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

This Month's Bible Teaching Method:

Writing

Students put words on paper or some other surface in any variety of formats to express, document, describe, or defend their understanding, feelings, intentions, or opinions.
 

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Group size 
Writing can be done with any size group. What group size will affect is how their individual or small group writing is shared with the rest of the class.

Resources needed 
You will need paper or some other surface on which students will write (i.e., white/chalk board, transparencies, shelf paper, poster board, computer) and any equipment and writing tools to write and display the writing. Having tables for students to sit at to do their writing or some other kind of hard surface would be most helpful.

Objective targeted 
Writing is a good means of reinforcing or crystallizing truth that has been learned in the students' minds. In order to put something in writing, they must put order and meaning into their thoughts. Writing is also a means of students expressing their feelings and opinions.

Use modeled 
Writing has long been a part of the educational system. It is also a therapeutic technique.

Proximity of others 
Closeness to other classes should not matter unless it is a shared project and students must talk with each other about what they write. Even so, the volume of noise shouldn't be much more than a buzz.

Finances needed 
Costs would include the paper or other writing surface and writing tools for all students. Other than paper, many of the surfaces and tools are reusable so you would primarily have costs initially but then little to no costs.

Age level 
Writing would be most effective with students who are able to write, generally grade school age and older. Some preschoolers have limited writing abilities. Writing could still be used with older preschoolers who are not able to write by having them tell the teacher what to write for them. The teacher would then read back to the child what has been written.

Categorization 
Writing is a means of students expressing themselves and so is a student-centered method.

Time required 
A writing activity can take as little as a minute or two but can take the entire session depending on the activity. Remember to allow time for students to think first to get their ideas collected, to write, and then to share what they have written.

Openness of group 
Some people are better able to express themselves in writing than orally. Some people, especially those with grammar or spelling deficiencies, could find writing a frustrating or fearful endeavor. They may be consumed with what others would think.

Room size 
The room should be big enough for students to sit at tables. If not, you should provide a hard surface for students to place on their lap. Younger ages could get down on the floor and use the floor if not carpeted or they could kneel at their chairs and use the seat of the chair.

Skills needed 
 

Strategically plan the writing activity:

  • Make sure it fits the content/theme of the lesson and is not simply a time filler.
  • Make sure it fits the age level abilities of the students.
  • Make sure it fits the background and previous knowledge of the students.
  • Make sure it fits the time constraints and is worth the time it takes.
     

Motivate your students to want to write:

  • Show the relevancy of the writing activity to the lesson and to their lives.
  • Start small, especially if writing hasn't been used as a previous method.
  • Emphasize that this is not something that will be graded or judged for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Don't make it feel like school.
  • Try to make writing fun. It doesn't always have to be a formal, serious project.
  • Let them know that they will be given opportunity to share what they have written. This will give what they do added importance.
  • Sometimes use or display what they write. (i.e., on a bulletin board, church newsletter, compiled into a book, read in a large group setting or church service, etc.)
     

Stimulate their thinking so they know what to write:

  • Sometimes it may be helpful to give them a sample of what they could do but be careful not to stifle their creativity.
  • Sometimes the entire class could brainstorm or discuss some possible ideas.
  • Sometimes you could have them first read a book or do some research.
  • Sometimes you could show them a picture or provide a bare outline to get them going.
  • Sometimes providing encouragement by walking around the room from person to person helps. If they are stuck, help them with thought provoking questions or observations. Do not, however, give them the words to write.
  • Sometimes giving them instructions on how to collect their thoughts helps. (i.e., have them first make an outline, write a rough draft, draw their ideas first as a single image or as a story board, write down questions they have)
     

Be sensitive to varying abilities and learning styles among students:

  • Emphasize the process, not just the end product.
  • Help with spelling without making them always ask. You could write key words they are bound to need on a white/chalk board in advance. You could have a dictionary available.
     

Allow for sharing of what they wrote:

  • Sharing will not only let the teacher know what insights the students have gained but often will be a tool for students to teach one another.
  • Sharing will not be for everyone. Those who are too shy may allow the teacher to read for them. The teacher should not read a student's writing aloud without their permission.
  • Sharing can be done by reading or discussing what was written but also through displaying it for all to read.
  • Sharing requires that students, and the teacher, be respectful of those who are sharing.
     

Use variety when repeating the use of this method:

  • Writing could be done individually or sometimes in a group wherein all students come up with the ideas and one student records the ideas. Or, the teacher could write down the students' thoughts and then read it back to them.
  • Writing could be done on paper, on a transparency for easy showing, on a computer, white/chalkboard, newsprint, shelf paper, or any surface that can be written on.
  • Writing can be prompted by information or resources provided by the teacher or be totally from the students' thoughts, feelings, or impressions.
  • Writing can be done in class or as an out of class assignment. Just remember that assignments are not always completed by all students. Do what you can to motivate and remind students but come prepared with an alternative if sharing of their writing is to be your primary means of using the time.
  • Writing can preempt discussion or follow it. Sometimes asking students to write down their response prior to opening the discussion engenders more participation as all students must think through a response.
  • Writing can take on a number of formats including the following list. What you use must fit the lesson's content, purpose, and abilities of the students.
acrostic
advertisement
advice column
affirmations
article
autobiography
biography
blog
book
bulletin
case study
chain reaction story
chart fill-in
choral reading
commercial
complete statement/story
contract
coupon
description
diary
doctrinal statement
graffiti
greeting card message
how-to manual
jingle
job description
joke
journal
letter/note
list (i.e., brainstorming)
litany
liturgy
log
memo
motto
narrative
newspaper
note-taking
outline
paraphrase
parable
philosophical statement
poem
policies
praises
prayer
psalm
program for worship service
quiz/test questions
questions
reaction/response to presentation
records
research paper
review of book, movie, etc.
rhymes
script for play, skit, monologue
script for radio/TV
sermon or mini-sermon
slogan
song
stories (fictional or non-fictional)
summary (abridged version)
testimony
thank you
to do list
tract
word balloons on cartoon

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(Last updated 12/01/16)