Teaching Strategies

See CARFLEO’s Pinterest board for a visual guide to instructional strategies.

Other Strategies:

See also Jared Dees’ free eBook on lesson planning, The Religion Teacher’s Guide to Lesson Planning. This guide provides a step by step process to effective lesson planning and provides 250 suggestions for activities and teaching strategies.

Many more strategies are found on the chart below.

Instructional Strategy

Description of the Strategy

Examples of how the strategy can be used in Religious Education

Jigsaw 1) Students are divided into home groups. They are assigned roles and topics.

2) Students from each home group go to specialists to become experts in their topic. They also determine how their findings can be taught to their home groups.

3) Students return to their home group to relay the learned information found in the specialist group.

In world religions class investigating Hindu festivals,

1) each home group can decide what roles members will take in their investigation. They clarify expectations of group members.

2) group members learn about a different Hindu festival and become experts in that festival. They decide how to teach these ideas to their home group.

3) they return to their home groups to teach one another about their topic.

Anticipation Guide Provide a topic for the students but do not provide information. Allow them to reflect and share their previous knowledge on the topic or what they believe it might be about. Use a graffiti wall to describe anything that comes into their head when they think of the religion Judaism. Create a true/false quiz about missionaries before showing The Mission.
K-W-L Students make a chart with three columns. Column one is titled K, column two is titled W, column three is titled L. (K stands for What I Know; W stands for What I have learned; L stands for what I have Learned.) K Before reading they must fill in the first column with what they already know about the topic. W After glancing through the headings of the readings, they should fill in what they want to know or think they will know after reading the information. L After reading they fill in the third column with what they have learned. Before giving students readings on the birth of Christ ask them to fill in the left hand (K) column chart before reading. They would enter what they know about the birth of Christ. Students identify what they want to learn about the Nativity. This is entered in the W column. They would then read the Gospel passages from Matthew and Luke, adding additional details about what they learned. These are entered in the L column.
RAFT A technique that helps with the understanding of writing. It is an acronym that stands for:

  • Role of the writer
  • Audience
  • Format
  • Topic and strong verb
  • This would be great for a writing activity like making an pamphlet, or students trying to tell others about their religion, or a creative writing project, like taking on the persona of a religious leader.
Word Wall
  • Designating a wall or section of a wall in class to posting words relevant to course material
  • Teaches students how to spell words which are relevant to course material
  • Serves as a reminder of relevant diction and terminology, and can help stir up their minds to remember course content
  • Can help with phonetic pronunciation of foreign words
  • Oftentimes when studying religion, there are some very difficult or foreign words which have very specific meanings, and are key to understanding various doctrines or other aspects of a religion.
  • A word wall makes a lot of sense for a Religion class, because it gives students a tangible reminder of important terminology which might be very unfamiliar to them: ex. Transubstantiation; justification; sanctification; consummation.
Think-Pair-Share In response to a challenge, students independently think about solutions to the challenge. Students are paired to question each other about the challenge, and discuss various ideas in pairs. This increases student involvement in the class. Students then share their ideas with a group or the class. Students can be individually challenged to think about reasons behind the Catholic Church teachings on issues such as abortion, chastity, preferential option for the poor, capital punishment, etc. Students in pairs share their ideas, deciding which reasons are most powerful. Students then share these ideas as a class discussion.
Exit Slips or Exit Cards
  • Written responses to teacher-posed questions about the day’s lesson, which must be handed in before leaving class for the day.
  • A good, informal way of assessment of learning for the day
  • For a lesson on Communion: “What is the difference between transubstantiation and consubstantiation?”
  • Students will have to outline the main difference before leaving
  • Alternatively, students could write down 3 main ideas…, 2 new ideas …, 1 question I still have …
Concept Map
  • A graphic organizer designed to helps students make order of a concept or an idea
  • A central box or circle will include the concept idea; other boxes which off-shoot from there can contain questions like “What is it” “Why is this important?”
  • It helps students organize their thoughts, as well as make new connections between ideas
  • The central concept could be “transubstantiation”, and surrounding sections could be “What does this mean?” “Why is this important to Catholicism?” “How is this similar/different to other Christian denominations?”
Carousel Brainstorming
  • Different stations are set up where students can record their ideas on various topics at each station; then students switch stations and add to the list which was started by the last group
  • Great for diagnostic assessment , to see what your class already knows about a particular religion – students will learn from each other, and build a greater body of knowledge about each religion.
  • For example in a unit on Judaism, stations might be Jewish rituals, Events in Jewish history, Jewish beliefs, Jewish symbols, Jewish homelife
  • Students are gathered in groups of 6.
  • Students will examine a subject or idea from 6 different sides; like 6 different perspectives on an issue.
  • A dice may be used to determine which perspective is taken.
  • For a world religions class, you could divide the class into 6 groups, each group representing a particular religion studied in class.
  • The teacher can then pose an issue common to all (e.g. marriage), and each group will brainstorm, and present the perspective on that issue from their particular assigned religion.
Four Corners
  • Give the class a controversial statement, and designate each corner of the classroom as a different level of agreement/ disagreement. (Agree, Mildly Agree, Mildly disagree, Disagree)
  • Students will move to that corner
  • Students discuss with each other about their opinions or reasons for selecting their stance
  • As a whole class, a representative from each corner speaks.
  • Students have the option of moving from one group to another after a corner has presented.
  • For a more controversial class activity in religion, students can be given a chance to show what they believe about an issue such as:
    • War can be justified.
    • The most pressing world issue is global warming.
    • Confirmation should take place after a student leaves High School.
Gallery Walk
  • Groups of students work together to complete a task on chart paper;
  • These are posted on the wall;
  • One person (a docent) remains behind to explain the groups findings while the remaining group members look at other groups’ chart paper.
  • groups reconvene
  • they refine findings adding in insights from other groups.
  • Students respond to these findings by creating their own notes and reflecting upon their significance.
  • Students are asked to compile a chart describing with examples the models of the Church proposed by Card. Avery Dulles.
  • While a student acts as docent, other group members gather ideas from other groups.
  • Students reconvene to refine their list.
  • Students individually create their own notes from the chart.
  • Students reflect upon these findings with a directed question set.
Six Thinking Hats
  • Assign Student groups into 6 different colours, each colour representing a different way of thinking about an issue, with different sorts of questions to ask about an issue
  • Goal is to get varying perspectives on a topic, and also challenge students to think in ways which are perhaps foreign to them
  • Great for cross-examination of a religion or a controversial issue from varying perspectives;
  • To ask different sets of questions about a tradition or an element of practice.

Compiled by Niagara University Bachelor of Education students in the Religious Education Methods class (February 2012)
Teaching Strategies on CARFLEO