Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lehi's Vision Activity

I adapted this activity on one I have used in the past.
Click HERE for details
Today, it was all about avoiding the Large and Spacious Building (aka-the floor)
If you look closely, they are all standing on a paper plate
 When my students entered class, they had a paper plate and a marker at their seat. As we discussed ways to protect ourselves from being  distracted by the world, staying focused on the Tree in Lehi's Vision (God's Love and the Atonement of Jesus Christ), etc.,  I had them write those things on their paper plate. Some of them took it very seriously and wrote specific things like what type of friends they need, who they should/should not date, caution in media choices, etc. Once we were done, we went into the Cultural Hall for this game. I altered it by requiring them to keep their arms linked to the people on both sides of them. This made them work together and support each other on their journey through the mists of darkness and finally to the Tree of Life. At the end, we returned to the classroom and discussed the parallels of this activity to real life, staying close to positive peers, staying on the path, focusing on the end, avoiding the distractions of the world, etc.

Happy Teaching

Sunday, September 22, 2013

My Class and a Seminary Miracle

This year, I have 25 students. Many of them attend early morning Seminary against great odds. They travel through unsafe neighborhoods in the dark early mornings and many of their families do not always have dependable, if any, transportation. Last year, some of them walked** and some used public transportation. This year, no one is walking and public transportation has only been utilized a few times.
In spite of obstacles, they make great sacrifices to attend early morning Seminary. The majority of them arrive on time and ready to participate every day. They love the gospel and I love them!

After Seminary, my students depart for 10 different high schools (9 public, 1 private), 1 is home schooled, and 1 has already graduated and will be attending BYU-I in January. Of the 9 public schools they attend, 4 are some of the toughest school environments in our county.

Two thirds of my students are the first generation in their families to be educated in the US and to learn the gospel in English. They all speak, read, write, and memorize in English. In addition to English, 4 of them speak Creole (they are from Haiti) and 19 speak Spanish. Only my daughter and 1 other student have English as their first language.
As I marvel at the strength of these students, I am humbled to be their teacher every day. They are beautiful reminders that Jesus Christ is our common bond and that we are all more alike than we are different when we understand the gospel of Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father's plan.
Tomorrow starts week 6 and I feel so much responsibility to nurture and teach these amazing students!
I know Seminary saves lives now and eternally. (read below)

**Last year, as I arrived at the building at 5:40 to teach each morning, one of my students would be sitting on the ground near the entrance door waiting for me. When I would say things like, "Wow, you are early" or "You got an early start" etc. He would respond with things like, "Yes, my ride dropped me off early" etc. It was not long before I realized that he was waking up at 4:30 and WALKING*** to Seminary. He did not live too far away, but the area he had to walk through was not any place to be alone on an early dark morning, let alone a bright sunny day. He had to go through an industrial warehouse section and under the Interstate over pass before he got to an area that was "safe" and close to the chapel. I know angels protected him on his way to Seminary.

Shortly after this discovery, a family in our Ward invited this young man, who is the the only LDS member in his family, to live with them so he could get to Seminary safely and on time. He ended up living with this family until the school year was over. They were instrumental in helping him pass High School, obtain a drivers license, and prepare for a full-time mission. In December, he leaves for a full time mission to Brazil.
He graduated from Seminary, earned the Master Scriptorian and Superior Attendance awards and has continued to be a faithful and dedicated student of the gospel.
Seminary and the loving arms of his ward family saved this young man's life. I am grateful for the view the Lord has given me at this season of his progress.

***Often, I have people offer bikes for some of the youth in our Ward or ask why they don't ride bikes instead of walking. The simple answer is, even if finances would allow for some of these kids to have a bike, it would be stolen or vandalized the moment it was out of their sight-in spite of a lock. This isn't true in any case, but it is a reality for most of them.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Scripture Mastery Ideas-Part 1

"To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship.
It is like discovering a new individual who can help in time of need, 
give inspiration and comfort and a source of motivation for a needed change."
-Elder Richard G Scott-
This quote by Elder Scott is one I use when teaching my students the importance of Scripture Mastery. Last year as an end of year gift, I printed this quote and framed it for each student. I encourage them to recognize the importance of surrounding themselves with the scriptures as friends.

