Thoughts and Tools

Curriculum design - 1

As you may already know from my site information, I’m a faculty member at a K-12 Christian High School.  Here’s something that might surprise you: the most challenging class I teach is 11th grade Bible.

 

You might think, “What!?  How could teaching the Bible be a hard class to teach?”  Well, let me fill you in a little bit. 

 

First of all, there are no National standards, very few state standards (yes, it IS legal and even appropriate to study the Bible in public schools) and there are very few explicit standards from our accrediting association.  So the boundaries are wide open.  Granted, we often complain about so many standards.  But the great thing about standards is that they provide guidance and focus.  I don’t get that kind of help here!

 

Second, I teach in an ecumenical setting in a missional environment.  What does that mean?  Well, it means that I teach students who may not care at all about the Bible, others who are very liberal, some who are extremely conservative, and a handful who want to become Pastors or Ministers.  Some students come in with zero prior exposure as internationals (or from just around the corner).  Others have pastors for parents. That’s quite a mix of parents and students!

 

Third, I have really huge, impossible-to-accomplish but eternally important goals.  I actually want my students to move in a Godward direction by growing in their understanding, appreciation of, and application of Biblical teaching.   No pressure.

 

So, it’s time to do some good hard thinking about building a Bible course for Juniors from the ground up.  Take a look at my Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments.  They are the end-goals for a portion of a Bible class that would study the book of Romans (and other passages of their choosing too).

 

What do you think?  Am I on the right track?  What did I miss so far? It’d be neat to hear your comments if you have them!

 

Romans Curriculum design

Overarching Goal: to have students move in a Godward direction by growing in their understanding, appreciation of, and application of Biblical teaching.

 

Learning Goals

Learning Activities

Assessment Activities

Identify major themes within the book of Romans.

Reading, discussing, and hearing necessary background information related to each section.

Learners will show how the text and their suggested themes match through supported written arguments.

 

Discussions

Use logical reasoning (both inductive and deductive) to critique the arguments made in the book of Romans.

Create logical flow diagrams of the major premises in the book of Romans; discuss the accuracy of the progression of thought and the plausibility of each conclusion.

Reflective writing on the degree to which the learner agrees or disagrees with the logic of Romans with supporting arguments.

 

Completed logical diagram

Articulate the similarities and differences between conflicting theological interpretations of controversial passages in Romans (e.g. Calvinism, Compatibalism, & Armenianism; the relationship between grace, faith, & law; the relationship between Israel & the Church).

 

Choose a theological interpretation, then support and defend it using Biblical text and logical reasoning.

Presentation of major positions, extensive discussion of relevant passages.

Reflective and critical writing on which stance the student prefers and why.

 

Discussions

Explore the value of a Biblical worldview

Learners write creative stories with worlds different than their own and constrained by appropriate thematic ideas (e.g. a world that follows teaching exactly opposed to Romans 12)

Creative writing exercises and collaborative discussions.

Practice thinking Biblically and acting with faith.

Discussion of appropriate topics where theology, philosophy and behavior intersect.

Reflective writing on purposeful actions taken with analysis of both motives and effects.

Review a variety of Biblical writing.

 

Develop a plan of reading sections of interest in the Bible.

Read the Bible (reflectively, critically, and thoughtfully).

Reading summaries or reflective analysis of the reading.

 

Now, there's something even more!  I've been implementing this course in an online context.  Check it out!

Comments
Craig Lehnherr (not verified) - April 4, 2016
You might consider adding an element about the historical context of Romans related to some of what Tom is sharing in church right now i.e. conflict between the Jewish and gentile church leaders related to Roman persecution and how that influenced Paul's comments to the church.
cwhite - April 4, 2016
Good thought! It's not in the outline, but I do cover that. Thanks for looking at my ideas!
Diann Cook (not verified) - April 11, 2016
I like the emphasis on writing for assessment - lots of time grading though. Our students need to be writing and using different types of writing. Also looks like you have included opportunities for discussion and debate. Lots of critical thinking opps. Well done!
cwhite - April 13, 2016
Thanks for your encouragement, Diann. You're right that the writing takes time to grade. I think I'm probably the weakest at giving good-quality feedback from the writing exercises so that each student can grow. (I find grading the assignments hard enough!) It is something I need to continue to work on. But the reflective writing is a major key to making the ideas take root.
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Curtis White, M.S., M.C.E.
High School Faculty
Math, Science, Bible & Computers
Abundant Life Christian School
A Madison Christian School
608.221.1520
Curtis_White@limtw.net