Essential Elements of Effective Study Materials

As Bible school teachers and smaller group study leaders and teachers examine study materials to purchase or use for their lessons, they need to consider whether the mateials are capable of being used effectively. Many people assume that published curriculum is ready to use ?right out of the box ?; that is rarely true.

However, most teachers can evaluate curriculum and determine the steps needed to make just about any curriculum usable for their specific classroom or study application. By identifying whether a curriculum has the following elements, and by evaluating how well those elements are used within the curriculum, a teacher can prepare to use the curriculum to its maximum potential of effectiveness, which will surely be greater than when they first opened it.

  1. Integration: All topics and themes are either taken straight from the Bible or are cross-referenced to specific Bible stories. Lessons need to be relevant to students ? lives, so topical studies are important. But the Bible is always relevant; it ?s just a matter of making sure the students understand how.
  2. Storytelling: The presentation of topics and themes and Bible stories make use of storytelling techniques including the use of visuals and drama. Our culture thrives on storytelling, as is obvious in our fascination with movies. People typically consider their lives to be stories, and they often enjoy sharing their stories with others. While the Bible accounts are factual and historical, they are still stories, God ?s story, to be exact. We need to be able to share that story in such a way that people not only listen but want to hear and know more.
  3. Large Group: Regardless of the current trends that say otherwise, there are benefits to having large group activities within lessons, especially when there are varied levels of faith, knowledge, and maturity within the group. While the default approach to teaching in large groups is lecture format, there many creative approaches to teaching larger groups. Large groups are also important for building relationships, instilling a sense of group identity, and encouraging fellowship through corporate worship, games, and other large group activities.
  4. Smaller Groups: There are many reasons why using smaller groups within a lesson will help teachers present and students learn the material more effectively than within a large group alone. Providing opportunities for interaction among smaller groups of students (twos, threes, up to six or eight) encourages discipling relationships to develop and grow between teachers and students and among students.
  5. Holistic Activities: Better materials consider the ?whole student. ? Because each student is different, materials should at least allow for varied approaches, whether they are written into the material or not. These should include activities that are thoughtfully constructed and placed considering age appropriateness, development (physical, cognitive, spiritual), learning styles and modes, and multiple intelligences and utilizing multisensory input.
  6. Technology: Even print-only materials should provide opportunities and suggestions, if not bundled resources, for integrating technology into lessons and classrooms. Check to see if the publisher has internet-based supplemental materials such as video clips, handouts, blogs, or links to related materials.
  7. Teacher Enrichment: Effective materials should be a little self-conscious in that they realize that they are not necessarily immediately usable in all classroom or study situations. They ought to incorporate information and methods for helping teachers prepare for lessons, understand their students needs and learning styles, grow in their own spirituality and knowledge, and disciple their students.