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

This Month's Bible Teaching Method:

Circle Response

Students, sitting in a circle, are asked a question or presented with a statement to which each person, in turn, is to respond with an opinion. After all students have shared their responses, the question may be open to additional comments or discussion.

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Tips for Choosing & Using Methods

Group size
This method can be used with any group large enough to form into a circle. A large class can be divided into smaller groups. The same or a different question can be used for each group with time at the end for each group to give a summary to the whole class.

Resources needed
No materials are need to do a circle response unless you want to display the question or statement on a white or chalk board or on a large sheet of paper.

Objective targeted
Sometimes you may ask for factual information but often a circle response question targets feelings or opinions.

Use modeled
This variation of the discussion method has been used in the classroom setting purposefully but also undoubtedly used without awareness of it being a teaching method.

Proximity of others
Noise is not a problem as only one person speaks at a time. Consequently, this method can be used if other classes are nearby.

Finances needed
Generally you should have no cost associated with this methodology.

Age level
Circle Response is best used with grade school through adult but could be used with preschool age if the question is very simplistic and you guide the process. Guidance of the process could involve walking in front of or behind each student when it is their turn and frequently repeating the question. Another way to guide the process to is pass around an object. When the object is passed to a student, it is his turn to share and then he passes the object on to the next student. The younger the children, the more concrete or factual the question should be. The older the students, the more analytical or abstract the question may be.

This is a good method for total class participation. This expressional method is therefore student-centered, an opportunity for each student to give his thoughts and opinions. After all students have shared, you may have some group interaction if discussion is then encouraged.

Time required
Circle Response can take anywhere from a few minutes to 15-30 minutes depending on the size of your class and the discussion which ensues after each student shares.

Openness of group
Some students may feel like they are put on the spot but they are not alone as everyone is being asked to respond. While shy students may feel embarrassment, they should not feel as though they are being singled out. If the class doesn't know each other well or is not used to discussion methodology, you may want to be careful with the level of vulnerability expected in their responses.

Room size
Any room big enough to form a circle for the number of students in your class, or groups of circles if you are using sub-groups, is adequate.

Skills needed

Arrange the room in a circle or multiple circles if your class is large.

  • If you are able to arrange the chairs prior to class, that would be better to save time and confusion during class. You also may break the continuity if students must arrange themselves in the circle.
  • If you are teaching children, you may want to have them sit on the floor in a circle for this activity.

Ask the question or make the statement.

  • Use a question or statement that could have multiple responses.
  • You may want to display the question or statement on a chalk or white board or on a large sheet of paper but generally that is not necessary.

Appoint someone to begin and have each student, in turn, respond to the question or statement as they go around the circle.

  • Choose a student whom you know is not shy to be the first to respond to help break the ice.
  • Avoid affirming or evaluating each person's response.

Allow additional comments or discussion only after all students have shared.

  • Students may react to what they heard but no one person should be judged for what was shared.
  • Close with a summary of all that has been shared. You may do this or you may ask a student to summarize.
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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 10/01/17)