First off, the creativity in the story clips is very refreshing. The clips are concise, eye-catching, and easy for teens, or pre-teens in my case to refer back to. I have used a few of these story clips so far with different groups of students and have found that starting with The Story video clips and then following up with some questions that ask students to explain what they saw has been very helpful for them. The clips allow the students to see a broader context of multiple chapters,or even books of the Bible in a short period of time which allows them to see God’s larger story playing out.
Michael Novelli has seen that when teens experience a story, as opposed to it being told or shown to them, they absorb and remember it more thoroughly. This DVD offers youth workers a new way to engage teens in the grand narrative of the Bible.
One of the downfalls for me was that some of the clips cover a large portion of scripture, so it makes using these clips outside of the curriculum very difficult. For example, if you were teaching a 3 week series on Nehemiah, or Revelation there is only one clip that covers these works. Also, the miracles and parables of Jesus are also covered in one section. This is only a minor flaw for me because it goes outside of the intended use of the curriculum, but for a small, or none existent budget for some youth groups the re-usable ability of the clips could be very important.
However, what you do get in this curriculum is very impressive.
The DVD Contains:
31 video sessions (including additional Recap and Rewind videos)
Reproducible Teacher’s Guides for 31 weeks including Reading Scripts
Reproducible Student handouts
Subtitles (please use subtitle option and not the CC option on your tv or DVD player)
The handouts are great and they ask the students to interact with the story with all their senses. This is fantastic for all the learning types that can be found within any group of students. They can draw, listen and engage in simple question formats and I have found that the artistic outlets with this curriculum, especially in a camp setting make this a must for any Jr. High group.
The students are asked to engage the story that they have just heard and to timeline the events, but they get to choose the character whose point of view they would like to focus on. I have had students draw out the major points of Nehemiah’s story from Nehemiah’s criticizers point of view. I love the creativity that this curriculum draws out and it is written in a way that allows this to flow naturally.
As a leader you get a scrip of the story that is a paraphrase of the passages that are covered. We have used these to act out stories as well as to read in a large group setting. I have found that reading has not brought out the creativity and if you are teaching from the front of the room knowing the story so that you can tell it without the script allows for greater use of the students imagination.
You also receive a student handout and this is where there is a clear intention to include all learning types. Students are asked on these handouts to engage the story in three ways.
1) See the story.
2) Hear the story.
3) Join the story.
The last written piece that is at your disposal as a leader is the Teacher Guide. The guide is full of scriptural references, context and personal preparation suggestions. It then breaks down how to break down 75 minutes in order to get the most out of the curriculum. It timelines each step of the night as a guideline for you that allows you to place more emphasis on the key areas that you would like to focus on within your group. You can emphasize prayer time, teaching time, engagement, or small groups as this is meant to be a tool not a rule to go by.
Part 1 – Rewind
- Intro and prayer, video of the previous week and brief response
- 5 Min
Part 2 – See the story
- Explanation and handout, session video, create symbols, share symbols with group
- 10 min.
Part 3 – Hear the story
- Story reader scripture reading, student response to scripture, break into small groups.
- 25 min
Part 4 – Join the story (small groups)
- Discuss story, create personal responses, share the response, closing prayer.
- 35 min.
There is an even more detailed breakdown for a typical session in the Teacher Guide that is really helpful. I have found that this helps volunteers manage their small group time and to keep the focus on the scripture. I do think that if small groups are a focus in your ministry there needs to be time built into the schedule that allows for time for personal sharing of the weeks activities for the students.
I would recommend that any youth group that wants to teach on the metanarrative, or even any group that is looking for an affordable curriculum. You can find the DVD curriculum for around 50 dollars in most locations and can be found on The Story website. One perk is that you can teach this curriculum without any of the other Story products as the scriptures are given to you. I would give this curriculum a 8/10.