Training Session: Have Good Lesson Aims

Bible Lessons Need to Aim at SomethingHaving good lesson aims makes a difference. You would do well to provide practical training on this topic.

Here’s an Idea for a Teacher Training Session on Lesson Aim

1) Start the session by discussing how the following saying applies to Bible lessons. — “Aim at nothing and you’ll hit it every time.”

Without good lesson aims students could leave without gaining anything but perhaps a lot of content. Aims provide the slant or direction of the lesson. They help teachers present lessons that make a difference in their students’ lives.

2) Look at what makes a good lesson aim.

For this part of the session, you are permitted to present the points in the post, Well-Constructed Lesson Aims. Provide a handout with the points or visualize them in some way, like a chalk or white board, that can remain visible for the next part of the session. (If you make a handout, you must include attribution as this is copyrighted material which you are being permitted to use. It could be as simple as noting the web address of the post.)

3) Now get practical.

If teachers use pre-fab curriculum: Review aims of upcoming lessons in light of the points in the above mentioned post. Challenge them to think of their specific students. Are there ways the aims can be tweaked to better match the needs of their students. If so, they must also then consider how to adjust the lesson to fit those objectives.

If teachers develop their own lessons: Read/study a passage and come up with some lesson aims. Then critique those aims in light of the points in the above mentioned post. Remind teachers that as they prepare remainder of lesson, they must work toward the accomplishment of those goals.

4) Close with prayer.

Remind teachers of their need for God to work in the teaching-learning process. Take time to pray for upcoming lessons that God would help teachers develop good aims and that He would work in the hearts of students so their lives change accordingly.

Discussion Ruts – Teacher Training Session

Discussion can be a great Bible teaching method that can be quite effective but sometimes teachers can get into ruts in the way they use this method. If lessons become nothing more than questions followed by dialog, then perhaps it is time to consider other ways to use this methodology.

Here’s a teacher training session idea you can use if you’re a Christian Education, Sunday School, or Small Group Director who wants teachers to get out of their discussion ruts:

Sharpening Your Bible Teaching MethodsTo use this idea you will need to order the Sharpening Your Bible Teaching Methods Resource which permits you to copy and distribute it in whole or part to your teachers. For this training idea you will only make copies of the methods referenced below. (You can use the remainder of this resource at another time.)

1) Word Reaction/Circle Response: In just one or two words, give your reaction to “Discussion” as a Bible teaching method.

After everyone has responded, draw conclusions about what was said, which could include something like the following:

Positive reactions were undoubtedly based on seeing the benefits of using discussion whereas negative reactions undoubtedly come from ineffective use of this method and getting in discussion ruts.

In this session we want to look at the benefits of using discussion, how to skillfully use discussion, and then how to avoid getting in a discussion rut which can undermine the benefits.

2) Brainstorm why it is a good method to use. Write their responses on a chalk or white board. Once it seems they have finished, ask them to look at all the benefits of using discussion written on the board and draw conclusions about its effectiveness in Bible teaching.

Then state that for discussion to be an effective method, they need to:

  • Know how to guide the process.
  • Not get stuck in a rut by using this method the same way all the time.

3) Distribute the pages from the Sharpening Your Bible Teaching Methods Resource on Discussion.

State that to help them know how to guide the process, you are going to read through the “Skills Needed section starting on the second page of the handout.

You state the broad skill and then have teachers take turns reading the bullets under that skill. Do this for setting the stage, planning the questions, and establishing the guidelines.

Then when you get to the skill of facilitating the discussion, you will find three bullets. Have them take time to silently read what is under the first bullet only. Ask someone to summarize what they read in just one or two sentences. Do the same for the next two bullets.

Question: After reading through these skills, what is one thing that particularly stood out for you that you can do differently to more effectively use discussion?

 4) Refer to the final skill on the handout about varying the format.

This is what will help you not get stuck in a rut using this method. When you use a good method over and over, especially when you use it the same way each time, you can actually undermine some of the benefits we already discussed. (Point to what was listed on the board during the brainstorming session.)

