Friday, May 31, 2013

End Of The Year Breakfast Celebration

We celebrated the end of a wonderful Seminary year with breakfast.
Parents, Leaders, Siblings, and incoming 8th graders were invited.
Click HERE to read how I moved the 8th graders to the Freshman table,
Freshmen to the Sophomore table, 
the Sophomores to the Junior table, 
Juniors to the Senior table, 
and the Seniors out the door with their scriptures and Seminary supplies. 
During breakfast, the Seniors were seated at a head table and we honored them.
All Scriptorians and Master Scriptorians were honored.
They will receive their plaques in Sacrament Meeting next week.
Each student received one of these candy scriptures
(Thank you, Pinterest)
We still have 2 Sacrament meetings to speak/sing in.
I will take better photos of the kids that day.
I missed several of the kids today when I had the camera out.
Time goes so quickly at 6am.
We had an on-going slide show in the background. 
It was a fun review of where we have been.
I framed the quote below for all students who memorized at least one scripture
(which was all of them)
The Master Scriptorians and Scriptorians received "upgraded" frames.
The tables were labelled by grade level and at each place setting, 
I placed the students' items from class, 
including the sticks with their names on them that I use for choosing prayers, devotionals, etc.

The Senior table
Graduation decorations for the Senior table.

Some of my amazing Seniors.
I will miss their leadership and energy.
The girls are twins
Some of the incoming Seniors
The two girls are twins
(Yes, I have 2 sets of twins in my class)
Sophomores soon to be Juniors

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

James- The Power of Words

As an introduction and reinforcement to James' teaching on the power of words, I gave a small tube of toothpaste and a plate to a few of my students.
I instructed them to squeeze the toothpaste onto the plate.
Some made designs and some were skeptical of what was to come next. 
I assured them they would not have to eat the toothpaste or smear it on anyone, etc.
Once the toothpaste was on the plates, I instructed them to put the toothpaste back into the tube. 
I told them to put it all back and leave no evidence of the toothpaste ever leaving the tube.
They immediately realized I was asking something that was not possible.
We likened this to the words we use.
Once we speak them, we cannot take them back.
We can apologize and change our future words, but we can never put the words back into our mouths as if they were never spoken.
I wish I had thought enough in advance to have a small tube of toothpaste (samples from dentists, etc.) to send home with each student as a Seminary in My Pocket reminder.
I love James' teachings on bridling our words and all the imagery he uses to teach this principle.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Be Not Deceived

Things are not always as they seem...
A few days after we made cookies , I offered "left over" chocolate to my students. I had two types of chocolate and quickly passed out a few pieces to them to snack on. The reactions came quickly...ewwww...what is this!?!, etc. A few of them headed straight to the garbage can to spit out their chocolate. Others were quietly enjoying their chocolate pieces.
The difference?
Some of them got the Unsweetened Baking Chocolate and some got the Sweetened Chocolate Chips. We discussed how easily they were deceived and how both chocolate looked like it was sweet.
Concepts to teach:
Be not deceived, look to the Savior, live worthy to have the Holy Ghost direct you, things are not always as they seem, etc.

Fight The Good Fight-Finish The Course

This was one of those days where I left class knowing that most of my students "got it" It was very effective and fun in the process. The advance work and preparation were worth every minute and, in reality, did not take as many minutes to set up as it may appear.
After we completed the obstacle course activity, I had them gather around the "Eternal Life" sign at the end of the obstacle course. We discussed how it will feel to say to the Lord, I fought the good fight, I finished my course, I did my best.

2 Timothy 4:5-8 
In Paul's final epistle, he declares:
Watch all things
Endure afflictions
Do the work of an evangelist
Make full proof of thy ministry
I have fought the good fight
I have finished my course
I have kept the faith
There is a crown of righteousness laid up for me 

We compared Paul's afflictions and trials to some that we have in our time.
We discussed the need for us to fight our own good fight, finish our course, and earn our own crown of righteousness. To reinforce these principles, I set up an obstacle course for my class. 

Here are the main components of this activity:
  • Objects (obstacles) within a boundary
  • Labels on the objects (Bad thoughts, inappropriate media, bullying, lying, cheating, immodesty, early and serious dating before 16 and/or missions and college, smoking, etc.)
  • 3 Noise makers (see photos-I used plastic bowls and spoons) representing the Noise and Temptation from the world. Have these 3 students stand on one side of the obstacle course and bang on the bowls as the students on the opposite side try to give direction on how to avoid the obstacles and make it through the course. They can also yell out instructions that will lead those on the course to stumble and bump into obstacles.
  • Signs for those on the opposite side that list Good Choices and following the Spirit (daily prayer, scripture, dressing modestly, partaking of the sacrament, keeping the Sabbath day holy, etc) Have these students yell directions that will get those on the course safely to the end without hitting obstacles.
  • Blindfolds for those going through obstacle course ( Due to the number of students in my class,I had 3 students at a time go through but 1 at a time would be better)
  • "Eternal Life" sign at the end of the course
  • Crowns of righteousness at the end of the course
  • Any other objects to make it more difficult (I used pool noodles across chairs)
There are a lot of photos below, but each one may answer questions and give a better idea than my written explanation.

