Editor's Note:
This thread has both Lesson Planning and Training Docs for use with the computer workshop. You are welcome to post similar information here

The following material was written by Neil MacQueen and came to me in Sunday Software’s Email News UPDATE, September 2006. I have Neil's permission to include it here.

If you have a computer workshop be sure to check out Sunday Software's web site and sign up to receive their email newsletters (they are free!) https://sundaysoftware.com/site/


Beginning a Lesson in the Computer Lab

Here’s how I start my Bible Computer Lab Lessons each week:

  1. I tell my students what we’re going to study today, and why it’s important to our faith. At this point I’ll often write down on our whiteboard several key ideas in the story and key questions we will discuss.
  2. We almost always play a short game of “where do you think this story is located in the Bible?” This refreshes their general Bible knowledge and navigational skills.

  3. Once at the passage, we often look at the context of the day’s story by scanning the Bible pages around our story for clues. When we studied the stories of Jacob & Esau for example, we looked back a little bit to see the story of Abraham & Sarah, and forward to see that Joseph stories were soon to follow. I’ll do this even with non-readers. Even though they can’t read, they enjoy looking at the Bible and finding the passage with our help.

  4. Depending on the software and story we’re studying, we’ll either briefly look at some key verses in their printed Bibles, or read the entire passage. For example, the Abraham CD does a good job of narrating the story, so we’ll just read some highlight verses in their Bibles before going into the software. Sometimes I’ll pull out a picture Bible for younger students. Depending on the story, we may act out the story before or after going into the software. This is especially helpful with young children.

    For relatively short passages or stories, we’ll always read them in their printed Bibles, even if the software is going to retell the story and show the verses. The kids don’t mind a bit seeing it again in the software, and I like the way the repetition aids their memories.

Other Bible Study Tips:

* Have a Bible map handy, especially for stories like Abraham where people move around.
* In some labs, the teacher will demonstrate a piece of software, such as HolyLand 3-D CD to “fly” the students to the location “where today’s story takes place.” It’s a great attention grabbing way to illustrate your introduction to the story.

After our study, I’ll talk about the software we’re using, what to go into, what to look for. Then it’s time to break out to our computer workstations.


Your BEST content is always worth repeating!

Don’t be shy about REPEATING CONTENT in software a SECOND TIME, or even a THIRD TIME. That’s one of the great things about software, --the kids don’t mind seeing it again.

This past week my 5th -8th grade class was studying Sarah’s story in the Abraham & Sarah CD. They were so engrossed in the multimedia images in “Sarah’s Song” the first time through that they needed to go back and listen to the lyrics more closely a second time. How did I know that? Because I was right there with them and asked! So we played it again. The younger children especially, each like to get “their turn” at controlling the story or activity.

Repeatable content is one of the good things that computers bring to Sunday School. Kids will even take a quiz a second or third time to try and improve their score if you tell them they need to.

Repeatable content is one of the good things that computers bring to Sunday School. Kids will even take a quiz a second or third time to try and improve their score if you tell them they need to.

Repeat Pointers:
· In Life of Christ CD, require students to get all 6 questions correct in the quiz before moving on.
· In Fall of Jericho quiz game CD, set the quiz options to repeat questions until a team gets them right.
· In Awesome Bible Stories, tell your students they are to go through each story twice. The first time they can skip the study notes (if you want), but the second time they have to answer them.
· In Play & Learn Children’s Bible CD for non-readers, we’ll often view the story twice if not three times!
· Rotate different students to the mouse when repeating the story.


Turning Assistant Teachers into Lead Teachers

Here’s a great way to prepare your assistant teacher to know the software and learn how to lead the class, without requiring them to put in time outside the lab.

In my church, we rotate different groups of students into the lab each week, but keep the same teachers in the lab for several weeks in a row. This past “rotation” I prepared and led the first week’s lesson and my co-teacher assisted. The second week she led, and I assisted. She watched how I led the lesson the first week, and listened to some of my key questions and comments, then she repeated them the next week when she was the lead teacher. It was like “on-the-job training” that she had already gone through the software the week before with me leading.

My co-teachers and I “POACH” great comments and questions from each other all the time. While we’re at our computer workstations with the kids, we keep an ear out for what the other teachers are doing and saying with their kids. I’ll often quietly slip a question or navigational pointer to another teacher as we go through the software at our stations. As the lead teacher, I also have to keep my eye on the other workstations, to make sure they haven’t skipped something important. So I’ll occasionally raise my voice to the entire class and remind everyone of the things we want them to make sure to see and do. Writing things down on the whiteboard or on a handout for the teacher also help a lot.


