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.

28 June 2013

Centre for Public Christianity

The Centre for Public Christianity has a website that would be a useful resource for religious educators in Australia.

From their website:

"The Centre for Public Christianity (CPX) is a not-for-profit media company that offers a Christian perspective on contemporary life. We seek to promote the public understanding of the Christian faith by engaging mainstream media and the general public with high quality and well-researched print, video and audio material about the relevance of Christianity in the 21st century."

There are articles and resources on many relevant topics including: big questions, world religions, science and faith, society and politics, history, the arts, ethics and lives of faith.

Many of these articles would be suitable for engaging students in the senior years and for educators to learn more about their area of expertise.

26 June 2013

Selling Religion

In recent years different religious groups in Australia has sought to change the public's perception of them through the use of television commercials. One of these campaigns put out by the Mormon's (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) attempted, somewhat successfully, in projecting the image that they were just ordinary people (although in many cases exceptional, charismatic and talented).

The Church of Scientology also used an ad in Melbourne for the launch of a new centre. This ad had previously been used for the Super-bowl. Once again it seeks to project a particular image of Scientologists as being independent, free thinking seekers (the ad is a bit like an Apple ad).

I wonder what your students might come up with if they were asked to create an ad for Christian's in Australia? How do they think Christian's are currently perceived? What image might they think is helpful for the world to see? What images or ideas might they use?

24 June 2013

Sacred spaces and places

Strand(s):  World Religions

Year level: Upper Primary

Phase: Unit Idea

Time: N/A

Summary: Exploring sacred places and spaces can be a great way of helping students to explore religions of the world.

[If something is sacred or holy it means at the most basic level that it is set aside for special purposes, religious purposes, or is seen as different or separate from other ordinary places because of what happened there or its function.]

Sacred space is common to almost all world religions and yet serves a variety of different functions and holds different meanings for different groups.

Sacred space is special for many reasons, including: 
  • History – the special event that occurred there.
  • Remembrance - It reminds us of important stories.
  • Function - It is the space the religious community comes to worship.

 A unit exploring sacred spaces might seek to cover the following things: 
  • familiarity with the concept of sacred space.
  • exploration of the holy places of other world religions including design, function and decoration.
  • identifying the sacred spaces of other world religions
  • discussing the function of the sacred space in other world religions.
  • exploration of a local holy place – church, mosque, synagogue, temple etc.

One way of beginning to engage students with a unit of sacred space might be to explore it conceptually with them.

This could start by helping them explore places that are special to them or to their country. These could include special places of family or national history. In Australian culture Gallipoli has the sense of being sacred space because of the events that took place there and how they have contributed to shaping our national identity. Explore with students what makes these places as special, how people might treat that place and why? This discussion can help to build a  bridge to religious sacred spaces. Another helpful Australian sacred place is Uluhru.

 One way of helping students explore the sacred places of different world religions would be to explore their places of worship as a research activity. With students provided with the name of a world religion they can then set about answering the following questions: 
  • What is the name of the place of worship in your world religion?
  • What are the special features of the building?
  • What happens in the building?
  • What are the names of the things in the building and what are they used for?
  • How often is the building used?

 Two websites that might be useful are:

This site has  information and images of many sacred places from around the world.

This site has 360 pictures of many sacred spaces and places of worship from around the world.

21 June 2013

Expectations of Religious People

I have to confess I was intrigued by the article that appeared online recently with the title: Thai Buddhist monks criticised for lavish behaviour. 

It is fascinating that something like this would become news and highlights the sense in which Buddhist monks act as role models in this society. People in Thailand clearly have expectations about how a monk should act and find it offensive or upsetting when they do not conform to this image.

What expectations might students have about religious people in Australia, especially priests or nuns. What things would they expect them to do or not do? How would they expect them to behave? Would owning expensive items surprise or shock them? 

19 June 2013

Worship Anglican Stlye

It is interesting to explore with students the many commonalities and differences that exist in Anglican worship across the world. As a resource I thought I might put up some YouTube clips of worship from Anglican Churches from across the Communion. Many of these clips  may be atypical of Anglicanism but would still be found in Dioceses everywhere, some more frequently than others. Enjoy!

I thought I would start with the most formal style of worship a Solemn High Mass at St Matthias' Anglican Church.

At the other end of the spectrum is a praise and worship service from the Anglican Cathedral in Sabah.

