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Nurturing Our Catholic Community Through Word, Worship and Witness
2011-2012 is the Year of Witness
Witnessing Our Catholic Faith – Gr. 11 Curricular Links
Celebrating the third year of the “Word, Worship, Witness” faith program at TCDSB


Welcome to the curricular links page highlighting resources that you can use to celebrate the theme of “Witness” in grade 11 religion.  The links and resources are categorized by issues and themes which are prevalent in specific units.  We trust that educators will know best how to fit an activity into their lesson planning to meet the diverse needs of students. 
You may wish to describe the Ontario Catholic Graduate School Expectations (OCGSE) to students.  They can become aware of the important distinction highlighting what is expected in addition to the normal provincial requirements to graduate.  You can find the OCGSE at: 
Take a moment to also describe the three year faith program, “Word, Worship, Witness” culminating in its final year. 
The focus of the third year is how strongly we witness our faith, with a particular emphasis on the Catholic social teachings.  If you wish to introduce basic Catholic social teachings to your students, feel free to use the following activity and/or a PowerPoint slideshow or PowerPoint video: 


Unit 1 – Encounters with the Sacred
Native spirituality calls us to be a witness to the beauty of creation, appreciating our sacred inter-relationship with nature.  Thus, this unit makes environmental issues a natural theme to study in celebrating the Witness Year.  Here are some resources you may find helpful on the theme of stewardship and creation. 
Activity:  Avatar and Tar Sands 
Most students have seen the popular film, Avatar, so you can use it to launch a discussion on finding elements of native spirituality and how its story has been compared to that of the tar sands development in Northern Alberta.  Companies have made billions of dollars at the cost of environmental destruction and the devastation of indigenous communities.  There are many issues at stake and examining the tar sands controversy is a good opportunity for students to develop their critical thinking skills about the role of the media, the government, and the arts in highlighting what is happening. 
If you want to show clips in the movie, there are a few scenes that express creative analogies to native spirituality: 
·   the idea of Gaia – We are all inter-related in a sacred relationship, as can be seen with the spiritual and psychic connection that occurs when the Na’vi link with their animal steeds; also when the scientists are examining the plant roots and discover that all the life on the planet seems to be one neural network 
·   Jake Sully’s avatar experience learning about the Na’vi to become initiated bears some resemblance to the idea of a Vision Quest 
·   The Tree of Souls bears the spirit of ancestors 
·   The clip where Jake is “baptized” into the Na’vi tribe they show everyone surrounding him in a circle putting their hands on the shoulders of those before them – as the screen pans for an overview it looks like a web – a sacred image of everyone as an interdependent member of their community 
There are more images/clips that students can be challenged to identify.  For an interesting discussion, see some highlights from “Avatar and American-Indian Spirituality” - 
For a discussion comparing Avatar to the Tar Sands issues in Northern Alberta: 
a)  To explore the various facets showing the negative impact of tar sands, see:  This is a website of the Polaris Institute, a non-profit research and advocacy organization.  They offer more detailed fact sheets on each impact: 
b) Nature of Things Documentary 
Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands is a two-hour visual tour de force, taking viewers inside the David and Goliath struggle playing out within one of the most compelling environmental issues of our time.  Read more…
To view the video online:
If you can’t spare two hours in class, just show the first part of the film for whatever time you can spare and students will have an adequate sense of what the main concerns are. 
c)  Compare the Canadian Association of Petroleum Products website with the response of Oil Change International’s website for media literacy. 
Activity:  AMANZI – A water simulation game 
The purpose of this game, created by Development and Peace, is to learn about the current water situation and related issues in the world.  Students can think about their values and how they compare with the values of others.  Preparing the game will require some time commitment so try to get student volunteers involved in gathering or setting up the materials.  This experiential opportunity for students is well worth the effort.  Duration: 60-90 minutes 
You can download the game from:
(Note: If this link doesn’t work try to access it through:
Activity:  Drinking Mindfully Meditation 
This is a meditation designed to encourage us to be mindful of the value and wonders of water, a unique gift from God without which no life could exist. 
Activity:  Creation Prayer Service 
This activity with candles adds additional thoughts to the traditional Scripture reading of the Creation story. 
Activity:  Exploring Music 
There are many songs that touch on environmental issues and challenge students to examine their values in placing materialism over nature: 
a) “Big Yellow Taxi” - You can download various versions of the song from iTunes for less than $2. 
