Written by Andy Blanks for youthministry360.com:
Let’s face it: At some point in our time as teachers we all get a little, how to say this nicely . . . predictable. We get in the habit of teaching the same basic structure of a lesson over and over again.
The problem with this is that we lose student’s attention (at best) or fail to capture it in the first place (at worst).
And since we’re talking about teaching the Bible and not math (sorry math teachers), there’s an added importance to making sure we’re being as effective and engaging as we can be. So, I thought I’d pass along a list of ideas and tips to help you spruce up your lessons.
- Adjust your room set-up – Switching up your set-up is an easy way to liven things up a bit. Who doesn’t appreciate a change in scenery?
- Use an object lesson – This is one of my go-to’s. If I’m looking at a lesson plan that needs a little life breathed into it, I find an object or an image I can use as a metaphor to drive home the theme I’m teaching.
- Creative participation – Let students create something. Tie in an activity with your lesson where they are taking pictures with their phones, or writing words on a giant sheet of paper. Paint is magical, for some reason. Have students use paint to draw or write.
- Competition rules – Don’t be afraid to craft some group games or competitions to use in your lesson. These are a great way to spruce up a lesson.
- Use video – If you don’t use video regularly, arrange to show one. Take the extra steps to borrow or otherwise finagle the necessary equipment to make it happen.
- Don’t use vide – If you use a video or media clip each lesson, take a break for a lesson or two. Plug in one of these or some other suggestion in its place.
- Get students up and moving – With a little work, pretty much any lesson plan can be adapted to get students up out of their seats. Use stations. Ask yes-no questions of the group where one response has students standing up or sitting down.
- Don’t forget current events – For some reason, when teaching teenagers we don’t always think of events in the news. Big mistake. Tying in current events is an easy way make a lesson relevant and timely.
- Use case studies – One easy way to help make lessons feel more relevant is to modernize a principle you’re teaching by creating case studies. Case studies are short, fictional vignettes where you create characters and a problem or an issue they are dealing with. Simply read them and have students respond to how they would react, or what they think should happen, etc.
- Play a game on PowerPoint – Create a slideshow presentation with multiple-choice questions based on the general theme of your lesson (love, forgiveness, etc.). Make it a competition. Have fun.
- Let students own the spotlight – Create activities that have students talking about themselves. Maybe stories from their family’s past, opportunities to talk about their achievements, arranging to have them take pictures during the week and display them during the lesson, talking about key figures in their lives, etc.
- Utilize music – Have students listen to a song (print the lyrics) and respond.
- Creative prayer time – Set-up prayer stations. Guide students through biblical examples of different prayer postures. Do one-word prayers. Do sentence prayers. Have student turn to their right and pray for their neighbor.
- Have open-ended discussions – 99.9% of our discussions look for predetermined “right” answers that must be spoken before we move on. They are linear discussions. What about discussions where the goal is to wrestle with a concept? The Bible is chocked-full of huge concepts that can’t neatly be dealt in a 7-minute discussion. Have some fun with those concepts.
- Experiment with your environment – What if students sat on pillows instead of chairs? What if you adjusted lighting? Used candles? Decorated your room to coincide with your lesson’s theme?
- Let students teach – Adapt your lesson so students are teaching each other, whether in groups or as individuals.
- Role play – Any narrative passage of Scripture can be turned into a script easily. Have students volunteer to be specific characters. When the time comes to read the lesson’s passage, it becomes a little mini-drama your students can both watch and follow along with in their Bibles.
- Draw on a dry-erase board – Story through a Bible story on a dry-erase board drawing pictures to represent characters and events in the course of a narrative.
- Pop culture narrative – Movies, TV shows, and celebrities are awesome fodder for creative examples. Look to popular culture to pull analogies and stories that will help serve as examples for your teaching time.
- Film festival – Give your students two weeks to shoot and edit short movies (3-5 minutes) around a specific theme. Give them guidelines and rules. Then, on the day of your lesson, use them to support the biblical theme your teaching.
These are just a few quick ideas to spruce things up a bit. What are ways you have added a little life to your lessons in the past?