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.

20 November 2018

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Sometimes all you need is a really beautiful picture book to make any lesson a huge success. Picture books, lift the flap books and pop up books can enchant and inspire. If you have left your Christmas book shopping a little late – don’t worry. Pop down to Koorong and see what they have available.

Here are some of my favourites.

The Fantastic Christmas Stable opens up to create a delightful 3D play scene, complete with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, angels, shepherds, Wise men and animals!

There are plenty of interactive books to choose from, so fill your classroom with these colourful books and spread the Good News!

If you have time to share these stories and activities with your students, you are going to allow them to explore the Christmas story in a creative and engaging way.

If you want some ideas for teaching students about Christmas Gifts, remember to have a look at our other blog, A Few Smallish Fish.

12 November 2018

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

There are so many fabulous videos that you can watch with your students this Christmas time but here are a few that are a little different! Thank you to St Paul's Church in Auckland. These videos are truly magical!

Some children can't imagine that Bethlehem is a real place. Try watching this video and discussing the key themes that are introduced. It might spark a discussion about the current issues in the Middle East as well as questions of peace now and then! This is for older students!

If you are interested in responding to Christmas using drama and role playing in your classroom, this might be just the inspiration you need!

While you are in this Christmas mood, the creative and generous Chaplain Steph from Churchie shared this favourite song. It might be just the song you are looking for this Festive Season!

And for the younger students, a lovely story book with rhyme and rhythm so that the students can read along with the story!

Enjoy the end of the school year with your students as you share the Good News!

3 November 2018

The True Meaning of Christmas

It is November, so I confess. I have started watching Christmas movies on Netflix already!

As Term 4 is such a short term, teachers will need to start showing Christmas movies at school too or you won’t have time to see all the great videos that are available.

For slightly older primary students, make sure you take time to enjoy Superbook – The First Christmas. It is a rather modern take on an ancient story! It explores the true meaning of Christmas.

There are lots of themes to explore, from selfishness to sacrifice, from cruelty to compassion and from bravery to blessings. Students will be captivated by the 'super book' super hero character and the modern perspective on an ancient story. 

Perhaps explore the concept of 'change' during your reflection time. 

How did the characters change in the story? 
How has the birth of Jesus changed history? 
How can celebrating Christmas change our lives? 
Has the way we celebrate Christmas changed over time? 
Should we change the way we celebrate Christmas? 
Why would this story change the hearts of people who hear it?

Enjoy your Christmas movie time with your students. Remember that students, like us, enjoy seeing movies more than once, so do not worry if they say they have seen a movie before. Watching certain movies can become a part of your Christmas tradition with your students.

Merry Christmas!

28 October 2018

Who was the first person to design and print a Christmas Card?

Quizzes are such a powerful way to engage your students.
Don't forget to have a glance through all the Christmas resources on the Request.org.uk website.
There are many fabulous resources for all ages including a Christmas Quest.

You will also find a range of videos for different lessons and ages on the same website.

You might also like to try The Christmas Bible Quiz from What Christians Want to Know. It has great questions and all the answers too!

Perhaps make class sets of quizzes and laminate them to use with all your classes. Some students may wish to develop their own quizzes. Prizes for winners might include Christmas decorations!

If you want to do some online quizzes, then remember to use Garden of Praise. Click on Children's Bible Lessons.  Choose the appropriate story. Read the story and then do the online quiz. It will be marked immediately and the students will get their results. It is great fun.

Try Garden of Praise - Mary the Mother of Jesus. Read the story and then let your students complete the online quiz and other activities.

Students tend to really enjoy doing the online activities collaboratively. I think the Online Word Scramble is fabulous for fostering better Bible literacy and encouraging the students to look at the Bible stories more closely. See what your students think.

For younger students, try The Big Christmas Quiz. It is great fun! I think this would work best on you IWB with the whole class enjoying the fun. Maybe divide the class in to teams to play?

Let the fun and games begin! 

23 October 2018

Who is Santa Claus?

Now this is a tricky question for all teachers in Term 4!

How you answer this will depend on the age of your students. Tread carefully. If you need a hand, try using the resources from ‘What’s in the Bible?’

There are lots of great resources and funny videos to use with students of all ages!

Maybe use this video as way to introduce The True Story of Christmas.

Your students are sure to have many questions, such as , 'Why do we call it Christmas?' or 'Why do we have Christmas Trees?'

These and many more questions can be answered by watching episodes from What's in the Bible? You can buy the entire collection from Koorong!

18 October 2018

Christmas - Carols and Creativity

What place can actually claim to have shaped the modern spirit of Christmas?

According to Kendall Hall, who wrote the article, ‘Enduring spirit of a Christmas Carol’, published in the Weekend Australian 22-23 September, Oberndorf may be just the place. This small Austrian village just north of Salzburg is famous for being the home of Silent Night!

“In 1818, Mohr, now a Roman Catholic curate in Oberndorf, visited his teacher friend Franz Gruber on Christmas Eve. He brought with him a six-verse poem he’d written; he wanted Gruber’s help setting it to music for that evening’s Midnight Mass. After the endless winter, his parish needed a pick-me-up. A cause for hope.’