It is interesting to see how some African worship combines more formal elements of Anglican worship with the energy of their own culture which incorporates dance.

This video is typical of many Anglican Churches throughout Australia who celebrate the Eucharist in a more formal style. This is from St Luke's Anglican Church in Mosman, New South Wales.

Finally I couldn't help posting the following video which demonstrates how some churches seek to engage young people with the Eucharist. I wonder what you think about this approach? Has it gone too far or is it okay to do things like this?

I wonder what your students would make of all these different types of worship? What unity might they find between them? What would they find appealing themselves? What are their expectations of worship?

17 June 2013

The Padagogy Wheel

It's likely that many of you will have already seen this Padagogy Wheel developed by Allan Carrington from the University of Adelaide.You may seen it many times as it has been around since the middle of last year. In the off chance you haven't, I thought I would post it here with a link to the blog site it is on, which in itself has a whole lot of links to similar work.

I wonder how those schools who may be using Ipads in the classroom are adapting their Religious Education pedagogy to use the technology. This map provides a great place to start exploring some of the apps out there that might be useful when using Bloom's Taxonomy.

14 June 2013

McCrindle Research - Church Attendance

I have highlighted the work of McCrindle Research previously on this blog. Earlier this year they released an infographic called Church Attendance in Australia

It includes, among other things, information on reasons Australian's don't go to church, whether people think churches are beneficial and if people think the media negatively impacts peoples perception of the church.

It was fascinating to see that 88% of non regular church attenders think that churches are beneficial for their community.

It would be interesting to explore with students their perception of churches in local communities, whether they think they are beneficial and the degree to which the media portrays the church negatively.

Also of interest and relevance to religious educators might be the National Happiness Barometer Infographic...

...and there is also the slides of a presentation on Educational Trends.

12 June 2013

Thinking About God #2

Strand(s):  Bible and Theology, Philosophy of  Religion

Year level: Upper Primary, Middle school, Senior school

Phase: Orient

Time: 10-40min

Summary: Some activities for helping students reflect on what they think God is like and to open discussion about the nature of God.

Activity 3: God Pictures

Have  students  create a picture that represents for them what they think God is like. Explain to students that they are not attempting to draw a picture of God but to use symbols to represent the ideas they have about God.

Invite students to share with their neighbour and the rest of the class

The following may be used to stimulate discussion:

  • How do you think your image may differ from others?
  • Do you think this image reflect Christian ideas about God?

Activity 4: God: I say

Designate one side of the room “Agree” and on the other “Disagree”. Read out each statement and get students to move to one side of the room or another depending on whether they agree or disagree with the statement. Get the students to move into the middle before reading each statement. The definition that connects with the idea is in brackets for later reference or this activity could be used to introduce students to the concepts.

When I think about God i imagine that he is way off outside the universe. God is a long long way away looking down on us. – Peter. (transcendent)

I don’t believe there is a God at all. I think the world is just here but it wasn't made by God. – Jessica. (atheism)

I believe in God. I think he cares about us and listens to us and answers our prayers. – James. (theism)

Some people say God is far away, but I don’t think so. I think God is right here with us and around us all the time. – Belinda (immanent)

To be honest, I don’t think we will ever really know if God is real or not. I mean how can you be sure. So maybe there is a God and maybe there isn't. Who knows. – Michael. (agnosticism)

I certainly believe in God. I think he made everything and just let it go. That’s why we have evolution. God started it but he doesn't interfere now. I think God watches but doesn't really care about what happens. – Kristy. (deism)

There is only one God. – Carl (monotheism)

God is everywhere, God surrounds us and is in us and in nature – but God isn't these things, but he is just around and in and through. – Helen (panentheism)

Like the Greeks believed in more than one God I do to. I think there might be hundreds of God’s in the universe and beyond. – Steve. (polytheism)

I think nature is God. We are God. The stone is God. The dog is God. Everything is God. – Cathy (pantheism)

Thinking about God #1

Strand(s):  Bible and Theology, Philosophy of  Religion

Year level: Upper Primary, Middle school, Senior school

Phase: Orient

Time: 10-40min

Summary: Some activities for helping students reflect on what they think God is like and to open discussion about the nature of God.

Activity 1: Dear God Quotes

Provide students with a range of "Dear God" quotes from children and invite them to read them. Ask students  to reflect and respond to the following question: What do you think these children think God is like?

Quotes can be found all over the internet such as here.

Here are some examples:

Dear GOD, 
Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don't You just keep the ones You have? 

