Sunday, September 18, 2016

New Beginnings

So, another fall, another new beginning.  New students, a new school year, and another blog post. It's been
Did I mention I'm a grandpa now?
a long time, but I'm still here, still teaching.

This year we'll be using some curriculum for a couple weeks each month, and coming up with ideas of our own for the other two - one will be kind of a free-for-all (my specialty), and the other a joint Bible study with the Senior High class.

I've never had much luck with "journaling," if by that one means getting kids to make some kind of record of their thoughts, prayers, or whatever else it is that introspective, thoughtful and creative kids do. BUT, it occurred to me (when I asked the kids what lesson they liked best from last year and they couldn't remember ANY) that maybe a more pedestrian, less intimidating way of journaling might help with that.  I thought back to my own Sunday School experience, too, and thought how much I would treasure a record of what we had actually done in those days, rather than the patchy, mentally embroidered version I now recall.

So I came up with these weekly journals.  The idea is that we'll just write down a couple of notes on the week's activities, and that's that.  I also thought it would be fun for the kids to personalize their journals (purchased at Michael's on clearance for $3.99 for a 3 pack).  Here's the sample cover I made.
On the kids' journals I took a picture of them, and let them tape it on with Washi tape (thanks again, Michael's!), and then use rubber stamp alphabets to personalize them.  That's my twitter handle on the green binder tape, and a bunch of random stuff floating around on the cover.

Putting them together worked out pretty well.  Everyone chose to put their name on the cover, somewhere, and people used the tape to create designs as well, which I hadn't anticipated. Our class period is around 45 minutes, and this project took up about half an hour of that.

Here's what my notes for the week look like (the kids pretty much just copied mine).

In the past I printed in-class photos from a Canon printer that used a memory card from a compatible camera to create traditional looking 3x5 glossy pics.  I couldn't find film for it this year (not that I looked super hard), but while I was looking I found an awesome little printer from FujiFilm, that prints credit card sized pictures from your cell phone - how cool is that, right?

It's called the instaxSHARE SP-2, and I bought mine at Best Buy.  It wasn't cheap (like $200 bucks?), but I talked myself into thinking I'd get a lot of use of it at parties and whatnot.  The app was easy to install and it worked great with my phone, a Samsung Galaxy 6, using the instaxSHARE app from the Play Store (also available for Apple).  The pictures are credit card sized, and develop in a couple minutes from the printer, which uses Wi-Fi, and a rechargeable battery (no cords, yay!)  It's small, about the size of a tall box of Jello, or a super big deck of cards.  It definitely gets my vote and recommendation as a cool tool.

As far as the substance of the lesson goes, my theme was "Stories," and I plan on continuing that theme throughout the year.  Our journals are going to be the place where we record the story of this year, and during the course of it, I plan to return to that theme ad infinitum.  Today I started (while everyone was working on their journal cover) by asking what Bible stories they remembered, and the usual suspects came up - Easter, Christmas, Noah, Joseph, Sampson(?), David & Goliath.  I had the kids read the verse from Hebrews 13:21, and then talked about the epigraph from this cool book by Robert McKee (see my notes for details), purchased during one of my sporadic fantasies of creative accomplishment.
I talked about how equipment is essentially a tool for a specific task, like sports or sound equipment, and my take on the quote, which is that stories allow us to process the chaotic flow of experience in ways that help us make sense of it, and obtain value from it.  I asked if anyone remembered a favorite story from when they were a kid, and the first one that came up was - the Barbie version of The Princess and the Pauper.  My take on that was that at some point everyone wonders how they ended up in this crappy family, when clearly they are meant for better things, and to be appreciated for their awesomeness.  Having a story about it not only validates that feeling (maybe not healthily, lol), but makes us feel we're not alone, and not really weird for having those feelings.

Then we watched a YouTube video while finishing up on the journals.  This is a super cool song called "Storyteller," by Morgan Harper Nichols (recommended to me by my Spotify Discover Weekly, can't say enough good things about that, btw).  There's a couple versions, both good, but this one was better for discussion, I thought.  It sparked more "thoughtful contemplation" than "active discussion," but I'll be coming back to it.

So, that was week one of the 2016/17 academic Sunday School year at our little Episcopal corner of God's kingdom.  I've gotten off to worse starts, for sure

No comments:

Post a Comment