The Prophet

A Newsletter for Catholic Educators

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as we share this journey of faith, teaching, and innovation.

As we journey through a Mercy Filled Lent, may you find God's mercy on you life each day.


Catholic Identity and Beyond.....


-Dr. Philip Drey, Xavier High School, Cedar Rapids, IA

With the arrival of Catholic Schools Week, I would like to reflect upon a significant visible sign of God’s love in our Catholic schools, the number of students choosing to discern a religious vocation. Over the past decade, Xavier High School has been blessed with an unbelievable number of young men and women who have decided to discern such a vocation. As a member of Xavier’s Theology Department, I have been asked many times for the reasons behind this vocational trend. I believe the answer lies in the Catholic concept of Sacramentality, which means that a sacrament is anyone and anything that makes visible the invisible love of God through which this world is created and sustained. In Sacramentality, every sacrament needs to be Celebrated, Accepted, and Noticed (CAN). By celebrating, accepting, and noticing this sacrament, any school or parish CAN possibly increase its own religious vocations.


Students who actively discern a religious vocation must be visibly and publicaly celebrated. At Xavier, a wall is devoted to the young people who have or are currently discerning a religious vocation. Almost every Xavier student passes this visible display each day, reminding them of not only the calling of the pictured students but also the potential calling within their own lives. As pictures and biographies of Xavier alum increases each year on this display, it keeps the seed of discernment alive in many students and allows it to grow and strengthen.


Due to the scandal within the Catholic Church, the priesthood has been held under a cloud of suspicion and viewed in a rather negative light for many years. For many students, a religious vocation was not an option, or, if they did think about it, the decision was kept quiet. Within the past few years, the view of the priesthood has dramatically changed at Xavier High School. The priesthood is no longer looked down upon as a vocation option but, rather, this calling of service is now viewed as an honorable and respected vocational option. A real atmosphere of openness and acceptance to the discernment of a religious life exists.


The Archdiocese of Dubuque has made a consistent and continued diocesan effort to increase vocations by actively promoting them, allowing young people to notice. A few years ago, the archdiocese allowed seminarians to visit with high schools students about religious vocations. These visits continue to allow students to see and converse with seminarians who are not much older than them, noticing the priesthood in a different light and with a new understanding.

The Archdiocese is blessed with an extraordinary number of outstanding parish priests who serve as role models and positively encourage young people to pursue this vocation. The Cedar Rapids/Marion area possesses many of these priests. High school students have noticed these extraordinary servants of Christ and their pure joy of being a religious person.

With all of this, religious vocations continue to depend on prayers and the work of the Holy Spirit in the school community. Our prayers of guidance, patience, and understanding for those young people who are discerning a religious vocation are vital to their process and growth. The active work of the Holy Spirit also definitely plays a dynamic part in religious vocations discernment. The feel of a high school is different when the Holy Spirit is welcomed and rejoiced among the school’s faculty and students. This is what Sacramentality is all about! Religious vocations CAN come from any school if we celebrate, accept, and notice the Holy Spirit and the love of God. The more young people feel the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and in their school, the more the Holy Spirit will guide these young people. I wish you all a very blessed Catholic Schools Week and will keep you and your school in my prayers!


Tech Tools

QuickTime Player - 3 in 1 Tech Tool

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

The QuickTime Player is a versatile tool that packs a powerful punch. It has three great features: screencasting, podcasting, and video recording.

  1. Screencasting tool - Use this tool to record your desktop screen to show step by step instructions of how to navigate through a website, work with a new computer program, or assess a student in their abilities.
  2. Podcasting tool - Use this tool to create recordings of students reading, giving speeches, explaining an idea or reflecting. You can even create an audio file of your own instructions.
  3. Video recording tool - Use this tool to utilize the camera feature and create a video recording of student work or giving visual instruction for those students who need to hear it repeated.
  4. When completed, you will have a video or audio file that can be uploaded and shared to YouTube, Google Drive, a learning management system or embedded in a website.
  5. Take it a step further by using the link generated through YouTube or Google Drive and attach it to a QR Code for further use in your classroom.

So, now you are probably asking, "Yeah, but how difficult is it? How much time will it take?" Check out the screencasting video below see how easy it is to use any of these great features in QuickTime Player.




Sketchnoting: Turning Doodles Into a Learning Experience

-Mindy Cairney, Guest Blogger

GWAEA Tech Consultant, Cedar Rapids, IA

Sketchnoting has caught momentum in education as a new way for students to curate what they have learned using text, pictures, and structure. This method of visual-notetaking pushes doodling to a whole new level. The University of Nottingham released research that shows when combining text and sketches, the notetaker has enhanced engagement, personalized organization, and was more insightful to thought processes, among many other things.

Mercer Hall and Patricia Russac blogged about sketchnoting with a second grade class. By encouraging students to actively listen with visual and text notes, recall and comprehension were improved. Sketchnoting also engaged student creativity, the highest level of thinking on the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy pyramid. The students were excited to share and discuss how they had demonstrated their learning. Imagine the answers to “What did you learn today?” heard at those homes that afternoon. If you are interested in learning more about sketchnoting, this Sketchnoting: 101 is a great place to start. You can also read more about the beginning of my sketchnoting journey in this blog post.

You can also listen to a podcast about sketchnoting by the Edtech TakeOut here.

Sketcho Frenzy: The Basics of Visual Note-taking


Principal's Perspective

The Value of Catholic Education

-Marlene Bartlett, Principal, All Saints School, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

At All Saints Elementary School, our faith teaches us to live, learn, celebrate and serve so that we can be the kind of people that Jesus wants us to be and bring his love to the world.

We are a school where faith is part of everything that we do, how we learn, how we play, how we treat each other, the kind of people we are. Faith and learning are connected and this helps us carry the light of Christ in our hearts and our actions. We learn to be the best that we can possibly be.

There is a long tradition of faith-based education in the Catholic Church. The Church has made an enormous contribution to the formation of young people and to society over the years from within the Catholic Christian tradition, from pre-school through college.


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

-Lynn Holverson, All Saints School, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

As Catholic educators we spend a great deal of time and energy creating ways to develop the spiritual growth of our students. Do we take the time to do the same for our own? Do we look to the Holy Teacher for direction and guidance for our own spiritual leadership as the students look to us? As we celebrate Catholic Schools this week, let us take time to educate our spiritual selves so we can better guide our students.

A prayer for educators of Catholic Education

Almighty Father,

You sent forth your Son as a beacon of hope for all people. As Teacher, he has given us the prime example of the importance of education. As disciples, we look to him for inspiration and strength.

Thank you for the many sisters, brothers, priests, and laypeople who have dedicated their lives in service to our Catholic schools.

Thank you for the teachers and administrators who sustain our schools today.

Thank you for the parents who have given support and witness to the importance of Catholic education in their daily lives.

Thank you for the students who work hard to further their education.

Bless our school and the many people who advance our mission. May our building be a home for those who seek to grow in faith, knowledge, and service of others. May our community always support one another and exhibit hospitality to newcomers.

Fill our minds with knowledge and wisdom. May our understanding of the world help us to grow in appreciation for it.

Fill our hearts with gladness. May we always turn to you in times of need.

Fill our hands with the tools we need to serve others.

May we show them your unceasing love through our actions.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us.

St. John Neumann, pray for us. St. _____________, pray for us.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.



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