Encouraging Student Sharing

Youth Raising HandUse these techniques to encourage student participation in your gospel teaching.

These techniques will help you students SHARE thoughts, feelings, and personal experiences more readily.

  • 60-Second Explorers - Tell students you will give them sixty seconds to find out everything they can about a certain passage. If this is the first time your students have done an activity like this, you may want to give them a chance to tell you some techniques they might want to use: reading the chapter header, checking […]
  • 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 […]
  • Answer with a Scripture - I have a new favorite tool for getting my students to participate! I have had way too many times when I have asked a soul searching question and they just look at me with blank stares and no matter how long I wait (I am good at waiting) I get no response. I know they […]
  • 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 […]
  • Between the Prayers - If you’re struggling with students getting into sidebar or off-topic conversations during your lesson, you may try teaching them this phrase that has worked for me: “between the prayers”. The concept is that once we’ve said the opening prayer, our time has been consecrated for the worship of God. We focus on the lesson at […]
  • Chalk for Everyone - Pose a question, and then hand several students a piece of chalk with an invitation to write their answers up on the board. Other students can line up for a turn when they are ready to respond, or students may hand off the chalk to others in the class for responses. The best questions for […]
  • Chalk Talk - This idea came from a Pinterest post by Erin Guinup.  She didn’t post a link to a website, but posted a picture of her chalkboard from doing this activity that you can see at right. You can see her pin on my Seminary Pinterest page. Basically, you start with a topic.  Each student is given […]
  • Different Lenses - Read the same block with different eyes looking for different things, as if you were wearing a new pair of glasses with different lenses. A parent, a bishop, a missionary, a teenager, someone tired and depressed, someone newly married, someone needing repentance, someone who doesn’t get along with their parents, etc. For example, ask the […]
  • 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 […]
  • Find A Reference - Ask students to find a scripture reference that answers a certain question. EXAMPLE: During a discussion on the word of wisdom in Daniel 1, I asked students to find a scripture reference to prove THAT God gives blessings to the obedient or WHY He does so, or HOW he blesses the obedient. They all found […]
  • 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 […]
  • Five Step Mini-Lesson - Vanessa S. shared this on the Come Follow Me Facebook Group, and I asked her permission to share it here.  She said:   “[A]fter some initially rather disastrous experiments having my girls teach, I eventually came around to this handout, which the girls told me has been very helpful. It outlines the steps for preparing […]
  • Four Column Scripture Analysis - By Adriene Olsen Murray Adriene Olsen Murray: I used this idea from our Seminary Coordinator. It works best with a short section or block of scriptures. It was really fun. The kids found things that I had not thought of and explained what it meant to them. Divide the board into four columns: 1. Zinger […]
  • 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 […]
  • 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 […]
  • 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 […]
  • Improving Small Group Learning with Roles - Our SI rep has been teaching us that when you separate into groups you should assign every member of the group a role. This helps each student participate in the group learning process. No matter the size of your group, you should assign a role to each student. Assignments may be given by the teacher, […]
  • 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 […]
  • 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 […]
  • 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 […]
  • Missionary Tag - This fantastic game ideas was shared by Ricki M on the LDS Seminary Teachers Facebook Group:  I had an idea for this game and it was a hit in Seminary this morning. Such a hit that I  am writing it down so I can use it and share with others. This would work great when you […]
  • 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 […]
  • Out of Ink Pen - Ask the students in your class to imagine they have a pen with only enough ink to underline one word in a verse. What would it be? Why? I wrote Mark 1:18 on the board: “And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.” I told the kids to imagine that their pens were running […]
  • 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 […]
  • Pop Quiz - Ah, the dreaded Pop Quiz. There’s a reason that this old-style teaching method hasn’t been thrown out: it’s super effective. This evil-sounding tool can be used by the wise teacher to help cover a lot of material very quickly, review previously studied material, or to determine how well students are understanding material.  Plus, it takes […]
  • Red Card - From Jamon C: This is a little bit like a nuclear weapon …. I have 5 active seminary students, so this works better in small environment. I had a college professor give every student a red card and if they wanted to take over the class for 20 minutes they can (as long as gospel […]
  • 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 Auction - Give the kids a sum of fake money. Students will use the fake money to “buy” a scripture. The teacher auctions off different significant verses in a block of scriptures that students can search for principles and applications. You might even attach different candy to different verses — the “better” the verse (or, the more […]
  • Scripture Mastery “Be Prepared” 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 “Be Prepared” Activity Day Allow students to prepare short talk outlines based on various scripture mastery scriptures. Then, whenever they get called upon to give a talk or thought; they’ll have a head start […]
