Tag Archives: Curriculum Planning

Youth Curriculum Review Series – 2015 Edition (cont.)

In the final installment of the Youth Curriculum Review of 2015, let’s take a look at some small group curriculum.

41efF+SLSLL._SX404_BO1,204,203,200_Creative Bible Lessons in Job by Doug Ranck.  Let me just say this.  I have searched and used many youth curriculum, and one of the curricula that I often recommend is the Creative Bible Lessons.  Here’s what you get with this curriculum.  A starter or icebreaker for the lesson that often comes with multiple options with minimal setup but maximum effectiveness.  Then the lesson is dynamic, easy to teach, good foundation of Scripture, and a good challenge.  In the end, there are discussion questions and worksheets that work very well in the small group setting.

66475Serving Like Jesus by Doug Fields & Brett Eastman.  This was a good fit for small group, but on a heavier teaching night, it would not work as well.  The teaching material is limited and often required some additional work.  However, the discussion questions and outlined series were phenomenal.  I actually added to the series by inviting people in the church who were serving like Jesus to interview them.  That added to the material.  The highlight of this curriculum was definitely the plethora of interaction and discussion questions.  So if you struggle in the teaching side, this might not be best series.  But in a small group setting with shorter teaching and more discussion, this is perfect.

indexSurrender by Francis Chan.  Disclaimer to begin:  I’m a huge Francis Chan.  I’ve read every book he has written and Crazy Love happens to be in my top 5 books of all time.  That being said, this series is a small group goldmine for many reasons.  It provides a DVD series to break up your teaching.  The subject matters are not fluff, but are very challenging, relevant, and hold the interest well.  The lesson is very well put together and Biblically based.  The discussion questions provided allow the small groups to flourish and have great follow-up.  The only down side is it only 4 weeks.  Other than that, it is well worth using for a “break” series during the year, to finish the year, or even in a retreat setting.

 

 

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Youth Curriculum Review Series (Cont.) – 2013-14 Edition

As I prepared to do a series on Creation vs. Evolution, I discovered there are not many non-DVD series curriculum out there. With my interest in the study, and desiring to teach it myself, I decided to purchase books and develop my own curriculum (most of which were purchased here).

So rather than review each resource in detail, a short review will be given on the multiple resources. Please keep in mind that science was and still is my worst subject, so my puny brain struggled with some of these books mightily.

Curriculum Review: Creation vs. Evolution Resources

The Good:

Creation or Evolutioncreation-or-evolution-sm by Mike Snavely. This was not easy to find, but boy am I glad I did. Most of my material came out of this book. It is designed for curriculum but I would not suggest using this as your only source. Having said that, if I had to choose one resource for my presentations, it would be this one. Great illustrations, easy-to-read explanations, updates facts and information, and very easy to use. I strongly recommend this book for anyone teaching on creation/evolution.

638990The Lie: Evolution by Ken Ham.  A little strong of a title, but true. This book was very helpful for providing a Biblical foundation to your lessons. While I did not use the entire book, I found it very useful. While it is easy to get caught up in the scientific nature of this subject, this book allows you to bring a spiritual emphasis into your presentations.

The Not So Useful:

Evolution Exposed (Earth Science & Biology) by Roger PattersonWhat is this like? Me feel dumb. This was way above my pay grade, and way above my head. Was there material in the book that I used, absolutely. But, in teaching a survey class that is more an overview, these books are not for you. However, if you are looking to go into great detail on certain subjects, these are winners.

evolution-exposed-earth-sciences

Movie/DVD Ideas:

The Foundations – Ken Ham DVD Series

Evolution vs. God – DVD Documentary by Ray Comfort

Expelled – DVD Documentary by Ben Stein

The Ultimate Proof – by Dr. Jason Lisle

 

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Youth Curriculum Review Series (Cont.) – 2013-14 Edition

In the past I’ve written about the value of curriculum, and how to find the right curriculum.  So, now that you have reason to use curriculum, and some confidence in how to find it, I’d like to continue the curriculum review series of this past year (seen here, here,  and here).

Curriculum Review: Apologetics Series – “Apologetics” by RBP FaithBuilders2819 & “Confident Christian” by Group Publishingphysical-642.gif

The Good:

“Apologetics” by RBP FaithBuilders

Bible-based. A curriculum that uses God’s Word properly and frequently is always appreciated. This allows the students to dive into the Bible and use it as a foundation for their apologetics.