Now, to set the scene a tad more fully – things were not going well for the village or the priest. It was freezing cold and church organ was broken! 1816 was the ‘Year Without Summer’! ‘The cataclysmic eruption of Indonesia’s Tambora volcano cast a dense pall of fog over half the world for 18 months! Crops failed, citizens rioted, typhus and cholera raged, many starved or froze to death.’

Silent Night has been a part of history and tradition since 1818. It is the carol that the soldiers sang during the Christmas Truce of 1914. Churchill and Roosevelt sang it in the White House Gardens in 1941 and the song itself is on the UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Perhaps you could look at the history and meaning of this famous Christmas Carol with your students.

Ideas to follow up might include encouraging your students to write their own poem or carol, find Austria on the world map and look at how Christmas is celebrated in other countries, or create some art work to go with this famous Carol.

You may even wish to explore resilience, problem solving or creativity. The lessons you could create based on Silent Night are endless!

15 October 2018

Was Jesus a Real Person?

If you are teaching students about Christmas, you may be asked whether Jesus was in fact a real person.
In case you need a little help with this question, you may wish to refer to the excellent Be Thinking website.

Be Thinking is a helpful website and certainly worth considering as a resource for older students. There are many articles and resources about the 'big questions' of faith.

9 October 2018

Christmas Eve Truce

It is Term 4 so I shall try and send out as many Christmas resources as I can.
Here is one idea that I think could work very well for Middle Primary, right up to Senior School.

As we know, on 11 November 1918, World War 1 came to an end. Almost 62 000 Australians gave their lives for our freedom and future.

Look at the fabulous Australian War Memorial website – Honouring Their Spirit – Commemorating The Centenary of Armistice for resources, information and ideas.

Then use this outstanding Christmas ad by Sainsbury’s about the truce on Christmas Eve to further your discussions with your students. You may choose to explore ideas about conflict, peace and relationships and the real meaning of Christmas! Enjoy!

There are a number of stories and videos that tell this story. Maybe watch a few?

26 September 2018

Christian Character and Godly Wisdom in 5 Minutes

Just because it is called a Jellytelly 5 Minute Family Devotional does not mean that you can’t use these fabulous resources in your classroom.
Character Quest with Clive and Ian is a great way to introduce important character traits from the Bible.

Explore 12 character traits in this series. Each episode includes a Bible verse, discussion questions and a prayer prompt.

Now although these devotionals may seem to be suited to younger students, I would encourage you to think about using these with older primary students as well. There is great wisdom and helpful content in each episode.

The Fruit of the Spirit – 5 Minute Family Devotional is also worth considering as a useful resource for your classes.
These super videos can be a fabulous way to get your class talking and exploring faith and life!

There are so many helpful and relevant resources on Jellytelly. It is worth taking time to explore and enjoy!

17 September 2018

Eric Liddell - Runner, Rugby Player, Missionary and so Much More

You may have heard that there was a rather unpleasant clash between fans and the Wallabies after Australia’s loss to Argentina on Saturday night. I saw that as a powerful teaching moment to share in class.

I was interested because it made me think of an extraordinary ‘rugby’ story that I think is worth sharing with any fan and definitely your students.

Eric Liddell was not only a runner, he was also an extraordinary rugby player. He was selected to represent Scotland and in 1922 Scotland played Wales at Arms Park, Cardiff. (Yes – I have been to that original ground to watch Wales play!) The Scots had not won a game against the Welsh since 1890! As the final whistle blew, The Scots had won, eleven points to eight. The losing Welsh team players were so impressed by Eric Liddell and the other Scottish winger, Leslie Gracie, that they scooped them up on to their shoulders and paraded them around the park. The Welsh and Scottish fans cheered together.

Eric Liddell certainly inspired many people throughout his amazing life.

To help you develop a fabulous Unit of Work based on the life of this hero, may I suggest you have a look at the book, Eric Liddell – Something Greater Than Gold by Janet and Geoff Benge. Not only is there a great book to read to your students but there is also a Unit Study Curriculum Guide by the same authors.

I bought mine from Koorong.

This book is from a series called Christian Heroes: Now and Then.

The Unit Study will provide you with guidelines and links for:
*     Key Bible verses
*     How to set up a ‘Display Corner’
*     Chapter Questions, including open-ended questions requiring interpretation or opinion
*     Essay Questions
*     Creative Writing
*     Hand-on Projects
*     Audio/Visual Projects
*     Art projects
*     Community Links
*     Geographical Context – mapping
*     Mission – Missionaries – Christianity and World Religions
*     History – Chinese History, Sino-Japanese War, World War II, Modern and Ancient Olympic Games
*     Sport

If you were to choose to study Eric Liddell with your students, I would suggest that you watch ‘Chariots of Fire’ and ‘On Wings of Eagles’. Both are powerful movies.

If you are looking for greater depth, try the Eric Liddell Centre. There is so much information available about this Christian hero - you only need look!

6 September 2018

If the World was only 100 People?

What is your responsibility?
Shared humanity - Social Justice as an Anglican!

