Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Final Blog

I have been asked to shut down my blog. I am doing so out of obedience. Here are the reasons which were shared. I feel that it is important for you to know so that it will aid you as a teacher with further light, knowledge, and understanding.

CES has a concern about the amount of blogs and materials popping up on the internet for seminary teachers. They have specifically chosen not to have a resource site full of such things, although they could easily do so--since such dynamic individuals through the years have created many fine teaching tools while in the service of CES.

But the CES administrators know that by seeking materials made by other people has the potential to dampen the Spirit you rightfully may receive. For example, Oliver Cowdery thought it a simple thing to translate the Book of Mormon. As a result of not putting forth effort, the beauty of the experience remained out of his grasp.

I've now received the following and want to share it with you. There is truth within these words and feel that knowing them will bless you as you seek greater communion with God in your seminary service.

"There is a price that must be paid to qualify for the Spirit's help....[Oliver Cowdery] thought he could sit back and the Lord would just tell him what to say. He failed to put forth the required effort to qualify for the Lord's help....Some want to run to the internet and get a quick idea; a cookie-cutter lesson idea that can be taylored to any block. They fail to put forth the required effort to qualify for the Lord's help...there is a price of study and pondering and prayer that must be paid, even by a busy volunteer. If we provide teachers with too much material, we often hurt them more than help them. We create a welfare system. They don't need to turn to the Lord for help, we have given them more ideas than they can incorporate..."

May the Lord bless us with willing hearts and yielding spirits, so that we can lead our classes in love and harmony.

All the best to you! And remember D&C 111:11.


Seminary Mom

Monday, May 29, 2006

Summer Break

I'll be taking a break from blogging for a while, now that the summer is here. Here is a sample link to a few of the activities we have done in the past.

To receive notice of additional activities, free PDFs and other free resources, visit the Seminary Class Notes group. Once a member (hey, it's free! ), you'll be able to access all of the resources I've shared there.

Until teaching begins again, may the Lord bless us all as we strive to serve Him well.


Seminary Mom

Saturday, May 20, 2006

End of the Year Seminary Auction

Today we had our end of the year auction and pizza party. We had a blast. It took very little preparation and the students seemed to really enjoy themselves. Here are the few easy steps:

1. Determine Each Student's Brigham Bucks.
I've found the simplest way to add up each student's "money" to spend during the auction is to use the student's attendance. In other words, start with a large dollar amount (like $14,000) and subtract $100 for each absence (the bigger the starting dollar amount, the more the fun).

I must admit, this year I had been giving $100 per completed assignment or class project, but this creates a boatload of bookkeeping all through the year! As long as each student participates well while in class, it's just as easy (and much simpler) to use attendance as a manner of earning "money." I just don't advertise this, because I want the kids participating all throughout the year, not just showing up! :0)

2. Ask Parents to Donate 5+ Auction Items.
This was the fun part - seeing what each student brought to the auction from their parents. In our auction this morning, the most coveted items were loaves of bread. Each loaf of homemade bread sold for over $12,000!

(The students all knew the mom who had made the bread, had previously tasted of it, and several students determined they weren't bidding on anything until the bread came up for auction - for that reason alone, we waited to bring the bread forth until the very end! :0)

3. Select the Location.
We decided to hold the auction at one of the student's homes. We did this, because we thought this would add a fun and casual environment. And it did! Once the auction was over and while the kids were waiting for the pizza to arrive, they all pitched in and made cookies together. Truly, memories and friendships were once again being strengthened.

4. Create One Brigham Buck Souvenir Per Student.
My husband created a fake dollar bill and pasted a picture of Brigham Young in the middle of it. Then on each Brigham Buck, I wrote in fancy lettering the student's first name and the total amount of money they had to spend at the auction. During the auction, "purchases" were tallied by the teacher (me) on a sheet pre-formatted with each student's name and total earned dollar amount for the year. As the students made purchases, I simply kept a running total and every ten minutes or so we stopped to call out current amounts.

5. Arrange for a Parent to be an Auctioneer.
This was the fun part, letting a parent be involved. In this case, our Bishop was the auctioneer, since his daughter was in my seminary class. He wisely started with the smallest items first, building to the bigger and more wanted items. He also had a "dis"-incentive for those who might not normally bid - the person with the most amount of money left over got the booby prize - a sports cap of one of the despised professional teams in the state! This seemed to serve as an excellent incentive to get the kids bidding, especially in the beginning. :0)

All in all, it was a very fun way to reward the kids for their hard work and great participation in seminary this year. And interestingly enough, when we had started it all off this morning, after praying, we had asked one of the kids to recite a scripture mastery verse. Of course, 2 Nephi 2:25 was selected (being so short). But that was just fine. We all recited it together, being reminded once again, that we are created to experience joy. And today's auction was a great way to remember that!


Seminary Mom

For more scripture mastery game ideas and teaching tips, visit the Seminary Class Notes group.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Going into the Summer

Howdy! I'm now two days into having sleep, not having to rise during the middle of the night to prep for seminary. It is a refreshing feeling. :0)

Teaching seminary is such a blessing and privilege, yet it does require great effort, which somedays can be akin to climbing a mountain side. So it is a blessing to be able finally to have some respite.

If you are in the final stretch, it can be full of poignant moments. Enjoy the "view", for what a wonderful thing it is. And all too soon it ends.

I will be taking a break for a bit from posting to the blog as I begin to focus on prep for the next school year. But I won't be stopping in many ways from creating forms to help my students (and perhaps yours).

I will be working on a *summer challenge and intro letter* to send to my seminary students for next year, complete with a treat offered for those who arrive the first day of seminary with the Joseph Smith History scripture mastery memorized! Once I have that form and letter created, I will be posting/uploading it to the Seminary Class Notes group. I will let you know as soon as I've uploaded it!

That particular scripture mastery verse is quite a bear. Imagine what it does for a kid, though, to be able to arrive the first day of class with it already under their belt! Let alone, what it can do for their minds during the summer to be working on it. So I will be posting at the Yahoo list a few training materials to help the kids accomplish this over the summer. And as always, you're welcome to try it!

There will be other things I will be working on this summer so make sure to check the blog at least once a week to stay tuned! That, or you can sign up for the *free* Seminary Class Notes Newsletter, which comes out monthly. May's will be delivered this weekend! Simply join by visiting here.

Until the next post next week!


Seminary Mom

Friday, May 12, 2006

Seminary and Scripture Mastery Teaching - A Year in Review

Now that my seminary school year is finished (yours still may be going), it is time to review several items so that I can analyze my teaching and any areas of focus needing help for next year.

