Monday, July 30, 2018

EDUCATION: Discussion Strategy #1

One of the most effective learning strategies is discussion. It gets people interacting with the material, asking questions about the material, and hearing multiple opinions. We often forget that academic discussion needs to be structured and facilitated. Most adults have experienced discussion as a teacher/facilitator talking and asking questions while a few outspoken students respond. This is not effective discussion. What you want is to have students discuss while you listen, observe, and consider next steps. Here are a few ways to get more out of your discussion. The success of these strategies is dependent on the size and age of your class. Some of these are great for adults too, but they're not used to them. They're not used to discussion.

Gallery Walk variation 
Write significant questions (read my book, The Art of Teaching Confirmation for more information on significant questions) or thoughtful statements on large post-it notes and place them around the room. The post-its help start discussion, so make sure you ask good questions or make good statements that help guide students to your goals. Remember that the goal is to have discussion, not to write post-it notes.

Round 1
Give each student a few small post-it notes. Have small groups travel around the room reading and responding to the questions on their post-its and post them on the wall next to the questions/statement. Students can ask questions or make comments about what they read.

Round 2
Have students walk around the room again and put a hash mark on questions or comments they want to have answered or talk more about. If they have follow-up questions they can add them too.

The facilitator then can walk around the room and use the students' comments and questions to have table discussion.

Stay tuned for more discussion strategies!

Monday, July 2, 2018


 Free Students Signs Clipart
Oftentimes we use ECHO PRAYERS when we pray with children because they are simple, they use words that the kids can understand, and they help children learn to pray and feel more comfortable praying out loud.  The leader says a short phrase and the kids repeat it.

Developmentally, younger kids LOVE stories.  They learn from a story far more than a stand alone message from an unattached scripture passage out of the pericopes.  Try doing that with Bible stories for a Children's Message.  You can still use whatever theme you're working with that day but instead of an object lesson, which is often lost on young kids, try an ECHO STORY (you can use a children's Bible or any storybook).  Tell the story but have specific places within the story where the kids will repeat a line or answer an echo question.  Here's how it works.

  • QUESTION ECHO - While you share the story, pause to ask simple questions.  "One day a man named Jonah was told by God to go somewhere.  WHO WAS THE MAN?  (Jonah!)  WHO TOLD HIM TO GO?  (God!)  You don't need to ask a question after every single point but you do want to make sure the kids repeat the important parts of the story as that's what they'll remember most.
  • PAUSE TO REPEAT ECHO - While you share the story, pause in specific places to have the kids repeat that line.  "Zacchaeus was a short, rich man and nobody liked him.  He took money from people to give to the government so nobody liked Zacchaeus.  NOBODY LIKED ZACCHAEUS.  He wanted to see Jesus.  Hmmm, what should Zacchaeus do?  He looked around and climbed up a tree to see Jesus.  HE CLIMBED UP A TREE TO SEE JESUS."  You get the idea...  You'll want to make sure these are pretty short and that the lines are kept short enough that the kids can remember them.  You also want to remember that you're telling the story to get a point across so you need to make sure you get your point across in the story and they should be repeating that.
  • REPEAT THE PHRASE ECHO - Tell kids that every time you put your hand to your ear the kids echo a specific phrase or every time you say certain words they echo a specific phrase back to you.  This one works great when trying to get kids to understand something that's complex.  For example, if the basic message is JESUS LOVE EVERYONE and you tell a story about a bunch of mean, sad, ugly, unexpected types of people, every time you put your hand to your ear have the kids say JESUS LOVES EVERYONE!
Oh!  And if there's a specific Bible passage you'd like them to remember, make it short and have them repeat it after you a few times throughout the story similarly to REPEAT THE PHRASE.  You can make up your own stories about life or use an online children's Bible if you need a little help telling Bible stories.

Bible Suite Children's Bible
The Bible Story Guy
The Bible for Children
A Bible in many languages:  Bible for Children, Inc.
Jesus and Kidz
Super Online Kids Bible

I'm sure there are many more...