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Madrassah Teaching Tips on Creative, Productive, Interactive Lessons

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

In the name of God, Compassionate, Merciful بسم الله الرحمن الرحيمِ | Peace be with you السلام عليكم

Our top ideas for teaching Islamic Studies at your mosque, madrassah or Sunday school. We are currently implementing our ideas (may Allah accept it, ameen) so we vouch for the real productiveness. See similar ideas on www.facebook.com/ZaufishanIqbal. Please do share!

"The best of you is one who LEARNS Qur'an and TEACHES it to others" - Hadith.

Teaching at the local mosque is hitting it's full stride now as we enter phase 2 of the curriculum: Duck and cover. Phase 1 is what the American military would call Friendly Fire. Those bits of shrapnel stuck in your eyes and hijab? Yeah, that's the committee shooting with aim. Despite their jihadi past, the mosque committee is tolerable and my sister 'the-almost-approved' mosque teacher has produced a collection of what I think are some of the best resources around. Of course, I would think that, she's my sister and I love her but I'm still objective and critical of what needs improving.

Together, over the last 6 months, we have produced lesson plans and effective resources for our students. We did this because our students were starving of "love" - after a day of interactive public education, the mosque is not much less than a chore for some of them. We also did this because our long-standing committee hadn't made much before and thus the educational department required change, insha-Allah.

My sister does all the hard work of research, authenticating and differentiation (teachery term), while I develop the information with simple designs. Pictured above is our interactive Tafsir book of the 'Juz Amma, the 30th volume of the Qur'an, which we designed to meet our students' needs. What we do is hand out a blank Tafsir workbook for students to work on in lesson. After completion it's filed in individual ringbinders and kept in class for security. Students maintain clean and neat work but we allow lots of colour and writing equipment. I won't get into dealing with the student trouble-makers or their incessant questioning, 'But like, what if I take his money, divorce him, and leave the country - is that Halal?' You get the idea, it's Islamic hullaballo. Ma-sha-Allah!

Right. Here's what we learnt so far and would like to share with you. We hope it gives you ideas to tweak for your own mosques and classes. Also, if you're a parent, try suggesting your child's mosque to take something useful on board. Alhamdulillah.

MAKE CREATIVE & PRODUCTIVE RESOURCES:
  • Use plenty of colour and invest in a laserjet printer for mass printing.
  • On the topic of manners (adab), get younger students to paint and cut out a Good Word Achievement Tree on which to tack 'Well Done! Ma-sha-Allah!' paper apples when exemplary behaviour is shown. Protect this tree with a display sheet or the kids will ruin it (happened twice with us).
  • Avoid just typing and printing reams of stuff when you can present it in so many ways. Use powerpoint slides and a projector. A whiteboard is affordable and Smart-Whiteboards are in every school, invest in either (long gone are the days of slate and chalk!) Cut up old card to make display titles. Rip out the blank pages of school books to use for drawing games (like, Guess That Sahabi) and re-use old text books to make posters on Arabic language.
  • If you have a skill, harness it. Whether it's drawing or fixing shelves, find a way to creatively install your ability into your classroom.
  • Sketch diagrams with blank spaces for students to fill as you teach.
  • Order the Scribe book from Learning Roots for students to practise their Arabic writing.
  • For lesson plans, structure the time into a Menu: Begin with an appetising starter (a 5 minute activity like halal speed dating, which is essentially a pop quiz), then a main course of intensive work with a break, and a dessert to recap the session.
  • Funding for all these resources is not easy and even with wealthier mosques, the educational department seems to get the scraps after the budget meeting. Do not give up hope. Organise a fare to raise money for materials and equipment. Ask students to bring in what they have at home or to chip in £2 each for the class project.

How to make it environmentally friendly:
  • When printing, use biodegradable inks and recycle but high-grade quality paper. Staples.co.uk have a wide selection of eco-stationery; check out the affordable Recycled Paper Supplies from which you can order online, and GreenStat.
  • Recycle materials to make scrapbooks, poetry boards and wall decorations during `Eid. See The Eco Muslim mosque class upcycle their own workbook - fantastic creations!
  • Ask students to bring in opened envelopes and newspapers to make mini-booklets for small projects.
  • Reward all the students for keeping the mosque clean and choose an eco-Ambassador to represent the mosque at events.
May Allah accept your efforts and ours and keep our intentions pure.

More like this:
- Teaching Mosque Students About Paradise
- 3D Mosque Model For Ramadan Crafters
- Word Of The Day: Masjid Or Mosque?
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