Here is a link to the Teaching Emphasis that CES needs us to use as we work with our students. To be able to read it, simply click here.

It is a wonderfully concise document which summarizes several important concepts. The more I've utilized these concepts, it seems the more my students retain and are able to process on a deeper level, rather than what might have happened otherwise.

My CES director is an amazing man and has modeled these concepts so clearly and well in our training meetings. Here they are (I've included my musings in parentheses):
  • To learn and teach by the Spirit (for both student AND teacher).
  • To emphasize the actual scriptures as teaching text (for both classroom teaching AND private study for student and teacher).
  • To help students understand and apply the principles/doctrines of the scriptures (all for the purpose of personal conversion).
  • To help students learn to share these principles in class AND outside of class (they need activities to actually practice this).
  • To emphasize scripture mastery passages and the principles contained therein.
  • To follow the Compentency sheet for The Book of Mormon (so students will understand the unique position of the Church and its clear view of doctrinal principles).
Personally I will be working toward doing a better job with not just teaching the scripture mastery passages for memorization, but also for studying more deeply the truths therein. The students deserve not to only know these for Scripture Mastery Day at the stake at the end of the year, but also to truly make the teachings contained therein a part of their lives.

Sigh. So the school year is past. I will be working on some reading charts that I will be mailing to the students to work on over the summer and to bring to the first day of seminary next fall. Scripture study is essential for daily closeness to the Lord. I don't want my students to distance themselves from the scriptures simply because they think, "I don't have to go to seminary this week!'

As I have the charts and other goodies ready, I'll post them to the Seminary Class Notes group so that you can download them for free! I especially am going to be mailing out an incentive chart to get the students ready for scripture mastery memorization. One of the scripture mastery verses for next year is a doozy - Joseph Smith History 1:15-20! Just imagine, though, your students being able to show up the first day of seminary, already having memorized it! That's what I'm going to be helping them work toward during the summer! :0)

Until next time,

just another-early-morning-seminary-teacher mom

For free PDFs and teaching tips, feel free to visit the Seminary Class Notes group.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Final Day of Seminary

Well, today was our final day of seminary. I actually was up all night, trying to get everything just so. Not recommended! [weak grin] But I was excited, because I'd prepared a "scrapbook movie" DVD to showcase the spiritual growth the students had made this year.

The DVD contained a ten minute "scrapbook" movie for the seminary kids to distribute for today, our final day of class.

I had taken pictures of them all year long, along with our projects we'd done. Using a piece of software, I'd made a "movie" of those snapshots put together in a montage, accompanied with music.

What was so awesome about this "scrapbook movie" was the kids came in and saw themselves on the TV, on the initial page of the DVD menu. Once we had devotional, etc., I started the movie.

The students watched quite attentively as they saw themselves progress through the year, from certain hair cuts or thinner looks, to more mature looks by the end of the year.

They had fun commenting on some of the projects we'd worked on throughout the year together, as we researched the important principles in The Book of Mormon.

One of the purposes I'd had in creating the "movie" was to bring the spirit and to show the students all of the amazing experiences we'd had this year as they'd learned to study the scriptures hopefully deeper than they ever had.

It was a really neat moment watching the cumulative effect in the students' faces today. Each of these students had break-through moments during our school year, and by watching the "memories" of those moments, I hope they will forever retain them fresh in their memories. After the "movie" was done, I passed out one for each student.

After the movie/slideshow was over, I also passed out certificates to each student which had read the entire Book of Mormon (in this case, it was every student in the class - in fact, some of them had read it through twice! yippee!).

We scheduled our summer auction/pizza day for a week later. Then I turned the time over to the seniors in the class. We have three who are graduating. I asked them to share their testimonies or any kind of spiritual advice they felt prompted to share with their fellow classmates.

This was the sweet spot of the day! The three seniors bore spontaneous and heartfelt witness as to the impact of seminary in their lives. This provided a most powerful moment for the rest of the kids. I could feel the spirit in the room and I'm pretty sure that the other kids could feel it.

I couldn't have provided a better recommendation about the importance of seminary than these seniors provided. It truly was a beautiful moment. I would highly recommend this - having the seniors speak to the class in this way.

It seemed to help the seniors feel spotlighted and it pointed to their important perspectives - important because some of the seminary kids still have three more years of EARLY mornings to attend to get to where these seniors are. What a great thing to hear the seniors say it is worth it!

Then we ate breakfast today, a special breakfast. I passed out all of their work they'd done through the year, organized into personalized sacks, along with their student manuals and scriptures. A poignant moment indeed!


just another early-morning-seminary-teacher mom!

P.S. For more teaching ideas, feel free to visit the Seminary Class Notes group. The tips, newsletters, and PDFs/files are all free!

P.S. There are a variety of software packages which allow you to put together a slide show and even add music. You may even have a software package like this already installed on your machine! Just make sure it is your own music which you've composed/recorded yourself or you might need to pay royalties for the use of the music if it comes from someone else.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Book of Mormon - the big finale

[example of class work]

As the students walk into the classroom each morning, they find a question waiting for them to journal about. We have done this every morning of the year. Not only does it help bring a spirit of quiet in preparation for our lesson, but I am always writing questions (or at least trying) that point the students' minds to reflection of forward thinking or self-analysis.

Today's question was: "It is the last day of your life. What do you spend your time doing?"

I wanted this question, because I wanted the students to think about any activities they should be doing, that perhaps they are not. What kind of legacy will they leave behind when their tenure of life is done.

Then I held up many slips of paper, after the devotional and opening exercises. I told the students each slip represented a life - a life of one of the prophets in The Book of Mormon.

Each student received three or four slips of paper, upon which I'd previously printed a name of a prophet and two questions along the lines of: what can be learned from his life? which verse is most meaningful about or from him?

The kids each took a bit of time to research their assigned prophets. Once the class finished, they started in chronological order sharing what they had learned during the year about these particular prophets and a verse from their teachings.

Unfortunately, we had to dispense with reading the verses about halfway through. If you were to do this project, I would recommend having the kids find those verses and record them on their slips of paper, but only verbally sharing what they'd learned from the prophet (in the interest of time).

As the students shared, we taped the links together. I felt this provided a nice summary of the year. I reminded the kids that Mormon had a large choice of what to include on the plates. He chose these particular prophets' and stories. I hope the students will remember why and be helped by them throughout their lives, continuing to return to these golden pages of truth and knowledge.


Seminary Mom

P.S. Once school is out, I will still continue to post teaching tips, scripture mastery games, and other resources to help us all gear up for the new year! To be able to download the "Our Heroes" PDF file I created for today's lesson, simply visit the Seminary Class Notes group.

