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Program Structure (Spirit in Practice)

All ten workshops in the Spirit in Practice program follow a similar structure. Between an opening and a closing ritual, participants engage in up to five activities. The opening includes a chalice lighting, and the closing includes an extinguishing of the chalice. Each workshop features a central story and includes a time for sharing names.

All workshops offer enough activities for a one-hour session, plus one or more additional activities for extending the workshop to an hour and a half or longer. Leaders should decide in advance how long each workshop will be so that they and participants can schedule the time and arrange transportation and child care.

If you are reading the Spirit in Practice curriculum online, you can move as you wish among a workshop's elements—Opening, Closing, Activity 4, Resources, etc. Each element occupies its own web page. You can click "print this page" to print just the Opening, for example, or just the Resources section. You can also download a single entire workshop—or download the entire Spirit in Practice curriculum—to customize and print as you wish. See the instructions on the front page of the curriculum.

Each workshop is structured with the following sections:

Introduction

The introduction provides a short summary of the workshop's content, along with guidance for leaders about implementing the workshop.

Goals

The Goals section provides general outcomes toward which the workshop is geared. Reviewing the goals will help you connect the workshop's content and methodologies with the four strands of development that inform the overall Tapestry of Faith religious education series: ethical, spiritual, faith, and Unitarian Universalist identity development. As you plan a workshop, apply your knowledge of your group, the time and space you have available, and your own strengths and interests as co-leaders to determine the most important and achievable goals for the workshop and the activities that will serve them best.

Learning Objectives

The Learning Objectives section describes specific participant outcomes that the workshop activities are designed to facilitate. It may be helpful to think of learning objectives as the building blocks with which the Spirit in Practice program's larger, "big picture" goals are achieved. If particular learning objectives appeal to you as important for your group, make sure you select the activities for this workshop that address these outcomes.

Workshop-at-a-Glance

The "Workshop-at-a-Glance" table lists the workshop activities in order and provides an estimated time for completing each activity.

Workshop-at-a-Glance is not a road map that you must follow. Rather, use it as a menu for planning the workshop. You will decide which elements to use and how to combine these to best suit your group, your meeting space, and the amount of time you have.

Keep in mind that many variables inform the actual completion time for an activity. Whole-group discussions will take longer in a large group than in a small group. Remember to consider the time you will need to relocate participants to another area of your meeting room.

Spiritual Preparation

Each workshop provides suggestions that leaders may use to prepare themselves for leading the workshop. Take advantage of these suggestions as a way to experience the Spirit in Practice program yourself, to grow spiritually, and to grow as a leader.

Workshop Plan

The workshop plan presents every element of the workshop and a Resources section. The Resources section includes additional sources to help you, the leader, further explore the workshop topics.

Opening. Each workshop begins with a chalice-lighting ritual and an opening activity. Take the liberty you need to shape your opening ritual to suit your group, any space limitations, and the culture and practices of your congregation.

Activities. Up to five activities form the core content of each workshop. The variety of activities presented within each workshop helps you address different learning styles you may find among your participants. In most workshops, one activity focuses the group's attention on a story that illuminates the workshop theme.

Presenting the activities in the sequence suggested for each workshop will help you provide a coherent learning experience. In general, workshops are structured to first activate participants' interest in and prior knowledge of the main topic, next offer hands-on engagement with the topic, and finally provide opportunities to process and apply new reflections and knowledge. The suggested sequence balances listening with talking and complements individual exploration with small group or whole group exploration.

As you mix and match activities to form a workshop that will work well for you, keep in mind your participants' journey of learning and the benefits of a well-paced workshop that includes different kinds of activities. In addition to the core activities, Alternative Activities are provided. If you are leading an hour-and-a-half or longer workshop, sequence in the Alternative Activities in an order that makes sense within the flow of the workshop.

Materials for Activity. Provided for each activity, this checklist tells you the supplies you will need.

Preparation for Activity. Review the "to do" list for each activity at least one week ahead of a workshop. If your group meets less frequently than weekly, review the preparation items several weeks ahead. The list identifies all the advance work you need to do for the activity, such as securing musical accompaniment for a hymn, creating a poster, or arranging supplies just before your participants arrive.

Description of Activity. This section provides detailed directions for implementing the activity with your group.

Read the activity descriptions carefully during your planning process so that you understand each activity and its purpose. Later, when you are leading your group, you can use the description as a step-by-step how-to manual.

Including All Participants. Adaptation to include all participants should always be part of your planning process. For certain activities, the Including All Participants section suggests specific modifications to make the activity manageable and meaningful for participants with limitations of mobility, sight, hearing, or cognition. This section is not exhaustive. The Unitarian Universalist Association provides more extensive accessibility information online; visit the accessibility section of UUA.org to view the relevant materials.

Closing. Each workshop offers a closing ritual, extinguishing of the chalice, and introduction of the workshop's Taking It Home ideas.

The closing signals the end of your group's time together. Like the opening, the closing of a workshop grounds the experience in ritual. Use the curriculum as a resource to shape a closing that fits your group and the culture and practices of your congregation.

Leader Reflection and Planning. This section provides guidance, including some questions, to help co-leaders process the workshop after it is concluded and use their reflections to shape future workshops.

Taking It Home. The Taking It Home resources for each workshop are designed to help participants extend their Spirit in Practice experiences. These resources include conversation topics, journaling assignments, and other ideas for incorporating learnings from the workshop into participants' lives at home, in their workplaces and towns, in their congregations, and as members of other communities to which they may belong. Taking It Home is designed to be inclusive of all participants in any living situation or family configuration.

After you download the Taking It Home section, you can print out and photocopy it "as is" for participants to bring home, or you may customize it first.

Alternat iv e Activities. Most workshops feature one or more alternate activities. You can use these to extend the total time of the workshops to an hour and a half or longer, or you can use them as substitutes for core workshop activities. Sometimes the alternate activities are simpler to implement than the core activities. Materials checklists, preparation steps, and descriptions for alternate activities appear in the same format as they do in openings, closings, and the core activities.

Resources. In a workshop's Resources section, find all the handouts and other materials you will need to lead every element of the workshop. You will also find supplemental resources to help you, the leader, further explore the workshop topics.

Under the heading "Stories," find resources that present the full text of stories that you will read aloud to participants. Making copies of these stories for all participants is optional.

Under the heading "Handouts," find any material that you need to print out and photocopy for all participants to use in the workshop.

Under the heading "Leader Resources," find materials such as guided meditations that are for the leader's use during the workshop .

Under the heading "Find Out More," find a list of books, videos, websites, and other resources to help you learn more about the workshop topics.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Tuesday, January 10, 2012.

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