Rocky Days

So, the last two days have been a little rocky. Monday the kids were chatty again. Today they were droopy. It’s never in between, I guess.

Genesis 25, Genesis 26

Today I based my whole lesson on the word flippant. I was pretty confident that most of my kids would not know the meaning of the word, but since it describes Esau so perfectly, I decided to use it.

We started out playing Hang The Bishop. Hang the Bishop is Hangman, just with a necktie :) I wrote the word down on a slip of paper and let one of the students run the game for me. After they discovered the word, I had one of the students who said he didn’t know what it meant look it up in my unabridged dictionary. My unabridged dictionary is huge — and the kids snort every time I get it out.

After that we read Genesis 25: 29-34 and Genesis 26: 34-35 aloud and wrote down a few ways that Esau was flippant. It took me a little reading in character to help the kids understand how Esau could be so dumb as to sell his birthright for soup — he was being flippant. In the middle of this discussion, one of the kids muttered what I hoped they would: “What is a birthright anyway?” So I asked the class what is the birthright? How can we find out more about this topic? BIBLE DICTIONARY, one of them answered! So we looked that up and read it.

I was hoping someone would ask so I could work it into the lesson fluidly, but otherwise I would have just left that “birthright” look up out. Working these kinds of opportunities into the lesson help me keep the attention of the students. It *feels* like we’re interrupting the lesson, changing the flow, and re-establishing interest, even though it’s totally planned into the lesson.

Read the quote on page 51 in the manual about “Esaus”. Then did an activity on the board where the kids wrote how they or other teenagers might be flippant. I had planned to have the groups do this activity and then the zone leaders report, but somehow I wasn’t paying attention to my notes and skipped that part.

Wrapped up.

I had planned to feed the kids some pottage at this point. My idea was to have pottage simmering in the crock pot during the lesson and then feed them some. I had even tried the recipe out last week — it is YUM! Anyway, I just had this nagging feeling that it wasn’t the right idea. I decided that the pottage was really just lesson fluff. Not necessary. So I didn’t make it after all. I think it was probably the right decision. Now, if I had based my whole lesson on the object lesson of the pottage, like how do you resist momentary pleasures for eternal purposes or something like that, the pottage would have fit in better. But I decided to go with flippant with this group, since they are pretty flip sometimes :)

I may make the pottage on Friday since I have all these lentils sitting around now.

Genesis 27, Genesis 28

Today’s lesson was on Genesis 27-28. I honestly had no idea how to teach this material, and the lesson manual was almost no help. So I copped out and fell back on that lesson-you-do-when-you-can’t-come-up-with-something-good : the group lesson. I really, REALLY hate the split into groups, read material, report lesson when it’s done in Relief Society. It’s just not an effective lesson style for a large group, except in very rare circumstances.

In Seminary, however, this is a more effective teaching style, because you can split your groups into manageable sizes and have a manageable number of groups. If you’ve got more than 15 people in your class, you probably shouldn’t be using group lessons, imo.

Anyway, we split into three groups. One did Jacob’s ladder. The other did Covenant Marriage. And the other did Scripture mastery (because seriously, there just wasn’t anything else I could pull out of this lesson). Zone Leaders played Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who chose first, and then the groups were off.

Here is a scan of the cards I wrote for them to use:

This was a pretty good lesson, I have to say. I did give the kids pretty clear instruction on what to prepare and present, and so the presentations were good — even very good. The Jacob’s Ladder presentation in particular was good. Scripture Mastery group went last because it was the filler. We had only 5 minutes for them, and so I’ll probably use them again later. We are learning Exodus 20. They are very close to having it. I think if I teach it, they’ll all pass it off.

Both groups did miss out on part of their presentations, but I figure that’s because of the lame cards I wrote.

How do you prepare a lesson?

I’m always curious how others go about preparing lessons. I guess I’ll share how I do it in the unlikely event that anyone is interested.

I read the entire set of scriptures that I plan to cover for the week. So far it’s generally 3-10 chapters. While I’m reading, I jot down lesson ideas . If something is particularly confusing, I look in the manual for ideas. Very rarely do I teach the entire lesson manual lesson, but occasionally I alter some ideas for lesson openers or use a quote. That happens once or twice a week. It’s more frequent now that the material is getting harder. I expect by the time we hit the History portion I’ll be relying on it more.

I find the student manual to be helpful when material is confusing or difficult. Sometimes I get ideas for activities from there. The lesson manual is less helpful in that way, since the lesson manual is geared to teach ABOUT the scriptures to kids who haven’t read the material, while the student manual teaches WHAT’S IN the scriptures to someone familiar with the material. Since I have my kids read certain assignments before class, the student manual seems to suit us better.

I write down lesson ideas as they come on a blank page of my notebook. Generally it’s a list of activities we plan to do, scriptures I want to hit. Sometimes it includes answers or things I want on the board. Most of my lesson outlines take up the front of one page in the notebook. They are totally sloppy, but I only need them once for 35 minutes.

I sometimes have to look in the commentary by David J Ridges on Genesis for help. It was VERY good in the Moses, Abraham parts, but it is not good for the later chapters of Genesis. Rarely he’ll have a quote I use. I would recommend The Old Testament Made Easier Volume 1 to any teacher, but I’m not sure if I’ll buy the other volumes or not. Maybe if they’re cheap enough :)

This pre-lesson planning takes me about 3-4 hours. I’ve been doing it on the weekend mostly. Then I go back and refine the ideas a little bit, try to anticipate questions the kids will ask, and make any handouts or whatever. This part is completely up to my discretion on how long I spend. Typically it’s about 30 minutes extra for each lesson. I typically do this extra 2.5 hours on Mondays. So I suppose I spend about 6-7 hours preparing lessons. I also take about 15 minutes to review the lesson and text the day before since I’ve prepared lessons several days in advance.

I start reading next week’s material sometime mid-week.

Of course, I obsess about Seminary much more than that : thinking, thinking, thinking, running over possible questions. How will I phrase that? etc. But that’s not really active lesson preparation for me.

Okay — how do you do it? Any tips for this newbie?