Help Students SEE a principle in action

Increasing Student Particpation
Increasing Student Participation

Use these techniques to encourage student participation in your gospel teaching.

These techniques will help you students SEE a gospel principle.

  • 60-second Talks - Eaton and Beecher sometimes give students five minutes to prepare a 60-second talk on a verse from the day’s reading. Students then present their talks. If student become long-winded, offer a prize for the student who comes the closest to 60-seconds without going over. Nothing helps students lean a principle so well as having to […]
  • Are You Sure You Covered the Topic? - By Scott Knecht It is satisfying at the end of a class to sit back and think how well I covered the material for the students. Teachers love to cover things and to say things like “we covered that really well in class today and the students are all ready for the test.” I think […]
  • Asking better questions - The following is a report I wrote after a Seminary inservice meeting where I attended a class on Asking Better Questions: I had the good fortune of being in Brother Baraclough’s class on Asking Better Questions. Watching him teach was at least as instructive as the material, if not more, and so I really enjoyed […]
  • Assigned Discussion Leader - One person in the group is asked to present on a topic or review material for the group and then lead the discussion for the group. This person should not be the regular group leader. Hints: When assigning a discussion topic to individual members of the group, you may need to be prepared to allow […]
  • Build a Play: How to teach Gospel Students through Drama - Here’s a great example of using drama to help gospel students learn from Seminary Mom: One of my number one desires as a seminary teacher is to have my students fall in love with the scriptures. I want them to know these individuals we read about who really lived a long time ago. I want […]
  • Character Study - I used these questions on a worksheet to help students evaluate and understand personalities in the scriptures: :: Character Study :: Name: Scripture: Spouse/Children: Age: Hometown: Occupation: Describe this person using only three words. Circle the word you feel is this person’s core quality: ________________ , ________________ , ________________ Briefly describe the person’s attitude toward: […]
  • Classroom in my Pocket - This post was adapted from the original at http://seminaryatsixam.blogspot.com/2012/11/seminary-in-my-pocket.html Classroom In My Pocket  During an early Seminary lesson, I gave each student a rock to keep in their pocket as a reminder of our lesson that day. Little did I know that “Seminary In My Pocket” had been born. During my first lesson, I shared a story with [my students] about an […]
  • Daily Do Now and Friday Lottery - By Eric Jorgensen Eric Jorgensen: — A daily learning + get-to-know-you activity — I thought I would share a teaching practice that has been working really well for my class this year. I call it the “Daily Do Now and Friday Lottery”. It provides a social learning activity at the start of every class which […]
  • Daydream - This exercise requires a good imagination. After reading the verses silently (perhaps a few times), invite your class to close their eyes and take a few minutes trying to visualize the scene depicted in the scriptures in your mind. Try to imagine every detail, see how people walked, talked, and acted. What is the scenery? […]
  • Empathy - Students are asked to imagine themselves in a given situation, and are asked questions about the situation. For example Health Studies students being asked to imagine they are a child who has just been admitted to hospital. Students learning mission skills are asked what the investigator would be seeking. (See the document 25 Ways for […]
  • Everybody Writes - I learned this extremely versatile teaching technique from Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov. Basically, you assign a writing prompt. Everyone writes the answer. Then, as many people as you choose are invited to share. Sometimes I have each person share their written response. Other times, when there’s a big group, I assign a […]
  • Explaining Exemplars - In Explaining Exemplars, you take a good example of something, like a general conference talk, and examine it to find why it was effective. Give pairs or small groups of students examples of good practice, and perhaps some examples of bad practice or examples containing a few common errors. They may have the same, or […]
  • Find Common Ground - Look for ways to help students share those ideas that they have in common. For example, all of your students have had experiences with prayer, church attendance, hurt feelings, etc. EXAMPLE: I asked the students to tell me what they had learned about the benefits of scripture study. Going around the room, each student told […]
  • Finding “Witnesses” - When I teach, I try to apply the law of witnesses: “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established,” (See D&C 6:28, 2 Corinthians 13:1, Deuteronomy 19:15, 2 Nephi 29:8, Matthew 18:16) to my Lesson preparation. The idea is that as teachers, we’re always looking for “witnesses” to the word. […]
  • Fish Bowl - Form two concentric circles. The smaller, interior group discusses a topic, while the larger outside group observes. Good for larger classes. Hint: Describe how this activity presents students with an opportunity to model or observe group processing behaviors. Reverse roles as needed. Rotate perspectives as an observer. This could be useful for teaching missionary techniques […]
