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.

24 April 2018

Forgiveness, Gratitude, Kindness, Joy, Compassion and More!

You are keen to teach your students about the important things in life, such as kindness and compassion, but you need a great way to introduce your lessons. 

A fabulous Religious Educator and local school Chaplain, Stephanie, told me about this great website a few years ago and my students and I have enjoyed using it ever since. I think the new format makes it even easier to use and it is great for all sorts of learning – not just Religious Education. Take time to discover Go Noodle. You will need to create a free account first. It is easy, even for a noodle head like me.

Once you are in the site, try starting your day with Be Grateful.
Another favourite is Forgive Others.
And remember - kindness grows kindness! Be Kind.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I forget about brilliant resources and so it is good to be reminded of the really fabulous websites that can brighten our day. 

5 April 2018

Neuroscience Meets Miracles and How to Walk on Water!

I had the absolute joy of attending the Pearson Mind Brain Conference in Brisbane. Oh my stars! It was brilliant. All the speakers were outstanding but I was particularly fascinated by Dr Judy Willis. Dr Willis is a neurologist who was concerned about children in schools and their learning and behaviour, and so she retrained and became a teacher! She is fabulous.

Dr Willis focussed on using neuroscience to develop effective teaching strategies and optimising students’ learning.

Dr Willis suggests that when preparing lessons, teachers should respond to the current neuroscience research and this means:-
1. Novelty moments – unexpected, interesting activities
2. Stress free environment – a warm, caring, kind environment, reducing sources of anxiety
3. Pleasurable experiences – enjoyable, relevant

Teaching a Unit on Miracles - Believing the Unbelievable gives us such scope to use neuroscience, but the basic tools and strategies based on the work of Dr Judy Willis can be applied to any subject or topic.  As Dr Judy Willis explains, when classroom activities are pleasurable, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that stimulates the memory centres and promotes the release of acetylcholinem, which increases focused attention.

In addition, to optimise learning, add a little of the unexpected to your lessons. We all love some surprises. Neuroscience teaches us that the brain responds to the unexpected and the curious. When we introduce something unexpected we get the attention of the brain. 

Watching videos is a great way to respond to neuroscience. It may form part of a brain break and so the students feel enjoyment. When the students are not feeling stressed they are better able to engage and learn. Enjoying fun movies fosters a positive climate and allows students to think more deeply. In addition, the research tell us that students will retain more when learning is linked to strong emotions, like joy.

If you are keen to use the brain research, it can be great to start your lessons with a whole range of challenges where the children have to guess if statements are True or False. Have some pictures or video clips to back up your answers. Be creative.
For example – True or False.
o One man can pull a Boeing 767 
o Kangaroos can walk backwards
o Apples can float
o There is a yoyo that dates back to 500BC

Watching ‘People Are Awesome’ is a great way to introduce miracles. It is also a way to bring joy, fun and the unexpected to your classroom. Look out for the man who ‘runs on water’.

So, if for example you choose to teach your class the miracle story of Jesus walking on water, I have quite a few favourite videos. However, before you show them something fabulous like God's Story:Peter, grab their brain attention with something like these videos.

When in doubt about finding a suitable video – and it can be tricky at times – two of my favourite presenters are Richard Hammond and Steve Spangler. However, always watch each video thoroughly yourself to check if the video is appropriate for your students.

Funny, interesting and relevant videos can help you respond to neuroscience. Your students will certainly appreciate your efforts. Have fun. One last tip - don't try this at home!!