Welcome to the coloured glass classroom! We hope to provide you with lots of creative ideas and resource links to help you engage the young people in your religious and Christian education classes. This blog is sponsored by the Anglican Schools Commission of the Anglican Church Southern Queensland.

27 February 2012

World Religions Online - BBC

Strand(s):  World Religions

Year level: Upper Primary, Middle School, Senior School

Phase: Enhance

Time: n/a

Summary: A useful website for information on various world religions.

The BBC has a section of its website specifically devoted to information about world religions. This can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/

Twenty different religions are represented with details on a range of categories. These include: belief, customs, history, holy days, living, subdivisions, texts , prayer and worship, rites and rituals and practices.

Each section on the specific world religion has further links to information and ideas about it. There is a calendar showing the holy days of different world religions.

This is a useful resource if you wish to encourage students to compare and contrast the beliefs and customs of different religious groups.

20 February 2012

Multiple Intelligences and the Bible

Strand(s):  The Bible and Theology

Year level: Lower Primary, Early Childhood

Phase: Any

Time: n/a

Summary: Ideas for engaging a range of  intelligences when focussing on Biblical texts with lower primary or early childhood students.

Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences are a useful tool for engaging students in the many different ways they learn and experience the world. When used creatively they can also open up experiences that transform the learner. Below are some basic ideas for using Multiple Intelligences when engaging with Biblical narratives. With all of these activities appropriate passages of scripture need to be chosen.

Music Rhythmic (Music Smart)
After reading a chosen passage of scripture invite students to listen to some brief excerpts of different types of music. Try to find music with different moods. Ask students to choose which piece of music they think goes best with the reading. The passage can then be read with that piece of music playing quietly underneath.

Naturalistic (Nature Smart)
The sounds, textures and smells of a Bible story may help many students to engage with it in a memorable way. Nature sound tracks can be used for some passages that take place at the beach or in the desert. The smells and textures of the story can be brought into the classroom such as the smell of cooking fish or the touch of sand. Jesus often told stories using real objects that can be put in students hands to see, touch and smell. Ideally some stories might be told outside looking at the things Jesus spoke about.

Bodily Kinaesthetic (Movement Smart)
Building and making can be an important tool for unlocking kinaesthetic children’s learning. Lego or other building and play materials might be used to help recreate a story that students have just heard told. Photos of the construction at different points of the story could be taken, so students can create a sequential picture book.

Intrapersonal  (Self Smart)
Many Biblical narratives can be rewritten in a way that invites students to go on a journey of the imagination. This can begin by asking them to imagine that they are in the story watching what is going on. Encourage them to picture everything in the story including the sights, sounds and smells. Ask them to imagine how they feel or what they think when different events occur. 

Verbal-Linguistic (Word Smart)
There are many excellent Bible’s on CD or MP3 available these days. The best include high quality sound effects and musical scores in the background. Using one of these can provide an alternate way for students to hear the story being explored. 

16 February 2012

Getting out and about

Strands: all

Year Level: all

Phase: any

Time: varies

Summary: Work this into your units - time to get away from it all!

Meeting in the same old place can get predictable...not only that, staying put can limit your imagination and get you and your students in a rut.Consider moving around to engage the whole body in learning, to meet the needs of your kinaesthetic learners and to break the routine.This can be done in many school-friendly ways.Start by informing the administration office that you plan to move your class around the school for a team building, problem solving challenge.

The basics to making this successful:

1. Emphasise that this change is a privilege and that not every class is allowed to do it. (Talk up the behaviour you expect, you’ll be surprised how your kids “live up” to a good reputation)

2. Choose three expectations and state the consequence of not following them, usually these will be:
  • Follow instructions
  • Respect the learning of others (eg: use quiet voices, stay away from classrooms)
  • Stay in the stated boundaries

3. Give instructions in written form so groups can refer to them when needed. Include a timeline of the activity and ensure each group has a watch.

4. Allow 10 minutes at the end to talk through the learning in your classroom. Energy levels will be high, so be prepared to manage the feedback in a way that gives everyone a chance to contribute.

Blindfold walk
Trust building activity: points are awarded for each team to successfully steer both partners to the finish. (You may choose to emphasise teamwork and award points for success rather than speed. Sometimes this is worth stating carefully: eg: “points are awarded to the teams who successfully get both partners to the end” rather than “points are awarded to the team to get there first”.)

For each pair, you will need
  • Blindfold
  • Envelope with map and the marked path (make each path different)

Pair up, distribute blindfolds and place blindfolds on one of each pair. The ‘seeing’ partner opens the instructions and leads their partner to the destination. They can then swap roles and repeat the challenge.Use this as a lead in to social service, to a discussion of Jesus’ ministry to those with different abilities, or to highlight the need to work together and trust each other in the term ahead.

