1st BlastCast Podcast of 2011

Update 26 Dec 2014: Unfortunately the website Cinchcast went offline and I didn’t backup our podcasts there, so this recording has been lost. 🙁

Today our fifth graders recorded a short audio podcast about some of the themes and topics we’ve been discussing in Sunday School this year since the Christmas holidays. The audio recording is just over three minutes long.Several photos of our work this morning planning our podcast are available.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

10 year old reflections about Jesus on Christmas Eve

I’ve republished a 10 minute, 47 second enhanced audio podcast which my fifth grade Sunday School students created in 2007 for the Christmas Eve service at our church. They reflected “reader’s theater style” on the meaning of Christmas, who Jesus Christ was and is, and why we should remember his entire life and teachings at Christmas time and not focus just on his birth in the manger.

The original enhanced podcast version remains archived on our class blog. I’ve re-published this to YouTube hoping more people will watch and listen to this podcast when it’s available there.

Initial Christian focused videos with Storyrobe

Cross-posted to BLASTcast.

Encouraging 10 and 11 year old students in fifth grade to think deeply about the ways God speaks to us in our lives, what the Bible means for our lives, and how we should respond to challenging situations in our lives using the words of Jesus is hard work. We are continuing to encourage our students to share their understanding, their thinking, and their questions about their Christian faith through multimedia in our 5th grade Sunday School class. Today we used the iOS application “Storyrobe” to create short videos about several topics. Students worked in pairs and were given the challenge of creating short videos (using five still images and finger puppets) which illustrated either:

  1. Bible Verses (explaining their meaning, application to their life, or special personal significance)
  2. A SINtuation (a real-life situation they have seen or encountered which involves fear, temptation, action, and consequences)
  3. Questions (challenging questions about God, faith, the Bible, or other topics related to faith)

Story Options

Students were required to create a plan for their story and write down some ideas, and explain it to one of our four adult teachers / shepherds who were present for today’s lesson.

Finger Puppets and Story Scripts

We had four groups out of eight complete their stories in class today. We’ll share and debrief these next week.

Kelly and Suzie created this video about “The Birth of Jesus.” December and Christmas time often presents confusing messages about the birth of Jesus as well as Santa Claus and consumerism. We’ll discuss these topics in upcoming weeks.

Another group (I didn’t get their names written down but will add them later – if you know please comment!) created this video which I’ve titled, “The Good Samaritan.” This story references Luke 10:25-37, which is very relevant to the way we live our lives and treat others. It also connects to questions one of our students asked last week, about “Who decided who got to go to heaven and hell before Jesus came?” We discussed that a bit in class and will talk more in the weeks ahead.

Sarah and Hannah created this video which they titled, “Building Problems.” This is based on Ezra 4. Rather than select and explain a verse they have studied previously and has personal significance, they chose to just select a random verse from the Bible and illustrate it. We’ll discuss next week how this example not only missed the purpose of our assignment, but it can also be confusing for people watching it. What does this mean? What is the main idea of this verse and the lesson we should take away from it? While this particular video didn’t meet our lesson objectives, it does provide a great opportunity to further discuss our purposes of doing this activity and how we want to both seek and share truth in our lives, rather than random ideas that can be confusing.

The last group to finish a video in class today was Gracie and Darla, who created “John and Lily.” They wanted to illustrate a situation which challenges faith, when a person is dying. In addition to illustrating the scene and the role prayer and faith can play in giving hope, they tried to explain this in the end of the video.

Overall today’s lesson was MUCH more successful than some others we’ve tried using media and technology, in part because we used mobile devices (iPhones with cameras and Storyrobe pre-loaded) to create our stories instead of more cumbersome, larger cameras and computers. Next time we do this I’m going to prepare an empty storyboard for students to complete, which lists spaces beside the five photos they plan to take and has room for character dialog planning. This may have been the first time many of our students had a chance to create a video project like this in Sunday school, and there is a LOT to learn both for students and adult facilitators. Next week we will definitely praise and recognize our students who DID complete their projects, because it took focus and work to get done in just 30 minutes! I’m hopeful this process will help us do even better next time. Many of our student groups worked hard in the time we had, but there’s a lot to do here in just 30 minutes!

