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

This Month's Bible Teaching Method:

Neighbor Nudge

A topic or question is presented and then students are instructed to turn to someone near to them to discuss it. Some of the pairs may later be asked to share their conclusions with the entire class.

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Group size
Neighbor Nudging is a good method for using in a large group where total class discussion is not feasible but you still want to get everyone involved. This method can be used in any group size in which at least a couple of pairs can be formed.

Resources needed
No materials are needed to effectively use this method. The teacher may use a chalk or white board, a flip chart, or an projected means to display the topic or question. Materials and equipment related to the use of any of these visual aids would then be required.

Objective targeted
Neighbor Nudging can be a good means of taking students to higher levels of thinking using content just presented. Or, it may simply be used for basic review or recall. This method therefore targets knowledge and principles.

Use modeled
This method has undoubtedly been used in the classroom but not always identified as such.

Proximity of others
Since the class is divided into pairs who will all be talking with one another at the same time, the volume of noise will be raised. The talking, however, should not sound like more than a murmur in the distance. This method may be a problem if the class is large, thus making many pairs, and if another class is in a different part of the same room or on the other side of a thin divider.

Finances needed
This method can be used without incurring any cost.

Age level
Neighbor Nudging is best used with youth and adults or upper elementary aged children. The difficulty in using this method with children is keeping them on task.

The Neighbor Nudge method is a way to get all students participating. Dialogue occurs within the pairs.

Time required
Normally this method should only take between 30 seconds to a few minutes. By pairing off with those nearest to them, minimal time will be spent in getting into groups. If you decide to assign who will be paired, figure a little extra time for this purpose.

Openness of group
Of all the variations of the discussion method, the neighbor nudge is one of the lowest risk options. Students usually feel less pressured or inhibited with only one person to respond to than with a whole group.

Room size
Any size room can be used with this method as students merely turn to another person.

Skills needed

Present the topic or question. Generally the issue presented for neighbor nudging is not overly complex and the time allotted for this sharing is so short that simply verbalizing the issue is sufficient. You may sometimes find it helpful to display the topic or question on a chalk or white board, flip chart, or projected means. This is particularly helpful in a younger class or for a group that seems to get easily distracted.
Give students time to think before discussing. After presenting the topic or question, ask students to spend a few moments thinking about their response. Wait a minimum of 10-20 seconds before speaking again. Another possibility is to have students first write down their response.
Ask students to pair up to discuss the issue presented. As the name of this method suggests, they should turn to a student sitting next to them. One of the benefits of neighbor nudging is its ease of use. Assigning partners will take time and involve more logistics. If assigning partners, the method would better be called "pair-share" or "dyad-dialogue" rather than "neighbor nudge." One of the reasons teachers may want to assign partners is that students may tend to turn to people with whom they are most comfortable. When using this method with upper elementary age or teenagers, that may mean pairing with those with whom they may get in trouble. This can be avoided by asking students to pair with someone near them who is not their best friend or spouse. If you do more than one neighbor nudge in a session, you can ask them to change partners each time.
Monitor their discussions. Walking from group to group is a means of helping students stay on track. The main reason for this eaves dropping, however, is to provide clarification if needed and to hear discussion that you can use later. Be careful, though, that you don't get drawn into the discussions and provide answers.
Inform students when their sharing time is up. If allowing more than a minute for the neighbor nudge, you may want to signal when they are halfway through the allowed time. Let them know you will do this before they get into their groups. If only one of the students has been talking up to this point, it can be used as a reminder to let the other person talk. You may sometimes actually set an amount of time for each person to share.
Back in the total group, ask a few of the pairs to share their conclusions. It is not necessary, nor always feasible, for each pair to report. After hearing a few, you may ask if anyone has anything different to add.
Summarize the conclusions. Point out any patterns or themes you heard in their comments. Suggest any applications.

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(Last updated 11/01/19)