Options. Something every teacher appreciates is options. This curriculum provides several options in each lesson for illustrations and group work.

“Confident Christian” by Group Publishing

Worldview. With the growing diversity in our country, it is a necessity for a believer to have an understanding of other religions and worldviews. In apologetics, this is especially necessary. This curriculum does a dynamite job of accomplishing this goal.

Variety. The students really enjoyed the interaction and varied illustration (and so did the teacher). The group work was always effective and the opening illustrations were very helpful.

 

The Bad:

“Apologetics” by RBP FaithBuilders

Is that it? There were times when I was asking this question. It seemed to fall short at times in terms of amount of content. While the content was strong in quality, it

Dial up internet? This material needs to be upgraded. The material, handouts, and even some content are behind the times. It is time for a new edition. However, it does not de-value to the material itself, just hurts the presentation of it.

“Confident Christian” by Group Publishing

Again? One major problem I had with the material was the repetition. Although review is good, they seemed to stretch lessons to the point of repeating content.

 

The Grade: B- (RBP), B (Group)

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Finding the Right Youth Curriculum

Last week, I wrote a very convincing blog on why you should consider using curriculum. This week is a brief list of websites that will help you find the right curriculum. Even if you already using a year-long curriculum like XP3 or LIVE, you most likely have other teaching times. So, you inevitably have the daunting task of searching the internet for curriculum that will fit your topic, your teaching style, your group size…and the list goes on. Below is a list of websites that I have used in the past.online support

Quick tip: Open all websites, type in the topic or Book study in the search box provided, and compare the products found.

Youth Specialties. What is nice about Youth Specialties is explained in their organization’s name. They specialize in youth ministry material. Several of these other companies have a wider range of material, which does not make them any better or worse, but I feel Youth Specialties garners trust with their focused material on youth. You will not have to worry whether the material is designed for older or younger audiences, but is tailored specifically for youth ministry.

Group. What I like about their website and curriculum is it is tailored for a specific program. Whether it is a small group setting, mission trip training, sermons, or even junior high or high school material, the resource organization on their website is very helpful. Group also provides a LIVE curriculum that will last the entire junior high and high school years – 72/144 weeks respectively.

Regular Baptist Press. This one might not be as well-known, but it happens to be my favorite. Out of all the curriculum I have used, this is the most user-friendly and creative. If I ever have a guest speaker for a series, I typically will try to give them this curriculum. The only downside is there typically is not DVD-based curriculum, if you are into those, and also the topics are somewhat limited. But if you find something that fits your topic, I would strongly recommend purchasing or at least using it as a supplement material to your lessons.

Simply Youth Ministry. See Youth Specialties description. This is essentially the youth department of Group. So much of what is on this website overlaps with Group and their products. But I still go here to make sure I didn’t miss any resources.

Zondervan. This may have gone under the radar to many of you, because Zondervan is often viewed as a publisher or regular books, not necessarily curriculum. I’ve found some great material here, including some incredibly creative DVD-series that my student have enjoyed. Worth a look.

Word of Life. When a youth worker or a new youth pastor is looking for a curriculum that is already designed, planned, and much of the pre-work is done already…this is where I point them. Word of Life has done a great job at providing curriculum that saves the teacher time in lesson planning, but also provides quality teaching and material for the lesson prep and study time.

What say you?  What curriculum websites do you use when you are searching for the right curriculum.  searchconfusion

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5 Reasons to Use Youth Curriculum

  1. Time.  Don’t think of curriculum as cutting corners. Think of it as being a good steward of your time. Curriculum will often provide you with a lesson plan to eliminate time in planning out each individual lesson topic. Also, curriculum speeds up the lesson prep process, without sacrificing the depth of the material.4_2_09_karl_lagerfeld06407-290x289
  2. More Depth. Speaking of depth, I have found using curriculum allows my teaching to be even more in depth. With the extra time and often discussion questions already built-in, I am able to do additional research and provide a more in-depth learning experience than I could have without the use of curriculum.
  3. People Are Smarter Than You. It’s true; there are people that are smarter than you. First step is admitting it. The second step is allowing other people’s work and study to benefit your teaching. Curriculum provides additional insight that you may not have come up with on your own.
  4. Creativity.   If you are youth pastor, youth leader, or work with youth, chances are you are creative. But with curriculum, you can be even more creative. Good curriculum gives you various options for opening illustration, lesson options, and closing takeaways. Teens desire hands-on, interactive, visual and aesthetic learning. Curriculum provides you with additional and creative options to provide a greater learning experience for your students.
  5. Variety.  Curriculum provides variety. Some curriculum is DVD-based, some uses video intros, and some is more interactive teaching. With each curriculum comes variety. If it was up to you, chances are you will most likely end up teaching to your strengths and according to your methods. Variety provides an excitement for each series, and you know what they say “variety is very spicy”…I think that’s what they say, something like that.social-media-curriculum

So what about you? Why do you use or not use curriculum? Feel free to comment below.

