2nd & 3rd Sunday Lesson Helps Template #2

This is probably the simplest template I’ll post for turning a General Conference talk into a discussion-based lesson.  This formula is actually the one my Gospel Doctrine class sees the most.  Part of the reason it works well is because I tend to turn most class comments into a bit of conversation.

What that means is when someone makes a comment, I validate what they say by contributing what I liked about their comment or adding an insight of my own like you would in any natural conversation among friends.  Other people in the room occasionally follow suit.  There’s plenty of collective wisdom and understanding among the others in the classroom with you.  The class’s knowledge is a rich resource and when tapped into, leads to a satisfying, edifying group discussion about any given lesson topic.

Teacher Tip for better class discussions:  Talk to them like you’re having a conversation in the foyer with your friends.

Template #2

Any talk from the most recent General Conference will work with this template.  Here, we’ll use Sister Joy D. Jones talk, “Value Beyond Measure” as an example.

Note:  For convenience, a summary of this template with no talk inserted, is located down at the bottom of this post.

Teacher Prep

Step 1:  Print out the talk and have a paper, pen, highlighter and/or colored pencil available if possible.  Here is the link:  Value Beyond Measure

Note: The blue printer symbol is right underneath the main title at the top of the page when you open up any General Conference talk.

Step 2:  Watch the video. Value Beyond Measure  While watching the video, use your highlighter or colored pencils to highlight anything in the text which especially stands out for you.  Watching the talk on video will give you a solid feel for the material in the shortest time possible.

Here are some possible quotes which really stood out for me (all quotes are Joy D.  Jones unless otherwise noted):

A)  “Before I started investigating the Church, I didn’t really feel that I was very special. I was just one of many people, and my society and culture didn’t really teach me that I had any value as an individual. When I learned the gospel and learned that I was a daughter of our Heavenly Father, it changed me. Suddenly I felt so special—God had actually created me and had created my soul and my life with value and purpose.

“Before I had the gospel in my life, I was always trying to prove to others that I was someone special. But when I learned the truth, that I am a daughter of God, I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone. I knew that I was special. … Don’t ever think that you are nothing.”  Renu Singh, as told by Joy D. Jones

B)  “God is your Father. He loves you. He and your mother in heaven value you beyond any measure. … You are unique. One of a kind, made of the eternal intelligence which gives you claim upon eternal life.

Let there be no question in your mind about your value as an individual. The whole intent of the gospel plan is to provide an opportunity for each of you to reach your fullest potential, which is eternal progression and the possibility of godhood.”  Spencer W. Kimball – Oct 1978

C)  Let me point out the need to differentiate between two critical words: worth and worthiness. They are not the same. Spiritual worth means to value ourselves the way Heavenly Father values us, not as the world values us. Our worth was determined before we ever came to this earth. “God’s love is infinite and it will endure forever.”

On the other hand, worthiness is achieved through obedience. If we sin, we are less worthy, but we are never worth less!

D)  Despite this marvelous truth, how many of us struggle, from time to time, with negative thoughts or feelings about ourselves? I do. It’s an easy trap. Satan is the father of all lies, especially when it comes to misrepresentations about our own divine nature and purpose. Thinking small about ourselves does not serve us well. Instead it holds us back. As we’ve often been taught, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” We can stop comparing our worst to someone else’s best. “Comparison is the thief of joy.

E)  Elder Paul E. Koelliker taught, “As we remove the distractions that pull us toward the world and exercise our agency to seek Him, we open our hearts to a celestial force which draws us toward Him.” If the love we feel for the Savior and what He did for us is greater than the energy we give to weaknesses, self-doubts, or bad habits, then He will help us overcome the things which cause suffering in our lives. He saves us from ourselves.

F)  Let me reemphasize: if the pull of the world is stronger than the faith and trust we have in the Savior, then the pull of the world will prevail every time. If we choose to focus on our negative thoughts and doubt our worth instead of clinging to the Savior, it becomes more difficult to feel the impressions of the Holy Ghost.