  • Gospel Cartoonist - Give each student a pencil and piece of paper. Tell your students that they will be cartoonists and should draw a cartoon of the story you are about to read aloud. Stick figures are perfectly okay — this is not about drawing skill, but it’s about picking out the most important details they hear from […]
  • Group Drawing - My students love group drawing. It’s good for covering material that is easy to imagine visually. I have also used it to cover distressing topics — like the events preceding the second coming — because these events seem less frightening when sketched for some reason. I have done group drawing a couple of ways. One […]
  • Handling Disruptive Students - From the Gospel Teaching and Learning Handbook: Correct disorderly or inappropriate behavior. There are some general principles to keep in mind that will help a teacher invite proper order and respect in the classroom. To have order does not always mean having complete silence; nor does it mean that a class cannot be enjoyable and […]
  • Help Showing Videos at Church - I know teachers with problems showing videos in church all over the world.  The church typically relies on the very lowest bandwidth residential connections it can get, which causes problems for a media-hungry curriculum like Come Follow Me.  The Come Follow Me site has a page that teaches you how to avoid the bandwidth crush […]
  • Hey, did everybody hear that? - I encourage discussion in my classroom, and there are times when everybody is talking at once. Instead of scolding kids, focus in on one comment, and in a louder than usual voice say, “Hey! That was awesome! Did everybody hear that?” When I do this, I’m generally leaning toward the student to hear what they […]
  • I’m a Mormon - Find out what things your students are interested in. Do your students love piano music? Is it rugby season? Are they great artists? Interested in motorcycles? Like to read? Using the search tools at http://www.Mormon.org/ locate a video of someone who shares the interests of your student(s). Before you show it to the class, ask […]
  • Integrating Scripture Mastery Passages Into Your Lesson - Throughout the Seminary year — but especially as you approach the end of the year — you may wish to look for ways to introduce (for younger students) or reinforce (for graduating seniors) all 100 Seminary Scripture Mastery (SM) scriptures. Here are a few possible ideas to help you do so: Give students a list […]
  • Invite a Guest - Invite a guest to come share an experience with a gospel topic with the class. Listen during sacrament meeting, Sunday School, and other times to find people who have experiences or testimony that is valuable to share with your students. I’ve had great success doing this, especially when I take the time to explain the […]
  • Jigsaw - Jigsaw was first developed in the early 1970s by Elliot Aronson and his students at the University of Texas and the University of California. To teach using the Jigsaw method, “divide a topic up into, say, four sub-topics. For example childhood diseases could be divided into mumps, measles, whooping cough and German measles. Alternatively students […]
  • Let’s talk about that - If you’re teaching youth, you know that on occasion, students will ask disruptive or off-topic questions. I am always trying to encourage my students to ask questions, and I am always worried that shooting down a question too hard will frighten off others who have questions. I have made the mistake before of shooting down […]
  • Liken / Name Substitution - As Nephi taught, we should “liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning” (1 Nephi 19:23). Where could you or a student place your name or situation into the scriptures and make an appropriate application? Could you substitute your name for someone else’s or personalize the situation to make […]
  • Link: Teach To Learn: The 5 Minute Lecture - By Suzi Alkonis Suzi Alkonis : This is a great idea and a great blog: teachtolearn1.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-5-minute-lecture.html?spref=fb 2 (58 minutes ago) http://teachtolearn1.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-5-minute-lecture.html?spref=fb Not everything in a class should be or needs to be student discovery.  Sometimes I just need to tell them something but I struggled for a long time to do it effectively and in […]
  • Make a Movie - Assign students to make a movie about a gospel topic. You may want to have students plan their script so that a Primary child can understand it. My students happen to love anything dramatic, so this is very easy for us. I have a big box of dress up clothes and wigs that they use […]
  • Member/Nonmember - I use this technique when teaching something significant to missionary teaching. AFTER some instruction on a scripture passage or gospel principle, students are assigned into groups of three. Students read the same passage of scripture together as if this was a real missionary lesson. One person is the “nonmember,” and the other two are the […]
  • Mime - Invite all students to read a passage silently. Have a couple of students come to the front of the class. Tell them they will be acting out the events in the story, but with a twist — they are mimes, and must act out silently. OPTIONAL: Ask other students in the class to follow along […]