I will call this list, Scripture Mastery tips, Part 1, as I will add to it as the year progresses. 
  • Make sure each student has a set of Scripture Mastery Cards. When my students register for the new year, I give them a set of cards when they return their completed registration form. The cards are hole-punched and held together with a metal book ring, see a photo HERE. Students are encouraged  to carry their set of cards in their pockets, back-packs, etc. and become familiar with all 25 scriptures, one at a time.
  • The first week of class, I introduced all 25 Scripture Mastery selections. On the wall, I have posters with the references, keywords, and picture clues for each scripture. They are posted in order.
  • Each student is encouraged to choose a specific color and method for marking the Scripture Mastery verses that is different that any other marking in their scriptures-something that will catch their attention immediately when they flip through their books. 
  • Students are encouraged to mark all 25 scriptures with the key words written on the same page. This is a personal choice and each student will approach their scripture marking a little bit differently than their peers. Encourage them to do what works best for them.
  • I gave the students 1 week to complete the scripture marking assignment. Those who completed this assignment were rewarded with a treat (a giant cookie)
  • After the first week, we work on 1 scripture per week, going in order.
  • For each scripture, I make a poster with the full verse(s) and a poster with just the first letter of each word.
  • We ALWAYS STAND when we recite Scripture Mastery verses. It gives more attention and emphasis to the verses as well as it gets the students more involved and engaged. The more senses involved and more emphasis given, the better students will learn.
  • If a student can say the verse without looking, I tell them to turn around and face the back wall. As the week progresses a few more students gain enough confidence to turn around and face the back wall.
  • During the week, I plan a reinforcement activity for the scripture of the week, such as the Scripture Scramble Post-It Note activity seen HERE and HERE
  • In a few weeks, I will plan Scripture Mastery activities that include all the verses we have worked on up to this point and add those we have worked on as the year progresses. 
  • In the Parent-Student Back-To School Meeting and during the first week of class, I introduce the qualifications for Master Scriptorian, Scriptorian, and Scripture Scholar Awards. Students are encouraged to memorize the scriptures in a manner that they are comfortable with. I tell them that I want the scriptures to become part of their hearts. More information HERE, HERE or HERE
  • We have a chart for students to put a star or happy face sticker near their name and the verses they memorize. 
  • Each time a student memorizes a scripture, they have the option to choose a treat from a jar of treats that is a little more special than the "on-time" to class treats.
  • Students know that they are welcome to recite scriptures to me any morning before class from 5:45-5:55 or after class or by appointment on Sundays, Tuesday or Wednesday evenings, or they are welcome to stop by my house. I make myself available as best I can. Since my class covers 2 wards, it can get a little busy sometimes.
  • Students who don't think they can memorize gain confidence and make progress as the year goes forward. It is a blessing to watch the "lights turn on" in their minds and hearts.
  • I do all I can to help students taste and feel success. If they struggle with memorization, I help them see that they can earn the Scripture Scholar Award just by participating in the weekly Scripture Mastery class activities.
I have an average of 25 students per day. Even with this large number of students, Scripture Mastery is a priority and the majority of the students have "caught the vision" of Scripture Mastery with only 5 weeks of class behind us.

As the year goes on, I will post additional Scripture Mastery helps.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Teacher to Teacher Question

Someone asked me for my "Seminary Casserole" recipe, which reminded me of a question I would like to ask other teachers. This mostly applies to the early morning teachers, but I would like to hear any input out there.
How often to you serve food in Seminary-not the object lesson type food, but a treat or breakfast-y food?
What types of food do you serve?
Do the parents help?
Do the students take turns bringing a treat?
Does your ward help with budget money to reimburse?

We generally have a treat on Fridays after our activity or game, but I don't like the kids to just expect that we will always play a game and have a treat that day so I have been mixing it up.

