Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Lesson - What is the role of agency in learning the gospel? - What I Did

1.  An Unexpected Direction

A couple of weeks ago, when I first introduced the theme for this month - the plan of salvation - I had the students assemble a diagram of the plan of salvation.  And there were a couple of questions they had, most notably, "Does the final judgment come before or after the millenium?"  I was pretty sure it came after, but I didn't have any scriptures memorized about it or anything.  So I promised to do some research on it.  I found some quotes and printed them on a paper for this one student whose question this was.  Here are the quotes:

The Millennium is the thousand-year period when Jesus will reign on the earth. At the beginning of this period of time, the righteous will be caught up [resurrected] to meet Jesus at his coming.

After the beginning of the Millennium, those who will receive a terrestrial glory will be resurrected (see D&C 88:99; 76:71–80). When all these people have been resurrected, the First Resurrection will be completed.

The wicked who are living at the time of the second coming of the Lord will be destroyed in the flesh. They, along with the wicked who are already dead, will have to wait until the end of the Millennium before they can come forth from their graves. At the end of the Millennium, the Second Resurrection will take place. All of the remaining dead will rise to meet God. They will either inherit the telestial kingdom or be cast into outer darkness with Satan (see D&C 76:32–33, 81–112). - “Chapter 43: The Second Coming of Jesus Christ,” Gospel Principles, 277

“The resurrection is followed immediately by the Final Judgment (see 2 Ne. 9:15, 22; Mosiah 26:25; Alma 11:43–44; Alma 42:23; Morm. 7:6; Morm. 9:13–14).” - Resurrection, Dallin H. Oaks, April 2000 General Conference

I had just made this one copy for the girl whose question it was, but the rest of the students asked if they could have a copy, too.  Which was cool.  And then we read the first two scriptures at the top of the quotes, again, per the students' request.  So we ended up spending a lot of time on this, but I was happy to let it go in this direction, because that's how the Holy Ghost works.  I prepare, and I listen to Him as I prepare, and then He takes over and teaches the things that the kids need to know and to hear.  One of my old students, who is leaving on a mission in a few weeks, came to visit, and I think he was glad to have this specific information in his arsenal, as well.

I love the Holy Ghost.  And I love the gospel.

2.  Making Connections

I really felt, as I was preparing, that I needed to text my students and ask them to prepare something for class the next day.  I've learned that calling them and leaving them messages is fruitless.  They will only respond to texts.  And I've finagled all of their cell numbers.  In fact, I had a couple of wrong numbers, plus a new student who just moved in, and all three willingly wrote their numbers on a paper for me to enter into my phone.

I have the best students in the world.

So I texted them and had them prepare.  J was to tell us something he's learned recently in seminary.  P was to tell us something she's learned recently in sacrament meeting.  L was to tell us something she's learned recently in her personal scripture study.  B was to tell us something she's learned recently in Young Women's. I couldn't get ahold of another boy to share what they've been learning in Priesthood, but the guys were able to remember and tell what they've been learning, just on the spot.  As they were telling me the things they've learned, I jotted notes on the board in kind of a grid like this:

What you've learned
How this relates to the Plan of Salvation

Sacrament meeting

Personal scripture study


Young Women's

Then we worked together to come up with what the things they've learned have to do with the plan of salvation.  This also ended up being a really special part of the lesson, because when L shared about her scripture study, she shared that her family has been making an increased effort to have family scripture study and family home evening, and that it's made a huge difference in their family life, but it also strengthens her for when she faces the school day.  She got a bit teary-eyed, and it was really just a great moment.  P was talking about how she took notes in sacrament meeting, and we talked about how taking notes helps us not only to pay attention, but we can record the impressions we're getting as we listen to the speaker.

Did I mention that I have the best students in the world??

Another part of the making connections part of this lesson is to talk about how participating in lessons helps us to learn.  I had asked A to share a time when she actively participated in a lesson or a church activity and what that helped her to learn.  She talked about how her family does baptisms for the dead every Friday at the temple, and how that has really affected her testimony.

3.  Activity - Things that Help and Hinder Gospel Learning

I got this idea from a reeeeally old FHE manual.  I found a bunch of pictures online of things that help and hinder learning in church/scripture study/seminary settings.  I set up two areas - a smiley face area and a frowny face area.  I gave each student a picture, and then we each took turns showing their picture and putting it in the appropriate area.  This is what it looked like when we were done:
Here are the pictures I handed out to them.  On some, I had to jot a little note above or below the picture to describe what was happening.  I'll jot the notes here, too:

I got this off a blog - it's during General Conference:

I should have put a caption on this next one, because it became a point of contention.  I meant it to be - "flirting really loudly during Sunday School class."  :)  I like to tease them.  Some of them were like, "Maybe the girl is being encouraging to the guy, and telling him to serve a mission!"  And some of them were like, "All they're doing is smiling.  That's okay during Sunday School."  In the end, the students decided to put this picture in between the smiley area and the frowny area. :)

 This one is kind of hard to see - it's a scripture journal:

 This one is also hard to tell - it's taking notes during sacrament meeting:
This cracked me up - I found it just on some random blog - a note that a lady's daughter had written to a boy during sacrament meeting:
The kids loved this note so much.  One of them asked to keep it. :)  Haha!  It really is so funny.

