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 March 2014

Game Set Match - Prioritising Tournament Style

An Elimination Draw 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. (Innovative Teachers’ Companion:  Secondary Edition, or see http://www.itcpublications.com.au/resources)

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 or see ww.itcpublications.com.au ) to work out which item or idea the students think is the most important or critical. 

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.

19 March 2014

Obeying the Ten Commandments

How many of the Ten Commandments can you name? What about your students? When I have asked committed Christians this question it is not unusual for them to get to about five or six and then start struggling.

One old survey suggests that many American's have a greater knowledge of the contents of a Big Mac than of the Decalogue.

In a 2007 study conducted by Kelton research in conjunction with the ... release of the animated feature film, The Ten Commandments, 80 percent of respondents knew "two all beef patties" were among the ingredients of the Big Mac but only six out of ten could identify "Thou shalt not kill” as one of the Ten Commandments. Also, while 43 percent of respondents – including those who regularly attend worship – could recall Bobby and Peter, two of the least-recalled names from the Brady Bunch, they were less familiar with two of the least recalled commandments – "Remember the Sabbath" (34 percent) and "Do not make any false idols" (29 percent). 

It raises the question: Do the Ten Commandments have any relevance for the modern world?

This is a great question and one worth thoroughly exploring with students. It needs, however, to be done in a truly exploratory way.

Some simple methods for doing this could include:

  • Identifying what it is that each of the commandments values.
  • Naming the opposites of each of the commandments.
  • Using values clarification exercises with each commandment to discover some of its boundaries in the modern world. (Eg - is abortion acceptable? what about the death penalty? what about killing in war?)
  • Having students dramatise one of the commandments to illustrate its meaning in the modern world.
  • Exploring the implications of disobeying the commandments for society.
  • Discussing if it is possible to obey all the commandments. (As a resources there was a radio discussion about this very recently.)
It would however be very easy to create a whole unit based around the Ten Commandments.

6 March 2014

Story books - Pathways to talking about God.

Story books can provide a wonderful entry point for discussing concepts and issues related to faith and the Bible. Even older students (Upper Secondary) may be engaged with the right children’s story book and this can provide a useful springboard for the introduction of abstract concepts and deep theological conversations.

An excellent resource in this area is a blog called Storypath, that can be found at http://storypath.upsem.edu/ A link to this website can be found on the right of this blog.

Storypath is a very useful resource. Each week a children’s story book is reviewed which include a summary, key literary elements explored, a link to scripture and theological ideas and a list of faith talk questions. The book is also categorised according to age, themes and biblical links. This means you have the ability to find books reviewed or suggested for particular books of the Bible. The blog also provides story books that link with weekly lectionary readings.

Storypath is a simple but powerful resource for those seeking to use story as an entry point for discussion about faith and life, especially those working in the early childhood area.