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We recommend that teachers give themselves about 30 minutes to review the material each week, and to do so no later than Saturday. Sometimes activities may require some advanced preparation or special supplies that require a trip to the store, so waiting until Sunday morning is discouraged. Within 30 minutes a teacher should be able to review the lesson in its entirety, preview the PowerPoint, watch the video (if applicable), print any handouts (if applicable), and be ready to sprinkle in some of their personal insights to accompany the lesson and help it come alive for the kids.
Each lesson is targeted to fill about 45 minutes, so if your class time is shorter or longer than that then you will need to consider what sort of adjustments you’ll need to make. Note that each lesson element has a targeted time included to help give you a sense of timing.
In our experience, we found that to be the “sweet spot”. Most churches tend to have special events throughout the year where the middle school class may stay in the regular church service instead. Examples include Easter, Christmas, Mother’s and/or Father’s Day, and when the high school ministry leads the service. We also want to leave room for churches to do special events throughout the year with their classrooms, such as Christmas parties.
It is recommended that as you create your calendar of ministry events for the year, that you map out which week you’ll be covering each lesson. This will help you to account for the lessons that align with annual events, any “off” weeks for class, or special topics that you might want to work into the rotation. This will also help your teachers know in advance which lessons they will be responsible for teaching.
The curriculum was designed to follow a “typical” school year by starting Lesson 1 each year during the first week of August. You will find that this helps the special event lessons (Back to School, Thanksgiving, Christmas) to line up correctly.
If your ministry starts using the curriculum at some other point in the calendar year then that’s fine! We recommend starting with the Foundational Series: The Bible, God’s Nature, The Story (i.e., start with Lesson 1). Then decide what else you want to cover between then and the end of July so that you are ready to start the next year’s lessons in August.
A PowerPoint presentation is included with each lesson to draw in those who are visual learners and activate the imagination, which studies show improves memory activation. You will note that most of the slides primarily contain pictures. This is to ensure that the PowerPoint augments the teacher and doesn’t distract the students, who might otherwise try to read a PowerPoint with lots of words instead of pay attention to what the teacher is saying.
Absolutely!! The PowerPoint and videos are supplemental materials that are intended to engage the kids’ imaginations and draw in the more visual learners in your classroom. Remember that YOU, as the teacher, are the most valuable resource in the classroom each week and are able to help the lessons come to life and connect with your students!
This curriculum plan is considered rolling and re-usable, which means that after completing years one through three of the plan, the teachers can start over with year one and go through it again. It is set up such that you need not start with year one for every student. Some will start with year two, while still others with year three – but after a full three years in middle school class, every student will leave with the same core set of instruction and experiences.
The italic text within the lesson overviews is used for instructions for the teacher. Sometimes it is used for instructions about an activity, and other times it might be used to give you ideas about how to prompt the students.
Your classroom should promote a safe place for learning, growth, and fun. The class expectations included at the beginning of each lesson are built around the REAL acronym which stands for Respect, Engagement, Attention, and Love. The classroom environment must be a place where everyone, students and teachers alike, have respect for one another. There is an expectation that each student will be engaged in class by answering questions, reading scriptures and participating in activities. Note that this may require some creativity on the part of the teacher to find ways to pull in the students who are quiet and less likely to naturally speak up. The students should pay attention throughout the class and not get distracted through side conversations, smartphone use, or any other things that draw their minds somewhere else. Finally, there should be an air of love in everything that is said and done. If the REAL class atmosphere is ever broken, the teacher should be ready to pause class and deal with the situation directly to restore it before proceeding.
Of course, you are welcome to use your own set of class expectations if you already have them established.
There are several key relationships that will be developed through the use of this curriculum. The teacher-to-students relationship as well as the student-to-student relationships will be built up as they engage together each week in class. The question-and-answer format of the lessons and the activities allow them to learn about how the other students think and behave.
The parent-to-child relationship is fostered through use of the weekly lesson summary graphics, which provides the parent with insight into each week’s lesson as well as a conversation starter for how to engage with their child about the lesson’s purpose. Many times these conversations will include the parent sharing their own experiences in life while probing their child about their thoughts and experiences.
Each lesson is intended to engage as much of the student as possible, ideally involving their head, hearts, and hands. The lesson includes material that forces them to think critically about a passage or learn some new insight to a familiar story (head). Each lesson includes some form of reflection and/or personal application component that leads them to consider what this means for them personally (heart). Most lessons include some form of game or activity to solidify the lesson intent, or it may include a homework assignment to go put something into practice (hands).
Some Activities are re-used across several lessons. Grouping the instructions together on a single page allows us to update those instructions in one place, easing our work in maintaining this product for you.
YES! If you would like to establish a single account for everyone in your ministry to use, we can certainly do that. This may make it easier for churches with a large number of volunteers who rotate through as teachers. All we ask is that the email that you use be an account that is regularly used since that is how we will contact you regarding your account as well as updates with our website.
Tell us a little about yourself and we’ll send you a link to access the entire curriculum within 24 hours.