This is more than enough material for a meaningful class experience.

Step 3:  Looking back on your highlights, pick out your SIX favorites.  Record your thoughts, impressions, ideas, etc.  Even if you just record a few keywords, that’s a great start!  It will probably help to assign numbers to your highlights on the printout, so you can reference the same numbers in your notes and match things up quickly.  These notes will be especially useful later on.

Here are some of my impressions of the quotes above.  These are examples to get you going on your own ideas (please note impression “A” below coordinates with the “A” quote from step 2 above) :

A)  Renu is expressing a decidedly profound truth.  We might be a bit used to hearing how we’re a child of God, but what if you really had no idea?  How might this new knowledge strike you when found out for the first time?  What effect does it have on me when I contemplate the astounding truth of my spiritual DNA and whose imprint I carry on my very being?  I carry within myself Heavenly Father’s genes and characteristics.  There is no way for me to completely capture or wrap words around the awe and awareness I feel, but here are a few thoughts:

I am a genuine offspring of a mighty God, ruler of billions of galaxies.   For me, I sit up a little straighter and my brightness of hope gets a re-charge.  And this may be unique for me, but I find myself wanting to use my time better and to be worthy of my heritage.  Sometimes I realize there is more to me, than I generally am aware of from day to day.

This is a gospel concept which needs re-exploring deep within our pondering.

B)  Spencer W. Kimball’s quote takes this thought even further and reminds us we have Godly Parents who adore us and treasure us.  At the present time, we’re on a quest to conquer this difficult, crazy and distant world and their love and attachment is not as visible and present as we would like.  And for some, if you had earthly parents who didn’t cherish you, this precious heavenly connection may be even further obscured from your view.  With a deeply troubled family history and a dark childhood myself, I understand the challenge.  It took the Holy Ghost and some significant experiences to break through my upbringing and for me to understand how much love there was for me.  This I do know….there is an amazing amount of affection, awareness and yearning for each of us from above.  There is even respect and empathy for all the difficulties we each tackle.

This connection to Heavenly Parents is so real and shines on you at this very moment.  I feel privileged to be associated with you, even if through a mere blog post.  Someday, on the other side of the veil, you and I will have personable conversations about this earth life.  Trust me, I want to know EVERYTHING!  I pray you will have the experience of tapping into the source of Light and Love from above and feel the joy of it. Both now and in the near future.  Reading scriptures regularly is one way to open those doors.  Surprisingly, the sacred texts are engineered and programmed with the eventual power to remove the scales from our eyes ~ so we can experience these manifestations in depth.  We are meant to connect to the Light and we have capacity for significant, individualized experiences.

C)  I love the point Sister Jones makes here.  Our value and great worth is already solidly in place, and decided for us.  However our worthiness falls on our side of the equation.  We’re the ones who determine the amount of worthiness we have.

D)  My husband and I went to “The Body Language Show” in South Jordan, UT last week.  It was an intriguing 2-hour presentation.  It turns out on average, our sub-conscience mind thinks 65,000 thoughts a day.  And 48,000 of them, are negative.  We have our work cut out for us!

Negativity and negative thoughts are huge challenges!  Especially as sisters…I take great pains to combat my thought patterns and to keep those frequent unwanted visitors away.  When I catch myself, I try to reverse or cancel out the darker wavelengths.  Sometimes, all I can do is fall to my knees and pray for the gift of charity. (Which I’m happy to say, does help tremendously over time.)

This morning in Genesis I read,

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  Genesis 6:5

Negative thoughts about ourselves and others eclipses our chances at happiness, contentment and peace.  We are miserable when we focus on the guilt of others.  This is a great discussion topic.

