Teaching FASTly should not be a matter of broadcasting information while students passively take notes and repeat what they hear. It is possible to hear and repeat information without letting it challenge our underlying frameworks of thought or our character and commitments. Teaching FASTly entails considering how we help students engage with what is being learned. How can we ensure students participate and become involved?
Becoming active and engaged does not necessarily imply any specific type of activity, but there are many possible ways of involving students in what they are learning, including:
- active listening
- vigorous discussion
- answering questions
- taking part in role play
- solving problems
- delighting in something that is learned
- doing independent and/or group research
- collaborating with, serving, and helping others
- praying for one another
- looking for life applications
- making presentations
- making decisions and commitments
For any given lesson, we have to choose the ways of engaging that best fit the purpose.
Obstacles to involvement include apathy and exclusion. Apathy is a lack of interest, engagement, or inquisitiveness. Apathy makes it difficult to ask big questions, feel the needs of others, and be moved to do anything about them. Exclusion happens when one or more learners do not feel able to participate fully in the group’s learning. We need intentional strategies for actively involving all students.
FASTly activities aim to move beyond information to active involvement. Some of the strategies for achieving this include:
- creating a series of recurring or longer-term projects that ask students to revisit and extend their ideas and discuss them with various people, including peers and family members. Activity: Ethical Issues Investigation
- giving students responsibility for researching information that is needed by the whole class, and having them report their findings to the rest of the class in a brief presentation. Activity: The Bible and Bodies
- making explicit time available for students to reflect on the implications of what they are learning for their own beliefs and commitments. Activity: Knowledge…for What?
- asking students to use a variety of media to re-articulate what they have been learning for audiences outside the classroom. Activity: Inviting the Community
As you browse the FASTly activities, look out for the different strategies they offer for engaging students in a deeper involvement with faith and science.