Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Parable of the Ten Virgins- Lamps of Faith

We made lamps of faith as we discussed the parable of the ten virgins from Matthew 25:1-13
I debated as to what type of clay to use. After some consideration, I decided to use Crayola Air Dry Clay- the terracotta color.  I suppose you could purchase white and color it, but I was not up for that experiment.
This clay was just messy enough for the students to have the "I worked with clay" experience, yet not too messy and very easy to clean up.  Not "globby" messes or stains on tables, clothing, etc.
I did cover the tables with disposable plastic but if I had not, the tables would have wiped clean with little effort.
I had Lysol wipes available for hand washing.
This video from the Seminary New Testament Manual was very effective at providing many points of discussion and in helping the students know what to shape their lamps like.

When our lamps are hardened, I hope to add wicks and light them and reinforce our discussion on the need to add oil to our lamps daily, build our testimonies and to Know, not Know About, Jesus Christ














Friday, August 26, 2016

Magnifying the Scriptures

Here is a simple, yet effective, method to use for a discussion-based lesson.
In the past years, I have felt that classroom discussion and interaction was something I needed to improve. I know students learn from discussion but I have been at a loss as to how to make it fresh and have everyone want to be involved.

For our lesson today, I told them in advance that it was important to read the Scriptures that go with the lesson and to be prepared to discuss.
When we started, this morning, I told them that I am teaching with the assumption they all read and will contribute to the lesson.
I showed a large magnifying glass (from the Dollar Tree)  and asked them what a magnifying glass is used for.

Some of their answers:
To make things larger (enlarge, enrich, make more)
To make things easier to see (read)
The clarify details
To search for things

Then we compared these answers to reading/studying the scriptures and how to apply them to Scripture study. We discussed how to magnify the messages of the scriptures using prayer, footnotes, cross-references, lds.org, Bible dictionary, Topical guide,  New Era, Ensign, asking parents/leaders, etc.

After the discussion of how to magnify the scripture messages,  I handed the magnifying glass to a student and asked her to share what she learned from the assigned reading (I made sure to choose a student who I could tell had read the assigned scriptures)
I asked her to share the chapter and verse from where she was sharing. When she was done, she was to pass the magnifying glass to another student who would do the same and so forth.

As a note: do your best to have a seating arrangement that supports discussion, such as all seated around a table, seated in a circle, etc. It is important that they see each other as they discuss.

This simple prop, a magnifying glass, was perfect for getting everyone involved.  Every student was engaged and contributing.  Even my sleepy, reluctant students were alert and engaged.
At one point, many of the students were begging to have the magnifying glass so they could share.

It was one of the best discussions I have experience in my 4 years of teaching Seminary.
I won't over-use this method but it will definitely be part of my plans all year.
I am  thinking about attaching the magnifying glass to something like a small stuffed animal or a holiday/seasonal object just to keep it fresh.

Happy Teaching!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Books of the New Testament Activity

At the beginning of the year, I teach my students the Books of the New Testament in order.
This is very basic and for some, a review.
The most effective method is to use "The Books of the New Testament" song in the LDS Children's Songbook on page 116. Sung to the tune of the Hymn, "Praise to the Man"

After introducing this song and reviewing it for a few days, your students are ready for this activity to reinforce what they have learned.

Depending on the number of students you will need to adapt it.
Place the name of one of the books on the back of each student ( I just use masking tape or clothes pins to attach the paper)
Instruct the students that without any talking, they need to line up in order starting with Matthew and ending with Revelations.
Once they are lined up, ask them if they think they are in order.
They will check and re-check themselves.
It is fun to watch.
You will learn a lot about your students and their personalities, leadership, interaction with others, etc. as you observe them in this activity that requires working together and problem solving.
 These photos are from my first year as a Seminary Teacher when I was quite sure I did not know what in the world I was doing.  My class was behind and I came in after they had been meeting for a month.  I look at these photos and see my CES Supervisor who had visited that day to officially welcome me as a teacher.  Wow....it seems like ages ago and I am still trying  to figure out what works best. It changes for each year and each set of students.

There are 27 books so if you need to combine
Write a few names on one paper, such as:

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
Acts, Romans
1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians
Etc.

Games and Activities teach in a way no classroom lecture can.
Learning the books of the New Testament gives students the confidence to become more comfortable searching the scriptures.

Books of the New Testament Activity

At the beginning of the year, I teach my students the Books of the New Testament in order.
This is very basic and for some, a review.
The most effective method is to use "The Books of the New Testament" song in the LDS Children's Songbook on page 116. Sung to the tune of the Hymn, "Praise to the Man"

After introducing this song and reviewing it for a few days, your students are ready for this activity to reinforce what they have learned.