If you have comments or feedback about this activity or this process please share them on this post!

Have a blessed week!

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Crucified with Christ (5th grade Sunday School lesson this week)

This Sunday in 5th grade Sunday School, we’re discussing and exploring the meaning of Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

We’re using the following presentation in class, along with a movie clip from “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.” Specifically, we’re watching scene 17, titled “Aslan’s Sacrifice.”

Please take some time this week to discuss this verse with your child, which is our memory verse of the week. Discuss what it means to sacrifice, and to live with the knowledge that Christ lives in us. Talk about your own understanding and belief in the crucifixion as well as resurrection of Christ. Talk together about why this belief is a cornerstone of our faith as Christians, and how you live differently each day with this knowledge as well as the faith it provides.

Cross-posted from BLASTcast, except here the Zoho Show embed works! (iframe tags are stripped on WordPress.com sites like BLASTcast, but not from self-hosted WordPress blogs like this one when the “visual” editor is not used.)

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Greyson Chance, YouTube, Lady Gaga, Paparazzi, Ellen and Jesus

Today in our fifth grade Sunday school class, we discussed Edmond 6th grader Grayson Chance and his experiences on the Ellen show Thursday. To start, the students brainstormed answers to three different questions in pairs, and then we shared/discussed them together. (Turn/Pair/Share activity) Each time students had 45 seconds to brainstorm and write down ideas, and then we shared/discussed aloud. Remember these are the results of what STUDENTS brainstormed, not my OWN ideas / lesson notes.

What do you know?

Greyson Chance

  1. Going out with my friend McKenna
  2. On Ellen Show Thursday
  3. Goes to Cheyenne Middle School in Edmond, Ok
  4. 12 years old
  5. 6th grade
  6. sings
  7. plays piano
  8. sang Paparazzi by Lady Gaga on Ellen
  9. writes and sings his own songs
  10. mom texted him in Math class, saying Ellen called
  11. talent show for 6th graders at church
  12. dad videoed his performance and his family told to put on youtube
  13. he is male

Lady Gaga

  1. real name is Stefani
  2. coming to OKC and Grayson will be her opening act
  3. changes her hair/style very often
  4. she sings
  5. she is/looks weird / unique / different
  6. she wears wigs
  7. has odd shows (lots of special effects)
  8. natural hair is brown
  9. she called Grayson on Ellen
  10. she is female

Before our third turn/pair/share brainstorm, I surveyed our class of 11 on the following 2 questions:
– How many of you have heard at least 1 Lady Gaga song before?
– How many of you personally OWN at least one Lady Gaga song on your iPod, as a CD, on your own music player?

These were the results:

Influence of Lady Gaga on our Sunday School Class

(Created with the NCES free “Create a Graph” website)

If you cannot view the Flickr image above at your location, here are our results shared as text:

  1. 11 5th graders here
  2. 10 of 11 have heard at least 1 song
  3. 5 of 11 have her music

These results confirm what I had suspected about this topic: Lady Gaga has a HUGE cultural influence and our 5th grade students not only know about her and are listening to her music, they also know about what happened with Greyson Chance, YouTube, and the Ellen show last week.

We watched this two minute video from the Washington Post about Greyson, the Ellen Show, and Lady Gaga.

Then students then brainstormed answers to the following question, with these results

What do you think the message(s) of Lady Gaga are for YOUR life?

  1. Nothing – just a crazy show
  2. No matter what you do you can be Christian
  3. Stay loose
  4. Don’t be afraid to stand out
  5. Be yourself

Before reviewing our verses of the day, I shared with the students that my lesson messages today are NOT:

  1. You need to or should listen to / watch Lady Gaga music/videos
  2. You need to setup a YouTube channel and publish videos (you can’t have a Google account until you’re 13 legally)

My message in our lesson today IS that we need to take a lot of care when we choose what we put into our brains and hearts through our eyes and ears. Also, a message is that people judge / form opinions about us based on what we SAY (what comes out of our mouths.) We need to strive to follow the words of Jesus and fill ourselves with LIGHT instead of darkness, to be pure and clean vessels.