Dear GOD, 
If You watch me in church on Sunday, I'll show You my new shoes. 

Dear GOD, 
Are You really invisible or is it just a trick? 

Dear GOD, 
Is it true my father won't get in Heaven if he uses his bowling words in the house? 

Dear GOD, 
I went to this wedding and they kissed right in church. Is that okay? 

Dear GOD, 
Thank you for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy. 

Dear GOD, 
It rained for our whole vacation and is my father mad! He said some things about You that people are not supposed to say, but I hope You will not hurt him anyway. Your friend, (But I am not going to tell You who I am)

Dear GOD,
Please send me a pony. I never asked for anything before. You can look it up.

Dear GOD,
I didn't think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset You made on Tuesday. That was cool.

Alternatively more serious quotes could be used about God, but these provide some humour to break the ice about the topic.

Activity 2: God Questions

Have students answer the following on a questionnaire. Check that students understand each question. Some explanation  might be needed. 
  • Assuming God exists what do you think his main characteristics or qualities are? Which of these qualities do you think are absolutely essential for God to be God?
  • What do you believe the role of God in the universe is?
  • Do you believe that God is interested in us as humans, if so to what extent?
  • Do you believe that God interacts with people or intervenes in human affairs?If so how does this take place  and to what extent?
  • If you were God how would you make yourself known to humans?
  •  In what ways do you think we can obtain knowledge or understanding about God? 

With this activity students may say: “I don’t believe in God. I can’t do this.” 

One response to this may be to ask students to respond to the questionnaire the way they think someone who believes in God might. This will help them to articulate how they think other people imagine God to be.

7 June 2013


Textweek.com is a fantastic site for those who are looking for resources relating to the Bible. Although it is designed around the revised common lectionary it has many features that make it useful for those trying to engage young people in schools with the Bible.

At its most basic level Textweek has lots of resources that unpack that Bible passages assigned to any week of the year. This includes other people's notes, sermons and ideas, graphics and multimedia, children's sermons and activities - you name it textweek.com has it. While the sites normal arrangement is by the lectionary it does allow you to search by a particular text.

The features I really like however are the art concordance and movie concordance. By looking up the index by theme or reference a list of art work linked to that topic is listed. Art includes ancient to modern and usually you can click through to see the artwork.

The movie concordance is ordered by theme and has a brief summary of what the film is about and how it links to the theme such as Abraham or baptism.

There is so much material linked to textweek.com - the best thing to do is go there and explore.

5 June 2013

Time Travelling Jesus

Strand(s): The Bible and Theology

Year level: Middle School

Phase: Unit or Assessment

Time: Several lessons

Summary:  This idea could be used as a unit of work to help students discover the world Jesus lived in or it could be used as a piece of assessment.

Students are given the following scenario:

"You work for a time travel agency and are required to create a travel guide for people travelling to Jerusalem during the time of Jesus (~30 AD) as this is one of the most popular time travel destinations. It is essential however that your customers understand the time and place they are visiting so that they will  fit in and not disturb the time stream."

Students may be asked to do the following:
  • Create a time travel guide for the time of Jesus.
  •  Write it in a travel guide format - this could be book or website format.
  • Provide information on:
    • Israel - The Land, Important History and Geographical Features, Language etc.
    • Life in 30 AD – Lifestyle, Government.
    • People – Important Groups – Saducees, Pharisees, Essenes, Romans, Zealots.

There are a few ways to provide this information.
  • Each expert group could be given a Bible passages from the Gospels relating to their topic.
  • Books about the life of Jesus designed for the classroom could be provided.
  • Students could be provided with access to the internet and guided to some useful webs sites.
  • A mixture of these resources could be provided.

There are many ways this could be completed, including individual or pair research,  however one alternate way could be to use the Jigsaw approach (Innovative Teachers’ Companion:  Secondary Edition 2012, page 132, or see www.itcpublications.com.au )

Students are first put in home teams of five members and numbered 1 -5. Home teams are then rearranged into expert teams based around the number assigned. Eg. All number 1’s group together, all number 2’s group together.

2. Each expert team then researches the specialist topic assigned to them:

3. Each expert team should record their findings.

4. Expert teams then break up and return to form their home teams. Each home team should now  have an expert in each area. Each of the experts teaches the others what they have discovered in order to create the their travel guide.

In order for this to work students would need to be provided with good structure and resources for each of the topics they are covering.