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

This Month's Bible Teaching Method:

Drama

A story, experience, idea or event is performed visually and/or verbally often through the use of acting and dialogue. It usually centers on the conflicts and emotions of the characters and shows a progression of events.
 

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
Any size group can simply watch a drama providing all students can see it. If the class will be participating, then the type of drama will determine the number of students needed in order to use this method. Some forms of drama require only one or two participants (i.e., monologue, charades, mime, role-play, interviews, dramatic reading) while others require a larger cast of actors and possibly stage crew (i.e., play, skit, mock trial, story playing).

Resources needed
Resources needed will depend on the type of drama. Some forms can be done effectively without using any kind of resources. Others will require minimal to extensive use of props, costumes, make-up, background scenery, lighting, and sound. Some should use a stage and many can be done without a stage.

Objective targeted
Drama often affects emotions and attitudes as people tend to identify with the characters and situations. Drama can be used to illustrate or reinforce a more complex truth.

Use modeled
The Old Testament prophets were sometimes called upon to act out the message God gave to them of what He would be doing.

Proximity of others
Discernment is needed regarding each individual drama as to whether there would be too much noise or activity for neighboring classes.

Finances needed
Costs to use this method can range from nothing to very expensive. Normally, however, when using drama as a classroom method, you will not be doing a major production so the costs can be kept low.

Age level
All ages can watch a drama but you must keep in mind that younger children cannot sit still for a long production. Preschool children can participate in simple story playing or a pantomime in which they merely act out what you tell them. They may all need to play the same character due to their socio-development. Grade school children through adults can participate in a broader range of drama. Writing their own scripts is best done by upper elementary ages through adult.

Categorization
When simply watching, this method is impressional. When participating, it is expressional and often on the group level.

Time required
A simple role playing or story playing activity can take as little as 5-10 minutes whereas more complex forms of drama may take 20-30 minutes or longer. Some may require many hours of rehearsal leading up to the presentation. If following the drama with discussion, you will need to limit the length of the drama to allow time for this interaction.

Openness of group
Almost everybody enjoys watching drama. The shy or more passive students will tend to be self-conscious acting in front of others. They may be afraid of making a fool of themselves. The experience will not be as difficult for them if they are given parts that do not require them to speak. Some students may become immobilized with stage fright. Rather than forcing them to take on a character role, you may use them to do behind-the-scenes work in planning, prop-making, or setting-up and tearing down.
 
There will also be those who see drama as worldly or a tool of the devil. They may feel it is not appropriate for the church setting.

Room size
Normally you may need a medium to large size room so there is enough space to move around or to build a stage and have room for audience seating. Rarely, however, is it made into a major production when using drama for learning purposes alone. Some forms of drama will require no extra space because the movement is minimal or not necessary at all.

Skills needed
 

Choosing the Script:

Look for lesson compatibility. Be careful you do not get into the practice of using drama as a time filler or simply because students enjoy it. The drama should not only fit the lesson's theme and content but also be the best way of presenting it.
 
Look for age appropriateness. The length, vocabulary, and content must fit the abilities of the students in order for it to be effective.
 
Look for something that will hold interest. Relevancy to the students' lives and a sufficiently fast moving plot will increase the likelihood of it holding attention. When using plots from historical events or the Bible, you may want to first establish the relevancy to their lives. You may also choose to modernize the story.
 

Choosing the Format:

The way you use drama in the classroom will not only be governed by your objectives but also by factors such as the size and age of your class and available time. Possible formats include . . .

  • acting it out impromptu or rehearsed (i.e., charades, mime, mock trial, pantomime, play, role play, skit, story playing)
  • acting it out through the use of representative characters (i.e., puppets)
  • reading it like a radio drama (i.e., dramatic reading, choral reading, audio-taping)
  • reporting it as one who was there (i.e., interview, monologue)
  • watching it be performed live or recorded (i.e., staged, videotaped)
  • writing and producing it themselves
     

Choosing the Set Up:

Unless you can use an auditorium or fellowship hall with a stage, you may not have access to a stage apart from building one. For most uses of drama in the classroom, that should not be a problem. If you simply arrange the chairs in a semi-circle facing an open space in front of them, that can be your stage.
 
A curtain may not be necessary but if it seems needed, you can hang it on a clothes line strung from one side of the room to the other. Sheets or blankets could be used if you do not have actual curtains.
 
Costumes, if used, can be simple. For many uses of drama in the classroom, students may wear the costumes over their regular street clothes. You can provide fabric, sheets, towels, and robes for Biblical dress. Crowns or masks can be made with construction paper.
 
Backdrop scenery can be made using big appliance cartons. Cut off the flaps and cut down one side. Paint one side of the box to fit a scene. Set it up like a screen. Making the scenery may be a good project for students if you have the time.
 
Props can be simple. Many of the items can be found in your own home or borrowed from individuals in the church.
 

Choosing Characters:

This can be one of the most difficult aspects of using drama in the classroom. If you require auditions, you may produce a competitive atmosphere. If you allow students to volunteer, you may hear complaints of unfairness from those who did not get chosen.
 
You may be tempted to always choose those who have the best abilities. When using drama in the classroom, you need to remember that the process matters more than the product or performance itself. Learning and not perfection should be your objective.
 

Choosing to increase the level of learning:

Increase their acting skills by using warm-up exercises. Practice facial expressions (i.e., fear, surprise, happiness, sadness, doubt, etc.), vocal expressions (i.e., tone, pitch, volume, rate), and body language (i.e., posture, gestures, movements, etc.).
 
Increase their understanding of the truths being communicated. Explain the purpose prior to the presentation. Suggest some of the issues for which they should be paying particular attention. Incorporate feedback during breaks, transitions, and/or at the end. This can be a question/answer or discussion time or a writing activity in which they express their reactions.
 

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(Last updated 05/01/18)