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.

23 April 2012

Bloom and the Bible #2 – Lower Primary

Strand(s): The Bible and Theology

Year level: Lower Primary

Phase: Any

Time: N/A

Summary: A range of ideas for applying Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy to lessons focussing on Biblical texts with upper primary students.

Bloom's Revised Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain is a effective way of meeting the needs of students and engaging them cognitively at a range of levels. The six levels of thinking enable teachers to think about how they may take students from basic thinking levels such as remembering to much higher ones that require them to use the information to design new things. Below are some ideas for using Bloom’s Taxonomy when engaging with Biblical texts. With all of these activities appropriate passages of scripture needs to be chosen.

Remember: After reading a particular passage of scripture, have students arrange shuffled story pictures in sequential order.

Understand: After reading a Bible story from a book, have students draw a picture showing what happened before and after a particular passage or illustration found in the book.

Apply: Have students make finger puppets and act out a part of the story.

Analyse: Students must select parts of the story that were funniest, saddest, happiest and most surprising.

Evaluate: Have students judge whether a particular person should have acted the way they did in the story and why?

Design: Students must decide which character in the story he or she would most like to spend a day with and why.

17 April 2012

A well-timed question...

Strand(s): all
Year Level:all
Time: 5 mins - 30 mins
Summary: give your questions some thought, get great results.

There is an art to asking useful questions and an even more refined art to allowing students time to process and respond. We’ve all been in situations where the speaker finishes, hastily asks “well, what do you think of that?” and then proceeds to “ok, no ideas? Must be my turn again!” This approach helps the speaker lose their voice, and frustrates listeners who know they have good ideas, if only they had time to formulate them!

Given time, most students will come up with ideas in response to questions, but we often misjudge just how much time they need. Here are a few steps as a refresher:

  1. Alert students that a question is coming up and that you will randomly select respondents.

  2. State that you will give everyone 30seconds to think quietly, and that jotting notes or scribbling concept maps is fine during this time.

  3. Ask your question, clearly and concisely, and record it on the board for easy reference.

  4. Read or view any stimulus material you have, eg the Bible story in the example below.

  5. Restate the question.

  6. Actually give that 30 seconds you promised (some will be counting!) in silence, without giving in to the temptation to fill it with your voice, or further instructions.

  7. Allow people to keep their pens active during the feedback time, as they add the ideas of others to their own.

  8. Choose people to respond, moving quickly so no one feels they bear the full responsibility.

  9. Follow up the process with an exercise where students place themselves along a line of opinion. E.g.; Human Continuum (see http://www.itcpublications.com.au/)

An example for the "Teaching the Bible" strand.
Tell a story about Jesus, eg: the episode where Jesus drives the moneychangers from the Temple:
· Mark 11: 15-19; 11: 27-33
· Matthew 21:12-17; 21:23-27
· Luke 19:45-48; 20:1-8
· John 2:13-16

Possible questions to start with:
  • What surprises you about this story?

  • What do you think made Jesus angry?

  • What do you think about people using a place of worship as a place of business?

  • Think about our would. Where do you see religion and money mixed together?

Possible questions for the Human Continuum:
  • Should we be surprised that Jesus acted this way? Why/why not?

  • Should Jesus have become angry in this situation? Explain.

  • Should people use a place of worship as a business centre?

  • Should money be a big part of religion?

16 April 2012

Genres in the Bible

Strand(s):  The Bible

Year level: Upper Primary, Middle school

Phase: All

Time: 1-2 lessons

Summary:  A basic outline of an approach to helping students understand genres in the Bible.

Helping students understanding that the Bible may be “one book” but it is actually many books, with many styles of writing, is important for helping them to understand the content. Below is a very basic framework for exploring Bible genres with students.

1. Discover what students know about genres.

If they don’t know what a genre is provide them with a definition such as:
“A genre is a specific style or type of writing”
Also explain that genres helps the reader understand what is written in greater depth.
You might need to give them some examples of genres – science fiction, travel, cooking, mystery etc.

2. Have students brainstorm as many different genres as possible.

An optional game here would be to play a modified game of categories. Students would take turns to name a genre and a title of a book that fits that genre. If anyone takes too long or repeats a book they are out. Keep going till there is only one student left.

3. Discuss how knowing what the genre of a particular piece of writing is helps us to know what to expect from it. We don’t expect recipes from a science fiction novel, or fairy tales from an encyclopaedia. When we know the genre we know how to handle the information.