Depending on the number of students you will need to adapt it.
Place the name of one of the books on the back of each student ( I just use masking tape or clothes pins to attach the paper)
Instruct the students that without any talking, they need to line up in order starting with Matthew and ending with Revelations.
Once they are lined up, ask them if they think they are in order.
They will check and re-check themselves.
It is fun to watch.
You will learn a lot about your students and their personalities, leadership, interaction with others, etc. as you observe them in this activity that requires working together and problem solving.
 These photos are from my first year as a Seminary Teacher when I was quite sure I did not know in the world I was doing. My class was behind and I came in after they had been meeting for a month. I look at these photos and see my CES Supervisor who had visited that day to officially welcome me as a teacher. Wow....it seems like ages ago and I am still trying  to figure out what works best. It changes for each year and each set of students.

There are 27 books so if you need to combine
Write a few names on one paper, such as:

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
Acts, Romans
1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians
Etc.

Games and Activities teach in a way no classroom lecture can.
Learning the books of the New Testament gives students the confidence to become more comfortable searching the scriptures.

Doctrinal Mastery Color Coding Ideas

The shift in Seminary has Doctrinal Mastery taking the place of Scripture Mastery.
We still have 25 scriptures per year, yet the focus is less about memorizing and more about applying, living, and understanding  the doctrines each scripture teaches and reinforces.

I belong to an LDS Seminary Teacher Facebook group and many teachers decided to assign a color to each doctrine and have their students mark the scriptures based on those colors.
At first is just sounded all too complicated for me and I resisted even thinking about using a system based on colors to mark and reinforce the learning of the Doctrinal Mastery Scriptures.
After one week in the classroom,  I change my perspective.
I see great wisdom in assigning a color to each Doctrine for the purpose of reinforcing, learning, and finding each Scripture.
This past week, I have been working on incorporating the color-coding system with my class.
I started with color coded posters  (ordered HERE from an etsy shop) on my classroom walls, yet quickly realized my students need more than that.

In their study journals, I had them color code the heading of each Doctrinal Mastery section. Again, very helpful but more reinforcement was needed.

One teacher suggested labelling a set of colored pencils for each student.
As complicated as that sounded, it has been very effective and a good use of time.
A few things I learned that may help you if you decide to label colored pencils:


  • Some students will enjoy labelling their own set.
  • Some students may take forever trying to get the print just the perfect size in the perfect location. Make sure this does not consume too much class time. You know your students so you can decide what will work the best.
  • Not all students can do this neatly without wasting a few pencils. You may want to consider labelling  a set of pencils for your students in advance (if your class is not too large) or making a few sets as "samples" and giving them to the students who may not be able to do this neatly of without wasting a few pencils due to errors. You will save a few mis-marked  or illegible pencils this way.
  • Use sharpies
  • Black sharpies don't show up on the darker colors so I used silver. If you have a white paint marker with a thin point, this would work well, also
  • Have a ziploc bag or a pencil pouch with each student's name on it for storage or these pencils are going to get lost...quickly. (pencil pouches are very inexpensive right now with back to school sales)
A few more thoughts:
I see where this color coding  can get complicated. This was the reason I did not even consider it all summer when I would read about it.

For me it is keep it simple...No dots, shapes, etc. Just colors
Everyone learns differently so I will keep my mind and heart open to the approaches that work best for my students. 
I won't insist that my students use the color coding. It is just a tool.
The most important factor is that students find a way to apply and live the doctrines in the scriptures we study.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Mixers and Getting To Know You Games

How well do you know your classmates???

Back to School and Back to Seminary call for mixers, icebreakers, and getting-to-know-you games.

Many teachers ask their students to complete a form with information such as name, birthdate, contact information, etc.
I take this a few steps more and ask for where my students were born, the number of siblings they have, and what some of their favorites are such as candy bar, cereal, food, holiday, color, season, sports team, hobby, book, movie, school subject,person in history, etc. I ask them about their hopes, dreams, and goals.

Rather than file these forms away, I use the information for getting to know you games and activities. One example is:
I call 3 (or any number) of students up to the front and ask the class, "What do these students have in common with each other?" 
Even the students up front don't know the answer.
The class members start asking questions of the students up front and eventually they figure out the answer.
In this case, the answer was that all 3 of the students were born outside the USA.
The answers will be as varied as your students, for example, all of them like pepperoni pizza, all of them want to travel to Europe,  all of them have 4 siblings, etc.

Happy Back to School!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Holi Powder Young Women Value Hike and Finishers Festival

As I am merging most of my Young Women-Young Men Activities with my Seminary blog (most ideas can be adapted for any youth activity/lesson), I am posting one of my most requested activities from Young Women Camp.
The Young Women Value Hike and Finisher's Festival
was, hands down, one of the best Young Women Camp activities I have participated in. I had the initial idea of using Holi Powder and "getting the YW Values on you-making them part of you" and my Assistant Camp Leader pulled it all together with the activities for each Value along the way. I have seen this used for a weekday activity and for a combined youth activity "color wars". There are so many possibilities. Enjoy!