The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

Studio 3:16 offers new approach to teaching religion

Five Arkansas Catholic schools are trying out new Catholic religion curriculum

Published: April 25, 2024   
Second-grade students at St. Paul School in Pocahontas watch a video April 17 as part of their Studio 3:16 lesson. The curriculum uses catchy songs and comedic videos to help children learn about the Catholic faith. (Courtesy Rebecca Steimel)

Five Arkansas schools are testing out a new religion program that is reimagining the way students learn about their faith. 

Cross Boss Media, a Catholic media company that provides faith formation through entertainment, has created a program to help children in second to eighth grade learn about Christ. 

Five Arkansas Catholic schools have chosen to pilot the religion resource as a supplement to their current religion lessons. The schools are:

  • Blessed Sacrament School in Jonesboro
  • St. Joseph School in Paris
  • St. Mary School in Paragould 
  • St. Paul School in Pocahontas
  • Trinity School in Fort Smith

Representatives from schools in Paris, Pocahontas and Paragould told Arkansas Catholic about their experiences so far.

St. Joseph School, Paris 

Loranne Ezell, a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at St. Joseph School in Paris, said she loves the Studio 3:16 program. She started using it at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year.

“It is definitely a different way to showcase the Catholic religion to our students,” Ezell said. 

Ezell said weekly lessons are broken up into themed sections with entertaining and comedic videos. 

“With Studio 3:16, it also starts off with a Gospel reading,” Ezell said. “And sometimes the Gospel readings that we have may not be as easy to understand for some kids. But with Studio 3:16 and with the videos, it has helped my kids to be able to understand the Gospel readings a little better. That is one thing they have absolutely loved about it — the videos are very funny, but they also have a deeper meaning. Because of that, the kids will tell me, ‘I’m understanding our religion better now than if we were just using a book.’”

Many students have begun asking Ezell if they can do Studio 3:16 more often. 

“I was like, well, we can’t just do Studio 3:16 because we have our other curriculum that we also have to meet,” Ezell said. “But the way I use Studio 3:16 is seeing the different videos that they have. I look ahead to what I’m about to teach, and if I can tie in one of the Studio 3:16 videos with what I’m already teaching, then I pair those two together.”

Ezell begins Studio 3:16 lessons with a prayer, then the Gospel reading that goes with the lesson. During this first reading, students listen with their eyes closed. Then, Ezell reads the Gospel reading a second time. During this second reading, students underline a word or phrase in the Gospel reading that speaks to them or has meaning. Then, students will pick one of three provided questions and answer it in their prayer journal. Once their prayer journal is finished, students watch the Studio 3:16 video that accompanies the lesson. This video begins with the Gospel reading. 

“By now, the kids have heard the Gospel reading three times,” Ezell said. “And with the video they’re kind of silly and have catchy songs. But it’s showing them what the Gospel says. And then the video tells them, this is how the Gospel can be used in my everyday life

Ezell then asks students questions about the video before giving them an activity related to the topic to try for the week. At the end of the week, the class will talk about their activity. 

“The kids, they love it,” Ezell said. “They get excited. They’re like, ‘Are we going to do Studio 3:16 today?’ One of the questions I ask them is, ‘Do you all still want to keep doing this?’ And they said yes, like immediately, it was yes. They really enjoy it. I’ve also talked to some of the parents, and the parents have also liked it. … So far, everybody, parents of my class, as well as the kids, they’re really enjoying it and it’s a big hit.”

St. Paul School, Pocahontas

St. Paul School in Pocahontas was the first school to begin testing the new program. It started its pilot program in April 2023 with the fourth-grade class. Principal Rebecca Steimel said she likes Studio 3:16 because it is more contemporary than many other curriculums. 

“It gives our students a new and exciting way to learn about God and his word,” Steimel said. “The music videos, the songs themselves and the lessons are just fun. It keeps their interest, makes it fun and makes them eager to learn more.”

The pilot program was chosen for fourth graders because Steimel felt the students needed some motivation. Now, the program is being taught to all second through sixth graders. 

“Taking the same information, but teaching it in a new and exciting way that will really capture the students' attention and hearts,” Steimel said. “We are living in a technology-filled world. Our students have technology at the tip of their fingers, and most use it daily. They are used to the instant gratification they get from a screen, so our teachers are struggling to find things to keep students' attention these days. 

“The ‘dog and pony show’ lessons aren't cutting it these days. We believe it is an issue that many teachers struggle with due to the effects post-COVID. We fight for their attention to be as ‘cool’ as their screens. Studio 3:16 brings a new life and excitement in the classroom.”

Steimel described the Studio 3:16 lessons as “upbeat and colorful.”

“We like how it relates the most important curriculum out there (the Bible) to today's times,” Steimel said. “The message they capture in the lessons is beautiful. It is set up in a way to make students really take what they are learning and apply it in their everyday life.”

Like Ezell, Steimel said students are excited by the program, as well as her own child. 

“The students absolutely love it,” Steimel said. “I have overheard the students talking about what they are learning and being anxious to get back to class to finish up their lesson. 

“I am also a parent of a child at St. Paul School, and I can say that I see the impact it has on my own child. I see this through his request for the songs often and the conversations that come from listening to them. It gives us an opportunity to really dig into what the words mean and provides an opportunity for learning.”

St. Mary School, Paragould

Principal Lee Ann Owen said St. Mary School began using the resource in January for third through sixth graders. 

“Studio 3:16 is different from regular religious resources because it focuses on the Gospels and the Lectio Divina method of reading the Scriptures,” Owen said. “It is aligned to our curriculum that we currently use. It is not meant to replace what we have, but it builds upon and makes the meaning deeper in relation to the Gospels.”

Owen said St. Mary School adopted the program after listening to a presentation during the Professional Day for Teachers in Little Rock in September 2023. Owen had also heard from Steimel about the program's success at St. Paul School. 

“I love this addition to our religion lessons,” Owen said. “It is very engaging and thought-provoking on the level of the child. It builds community and caring among our students. The characters in the videos embrace our Catholic faith, and you can see it throughout the lessons in a real way. When the students see real-world people living and practicing our faith, it makes it easier for them as well.”

Bishop Taylor wants you to know more about your faith and the Church: Read Arkansas Catholic's free digital edition.

Please read our Comments Policy before posting.

Article comments powered by Disqus