“Inservice Lesson 2: A Basic Learning Pattern,” New-Teacher Training Resource: A Teacher-Improvement Companion to the Gospel Teaching and Learning Handbook (2016)
“Inservice Lesson 2,” New-Teacher Training Resource
This lesson includes a list of activities that will allow teachers to practice the principles they learned in at-home learning experiences 5–8. If needed, you may develop your own practice activities to meet the needs of the teachers in your class.
When helping teachers practice understanding context and content, remember to focus on developing the following skills:
Asking questions that will deepen their own understanding of context and content
Answering those questions with appropriate resources
Purpose: To help teachers realize the importance of understanding the context and content of the scriptures and to provide opportunities to practice asking questions and finding answers.
Activity: Provide teachers with the full text of Doctrine and Covenants 22. Do not include the verse numbers, the section heading, or any other information that would give clues about the context of the passage. Invite the teachers to read the text, and then ask them what questions they have regarding the context and content of what they read. Write their questions on the board. It may be helpful to remind teachers of the questions listed in the “Asking Questions” section of at-home learning experience 6 (you may want to write them on the board):
What is the background of the passage?
What is the historical, cultural, and geographical setting?
Who is the writer?
Who are the people in the passage? What are they doing or saying, and why?
What is taking place? What is the story line?
What is the meaning of unfamiliar words, phrases, or expressions?
What is the significance of customs and practices described?
Tell the teachers where the passage can be found in the Doctrine and Covenants, and invite them to turn to it. Ask the teachers to use appropriate resources (the section heading, footnotes, student manuals, and so on) to search for answers to their questions.
Have the teachers discuss the insights they gained from this activity about the role of understanding context and content in scripture study.
Purpose: To help teachers practice asking questions about context and content.
Activity: Invite the teachers to individually study one of the following scripture passages:
1 Kings 17:8–16 (the widow of Zarephath feeds Elijah)
Acts 3:1–8 (Peter and John heal a man at the temple)
Jacob 7:1–5 (Sherem seeks to shake Jacob from the faith)
Ask the teachers to write down questions that would help students increase their understanding of the scripture passage’s context and content. To remind teachers of the questions they might ask, you may want to refer them to the different elements that make up context that are discussed in section 2.4.1 (page 24) of Gospel Teaching and Learning: A Handbook for Teachers and Leaders in Seminaries and Institutes of Religion .
Invite teachers to share their questions with a partner and search together for answers to some of their questions. Ask teachers to share the insights they gained from this activity.
Purpose: To help teachers practice recognizing stated doctrine and principles.
Activity: List the following six scripture references randomly on the board: 2 Nephi 32:3; 3 Nephi 13:21; Doctrine and Covenants 19:4; Exodus 19:5; Matthew 5:16; and 1 Nephi 1:20 (the first four references contain clearly stated doctrine or principles, and the final two do not).
Invite the teachers to review section 2.5.1, paragraph four, in Gospel Teaching and Learning (page 27). Ask the teachers to work in pairs and to determine which of the six scripture references listed on the board contain clearly stated doctrine or principles. Invite the pairs to explain what they found and to share their reasoning with the class.
Purpose: To help teachers practice identifying stated doctrine and principles.
Activity: Ask the teachers to search their scriptures for two minutes to find and mark as many stated doctrines and principles as they can. Then invite teachers to share as many of those stated doctrines and principles as they can with the class in the next two minutes. Provide teachers with feedback as necessary.
Purpose: To help teachers identify cause-and-effect relationships within a scripture passage and to identify implied principles.
Activity: Invite the teachers to open their scriptures to a well-known scripture story that has obvious cause-and-effect relationships. Examples include David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17:1–51), Daniel in the lion’s den (Daniel 6:1–28), and Nephi retrieving the brass plates (1 Nephi 3–4).
Ask the teachers to scan through the story looking for actions, attitudes, or behaviors of individuals or groups and then identify the blessings or consequences that came as a result. Invite teachers to share with the class the cause-and-effect relationships they discovered and the truths these relationships illustrate.
Note: Make sure the focus of this activity is on identifying cause-and-effect relationships rather than spending time on crafting statements of doctrine or principle. Teachers will practice the skill of crafting statements of doctrine or principle in other practice activities.
Purpose: To help teachers learn to use questions to identify implied doctrine and principles.
