Monday, March 12, 2007

Lesson 22: Jealousy and Reading Comprehension

It won't take me long to write about Sunday's class because it was really good...and therefore, uneventful, oddly. I had been thinking about making the paraphrasing exercise easier by turning it into a worksheet where the kids would answer questions ("Who is Samuel talking to? What does he want him to do?"). JC and I both hate worksheets, though, and as he pointed out, the kids don't seem to like solo work at all. They all love writing on the whiteboard, though, and so we decided to modify that worksheet idea into a whiteboard game. The game was this: I wrote all the interrogatives (Who, What, Where, etc) down the left side of the board. The kids (unfortunately, only two showed up) took turns generating questions for each other, about the three-verse passage we were reading (1 Sam. 18:6-9). The catch was, each interrogative could only be used once. That meant that if Josh asked Lachlan, "Why were the women singing?" she could not ask him, "Why was Saul angry?"

The amazing thing was--they loved it. They wanted to play another round! Unfortunately, class was just about over by then. Still, wow! We'll definitely repeat this activity. Generating the questions turned out to be the hard part for them--but that's the essence of reading comprehension, right? Figuring out what question each sentence is answering?

We had a teacher meeting during evening church. When Ralph asked if there were any major problems we were having, I mentioned being surprised at the lack of reading comprehension. Pat said, "You can't fix that. You can't teach them that. Maybe for the older kids, the high school kids, you can expect that, but not fourth-graders." She basically implied that I shouldn't bother trying--but how will they ever be able to study God's word on their own? How will they magically learn to understand what they read in time for high school if they can't do it now?

If not me, whom? If not now, when? (wow. that loses some punch when you throw in the good grammar....)

Anyway, we're trying, we're insisting...and they're coming along, inch by tiny inch.

In good news, everyone at the teacher meeting agreed that the Sunday school curriculum we've been using (21st Century Christian) is total junk and filled with a bushel of busy work. Pat got very upset with them when she called the head editor for the curriculum and he said, "Well, I'm sorry you don't like it"--without thanking her for her feedback or telling her that he would take her concerns into account. It's also really expensive (JC's on the budget committee, and when he told me how much that fluff garbage costs, my jaw dropped). So, everyone is taking very seriously this search for new curriculum. Pat says she has one at home that John (the preacher father of a respected, intelligent, and eager-minded member of our congregation) recommends. "You'll like it," she told me. "It has timelines." :) Maybe I'm getting a bit of a reputation...

Pat told me that her little kids (4- and 5-year-olds) do an activity about putting the books of the Bible in order, as a class. We should institute that as a solo opener activity for our class-give them five minutes to do it, who ever does it fastest gets a class point or something. I'm not sure I could do it very well, I'm ashamed to say. I'd get messed up in the minor prophets and the later epistles. Maybe instituting this activity would help me get better at those too. I really should self-educate more strongly.

Ok..time for the day job.

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