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,, 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!

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