Until tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Moroni 8, 9, & 10 - The Big Promise

How to finish off The Book of Mormon in a big way? I've been puzzling on this for some time. The answer came in a surprising way.

My husband, as part of his highcouncilman duties for the stake, had the assignment to attend the singles branch - and for once, our entire family went with him.

What a privilege this was! Not only was the spirit strong as these new college youth went about their various duties as a young Relief Society President, a young Priesthood or Sunday School teacher, but it was wonderful to imagine that just a few short years ago they themselves were sitting in a seminary class.

[It is this future thinking which has driven me all year toward exerting big efforts to prepare my seminary kids for future service opportunities such as we saw the young adults carrying out on Sunday in their singles group.]

So, while sitting at a table after the meetings during a "Break the Fast" dinner, my husband and I found ourselves across the table from a newly returned missionary, who had served in Hungary.

The spirit washed over me. I knew then how best to finish off the study of The Book of Mormon!

My seminary students already knew that Moroni 10 contains "the big promise" as the way to find all truth. But the spirit was showing me how I could bring that to life through a newly returned missionary, who spent two years of his life sharing that very promise!

So I asked the young man if he would kindly come to my classroom on Tuesday to speak of his mission in Book of Mormon terms. In other words, I asked him if he would read Moroni 8, 9, & 10 prior to Tuesday and then prepare experiences from his mission that coincided in some fashion with those teachings in those particular chapters.

Well, that young man came today. And what resulted was a room bathed in the spirit and light of the Lord. Here are just a few of the things he shared as he walked the students through the last three chapters of our course of study this year.

As the teacher, I had started off the morning by introducing Moroni 8 and what Mormon taught his son about the beauty of young children and their innocence before the eyes of God. The returned missionary then took over and shared how interesting he thought is was that these words came from a career army general. For, as this returned missionary saw it, that was essentially what Mormon was.

Indeed, Mormon had supervised Nephite armies from his teens! He continued in that position off and on for the remainder of his life. Our visitor today pointed out how remarkable it was to him that Mormon, having seen such depraved acts of war/hatred had been able to retain such a soft heart towards the most innocent of God's creations - children. Thus, Mormon's perspective and words in Moroni 8 are particularly important.

He then moved on and shared an experience from the beginning of his mission. He and his companion had been teaching a woman whose children had grown up/were gone and her husband had left her. She was absorbing the gospel at a tremendous rate. When the time came for the baptismal interview, this missionary was nervous asking her the baptismal interview questions. How badly he wanted for her to be able to answer them all well and be able to be baptised.

Her response to the question, "Have you repented of all of your past sins?", marked him deeply. She expressed emotions almost identical to what Mormon shares in Moroni 8:25-26. She was experiencing all of those fruits! Today, this young R.M. shared how the spirit embued that interview with purity and power and as a result, he knew that woman was ready for baptism. He said how powerful the teachings are in The Book of Mormon and how factual and true.

Then he moved on to more truths and experiences from his mission that paralleled these chapters.

This chapter, the young man shared, must have been a difficult chapter for Mormon and probably Moroni to record. He asked the class if they ever felt it hard to be faithful and "good," in spite of so many kids around them choosing "bad." He told the seminary kids that Mormon would be able to understand their feelings - that the people surrounding him and his son Moroni were choosing very bad things. And he referenced this chapter.

But Mormon teaches what we must do, even in such situations. The returned missionary had a student read Moroni 9:6 and he shared that in spite of all that is going around us, we must remain faithful. We must not cease to labor. We must be diligent while during our time on earth. The reason? So that we can "conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God."

By this time, I was personally amazed at how this young returned-missionary was able to share so many real-to-life parallels from these chapters. The spirit in the room was quite powerful. I was grateful to have listened to the prompting on Sunday to invite him to speak. He then moved on to Moroni 10.

This young man first started by sharing an analogy of what happens when a small business is dying, due to its financial issues and liabilities. Normally a company in this situation might need to declare bankruptcy, and as a result, the original owner's dream for that business dies with the death or dissolution of the company from bankruptcy.

But then along arrives an offer from a much larger corporation. Due to it's fiscal health and financial flow, it purchases the business and is able to make it viable again.

This, the young man shared with our class today, is what Moroni tells us Christ can do for us. He then asked a student to read Moroni 10:32-33:
Yes, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
This beautiful young returned missionary then testified to my seminary kids that this is what Christ does. Just like a powerful business can "save" a small company that is going under by purchasing it and making it solvent, Christ does that for us.

The Savior has purchased us with His Blood. And whereas we cannot be perfect on our own, we can be perfect within Christ. Because of Christ we will live forever. Because of Christ our souls need not be bankrupt.

Then the returned missionary shared "the big promise" in Moroni 10:3-5. He witnessed that they too could have the experience of having this question answered for them: "Is The Book of Mormon from God?"

He promised them that he'd seen this born out on his mission and that he knew they could see it born out in their lives, if they were willing to apply themselves.

What this all did today was bring the Book of Mormon to life for these kids. This isn't just a book for them to study for no reason; this book actually brings change into the lives of others. And it's going on around them as we speak. Missionaries all around the world, at this very moment, are sharing the gospel, sharing Mormon's and Moroni's words, along with the other prophets, from The Book of Mormon. And it is bringing joy and eternal life.

People's lives, as a result, are bettered for it. The fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Galations 5:22 were quite evident as we learned at the feet of this young returned missionary - "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith."

What a beautiful way to end our course of study - through the words of a freshly returned missionary who witnessed in his own beautiful way to all of this. I'm so grateful the spirit spoke to me on Sunday to invite this young man to speak. I think he left quite an impression as we finished up our Book of Mormon study.

The Lord is so good to inspire His seminary teachers - I know these ideas don't come from me. And I'm grateful He would help this young returned missionary to help His youth.

Until tomorrow!


Seminary Mom

For more teaching ideas and free PDFs, simply visit the Seminary Class Notes group.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Moroni 7 - Charity suffereth long...

Today the youth finished off their presentations/Spiritual Finals on Moroni 7. Once they shared their thoughts on their assigned sections, I led them through a step-by-step analysis of Moroni 7:45.

We listed on the board each of the essential parts to charity, as mentioned in verse 45. And if a definition in the scripture was mentioned in a "negative" term, we then turned it into the positive (I did this mostly to aid class discussion, but also to help ensure better understanding on the part of the students).

