For any lesson you are doing on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-11), you may wish to combine this discussion activity that helps students think about how the Beatitudes apply to their own lives.
Print these five phrases using thick marker on separate sheets of scrap paper: 1) Strongly Agree; 2) Agree; 3) Somewhat Agree; 4) Disagree; 5) Strong Disagree. Tape these scrap papers at regular intervals along one long wall in your classroom or on the floor in a large center space.
Point out the agree-disagree continuum. Tell the students you will ask a question or read a statement related to the Beatitudes. Choose a group of four or five students to move silently and stand near the spot on the continuum that most closely approximates how they feel. Pause between each statement and ask the students to explain their positions. Use the following statements and add some of your own.
- I will choose a career that serves people in need over a career that makes more money.
- Most poor people could help themselves if they chose to.
- I could forgive someone who injured or killed one of my family members.
- Good can come from suffering.
- I would rather be known more assertive than meek.
- Anger is a feeling that should be avoided at all costs.
- My attitudes and actions are affected by news stories about wars and starving children.
- When my friends hurt, I hurt.
- Everyone is out for themselves.
- I expect to be rewarded for worshipping God.
- The world will never be absent of war.
- I consider myself a peacemaker.
- I would die for my Christian beliefs.
- I would comfortably say a blessing before eating a meal in a public restaurant.
- I will stick up for an unpopular classmate who is being treated unjustly.
After everyone in the initial group has had a chance to speak, call on another group to repeat the exercise. Or, use only one group of students to navigate the continuum but extend the conversation by calling on the other students to comment from their seats on the various items and how they might choose.