10 February 2012

Game Set Match: Prioritising Tournament Style

Strand(s):  Any

Year level: Upper Primary, Middle school, Senior school

Phase: Orient

Time:10- 40 minutes

Summary: A great way to prioritise a list or discover what ideas students think are most important.

An Elimination Draw (Innovative Teachers’ Companion:  Secondary Edition 2012, page 204, or see www.itcpublications.com.au ) can be a great way of helping student decide or identify what they think are the most important values  or elements in a list that has been created in the classroom. It can also be used as a way of canvassing opinion on a particular topic. This strategy can be useful for starting a lesson. It may helps focus student on a topic and help them discover what they already know.

Using a think - pair - share strategy (students have individual time to think, then time to share with a partner, then time to share with the whole class) students answer a question that generates a range of answers. Some questions that might be useful in religious education might include: 
  • What is the most important aspect of the Christian faith? (Christian Traditions)
  • Where do people get their ideas about right and wrong? (Ethics and Values)
  • What things do all religions have in common? (World Religions)
  • Why aren’t people interested in reading the Bible? (The Bible)
  • What reasons might people have for breaking the law? (Ethics and Values)

Once the list has been generated, use an Elimination Draw strategy (Innovative Teachers’ Companion:  Secondary Edition 2012, page 204, or see ww.itcpublications.com.au ) to work out which item or idea the students think is the most important or critical. [The vodcast and writable template of this cognitive tool can be found at www.teacherpd.com.au]

In essence each item on the list is entered into a draw like a tennis tournament. Students must then vote between two matched ideas. If desired, an opportunity for discussion and debate may be built into this process. Whichever item gets the most votes is moved forward to compete with the winner of another pair of ideas. At the end there should be only two  list items left competing for the number one spot.

2 February 2012

“Portrait Pack – Prayer Profile”

Strands: Affective

Year Level: All

Phase: All.

Time: Varies depending on use

Summary: A creative way of switching on empathetic thinking, creative prayer about contemporary issues using photos and imagination.

Make up a pack of “portrait cards” for use in Religious Education lessons. Here’s how they work...

Collect 40 images of people including:
  • close-up portraits
  • pictures of people doing things –e.g.; sky diving, carpentry, hanging out washing, speaking at a rally
  • old black and white images
  •  images that picture an individual in a particular environment
Avoid “gossip” magazine pictures, as these promote a limited “ideal” image of humanity. The aim is to present diverse and real images, a gallery of humanity. Use your imagination. A great source of such images are “National Geographic Magazine” and “Australian Geographic Magazine”.

Print them out and laminate in a consistent format. Add to the pack as you find new images.

The Prayer Profile: creating prayer posters for a particular issue.

In this exercise, the class creates prayers for the world, with the possibility of presenting them on a poster for the chapel or prayer space, or the wall of your RE classroom. This is a big idea for most students, many of whom have little experience of prayer, let alone the idea of intercession. This exercise breaks up the task and connects students with the “human face” of any issue.

You will need:
Groups of four or five, each group will need:
  • Copies of a news article – have each group work on a different one– covering human interest stories dealing with injustice, tragedy, perhaps include a good news story for fun.
  • Copies of different types of prayers, e.g.; Celtic prayers, rhythmical and repetitive; call and response prayers; the Lord’s prayer, etc.
  • Paper and pens.
  • Copies of the task questions below.
Put the portrait pack in a central location, ready for each group to sort through when necessary.
Prepare copies of appropriate news paper articles. Distribute one article to each group. It may be helpful to have a copy for each student, but one per group may do, depending on the size and clarity. The small groups then read the article to each other and choose images from the “portrait pack” to put a face to the issues discussed in the article.

Task: Choose portraits to match the following: 
  • A person who is at risk in this situation
  • A person who is powerful in this situation
  • A person whose voice/opinion we have not heard in this article, but who is impacted by the issues raised.
For each, brainstorm answers to the following: 
  • Describe their experience.
  • What could we as a class offer this person?
  • What can we ask of God for this person?
Provide examples of traditional and free-form prayers. Students can then choose one type of prayer and write one for each of the people involved. Present the article along with the portraits and prayers in a form that is publicly accessible, on a blog site, on the classroom wall, or in the Chapel. Offer them to the local parish as a resource for Sunday School or Church worship.

Taking it further: depending on the article, this may lead to social justice projects. Students are great at identifying what we are able to do for others, given half a chance! Often they will say “it’s not God’s fault that this happened!”