  • Newscaster - Students pretend to be newscasters who tell a familiar gospel story. EXAMPLE: I told my students that we were going to pretend to be newscasters describing the events of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Each zone received a section of Matthew 21 to give a news cast on. The parables were difficult, but the kids […]
  • On the Spot - Courtesy of John Bushman: As a coordinator for S&I, it has not been my style to be very controlling.  It has been my goal to give great tips and helps, but in the end, the teachers decide what works for them or not. BUT… now I want to mandate something because it can be so […]
  • Pause It - Movie watching during class can be dull and non-interactive, and let’s be real, sleep-inducing when you’re teaching seminary early in the morning. I like this quote: Showing movies in class should not be a Friday fun day activity.  Okay, I don’t mind if you show them on Friday or even if students enjoy watching them. […]
  • Personal Progress or Duty to God experience - Invite the youth to share or teach something they have done in Duty to God and Personal Progress related to the doctrines being taught in your lesson. Be sure you give the student clear direction about what doctrine you’re teaching and what information you would like shared. Great for: Encouraging Duty to God or Personal Progress […]
  • Role Playing - This is a familiar but underused teaching technique. When you invite students to role play, “The students’ job is to shore up their friend, and they almost always bear testimony in the process — almost without realizing it.” (Becoming a Great Gospel Teacher, Eaton and Beecher, p 91) “We’ve had our students play everything from […]
  • Scripture Mastery Devotional Preparation Activity Day - This information was originally published at http://kenalford.com/semlist/2002/02feb02.htm and sent out as part of Ken Alford’s email list to Seminary teachers. Scripture Mastery Devotional Preparation Activity Day This idea is similar to the idea above, but students are given time to prepare devotionals. If your students are like mine, devotionals are too often done “on the fly”. […]
  • Scripture Reading Freeze Tag - —- Please note, I haven’t tried this one yet. —- A narrator reads a passage of scripture while actors dramatize it. When the teacher yells “freeze”, the actors freeze and an actor (or actors — you choose) comes in from the sidelines. They tap an actor on the shoulder and take his or her place […]
  • Scripture Survivor - A student suggested this method based on something they do in her drama class at school. A narrator reads a passage of scripture while students act out their roles. Someone (a teacher or another person) randomly chooses a character to “vote off the island”. This selection can be done by tapping an actor on the […]
  • Seminary Kung Fu Theater - I learned this method at a Seminary regional training. It’s a great method that requires little or no preparation. This works best with passages that include plenty of action. Assign one student to be the narrator. The Narrator will read a passage of scripture with FEELING. He or she should do the voices and any […]
  • Splitting Students into Teams to Learn the Gospel - Seminary Mom likes to split her classes into groups for gospel learning. Here’s how she taught 3 Nephi 11 over the course of two days, while splitting into groups for researching the scripture topic: Today was a special day as we began our study of 3 Nephi 11, the crowning moment in the Book of […]
  • Student presents - Before class, invite a student to prepare a short talk or devotional about a topic or scripture passage. You should give the student clear instructions about what you’re looking for in the talk. For example, don’t just assign a student to read Moses 7:18 and give a talk on it. Explain to the student that […]
  • Teach Another Class - This technique is found in the Come Follow Me manual. It’s difficult to have several people teaching a class, and it’s also not beneficial for other students to watch just one student teach. Here’s how I would do it: Help each student prepare a brief lesson on a gospel principle, while working in pairs. The […]
  • The 5 Minute Lecture - By Scott Knecht One night in graduate school I went to the opening session of a new class. It was a bit of a different schedule – 2 nights a week for 4 hours per night for 4 weeks – so I had to get mentally prepared to endure the length each night. Little did […]
  • Use a Respected Adult - Use a respected adult to help you teach the class. Separate into groups and have the other adult teach one group while you teach another. Give the students a few minutes at the end of class to share what they learned. EXAMPLE: When teaching Ruth, I asked my husband to take the boys while I […]
  • Use Your Students - Do your best to stay aware of the things your students are doing as service projects or at school. Find out about the things they are doing right, and ask them to share their experiences during class. Be specific with your instructions, and be prepared to ask the students questions to help them with their […]
  • Use your Surroundings - Don’t be afraid to take the your students outside for a field trip to help them learn a lesson. EXAMPLE: Next I took the kids up the hill to our apple trees. With some small pruners, I pruned off a few branches while explaining to the kids that I had a plan for these trees. […]