Volume Control Solution

Designate a Student to be on “Volume Patrol”
The software volume of various activities, narrations and songs is quite variable. Songs often need to be turned down, while narrations turned up. We have dividers between our computers, and that helps control “sound spray” A LOT. But we also must be constantly aware of how loud or soft a program might be getting. I’ve trained my students to be conscientious about volume. And I ask one of the students to keep their hand near the speaker volume control and make adjustments as we move through the software. I call this “being on Volume Patrol.”

Position the speaker that has the VOLUME KNOB -to the LEFT SIDE of the keyboard, rather than on the right by the mouse. It gives the “leftside student” something to control. Also, remember to PULL your speakers up close to each side of the keyboard, rather than leaving your speakers back behind the monitor. The closer the sound source, the lower the volume required.


Unconventional Uses for Popular Programs

If the passage you’re studying doesn’t have a good memory verse, have students create their OWN memory verse in Cal & Marty’s Scripture Memory Game CD.

Are you finding it difficult to close the class with meaningful prayer? Have your students open up the “Talk Now” module in Let’s Talk CD with five minutes left to go. Invite them to summarize the lesson in a twosentence prayer along the lines of “Thank you God for teaching me today that _______________. Help me in the week ahead to _______________.”

Got a story you just can’t find in any other software? Draw your own talking Bible story booklet in Kid Pix 3 and share it with the kids. You can save your presentation to a diskette and copy to all your computers. On the last page of your presentation, pose a few questions, and have the students “complete your project” with their own content.

Original Post

Free Computer Lab Teacher Training Pamphlet


This document is addressed to your teachers.
It encourages them to preview the software and prepare a lesson plan.
It has some techniques in it as well.

You can download it as a pdf


You can download it as a Word Doc and customize it all you want.

You are welcome to customize it for your own teachers, and you are welcome to copy it in its entirety to give out at seminars.

<>< Neil

Here is the text of the downloadable pamphlet.
You are welcome to copy it from here or off the pamphlet to make a doc for your own teachers. <>< Neil

Teaching with Software

A brief introduction for our volunteers

Thank you for teaching the children! Your guiding presence and love for God’s Word is an important part of their faith journey. Our teaching methods include computers because they are exciting to this generation. They command the kids’ attention, present important content in a memorable way, …and give them a desire to come back for more.

The attraction also creates a challenge for you the teacher. Unlike some other teaching methods, the kids will be eager to get into the software and want to quickly push through it to see all there is to see. And unlike some other learning activities, the kids’ attention will be focused on the screen, and not the teacher. This is why you will need to create some extra structure and expectations in your software lesson. And you will need to become the “guide by the side” when using the software.

Structure and Expectations

When your students first come in, have them come to the discussion table rather than sit at the computers. Have the computers turned on, but turn the monitors off because even a screen saver can be a distraction to the students. They will immediately want to know “what program” they are using today, so write it down on the board. Over time, these habits and expectations will improve their experience and yours.

Guide by the Side

Rather than standing back and watching, we want you to sit down at the computers with your students as much as you are able, --and go through the software with them.

This will accomplish a couple of things:

1. Your presence will settle them down and let each child know their needs will be met (such as “getting their turn” at the keyboard).

2. You can help pace them through the software, rather than letting them rush through.

3. You can point things out, make comments along the way, and stop for discussion. (Without you, kids will naturally try to bypass some content.) You’ll also be able to hear and respond to their comments as well.

4. A guide by the side can help younger children navigate and read onscreen texts. This will allow you to extend many of your software choices ‘down’ to the younger grades.

5. Your proximity to the volume button will help keep each computer’s sound from spraying over onto other computers.
Depending on how many computers and students you have, you may need extra volunteers to help you. Most teachers have found that they can cover 2 to 3 kids per computer at 2 computers.

In order to bring additional volunteers quickly up to speed, make sure you do a thorough introduction at the beginning of the lesson, highlighting key concepts, key questions to wrestle with, and key parts of the program to spend time on.

Many teachers also create a worksheet for students (and teachers) to follow at each computer. The worksheet usually includes instructions and questions to answer, -holding students accountable for paying attention, and giving them something to share back at the discussion table. Some programs have ready-made worksheets available at https://sundaysoftware.com/site/guides-tips/.