So here is what our list looked like at the end of our discussion:
  • suffereth long
  • kind
  • grateful (for "envieth not")
  • humble (for "not puffed up")
  • seeketh happiness for others (for "seeketh not her own")
  • patient (for "not easily provoked)
  • pure and kind thoughts (for "thinketh no evil")
  • rejoiceth in goodness and truth (for "rejoiceth not in iniquity or lies")
Then we talked about the summary at the end of the verse:
  • beareth all things
  • believeth all things (which are true)
  • hopeth all things
  • endureth all things
The students helped come up with the summaries in the parenthesis. We also talked about several subjects. For example, there is a sweet girl in our stake which graduates from seminary this year. She was in the autistic classes through most of her early years in school, but by 8th grade was mainstreamed.

I asked the kids, "What does it mean to suffer long? What does it mean to have a condition in this life that might not ever change?" The amazing thing about this young lady is that her mother has said that she has never once complained about getting up early for seminary! What a bright light this girl radiates.

She is not in our seminary class, but being in our stake, most of the youth in my class knew of her. What an example she sets of being long suffering and patient.

We also discussed several things about "rejoicing in goodness." I asked, "What happens if a kid decides he doesn't want to go along with the crowd, when the crowd is choosing something wrong. What names does he (or she) get called?" The students threw out several unkind words which might have been used in a situation like this.

So I asked, "How hard is it for you to rejoice in goodness, even if everyone else is ridiculing that choice? Or better yet, have you ever found yourself ridiculing another Mormon for choosing something good?"

By the end of the day, I could see that there was a difference in their faces as we wrapped up discussion of this chapter. They, as students, had prepared presentations about this essential chapter on charity. And to finish up, we analyzed each of these individual points.

I particularly liked how the manual had suggested to substitute the phrase "the atonement" for each use of the word "charity" in these verses (45-48), which the students did during their presentations. What a blessing to have the gospel and to learn these important truths.

And tomorrow we have a surprise visitor coming for seminary. I can't wait to see the kids faces.


just another-early-morning-seminary-teacher mom!

For seminary teaching tips and free PDFs, feel free to visit the Seminary Class Notes group.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Scripture Mastery Games - game ideas

Here are a few scripture mastery game ideas. Feel free to click here, here, here, or here!

My seminary class is off for today, but for you - I hope you have a lovely day full of the spirit.

See you Monday!


Seminary Mom

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Scripture Mastery - a Historical Perspective

Unfortunately, today is our last day of seminary for this week. We do not have seminary tomorrow since there is no school. So since Scripture Mastery Day is being held at the Stake on Saturday, we had a "Friday" day today, playing scripture mastery games.

There are a lot of things which went "right" this year, working with these kids. Yet I still managed to leave something out!

Whereas we learned the historical perspectives in The Book of Mormon, I'm not so sure I attached those backgrounds/perspectives strongly enough to our scripture mastery games as we went through. Something perhaps others have done better. I hope so. :0)

So as we played our games today, I worked to incorporate more historical clues like,
"After having been called of God and ordained by Nephi, Jacob taught the Nephite people...."
(from the Historical Setting on the scripture mastery card for 2 Nephi 9:28-29) I paused, THEN I added the rest,
"...that to obtain knowledge is good if you follow the counsel of God."
Perhaps every other seminary teacher does this perfectly, but not me! I worked so hard this year to try to teach with the spirit, have the kids dive deeply into the scriptures, to help them develop deep knowledge of the gospel and of the Lord's love, but left out this part of scripture mastery chases that will be used at Scripture Mastery Day at the stake on Saturday.

Oh, well! I guess we can't do it all! We do the best we know and seek to do better. :0)

Happy teaching everyone!


Seminary Mom

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Moroni 7 "Spiritual Finals" cont.

Today the youth presented the first two parts of their research for their Spiritual Finals into Moroni 7. The spirit was strong and I even learned from their perspectives. What a blessing and privilege to be a seminary teacher and to work with the Lord's future leaders. The sacrifices are truly worth it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Moroni 7 - "Spiritual" Finals

[example of students' score sheets for Five in a Row]

Today, after opening exercises of devotional, etc., we played one round of our scripture mastery game Five in a Row to review for our scripture mastery day.

Then we moved on to the research topic for the day - the powerful spiritual content within Moroni 7. I had "Finals" all ready to pass out (not typical ones, though), but before I did that, I asked, "Please raise your hand if you are graduating this year." Three students raised their hands.

"Please raise your hand if you are graduating next year." Several students raised their hands. I continued on down to the freshman until all the students had a chance to raise their hands.

Then I said, "A few of the young women here in class had the opportunity to attend Relief Society two weeks ago. What was it like?"

An awkward, "Interesting" was the only comment I received. I smiled and said, "Yeees, that's right. Interesting, wasn't it? And guess what, soon you'll be teaching an "interesting" Relief Society lesson yourselves....or perhaps Sunday School....or perhaps...well, you get the idea! Graduation for all of you is so very close, and then you'll be receiving opportunities to serve, to teach, etc."

Again, I smiled. "It will be here all too soon. And you are powerful. So I want you ready to be able to handle a 40 minute lesson. Or 30 minutes. Or whatever the case may be."

That was when I handed out the "Spiritual Finals" to the teams (I'd written each team member's name on the top of the paper - this way I can control who works with whom. I switch the teams around each day to balance the individual growth of each student).

For the Spiritual Final, each team received a section for Moroni 7 from the teacher's manual. There were four main headings within the manual for Moroni 7, so I'd divided the team into four groups.

In life, it's not so much the facts we've memorized that sustain us. It is the knowledge of how to bring the spirit into our lives and into the lives of others. It is experiencing the sweet savor of the Spirit as we study the scriptures and as we prepare to bring that to others, that sustains us.

So for Midterms and Finals like these, I lean heavily on the students diving deeply into the spiritual waters of the gospel and seeing what they come up with. How adept are they at being able to handle things of the spirit? I NEVER "grade" the Midterms or the Finals; I simply want them to focus on things of the Spirit - not just facts.

Thus, as I distributed the "Finals" today, I reminded them of the opportunity to show what they are made of. They are sons and daughters of God, capable of great good. So I asked them to do the following as they were preparing their "Spiritual Final."
  • Read the assigned verses together as a group - DON'T just assign one person to do that.
  • Read the suggested application activities or stories mentioned in the sheet I'd given them.
  • Decide as a team which activities would bring their "students"/fellow classmates the closest to understanding the message of the assigned verses.
  • Prepare for presenting the "Final"/lesson to the class in a manner which will get their classmates into the scriptures during the lesson.
  • Prepare to share your testimony with the class as to the importance of the topic of study.
The only thing which I failed to mention was to pray as a team for the spirit to be with them while teaching. This would be an important part of their preparation and I highly recommend that you add this to the list. :0)

At the end of class, they gave turned in their preparations. Tomorrow the first two teams will present their message and on Thursday, the final two teams will present.

