Teaching Methods

Lecture

What is it?

  • When the teacher simply lists and presents facts that he/she wishes to impart to the student
Strengths
  • Easy to do
  • Most students are accustomed to this method and know how to take notes
Weaknesses
  • Can be boring/routine/monotonous
  • Very challenging for those from other cultural/language backgrounds
Preparation
  • Simply do the research, organize and talk.

Discussion

What is it?

  • Dialog takes place between students and/or teacher in ascertaining or applying principles
Strengths
  • Excellent for helping students realize truth on their own
  • Keeps students engaged
  • Sharing wealth of knowledge and experiences
  • See different perspectives
Weaknesses
  • Not all topics are conducive to discussion
  • Can get out of control with “hot” topics, miscommunications, and judgey students
  • Can get off topic easily
Preparation
  • Research information and present only what is necessary to provide a foundation for discussion.
  • Create several OPEN ENDED questions and allow the discussion to happen
  • Be sure to allow lots of silence for students to formulate responses.

Panel Discussion

What is it?

  • Bring in a variety of different perspectives to talk/dialog/debate on a topic
  • The teacher or students pose questions or topics for the panel to address
Strengths
  • Provides a variety of perspectives
  • Allows “experts” to take the heat, so the teacher isn’t responsible to present all different perspectives with the same expertise
  • Breaks up the monotony of one teacher
  • Great for hot topics and gray areas
Weaknesses
  • Can be difficult to orchestrate
  • Not applicable to all topics
Preparation
  • Prep the questions or have the students do so
  • Find experts and prepare them for the types of questions that will come.
  • Set up a table so all can address the class, and preferably see one another as well.

Reading

What is it?

  • Having students read a passage from a book/worksheet etc. either to themselves or aloud
  • Reading aloud to students
Strengths
  • Can be done in nearly any environment
  • Can be done in a variety of ways
  • Challenges reading skills
  • Requires little preparation for the teacher
Weaknesses
  • Difficult for ESL students or students with other learning disadvantages.
  • Students read at different paces
Preparation
  • Select a chapter or a passage or a book – and have at it!

Choral Reading

What is it?

  • When students all read aloud together in unison (Seder “It would have been enough…”)
Strengths
  • Creates an environment of unity
  • Reinforces words that are read and heard together
  • Helps out students who would have difficulty reading on their own
Weaknesses
  • Doesn’t apply to all passages. Only for shorter ones or one liners
  • Can be difficult to encourage universal participation
Preparation
  • Select portions to be read aloud by all and instruct them when to do so.
  • Have them follow along and say the words/phrases when appropriate

Journaling

What is it?

  • When students engage with the material on a personal letter and respond or apply it in the form of writing in a journal
Strengths
  • Excellent for applying information presented by other methods
  • Great for critical thinking and reflection
Weaknesses
  • Can be time consuming.
  • Can be difficult to grade and to encourage all to participate on the same level
Preparation
  • After material is presented, create an open ended question or concept for students to write in a journal. Encourage the format to be free. Some may prefer poetry, others bullet points, others essays, and still others may prefer to draw their responses.

Storytelling

What is it?

  • Telling stories aloud to others
Strengths
  • Great for making history come to life
  • Everyone loves a good story
  • Captivating for all ages/cultures
Weaknesses
  • Requires creativity on the storyteller’s part: costumes, voices etc. really make it come alive!
Preparation
  • Read the story/history behind what you want to tell and write/rewrite a script or basic storyline without changing the heart of the story.
  • Look the part/play the part and tell the story in a captivating way

Debates

What is it?

  • Staged “arguments” or discussions over controversial topics
Strengths
  • Requires the students to become passionately engaged in their perspective
Weaknesses
  • Not all students are up to the challenge of going toe to toe against one another
Preparation
  • Set a topic and ask the students to prepare on each side of the topic.
  • In class have them present opening arguments, responses to key questions/scenarios, and closing arguments

Classifying/Categorizing

What is it?

