W hen teaching the Christmas story, asking students to sing along with popular carols captivates the entire class with the joy of that long-ago night. We are drawn into one of the most important events in the history of the world, the moment the Divine became human. Each carol and story gives our spiritual ancestors–the shepherds, Mary, Joseph, and the Wise Men–a delightful way to reach out and touch us. The music connects our hearts to their hearts. The stories connect our minds to their minds, and we have a you-are-there experience.
This classroom lesson plan is also used as the demonstration lesson in the Teachers Workshop (Part III).
When we embark on a hymn study of On Eagle’s Wings, we soon realize how well this song conveys the experiences of the ancient Israelites. It transcends a reading of the scriptures.
Usually, when turning to their store of teaching methods, religion teachers overlook hymn study. That is too bad, because the songs we sing yield a great many answers to important questions. In any given text, we may wonder: was Jesus offering comfort, courage, or inspiration? Was Moses warning the Israelites or urging them to persevere? If we could hear their tone of voice, we would know their feelings. We simply cannot get this information by reading from the written page. Only a hymn study of On Eagle’s Wings reveals the true emotions of the people in that time.
C horal Speaking: Call of Matthew is a delightful way to teach such an important text. This is because the emotional expression in the performance makes the people of the bible come alive. In one way, it is a lot like singing in a choir. There are ‘soloists’ and there is a ‘chorus.’ In another way, it is a lot like acting on a stage. Choral speaking Call of Matthew is fun and effective in the classroom because it combines activities students enjoy.
W hen we embellish a parable like The Good Samaritan, students will better understand the concepts of compassion and mercy within Jesus’s well-known story. Few teaching methods come as close to creating a you-are-there-moment.
Why and when should teachers embellish a parable?
Learning intensifies when students engage in deeper analysis of a bible story. That is because the struggle involved in this teaching method inspires them to “own” the message of the parable. Studies show that it is the mind’s struggle to understand and create that is the learning process. Struggling causes emotions that change the brain chemistry. It excites the brain of the person who is struggling, which makes it more accepting of ideas and concepts.
F or the role play The Sin Of Moses(Moses at Mt. Sinai) religion teachers have an opportunity to practice an effective teaching method that entertains and educates. Role play is similar to a stage play, but differs in that there is no written script or memorized lines. Students create their own dialog and actions. The bible stories come alive as your student actors play out their roles!