Teaching with software is a lot of fun, and the kids sure love it, …but it can be a little different than doing an art project or showing a video in the classroom.
Teachers who are used to a lot of eye-contact, or used to being the prime source of information, can find teaching with software a bit dis-orienting at first. Very quickly, however, most teachers discover that even though the kids are intently watching the screen, the teacher can still teach. Read on!
The other big difference is WHERE and WHAT you the teacher are doing while the content is rolling.
With many software programs, you set the stage, explain the software, and then become the “guide by the side” –going WITH the students as they dive into the software. After the software, the teacher re-convenes and does follow-up.
When you teach with skits or puppets, you are the ringmaster. When a video rolls, the teacher usually hangs back, interjecting a few comments here and there, and then stopping the video after a while to talk. When starting a Bible study round the table, typically the teacher is the director of the discussion, controlling who goes next. Eye contact is important in such discussion.
Not all software is the same!
The teacher has to adapt their lesson plan strategy based on the software they are using.
Some software think they are the entire Bible study, complete with background notes, and reflection. Good Sam the Samaritan, Faith through the Roof, and Awesome Bible Stories CDs are like this. They present the entire scripture in such a way that you do NOT have to start your lesson with 10 minutes of reading and talking; you just dive right into the software and do your reading, interacting, and talking right in front of the screen!
Some software will only give you 15 minutes of time in the software because of how their content matches up to your lesson. Life of Christ CD is like this. You use it, then follow it up with other activities or other software, such as a scripture memory game.
Other software programs need 30-35 minutes to accomplish, which can put a crimp in your lesson if your Sunday School is one of those that spends its first 20 minutes singing songs every week. Our “3d” adventure style programs like Galilee Flyer or Exodus are like this.
Your software LESSON PLAN will look like many others: Open > Dig > Reflect. Only some of the software will give you ALL THREE STEPS, and others just the Dig, or just the Reflect. Depends on your story, your software, and your choice.
One of the Big Surprises in-store for new software teachers is cooperative learning.
Let’s face it, in the traditional “round the table” Bible study, the learning is anything but cooperative. It’s “kids taking turns talking to the teacher.” But with software, 2 or 3 kids are sharing the controls, answering questions together, playing a game together. This is another reason it’s important to get your lab set-up right.
In 20+ years of teaching with software, other than with special needs kids, I’ve never put just 1 student per computer. Would not do it even if they gave me new computers for each kid!
Other than these variables, you’ll find that teaching with software is pretty much like other teaching medium.
You have to prepare, preview, adapt. You need to know what to skip, when to step in and help. And you have to manage your kids at the computer, organizing them, cajoling them, holding them accountable for content, and holding conversations with them throughout the software presentation, JUST LIKE you would during an art project, or skit, or game.
I want to repeat that last comment: “holding conversations with them throughout the software presentation”. Just because the software is running doesn’t mean the teacher is quiet.
In fact, we put stuff in our software EXPECTING a teacher to grab onto it!
This interactive-conversational style of teaching with software is why your computers need SPACE and sound buffers between them, and why we really don’t like headphones.
Other than previewing your software and preparing a great lesson plan around it, the other most important thing you can do is PRINT AND READ our free teacher’s guide and outline for your software. They are full of teaching tips, tricks, cheats, and lesson ideas. You’ll find them link on each CD’s webpage in the “Doc Box”.
Last but not least, Sunday Software began as a training ministry, helping teachers figure out their hardware, software and lesson plan needs. If you have any lesson questions, don’t hesitate to email email@example.com or call me at 614-527-8776. That’s what I’m here for.
<>< Neil MacQueen