When you are dealing with a concept that students may have a small understanding of, but would like to see how much they really grasp it give them the opportunity to draw it. You will be able to gauge how much they understand and probably find some good jumping off points for discussing the idea.
Here is how it works:
Pass out paper to everyone. (I would suggest half sheets of paper because those of us who can’t draw sometimes feel a little intimidated trying to fill a whole sheet)
Group them into groups of no more than 4 to share art supplies. (I normally stock up on packs of crayons at back to school sales)
Give them the concept that you would like for them to explore. Some examples include: Love, freedom, sacrifice, hope, or forgiveness. Normally I would add a restriction that makes them think beyond the obvious, for instance when we talked about love I didn’t let them use a heart, or when we talked about forgiveness I wouldn’t let them use a cross. Those small things make the students dig a little deeper and help you get better responses.
Let them have an ample amount of time to draw. There will be a few people done in 30 seconds, but this activity isn’t for those people. The people who really respond to a drawing exercise will take their time and dig into it.
At the end of your drawing time have them get into different groups of 4 and then share their pictures and why they drew what they drew. Move around the room during this time praising their work and listening for cues to their understanding. Choose a couple of pieces to kick off the rest of your discussion.