  • Organizing material in a structured way
Strengths
  • Easy to evaluate
  • Uses critical thinking skills
  • Causes comparison between items and forces an objective evaluation against the material presented
Weaknesses
  • Not applicable to all topics
Preparation
  • Create a list of items to sort into pertinent categories, or simply true/false based on the material

Problem Solving and Case Studies

What is it?

  • Real life or life-like examples are presented with a problem to be studied, contemplated and/or resolved through critical thinking and application
Strengths
  • Very close to home. Life-like scenarios demonstrate the reality of the issue being taught
  • Uses critical thinking and problem solving skills
  • Takes the material from fact to reality
Weaknesses
  • Time consuming
Preparation
  • Careful preparation of the case study or problem is necessary.
  • Think through more details than you need, in case clarification must be made
  • Prepare a list of “how would you…” questions to be sure the mission is accomplished

Socratic Questioning

What is it?

  • Posing a series of questions to help a student arrive at a truth on their own.
Strengths
  • Discovered truth is more powerful/meaningful than truth simply told
  • Uses critical thinking skills
  • Causes students to by necessity build on the information they already know
  • Pace is set by student’s ability to think their way to the next level
Weaknesses
  • Can slow pace if not regulated
  • Can leave gaps in knowledge if used exclusively
Preparation
  • Be an expert on the concept and ready to answer students’ questions appropriately.

Charts/Graphs/Diagrams/Maps

What is it?

  • Using graphics and pictures to illustrate concepts
Strengths
  • Makes a concept more real
  • Big impact
Weaknesses
  • Not everything is applicable
Preparation
  • Many programs make this easy for you: Microsoft word, PowerPoint etc. Just plug in the numbers and it makes the chart for you
  • Make sure everyone can see the images. Use handouts or projectors where possible

Videos

What is it?

  • DVDs or the like which demonstrate the principle being taught
Strengths
  • Allows students to learn the idea in a professional form that is relevant
  • Can cut in to only appropriate scenes, if desired
Weaknesses
  • May require editing
  • Can be a stretch
Preparation
  • Make sure the video is clear in what you are trying to teach.
  • Be sure the students know what exactly they are looking for as they watch.

Visualization

What is it?

  • Asking students to close their eyes and imagine a scene or item
Strengths
  • Gives students a break from words and allows them to be creative without the limitation of skill
  • Brings a scene to life
Weaknesses
  • Not always applicable.
Preparation
  • Think about all the senses when you ask students to visualize.
  • Good visualizing involves sounds, sights, scents, touch and sometimes even taste.

Body Answers

What is it?

  • Letting students answer questions posed in class with bodily movement
Strengths
  • Keeps students actively engaged
  • Requires full attention
  • Keeps them from having to sit still all class long
Weaknesses
  • Can be somewhat limiting depending on the classroom
Preparation
  • Just forethought.
  • Be sure students have rules about personal space

Skits/Dramas

What is it?

  • Providing students with a script to either read or memorize and perform in front of other students.
Strengths
  • Gets students involved in real life situations that illustrate the material.
Weaknesses
  • Not all students are interested in acting
Preparation
  • A well written script, complete with actions/direction is essential
  • Casting can be tricky

Cooking/Gardening/Messy Stuff

What is it?

  • Allowing the students to learn/apply knowledge by using their hands, and/or getting dirty.
Strengths
  • Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I’ll remember. Let me do it, I’ll understand
Weaknesses
  • Messy!
Preparation
  • Depends on the project

Crafts

What is it?

  • Creating something from basic supplies that the students can take home with them.
  • Should either teach something as it’s being made, or serve as a reminder of the lesson in time to come.
Strengths
  • Reminder drives home the teaching
  • Widely applicable
Weaknesses
  • Can be messy
  • Can require $$
Preparation
  • Think about flow, it will be hard to get attention back to something else after an activity like this
  • Be sure you have all the supplies in advance and do whatever prep work beforehand that you can.
  • Make sure you have enough supplies for everyone

Field Trips

What is it?

