Bible Teaching Methods: Methodology for Sunday School & Other Bible Teachers

This Month's Bible Teaching Method:

Word Association/Reaction

A single word is presented to the class with the expectation that students will either respond with synonyms or antonyms (association) that immediately come to their minds at the mention of the word or with a feeling that word generates (reaction). These responses form a basis for further discussion.

In Choosing Teaching Methodology consider your group factors:

Click on a factor or scroll down.

Teacher Training Worksheet Based on These Group Factors:
Tips for Choosing & Using Methods

Group size 
This method works best with a smaller group to give everyone opportunity to respond. It may, however, be used with a larger group if you only ask for a few responses to be called out in a loud voice or if you ask students to write down their responses.

Resources needed 
No materials are required to use this method. You may, however, wish to display the word on a flash card, flip chart, chalk or white board. Materials and equipment related to the use of any of these visual aids would then be required. If you want students to write down their responses on paper, you will need paper and pens/pencils.

Objective targeted 
In asking for words they associate with a key word, you are looking for what they already know about a topic. In asking for a reaction to a word, you are looking for their feelings or attitudes toward a topic.

Use modeled 
Word association games are sometimes played with small groups of people. Some psychologists use word association for analysis purposes. And, marketers bank on people making word associations or reacting to certain words positively or negatively to benefit their brand. Word Association/Reaction might not be used as much in the classroom but can be a beneficial teaching method.

Proximity of others 
If you allow students to spontaneously call out their words, you may have a couple people speaking up at once. This could get loud but it would be short lived. This method can be accomplished in a more orderly fashion, thereby keeping noise or distraction to nearby classes at a minimum.

Finances needed 
This method can be used without incurring any cost. You could have minimal cost involved if you are displaying the word(s) and need to purchase materials for that.

Age level 
This method works best with upper elementary age students through adults. It could work with younger grade school children if the word(s) used is very familiar to them.

Unless followed by discussion, this method involves one-way communication but it is expressional for the students.

Time required 
Unless followed by discussion, this method should only take one to three minutes at the most.

Openness of group 
Because you generally only ask for a one word or phrase response, this method poses low to medium risk. Having to provide words they associate with the key word usually isn't too threatening. Having to provide feelings a word evokes is a little more threatening.

Room size 
Any size room can be used with this method as students speak from where they are seated.

Skills needed 

Know your purpose.

If you want to use it to grab people's attention or stir their feelings, use word association/reaction to introduce the topic. It will help students focus on the topic to be studied. If you want to use it to compare ideas or draw conclusions, you may use it at the appropriate time in the session and follow it with a discussion or use their responses as points of reference. In this case you may find it useful to list their responses on a chalk or white board, flip chart, or overhead transparency.

Choose word(s) that engender more than one image or feeling.

The objective is to give all or at least many students opportunity to respond but you do not want them all saying the same thing.

Determine how you will ask students to respond.

Will you ask them to respond with the first word or all the words that come to their minds? Will you ask them to verbally respond or to write down their answer? Will you allow them to respond spontaneously, by the raising of a hand, or in the order in which they are sitting? Will you let them respond only once or until they run out of responses or time?
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Add more variety and skill to your teaching! This resource includes helps and resources for 57 different Bible teaching methods.

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(Last updated 9/01/16)