 Labels on each obstacle...
 More labels...
 Pool noodles between 2 chairs
 Sign at end..they had to touch it to complete the course.

 Noise makers...
 On your mark, get set, go...
 I did not make this a race...just like life is not a race against each other and we are all on our own course to return to our Heavenly Father.
Each of us will get there in a little bit different time and way.
 The "good choices" on the side lines giving direction.
 Finding her way...
 The voices for good...
 The noise and temptations of the world... even though there were only 3 of them, they were louder than 10 good voices. At one point, they got up close to someone on the course. I told the students that this is how the temptations of the world work..they get louder and closer, so you need to be prepared to listen and follow the still, steady voices (the Spirit)

All Things Work Together For Good

This object lesson and activity can be adapted to teach many concepts.
It would be a great way to end the year by reviewing all of the doctrines and principles taught over the year. 
This reinforces working together, every one (ingredient) is important, follow the Lord's recipe, put on the whole armor of God (not just a few ingredients) etc. Just be careful to focus in on one concept and not go all over the place with too many abstracts. Otherwise, the lesson is lost in all the objects and comparisons.

Romans 8:28
All things work together for good...
As class started, we reviewed Romans 8:28 (All things work together for good) and the 13th Article of Faith
(We seek after these things...) We focused in on the word THINGS and named what those THINGS are that work together for the good and what things we seek after.
We listed specific commandments such as, Prayer, Good Thoughts, Clean Language, Love to others, Scripture Study, Seminary Attendance, Worthily partaking of the Sacrament, Dressing Modestly, etc.
I explained that one without the other is not as effective and that when you omit one of these things, you don't receive the full blessings available to all.
I explained that leaving out a commandment will weaken your spiritual armor.
I showed my students a recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies that I have used for many years.
As long as I follow the recipe, I get delicious cookies every time. The end result is sweet.
I told them about one time I tried to make substitutions and omissions from this recipe and that the results were not so delicious and sometimes not so sweet, in addition, time and ingredients are wasted when the recipe is not followed.
I told them that I was going to share these cookies with them.
We moved to the kitchen where I had a cookie sheet covered with a dish towel in the center of the counter island.
At that point, I uncovered the cookie sheet containing all the ingredients necessary for the cookies (see photo above)
I asked who would like a cookie.
Of course, they all said yes and so I began to hand each student an ingredient (i.e. a stick of butter or bag of oats) and told them here is a cookie, enjoy.
When they told me this is not a cookie, I explained that it was part of the recipe, it should be fine just to eat the flour, or egg, butter, etc.
I began to ask questions such as:
Why should we use all the ingredients (things)?
Why not just a few ingredients (things)?
Why should we mix these ingredients together?
What will happen if we only use a few of the ingredients?
Why should we keep all of the commandments (use all of the ingredients)

After this discussion, we mixed up the ingredients, following all the directions, and baked the cookies.
As we worked on mixing and placing the dough on cookie sheets, I continued to teach and reinforce the message of All things work together for good.

This was a fun lesson and we were able to complete it in the 45 minutes allowed, with little time to spare. I made sure I was very organized with the ingredients and supplies and that I stayed focused on the main thought of all the Lord's commandments will work together for our personal benefit.

Just a few more days of Seminary left. I will try to get caught up on sharing some of our lessons (maybe over the summer)
Happy Teaching!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Seminary Graduation and The End of The Year

12 more days to teach Seminary this year (but who is counting???)
What traditions or ideas do you have for end of the year and Seminary graduation?
Although the focus is always Jesus Christ and His teachings, I feel it is important to end on a note that reminds the students of what we learned all year as well as congratulate them for all their hard work.
The reality is, my students are in class at 6am every school day, which means most of them are out the door long before most of their peers are even awake. This is, indeed, something to celebrate.
Early morning Seminary students make a huge sacrifice to attend Seminary and I know they are blessed for this effort. It is a large piece of their armor of God and I know Seminary protects them spiritually and physically.
With this in mind, I will share a few of my plans for winding up the year.
I am combining a tradition from our former area, Wellington Ward, and adding a few new ideas.

Stake Level:

  • Last weekend, we had a Seminary Scripture Bowl, Fireside, Dinner, and Dance. It sounds like a lot was packed in to one night and it was, but it was a wonderful way to bring all the Seminary students together to celebrate a great year.
  • This Sunday, our Stake is hosting a formal Seminary Graduation. The Seniors will receive their diplomas and one Senior from each Ward will speak.

