Faith Quest: The Basics

Book cover: 'Faith Quest: The Basics'
Michelle Willis, M.Ed.
Ocean East Teaching Publication
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Faith Quest, The Basics is an interactive computer program that covers the fundamentals of the Catholic faith. The package includes a CD-Rom and a Facilitator Resource Guide. It has both a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur.

The Facilitator Guide includes an overview of the materials, Lesson Worksheets, Quizzes, Crossword Puzzles, Unit Practice Test, Unit Test, and Answer Keys.

When you turn on the program, you hear pleasant contemporary music as the title and other basic information comes on the screen. In fact, music is interspersed throughout the program. The instructions are easy to follow. Other than a computer, the only other requirement is that the student should be able to read. Because of the index menu, the student is able to leave off in the middle of a lesson and return to it later.

Lesson 1, Step 1 is vocabulary. A lovely picture is in the background, reflecting the beauty of God's creation, as the first vocabulary comes on the screen with a short, simple, and accurate definition. Throughout the program, there are various sound effects to catch the student's attention with the changes of the information, while the picture may remain the same. In step one, the sound effects accompany each new word. The picture only changes when moving from one step to the next. A pleasant woman's voice reads the word and the definition. At this point, the student should write down the definition he has just heard and read on his worksheet. This incorporates three senses. The student is listening, reading, and writing. When the student is ready, he clicks on the move ahead button.

In step two, a new background picture appears on the screen as the question on the worksheet with the answer come on the screen. Again, sound effects accompany the change of text, while keeping the picture the same. After the word and definition are given, the text changes (after the student clicks on the move ahead button) to a scriptural reference and/or a reference to the CCC. Because of the length of the text, there is no voice to accompany the reading of the text in this step.

After completing these steps, the screen changes again to the "Challenge" portion. In Lesson one, the student is asked to recite the Apostles Creed and explains the significance of knowing the Apostles Creed in defending our faith to others. For those who don't know it, the next section displays the Apostles creed on the screen along with music. In Lesson one, it closes with a Question and Answer. Not all lessons close with a final question.

At the end of the four lessons, there is a Unit 1 Practice Test on the computer, covering all four lessons. The first 20 are multiple choice questions. Questions 21-30 are true/false. Questions 31-40 are statements with two words highlighted as choices for answers. The student must click on the correct choice. A cymbal clashes with the correct answer. The final Unit test is only in the Facilitator's Guide.

In the Facilitator's Guide, after the overview of materials, the following sections are included.

Lesson 1 is "You Are a Special Creation of God." Step one is "Building Your Faith Vocabulary": Apostles, Creature, Creed, Crucified, etc. There are sixteen vocabulary words in lesson 1. In Step Two, the student answers fundamental questions such as "Who created the world?" There are references to the CCC or scripture throughout all the questions. The next section of Lesson 1 is a crossword puzzle on paper, reviewing the vocabulary in Step One. The next section is a Quiz that includes matching and fill in the blank.

The next three lessons cover: The Nature and Mystery of God; Creation, Angels, and Original Sin; and Understanding the Meaning and Nature of Sin (all with a similar format to the first lesson). Although the format may not seem like much material, the student should have a through grounding in these topics when he is finished.

I think this program is ideally suited for the student who is used to a lot of media stimuli. It concentrates on "sound bite" messages with a grounding in the basics with scriptural references and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Because the program incorporates all the senses and the student can go at his or her own pace and go back and review at any time, I can also see this program as ideal for the special needs student who has difficulty reading or processing information or retaining large chunks of information, Since the student sees the words on the screen as well as hears them spoken, and then writes the definition down, retaining information should be easier. For a student who has English as a second language, this would also be a good program provided the student has at least minimal reading skills. A mentor could also read the longer sections and explain them as needed. This program would also be ideally suited to the student who needs foundational knowledge or who needs a basic review.

The program is visually appealing as well as well presented and gives a through grounding in the faith. Another advantage to the program is that the student is able to work at his or her own pace. Because of the crossword puzzles, quizzes, and tests, the teacher can easily determine whether or not the student is grasping the material.

Since the program has the student working primarily independently, the teacher should set aside some additional time to discuss and apply what the student has learned to real life situations.

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