Category Archives: Teach the Word

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.

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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.”
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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

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

How to Avoid the Five Cardinal Sins of Presentations

Teach the WordThis is the first article in a series by Dr. Sue Holtz, who serves as the director of technology integration and support at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, the seminary of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Dr. Holtz’s background is in teaching business communications at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She has also taught technology courses at various colleges.

“What’s the point?”

”How long is this presentation going to last?”

“Man, is it hard to read the tiny words on his slides; thankfully, he is reading the slides to us.”

“And what about those dancing bears and flying bullet points?”

Have you ever had these thoughts while watching a PowerPoint presentation? Do you wonder if anyone has ever had these thoughts while you were presenting?

Over the next few months, we are going to talk about some of the dos and don’ts of using slides in presentations and sharing tools to help you create and use your slides well. We will also talk about ways to get the members of your audience involved and hold their attention. The tips will be valuable to you whether you use PowerPoint, KeyNote, or Prezi. Continue reading

Teach With This Trait in Mind: Immediate Application

Teach the WordThis is the final article in a five-part series by Prof. Stephen Geiger, who teaches education and New Testament at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, the seminary of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

Why study the Bible?

The Apostle Paul gives a great answer to Timothy:

“From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

Note one word in that answer. The saving Scriptures are useful. Scripture is not mere theory.  Scripture is not just something we contemplate with deep thoughts. God’s revelation directly addresses our lives. It’s helpful. It’s beneficial. It is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path. Continue reading