Saturday, 8 June 2013

An American teacher teaching Religious Education?

One of the biggest things I had to learn to teach when I came to England was religion. Everyone at my school was shocked that we didn't do RE (religious education) in the states, then I had to explain the whole seperation of church and state, etc. In England they think it is better to educate the children on the main religions and world views. The bulk of the RE curriculum is focused on Christianity, but other religions are introduced. I had a heck of a time teaching Christianity, Sikhism and Hinduism last year, since I don't really have much experience with religion. Needless to say most of these lessons were BORING! not only for me, but for my students as well. I tried to find online resources and activities to jazz up the lessons, but the kids just weren't interested.

I really dreaded having to teach RE again this year ...
and have only felt more confident recently.
Questioning has been a HUGE focus recently and making lessons more student led. I decided to try this out with my introduction to Hinduism a few weeks ago.
First, I posted a question on the board: What types of roles do you play everyday?
I let the children discuss as a table for a few minutes and then brought them back together to discuss as a class. I recorded some of their answers on the WB, which led to more discussion and ideas (sweet!).

Next, I showed the students a picture of some Hindo gods. I didn't tell the children anything about the picture. I didn't even tell them what religion we would be studying. I passed out an A3 paper to each table with the picture on it. I asked the students to write anything they noticed about the picture, what it made them think of, and any questions they had about the picture. I let them to it for 15-20 minutes. I never thought they would be able to discuss for this long ... but they were so into it. Lots of the children kept coming up to the interactive white board to get a better look and loved discovering something new. I literally stood back and watched my lesson unfold. I walked around the tables and had the students tell me about the picture and man, did they come up with some amazing ideas!!
I have finally started to figure out that giving them time to think and discuss, it will produce better quality discussions. The rest of the lesson was spent recording ideas from each table as a spider diagram on the WB. They love love loved explaining to the other students what they noticed. I even got some great questions. (I wish I had taken a picture of their recording sheets)

The next lesson was spent revisiting the picture, again I still didn't mention what religion we were studying. We recapped some of their ideas. I then gave the students a Hinduism textbook and had them read in pairs 4 pages of information. I had students focus on the photos and went round and talked to them about what they were reading. They were soo excited when they were able to make the connections and found similar images in the book to our photo from the board. As a class we discussed any answers they found to their questions. I went back to our original question from day 1, what different roles do you play everyday? They were able to make the connection with the question and what we have just discovered. Amazeballs! I reinforced this idea with a short video clip from BBC Learning Zone. Seriously, if you haven't checked out this resource, do it now. They have video clips for just about anything!

FINALLY, sorry for the incredibly long-winded post, just soooo stoked on these lessons! Our third lesson was a chance for students to create (yea Bloom's taxonomy) their own gods based on what we had discovered in the last two lessons. We reviewed and discussed for 10 minutes and talked about some ideas they might have. It was great that they really understood why Hindu gods had special features and symbols based on their power and function. Well, the rest of the 45 minutes was spent with the kiddos working independently and showing off their work. Result!

Love the explanations!
 If you managed to the end, well done!!



  1. This is a really great post, because I can only imagine teachers having to teach RE here in public education. I'm not sure how well that would go over.

    The students pictures are great too.

    Digital: Divide & Conquer

    1. Thanks so much Matt. It was a real shock for me when I first was told that I had to teach RE. I can't imagine it would go down very well in the states, which is a shame. I really love the the students are being exposed to other religions and world views. Hopefully creating a more open-minded society :)


  2. Great ideas for RE! Love it! Do you use TES for resources? I love that website too.

    Tales from a traveling teacher