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

This Month's Bible Teaching Method:

Choral Reading/Speaking

The reading of a Scripture passage, poem, hymn, song, rhyme, or story is done as a group in an interpretive way that brings out the meaning and mood of the material. Like singing in a choir, the reading employs the use of parts, volume, emphasis, tone, mood, rhythm, and tempo. When the material is memorized, the presentation of it becomes choral speaking rather than choral reading.

In Choosing Teaching Methodology consider your group factors:

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

Group size
Choral reading can be done with any size group. This method is especially good for a large group when you want all students to be involved but it is not feasible for individual participation.

Resources needed
You will need handouts, a flip chart, a chalk or white board, or a means of projection to display the script for the reading.

Objective targeted
This method can target in on feelings in much the same way as singing. Through the process of analyzing the material in order to know how to read it interpretively, students will gain a better understanding of the text. Choral reading can also help with memorization.

Use modeled
Ephesians 5:19 says we should "speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs." It also says we should "sing and make music" in our hearts to the Lord. This verse distinguishes between the speaking and the singing of music. Perhaps choral reading/speaking is one way to "speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs."

Proximity of others
When all students are reading/speaking in chorus, the volume could get loud which could distract classes nearby. If proximity to other classes is a problem, you could limit the total group parts and employ more small group or solo lines.

Finances needed
Cost should be minimal, mainly involving handouts or some means of displaying the reading.

Age level
Choral Reading obviously requires that students are able to read. This method can effectively be used with grade school through adult age levels. The younger the student, the shorter the reading should be. If you are doing this with a class of newer readers, you may want to point to the words as they read or have them do it as an echo after you read first. Choral speaking can be done some with younger children since it does not mandate reading but needs to be limited in size and complexity.

This method may provide both one way and two way communication. It allows for total group participation but not necessarily in an interactive way.

Time required
The entire process could take most or all of the session if students are first presented with the material, take time to analyze and interpret it, plan how it should be presented, and then practice reading/speaking it in the way planned. If the teacher comes with the script already prepared, it will obviously take less time.

Openness of group
Choral reading or speaking is a safe way to get all students involved. Those who are less comfortable with reading or speaking aloud can be assigned parts involving the whole group while those who are more outgoing can be given the solo or duet parts. This method is especially good to use in lieu of singing with students who are shy or inept with singing. Usually they will not have a problem with reading instead of singing.

Room size
You can use any size room for this method as it does not have to involve movement.

Skills needed

Pick the Reading: The teacher may choose the text prior to class or students may be asked to find something that fits the theme. Students may also be asked to write their own script based on a passage of Scripture. In picking the reading, choose something that . . .

  • is suitable for choral reading (i.e. poetry, dialog with narrative, parts of Scripture especially the Psalms)
  • fits well into the lesson theme
  • fits the abilities of your students

Process the Text: Students need to understand what they are reading if they are going to properly interpret it. This process could be as simple as the teacher explaining unfamiliar words or concepts. Getting students more involved in the analysis of the text, however, will help them get into the meaning of it. Some questions to be asked are:

  • What is the mood of this material?
  • What are the key words or phrases?

Plan the Presentation: Based on an understanding of the meaning of the text, the following elements can be determined as you look at the text line by line. Mark the script in a way that everyone will understand.

  1. parts - You will need to assign who should read the various lines or stanzas. Parts may be given to individuals or to groups of students like a duet, trio, quartet or other small group ensemble or they may be designated for the whole group to read. Lines that need more emphasis should be read by the whole group. Lines that need to be meeker or perhaps expressing sorrow or doubt should be read as a solo or duet part. Lines that build to a climax should be read with a cumulative approach. This is when one or two people read the first line or stanza. They are joined by others in the next line or stanza and so on until the whole group is reading the part that has reached the climax.
  2. volume - The dynamic of reading can go from a whisper to a soft or loud volume. This can be achieved by increasing or decreasing the force of voices or the number of students doing the reading/speaking.
  3. emphasis - Key words or phrases should be emphasized. This can be done by repetition, echoing, changes in volume, or the sharpness with which the words are spoken.
  4. pitch - Inflections can be accomplished by making the voice higher or lower.
  5. tone - The quality of reading/speaking can be changed by using male versus female voices, pitch variations, adding vibrato or putting in some hesitation.
  6. rhythm - Where you place accents will help set a rhythm for the reading. Pausing for silent beats will also help to develop a rhythm.
  7. tempo - The speed can range from slow to fast depending on the mood you are trying to create.
  8. effects - You can enhance the reading through the use of background music, special lighting, physical movement (gestures, choreography), costuming, or the use of props. The key is to be careful that the effects do not distract from the reading. Some material may be more impacting without any effects.
  9. mood - Some readings will be more somber while others will be more exuberant. Some readings may have an air of mystery while others will be more comical or light-hearted. All of the previously mentioned elements can be combined to set the appropriate mood.

Practice the Reading: You want to maintain the students' interest and enthusiasm so be careful in practicing that you emphasize catching the meaning rather than being perfect. After they read through the script as planned, you will want to step back and evaluate it. Did they read in a way that accurately interpreted the meaning? If not, make changes and read it again. Taping their practice and playing it back may be a good way to help them make the assessment.

Perform the Reading: The process leading up to the performance has learning merit of its own. You will have accomplished some good objectives using this method. Why not, however, take the project a step further by using it to bless others? Your class could do the reading for another group or for the whole congregation. Better yet, use it as a service project. Take your group to someplace like a nursing home to do the reading.

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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 9/01/17)