Most children’s church teachers ask one student to read aloud from the Bible during class. Why not? This is what the teacher did when we were kids. Well, I would like to propose that this method is very ineffective and today’s c.c. teachers need to use alternatives to communicate.
Let me break down the method in question. As would be expected, good teachers want to have God’s word read in class. The teacher calls on one student to read either an entire passage or chooses individuals to read one verse each. While the reader does his/her thing, theoretically, all the other students follow along. This method is sometimes called “popcorn reading.”
Several problems exist. Few students read fluently enough for the text to maintain meaning as they read aloud. Reading is choppy, and lacks expression and phrasing. As a result, by the time the student finishes reading, the reading student as well as the listening students have no clue what the passage is about. And isn’t that the point of reading the Bible? To understand it? In addition, students who are not reading tend to distract and get in trouble because they’re bored. Sometimes the reader feels unnecessarily down in himself because of reading troubles.
So what are the alternatives? Stop reading God’s word? Of course not. Try one or more of these higher engagement tricks.
- Choral reading: Everyone reads the passage together aloud. The teacher leads this with a little louder voice than the students to keep everyone together.
- Cloze: The teacher reads the passage aloud as the students follow along with their eyes. Once or twice per sentence, the teacher leaves a word out and allows the kids to shout out that word. If all the students are following, then they should all shout the missing word together. If you notice that there are several voices missing, reread the sentence to show you expect everyone to follow.
- Silent reading: Ask all students to read the passage silently. When finished reading the passage, students silently put up a thumb and read the passage again. This keeps all students engaged in reading while they “wait” for the slower readers. Once you see that all students have put up a thumb, continue with your discussion. Speedy students who reread the passage again and again can add raised fingers to their hand to show how many times they’ve read the passage.
Remember, your job is to teach a Bible lesson to the class, not reading skills. Of course it’s nice to build other skills on Sunday mornings, but your primary focus should be on building up your students’ spirits, not their academics. So when you consider how you will teach, always choose the option that promotes spiritual growth.
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