Our treats are simple, like donut holes, juice, muffins, granola bars, milk, etc. Sometimes we have milk and cereal when there is a good BOGO sale on cereal. It just depends. Twice a year (Christmas and Graduation) we have a sit down warm breakfast and serve Seminary Casserole (or something similar)

My kids love having a once per week breakfast-type treat. I would just like to hear how it works or not in other areas.
Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Frankly Forgive

1 Nephi 7
The phrase that touches my heart in this chapter is "frankly forgive"
After Nephi's brothers and some of the sons and daughters of Ishmael tied him up in the wilderness with the intent to leave him for the wild beasts to devour, his faith enabled him to loosen the cords and be set free.
His brothers were still hard hearted, but eventually, they bowed down to him and asked for forgiveness.
Nephi said he did "frankly forgive" them. Meaning he honestly and clearly, with no  strings attached, forgave.
At the beginning of the lesson, I had "Nephi" come to the front and sit in a chair. Then I invited "Lamen", "Lemuel" and the "rebellious daughters and sons of Ishmael" to tie Nephi to the chair (use good judgment if you try this and make sure the "Nephi" you choose is good-natured (mine was) We talked about the natural man reaction to being tied up and left in the wilderness to die vs Nephi using his energy to call on the Lord for a miracle and extending forgiveness.
After this discussion on 1 Nephi 7, I reinforced the principle of forgiveness with this beautiful message by President James E Faust relating the tragedy of the Amish school killings in Pennsylvania and how the Amish community extended pure Christ like forgiveness and love. It is an example of forgiveness that is not often exhibited in the world today.
Because my husband has Amish "roots", I have had the blessing of being around the Amish community up close and personal over the years.
I set up 2 Amish quilts in front of the class today and displayed small painted wood blocks with scenes from the small town of Sugarcreek, Ohio where there is a large Amish population. I explained how the quilts were made by hand and that a true Amish quilt is always made purposely with a flaw that is not easy to detect but the creator knows it is there. (I have never found them in my quilts). This is a reminder that we all have flaws and need to be forgiving of each other.
This set the tone for watching this message from President Faust.
This is a great message to use during the Book of Mormon study this year any time the subject of forgiveness and love is addressed.
Here is a post I wrote a few years back with this same theme
Happy Teaching!
*Amish quilt image from HERE

Friday, September 6, 2013

Seminary Mornings

You know you are an early morning Seminary teacher when you enter the building with the moon still out and when you exit, you are greeted by amazing skies like in the photos below.
Each morning after Seminary, as I am filled with the spirit and my mind is on the tender mercies of God, nature seems more beautiful. I try not to rush too much to the next part of my day or I may miss the beauty around me.

This was from the Church parking lot right after class:
 I saw this rainbow from the main road next to my house.
It was a tender mercy for me that morning.
I love the clouds and sky in South Florida. I love them even more during the Seminary year when I am out early.
Happy Friday to a my fellow teachers!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Student's Role in Learning and Seminary In My Pocket

Using The Proper Tools
The first week of class, we discussed the each student's role as they attend/participate in class, read scriptures, and study the gospel.
The following activity illustrates the importance of using the proper tools of prayer, obedience, an open heart, an open mind, inviting the spirit to our lives,listening to the spirit, an application of the principles taught in the scriptures
When you use the correct tools, you will get the full blessing.
Just having the scriptures (the pudding) is not enough.
We need to open them, pray, invite the spirit, apply the principles, etc.

I asked the class if any one would like to have some pudding. They could even choose...chocolate or vanilla. After the enthusiastic hands went up to volunteer, I chose 3 students to come up front to eat the pudding.
I gave each student a container of pudding that was still sealed tight and told them to go ahead and start eating.
Make sure whatever food item you use is still closed and needs to be opened and eaten with a spoon in order to get it all out of the container.

The obvious was first: They need to open the pudding before they can eat (compare to opening their hearts and minds when they open the scriptures)
Once they were open, I told them to go ahead and eat.
The next observation: They need something to eat with. So I gave them some utensils (tools) that I brought from home and told them to go ahead and eat...