And then we ran out of time!

But, if we hadn't, this is what I would have done next:

4.  Scripture Study Group Activity

I was going to divide them into three groups and give each group the following slips of paper:

As a group, read 1 Nephi 2:14-16. What principles about learning the gospel do you discover from reading about Nephi's experience?

As a group, read D&C 138:1-11. What principles about learning the gospel do you discover from reading about Joseph F. Smith's experience?

As a group, read JSH 1:10-18. What principles about learning the gospel do you discover from reading about Joseph Smith's experience?

I would have given them pens and had them write the principles of learning down.  What I came up with myself, and what I would have brought out if the students hadn't found it, was the following:

Nephi - He heard what his father taught, desired to know for himself, and acted on that desire.
Joseph F. Smith - He read the scriptures, pondered them, and read them some more.
Joseph Smith - He thought, read scriptures, reflected on them, prayed, and asked questions.

Then I was going to just remind them that, if they have a question about the gospel, they can follow these scriptural examples to find their answer.

5.  Elder Bednar Worksheet - Taking Responsibility for Your Gospel Learning

I was going to have them do this worksheet individually, since they would have just worked in a group:

Read the following excerpt from Elder David A. Bednar's article, “Seek Learning by Faith.” List as many things as you can that Elder Bednar suggests you can do to take more responsibility for your gospel learning.

A learner exercising agency by acting in accordance with correct principles opens his or her heart to the Holy Ghost and invites His teaching, testifying power, and confirming witness. Learning by faith requires spiritual, mental, and physical exertion and not just passive reception. It is in the sincerity and consistency of our faith-inspired action that we indicate to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, our willingness to learn and receive instruction from the Holy Ghost. Thus, learning by faith involves the exercise of moral agency to act upon the assurance of things hoped for and invites the evidence of things not seen from the only true teacher, the Spirit of the Lord.

Consider how missionaries help investigators to learn by faith. Making and keeping spiritual commitments, such as studying and praying about the Book of Mormon, attending Church meetings, and keeping the commandments, require an investigator to exercise faith and to act. One of the fundamental roles of a missionary is to help an investigator make and honor commitments—to act and learn by faith. Teaching, exhorting, and explaining, as important as they are, can never convey to an investigator a witness of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. Only as an investigator’s faith initiates action and opens the pathway to the heart can the Holy Ghost deliver a confirming witness. Missionaries obviously must learn to teach by the power of the Spirit. Of equal importance, however, is the responsibility missionaries have to help investigators learn by faith.

The learning I am describing reaches far beyond mere cognitive comprehension and the retaining and recalling of information. The type of learning to which I am referring causes us to put off the natural man (see Mosiah 3:19), to change our hearts (see Mosiah 5:2), to be converted unto the Lord, and to never fall away (see Alma 23:6). Learning by faith requires both “the heart and a willing mind” (D&C 64:34). Learning by faith is the result of the Holy Ghost carrying the power of the word of God both unto and into the heart. Learning by faith cannot be transferred from an instructor to a student through a lecture, a demonstration, or an experiential exercise; rather, a student must exercise faith and act in order to obtain the knowledge for himself or herself.










Here are the things I found when I read the article:

1.  Open your heart to the Holy Ghost
2.  Exert yourself
3.  Study
4.  Pray
5.  Attend church meetings
6.  Keep commandments
7.  Exercise faith
8.  Act
9.  Heart and a willing mind

I would have had them share their answers, and then add some of the others if they hadn't found them.

Then I was going to close the lesson. :)



Jane Dunn said...

Absolutely FANTASTIC!!! I believe the Holy Spirit guided me to your site! I cannot even begin to tell you the difference you have made for me. You are a gifted teacher!!!

Colorado Bergmans said...

Thank you so much for posting All the wonderful ideas for Sunday school. I really feel like I would be lost with out it and enjoy your blog so much! In 2015 I was diagnosed with uterine cancer, so I can relate to a lot of the feelings you've had dealing with that. Thanks again from the bottom of my heart. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Tracy Beckett said...

Thanks so much for this posting, what wonderful ideas you are sharing. I appreciate you taking the time to share your inspiration. LOVE this!!!

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