Category Archives: Adult Learning

Motivated to Learn – Personal Application

Teach the WordBible study is always important. As we study, we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we study, the Holy Spirit strengthens our faith. But because our thinking still is influenced by sin, we are easily distracted by other issues and even allow those issues to take precedence in our lives. That can happen to those of us who handle God’s Word every day. It also can happen to those who come to study with us in our Bible classes.

As we continue our discussion of one of the principles of adult learning—that adults need to be motivated to learn—we are going to focus on the application. Putting effort into crafting application questions will pay dividends by helping the students recognize why the truth that was studied in God’s Word is important to their lives.

How does a pastor help people see why the lesson is valuable for their lives? Continue reading

Motivated to Learn What Is Useful

Teach the WordThink of a time when you were on the other side of the Bible class lectern. You were sitting in class, but were only marginally engaged. Bombarded with a cacophony of thoughts, worries, and concerns that kept drowning out the voice of the Bible class leader, you found it hard to keep focused. It wasn’t that the Bible class leader wasn’t prepared or that his teaching methods were particularly weak. It was just that, at the moment, the thoughts about life derailed your concentration.

Many of the people sitting in front of you as you teach God’s Word face similar challenges. Their thoughts are overshadowed by worries and concerns.  The challenges in their homes or places of work might seem to be more important or might simply distract them from focusing on, for example, a Bible study about Baptism, or the book of Romans, or on the subject of prayer.

One of the principles of adult learning is that adults need to be motivated to learn.  A strong motivator for learning is the clear understanding of how the learning will be useful to them. Continue reading

From Passive Listening to Active Learning

Teach the WordIn her article last month, Dr. Sue Holtz shared two techniques for involving a Bible study class in active learning. That elicited a question from one of our readers. If our Bible study participants are accustomed to listening passively, a dramatic change in teaching methods could put the learners well beyond their comfort level. What steps can we take to help our classes learn to be (and appreciate being) active learners? In our feature article this month, Rev. Dan Schroeder lays out a 12-week plan for moving the class from passive listening to active learning.

Weeks 1-2
Give the participants 30 seconds to write down their thoughts on a question you pose. Example: “Take 30 seconds and write down as many reasons as you can why it’s important that we have a seminary for training our pastors.” After 30 seconds, ask for volunteers to share what they wrote. After hearing a couple responses, ask if there are any new thoughts that haven’t been shared. This is a great activity for those who are introverts. It allows them to think and process. Continue reading

Help Them Learn and Retain

Teach the WordDr. Sue Holtz is the author of our feature article this month. Dr. Holtz serves as the Director of Technology Integration and Support at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, the seminary of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. She received her doctorate in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service from Cardinal Stritch University in 2004. The topic of her dissertation was Nurturing Cooperative Learning Online. Her background is in teaching business communications at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She has also taught technology courses at various colleges.

Even the most gifted presenter needs a break. The Psalmist says, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well (Psalm 139:14). Neuroscience research tells us that God made our brains to need a break after about 20 minutes of lecture. After 20 minutes of listening to you, it is time to change things up and give your learners a break to help them retain what they have learned.

Continue reading

Best Practices for Presentation Appearance

Teach the WordDr. Sue Holtz is the author of our feature article this month. Dr. Holtz serves as the Director of Technology Integration and Support at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, the seminary of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. She received her doctorate in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service from Cardinal Stritch University in 2004. The topic of her dissertation was Nurturing Cooperative Learning Online. Her background is in teaching business communications at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She has also taught technology courses at various colleges.

“Just because you can does not mean you should.” That phrase does not just apply to our children—it applies to our presentations as well. Presentation software makes it very easy to fall into the trap of adding way too many “bells and whistles.” In this post, we will talk about best practices that guide presentation appearance.