Activity: On the board, write the following questions found in section 2.5.1 of the Gospel Teaching and Learning handbook (page 27):
As a class, read two short verse groupings (for example, Genesis 11:1–9 and Mark 12:41–44). Ask the teachers to use the questions on the board to identify implied doctrine and principles in the verses. Write on the board the doctrine and principles that teachers discover.
Next, invite the teachers to read one or two other verse groupings and to identify doctrine and principles on their own, making sure to refer to the questions on the board as needed. (It will be helpful if you select the verse groupings for them to study from the upcoming seminary or institute curriculum.) Then ask the teachers to share with the class the truths they identified.
Purpose: To help teachers learn to write clear and simple statements of doctrine or principle.
Activity: Select a few pictures from the Media Library on ChurchofJesusChrist.org or the Gospel Art Book (2009) that represent well-known stories from the scriptures in which gospel doctrine and principles can be easily identified (for example, the stripling warriors, the Savior feeding the five thousand, Captain Moroni and the title of liberty, or others). Explain that as Mormon abridged the Book of Mormon records, he often emphasized the lessons he wanted us to learn by expressing them in simple statements of principle. One way he would do this was by prefacing the statement of truth with the words “And thus we see …” (see Alma 30:60; Helaman 12:3). Tell teachers that they have the opportunity to be Mormon for a day by summarizing truths in scripture accounts into statements of doctrine or principle.
Do the following with each picture you selected:
Display it and briefly recount the events in the story.
Invite teachers to identify a principle or doctrine implied in the story and to state it simply and clearly beginning with the phrase “And thus we see. …” For one or two of the pictures, consider asking teachers to work together in pairs and then to share their statements with the class.
Remind teachers of the statement by Elder B. H. Roberts found on page 28 of the Gospel Teaching and Learning handbook.
Purpose: To help teachers practice recognizing simple, clear statements of doctrine or principle.
Activity: On one side of the board, write the following characteristics of well-written statements of doctrine or principle (from at-home learning experience 7):
On the other side of the board, write five or six statements of doctrine or principle. For the purposes of this exercise, these statements should vary in quality. For example, you could use the following:
Incomplete statements, such as “faith and obedience.”
Statements that are too long or complex (two or three sentences).
Statements that are not timeless or personally relevant, such as “Nephi was obedient, and the Lord blessed him” (instead of “When I am obedient, I invite the blessings of the Lord into my life”).
Well-written statements from a seminary or institute teacher manual.
Ask the teachers to evaluate whether each statement of doctrine or principle is well-written based on the five characteristics listed on the board. Choose one or two statements that could be improved, and work together as a class to rewrite them.
Purpose: To help teachers learn to write simple, clear statements of doctrine or principle.
Activity: Prepare for each teacher a sheet of paper containing one scripture reference along with a few words related to the truth taught in the passage (for example, “1 Nephi 16:9–16, 28–29—faith and diligence” or “Doctrine and Covenants 27:15–18—armor of God”).
Invite the teachers to sit in a circle. Then pass a paper to each teacher. Invite each teacher to review the scripture reference and words on his or her paper and to begin creating a simple, clear statement of doctrine or principle by making just one or two changes to the words.
After sufficient time, ask the teachers to pass their papers to the person on their right, who will also review the scripture reference and make one or two changes in order to strengthen the statement of doctrine or principle. Repeat the process several times.
Invite the class to discuss their insights about the process of writing clear statements of doctrine or principle.
Purpose: To help teachers find deeper meaning in the scriptures by asking questions about a doctrine or principle and seeking answers to those questions.
Activity: In the center of the chalkboard, write a statement of doctrine or principle from a seminary or institute teacher manual. Invite the class to ask as many questions as they can that will strengthen their understanding of the doctrine or principle. Write all of their questions on the board.
Invite the teachers to work in pairs to search the scriptures or the words of modern prophets for answers to as many questions as they can in three to five minutes. Then ask the pairs to share their insights with the class about how this activity helped strengthen their understanding of the doctrine or principle.
Purpose: To provide teachers with a study aid that they can use on their own to help them experience the process of understanding, feeling, and applying a doctrine or principle.
Activity: Give each teacher a copy of the handout titled “Understanding, Feeling, and Applying Doctrine and Principles,” which is provided in the appendix of this manual. Explain that the handout is a study aid that teachers can use to help them understand, feel, and apply a doctrine or principle. Discuss the first three sections of the handout with teachers, and explain the purpose and desired outcome of each section.
Encourage teachers to continue developing their ability to understand, feel, and apply doctrine and principles in their personal study.