Sung in different styles by Joni Mitchell (including original LP, club, tribal dub, etc):
More modern version by the Counting Crows:
For the lyrics and discussion notes to the song, click: 
b)  “Beds are Burning” – You can download the song from iTunes for $2.19:
For the lyrics with questions to the song, click here 
If you wish to explore other songs dealing with the environment you can see the videos on the website:
Students, in particular may be interested in listening to the original version of the song, “Gone”, sung by Jack Johnson, and popularized later by the Black-Eyed Peas.
For an even more comprehensive list (should you be the type of person who enjoys exploring different styles of music rather than feeling overwhelmed):
Other Fun Resources: 
This YouTube clip has youth reading a message that starts off sounding cynical and hopeless, but then the message is read in reverse giving a final message of empowerment.
If you want the simple text version of the video to focus on the words, use:
Activity:  Exploring Witnesses of Creation - Stewards 
Students can read the following biographies or quotes of Catholics who are witnesses of their faith in stewardship for God’s creation. 
1. Thomas Berry - A short biography (2-pages) about this theologian and cultural historian is available here. 
To view a brief slideshow (approx. 6.5 minutes) highlighting his thoughts/quotes that were influential in promoting stewardship, visit:
Unit 2 – Judaism 
To examine the concept of social responsibility and action, the Lookstein Centre offers an excellent series of six creative lesson plans developed on the concepts of tikkun olam (repairing our broken world), chesed (helping the less fortunate), tzedakah (charity), poverty and injustice, and stewardship.  Begin with Lesson 1 at: 
Then follow through with the links to the other five lessons. 
Another website that offers a series of lessons is Learning to Give.  The site has a wide range of resources worth exploring.  One of the lessons uses Jewish folktales “to remember that the things that count are not always material, and the people who make a difference in our lives are the ones we often take for granted”: 
In studying the Holocaust, one could discuss the importance of speaking out against what is unjust, as well as not conforming to the majority if you know they’re wrong.  Two video clips of famous science experiments can spur your discussion: 
The Milgram Experiment (Re-enactment)
The Asch Line Experiment 
One Catholic who believed in speaking out and upholding justice was St. Maximilian Kolbe.  Students can read his biography and answer the reflection questions on the handout. 
Unit 3 - Christianity 
There are many Catholic witnesses of love, peace, and faith. 
View a video of Jesus’ “Way of the Cross: A Reflection on Social Justice” to examine diverse Catholic witnesses highlighted at the end and how they exemplify some virtues: 
If it is the season of Lent and you wish to do a Way of the Cross prayer service you can view the video as a PowerPoint image for each of the 14 stations, accompanied by a reflection for each station: 
Activity:  Exploring Witnesses of the Catholic Faith – Called to Love 
a)  Read the biography of Blessed Mother Teresa and excerpts from her Nobel lecture to examine the message of what it means to love:
b)  Read the biography of Dorothy Day to explore the idea of transformation from brokenness to love:
c)  For the biography of Fr. John Lee Tae-Seok, “A 21st century saint you’ve never heard of”, who was called to love and serve the lepers in Southern Sudan (accompanied with reflection questions): 
d)  For the biography of Jean Vanier with a selection of his quotes and some reflection questions:
e)  Read the biography and moving reflection written by Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ, “Would Jesus pull the switch?” to gain insight about what it means to accept the call to love.  Because of the copyright conditions regarding printing, you may access it online via: 
Activity – Exploring Witnesses of the Catholic Faith – Called to Liberate 
a) Oscar Romero: Fighting Oppression in El Salvador 
For secondary lesson plans on the life of Oscar Romero:
For a brief biography about Oscar Romero with reflection questions: 
For an excellent Powerpoint highlighting the Romero prayer:
b) Cardinal Sin: Fighting Oppression in the Philippines 
To explore the non-violent People Power (EDSA) revolution in the Philippines when the dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, was overthrown, check out a website designed by students on the ORACLE ThinkQuest Education Foundation:
For a biography and reflection about Cardinal Jaime Sin regarding his key role in the EDSA revolution: 
c) Christian Peacemakers Team 
Introduce students to the Christan Peacemakers Team and their mission (living out the Gospel message to protect groups at risk through direct action as a creative non-violent public witness).  Show a 10-minute video from the site: 
If you wish to explore their work further, they offer a four-lesson study unit based on the Acts of the Apostles, available at:
(Note:  Adapt the lessons for your needs) 
Activity – Exploring Witnesses of the Catholic Faith – Called to Action 
The following biographies or profiles exemplify Catholic witnesses who have felt called to act on an issue and help individuals or groups of people.  Each biography includes a set of reflection questions. 
