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 November 2013

Where do you stand?

What do students know about the topic or area of knowledge you are about to explore? This is an important question at the beginning of an unit. One way of exploring this is to do Nilson's “Common Sense Inventory” where students have to decide if statements related to the course content are true or false. It can begin with a paired or small group discussion giving students time to discuss and decide before you reveal the answer. Alternatively students could decide for themselves and move to one or other side of the classroom designated as true or false.

A similar exercise focusing not on facts but on personal opinion or belief could also be used.

Students are asked to stand in the middle of classroom. One side of the class is designated as strongly agree, one side is strongly disagree. These words may be written on either side of the white board in order to remind students. Various values related statements are read aloud and students must move to one side of the class or the other depending on where they stand in relation to the issue.
While students may be given the choice to stand in the middle often this an easy way out of standing somewhere definite. Encourage students to move by getting everyone back into the centre before reading the next statement.
After a statement is read out students may be given the opportunity to say why they agree or disagree with a particular statement. In this phase of the lesson you might discourage students from debating the topic so that a range of views can be heard. Guidance might need to be given in regards to the grounding of statements for example instead of saying: Euthanasia is wrong because.... they should be encouraged to say: I believe euthanasia is wrong because... 

26 November 2013

Starting the year right

The first religious education class for the year or even for a unit is an important one. There are a whole lot of things that a teacher wants to achieve. These include: 
  • introducing yourself
  • creating positive first impressions
  • exploring  learning objectives and outcomes
  • setting the tone for the unit of work
  • finding out about students’ knowledge  of the topic
  • gauging students motivation for the topic
  • getting students interested and excited about the unit

Over the next few blog posts we will explore some ways to do the last four of these which hopefully might also help with the first three as well. But first I want to throw it over to you. What is your most brilliant strategy for starting a new unit of work in religious or Christian education?

21 November 2013

All religions aren't the same...but...

I get twitchy when I hear students say "all religions are the same". In essence they are trying to say that at the heart of it all religions are on about the same stuff. Even superficially this statement is clearly not true. The closer you look the more obvious it becomes that different religious groups hold different beliefs, are motivated by different things and act in different ways. However, this is not to say that there aren't  things that we have in common. 

While my hope is that students might see clearly the differences between world religions I would also like them to see the good things held in common. One of these things is the idea of the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like them to treat you. This concept spans many religions and philosophies and hopefully reminds us that we need to be compassionate, generous and kind to those around us not matter who they are or what they believe. 

St Columbans Mission Society sell a poster with the Golden Rule as found in thirteen different religions. This can be a great reminder in our multicultural multifaith schools that although we may have many different beliefs, it is likely that our own faith tradition encourages us to treat one another in positive and life giving ways. It is something we can share together as we strive to love one other.

There are also some helpful resources that could be used in the classroom.

16 November 2013

A Very Angry Christmas Quiz Part 2

As a follow up to "A Very Angry Nativity Quiz" a friend of mine Tom sent me this video "Retooning the Nativity" which highlights the differences between the traditional popular nativity scene and what we find in scripture. I always make sure I say to children that it doesn't matter if there were three wise men or more. It doesn't matter that we flesh out the story a bit in our imagination. The important thing is to go to the heart of  what it is about: Emmanuel - God with us.

11 November 2013

What did the nativity smell like?

Strand(s):  The Bible

Year level: Lower Primary, Upper Primary,

Phase: Enhance

Time: 20 -30 minutes

One way of helping students to engage with the text of the Bible is to get them use their imagination and senses.

A simple Y Chart can be helpful for this.

Provide students with a copy of the infancy narrative from Luke 2.1-21. As they read it have them fill out a y chart. The headings: feels like, sounds like, looks like, might be used to help students explore the mood and details of the events expressed in the text. Alternatively looks like, smells like, sounds like could also be used. Encourage students to use their imagination and to think about the sights, sounds and smell they would experience if they were there.

An alternate way of exploring the infancy narratives would be to bring some things into the classroom to touch and smell such as hay and lambs wool. 

6 November 2013

Atheism in the RE Classroom

An interesting article in The Guardian in England about the place of atheism and humanism in the RE classroom. In Anglican Schools we have a greater emphasis on the Christian faith but to what degree should we be exploring the religion or lack of it, of those in the class? In Australia there is a growing number of students who claim no religious belief.

4 November 2013

Bible Jamming

Bible Jamming is something I learnt from a Scripture Union Victoria staff member several years ago and I love it. I have used it with a range of ages from about Year 4 to the elderly. It it fun, engaging and it helps participants see what is in a passage of scripture more clearly. It also helps people see things they didn't see before. You can find the link the SUV pdf on Bible Jamming here but I will tell you how I use it.

I always explain the whole process with a new group before I start and then remind them what is next each round. I find it works best when you are using a narrative but I haven't played with non narratives much. I always use the approach below but as the PDF says a range of steps in different orders could be used. I also usually pick a passage that is at least a few verses longer than the number in the group. I would also say that it probably works best with a group between 5 -10 in size. Below is the approach I usually use.

Round 1 - One person reads the whole passage through out loud 

Round 2 - Each person reads one verse around the group until it is finished.

Round 3 - Someone starts and the next person picks up when/where the first stops. The reader can read as little or as much as they like including a phrase or even a single word. 

Round  4 - Cut in” or (interrupt) one another.. mid-verse or wherever! 

Round 5 - Read only the dialogue (leave out narration or thoughts) 

Round 6 - Reading random verse(s) or phrases until someone reads the last verse

The key to this approach is to have some fun and play with the passage.

As the SUV page says:

"In a passive consumption-of-entertainment culture and decreasing interest in reading this cheeky method increases active involvement and reading of our formative text. It has also been useful in helping people get into the Bible but with a less linear or prescribed mindset. "