Introduction to the CST online toolkit

Educating in solidarity; Educating in humanity

" To educate in solidarity therefore means to educate ourselves in humanity: to build a society that is truly human means to put the person and his or her dignity at the centre, always, and never to sell him out to the logic of profit.” - Pope Francis, World Food Day 2013

This Catholic Social Teaching (CST) Online Toolkit aims to educate students in solidarity and humanity through the unpacking of seven CST principles. This will be achieved by focusing on the example of one of our South American partners, alongside programs from other regions.

Each principle centres around a ‘Big Question’ that students explore using a multitude of online resources prepared and ready for classroom use.

In a world where “the age of knowing is slowing giving way to an age of data navigation” (Heick, 2014), this online multimedia toolkit aligns with the current thinking of promoting study and observation over content mastery by forcing students to identify, navigate, analyse and evaluate data in order to grapple with big questions which have no Google answers.

This Online Toolkit will not only deepen your students’ understanding of the Catholic Social Teaching principles, but will also enrich their understanding of how these principles can be enacted in real-life situations and experiences, enabling them to be active global citizens working towards the creation of a more just and fair world, where we see an end of poverty, where justice is promoted and each person’s dignity upheld.

What is an online toolkit?

This Online Toolkit includes classroom lessons based on an inquiry approach to learning and incorporating the use of online resources. It encourages students to use higher order thinking skills (such as analysis, creativity, criticism, synthesis and evaluation) to construct meaning and respond to a ‘big question’ through the processing of key information.

Many of the activities in the Online Toolkit can be conducted primarily on the computer and using the internet; they can be used to create technology-rich learning environments where the focus is on the learning experience, not on technology for technology’s sake. Offline options are also given throughout.

The purpose of this Online Toolkit is to provide a series of activities on seven of the Catholic Social Teaching principles that are core to our work: Preferential Option for the Poor, Dignity of the Human Person, Stewardship of Creation, Subsidiarity and Participation, the Common Good and Solidarity.

The focus of this learning environment is addressing the ‘Big Question’ related to each Catholic Social Teaching principle, which is an issue or problem students find meaningful and exciting to engage with. By eliminating the need to search or hunt for information the student is given more time to analyse, critique and assess the information they find.

Learning levels

This Online Toolkit follows the Spiral Curriculum methodology. Since Catholic Social Teaching principles are so rich and deep in meaning, this toolkit has been developed for multiple age ranges: Lower Primary (K-2), Middle Primary (3-4), Upper Primary (5-6), Lower Secondary (7-8) and Upper Secondary (9-10). At each stage, students learn about a different aspect of the same principle while reinforcing the core elements.

The benefits of students revisiting a topic, theme or subject several times throughout their school career, with the complexity of the topic or theme increasing with each visit, are outlined in the Spiral Curriculum educational philosophy as:

  • New learning has a relationship with old learning and is put in context with the old information;
  • The information is reinforced and solidified each time the student revisits the subject matter;
  • Revisiting allows a logical progression from simplistic ideas to complicated ideas;
  • Students are encouraged to apply the early knowledge to later course objectives.

Inquiry-based learning

This online toolkit is based on an inquiry-based learning approach, which enables active learning that is student-centered, focusing on questioning, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

Inquiry learning is characterised by students:

  • asking questions, building on prior knowledge and making their own discoveries;
  • finding out information from primary sources to answer both teacher and student generated questions;
  • developing deep conceptual understandings;
  • making connections between ideas, learning and experiences.

Inquiry learning is enhanced when students are able to negotiate aspects of their learning and work collaboratively with their peers.

Phases of inquiry learning

We recognise that different states use different models of inquiry learning. At Caritas Australia, we have created a model that that incorporates the broad phases of inquiry underpinning other models of inquiry, while demonstrating our own pedagogy of ‘educating in solidarity, educating in humanity’.

Each learning experience is split into three categories:

  • Learn (focus, explore, demonstrate)
  • Act (apply, evaluate)
  • Pray (pray, reflect)

Click on this table to compare your inquiry learning model and see how Caritas Australia’s model can be integrated seamlessly into your teaching.

Benefits of using an inquiry-based lesson format with an online element

  • Support critical thinking and problem solving through authentic assessment, cooperative learning, scaffolding, and technology integration;
  • Foster cooperative learning through collaborative activities with a group project;
  • Encourage independent thinking and to motivate students;
  • Enhance students’ technological competencies;
  • Differentiate instruction by providing multiple core resources which allow students to use the resource that works best for their level of understanding (i.e. comic strip, editorial cartoon, video clip);
  • Encourage accountability;
  • Enhance the development of transferable skills and help students to bridge the gap between school and "real world" experiences;
  • Provide a situation in which students acquire information, debate issues, participate in meaningful discussions, engage in role-play simulations and solve problems;
  • Encourage and support students to become connected, independent, autonomous and involved learners;
  • Greater relevance of content, simultaneously integrating a number of aspects and/or concepts.

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