Using PowerPoint in school Assemblies

Using PowerPoint in school Assemblies

Many school halls are now fully equipped with the latest projectors and sound systems. However, just because the equipment is there, it does not mean you have to use it for your assembly. The real question is, if you do decide to use it, how can you enhance your assembly and make it as memorable as possible.

Projector

Here are a few tips that should help.

1. Ask yourself why.

Begin by asking yourself why you want to use PowerPoint or similar presentation software. If it is simply to make the pupils think that Christianity is modern and up to date, then stop. The fact is, PowerPoint has been around for a while now and in some settings has been over used. People have become over familiar with it and can just as easily ignore what is taking place on the screen.

2. It is a tool.

Remember that it is a tool to help the pupils engage with what you are doing. Always start by getting your content right and then consider if using PowerPoint is going to enhance your content or detract from it.

3. Keep it Simple.

One of the dangers is to create very fancy slides that contain too much information. A well selected photo and a few words can be much more effective. Remember some pupils will be visual learners and for them it is true that ‘a picture speaks a thousand words.’ Avoid lots of different fonts and animations as they can be a distraction. Simply having the next item appear is a great way to maintain interest.

4. Check the technology.

Before you set out, make sure you have your presentation in a format that can be used in school. Don’t assume you can just connect your laptop or memory stick to a school network. Arrive in plenty of time to make sure that everything works and any clips or music can be played correctly.

5. Have a plan B.

Always be prepared for the worst case scenario. If the projector stops working, or the sound cannot be heard, or the assembly has had to be moved to another room without a projector, what will you do? Have you got a paper copy of your presentation and notes so that you can at least refer to them?

Written by Geoff Brown, Development Worker (Schools), SU North East & Yorkshire Region.

 

What is an assembly?

Written by Rob Steward, SU schools development worker for NW

What is an assembly?

  • Hundreds of children squeezed tightly into a hall, with food remains from lunch time stuck to their feet being talked at for 30 minutes.
  • A small group of children listening to a song, or a story maybe whilst sitting comfortably on the carpet in the classroom.
  • A PowerPoint presentation uploaded on the shared school server for teachers to use in their own classrooms.

In a busy school day it is often difficult to ensure that the legal requirement for a daily act of worship can be fitted in especially if the logistics of getting pupils to and from the hall take as much time as the assembly itself.

As a Christian with experience of teaching myself, I see the validity and opportunities made available through what is called daily collective worship with large sections of the school meeting together. In the increasing secularisation of the ‘school experience’, assemblies are one of the largest windows of opportunity for churches to make links with the school community. Furthermore, an awareness of identity and community is established when large groups worship together, and these experiences in early childhood serve to underpin their growing understanding of church community, worship and the role of music in our interaction with God.

However it is also possible to create an environment for collective worship in the classroom. There are obvious benefits in this model as it takes up less time but can still involve listening to a song, times of reflection, a story or other elements of collective worship. Pupils are stopping to worship in a smaller, more intimate setting and led by their own classroom teacher. But what happens if the classroom teacher feels unable or inadequate to develop effective times of collective worship?

Recently I have heard from a school in which many of their acts of collective worship are now done in classrooms with the use of a classroom computer. The head teacher pre prepares a PowerPoint presentation and uploads it on the shared school server for teachers to use in their own classrooms. Suddenly even reluctant teachers, unsure of what collective worship is, have the capacity to adapt, facilitate and take a lead. The scope for this is huge. Videos, songs, quotes and photos can all be used in smaller environments for the children to reflect on and use.

To think about !

Are you able to provide a service for your local school by creating similar presentations for schools to use in the classroom? if you would like to explore this opportunity more why not email Rob on RobS@scriptureunion.org.uk for more information on how to begin.

 

Prayer and Assembly

Prayer and assembly

Time to pray or time to reflect?

Lisa Jones, Schools development worker for the South East considers this question:

You have arrived at that point in an assembly when you need to give the children an opportunity to respond. Now is the crunch question. Do you ask them to reflect or to pray? This is something to consider as you prepare for the assembly rather than leave it until you stand before the assembled group.

Some things to consider:

  • What is my relationship with the school and with the head teacher in particular?
  • What guidelines does the school give for their acts of collective worship?
  • Is there an expectation that I will ask the children to pray or not?
  • What am I aiming to do in the assembly?

Legally acts of collective worship are to be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian nature, unless the school has applied for a determination. However it does not mean that it gives us carte blanche to say any prayer.

Standing at the front of the whole school and seeing the faces of the children I am acutely aware of my position of responsibility and therefore I carefully consider what am I asking these children to join in with. We need to do the thinking beforehand so that when we invite them to join in we do so confident that we have responsibly helped them think things through.