Activity – Exploring Witnesses of the Catholic Faith – Called to Ecumenism 
 Unit 4 - Islam 
For a discourse examining Islam and Social Justice, visit the sites: 
For a lesson to acquaint students with the concept of jihad”, visit: 
The lesson above discusses the distinction between jihad as a principle of social justice, and as a military institution entrusted to authorities in society. Students learn about the categories of illegitimate violence in society, namely rebellion and terrorism, brigandage and other forms of mayhem against the public. 
For two video clips on young adult Muslims speaking about Islam and social justice:
In 2006, a Muslim, Muhammad Yunus, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his creation of micro-enterprise as a way to help the poor develop a livelihood.  His lecture can be found on the site: 
Unit 5 – Eastern Religions 
Activities – Hinduism 
In Hinduism, one can compare the traditional caste system with that of a global caste system.  This is a system where the gap is growing between the rich and poor. 
In order to appreciate what it means to be in a global caste system where some work extremely hard but get little for their efforts, consider using a simulation game. The process enables students to explore the structures, causes, and dynamics of poverty.  While you may require more time and effort to prepare than average, students tend to appreciate the issues better after walking in the shoes of others. 
Development and Peace offers several simulation games for downloading on their website:
·   Shoes
·   Land Game
·   Peanut Game
·   Water for Profit
 There is also the Bead Game, developed by Oxfam:
You can also download the Coffee Chain Game
Gandhi stands as a witness to his faith for upholding peace and social justice throughout his life.  While the film, “Gandhi” may be long, if you can afford the time to watch it, there are many opportunities to discuss the issues of discrimination, equity, poverty, social justice, and non-violence. 
A lesson plan can be downloaded as a Word doc:
Activities – Buddhism 
For a lesson analyzing Buddhist folktales to examine themes around selflessness, sacrifice, responsibility and respect, visit: 
For a Buddhist metta meditation on developing “LovingKindness”, visit:
This site walks you through an introduction about the meditation and then instructions on how to do it. 
For a lesson plan about the Dalai Lama and how students can apply his teachings to their lives:
If you would like to explore the work of four artists and their interpretation of the Dalai Lama, visit:
If you would like to explore the Thich Nhat Hanh’s approach to the art of compassionate listening:
Becoming a Witness
Called to Transformation 
All the World Religions ultimately call us to follow the Golden Rule – to treat others as we would want to be treated, with love, kindness, caring and compassion. 
Here are a range of activities that call us to re-examine our values and lifestyle, challenging us to make a difference in the lives of others, exemplifying the Golden Rule. 
Activity – Slideshow 
For an excellent brief presentation to empower students, see the Be More Challenge PowerPoint created by Caritas Australia: 
Activity – Poster Set 
There is an inspiring set of posters that challenge transformation in one’s personal life, family, community, country, and world.  Created by Caritas Australia, it’s colourful images, quotes, and suggested action make for ideal use in the classroom: 
You can divide the class into groups and ask them to think of specific examples of transformation they could take on with each poster. 
Activity – UN Millenium Development Goals (MDG) 
The United Nations Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) calls governments around the world to make poverty history.  Citizens from all faith traditions are called to demand their governments to re-commit to the goals.  This unit is an excellent opportunity to introduce the MDGs to students who can work towards promoting them in their schools and to their Members of Parliament. 
Here are some videos worth showing (and captivating to watch):
UN Millenium Campaign – a brief funky introduction to the MDGs
1 minute 
UN MDG Campaign – You can make a difference!
1 minute 
MDG at World Cup – There are no spectators – we’re all players!
Facts about poverty and then an introduction to MDGs
Make Poverty History – Bono
Activity - Music Videos 
As a follow-up to learning about the MDG goals in the previous unit, these music videos call for a change in values: 
MDG anthem by various Filipino artists  – call for change
Note: Starts off with a brief advertisement (15 sec).  If you want the version that is a bit fuzzy but no ad, then use the website:
“Be the Change” hip hop song (2:09 minutes)
Make a Difference MDG song (Rap/Hip hop)
Activity – Exploring Catholic Witnesses – Called to Transformation 
The following biographies or profiles exemplify Catholic witnesses who have experienced a transformation and call others to do the same.  They ultimately challenge one to reflect on and revisit their values and lifestyle, and in so doing, help those who are less fortunate.  Each biography or profile includes a set of reflection questions. 
Activity – Re-examining Ones Priorities
Depending on your class, you may consider using the following activities as a way to examine the distinction between basic needs and wants as part of a discussion on changing the way one lives (as described in the Kielburger and Mary Jo Leddy profiles above). 
Activity – Get Involved in the Board’s Banning Bottled Water Campaign 
The Toronto Catholic District School Board has approved a motion to develop a Bottled-Water Free Policy.  Use the following activity to explore the issue further and how students can become active in the campaign.