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 different exemplars.

After examining and discussing it, each group critically appraises the exemplar to the rest of the class. This might focus on the methods used to create the exemplar as well as its quality. They could ‘mark’ the work, either informally or against agreed criteria.

Get the students to summarize general statements of good practice.

You can of course give students worked examples including common errors, and ask them to find these. This works well as a follow up activity.

Can be done in small and then large groups, too.

Examples of work with common errors are instructive and good fun.

Asking students to examine exemplar essays or assignments immediately after completing one of their own with the same tasks is also very instructive.

This strategy is underused, and is particularly helpful for right brain students because it gives students an holistic ‘feel’ for the characteristics of good work. (See the document 25 Ways for Teaching Without Talking at http://GeoffPetty.com/ for more information.)

For example, a Seminary teacher seeking to improve the quality of devotional talks during class might find a general conference talk or a devotional talk by one or more students that did a good job. Students are given copies of the exemplary talk(s), with instructions to examine and discuss them with a partner to find reasons why this particular talk was effective. Can you tell if the author used an outline? Did they have a clear beginning and ending? Were their thoughts well organized? Did they include personal experiences? Did they use the Law of Witnesses to establish the truth of their words with scriptures or general authority quotes? Was humor used appropriately? Did they begin their talk with the same old “when the bishop called me” or “the dictionary says faith is” talk patterns? Did they cite all facts or did they use the horrible “the prophets say”? How could you tell that the person prayed and studied before they wrote their talk? How did the person determine how long to make their talk, or how long it would take to present? Students can then work in pairs to create a group of best practices or tips to help with talk preparation based on the example. The teacher could collect these and make an instruction page based on student suggestions or collect the ideas on the board or on a poster board for display in the classroom.

As a follow up activity, the teacher could prepare a talk or talks that include mistakes that violate the rules the students developed. Working in small groups or individually, students could then evaluate the talk, and correct or rewrite it to make it comply with the student determined talk standards. Students could then present their corrected talks to the group.

This activity could be done with a lesson outline as well, in preparation for teaching to another group, say in Family Home Evening, or Sunday School.

Great for: Improving talks or devotionals, Teaching students to use study helps

Class size: Any class size

Helps Students: SEE a gospel principle in action

Prep Time: 

Student Age: Any age

Equipment needed: 

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