Curriculum Does Not Replace Preparation
BtO's Crossroads collection was developed to provide resources suitable for Middle School students and/or High School students. Each lesson plan has icebreakers, videos, Bible / lesson content, worksheets, discussion questions, and application activities to pick and choose from. The key is to make the curriculum work for your age group and class demographics - and not try to incorporate all components. There is, on purpose, more content than you could ever squeeze into one lesson.
In other words, preparation is still required to get the most out of the materials
For example, this past Sunday in my parish, two classrooms were simultaneously teaching a lesson from "The Heart of a King" - one for Middle School and one for High School. The two rooms, however, could not have been more different.
A "Rowdy" Middle School Room: Our 6th-8th graders are notoriously rowdy, hard to keep on topic, and hard to keep engaged. The Large Group leader started off the class going over general classroom rules, then separated them in small groups with a Small Group Leader while still in the Large session. This was a brilliant technique to lay down ground rules from the start, and to assign a "chaperone" to smaller groups of kids for keeping them on task. As she went through the Large Group content, she would occasionally pause, ask a question, and ask the small groups to deliberate an answer with their leader. She wove in the discussion questions with the content, and used the icebreaker and video in a more abbreviated fashion. Then the small group leaders worked the worksheet activity at the end with their groups. It was a great way to use the materials in no more than 15 minute chunks at a time to keep their attention span and control the "rowdiness" of this energetic bunch .
A "Quiet" and Knowledgable High School Room: Our 9th-12th graders tend to have some foundational knowledge of the units we are studying and they are quiet - not ready to talk the second class starts. The icebreaker is a MUST to get these quiet teens talking and thinking about the lesson. After a brief introduction, the video was a good lead in to reading the Bible passage - where a "new angle" was introduced in a story they may have heard before (i.e., David running for his life). The focus was not on the "details" of the story, but about the "point" of the lesson (i.e., in this case, about how we tend to do or say things we regret in the heat of emotion). We ended Large Group with the worksheet activity, which naturally lead-in to the Small Group Leaders stepping in and going through some discussion questions at the end. This format worked well for our quiet bunch who needed some prodding to get talking.
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That is a great question, John! For shorter classes, I recommend choosing “either” the icebreaker or the video, but not both. Go through mainly the Large Group content, but glance at the Small Group materials as sometimes there are activities or additional Bible passages that may help the lesson flow better.
Another tip I heard from a different congregation – they send the discussion questions home with their teens/parents to discuss at home… or they meet up in a weekly fellowship group or Zoom to do the discussion questions. Hope that helps!
This is great! What would you suggest for a 30-minute class instead of the 1-hour of materials provided? What is the most important “part” of the materials?