To close class, we took an end-of-the-year group picture, since everyone was present (what's fun is to take one at the beginning of the year and then at the end). I'm going to surprise them with the picture in a frame at the end of the year (next week - wow, can it be here already?!). I want them to look back fondly on these days as a seminary class, in which they were able to deeply feel the presence of the Lord in studying His works. That is my prayer.


just another-early-morning-seminary-teacher mom!

For free PDFs and scripture mastery game ideas, simply click here.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Moroni 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 - Your Perspective, Please

[example of student's class journal]

Today we covered Moroni 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 (with a little bit from Ether 15).

To start off today, I asked the students to think of one of the loneliest times they have ever experienced. I distributed their class journals and asked them to journal about that for just a moment, listing how they felt and what the situation was that had brought that lonely feeling.

When they were done, I then moved onto the next step of the lesson.

But before I explain what that was, let me make a suggestion if you were to do the same activity. I had moved on, not intending to have the students share what they had written (making an assumption it would be too private). But then I noticed that a few of the students were privately sharing with one another what they'd written.

I don't allow whispering in class, because it's a distraction to the other students. If there is whispering, I just stop and wait. The silence eventually alerts the whispering students that they now have the entire class's attention. Usually they stop, not wanting this.

Thus, two students were whispering over what they had written. Which is fine, but it was distracting from the reverence which everyone else was manifesting. I waited in quiet until the two students were done reading each other's journal before continuing. In retrospect, I would recommend offering this as an actual step after the journaling is done. Because oftentimes, until curiosity is resolved, nothing that I say next will really be heard or felt.

Once I had everyone's attention again, I smiled and asked them what they knew about Moroni. I read the italicized paragraph on page 197 underneath the heading: "Moroni 1-3 The Authority of the Priesthood." I asked what emotions they thought he had experienced from what he'd just lived through - even asking what they thought his sleep patterns were like. They shared they thought it must have been rough and that perhaps he might have even had bad dreams.

Then I read to them Mormon 8:1-5. I shared how difficult it must have been for him to have recounted this (I personally imagine tears must have been rolling down his cheeks as he did so - but in this lifetime I obviously cannot know).

More than anything, I wanted them to understand that Moroni was a real person, having experienced real difficulties, and could be someone to trust. All this, because I wanted them to really think about why he shared what he did from his first written record in The Book of Mormon (beginning with Mormon 8:6) all the way through the fifteen chapters of Ether to the end of the ten chapters in Moroni.

I wanted the students to appreciate the lonely wanderings of this great man, whose record lasted (according to the footnotes in The Book of Mormon) from approximately A.D. 400 to 421.

THEN I distributed a "Your Perspective, Please" assignment. I'd divided the class into six teams. I had written out a two-step activity for each of the six teams, with the first part being an actual assignment and the second part was their perspective on what they'd studied/researched in the scriptures.

Each of the teams received something similar to one of the following six assignments (most of which I drew from page 197-8 in the student manual):

1.a. Imagine you are a news reporter reporting on the events found in Ether 15:14-34. Remember the 5 W's of good journalism as you write your news report.
1.b. Share with the class your report and what important lesson we can learn from Moroni's words.

2.a. Share the facts of Moroni 1 and the challenges he faced in a news report. Remember the 5 W's of good reporting as you write the report.
2.b. Share with the class your perspective on what we can learn from Moroni's words.

3.a. Your nonmember friend is visiting church on Sunday and sees someone being confirmed a new member. Let Moroni's words in Moroni 2 help you explain the power of the priesthood in giving someone the Holy Ghost.
3.b. Share with the class your perspective on the priesthood and Moroni's words.

4.a. You've been given an assignment from the Bishop to teach a new member about the Aaronic Priesthood. Use Moroni 3 to help you in this assignment.
4.b. Share with the class your perspective about what Moroni's words means to you.

5.a. Moroni has given us the sacrament prayers in Moroni 4 and 5. Help your friend who is a new member of the church to understand what she promises when taking the sacrament and what the Lord promises.
5.b. Share with the class your perspective about what the sacrament and Moroni's words means to you.

6.a. Your friend is struggling with understanding why we help each other in the church. Using Moroni 6, explain to him what we promise when we are baptized. Share at least six different points and responsibilities.
6.b. Share with the class your perspective on Moroni's words and why this matters.

When most of the class was finished, with just a few still writing, I read the paragraphs on page 194 in the student manual so that they could have a good backdrop of understanding, before they heard each other's presentations. Then once everyone was done, they presented their findings and their feelings/perspectives.

Again, I don't want them to read The Book of Mormon like a textbook. I want it to live for them and to be able to find strength therein, now and for always.


just another-early-morning-seminary-teacher mom!

For more teaching ideas and for the free monthly Seminary Class Notes newsletter, feel free to click here.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Scripture Mastery - Five in a Row!

[example of student work]

Today for a scripture mastery game, we played FIVE IN A ROW! I had gotten the idea from the scripture mastery ideas booklet I'd been given when first a teacher. The booklet is entitled Scripture Mastery: A Guide for Teachers and was prepared by the Church Educational System and published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

(I work very hard to use published manuals/books that come through CES rather than from a bookstore, etc.)

The Five in a Row game can be found on page 63 of that publication. But in reading the instructions, I couldn't quite follow along what they intended. So I made up my own form of Five in a Row. I'm actually working up a more complete version of what I played today, but until then, if you would like to use the score sheet I created, feel free to visit the Seminary Class Notes group. The score sheet will be found under the Files section.

Here is how I played it. I selected five scripture mastery verses I wanted to target. I passed out the score sheets to each student.

For the first round of five scriptures, (without telling the students which scriptures were targeted) I simply gave a key word. If they found the scripture before I called out the actual reference, they got to color in a 25 point square. I then called out a key word for the next scripture. If they had found it by the time I called it out, they got to color in the next 25 point square. We did this for all five scripture mastery verses.

For the second round of the same five scriptures (same, because I was really trying to dial in familiarity with each set of five), I used clues or situations, instead of key words. This time each correct find was worth 50 points. We did this for all five scriptures.

The third, fourth and fifth rounds were the same. The third round had slightly more difficult clues, with each scripture found earning 100 points. The fourth round clues were more challenging and each correctly found verse earned 125 points. The fifth and final round was the most challenging (earning 150 points), with the hardest situations/clues given.

Now that we were done with the game, we stopped to see if there were any Five in a Rows in any direction. If so, the students could circle and double those particular points.