If prayer is not part of the schools regular activity and you have a good relationship with the school, then you may want to suggest doing an assembly on prayer.

Another point I ponder in my preparation is what am I actually aiming to do in this assembly and what is my aim with assemblies generally. Therefore doing an assembly on prayer may be particularly useful. The assembly can help the children explore what prayer actually is and you can try a few different types to encourage more exploration. There are some ideas in this website about assemblies on prayer. Schools are concerned with learning about faith including practices such as prayer, so for those schools less confident or experienced in offering opportunities to pray you may be able to help them explore how to do so in a way that everyone is comfortable. There must always be an opportunity to opt out but when addressed properly you may be surprised by how many want to participate. For some prayer ideas have a look at Ultimate Creative prayer or visit our website .

Having said all this it is always good to leave students with something to ponder over in the days to come. Points of reflection can be built into the body of the assembly as well as at the end of the presentation. It can then be time to reflect and to pray.

Other websites to consider: schoolswork.co.uk and assemblies.org.uk

 

Reflections of a schools worker

Wayne Dixon reflects on assemblies.

When I was at primary school in East London I remember my Headteacher, Mr Windsor, taking assemblies and using large drawings as illustrations. They were like the outlines in the Good News Bible, only bigger. Assemblies are where you can make an ‘impression’ on a large group of people that can be built on elsewhere, as well as being ‘stand alone’. What drives this is the opportunity to give the listeners and watchers something of what Jesus said and did that still makes a connection TODAY. You start with where they are at and take them to where you want them to be! They are scary and nerve racking experiences STILL but I do love them; I’ve found them to be a platform for explaining who I am and what I believe. Despite the many changes over the years that are perhaps placing assemblies more on the fringe of school life, it is great that they are still being used by so many visitors who are able to contribute to this part of school life and make a difference. I have been encouraged.

In the early days most schools had some sort of assembly every day. Today that has changed significantly from maybe one assembly a week for a year group or part of a school, to ‘nothing’ for days. Exam season is a particular example especially because halls are useful venues for exams, meaning that assemblies are either shifted or cancelled. It is also very difficult to get the whole school together in one place. It is more common now to find year group, lower or senior school, or house assemblies becoming the norm in many schools. FLEXIBILITY is vital here for adapting to the on-going changes.

If you don’t feel able to lead an assembly on your own why not consider working with others and be part of an assembly team. When I started working for SU I remember one church group, Plan A from the River Church in Maidenhead, having a team going into schools and doing some great work. Today this continues with all sorts of combinations: ‘Open the Book’ is one that is developing and making a great impression. What I like about this is the flexibility of the project, and the fact that it is developing people to make a significant contribution over a consistent period of time. Every Thursday, or whatever day it is, a team will come in and do an assembly. It sticks, is very worthwhile and I trust it will continue while we still have the opportunities. To find out more about Open the Book check out www.openthebook.net

Wayne Dixon

 

Secondary School Assemblies

Secondary School Assemblies

Secondary School Assemblies

So, Monday morning has arrived after a wet & cold half-term break, and the assembly is waiting at a school half an hour away.  Of course, you’re well prepared, having established what is to be presented and what materials are going to be used. And having cemented the outline into your head, you’re now rehearsing how it will go on the journey to the school.  Of course, you’ll need to allow for the many eruptions of belly-laughter from the 200 Year 11 students who are going to be truly blessed by your phenomenal wit in just a short time….

Once signed in, you make your way to the hall to discover that exams are underway and the hall is out of action.  But they’re delighted to announce they have a backup location for you in the large common area where several classrooms meet.  It will seat 200 easily…if they’re 4 years old!  On entering the common room, your obvious delight at the room change is magnified further by discovering there is no projector, no screen – in fact, no plug sockets!  Plan ‘B’ will have to come into action – but you’re prepared for that too…aren’t you?

With seconds to go, the head of year 11 enters and gives you a double-take that any Oscar nominee would be proud of and says “Is it today you’re coming in?”.  You decide not to reply as you feel your presence is a sufficient answer.

So, you’re in and ready for Plan ‘B’ assembly as the Year 11 students make their way to the common area.  You can sense their delight at how soon Monday morning has arrived by their slowly-than-snail-pace to get into the area.  Their pace is further reduced by the wonderful news that they won’t be sat on chairs this morning either…the girls particularly love this revelation.

Still, you are here as their Monday morning superhero…here to save them from an otherwise dull beginning to the week.  But just before your shining moment, the HoY announces they “just want to make a quick announcement before handing over to you”.  And then it comes.  The biggest rollicking you have experienced since Delia Smith’s motivational half-time rouser to Norwich City in 2005.  As the Year 11s discover that all lunchtime privileges have been removed following a minority groups’ antics at the end of last Half-Term, and that their Leavers Prom is hanging on a wire, the teacher ends with “and now we hand over to our visitor today….”

