Welcome your students to class. As everyone settles in, facilitate a conversation about students’ least favorite memories from their time as a student since the start of the pandemic. (Answers might include having to learn remotely, feeling disconnected from their teachers and peers, or not having a great desk setup at home.) Then, ask students to share some of their favorite memories of being a student over the last couple years. (Answers might include getting to return to school for in person/hybrid options, getting to learn at their own pace, etc.). When everyone is settled in and has shared, set the backpack in front of the class.
Thinking back on previous years of being a student can bring up lots of happy and fun memories. But it can also remind us of painful times, or times of growth and change. Let’s try something out. Imagine this backpack is yours and you’re back at your first day of middle school.
- What would you advise your middle-school self to have in their backpack? (Notebooks, pens, cell phone, etc. Encourage them to think about what might help them in social situations, too—maybe gum or breath mints, body spray, etc.)
- What advice would you give your just-starting-middle-school self? (Allow several answers. Answers could include Mr. Smith is strict—watch out; you have to walk fast to get from Math to PE; or no one is staring at the zit on your chin—stop worrying about it, etc.)
- If you were going to write a book of advice for middle schoolers, what would you include in it? (Allow several answers, spanning school subjects to sports to relationships.)
Let’s take these ideas and put them into order. If we were writing a book of advice to middle schoolers, what would the chapter titles be?
On the whiteboard or screenshared document, draft the table of contents for your advice book. Help your class think through what subjects they’d include and how they’d organize it.
- Has much changed since you were in middle school? What new challenges might middle schoolers be facing that you didn’t face? (Answers could include things like more students attend hybrid classrooms; more of them have smartphones, so social media plays a bigger role in their lives; or maybe the apps they are using with their friends have changed. Maybe the teachers are different, or the class size is bigger or smaller, or everyone is issued a tablet for assignments and snow days now, etc.)
- What could we do to make sure our book is still relevant to today’s middle schoolers? (Keep the principles general, rather than advising on specific things [like a teacher’s name], talk with current middle schoolers, etc.)
You guys are not that far removed from middle school, so you still have a pretty good feel for what’s going on and what advice middle schoolers need. But what if a 40-year-old wrote this book? Or an 80-year-old? Would they be able to write current and relevant advice for modern-day middle schoolers? God’s Word, the Bible, is kind of like our advice book for life. How can a book that’s thousands of years old still be relevant to our lives today? Thankfully, God’s Word still does equip us for life. Let’s dive into our study and find out how.