5) Distribute handouts for the following variations of discussion:

agree/disagree statements
brainstorming
buzz group
case studies
circle response
neighbor nudge
word reactions

  • Ask them to quickly find and read the definitions only for each of these methods.
  • Ask them to pick just one of those methods they have never used before that sounds interesting to them.
  • Ask them to turn to their neighbor (neighbor nudge) and each share what method they chose and why.
  • Challenge them to thoroughly read through the handout on that method at a later time on their own and then plan a time to implement it into an upcoming lesson.  Encourage them to also read through all the methods handouts you gave them for possible future use but to particularly focus on the one they chose.

6) Follow-up after the training session: Check with individual teachers to see how it went using the method they chose.

Circle Response Teacher Training

Bible Teaching Methods
(Click to enlarge in Pinterest & repin.)

Circle response is a method you can use in teacher training to get everyone participating in a minimally threatening way. How personal the type of response you request could depend on how well your teachers know each other. Each person is permitted to only respond with one word, phrase, or sentence, depending on what you set as the criteria. You can use any statement or question for them to respond to that could possibly generate more than one kind of response.

1) Arrange seating in a circle. You would normally do this prior to the session.

2) Start with the person who tends to be more outgoing and go around the circle having each group member give his/her response to your statement or question. No comments may be made to what is said until you get around circle.

3) Follow the circle response with a summary with observations of what was said and then instruction/discussion.

An Example of Circle Response in a Teacher Training Session

Here is an example of how you can use circle response in training your Bible teachers that helps them assess their teaching.

Do the Following Circle Response Statements:

  • In one word, express how you feel about your teaching.

(Go around the circle for their responses. Move on to the next statement immediately without providing any commentary on what they said.)

  • In one word, describe how you think your students feel about your teaching.

Make observations about responses:

You might be able to comment something like the following:

For some, the words you used to describe your teaching from both points of view were similar. For others, they were quite different.

Use the following questions to discuss responses:

  • What criteria did you use to determine your responses to each statement?
  • Now, think to yourself, how do you think God feels about your teaching?
  • What criteria would He use? (Ask for some Scripture verses that have been meaningful to them to keep them on track in their teaching as God’s Word needs to be our standard.)

The next post will provide some Bible Verses for Bible Teachers that could enter into the above discussion.

Training Session: Audiovisual Teaching Because of God

Here is a teacher training session you may freely use with your church’s Bible teachers.

Intro: Forced Choice Activity

Which would you prefer … attending a lecture with visual aids or without?

If you would prefer attending a lecture without visual aids, go stand on the left side of the room. If you would prefer attending a lecture with visual aids, go stand on the right side of the room.

(Undoubtedly all will go to the right side. If not, almost everyone will go to the right side.)

Why do you suppose everybody (or, almost everybody) is standing on the right side?

(Let several people respond before having them sit down.)

Key Points for Using Audiovisuals in Teaching:

1) God made people to learn audiovisually.

(Write the point at the top half of a white or chalk board. Then below it, draw a circle and divide it similarly to the one below. Put the percentages in as you speak.)

How People Learn

God made people with five senses through which we interact with our environment and hence learn. Studies show that how we learn breaks down this way:

3% through our sense of smell
3% through our sense of taste
6% through our sense of touch
13% through our sense of hearing
75% through our sense of sight

Obviously using all of the senses, where possible, would yield the greatest impact on learning. But, at minimum, if we are going to teach the way God made people to learn, we must try to engage people not only through the sense of hearing alone but also visually … audiovisually.

2) God Himself communicates audiovisually.

(Write the point on the other half of a white or chalk board. Discuss the following questions. List their responses to the first question below the point. You will find input in this article that you can add to the discussion if not already stated by group members: God Communicates Audiovisually)

  • What are some examples of God communicating audiovisually?
  • Why do you think God communicates audiovisually?
  • In what situations might God be against the use of visual aids?
  • What does all this infer for us as communicators of God’s Word?

If using audiovisuals is so important in teaching, then it is vital we learn to use them well.

Follow-up:

Tips for Using Audiovisuals Worksheet
You will need to order the Tips for Choosing & Using Audiovisuals Worksheet in reproducible format so you can make a copy of it to distribute to each person. The worksheet provides an acrostic with the word AUDIOVISUALS wherein each letter in the word gives a tip.

How to use the worksheet:

You could send it home with them to read through and complete on their own.

If you have sufficient time, you could go over the tips together and then have them break into pairs or triplets to work on the two exercises. If your group is small, you might want to do this together. To benefit from the exercises it is essential the tips are first reviewed.

Order the worksheet now.