Helping Students Make Biblical Connections

In Christian education, we want our students to connect God’s world and Word.

What is the likelihood your students will get better at making connections if they don’t think making connections is important, don’t receive instruction on making connections, don’t have time to reflect, don’t get practice, and don’t get feedback?

Actually, it’s not that good. To improve these chances, try using assessment as a tool to train your students in these skills. Assessment can help your students better connect God’s world and Word.

Here are five ways assessment helps:

  1. Assessment helps students think making connections is important. And, if your students think making connections is important, they’re more likely to connect God’s world and Word.
  2. Assessment increases the likelihood your students will receive quality instruction on how to make connections. You are more likely to show your students examples of good connections if you’re going to assess their making connections.
  3. Assessment gives students the time they need to reflect in order to make connections. For example, have them develop and give a presentation on how they can use music to serve others or have them do a case study about how to respond biblically to a pollution problem.
  4. Assessment gives your students practice in making connections. If you regularly ask students to completed assessments that require making biblical connections, they will get better at it.
  5. Assessment gives you the opportunity to provide feedback on making connections which helps them improve. Your feedback might include telling them to support their thinking with biblical principles and verses, not just verses.

You can use many types of assessment including presentations, projects, tests, and writing. At Christian Academy in Japan, for example, different departments use different types of assessment:

  • Presentations: Bible, social studies
  • Projects: computer, math
  • Tests: English, music, social studies
  • Writing: art, ESL, science

Here are four specific examples to help spur your own thoughts about assessment:

Presentation in Social Studies 12: For a global issue of your choosing, give a 30-minute presentation in which you present (1) a well-researched understanding of its cultural, economic, social, and political implications, both past and present; and (2) a sensible solution based on a biblical perspective.

Project in Math 8: Mr. Hall wants to buy an Apple computer and does not have enough money to pay up front. As Mr. Hall’s financial adviser, develop a poster that outlines what payment plan you recommend he should use. The poster should include a spreadsheet analysis that explains a credit card payment plan, the Apple credit account plan, and the Apple education lease plan. The poster should include your recommendation of the payment plan Mr. Hall should choose and an explanation of how you used a biblical perspective to arrive at this recommendation, citing at least one of the biblical principles on wealth and material goods that we studied in class and citing at least one verse.

Test in English 10 (short answer): In this unit we studied “What’s the significance of words?” In a well-written paragraph, answer this question. In your paragraph, refer to two authors you studied and two of the biblical principles you studied.

Writing in Science 2: Write a 1- or 2-paragraph report about a dinosaur of your choice. Include where the dinosaur lived, when it lived, what it ate, what it looked like, its size, how it got its name, who found it, and any other interesting facts you find. Give 3 examples of how your dinosaur shows God’s creativity and power.

Take action: Identify and explain what types of assessment can help your students connect God’s world and Word. You can do this by determining two or more types of assessment you can use to help your students connect God’s world and Word, and explaining your choice to two colleagues.

Michael Essenburg
School Improvement Coordinator
Christian Academy in Japan

Today’s OnPractice is an excerpt from a larger curriculum called Use Assessment: Help Students Connect God’s World and Word, © 2010, by Michael Essenburg and closethegapnow (www.closethegapnow.org). If you are interested in learning more, feel free to contact Michael directly at mbessenburg@caj.or.jp.
Photo Credits: Bridge – Creative Commons ravenelbridge.net; Smoke stacks – Creative Commons blog.knowyourearth.com; Dinosaur – Creative Commons extinctdinosaurs.wikispaces.com.