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.

29 March 2016

Charting the Bible

One way of helping students to engage with the Bible is to get them to compare and contrast parallel narratives within the Gospels.

Use T Charts and Y Charts in your RE classroom to help students unpack and explore Biblical texts.

Provide students with a copy of the Last Supper from either Mark (14.12-31), Luke (22.7-34) or John (13.1-30). Give each student only one, but make sure all three are handed out around the class. Alternatively give students in small groups one of the texts for the group to explore. One way of helping students engage with the text is to use a Y Chart Chart (Innovative Teachers’ Companion: Secondary Edition 2012, page 288, or see www.itcpublications.com.au ) 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.

Students could be given time to provide feedback on their particular reading. A section on the board could be used for the feedback from the three different readings.

Next provide students with Matthews account of the Last Supper (Matthew 26.17-35). Have the students complete a T-Chart Chart (Innovative Teachers’ Companion: Secondary Edition 2012, page 276, or see www.itcpublications.com.au) comparing their previous reading with the Matthew reading using Similarities/Difference as the headings?

As an extension (synthesis) exercise classical or contemporary paintings of the Last Supper might be explored by students for elements that appear in one reading but not another. Images of this sort can be found at http://www.textweek.com/art/art.htm

A helpful resource for this topic is the documentary Easter in Art by Tim Marlow.

22 March 2016

Risen: A new film about Jesus

I love a good Jesus film. I even love a bad one. I am not sure which Risen is because I haven't seen it yet but I think these types of films are useful fodder for the RE class. This film is set after the resurrection of Jesus. Wikipedia sums up the plot as follows:

“After crushing a Zealot revolution led by Barabbas, Clavius, a Roman tribune, is charged by Pontius Pilate to investigate the rumors of a risen Jewish Messiah and to locate the missing body of Yeshua (Jesus of Nazareth), in order to quell an imminent uprising in Jerusalem during the first 40 days following Christ's resurrection. Failing to find the body, Clavius seeks and finds the disciples of Yeshua, and unexpectedly finds the risen Yeshua. Pilate learns that Clavius has apparently betrayed him, and sends a contingent of Roman troops to pursue Clavius and the followers of Yeshua. Clavius helps the disciples to evade the Romans and witnesses the healing of a leper, and then the ascension of Yeshua into heaven. We see Clavius struggling to reconcile what he has seen with what he knows of the world

No doubt it will be on video soon. Have a look at the official trailer below.

Teaching and Leading from Within

If you are familiar with the work of Parker Palmer you may be interested in this retreat being run at Mittagong in New South Wales. There are more details about is right here.

You might also be interested in having a look at the Centre for Courage and Renewal. There are resources for clergy, leaders and educators (not that these three categories are mutually exclusive).

15 March 2016

The Bible in Six Acts

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of resources that focus on teaching the overarching narrative of the Bible, as opposed to focussing in on smaller sections of the story. This may be due to dwindling time that churches and religious educators get with young people. Either way it is very helpful to gain an understanding of the big picture of the Bible.

One way of exploring the Bible as narrative is by considering it  as a drama in six acts. Using this method the story might look something like this.

Act 1 - Creation

In this act the drama is opened, the scene is set and the actors are introduced. We are witness to creation, Adam and Eve, and the perfection of God's world. This act is covered by Genesis 1-2. This is a short act, but important in understanding the rest of the story. There is more in this act than first meets the eye.

Act 2 - The Fall

Things go wrong in this act and the relationships between people and God and creation are damaged and disrupted. From this point on much of the narrative is about the consequences of human sin and God's work to restore relationship. Genesis 3 - 11 covers this section.

Act 3 - Covenant and Israel

In this act we see the beginning of God's action to restore relationship with people, how this evolves and humanity's continued sin, disobedience and failure. This is by far the largest act and includes the entire Old Testament from Genesis 12 through to the book of Malachi. 

Act 4 - Jesus

With the coming of Jesus, the drama, after a long and twisted path, introduces the one who will bring resolution to the conflict and tension that emerged at the Fall. This act is covered by the four Gospels.

Acts 5 - The Church

In Act 5 we have an opening scene which provides us with a picture of the early church and then the Biblical narrative stops. The Book of Acts and the Epistles provide us with the script for section.

Acts 6 - Eschaton / The End

The final act in the Book of Revelation reveals to us how all things will come to their conclusion.

There are many ways that religious educators might use this model to explore the Bible with students.Here are a few:

1. Explore each "act" with the class to help them understand the whole "drama:

The following books are useful resources for this task. They both use creative and innovative ways of approaching the topic. The one by Jenny Baker doesn't use the drama in six acts division but a similar twelve part one.

Through the Bible in Twelve Weeks - Jenny Baker
Enter the Story - Mike Novelli 

2. Create and play with a  drama act/timeline

Using pictures and/or words create signs that designate the six different acts. Spread them out in order across the ground. Have students write the name of a story and character they know from anywhere in the Bible on two pieces of the paper. Get students to place their pieces of paper where they think they go on the timeline. Some work might need to be done is helping them do this or it could be used as a culminating activity. Alternatively the timeline could be a permanent part of the class. As student learn about parts of the story they can add things where they belong.

3. Help student understand that they are part of the story

Act 5 is mostly empty. We have the first bit and we know what has happened since the end of Acts, but the story continues and we are in it. Thinking this way can help students understand how they are part of the story and what role they might play in it.

8 March 2016

God's Story Videos

You might find some of these videos useful for the RE classroom. There is about forty clips on different parts of the Bible. With all these sorts of things some of the theology may not be to your taste. 

There are all kinds of different videos apart from the God's Story ones on the Crossroads Kids' Club Youtube Channel. Check them out.

3 March 2016

Meditation for Children and Young People

"Children...are born contemplative but in the modern world they are bombarded from an early age with noise, stimulus, and a message to keep busy." 

A while ago we held a professional development day that focussed on what we call "The Inner Life" strand. We had presentations on Christian mediation and the use of labyrinth among other things.

The presentation from the Australia Christian Meditation Community was excellent and profiled how Christian meditation has been introduced into all the schools of the Catholic Diocese of Townsville. They have established a beautiful website at www.cominghome.org.au which talks about their approach.

It has all kinds of information and resources including practical guidelinesvideos of student reflections and the benefits of Christian meditation.

If you want a good introduction to Christian meditation with children and young people it is the place to start.