  • 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 Menu - Have kids read a set of scriptures or passage. Pick an Appetizer – verse(s) that tantalize your own spiritual taste buds Beverage – cross-reference that helps wash down the Main Dish Main Dish – verse(s) that give an overall understanding of the entire block or main principle Dessert – short phrase that is spiritual topping […]
  • Scripture Tweet - Assign students a passage or set of several verses to read. Have students imagine they are the prophet who would like to tweet the main idea of this passage or set of verses to his followers. What might he write? What will tell followers the most important information in fewer than 140 characters? After a […]
  • Seminary Scriptionary - You already know how to play Scriptionary — one student draws a picture of a gospel story or item and the other students try to guess it. But in Seminary Scriptionary, I tell my students that they are going to draw a list of items that have to do with a certain gospel topic, like […]
  • Splitting into Groups - This popular technique has been misused for many years. Please don’t ever use this technique in a group that is larger than 20 people. It should be used only rarely in groups over 16 persons in size. Each group should be very small, no more than 4 or 5 people. You should never have more […]
  • 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 Scriptures Say¦ - If a student uses the phrase: “the scriptures say” or “the prophets say’, consider if you can take the opportunity to teach students the importance of being able to find and read a scripture during a discussion. It’s best to have scriptures memorized, but if not, teach students how to find scriptures quickly in a […]
  • This Gospel Topic is like a ____. - Write on the board the topic of your lesson. Write “[YOUR TOPIC] is like a ____.” Give your students a scrap piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Set the timer for 15-30 seconds and let them write their answers. Give them a few minutes to share and explain their answers. When I did […]
  • Three-Step Interview - During three-step interview, sttudents, in partners, interview each other, then report what they learn to another pair. This method helps students network with each other and develop communication skills. Step 1: Student A questions Student B Step 2: Student B questions Student A Step 3: Students A and B enter a small group discussion with […]
  • Time Line Ordering - If you’ve got a lot of material to cover in a short amount of time, you can cover the material more efficiently when you know what students already know about the topic.  One way to quickly assess student understanding of series of events is to give them strips of paper with the main events summarized […]
  • Two Things - Students open their notebooks and write two things: one question they had about the reading and one thing they learned anew or that they had forgotten. We spent probably 40 minutes covering the things they wrote. Great discussion and opportunity for sharing. Great for: Reviewing a scripture story, Giving every person a turn, Eliciting thoughtful responses, […]
  • Unique Set of Questions - I used a unique set of questions to teach three parables: the parable of the of the ten virgins, the talents, and the sheep and goats. Before class I taped a set of three questions under each person’s chair. Each set of questions included one question from each of the three parables and was unique. […]
  • 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 […]
  • Using a Scripture Journal - Many teachers use a Scripture Journal to help students retain information they are being taught or to help themselves with personal study. Here are some ideas for using a scripture journal that will give you lots of ideas. Occasional Use During Class My friend DeAnn purchase a composition notebook for each student for use as […]
  • Wait for it - Determine before class what the main discussion points are in the material you will cover. Instruct students before you watch or listen to your media which main points to watch for as the media plays. “Wait for it” helps prepare students to participate in discussions and make relevant comments. It also helps movies or music […]
  • What did you underline? - Write a list of passages or references on the board that have something important in them — something “worth underlining.” Explain to the class that there is something important in each verse and that you will give each student a chance to read their passage and explain to the class what they thought the most […]
  • What Stuck With You? - By Susie Waalkes Kershaw Susie Waalkes Kershaw: This group as been such a blessing and help-thank you so much to all that share ideas, encouragement, and insights. I thought I would share how our class is doing the “what stuck with you” idea. We have our own “sacred grove” and every Friday they add a […]
  • What’s the Headline? - You can do this as a group activity or as an individual activity. I generally do it as a group activity. Assign students a passage to read. Have students imagine they are newspaper reporters who are going to write a headline for this passage. What will they write? What headline will tell your readers the […]
  • Write a poem - We have done this a couple of times in my Seminary class, and it is always so fun! Use this to review material you’ve already covered or material that students already know very well. In our class, this ends up very silly, so it’s best done at the very beginning or very end of class. […]
  • Write or Think-Pair-Share - During Think-Pair-Share, group members think about a question/topic individually, then share their thoughts with a partner. Large group summarized sharing also occurs. Hints: The goal of a think/pair/share is to allow participants time to think BEFORE they discuss with a partner. Research shows that when people are given time to contemplate an answer to a […]
  • Write the Chapter Header - The purpose of this activity is for kids to learn to pick out what is the most important information in a section of scripture and to summarize it.  This is a valuable skill to learn for preparing talks or lessons. Hand each student a mini post it note.  Have them place the post it note […]