to Mass each Sunday,

or refusing to write that note that would get us out of some consequence at school, her

message was loud and clear: There is only one way to live your life – the right way.

To my mother (and I’m sure to yours as well), there was no such thing as a white lie.

Through all of the lessons, the little Italian woman from South Philly was still able to

demonstrate an unconditional love for my brothers and me. If we did something wrong,

she saw to it that we faced our consequences but never did she love us less. She was a

wonderful model who demonstrated that loving your children didn’t mean you had to

make life easy for them and making life difficult at times didn’t mean you didn’t love


And so as we celebrate Mother’s Day, I invite you to join me in asking God to bless all

Mothers. May He give them the strength to continue to raise sons and daughters with

love, with compassion, and with conviction. When children protest as they teach the

important lessons of life, may He give them the strength to remain true to what they

know is right. And may their reward on Earth be the satisfaction from knowing they

have given their sons and daughters a most precious gift, the gift of love.

The Mustard Seed....tiny bits to help you grow

It's May and with that our thoughts turn to Mary, the Blessed Mother. So many questions surround this amazing woman. The sacrifices she made, the struggles she faced, the courage she had and all with divine dignity. So when others ask us why Mary is so important what do we say? Do we explain she is important because, through her, God's love has been shared by so many? Do we simple say she's important because she is the mother of Jesus? Do we take time share her story? Do we understand it ourselves?

As we crown May this month, may we take time to better understand who she was and why we value her so much in our Catholic faith and then show courage and strength to share that knowledge with others.


Twitter Tips

A Twitter chat is a way to talk with educators about the same topic at the same time.

Find the schedule of Twitter chats here.

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