The kids seemed to love this. And every time we play this, I will choose a different set of five scriptures to really drill well. The students will be able to use their same score sheet a variety of times before it fills up. I want the students be able to think of these scriptures in a large variety of settings and hope this game approach serves them well!


Seminary Mom
For more scripture mastery game ideas and a free monthly Seminary Class Notes newsletter, simply click here.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ether 13, 14, & 15 - Building a City

[example of student work - to see up close, click on picture]

Today we covered Ether 13, 14, & 15.

I started off by drawing a city silhouette on the board and then asked the students, "Of all the cities you could live in, which one would it be and why?" (from the lesson manual)

The students call out a variety of cities and places, in addition to why the students wanted to live there.

Then we took turns reading, a verse at a time, from the following scriptural selections:
  • Moses 7:18-21
  • Ether 13:2-11
  • Moses 7:62-62
As we read, I wrote summaries under the heading: CITY OF HOLINESS.

I asked, "Are you ready right now to move to such a city, if one were present? Would you feel comfortable being in the presence of those who are pure and who unabashedly serve the Lord?", etc. (using the phrases from the scriptures one at a time as a measuring stick)

I said, "If we're not quite there yet, Moroni gave us the remedy in Ether 2:8. Please turn to it." We then did a choral reading, where we all read the scripture out loud (I've found this helps the sleepy students to pay attention).

Then I asked the class, "But what is going to happen in the history of our world before the cities mentioned in the scriptures are built/return?"

We turned to the following verses and the students read them out loud, each student taking one verse:
  • D&C 45:26-27, 31-33, 41-24, 68-69
  • D&C 88:87-91
So which do we choose? To live so we match the world of sin and chaos with equal rebellion, receiving thereby the fruits mentioned in D&C 45 and 88? Or do we prepare ourselves and focus on living after the pattern of the City of Holiness?

Are we ready for such a thing? If still present on the earth, will we be found worthy to build these great cities of holiness? If we are holy, we just might!

But is it easy in our world today to ignore the siren call of sin? Absolutely not! So what to do? Well, history is a great teacher, so as a class we turned to read about a society of individuals who refused the call of holiness - those living during the time of Coriantumr and Ether.

I passed out four popsicle sticks (the kind with notches in them - can be found at a craft store). I split up Ether 13-15 amongst the class (i.e. each student received 6 verses to study).

The students were to:
  1. Read their assigned verses.
  2. Write two details of what actually happened in their verses story-wise.
  3. Write two spiritual lessons they thought could be learned from these verses (I want them to learn to feel and think for themselves, according to where the Spirit might lead them).
I gave the class about eight minutes or so to research these items and write each one on one of their popsicle sticks.

Once the class was finished, I brought out a large cutting board wrapped in tinfoil. I explained that when we build our lives on the slippery slopes of sin, our foundation is very poor and it's difficult to maintain the structure.

Beginning with the student that had the first six verses in Ether 13, each student came forward in chronological order to share what had happened in the story and then the spiritual lessons that could be learned from those verses. After they shared, they then added their sticks to try to build a city.

Most of the students seemed to have a great time trying. You can see the result at the picture up at the top. When people or civilizations flaunt teachings of the Lord's prophets, their foundation is unsure and destruction will become no longer pure theory at some point.

Rather, when cities and civilizations are built upon solid gospel truths, their foundation becomes much more sure. I bore testimony as to the importance of living the gospel so that our hearts will not fail us during this sojourn on earth, and to live in such a way that no matter where we live, we are building a "city of holiness" for the Lord.

I shared that not all around us will make the same choice. Christ even said in Matthew 10:34-39:
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
The Jaredites were faced with this same decision...as are we. I also read the quote from Elder Richard G. Scott:
"Anchor your life in Jesus Christ, your Redeemer. Make your Eternal Father and His Beloved Son the most important priority in your life - more important than life itself, more important than a beloved companion or children or anyone on earth....Then all that you need for happiness will come to you."
In essence Elder Scott is saying that by losing our life in the Lord, we will find it - and true happiness. Which is NOT to imply that we ignore our families; to the contrary, we are to love and serve them in every righteous way possible - we just are not to follow them down pathways which displease the Lord.

I shared with the class that this obviously isn't always easy, or everyone would do it. Who doesn't want true happiness? But the choice is waiting there for us nearly every day.

I shared how my parents were not able to go into the temple with me when I married. As a result, initially they were not going to attend any of the receptions. But they relented and went to one. In the following weeks, they decided to throw a wedding gathering and celebration, about six months later, for all the relatives. The festivities were to be all weekend long, including a Sunday.

My family and distant relatives all gathered to my parents' home - and then went to a famous resort...without my husband and myself. I loved them and expressed gratitude for the gathering and enjoyed the Friday and Saturday activities with my loved ones.

But I could not follow them to the resort to play and have fun on a Sunday - even though it was for my wedding celebration. Oh, I could have justified and rationalized going in many, many ways. But I also could not deny the spirit which BOTH my husband and I had felt that it was not appropriate.

I told my class today that decisions like these aren't easy AND they are most definitely individual ones. But the spirit had told, in my particular instance, what my choice needed to be.

When it really comes down to it, the pressing issue is spoken well in hymn 260,
"Who's on the Lord's side, who?
Now is the time to show.
We ask it fearlessly;
Who's on the Lord's side? Who?"
Our job is to prove we are there first and foremost for the Lord, no matter the difficulty it might create or how awkward it might be.

Is there a commandment which has been given? We are to live it. Is there a request or counsel from the Lord? We are to heed it. Are there lives to be touched and served? We are to do it. And these are the steps which lead us to building a "city of holiness", not only within our hearts, but all around us.

The Jaredites rejected the Lord's prophet and as a result rejected the Lord and all attending blessings. May we NOT go and do likewise, but rather, be there for Christ and He will be there for us.

Until tomorrow!

just another early-morning-seminary-teacher mom!


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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Ether 12 - "Ether's Jeopardy"

[example of student game]

Yesterday we talked about how we received spiritual protection by learning from the lives of others in the scriptures. Today we continued that coverage by studying Ether 12.

As per the lesson manual, I started off today with an anchor I'd drawn on the board. I asked what an anchor does for a ship. Then we read Ether 12:1-5 and discussed what an anchor does for us during our spiritual storms. What anchor would that be?

We read Mormon 5:18 to compare the Nephites with the Jaredites, who by this time so often lacked spiritual mooring through personal anchors in Christ that they often floundered (and eventually sunk). We read Elder Scott's quote about anchoring our life in Jesus Christ (found on page 264 in the teacher's manual).

One student compared the Jaredites to being like chaff. I said, "That's right. Class, do you all know what chaff is?"