Over to you, then.

Granted, this should be a one-off, or hopefully something we prepare for but never experience.  But it does raise the question “what is the best way to plan and deliver an assembly?”.  So, the following pointers are a mixture of tips & objectives that help me effectively communicate the Gospel in assemblies.

Make it count  It’s quite obvious, but we can easily see assemblies as a ‘box tick’ rather than a fresh opportunity to share Jesus.  Each assembly should have a strong and relevant message, a punchy relation to Christianity and a clear challenge for students to leave with.

An audience of One? It’s not a case of scoring points with Him, but God deserves the very best.  So, our last assembly after a tiring week should have as much clout as the first – and conversely, the first should be as practised and ironed out as the last.  He’s already proud of us, but let’s make every moment on school soil appear as if it’s our last surviving opportunity to share Jesus.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint With the above in mind though, God also gives us tact.  If we treat an assembly as a Billy Graham moment and have altar calls and a plea for students to change their ways, we may find it really will be our last opportunity to share Jesus…because they won’t want us back!  We experienced this ourselves with a keen volunteer a few years ago…it took several months to restore trust with staff and even then our input was limited.  My hope is that assemblies are a foot in the door to other work in the school.  So, while it’s important to fulfil the Great Commission, glorify Jesus and claim more souls for Christ, we can also sow some cracking seeds to be reaped in the coming terms and years.  It’s always a balance, and we can ask God to help us get it right.

Teachers have ears too I’ve had amazing conversations with teachers over the years, and have even had some commit to Alpha Courses and be part of local churches.  So, if there is an opportunity to have a coffee in the staff rooms and have a natter – seize the moment!  It’s also a chance to chat about any other work that can be done in school, and for them to see that you’re normal.  Unless you’re not.  But have a coffee anyway.

Be you If you’re not a natural stand-up comedian, a Monday morning assembly may not be the best place to put fear into Harry Hill.  Teenagers are the best judges of character and can spot a phoney!  They also have huge respect for folk who may not fit the mould but are so comfortable with who they are.  Interestingly, this will be a massive message in itself to the year group before you even deliver the assembly…!

Get critical If you’re blessed with colleagues, get to a place where you can critique each other’s part in the assembly.  It’s a great way to stay on track, not develop any bad habits (like saying “erm” every five seconds!) and ensure the assembly is as slick as it can be!

Do your flies up! While we may not experience wardrobe malfunctions, it’s good to make sure any props are in the right place, presentations are cued up and we are ‘owning the space’.  I prefer not going on the stage and aim to stay on the same level as the students, but it’s still important to have a good presence at the front.  So get into the middle at the front, not apologetically from the side, give good eye contact with students and create a good presence at the front (your ‘critics’ can help with this).

Enjoy it! Yes, assemblies can be nerve-wracking and you may have moments where you wish the ground would swallow you up.  But God is delighting in us every time we share His amazing news with others – so we’re allowed to have a good time as well!

Give it back to Him We started with God as the whole point of the assembly…so it’s only right we give it back to Him afterwards.  Find time during the day to give thanks to God and reflect on How best to share Him in the next school…

It would be pretty arrogant (and completely stupid)  to say the above list is all that’s needed to deliver the best assemblies the world has ever seen.  With God at the centre though, and our desire to serve Him through effective communication of the gospel, we can’t go far wrong.

But for those of us still dreading an assembly on Monday morning, remember that “God is striding ahead of you.  He’s right there with you…!” (Deu. 31:8).

Written by Matt Ager, Secondary Schools Coordinator cYo Braintree District Trust

Top Tips for leading assemblies

Top tips for leading assemblies

Top Tips for leading assemblies

Wayne Dixon has been working with Scripture Union for over 20 years as a schools worker. His work is primarily with the secondary sector though he has experience of the primary context through It’s Your Move! and Christmas and Easter Presentations with churches in Slough and the surrounding area..   Wayne’s top tips when leading assemblies are:

  1. Be you, yourself and no-one else
  2. Arrive early (not on time) to allow for holds up and to set up
  3. Be flexible with timings (you may have been given ‘x’ minutes but in the end time is lost for a variety of reasons)
  4. Be careful with language (you need to explain? – As a christian I believe – Christians believe)
  5. Use the bible  appropriately  (don’t just talk about it – read it / quote it but not large chunks)
  6. Think carefully about praying  ? Tricky one
  7. Put assemblies in context (they are not the be all – but an opportunity in a short time to create a good impression on a fair size group)

Rob Steward joined Scripture Union early this year after being a primary school teacher for 9 years. From a teacher’ perspective Rob’s  top tips would be:

  1. Be on time and ensure you keep to the time you have been given.
  2. Keep it simple.
  3. Keep it multisensory
  4. The power of a story still remains. Children love stories. Get them involved in acting it out as you tell it.
  5. One of the main keys to behaviour management is eye contact with the children and effective use of voice ( slow, fast, loud, quiet)
  6. Be on good terms with the secretaries – they are important people in schools!
  7. Take another person from the local church with you. I think it is always good for children to see a wide spectrum of Christians.