Perhaps you are looking at developing service programmes in your school or just want to open up some of the Big Questions in life? How do we make the world a better place? Do we have a responsibility to others? What is our role? Does it make a difference if we are Christians?

Try introducing your students to The 100 Person Village. It is a way to help students understand how the world is constructed and organised, using numbers children can relate to and understand.

There are quite a few versions of this concept on line – explore and find one that works for you and your students.

Sue Roffey, in her book, Circle Solutions for Student Wellbeing, recommends using these videos when exploring concepts of connections and belonging.

After you watch the video, you may wish to use Sue’s questions to spark a discussion.

*     What did the film make you feel about your own situation?
*     What do you think is the most powerful of these statements?
*     What is open to change and what is not?
*     If you could change one thing, what would it be and why?
*     Do those with everything have a responsibility to help those with nothing?

The Office of International Programs at the University of Southern Maine, on their page – ‘If The World Were a Village of 100’ reports that in the Village of 100

o   48 can't speak or act according to their faith and conscience due to harassment, imprisonment, torture or death
o   20 live in fear of death by bombardment, armed attack, landmines, or of rape or kidnapping by armed groups
o   12 are unable to read
o   92 do not have the internet
o   43 do not have basic sanitation
o   80 live in substandard housing

And as for religion
o   33 are Christian
o   21 are Muslims
o   13 are Hindus
o   6 are Buddhists
o   1 is Sikhs
o   1 is Jewish
o   11 practice other religions
o   11 are non-religious
o   3 are Atheists

Perhaps you could link this to the Shared Syllabus

Strand: Christian Living found in the Shared Syllabus

3:5 – investigate how our society is affected by discrimination and prejudice
3:7 – investigate what makes a ‘fair’ and ‘just’ decision
4:5 – consider what the Anglican Church has to show me about human rights, animal rights and our environment
5:1 – explore Christian living through the concept of Social Justice
5:2 – explore spiritual and material poverty and their impact
5:3 – explore humility in a world of self
5:8 – explore the individual’s responsibility to stand up for what is right and honourable
6:1 – reflect on how the role model of Jesus is an example for Christian living
6:2 – appreciate the equal value of all humans according to the example of Jesus
6:4 – appreciate that the Bible has an ethical framework that can be applied to modern ethical dilemmas

Strand: The Bible and Christian Belief

4.3 – reflect on how seeing the world a particular way might change the way you live
7.6 – investigate how Christian ethics are developed
8.6 – consider what they believe about contemporary ethical issues and how they arrived at those beliefs

The 100 People Village might be a great provocation for a PYP Unit of Inquiry using a range of the Transdisciplinary Themes: How We Organise Ourselves, How the World Works, Sharing the Planet or Where We Are in Place and Time. Try looking at the interconnectedness of systems and communities through a Christian lens and challenge your students to look at societal decision-making while reflecting Christian character and Godly wisdom.

"If the world were 100 people," the video asks, "would we all fight harder for equality?"

30 August 2018

Do you create courageous classrooms?

Yesterday I had the absolute joy of listening to Shauna Gallagher speak about her work in the area of mental illness. Shauna, a mother, a nurse, an author and a public speaker, spent half a day working with religious educators exploring anxiety and resilience in our students and in ourselves. Shauna’s fabulous first book is called “Take a Big Breath – 20 Relaxation Exercises for Kids” and is something every teacher could use!

Her work on resilience reminded me of a brilliant talk that I listened to again the other day by one of the most inspiring researchers in this area, Dr Brene Brown. If you care about your classes, take time to watch this.

There is so much fabulous information in this talk on Daring Classrooms. As Brene Brown says, “Courage is contagious. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver.”

The exciting take home for those of us who are teachers or parents is that Brene tells us that ‘courage’ can be taught. Of course, Dr Tom Harrison, Ian Morris and John Ryan in their book, “Teaching Character in the Primary Classroom”, confirm for us that ‘courage’ as a character virtue can be taught.

Brene Brown talks about the Four Pillars of Courage
*       Vulnerability
*       Clarity of Values
*       Trust
*       Rising Skills – The Ability to Get Back Up

As Brene reminds us, ‘If you are brave enough, you will fall.’ Courage requires us to have vulnerability. I think we need to create a safe space in our classes to explore these ideas with our students to equip them to become resilient and successful students. We need to let our students know that without vulnerability, we are not able to experience love, joy and belonging fully.

As teachers we need to look at the latest research from Brene Brown – and this is what is says. Learning requires vulnerability. If students do not feel safe to be vulnerable they will ‘armour up’ and this will prevent learning from taking place. What is worrying is that 85% of students can remember a shaming incident at school that affected them as a learner. I know I can certainly remember many instances of being shamed and humiliated at school. Teachers need to understand shame, courage and vulnerability. We need to appreciate that empathy is the antidote to shame.

Just think about this in terms of your classroom. These things require our vulnerability.

Hard Conversations
Problem Solving
Ethical Decision Making

If you want to empower your students to be ethical decision makers who can problem solve and display creativity and innovation, then you will need to allow them to be vulnerable. If you want them to understand love and joy and experience a true sense of belonging – let them be vulnerable.

Do not ever question the power you have over the people you teach.