E)  As Elder Koelliker says, “[As we] exercise our agency to seek Him, we open our hearts to a celestial force which draws us toward Him.”  Great blessings come to us by small obediences.  The great warrior general Naaman was cured of leprosy by dipping himself in the river Jordan seven times.  At first, he was insulted by the simpleness of the task, but once he relinquished, his reward was huge. Don’t troubled self-doubts and a loss of peace and confidence just about equate to a spiritual leprosy?  So often, it’s the same principle as Naaman in our lives.  The simple tasks are easy to overlook and forget, yet they’re the ones which produce the healing and the results we long for.  As we invite the Spirit into our lives with heartfelt prayers, studying scriptures, giving service, and keeping the Sabbath day…we unleash celestial forces which are stronger than the world.

F)  A simple point, pretty similar to ones already made, so this is a back up quote in case you have plenty of time.  Negativity and negative thought patterns discourage the Holy Ghost from communicating with us.  Combatting negativity cannot be over-emphasized.  It’s a battle we all wage.

Step 4:  Now you have your six highlights & their matching notes from steps 2 & 3 above.  Let’s create some discussion points!  These will be used for “Whole Class” discussion.

Step 5:  Design discussion-promoting questions about these quotes which can be created from your notes and thoughts.  This part is central to your lesson plan.

A)  “Before I started investigating the Church, I didn’t really feel that I was very special. I was just one of many people, and my society and culture didn’t really teach me that I had any value as an individual. When I learned the gospel and learned that I was a daughter of our Heavenly Father, it changed me. Suddenly I felt so special—God had actually created me and had created my soul and my life with value and purpose.

“Before I had the gospel in my life, I was always trying to prove to others that I was someone special. But when I learned the truth, that I am a daughter of God, I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone. I knew that I was special. … Don’t ever think that you are nothing.”  Renu Singh, as told by Joy D. Jones

Possible Questions For Quote A:  We might be a bit used to knowing we’re a child of God, but what if you really had no idea?  How might this new knowledge strike you when discovered for the first time?  Other Christian religions use “child of God” in reference to our being a creation of God.  How is that different than being a literal offspring?  What does this understanding teach us about our possibilities? (Revelation 3:20-21)  (Also “As man now is, God once was: “As God now is, man may be.” ~Lorenzo Snow)  What feelings and thoughts come up for you when you think about your connection with Heavenly Father?

Repeat the same for the next quote!

B)  “God is your Father. He loves you. He and your mother in heaven value you beyond any measure. … You are unique. One of a kind, made of the eternal intelligence which gives you claim upon eternal life.

Let there be no question in your mind about your value as an individual. The whole intent of the gospel plan is to provide an opportunity for each of you to reach your fullest potential, which is eternal progression and the possibility of godhood.”  Spencer W. Kimball – Oct 1978

Possible Class Questions For Quote B:  How can this knowledge help us when we’re having a bad day?  Or when passing through a significant trial in life?  What are some ways we can become closer to Heavenly Father?  When do you feel closest to the heavens, what have you tried which has worked for you?

C)  Let me point out the need to differentiate between two critical words: worth and worthiness. They are not the same. Spiritual worth means to value ourselves the way Heavenly Father values us, not as the world values us. Our worth was determined before we ever came to this earth. “God’s love is infinite and it will endure forever.”

On the other hand, worthiness is achieved through obedience. If we sin, we are less worthy, but we are never worth less!

Possible Class Questions For Quote C:  Sister Jones makes a distinction between worth and worthiness.  In your own words, how might you explain the difference to a friend?  How does knowing your worth is not diminished by sin help us on the road back?  Somewhere along the way, we all get the message we’re broken, damaged goods.  How does knowing our worth, help when dealing with our flaws and shortcomings?  (It helps me to straighten my crown and have the courage to tackle them, because I’m worth more.)  In your own words, why does worth matter?  Why does worthiness matter?

D)  Despite this marvelous truth, how many of us struggle, from time to time, with negative thoughts or feelings about ourselves? I do. It’s an easy trap. Satan is the father of all lies, especially when it comes to misrepresentations about our own divine nature and purpose. Thinking small about ourselves does not serve us well. Instead it holds us back. As we’ve often been taught, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” We can stop comparing our worst to someone else’s best. “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Possible Class Questions For Quote D:  How many of us experience negativity or negative thoughts from ourselves and from others?