How Software Fits in a Lesson Plan

Your software is a component in a lesson plan, not a replacement for one. You’ll still be welcoming and fellowshipping with your students, engaging in face-to-face Bible study and discussion, including other types of learning activities, and reflecting and praying with them.

Some programs were designed like a mini-lesson. They introduce the Bible story, have background notes, pose questions, include games and quizzes, and some even have reflection activities. These programs require more time at the computer, and you can often pick and choose what you want to use out of the software. Some lesson-style programs play like challenging games.

Other programs have activities in them that fit into a specific part of your overall lesson. Such programs may only offer a short story presentation –which would be used as part of your Bible study with your students. Or they may offer a puzzle or quiz activity for use after your study. In some cases, the software may simply provide a content-related game for students to play near the end of your lesson.

The length of time you spend in a program will vary greatly depending on the type program you are using. With some software you may only be at the computer for 10 or 15 minutes. With other software, you may be at the computer almost the entire lesson. For these lengthy programs, be sure to plan plenty of time at the computer.

There are times when you might be using two programs in combination –viewing story content in one, and following up on that content with a puzzle, quiz or reflection activity in another.

Depending on your lesson needs and the software you have, you may address the class as a whole throughout their software use (example: “I’d like everyone to pause for a moment and look over here”) or you may simply provide direction and some time-keeping help to your helpers throughout the lesson while they are at the computers (a “tip” sheet or “talking points” sheet for the volunteers is often appreciated). After using the software, you will mostly likely bring everyone back together around a discussion table for some Q & A and reflection. Because the kids would rather “play at the computer” it’s important to be consistent about these expectations and reinforce them at the beginning of each lesson.

-Getting the Teaching Materials

 Check to see that you have the proper software and the correct number of CDs for the computers you will use. Please obey copyright laws and only use the software on as many computers as we have paid for.

 Print the additional software teaching materials from https://sundaysoftware.com/site/guides-tips/

 Look at the guides and technical tips for your software so that you are aware of any potential problems and can quickly solve them. https://sundaysoftware.com/site/guides-tips/ and https://sundaysoftware.com/site/support/

Preparation & Previewing

 Read the lesson, Bible story, and background materials.

 Test the software ahead of time on each computer where you will be teaching. This is especially important if you have different types of computers.

 Go through the program with its guide in hand. Highlight portions to focus on or skip.

 Be aware of how long it takes to complete certain software activities, and make sure you plan enough time for them at the computers during your lesson.

 Consider age appropriate adjustments –many of which are suggested in the online outlines.

Beginning the Lesson Plan

 At the beginning of every lesson, tell the students what you hope they’ll learn today. Don’t save it until the last 5 minutes of class. (And tell them why it’s an important lesson to you and to their faith.)

 Outline the lesson plan on the board from start to finish. Label each step with how much time they will be spending in there. This will give your students a sense of structure and expectations, and it will help your other volunteers get up to speed.

 Write out the software’s key points, content and instructions on the board: “Here are the sections in the program we will be looking at, here’s what to do when you get to this point, and here’s what I want you to skip.” By writing it down for everyone to see, you’ll not only help your students and volunteers, it will be a good refresher and guide to you as well.

Neil* writes: “Of all the advice I’ve given about teaching with software over the years, I can’t stress these ‘beginning steps’ enough. They put the students, volunteers and me(!) at ease with clear expectations.”

Closing for the Day

1. Check the CD drives and put away the software.

2. Shut down the computers using the operating system’s shut down method.

3. Check to make sure the monitors and speakers are turned off.

4. Remember to turn off the lights and lock the door behind you (if needed).

In Conclusion

Yes, this is more involved than teaching with popsicle stick crafts or watching a DVD! …but we are also hoping for better results. The kids will be ecstatic about your lesson and want to come back for more. If you have any software and lesson questions, check with our contacts listed below, or email Neil@sundaysoftware.com.


*Copyright Neil MacQueen, https://sundaysoftware.com/site/. This pamphlet may be printed and/or altered for local congregational use provided this copyright info remains with it. The original text of this pamphlet was printed from https://sundaysoftware.com/site/ and was written by Neil MacQueen, a Presbyterian minister who has been teaching with software since 1990, and the developer of many Christian software titles.

This copy of the pamphlet was posted at Rotation.org in their Computer Workshop design and training forum. Rotation.org encourages the posting of free materials but does not necessarily endorse them.

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