School assemblies – Thoughts and tips

School assemblies – thoughts and tips from Rachel Foster of Bridgebuilder trust Milton Keynes

A school assembly is one of the few times when the whole school community joins together as one. The short snippet of time during a busy day offers a different focus from other activities.

Assemblies bring opportunities for pupils to think not just about themselves, but beyond themselves. It’s a time where they have the space to think about values, morals and faith and a chance for them to reflect on the things that affect them, influence them and shape them.

As Christian visitors in a school, it is essential to conduct ourselves in an acceptable and appropriate manner. Building good relationships is fundamental to becoming part of the school family and having further opportunities to share the Christian faith and values.

It’s easy for us to think that our job is to preach and convert! The truth is schools are a place to educate not evangelise. We can use phrases like ‘The Bible says…’ or ‘Christians believe…’ We must remember that it is not our place to tell anyone what to think or believe. We may, however, encourage people to think about what they do believe.

It’s also important to remind ourselves that our actions speak louder than our words. The way we interact can have an incredibly positive influence. By making eye contact with pupils and smiling at them, we show that we care and value them. By being genuinely interested in staff and having time to listen to them, we can be like a breath of fresh air in a difficult environment. We should always ask God to shine out of us in all we do and say.

Our society brings many challenges for children and young people as they grow and develop, so being invited into schools to take an assembly is a privilege and a responsibility.

Below are a few tips to help as we prepare for the task:

  • Be prepared Have a good starter to get the children and staff interested and thinking. Use a good story with something visual and interactive to make it memorable. Conclude with time to reflect and a thought to challenge.
  • Have a clear aim Be sure of your theme or message and stick to it.
  • Believe that what you are saying is valuable Being confident brings clarity.
  • Be relaxed If you are relaxed and calm, your audience will be too!
  • Smile and make eye contact The pupils will know that you value them and they will be engaged.
  • Use the right language Don’t use big words or Christian jargon.
  • Be sensitive to pupils from different faiths Don’t say or do anything that you would not like a visitor from another faith group to say or do if you were in the audience.
  • Encourage pupils to think about what they believe Use phrases like ‘I wonder what you think…?’ or ‘Have you ever thought about that before…?’
  • Use your voice Be loud, clear and deliberate. Talk in a loud whisper for effect.
  • Use humour and timing Make it entertaining by using a little humour. Pause and allow time for what you are saying to sink in.
  • Be positive If you need to bring a little order, praise good behaviour – others will follow.
  • Be yourself Don’t try to copy anyone else’s style. Be true to who you are and enjoy it!

Rachel has written  assembly outlines ideal for use in the run up to the Olympic games. Team Talk gives you five presentations for KS2 assemblies featuring Bible stories told by Jon Burns and  the sporting experiences of five athletes talk about how Jesus makes a difference in their lives. To purchase a copy of Team Talk click here.

It’s Your Move

All Change.

The summer term is often overshadowed for many by exams and the knowledge that it is time to move on from the familiar school to a different and sometimes larger establishment. For those moving from primary to secondary school the change comes often with excitement and apprehension. Schools have acknowledged this time of change and often link up with secondary schools for shared visits.

Scripture Union has a long history of working in partnership with churches as they support their local schools during this time. It’s Your Move! is a booklet to be given to each pupil moving to secondary school. It offers plenty of practical advice in an easy to read format. There is useful information about issues young people face, such as, homework, bullying, teachers, and coursework. First published in 2001 it is frequently updated to meet the needs of pupils. This revised edition features all-new real-life story profiles and articles, more interactive elements and an updated design for 2012. It has a more contemporary feel for a new generation of children moving on.

Many churches purchase enough booklets for each pupil moving onto secondary school. If your church is interested in doing this why not check with other churches in the area and the school and work together to provide the support these pupils need. It may be useful to appoint an It’s Your Move! Coordinator to ensure everyone is clear about what is happening and when.. In some areas individuals or teams of local Christians lead assemblies or offer lessons about transition alongside the distribution of the booklets. Students or 6th formers who have finished their exams are great people to take into primary school as they can share recent experiences and answer any questions the pupils may have.

There are lots you can do and you need to be clear before you approach the school about what you are able to offer. If you are interested in finding out more about It’s Your Move! or about partnering with your local school then why not contact your regional team who would be willing to talk to you about this.

To take a look at the new booklet click here.