In order to prepare a session plan that will be widely used it
is essential to understand the common format of a small group session. Below is
an outline of the most common session format used in our congregations, with
notes for writers.
Title: Titles help leaders and participants discuss which sessions
they are working with and indicate the focus of the session.
Opening Ritual: Groups often design their own opening rituals. Most often this
includes the lighting of a candle or chalice. On prepared sessions this may be
simply listed as an element of the session.
Opening Words: This is a good place to provide an excerpt from the book, a
reading to set the tone of the session. Some groups read the selected opening
words as part of their opening ritual. Others have a standard opening ritual
followed by opening words for each session.
Check-In: Participants take time to share, usually one at a time, how
they are doing physically, mentally, and spiritually. Details for check-in
should not be offered in the session plan.
Focus: The text of the session focus tends to be fairly short, from a
quarter to half a page. It may be another book excerpt that indicates the topic
of the session. It is important to note that the session serves as a context
within which participants share their own stories, reflections, and learning. If
a topic is too narrowly focused on a particular book, it is less likely to be
Questions: Sessions tend to include three to five questions to guide discussion. These
should provide ample room for the sharing of stories and other personal
experience. When too many questions are offered, groups may lose their focus or
fail to deeply explore any single question. Some examples are:
Likes/Wishes: Some groups end each session with an opportunity to share what
they liked about the session and any ideas or wishes for future sessions.
Closing Words: As with the opening, this is an opportunity to share an
additional reading from a text. This may be used by some groups in conjunction
with the closing ritual.
Closing Ritual: Groups often design their own closing rituals. On prepared
sessions this may be simply listed as an element of the session.
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Wednesday, June 2, 2010.
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