When the majority of the class said no, I shared, "Chaff is what is left over after wheat has been thrashed. Anciently the women used to toss the product into the air. The wheat would fall back onto the blanket (or whatever they'd used to toss it up). The chaff would be blown away."

The students seemed to catch the lesson and I drew dots representing chaff in swirling motions on the opposite side of the board from the anchor. "It's our individual choice to determine whether we will anchor our lives on Christ's teachings, with Him then anchoring our souls to Him - or to choose not to do that, essentially then becoming as chaff as one of you just shared."

So where does all this lead?...by choosing Christ, we lead lives full of spiritual confirmation of these truths, after having been found faithful in our trials. In essence we become a hero for the Lord and to those around us. And Ether 12 helps us all to figure this out.

One student mentioned the twelve heroes of faith that Moroni recorded in this chapter (she first had heard of this at an EFY camp). We discussed in a variety of ways the value of being a hero of faith and where we need to place our faith in order for that to happen.

The same student said they'd received an assignment during EFY to underline every time "faith" was mentioned in Ether 12. She said she'd found more than twenty!

Truly Ether 12 is a rich chapter, full of insights!

As per the lesson manual, we looked at some "heroes" (as the student had called them) left for us in additional scriptures. I wrote Nephi, Jacob, Isaiah, brother of Jared, and Moroni on the board. "What do they have in common?" I asked. The kids weren't quite sure (perhaps it was the early hour! :0)

We read in 2 Nephi 11:2-3; Ether 3:7-8, 13; and 12:38-39. We followed many of the questions found in the teacher's manual on page 265, discussing how we can become a faith-full hero also.

I think by this time the students were getting the fact that Moroni wanted us to understand faith and its accompanying power. So to drive this home, we played a game I'd called "Ether's Jeopardy" (I've uploaded the PDF file at the Seminary Class Notes group site under "Files").

Of course, I needed to modify the game a bit to avoid the contention I've noticed enters in at times when playing with teams. Additionally, to save time, I only made three columns - so we wouldn't run out of time.

So instead of breaking into teams, I announced this game would be a way for the kids to earn Brigham Bucks for the end of the year auction we'll be having.

Each student would have the opportunity to select one category and one point amount. If they could answer the answer with the appropriate question (patterned after the TV show, Jeopardy), they earned the entire point amount for the class! If they needed help, the class could help and the entire class would get 50% of the points.

We proceded to play the game and the kids really seemed to be enjoying it. And I enjoyed it, because there was no fighting over "this point earned" or "that rule is not fair", etc. :0)

As they discovered and answered each point, we stopped for just a moment to define and clarify in one sentence or so the teaching found in that particular verse where they found the answer (they could use their scriptures to dig for facts). And at the end of class, I ran again through what we'd spotlighted in the game regarding the life of Ether and also the teachings of Moroni.

There was so much more meat in this chapter than I could ever cover in one class. But I hope they deeply drink from these waters again, having their tastebuds tantalized by the refreshing gospel truths contained in Ether 12. Some may mock these words, some even from within the ranks of the church. But the truths contained herein will be born out through time.

I love these students and care deeply about their lives, the choices they make, the future they face. I pray to be an excellent gospel resource for them, that they will be able to be heroes for themselves and others as they grow into their futures. What great kids!

Until tomorrow!

just another early-morning-seminary-teacher mom! :0)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ether 8, 9, 10 & 11 - Scriptural Protection

[example of work - to see up close, click on picture]

Today we covered Ether 8 through 11. That is a lot of material, and after coming off yesterday's Convoluted Pathways activity, I especially did not want to gloss over the convoluted choices of these descendents of Jared and the others (who had come over in the barges).

The ability to apply spiritual teachings and scriptural perspectives to modern-day application is something seminary students are just learning how to do. Thus, I try to always point to some modern day example that matches the ancient example given in the scriptures.

I did that today by starting a class discussion on modern-day examples of failures of integrity. I held up a book entitled Doing Honest Work in College, by Charles Lipson (an excellent book, by the way). I said, "You know what? This kind of book did not exist twenty years ago. Why do you think professors are needing to write these kinds of books today?"

The kids explored that - problems with honesty, etc. Thus the question: why would students have a problem with honesty? The proposed easy gain from cheating.

Then I held up yesterday's paper mentioning a museum who had made millions of dollars by breaking the law. They had shown an exhibit the state had ordered them not to exhibit. They flaunted the order, showed the exhibit anyways and as a result, made a load of money. Why did the museum flaunt authority? Could it have been for gain?

Then I shared a story from the news yesterday about how gangs are quickly thriving in America. We read Elder Hales' quote on page 262 in the teacher's manual. We read Elder Ballard's quote on the same page. We read Ether 8:23-25 on the secret combinations which would exist in our day. Moroni truly saw our day!

I asked which nations already have been destroyed by secret combinations? Why do secret combinations appeal to so many people? What happens to people that they can stomach activities which hurt others? How do they justify it? Why?

This is a pressing issue, especially because of the warning in "The Proclamation on the Family", from the First Presidency. We read an excerpt in class today (found on page 266 in the teacher's manual), where the First Presidency prophetically warns about the potential destruction of modern societies.

"Can you see the connection with the quick decline of the Jaredite people and our society today?" I asked.

In preparation for our chapter research, I asked the class: how do you get from being childlike in youth, yet eventually get to where you cheat in college or where you flaunt a state order (as adults running a museum) or where you join a gang and hurt other people? What are the underlying and motivating factors? And how carefully do we need to watch ourselves, so that we don't fall prey?

I drew three dots on the board - spread apart from each other in a straight line. The first dot represented a childlike state of "purity". The next dot represented "flaunting authority. The final dot represented the kinds of activities "secret combinations" engage in.

I promised the students that as they searched the scriptures daily, it in essence restores their ability to see clearly and makes them better able to see through the craftiness of Satan and those who would deceive the students, who would try to lead them slowly to the next dot on a parallel descent to depravity.

In final prep for our research in today's chapters, I said: "If we're not reading our scriptures every day, how come?" The list came quickly... too busy, too tired, don't like it, too hard, I forgot, etc.

"So true," I said. "And do you realize these same excuses are the reasons adults use to not visit-teach or home-teach, to not serve when asked, or are just 'too busy' to engage in the gospel? The reasons don't really change. It all comes down to choice, doesn't it. And that choice is: 'Am I too busy for God?'"

Well, Moroni saw our day (as did other prophets). It's why he included what he did. I shared with the kids, "The book of Ether doesn't exist just to tell the story. Throughout Ether, Moroni is editorializing, teaching, imploring us to 'get the picture!'" I let the class know there were urgent reasons he shared the convoluted pathways of the Jaredites with us.

