This 32-page packet completely REVOLUTIONIZED my classroom and the way we go about, not only reading, writing, and discussion, but the way we now incorporate our faith into ALL THAT WE DO.
-I teach Integrated Language Arts to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders...but when reading great literature selections, what...besides academic excellence, made my classroom different than that of a public-school classroom? This is the question that I wrestled with. I had always tried to incorporate our faith into everything we did, but I wanted to make it more purposeful.
-I actually created a poster with a list of topics (similar to the printables I gave you) and hung them in my classroom. Whenever a problem arose, I would say to my students, “Let’s try to solve this by using the book that solves all problems....the Bible.” Pretty soon, it became very natural. The kids were very used to turning to the Bible to look to see what it said about what we were dealing with. If a student cheated, I’d pull him out into the hall (where I also had the poster with the biblical references), take my Bible, and have a chat. I then got the idea to apply this to what we were reading.
-Prior to this, your students should understand theme. If not, teach it. I try to give them the visual of a fortune cookie when dealing with theme. The cookie, I tell them, represents the text. The theme is that piece of paper that you pull out...and on that is the message the author is trying to communicate to us. (I gave you a printable to explain all this to them…very visual.)
-You are going to then get them to stop reading only with their minds and eyes. It is time to include their HEARTS in the reading and writing process. They will start using their Bibles as a companion to whatever it is they are reading! I included printables that have just about every topic/theme that can come up in a story and where to turn in the Bible to get more information about that topic.
You'll start this activity with a classic story, "The Emperor's New Clothes" which is included in the packet. It’s a story they all know, but I included a printable of it for you. Read it aloud with them. Go through the activities and ask them to come up with the theme is. Do this without any mention of the Bible. Then, distribute the Bible topic printables. (I photocopied them and put them in plastic sleeving so they can be used over and over again with all classes.) Ask them, to work with a group/partner and find the topics that would apply to the story. They should write the topics in the heart map printable. Then ask them to choose just one. They should use the Bible topic to look up the one they chose in the Bible. Ask them to write a paragraph connecting that topic as presented in the Bible to the story they just read. They can share their responses. (Show them the sample one, after they shared theirs, on the overhead.)
You'll then have them read "Mr. Peabody's Apples," a reader's theater that is great…no matter what the grade level. The message is powerful. They will have fun with it! Your older ones might have the most fun. After this, they will work on the same activity, determining first the theme and then linking it to the Bible.
-I also gave you printables to use with Poe's "Cask of Amontillado" b/c this story deals with all sorts of topics: anger, revenge, violence, fear, jealousy, greed!
-Once your kids get the hang of it, you can do it with everything they read. NOTE: Do not make them always write it! But always include it in whatever you read or whatever issues you are having. Many times, it’s a discussion. Get them to, whenever they read, have their Bible out on their desk as well.
NOW THIS IS WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT! I hope this 32 page packet transforms your class as much as it did mine. Now there is no doubt when you walk into my classroom that our faith is completely integrated into what we do on a daily basis. The discussions we have are so insightful, and the students are learning so much more about their faith!
If you are a religion teacher, this is awesome for you as well! The printables with the topics can be used for many activities! (I have a product Jesus Tweets, and God's App) that is awesome to go along with this. But you can use it in many ways. Have them view a movie and then get the Biblical Low-down on it. Grab a story that you like to read with them. The only limits are your imagination.
God Bless you and your students!