Let’s start with a little background on the way we process what we see on the screen. In our Western culture, we read from left to right and top to bottom. When we are reading a book and turn a page, our eyes automatically head to the upper-left corner of the page. The same is true of a slide, only on a much larger scale. When we look at a slide, our eyes tend to start on the left and then sweep to the right, most often down, but sometimes up, depending on the layout of the slide. When a graphic is thrown into the mix, it becomes another step for our brains to process and can be a virtual speed bump. Add to that the fact that our “page” is most likely at least six feet wide, that can be a lot for our brains to process! Slides should be designed to minimize this “eye sweep.”
Continue reading

Keep It Simple With Backgrounds and Fonts

Teach the WordDr. Sue Holtz is the author of our feature article this month. Dr. Holtz serves as the Director of Technology Integration and Support at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, the seminary of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. She received her doctorate in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service from Cardinal Stritch University in 2004. The topic of her dissertation was Nurturing Cooperative Learning Online. Her background is in teaching business communications at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She has also taught technology courses at various colleges.

Keep it simple. Less is more. How often have we heard these words? They are especially important to remember when we plan and design presentation slides. As we have discussed in previous articles, your goal is to have your audience focus on you and your message–your slides are there to support that goal.

In this article we are going to talk about using backgrounds and fonts appropriately to keep your slides simple. Continue reading

Stewardship Emphasis: 364 Days of Thanksgiving

At its February meeting, the Conference of Presidents adopted 364 Days of Thanksgiving as the synod’s stewardship emphasis for 2016. The stewardship emphasis is based on a book and corresponding Bible study by Pastor Andy Schroer.

In our world, sin, and the effects of sin, seem to be more “in our face” each day. Our daily interactions and confrontations with the effects of sin can be demoralizing, Daily struggles with our own sinful natures discourage us even more. After a while, fear or negativity can shape with way we think about things.

364 days of Thanksgiving challenges us to think differently. It reminds us that even in this imperfect world, God heaps blessings beyond blessings in our lives. One of the greatest skills we could wish for is the ability to recognize these blessings. 364 Days of Thanksgiving helps develop that skill by taking readers into God’s word and aiding them in identifying God’s blessings.

The stewardship committee in one congregation decided to use the Bible study and the sermons included in the Bible study kit. The committee also decided to purchase 100 of the books and to encourage the members to purchase them and use them over the course of a year. Something interesting happened when they announced the program to the congregation. Every time an announcement was made about the program, an anonymous donor would step forward and offer a gift to help cover the cost of the books. By the time the program actually began, the final cost of the book for each participant was $3.00. (Regular cost is $12.99.)

The stewardship chairman said, “I don’t remember ever sensing this kind of enthusiasm for a stewardship program. How blessed we will be if God uses this to help us see more clearly the good things he has placed into our lives.

We all know deep down that God has richly blessed us. But if we take the time, each day, to count our blessings, we can’t help but be filled with overwhelming gratitude.”

To learn more about the worship planning resources WELS Ministry of Christian Giving has developed for this program, click here.

4 Tips for Creating Great Slides With Titles & Bullets

Teach the WordDr. Sue Holtz is our feature article author this month. Dr. Holtz serves as the director of technology integration and support at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, the seminary of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. She received her doctorate in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service from Cardinal Stritch University in 2004. The topic of her dissertation was Nurturing Cooperative Learning Online. Her background is in teaching business communications at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She has also taught technology courses at various colleges.

Last month we talked about planning your presentation. This month we are going to talk about bringing that presentation to the screen. A recent trend in presentations is to move away from slides with a title and a bullet list, to slides that contain a graphic image in the background and a word, phrase, or number that the presenter wants to emphasize. Presentations like this can be very powerful because they allow the audience to focus all its attention on listening to the presenter, rather than reading bullet points while trying to listen. This type of slide is often used in TED talks. I had the opportunity to be in attendance for a presentation that followed this model. It was amazing how much easier it was to listen to the presenter! To learn more about this model read, or research, Weissman’s Presenting to Win![1]

If you are not ready to make that drastic of a change to your presentation style, the next few paragraphs will provide some tips for creating great slides with titles and bullets. Continue reading