Teacher Tip:  This is an introspective topic, so I usually ask a simple question which everyone can comfortably raise their hand to, to warm them up.  When folks can see all the other hands going up, it helps to increase the comfort and safety level when talking about personal challenges.

What are some examples of negative thoughts we can have about ourselves?  What did Sister Jones mean by “Comparison is the thief of joy”?  What are some ways you have found to successfully reduce negativity?

Note:  Quote F is closely related to quote D, so I would either plan to use the two quotes together or just save F in case there is extra time.

E)  Elder Paul E. Koelliker taught, “As we remove the distractions that pull us toward the world and exercise our agency to seek Him, we open our hearts to a celestial force which draws us toward Him.” If the love we feel for the Savior and what He did for us is greater than the energy we give to weaknesses, self-doubts, or bad habits, then He will help us overcome the things which cause suffering in our lives. He saves us from ourselves.

Possible Class Questions For Quote E:  What does it mean to “exercise our agency to seek Him?”  What happens to you when regular kneeling prayer and regular scripture study are a part of your daily routine? (I know what happens to me, life is so MUCH more doable…seriously.)  Have you ever noticed when we make an effort to draw ourselves closer to spirituality, how quickly it draws closer to us?  (D&C 88:62-63 – This is Christ speaking, by the way.)  Why does it take effort to have the Savior in our life?  If we don’t make those efforts, what happens to us?

F)  Let me reemphasize: if the pull of the world is stronger than the faith and trust we have in the Savior, then the pull of the world will prevail every time. If we choose to focus on our negative thoughts and doubt our worth instead of clinging to the Savior, it becomes more difficult to feel the impressions of the Holy Ghost.

Possible Class Questions For Quote F:  This is an appendage to quote D, so it can be an extra quote if you have more time or you can combine it with D and spend extra time on the topic.

What side effects do negative thoughts have?  What are some effective ways to conquer or control negative thoughts?  What happens to our ability to get inspiration and revelation when we dwell in negative thought patterns?

You’re now ready to create your class plan!

Template #2 Overview:

35-40 mins. for Whole class discussion  ====>

(Amazingly simple.)

Whole Class Discussion ====> 35 – 40 minutes

Part 1  Have a class member read quote “A” & use your questions to open up a short discussion on this topic.

A)  “Before I started investigating the Church, I didn’t really feel that I was very special. I was just one of many people, and my society and culture didn’t really teach me that I had any value as an individual. When I learned the gospel and learned that I was a daughter of our Heavenly Father, it changed me. Suddenly I felt so special—God had actually created me and had created my soul and my life with value and purpose.

“Before I had the gospel in my life, I was always trying to prove to others that I was someone special. But when I learned the truth, that I am a daughter of God, I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone. I knew that I was special. … Don’t ever think that you are nothing.”  Renu Singh, as told by Joy D. Jones

Possible Questions For Quote A:  We might be a bit used to hearing how we’re a child of God, but what if you really had no idea?  How might this new knowledge strike you when found out for the first time?  Other Christian religions use “child of God” in reference to our being a creation of God.  How is that different than being a literal offspring?  What does this understanding teach us about our possibilities? (Revelation 3:20-21)  (Also “As man now is, God once was: “As God now is, man may be.” ~Lorenzo Snow)  What feelings and thoughts come up for you when you think about your connection with Heavenly Father?

Next teaching tip:  Be ready with your own insights and answers to the questions you ask.  This is where your own notes from Step 3 above – about each of the highlighted quotes will come in very handy.  Two reasons!  A) In case the class doesn’t have a lot of feedback to a certain question, or B) your previous written notes will readily become a part of your natural and friendly responses to others’ comments in class.

