Online Seminary Training

I wrote a little bit last week on the online resources for Seminary training, but my internet connection flipped out and the blog entry was lost before it could save. :(

So I’m going to try to reconstruct was I was doing last week to prepare for Seminary. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on Seminary toward the end of the week because I was trying to finish the Book of Mormon in order to earn my Honor Bee before I was released from Young Women. Finished it — yay! It took about 20-22 hours, I think, but of course there were plenty of interruptions and such throughout — that time was spread through 2 weeks. I am an unusually fast reader, too. My friend estimates it would take her 26 hours at 1 page every 3 minutes. I was doing it in a little over 2 minutes a page. So I guess if you were wondering “how long does it take to read the Book of Mormon”, I would say budget 30 hours, and hope it takes less.

Seminary

So I feel a little guilty about my Starting to Plan entry. Did you notice I was a little cranky about the manuals? I was far crankier even than the entry shows, but I’m going to leave it up in case it helps anyone. These manuals are exceptionally difficult. More difficult than they need to be. The planning and pacing could be much, much better. I understand the need for flexibility because of different school districts, but it seems to me that there could be more done toward helping students and teachers budget their time. A variety of reading schedules? Sample school calendar example? Make it a little easier on us, please.

In case you’re wondering, I’m going with a 37 weeks schedule. I added a second week at week 26 to to cover the Psalms, etc, a little more. That will also be my catch up week for any snow days we miss. I’m only about 1/2 done with the calendar. Will post it when I’m done.

Online Seminary Training

So on to the online help. Our S&I rep didn’t ask us to, but I have been looking at the online teacher training helps to see if they are of any interest to Seminary teachers. I am a little obsessive about getting all the information I can before I start a big project. I want to know as much as I can before I jump in.

It’s a little confusing to navigate the S&I websites. Here’s what I found:

http://seminary.lds.org/ – has the teacher and student materials online with no log in required. No training materials are here, however.

http://www.ldsces.org or http://www.lds.org/si – has loads of training material and resources (and the manuals), but much of the content requires an LDS Account login and that you be set as a Seminary teacher in the MLS system.

The following text describes what I found at http://www.lds.org/si/

Some of the information wasn’t terribly useful to me, but the history presentation was interesting, at least. The most helpful thing for me was the segments with Barb Smith, the Utah TV personality, interviewing Seminary teachers about why they made certain decisions to include information in their lessons. Those videos also showed the teacher in the classroom using their methods. It was interesting to watch the older (Australian?) woman answer the questions. You could tell it just comes naturally for her — she was almost surprised at the questions she was being asked. I thought the questions were insightful, though, and her reasoning was sound.

You can see the Australian lady video by going to

Teach –> Improving Teaching –> Preparing To Teach –> Lesson Preparation –> Decide What & How to Teach

The videos are under the “Models” header. I think there are probably lots of training videos at

Teach –> Improving Teaching –> Teaching Methods, Skills, & Approaches

but I didn’t have time to take a look at those.

I find the restriction of a log in to be annoying. I can’t follow the “for your eyes only” attitude that seems to prevail in the S&I department. Shouldn’t all teachers have access to our best training materials? I’m speaking without experience here, but teaching Seminary can’t be *that* much different than teaching in any of our other classes (with the exception of the difficult manuals). Why isn’t teacher training stuff public for everyone?

Useful Links

There’s a section in “Teach” that links to several useful websites. I am posting some of the essential ones here, and I will include links to them in the menu section of this website also — they’re that good.

http://scriptures.byu.edu/ – This website has been around forever, but it’s been expanded since I last took a serious look at it. It now includes all Conference talks since 1942, plus Journal of Discourses and Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. If you haven’t been to this website before, go. It’s genius! Instead of searching for conference materials by keyword (like searching at lds.org), which will result in tons of information not necessarily directly related to your materials, THIS index lets you search by scripture reference. So, for example, say you’re teaching Exodus 20 and want more information on a particular verse, you can click down and get a list of all the conference talks that cite that scripture. Genius.

http://eom.byu.edu/ – the Encyclopedia of Mormonism is now online in wiki form at byu.edu. While much of this material has been online for a zillion years, this URL was new for me — I didn’t know of another source for this information online besides lightplanet. Nice to know.

http://lib.byu.edu/digital/relarchive/ – Looking for a picture of an olive tree? Map of Jerusalem? Here’s the place to look for it. Search by book of scripture or by topic. Also genius, and a new one for me.

Prepare a Lesson

So, the church is finally taking after me, eh? :) From a technical standpoint, this area will be very helpful for teachers, eventually. It’s clear it’s still under development and there should be many more helps included, like object lessons, graphics, maps, etc. I hope they’re using keyword tagging to populate the pages.

Anyway, it’s useful even in its barebones version because it links to both the relevant teacher’s manual and student manual portions so that you can get lots of ideas. It also includes some links to talks and sometimes media.

This *seems* like it would be very useful, but I can see that this format might bog teachers down. It would be more helpful in my opinion to group this by “scripture block” instead of chapter. That way you don’t get bogged down in one chapter and can keep an overview of what materials are available in other chapters, finding a lesson pacing balance. I am not sure how much I’ll be using this yet.

Okay. Enough for now. I’m going to review some of the materials on the DVD in my next blog entry. More on the website will come later, I’m sure.