Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Alma 31, 32, 33 & 34 - Spiritual Mid-terms

Periodically I like to give what I call a "Spiritual Mid-term." This is where I give students the opportunity to grow in deeper gospel study skills. I divide the class into teams of about three students each. I give them team-responsibility for one chapter. They are to read the chapter as a group, select the theme or teaching from that chapter, and then prepare a mini-presentation for the rest of the class. (I have twelve students in my class. Thus, my teams tend to be small. Adjust according to your needs. :0)

(sample of student drawn "visual")

For the presentation I request that they select a theme hymn, make a poster or some kind of visual display delineating the main thought, and prepare to share their testimonies regarding their assigned chapter. They are also to prepare a list of questions that will get the rest of the students in the class digging into the actual scripture block to find the answers to questions asked during the presentation.

I've shared with the students as to why I periodically do this. I want them to have solid gospel knowledge. I want them to know that the scriptures contain the answers to ALL of life's questions, no matter how difficult or far-out those questions may be. I also remind them that in a few short years (for some of them as short as one year away!), they will be attending college and that if they are attending a church school, most likely they will be in a student ward. As such, many of them will be called as Sunday School teacher, Relief Society President, Elder's Quorum President, Sunday School President, Enrichment Leader.....anyways, you get the idea.

Their eyes kind of pop when this clicks. I let them know that they are in a time of preparation for these future leadership opportunities and that they will be preparing lessons for auxiliary organizations within the church. I want them to be able to handle those opportunities with inspiration and not be overwhelmed by them. So I tell them that each time we do these "Spiritual Mid-terms" as a class, it is an opportunity to check their growth, their knowledge of the gospel, and their testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ.

Today each team received the assignment for one of the following chapters in Alma: 31, 32, 33, or 34. I gave them each some suggested teaching resources from the seminary manual, some coloring pencils, a hymn book, and two blank pieces of paper upon which to prepare their visual displays (explaining that when a class has something to look at, they often will remember that visual for a long time).

The kids then split out into groups and begin working on their "mid-term." I play soothing hymns as a quiet backdrop while they are working.

Doing this off and on throughout the year has resulted in kids who seem to know how to handle their scriptures, seem to be able to find ways to share the gospel with others, and have grown in comfort being in front of others. I have been proud of them as I've seen them bring the gospel to one another through these periodic presentations. The spirit has been so strong as they've shared their testimonies and their mini-lessons.

Is any of this perfect in its process? Of course not. We are all human after all. But as these students have taken up the challenge, wonderful things have resulted.

And now tomorrow, the presentations! :0)

1. Ask the students to FIRST read the chapter together before discussing ideas. This way they will have accomplished the most important portion of gospel-lesson preparation, before getting caught up in presentational ideas.

2. Have the students say a team prayer, asking for the spirit when they present.

Students are to:
* Read the chapter together as a group.
Then (if the teams need to be larger, they could subdivide these responsibilities so as to not run out of time):
* Select a theme and hymn.
* Draw a visual.
* Prepare a list of questions and a quote for the class from that scripture block.

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Until next week,

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