How do you prepare for teaching your Bible class? Do you read your teacher’s manual? Do you look up the scriptures in the Bible and read them? Do you gather materials for the activities? Do you spend time thinking and praying about the learning objectives for that lesson?
I would guess you were answering each question “yes” until we reached the last question about learning objectives. You may have a fuzzy idea of what they are or have never heard the term before. You may even be a professional educator, but never really thought about learning objectives in the Bible class you teach at church or in some other ministry.
Learning objectives sound like one of those annoying things academics have created to give education majors more work to do. In reality though, learning objectives are crucial for the effectiveness of your Bible class for kids or teens.
Learning objectives are the main points the person who wrote the lesson thinks your students should learn by the end of class. Think of them as your road map for the lesson. For example, one of the learning objectives for the lesson on Genesis 1-2 on the Teach One Reach One website is: “Students will learn God created man in His image.” We believed that was one of four major points your students should understand by the end of that lesson. (You can review all of our learning objectives by clicking on the various Bible lessons and activities.)
There are some important things to understand about learning objectives:
- Learning objectives are the author’s opinion of what a student should learn from a particular lesson. Learning objectives aren’t scripture. In fact, learning objectives could promote a misunderstanding of the scripture if the author misunderstood the scripture.
- Learning objectives aren’t all inclusive. For any Bible story there may be lots of things a child could legitimately learn. No Bible class curriculum will list all of the options. Generally, the author chooses learning objectives that match an overall theme or mindset. The author may also choose objectives that match what the activity for the lesson is reinforcing.
- Learning objectives are flexible. Your particular students may be struggling with something that isn’t covered by the learning objectives, but is appropriate for that Bible story. Feel free to substitute the more appropriate learning objective. Your class time is better spent in focusing on things they still need to master rather than something that comes naturally to them.
- Learning objectives are mandatory for effective teaching and learning. Have you ever heard a lecture or a sermon that seemed to wander everywhere? You probably left wondering what you were supposed to get out of it. You and your students need the lesson “road map” learning objectives supply. When you have learning objectives, you know what is important to emphasize with your students. You know what types of questions will help them process and review the important information. It will be easier for you and your students to explain to parents what you studied in class. Most importantly, it will keep your lesson from wandering here and there with no real point in sight.
So, the next time you prepare to teach, take a look at those learning objectives. If you aren’t given any, feel free to use ours or write your own. Just make sure, you are walking into class with a real working plan for what you want your students to learn.