Teacher Tip:  Don’t ever be afraid of silence.  I call it the glorious pause.  Sometimes it takes people a while to ponder the question asked.  If no one responds within 4 seconds…re-phrase the same question using different words and patiently wait until a hand goes up.  Some of the best class discussions will start with unexpected silence first.

Part 1.5 (Optional)  If the talk has a really intriguing story, have someone read it or paraphrase it yourself.  This can also be done at the beginning before the first quote.

Part 2:  Have a class member read the next quote on your list.

B)  “God is your Father. He loves you. He and your mother in heaven value you beyond any measure. … You are unique. One of a kind, made of the eternal intelligence which gives you claim upon eternal life.

Let there be no question in your mind about your value as an individual. The whole intent of the gospel plan is to provide an opportunity for each of you to reach your fullest potential, which is eternal progression and the possibility of godhood.”  Spencer W. Kimball – Oct 1978

Possible Class Questions For Quote B:  How can this knowledge help us when we’re having a bad day?  Or when passing through a significant trial in life?  What are some ways we can become closer to Heavenly Father?  When do you feel closest to the heavens, what have you tried which has worked for you?

Part 3:  Repeat for Quotes C-F  (With this particular example, D & F can be combined OR either of D & F could be eliminated.

Part 4:  Thank your class for their wonderful participation and how grateful you are for all the wisdom and insight which has been shared today.  (Some variation of this and in your own words of course.)

Part 5:  End with your best insight, short summary and testimony.

Possible Hymns:  There Is Sunshine In My Soul Today  #227

As I Search The Holy Scriptures  #277

School Thy Feelings  #336  I’m snickering and loving the words! I have never heard this hymn.  In fact, you know what I would do?  I would have a brethren trio or quartet come and sing this to my class.  Either in the middle or at the end.  The sisters would remember it for a long time!

Re-Cap

A summary with no talk inserted

Teacher Prep

Step 1:  Print out the talk and have a paper, pen, highlighter and/or colored pencil available if possible.

Note: The blue printer symbol is right underneath the main title at the top of the page when you open up any General Conference talk.

Step 2:  Watch the video of the General Conference talk.  Here is the General Conference talk page with video links.  While watching the video, use your highlighter or colored pencils to highlight anything in the text which especially stands out for you.  Watching the talk on video will give you a solid feel for the material in the shortest time possible.

Step 3:  Looking back on your highlights, pick out your SIX favorites.  Record your thoughts, impressions, ideas, etc.  Even if you just record a few keywords, that’s a great start!  It will probably help to assign numbers to your highlights on the printout, so you can reference the same numbers in your notes and match things up quickly.  These notes will be especially useful later on.

Step 4:  Now you have your six highlights & their matching notes from steps 2 & 3 above.  Let’s create some discussion points!  These will be used for “Whole Class” discussion.

Step 5:  Design discussion-promoting questions about these quotes which can be created from your notes and thoughts.  This part is central to your lesson plan.

You’re now ready to create your class plan!

Template #2 Overview:

35-40 mins. for Whole class discussion  ====>

Whole Class Discussion ====> 35 – 40 minutes

Part 1  Have a class member read quote “A” & use your questions to open up a short discussion on this topic.

Part 1.5 (Optional)  If the talk has a really intriguing story, have someone read it or paraphrase it yourself.  This can also be done at the beginning of class.

Part 2:  Have a class member read quote “B” on your list.  Ask your prepared questions to encourage a short discussion on this topic.

Part 3:  Repeat for Quotes C-F

 

Part 4:  Thank your class for their wonderful participation and how grateful you are for all the wisdom and insight which has been shared today.  (Some variation of this and in your own words of course.)

Part 5:  End with your best insight, short summary and testimony.

More templates coming.

 

Want to be an even better, more confident teacher?  9 Tips For Memorable Teaching

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Classic Mormon Mom

Blessed with one husband, six children, two grandchildren and a son-in-law. My husband and I live in awesome, vibrant Salt Lake City, Utah about eight minutes west of Temple Square. And my initials are SLC ~ the same as the city we live in.

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