Software Lesson Plan for Teaching About Deborah
from Neil MacQueen, www.sundaysoftware.com
I originally wrote this for the volunteer “writing team” I belong to at rotation.org. You can play “How Few Can You Do” in a number of ways, including using the Let’s Talk software which is now free to the supporting members of Rotation.org. Learn more.
This lesson demonstrates a favorite Bible study game I like to use with long passages. I call it “How Few Can You Do”. It can be used for a LOT of other long passages, or verses that have a lot of interesting vocabulary to try and condense.
Computer Lab Lesson for Judges 4: The Story of Deborah
This lesson will find the students creating a condensed version of Judges 4. They will vote/debate on what they think are the most important keywords and phrases in the story. After two rounds they will have created a compact version of the story, -a Keyword Poem of sorts.
The goal of this particular lesson in the rotation set is to examine the entire Judges 4 text and attempt to condense the story in a way that’s both memorable and enlightening. Students will be debating which words/ideas are essential to the story.
Load your software and test it.
Type/Copy the Story of Deborah text onto a handout for the students.
Assemble highlighters, pencils, flipchart paper and tape.
Deborah’s story is not found in any Christian software for children, so we’re going to have to use some utility programs. You may choose to use Let’s Talk CD or Kid Pix or a Wordprocessor to create the word/poem game I’m suggesting below. Suggest kicking off the lesson teaching a little Bible Geography using Bible Atlas software. Suggested program: HolyLand 3-D CD. If you don’t have this (now out of print) flying atlas, USE GOOGLE EARTH.
Gather students around a computer or computer projector and turn on HolyLand 3-D CD. Fly in and circle Mt. Tabor. Notice the prominent location of the battlefield. It can be seen throughout the Jezreel Valley. Note to the students that such a location would be a daily reminder to the people living in that area. Ask: What are some of the landmarks in your town? How would it help your faith and Bible knowledge if many famous Bible story locations could be seen around YOUR town? These stories were not an abstraction, the people could wake up in the morning and be reminded of them by looking out their window. How are WE reminded?
Using the Bible story handout you have given each student, have students take turns reading it aloud. You are working from a handout in lieu of using an actual Bible because you are going to be asking students to mark “key words” in the story.
Working in groups, students will vote to keep keywords in the story, and eliminate others. To do this, they will have to decide what the important ideas/words are, and which can be left out. They will do this in THREE STAGES.
If you are short on time, reduce it to two.
Dig Stage One:
Working in small groups of two or three, have students read through Judges 4 and pick just 30 to 35 words or phrases that summarize the story. (Show them an example) They can mark up the copy of the Bible text handout you have given them.
Then have the groups list their keywords on a piece of flipchart paper or at the chalkboard for all to see. After about 10 minutes, reconvene the class in front of their flipchart sheets or chalkboard lists and compare what each group came up with. Erase duplicates. Circle words everyone agrees on, –in effect compiling one agreed upon set of keywords. Use this as an opportunity to dig deeper into the meaning of the story.
Judges 4 (NRSV)… an initial reduced version…
Israelites did evil
Then Israelites cried to Lord
Deborah was judging Israel under palm
She summoned Barak
God commands you…I will give Sisera into your hand.
(Barak said) If you will go with me, I will go
(Deborah said) the road will not lead to your glory,
the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.”
Ten thousand warriors went
Sisera called nine hundred chariots of iron
the Lord threw Sisera and chariots into a panic
by the sword; no one was left.
Sisera fled to the tent of Jael
she covered him with a rug.
Jael drove the peg into his temple
Dig Stage Two:
Going back to their small groups, give them 3 minutes to reduce the agreed upon 30 to 35 keywords down to 15 to 20 keywords. Reconvene the class at the flipcharts or chalkboard and cross out the keywords that had the fewest votes. Invite students to debate their choices.
Dig Stage Three:
Working individually now, invite each student to pick 10 or 15 keywords from the agreed upon text and write a “keyword poem” about Deborah. This poem can be written/illustrated in Kid Pix, or on a sheet of 11×17 paper, or as a computer spoken presentation in Let’s Talk. The advantage of doing it in software, other than the kids enjoying it, is that the software can be played back for other age groups at other times. This keyword poem can also be typed into a wordprocessor (though this is the least exciting option).
Example of a Final Deborah “KeyWord Poem”
Ask: “What’s the Good News in this story?”
The Good News is that God heard his people’s cry, and that Deborah and Barak responded and obeyed God.
Ask: “What is this story telling you about God?” “What advice about life and confronting problems can you take away from this story?”
Have students share their Deborah Keyword Poem.
How should you handle the violent ending in this story? Carefully! Sisera was an evil person who led a powerful army. Armies led by evil people can cause vast amounts of death and destruction. They must be stopped. The Old Testament clearly believes that bad people are often “justly” done away with by the action of God or God’s people. It is important to suggest that Sisera had an option too. He could have obeyed Deborah and God. With pre-teens you may want to introduce “other options” for standing up against evil forces. Contrast Jesus’ actions and “army” to Deborah and Barak’s.
FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN
Begin with a greatly simplified version of the text written in large letters on the chalkboard/whiteboard. Even if they can’t read, this will help them sense the structure of what you are about to do. Tell them they must help you remove as many words from the story text as possible. As you read the text to them, ask them to vote by thumbs up/down whether or not to keep the phrase/sentence/word. As they vote to remove words, read it back to them. Each time you read back the words they’ve kept, invite them to say the words along with you. It will begin to sound a little non-sensical and they will like that. Continue on until you get it down to about 15 words. Next, type those words into your wordprocessor on the computer and print them out on large paper. Have the students illustrate their “Deborah Keyword Poem.”
Copyright, Neil MacQueen, sundaysoftware.com. Maybe copied for local church use only.