Of course I gave them utensils (tools) that were larger than the opening of the pudding cup and were nearly impossible to eat with.
Next I gave them utensils (tools) that were somewhat smaller but still awkward.
Finally, I gave them a small plastic spoon and they were able to eat all of the pudding.

At the end of the lesson, each student received their first
 *Seminary in My Pocket item for the new year...

Yes, plastic spoons (your local ice cream shop may give you a few of their small sample size spoons if you say please and buy a scoop of ice cream in the process)

*Seminary in My Pocket is back by popular demand. I had almost decided to NOT continue with this but how could I not when most of my students brought their pocket filled with items from last year on the first day of class. They were explaining each item to some of the new students. So, yes, it is back, and yes, it must have been effective.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What Did The Golden Plates Look Like?

This article from the July 2007 New Era is a wonderful resource as an introduction 
to the Book of Mormon study.
Several of my students are very creative and artistic. Based on the descriptions given in the New Era article, I gave my students the challenge to draw, paint, sculpt, build, etc. a replica of the golden plates. Some of them are running with this challenge and it will be exciting to see what they do.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Moroni 10:4-5 Activity

Post-it notes are this teacher's best friend. 
Every word, comma, semi-colon, period, and number is on a separate post-it note. I bought the 3x5 size at the dollar store over the summer so that large words would not be crowded on a square post-it. For smaller words and punctuation, I cut them in half.
I place the Post-it notes with all over the wall in random order and they have to place them in order on the wall next to them.
Two other ideas using this same concept:
1)When I do this again, I will hand each team a Zip-loc bag with the Post-it notes mixed up in random order and placed inside the bag. 
2)I have also done this in "Scavenger Hunt" style where I tell the students that there are 45 (or whatever number there are) Post-it notes hidden around the building. They have to find them and bring them back to the Cultural Hall where they must put them in order to determine what the scripture is and that all the words and punctuation marks are in the correct place. (This works better with shorter scriptures as it can take too long if there are a lot of words to find and put together)

I find it is important that the students work in smaller groups so everyone participates. Because it is the beginning of the year, I allowed them to use their scriptures to put the words in order. No, wait, I required all of them to open their own copy of the scriptures and check their work. No looking over someone else's shoulder or depending on your team mate to do all the work. Once they had their scripture words in order, they rotated to the next group to check their work. Several of the students have memorized this scripture already as we started the year with reading Moroni 10.

Scripture Mastery Wall and Room Set Up

I bought the download for these Scripture Mastery Cards from
Shannon at The Redheaded Hostess. It was worth every penny to have
great color and picture clues to go with the key words.
Above the Scripture Mastery Cards is the Book of Mormon timeline.
In a perfect world,  I would love to leave my classroom set up all the time but this
is the Relief Society Room so everything (except for these cards and the timeline)
is stored in the cabinets. 
Below  is how our room looks each morning as the students enter and exit.
The exception is if they want their journal locked in the cabinet, they place it in
a bin near the door and I lock that bin up each night. When they enter, they retrieve
their journal from the bin rather than having it sit at their seat.
I tell the students that if they leave the room neat and orderly, others will respect
our room during the week and leave it the alone. Generally, this is true.
Our building is used by two wards, but the members and leaders are very 
supportive of Seminary and keeping our room neat and clean.
Below is our white board easel. 
This greets the students each day with a quote, questions, or review facts.
We usually read the quote together and underline key words or phrases.
Tuesday, starts week 3, already! 

Welcome To Seminary 2013

Seminary is in session!
Below is the quote that met my students on the first day of class.
As they arrive each day, they open their journals and copy down the quote and questions I have posted on the easel. Usually the quote is something from our lesson that day, but I thought that this was a great thought as we start the early morning Seminary routine. Each day, I feel like I am getting a better sense as to how to incorporate classroom journals more effectively.  They are taking notes during class discussions and many are taking their journal and note taking very seriously. I expect that several students will fill more than one journal during the year.
 This is how my students were greeted on the first day.
(Scriptorians Trying Out Moroni's Promise)
 Above the drinking water fountain
 On the way to a fabulous year!!!!