On a Ward level:
1) Graduation Breakfast:

  • Students, 8th graders, Parents and Leaders are invited. 
  • In addition to tables for the invited guests, 
  • 4 tables will be set up and decorated specifically for students.
  • Simple graduation decorations will be used, with a little more detail given to the Seniors' table. I have some cute little graduation hats for the Seniors to wear.
  • Students will sit by class (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior)
  • As we finish eating, students will have the opportunity to express their feelings about the Seminary year, the scriptures, etc.
  • I am preparing a slide show that will run while we are eating. It contains all the photos from our year together.
  • At the end of breakfast, everyone will be advanced (graduated) to the next level. 8th graders are invited to sit at the Freshman table, Freshmen will move to the Sophomore table, etc. SENIORS are walked out the door and handed their set of scriptures, journals, and any other class supplies that are theirs. (Thank you to my boys' Seminary teacher, Kate Estey, for this idea-it was a fun tradition for many years in Wellington Seminary)
2) Seminary Sacrament Meeting:
  • I have arranged with both Bishops in our building (my students come from the 2 wards that meet in our building) to have a Seminary Sacrament Meeting. My students will attend both wards on that day.
  • Our class is  scheduled to sing "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" (we are practicing it in English and Spanish
  • The Seniors (5 of them) are invited to speak. Their assigned topics are taken from Seminary Scripture Mastery scriptures
  • All students will be recognized for their efforts in attendance and reading. Scriptorian and Master Scriptorian awards will be presented. ( I found plaques for Scriptorian and Master Scriptorian Awards-not as fancy as the ones I have been looking for, but these are nice)
  • This will provide an opportunity for parents and ward members to hear and see the blessings of Seminary.
  • On this day, I will also hold a brief Seminary Pre-registration meeting for parents. I will give an overview of what the Seminary year will be like and ask them to make sure their student has a set of scriptures to use for Seminary class next year. Since I did not start the year with this class, I never had the opportunity to set a few basics in motion, such as each student needs a set of their own scriptures (I know...basic, but it was hard to come in and set that in motion mid-year)
Please share any other ideas you have for end of year, graduation, summer preparation, etc. 
I am going to miss these kids and the beautiful spirit I have with me as I am immersed in the scriptures.
The 4:35am alarm...not so much.

Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Armor Up!

A perfect supplement for reinforcing Paul's teaching to put on the whole armor of God. It is written by a cast of LDS "Rock Stars" including my friend, Laurel Christensen ( the new Mrs Stephen Day)
In Seminary, I just taught Ephesians and this was a perfect resource for examples and stories. It is well-organized and easy to read for youth or parents.

Many pages contain boxes for scanning with your smart phone.
Each scan reveal additional stories, photos, and information.

There is a similar book, Suit Up, by the same authors.
Both books would be excellent graduation, birthday, happy-end-of-school-year gifts.
For more information, check it out HERE

The Whole Armor of God

Put on The Whole Armor of God
This was a 2-day activity and worth the class time.
One day, I introduced Paul's teachings on the whole armor of God and
 they spent the last half of class divided in to groups making their armor. 
I had them refer to the scriptures to make sure they had all of the pieces of armor Paul taught about. 
The next day, they came in and did some last minute finishing of their armor.
 After that, they modeled the armor and we checked off their armor against 
the pieces Paul taught in Ephesians.
After the "fashion show", we compared physical armor vs spiritual armor and parts of the body each piece of armor protects physically and spiritually.
It was a very effective lesson. 
We ended with the New Testament Video, The Whole Armor of God.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Infinite Atonement

I am the first to support and understand the need to use CES Curriculum and support when teaching Seminary. When preparing Seminary lessons, I am careful to use stories, quotes, and examples straight from the teachings of ancient and modern day Prophets and Apostles.
With that in mind, I highly recommend this book, The Infinite Atonement, by Tad R Callister to Seminary, Institute, and all teachers and students of the gospel ofJesus Christ.

As I started reading it, I could hardly complete my  thoughts of wishing I had had this book as I was teaching The New Testament this year when I was interrupted by thoughts and feelings of gratitude for having found this book before I teach The Book of Mormon next year.

After a week of shopping in Utah, I purchased this book on my way to the airport. All week, each time I would see this book in various book stores, I was drawn to it but put it down when I saw the price of $24.99. I am still not sure what made me go ahead and spend the money but is was the best use of money on my entire trip.
I wish I could afford to purchase one for each of my 6 graduating Seniors.

This book is extremely well-written and organized. It is easy to follow and understand, yet there is depth and meaning in every word. Sometimes a book that is so packed with information becomes overwhelming and I get lost in the depth. This is not the case with The Infinite Atonement. The information is so well organized and presented, it leaves little room for thoughts to wander. It is not a "quick-scan-the pages-read" as you will want to pause and highlight many, many sentences and paragraphs. Plan to have a highlighter and pen in hand as you read. In addition to highlighting, I have made many notes in the margins with my pen. This is a resource you will not read once and put on the bookshelf never to open again. It will be used as a reference for many years going forward. Even the footnotes deserve careful attention and highlighting.

Thank you, Tad Callister for devoting your life to this work that will literally change my life.