These are the two verses we read aloud today, wrote down, and discussed:

Matthew 15:10-11 (NIV)

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’

In “The Message” translation this verse reads:

He then called the crowd together and said, “Listen, and take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.”

We discussed the context of this verse in the early church, when non-Christians were sacrificing animals and eating that sacrificial meat. Jesus’ reference to “unclean meat” not polluting our minds is a reference to that meat, which is something Paul wrote about in several of his New Testament letters. This verse and story (which is a very short parable) says that if we say corrupt and vile things, they reveal what is truly in our hearts.

We discussed how people form opinions about us make judgements based on what we say / the things that come out of our mouths. The students shared examples they have heard or seen of unclean things others say (using clean language, of course.) These included:

  1. gossip / slander
  2. profanity
  3. lies
  4. singing the lyrics of songs with bad words or bad messages

We also read and discussed the following verse: Matthew 6:22-23 (NIV)

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

I shared how over the past several months, I have listened to the songs in both of Lady Gaga’s albums, because my 9 year old daughter had purchased “Paparazzi” and as her dad I felt it was important for me to know what messages that song was teaching. We talked about how when we choose to listen to songs and watch videos, the words and messages of those songs are “teaching” things to our minds/brains.

I addressed the student comment that “The lesson of Lady Gaga is ‘No matter what you do you can be Christian”” as being false and a trick. We should avoid being confused by Gaga / Stefani saying she was raised Christian / Catholic, and that she therefore is sharing a Christian message. The words of her songs and the messages of her songs/videos are NOT to follow Christ or live a moral life.

We looked at the numbers of views on Greyson Chance’s YouTube channel, and discussed how remarkable it is that a 12 year old 6th grader from Edmond (right where we live) is having this chance to talk directly with millions of people worldwide. We live in a day when we are more connected than ever, and where we have more opportunities to make choices about what we listen to and watch. We need to choose wisely.

We closed our lesson in prayer for God to help us make good choices about the things we say / the things we choose to let out of our mouths, as well as the things we let into our minds and hearts.

MY OWN THOUGHTS FOLLOWING THE LESSON:

These are very challenging issues to address and discuss with our students, and I certainly tried to tread lightly on some of them. The informal surveys we did today confirmed what I knew going into today’s lesson, however: Gaga’s cultural influence on our children/youth today is HUGE, and we need to be talking about these issues. In March CNN reported Gaga has more views on YouTube than any other artist in the world.

In our own family, these issues have been important in past weeks because I’ve had to decide (as the dad) what will go on our iPods? Should Lady Gaga’s song be on them? While I am not and did not share the message with our 5th graders, “Lady Gaga is the devil,” I have no doubt that Satan IS spreading his lies through her music and videos. In class today we DID talk about who “the father of lies” is, and that he IS real. We need to look at the words and messages which come out of the mouths of others, to discern if they are messages with which we want to fill our minds.

See my post yesterday on my main blog, “From a church talent show to the Ellen DeGeneres Show: YouTube fame for an Edmond 6th grader” for more background and thoughts on this situation, especially as they apply to Internet safety and Greyson specifically.

Cody (our co-teacher) discussed with me after the lesson the popular song “Kiss – Kisse” by Holly Valance. Kids as young as three are running around singing this song today, and as parents/adults we need not just take notice but take action. One of the basic things we all need to be doing in our homes is TALKING about these issues: Finding out what our kids know, what they are hearing, what they are listening to, and what they believe. If our kids (as at least one of our fifth graders today) believe “You can do anything in life and be a Christian,” that is a serious misconception that needs to be addressed. We need to all put on the full armor of God. We’re living in the midst of a culture war, and our own hearts of minds as well as those of our children are at stake.

Let’s all read together and follow the words of John 14:21 (NIV):

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.

(Cross-posted to BLASTcast)

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