Stay tuned for next week, where I will reveal some of my favorite curriculum that I have used in the past, and will look forward to your comments on what curriculum you have used as well.

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Youth Curriculum Review Series (Cont.) – 2013-14 Edition

This post will be the final installment of the curriculum review series for 2013-2014.  My hope is these reviews will not discourage you from using curriculum, but help you find the right fit for your youth or student ministry.  Feel free to comment and ask questions to help you make that important teaching decision.

Curriculum Review: The Ten – Liquid DVD Seriesindex

The Good:

Creative. This brought a creative approach to the Ten Commandments, which the students appreciated. Often, when a student hears idols or thou shalt not murder, they don’t believe these commandments have anything to do with them. This series presents these in such a creative way, the student eyes are opened that their lives are impacted by each commandment, every day.

Visual. These videos bring the Ten Commandments to life. It is not just on a stone tablet anymore for the students. But these videos give real life examples of the commandments.

Discussion. Something I always appreciate about curriculum is discussion questions. This curriculum does not disappoint with discussion questions that engage, and encourage interaction with the material.

 

The Bad:

Act Right. Honestly, got a little weird in some parts. The acting at times struggled, and as a result it brought about some awkward moments for the audience. There may have been some laughter in the audience when things weren’t funny, and some shaking of heads in the attempt of comedy.

Stretch Exercises. Some of the application or visual representation of the commandments were a bit of a stretch. And some were difficult to teach as a result of that stretching. Also, the first two discussions were quite similar, which made things a little confusing.

Smell. The box smelled. Not kidding. No explanation for the smell. But it smelled.

 

The Grade: B-

Not my all-time favorite DVD series. It had its moments in presenting a creative way to study the Ten Commandments. But there were also times of awkwardness and a need for a teacher willing to work a little harder to make the material work. I wouldn’t go as far as saying this series stinks (although the box really did stink), because it was a fun series for our students. However, it required good discussion afterwards and a willingness to think a little outside the box to make it work.

 

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3 Tips For Planning Your Student Ministry Teaching Calendar

I have a sickness.  The other day, I received a shipment from Staples and you would have thought it was Christmas.  New pens, new highlighters, and a fresh, blank calendar…pure bliss.  Like a 6 year old in a chocolate fountain.

While I enjoy the process of planning out the teaching calendar, the anticipatory joy of spiritually impactful lessons…it does take more work than just throwing a couple series titles together.  In fact, it is a process that has developed for months.  Let me explain the process in steps.

  1. Feed the Need.  Survey your parents, students, and others to find out what the greatest needs and greatest interest of your students are.  More than likely you will hear topics like purity, end times, devotional life, and the list goes on.  So what I have done is come up with a 6 year calendar, where in the teaching times available, I can show how a 7th grader entering the ministry will learn these things in their 6 years in our student ministry.  (*Could be 4 year calendar if in high school ministry)
  2. Glad That’s Over.  The 4 or 6 year calendar is the heavy lifting of your curriculum planning.  Now the fun part.  Picking your teaching material/curriculum.  See, for me, I don’t choose the same curriculum for all 4 years.  I like to pick and choose, allow myself some flexibility with what I teach from, and what I teach.  I’ve used materials from:  Regular Baptist Press (my personal favorite – fits my teaching style & doctrine well), Youth Specialties, Simply Youth Ministry, Group Publishing, Answers in Genesis, Lifeway, and Zondervan.
  3. Make it Your Own.  Listen to me.  You are not Doug Fields or Andy Stanley, so don’t pretend to be.  Take the curriculum and make it your own, modify and teach it as if it was written just for YOUR students.  Put together you OWN PowerPoint.  Use personal illustration and make up your own introductory hook.  Make your students feel like the lesson is FOR THEM, and not for a church in California or Atlanta.

What about you?  What curriculum do you use?  Got any tips for your teaching planning?

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