So I let the students know they were going to have the opportunity to be researchers and discover why and what. I divided the class into four teams. I passed out paper and gave each team one chapter to investigate. As they did so, they were to:
  • write a summary for each verse from their chapter on the paper (this was important and ensured they were familiar with the many twists and turns listed in their chapter).
  • Once that was completed, they were to focus on the Coat of Arms questions/activity sheet I'd distributed.
Once they started on the Coat of Arms activity, the students were to consider and answer the questions I'd listed for each section on the Coat of Arms. We talked about how a Coat of Arms symbolizes the protection the warriors in ancient battles received from their shields. I told the students Moroni wanted them to have the same protection today and was trying to get that message across in the historical story he was telling them in their chapter.

We had done a Coat of Arms experience before, where I'd let them design their own Coat of Arms. But this time, I had a very structured idea in mind with very specific questions I wanted answered (to see questions, click on picture up above). So I utilized an idea I'd seen (from my husband's "My Goals Worksheet" received from Brother and Sister Kouri from the LDS Employment Center) with specific questions written out by each section. (To be able to read the questions, click on the picture above. Or better yet, you can download this for free at the Seminary Class Notes group.

The students worked on their Coat of Arms (for an example, see the top of this blog entry) and tomorrow they will be presenting what they learned from the Jaredites. I'm excited to hear their perspectives.

Until tomorrow!

just another early-morning-seminary-teacher mom :0)

For additional teaching tips or to be able to access this free PDF, simply click here to join the free Seminary Class Notes groups!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Ether 6 & 7 - Convoluted Pathways

[example of student work - to see up close, click on picture]

Today we researched the beginning of the convoluted pathways of the Jaredites, as recorded in Ether 6 & 7. I created an Inspiration document which I called “Convoluted Pathways.”

At the beginning of class, after our devotional, etc., we quickly rehearsed what we’d studied thus far in Ether:
  1. The three desires of Jared -
    • That his and his brother’s language would not be confounded
    • That the language of their friends would not be confounded
    • That if they were scattered, that it would be to a most choice land
  2. The work required of Jared’s people to prepare to receive those blessings
  3. The 344 days on the barges, continually singing praises to the Lord
I explained that now we were going to study what happened after they set foot on the promised land – that their pathways would become rather convoluted.

Dictionary.com states that “CONVOLUTED” means:
  • Having numerous overlapping coils or folds (a convoluted seashell).
  • Intricate; complicated (convoluted legal language; convoluted reasoning).
I passed out my "Convoluted Pathways" sheet, giving one sheet to every two students.

We did the first step on the pathway together, so that they could see how to do it. In other words, we read Ether 6:12 and then decided which word would summarize best what was in that particular verse/account.

The class generally thought that "gratitude" would be a good summary word for verse 6, although they were free to record any word they thought appropriate.

I turned them loose on the assignment with the following steps:
  1. At each step of the pathway, one student is to act as the reader. That student reads each of the assigned verses out loud (the suggested verses were printed on the Convoluted Pathways sheet).
  2. Each team is to discuss which word is the best summary for what was Moroni recorded in the verse(s).
  3. The second student acts as the historian and records the team's word (or several words) at the proper step.
  4. Finally, they are to look for the most potent lesson that can be learned from these two chapters. In other words, why did Moroni include this part of the history?
It took the students maybe fifteen minutes to work through the sheet. Then we went step by step through the sheet, with the students calling out what they had written. Oftentimes, I actually went team by team so that the students could hear all of the other summaries.

I partially did this so that they could hear the perspectives of the others, but I also did this to make sure we didn't "lose" any of the teams in the flurry of the comments. In other words, sometimes some kids will start chatting about something else if they feel the class as a whole is carrying the assignment and they don't feel the need to stay involved.

But when I focus on each individual team or student, step by step through any assignment, the attention seems to stay more focused by all.

Once we walked through the single word summaries (some of the teams used several words to summarize, which was fine), then I asked each team to share what they felt was the most potent lesson to be learned from these two chapters.

It was really enriching and spiritually building to hear their profound insights. And to help offset any possible clowning (because after all, teens are usually lighthearted and like to have fun - which at times is appropriate, but I wanted seriousness for this part), I said again before we began, "I think you are mature enough to do this. I really would like to hear your insights as to why you think Moroni included these two chapters. What might be the most important lesson to be learned from these?"

And what they came up with amazed me. What great kids.

P.S. The purpose of these kinds of activities is several-fold:
  1. To immerse the students in the scriptures themselves, rather than just hear them. There is a difference.
  2. To have the students process what they are hearing on a deeper level by verbalizing and summarizing.
  3. To have the students share with each other their own thoughts on what they are learning, rather than just hear the thoughts of the teacher. This deepens their spiritual maturity and allows them to develop better facilities with sharing the gospel in general.
  4. To have the students actually record what they've discovered deepens the learning process even more (we are a journal keeping people, after all).
Research has shown this multi-modal process to learning helps what was learned remain longer. Besides, Elder Hales, when speaking to CES teachers, told the teachers to have their students writing during class regarding what they're learning. He explained how this deepens their spiritual awareness.

So I'm seeking everything possible to try to follow that counsel - in a variety of ways so it doesn't get boring for the students, but I'm definitely trying every day to find some way to have them process what they're learning through reading in the scriptures themselves, through writing and verbalizing. :0)

Until tomorrow!

just another early-morning-seminary-teacher mom! :0)

To download the free PDF, simply click here. If not a member yet of the Seminary Class Notes group, it's easy to join so that you can get to all the free PDFs. Simply click on the Join button and sign up. It's free, plus you'll receive a monthly newsletter with scripture mastery possibilities, teaching tips and other resources to help you in your LDS seminary classroom! I figure if the Lord has blessed me in certain ways to create application materials that worked well with my class, I want to freely share those with others!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Ether 4, 5, & 6 - Student Presentations

Today the students finished with their presentations they had worked on yesterday. It was really neat to see what they had come up with and how they summarized what they had learned from their scripture research yesterday.

Then we moved on to a scripture mastery game. I took a game that had been given to me from my supervisor and changed it around (mostly because I couldn't understand the printed instructions [weak grin]). I called it FIVE IN A ROW like the other one, but made a bunch of changes since I didn't really understand the instructions. So I just made up my own game.

The kids seemed to really enjoy it. When I have it finished in a clear and understandable format, I'll let you know through the newsletter!

Until tomorrow,

just another early-morning-seminary-teacher mom! :0)