  • Going to another place to learn about a topic
Strengths
  • New environment usually gets students excited about learning
  • More resources available to you that you couldn’t bring into the classroom
Weaknesses
  • Logistical organization can be a challenge
  • $$ factors
  • Keeping students focused on the topic can be difficult
Preparation
  • If there is someplace else where learning this concept would be easier – go there!
  • Be sure and use permission slips etc.

Singing

What is it?

  • Singing songs that are relevant to the topic
Strengths
  • Music speaks to the soul and ushers people into the presence of God
  • Selecting songs that are well known can help ensure participation by all
Weaknesses
  • Some people just don’t like singing
  • New songs can be a challenge
Preparation
  • Find a relevant song and teach it.
  • Sing along yourself.
  • Don’t be afraid to use accompaniment or sing along to a CD if live music isn’t an option

Linking Songs With Concepts

What is it?

  • Taking songs that are popular or well known and using them to illustrate a concept lyrically
Strengths
  • Music is common in all cultures. Most everyone is comfortable with music of some kind
  • Brings songs to life
Weaknesses
  • Not all songs are 100% theologically sound. BEWARE what you get into!
Preparation
  • Find a relevant song and do some exegetical/historical research on it. Look up passages that may be referenced. Bring out cultural elements.
  • Make the song teach the lesson

Playing Instruments

What is it?

  • Making rhythm/music with homemade or manufactured musical instruments
Strengths
  • Gives students a chance to break out of the quiet, still mold by playing and being loud
Weaknesses
  • Can get out of control fast!
Preparation
  • Find lessons that are pertinent to music/noise/rhythm and make it a part
  • Be sure you have something for everyone to use, or a system for taking turns.

Board Games

What is it?

  • Using existing board games (or new ones created by you) to illustrate a concepts
Strengths
  • Often considered to be FUN
Weaknesses
  • Time consuming
  • Some competition can go overboard
Preparation
  • Think honestly about how a game could illustrate your concept.
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust rules to existing games to get your point across
  • Give PLENTY of time for the game

Group Work

What is it?

  • Having students work in teams/groups to accomplish a goal
Strengths
  • Teaches cooperation and conflict/negotiating skills
  • Offers a wealth of opportunity: creative students paired with those less creative, organized students with the disorganized etc.
  • Everyone brings their strengths to the table
  • Provides different perspectives
  • Encourages leadership
Weaknesses
  • Difficult to encourage all members to participate equally
Preparation
  • Assign a task (brainstorming/presentation/research etc.) for a group to work on together. Give them class time to meet and work things out

One Minute Reflection Periods

What is it?

  • Giving the students brief, timed periods where they are guided to reflect personally on a topic/application you are studying
Strengths
  • Allows the student to shut out distraction and focus on applying the truth personally
  • Gives them time to engage which might otherwise be lost in the hustle of classes/church etc.
  • Prepares students for a change of pace in the classroom (calms a wild class etc.)
Weaknesses
  • Not all students are quick to reflect honestly
  • Difficult to gauge whether the students are truly reflecting
Preparation
  • After demonstrating a fact worthy of introspection, ask students to clear their desks/table etc. close their eyes and think about the topic. You may want to have a question or concept you want them to ask themselves about.
  • You may want to follow this up by having them journal their reflections, or share with the class.

Nature Walks

What is it?

  • Going outside into nature as a means to learn a topic
Strengths
  • God speaks through nature!
  • Variety of topics can be illustrated through nature
  • Appeals to most all students
Weaknesses
  • Climate dependant
  • Can provide distractions
Preparation
  • Seek out ways nature itself demonstrates a principle you want your students to learn.
  • Have them go out and find it, or take them yourself and demonstrate.
  • Have them explore and discover additional facts that contribute to the main idea.

Animals

What is it?

  • Using real, live animals to illustrate a concept
Strengths
  • Definitely breaks up the monotony
  • Appeals to those who love animals
  • God speaks through His creation
Weaknesses
  • Not appealing for those who don’t like animals
  • Limited topics
Preparation
  • When the topic calls for an illustration nature can provide call zoos/friends/neighbors and other agencies to bring in an animal to demonstrate.
  • Leave AMPLE time for this, as animals can be unpredictable