Curriculum Training
Adopt Then Adapt Seminary Curriculum

“Adopt Then Adapt Seminary Curriculum,” Seminary Curriculum Training (2022)

“Adopt Then Adapt Seminary Curriculum,” Seminary Curriculum Training

woman studying

Adopt Then Adapt Seminary Curriculum

There are many effective ways to prepare to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. This preparation always includes prayerfully studying the word of God and seeking the guidance of the Holy Ghost to know how to best help those you teach to be converted to Jesus Christ and His gospel. To accomplish this, be sure to study the scripture block in the Come, Follow Me schedule. This will help you in your lesson preparation as you review the curriculum. The curriculum will help you identify essential principles and doctrine in the scripture block, help students know, love, and follow Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and follow inspired patterns of effective teaching.

Consider this counsel by President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency about using curriculum to prepare seminary lessons:

President Dallin H. Oaks

We first adopt, then we adapt. If we are thoroughly grounded in the prescribed lesson that we are to give, then we can follow the Spirit to adapt it. But there is a temptation, when we speak about this flexibility, to start off by adapting rather than adopting. It’s a balance. It’s a continual challenge. But the approach of adopting first and then adapting is a good way to stay on sound ground.

(“A Panel Discussion with Elder Dallin H. Oaks” [Seminaries and Institutes of Religion satellite broadcast, Aug. 7, 2012],

  • What does it mean to adopt and to adapt curriculum as you prepare a lesson?

description of adopt versus adapt

President Henry B. Eyring helped us understand some reasons we may need to adapt the curriculum:

President Henry B. Eyring

There are more suggestions for ideas to teach, ways to teach them, and cross-references to employ than any of us can use. … But since we want our students to inquire of the Lord so that they might be enlightened, we must bless them with example. To do that we could read the curriculum—every word. We might not have time to find and study every reference, but God knows our students. …

…The Lord knows perfectly what [students] know and what they need. He loves them and he loves us. And with his help we … choose not only those parts of the curriculum which will allow us the full use of our powers to teach but those which will bring down the powers of heaven on those students in our classroom that day.

(“The Lord Will Multiply the Harvest” [evening with a General Authority, Feb. 6, 1998],

  • Why do you think it is important to first adopt what is in the lesson materials before adapting them?

  • How might methods of preparing a lesson look different for a teacher who uses the curriculum and a teacher who doesn’t?

What to Consider When Adapting Lessons

Here are some questions to consider as you adopt and adapt lesson materials:

  1. What is the purpose of the overall lesson as well as the different parts of the lesson?

  2. What is the intent of the inspired author, and is the adaptation I’m considering in harmony with it?

  3. What are my reasons for wanting to adapt the lesson? Is it simply a matter of personal preference, or will the change provide students with a better learning experience?

  4. Is my adaptation in harmony with the promptings of the Holy Ghost?

You may need to adapt a lesson to

Case Studies

Sister Rodriguez

Sister Rodriguez is preparing to teach the lesson “Matthew 1:18–25; Luke 1:26–35.” She knows that students in her class will want to know what the scriptures teach about Jesus’s mother, Mary. There is a culture of strong feelings and differing beliefs about Mary in their city. Many even worship Mary because of her role as the mother of God. As she studies the lesson from the curriculum, Sister Rodriguez looks for an appropriate place to help students understand what the scriptures and Church leaders have taught about Mary.

One of the study activities in the lesson invites students to look for teachings about who the Savior’s parents were in Luke 1:30–35, Matthew 1:18–23, and Alma 7:10.

Sister Rodriguez decides to adapt the lesson after students read Alma 7:10 by adding the following two questions to what is included in the curriculum.

“What does Alma help us to understand about Mary? While we honor and love Mary and other faithful disciples in the scriptures, how does Alma 7:11–13 help us understand why we worship only Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?”

Brother Li

As Brother Li is preparing to teach the lesson “John 1:1–16,” he sees the following suggestion and two questions at the start of the lesson:

Brother Li continues to read the lesson to learn what the purpose of bringing a ball to class might be. He determines that the purpose is to help prepare students to understand that the more we learn about who Jesus Christ was before His mortal life, the more we can appreciate the value of His mission on earth.

Wanting to accomplish this purpose in the most effective way for his students, he ponders for a minute what item he could bring to class that his students would best relate to. He decides to adapt the lesson by bringing a simple necklace to class. After students share how much they think the necklace is worth, he will share who made the necklace and why knowing its history makes it worth much more to him than it might otherwise be.

Sister Martin

As Sister Martin prepares to teach the lesson “Acts 3,” she notices a suggestion to show a video depicting the lame man being healed by Peter and John through the power of God. She watches the video and is impressed with how effective it is. But she also knows that the students have seen videos in her class three times already this week. She decides to look for a different way of accomplishing the purpose of the video.

She realizes that the video is basically a word for word visual account of this story. She concludes that the purpose of the video could be to allow students to visualize what happened rather than only reading it. To adapt the lesson, she determines to invite students to read and then to role-play what happened in the story, thus allowing students to be active participants, have a break from watching videos, and still help them visualize this event.

Brother Dube

Brother Dube diligently prepared on the Friday before conference weekend to teach the lesson in the book of Romans as outlined in the curriculum for the coming Monday. To his amazement, he heard the prophet announce during conference that the first temple would be built in their area in the near future. Very few of his students have ever seen a temple in person. He knows that students will come to class anxious to talk about the temple and that many will have questions about it.

After praying, he feels prompted by the Holy Ghost to skip ahead and teach the contextual lesson “1 Peter 3:18–22; 4:1–6” and the accompanying doctrinal mastery lesson “1 Peter 4:6” on Monday and Tuesday. This felt like the right adjustment because the contextual lesson has the stated purpose, “This lesson will help you explore ways to assist the Savior in His work of redeeming the dead.” He feels this unique time is the best opportunity to help students get excited about preparing to redeem their ancestors in the future temple.

As Brother Dube prepares Monday’s lesson, he notices one of the invitations to apply what students learn says:

Brother Dube knows that most of his students do not have access to the internet or the FamilySearch Family Tree app. He wisely adapts the invitation to apply what they learned to begin filling out family group sheets on paper with their families and to talk with their ward temple and family history consultant to learn how they can research other family names that they can prepare for the coming temple work.

Sister Schmidt

After studying the lesson “Matthew 22:34–40” about the two great commandments, Sister Schmidt remembers a statement made in the most recent general conference that would be perfect for this lesson. She notices that partway through the lesson, there is an older statement that is intended to help students see that when we love God, He will turn our hearts to the well-being of others. She replaces it with the following statement:

Sister Schmidt feels that the statement from a recent general conference will accomplish the same purpose as the one found in the curriculum lesson. Plus, she knows it could also help some of her students who are struggling to love themselves to see that loving God can also help them to feel their own self-worth.

Brother Reyes

While studying the lesson “Revelation 15–19,” Brother Reyes found an activity that invited students to choose to study two of the following three options:

  • Option A: Angels and plagues

  • Option B: Wickedness and the Savior’s power

  • Option C: Marriage of the Lamb

Each option had various questions, scripture references, and activities associated with it. Brother Reyes felt that the purpose of the activity was to help students understand the bolded principle in the lesson: Jesus Christ can help us overcome the wickedness of the last days.

While Brother Reyes liked the options, he found the following idea that helped accomplish the same purpose in the “Supplemental Learning Activities” section of the lesson, and he feels that his students need it even more:

Brother Reyes prepared a 10-minute segment of the lesson based on the supplemental idea. In order to create time for it, he decided to invite students to choose to study only one of the three suggested options found in the main body of the lesson.