4. Arrange students in  groups and give them seven excerpts from different genres. Provide the group with a list of the genres represented. Student must then identify which excerpt goes with which genres.
 Some useful excerpt examples:
  • encyclopaedia entry on bees
  • a vivid science fiction description of an alien
  • some road rules from the manual
  • an brief passage about Australian history
  • a poem
  • a diary entry

 5. Have groups feed back to the class on their decision. Have them explain how they knew which genre is which.
Discuss how knowing the genre helps us to understand what is being written.

6. In the same groups have students brainstorm what genres they think they might find in the Bible? Fill in any gaps and outline some of the basic genres found in the Bible.

These might include:
  •  Law
  • Narrative
  • Poetry/Song
  • Epistle
  • History
  • myth

Explain that Christians may disagree about some of these categories. In particular the category of myth may be contentious. Explain that myth doesn't mean untrue or fairy tale. Myths contain truth that the community wishes to express. This may mean that while not all that is written happened the truth the story is telling is real.

7. In the same group provide students with excerpts from the Bible and have them decide which of the genres outlined above they might fit into. 

Some useful excerpts might include: 
  • Romans 1.1-7
  • Psalm 46.1-5
  • Leviticus 19
  •  Joshua 4.1-9
  • Luke 14.15-24
  • Genesis 3.1-18

 This lesson could lead onto more in-depth lessons on the individual genres.

10 April 2012

Godly Play

Strand(s):  The Bible and Theology, The Affective

Year level: Early Childhood, Lower Primary

Phase: n/a

Time: n/a

Summary:  A way of engaging young children with worship and the Bible based on Montessori method.

Looking for a way to authentically engage young children with the Bible. Why not explore Godly Play?

Godly Play is a way of telling Bible stories using a method based on the Montessori approach. Developed by Jerome Berryman, Godly Play is ideal for children under eight. It uses parables, sacred stories and liturgical lessons about religious traditions to deeply engage students.

Godly play is about the way young children experience God while learning about God.

It uses a sensorimotor style of storytelling as a primary means of encountering God, so God is experienced, not just learned about. It provides opportunities for students to continue to work and play with the story using art and figurines. It enables young children to bring their lived experiences into dialogue with God in the biblical stories and enables them to tell the stories to one another.

The website of Godly Play in Australia is good place to begin exploring or by reading the book Young Children and Worship by Sonya Stewart and Jerome Berryman.

2 April 2012

Diaries of Reflection

Strand(s):  The Affective

Year level: Upper Primary, Middle school, Senior Schools

Phase: n/a

Time: 5 – 20 minutes

Summary:  A strategy for encouraging students to reflect on life.

Diaries of reflection are a regular opportunity for students to acquire and practise the skill of quiet reflection with others and focus on some of the deeper spiritual and moral aspects of human life.

In an established atmosphere of disciplined quietness, the students are presented with four unfinished sentences.  By reflecting on them and completing them, it is hoped that they will become more alert and aware of their own insights, values and beliefs.

Stilling is an art and a skill that requires practise. 
As an art, it can be an experience of worship.  It is worship through:
  • shared silence
  • an orderly approach to a focussed and shared activity
  • reflection on some of the things which are of the greatest worth in our experience of what it means to be human.

This non-threatening approach to worship has deliberate connections to Christian worship that may not at the first instant be obvious. 
They include:
  • Thankfulness for the blessings of life (praise)                 
  • sorrow and regret for the way we often mess it up( penitence)
  • Concern for those in need (intercession)                                 
  • Commitment of self and the community to uphold good values (dedication)                                                                                                    

Diaries of Reflection must be used only when they are taken seriously, and the following points are followed faithfully.

Diaries of reflection seem to be most effective when:
  • Writing the diaries is a regular, disciplined exercise.
  • The statements or on the board before the students enter the room . . . or
  • The statements are dictated, reflected upon and written in silence.
  • From time to time, teachers feel free to substitute their own topical or other ideas for reflection, responding the moment or context for that day.Confidentiality is respected, and no pupil’s reflections are read beyond themselves, UNLESS permission is given.
  • Students cover their diaries attractively with their own choice of cover.
  • The diaries are known to be valued and stored securely by the teacher and no unauthorised access is possible.
Here are some examples of starter sentences:
  • If I was to thank any one today it would be . . . for his/her . . .
  • I think people say “I don’t care” because
  • The biggest differences between someone in their 80’s and me is . . .
  • Some of the people who are most different to me are . . .
  • I think that the worst kind of evil is . . .
  • One charity I would always like to support is . . . because . . .
  • I think every one should be more responsible about . . .
  • The best thing I have given away was . . .
  • The best gift I have ever received was

Contributed by Richard Browning