Edutopia, a site for professional educators, just released their top ten research findings of the year. You can read the original article here, but how can we take this information and improve the effectiveness of congregational Bible classes for children and teens? We’ve done the work for you to save you some time!
Here’s what we believe are some changes you may want to make to increase the effectiveness of the Bible classes you teach or oversee.
- Relational Bible class teachers can ask more of their students… and get it. Studies found that secular teachers who took the time to develop relationships with their students were able to be more demanding with their assignments (without student pushback) than teachers who were less relational. Bible class teachers may not give homework or tests, but if you are trying to get your students to develop spiritual disciplines or do something related to your Bible lessons outside of class, you will have more success if you have taken the time to develop a real relationship with them.
- Your Bible students don’t always know the main points they were supposed to get from reading a passage in the Bible. Ok, technically this study was about highlighting, but highlighting is about recognizing key points in a passage. Most people don’t highlight in their Bibles, but if your Bible students are reading the Bible outside of class, it’s important they are able to discern what God wants them to remember from a passage. Help them practice in class by asking questions designed to get them to identify key points in a passage of scripture.
- Bible students with special needs should be encouraged to participate in regular Bible classes with their peers. They may not learn at the same rate, but this new study found that in secular classes, students with special needs learned quite a bit more if they were attending the same classes as their peers versus a special needs class only. It takes a little more work to adapt your lessons and activities, but remembering most of them will eventually be able to make an informed decision about becoming a Christian should motivate Bible class teachers to invest the extra time and effort.
- Consider encouraging students to take sketch notes in Bible classes. It is probably the rare Bible student who even considers taking notes in Bible class. You can’t force them, but providing fun notebooks and art supplies can encourage them to sketch notes as you are teaching. You can also show maps and charts they can sketch into their notes.
- Review important principles, commands and scriptures periodically. Ok, this study was about breaks between reviewing information in a class that meets daily, but it does point out an important principle for congregational Bible classes. If you have important things you want your students to remember, don’t just teach or review them once. Find engaging ways to encourage them to pull that information back out of their brain multiple times over a long period of time. This makes it more likely the information will be stored in their long term memories and easily retrieved when needed as they attempt to live a Christian life.
That’s our reimagining of Edutopia’s top five studies. Our next post will share what we learned from the remaining five studies that we believe will enhance Bible classes for children and teens.