Teaching Using Learning Objectives

While the new Teacher’s Council provides opportunities for teachers to collaborate, the primary purpose is to teach members of the church (including families) how to learn. Our social norms, both in and out of the church, condition us to operate as Self-Help Junkies, with a higher emphasis on completing the reading task than actually learning something.

With this in mind and using Blooms Taxonomy, I’ve taken two lessons from January’s potential topics on the Godhead and written examples for learning objectives.

Topic: The Godhead

Learning objectives:

  1. List the members of the Godhead.


How To Teach A Lesson

There is an old saying within the Church: “Teaching: No Greater Call!” Yet how to effectively teach is a hard lesson to come by. Few members called into teaching position exercise effective skills in conducting a discussion, nor do they ask inviting questions that promote ideas and thoughts. The most effective way to engage in a learning environment is to stretch one’s comfort zone and challenge existing assumptions. However, this often introduces fear and hesitation into the teachers’ and students’ space and therefore restricts their actions.

The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan

As the story was related to me, many years ago, as a missionary, Elder Jack Welch was admiring the stain glass art work in a German Cathedral. This particular glasswork depicted the parable of the Good Samaritan. It was then he connected the meaning of the parable to the Plan of Salvation. Years later and many hours discussing and pondering his discovery, this is my understanding of the Savior’s immortal words. My thanks to Brother Welch’s insights.

The parable is found in Luke 10:25-37

Three Steps of Repentance

The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel teaches a profound doctrine with respect to repentance. “If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.” (Ezek. 33:15.)

Here we have three steps in repentance:

  1. Restore the pledge
  2. Commit to change
  3. Forsake the sin

Notice the phrase ‘restore the pledge.’ What pledge? Each makes pledges to our Father in heaven. Some have been made here on earth, baptism, confirmation, temple ordinances, and the sacrament. All of us made pledges before we were born.

Why is Repentance so negative?

Why does repentance seem so negative?

According to Elder Theodore M. Burton the most basic principles of the gospel can be those least understood. A basic and fundamental principle of the gospel is repentance (Ensign, August 1988. The Meaning Of Repentance).

In and out of the church repentance carries a negative meaning. When an ecclesiastical leader stands before his congregation and exhorts the members to repent, as a general rule they do not feel comfortable, at peace, or spiritually motivated about his call to repentance.


Teaching An Agnostic

Here is the setting, Elder Jackson from my home ward of Gig Harbor, is serving a mission in SLC, UT and sent me an email telling the story of Tony the agnostic. He wanted to have a better understanding of what an agnostic is. I sent him a short definition and then received this email:

Brother Himmer,

Virtue, Obedience, and some Latin

Youth Speaker: Leah Savage

Virtue is the culmination of thousands of decisions.

Missionary Farewell: Aubrey McMullin

Obedience connects us to Christ.

“When obedience ceases to be an irritant, in that moment, God endows us with power.” Ezra Taft Benson

“We must get our people to teach out of their hearts instead of out of the books.” Pres. Hinckley

Missionary Farewell: Brook Sabin

Esse quam videri is a Latin phrase meaning “To be, rather than to seem (to be)” This was the motto for his BYU Men’s Chorus.

Life changing actions come from the little things we do daily.

Body and conclusion – Part 2

(His talk continues: in the last post, he transitioned from the introduction to the body. The audience has seen the doctrine presented in three different ways, two stories and a quote from an apostle.)

Sometimes people feel like they are going to do what they are going to do and say what they are going to say regardless of the place that they are in. This can be a huge mistake. Especially when it comes to dealing with sacred things.

(Notice how he explained the behavior without telling the audience what to do.)

A Classic Introduction – Part 1

My good friend John Holland sends me his talks regularly. He is a High Counselor in Southern California. We have shared our gospel knols with each other since high school. Here is an example of a sticky intro. Notice he gives no mention of his topic or the grinding details of what he went through to prepare or how he didn’t prepare etc.

A Sense of the Sacred

John Holland
Walnut park ward
June 26, 2011


Blind Spots in Speaking

Your Blind Spots List

A communication Blind Spot is when you do or say something that causes push back, boredom, or anger and you don’t know why. Here are some suggestions on how to avoid Blind Spots in your talk.

  • Do not mention your topic at the beginning of your talk.
  • Do not mention the story of how the Bishop, Branch President, or Stake President asked you to speak on the following subject.
  • Do not explain that you had prepared a talk last night and this morning the spirit changed his mind and now you’re speaking on something else. He rarely changes his mind.

You’ve been asked to give a Talk

You’ve been asked to speak this Sunday by the Bishop or one of his counselors. After the requisite panic, then anger, and then fear, you finally settle down to study. You may or may not know much about your topic, but sharing your knowledge with 250 other members is not your cup of tea. Some years ago, I wrote down my ideas of how to prepare and give a talk. Here are my ideas broken into five parts.

Next to death, public speaking carries the greatest fear for people.  This should greatly excite you and compel you forward to a state of great preparation or sheer panic.

> Hormones = < Brains???

Last week I taught a Sunday School class of 16 and 17-year olds. The night before they attended Mormon Prom. My wife thinks that piece of evidence is important. There were five students, three boys and two girls. The topic was not difficult or deep but the questions required thinking. The girls were offended at the end of class while the boys enjoyed it.

Is Life Really A Test?

What does it mean to be tested? Testing is an assessment intended to measure the respondents’ knowledge or other abilities.

From a conceptual standpoint it means to reveal a person’s thinking on the matter. This is in contrast to the traditional school environs of multiple-choice testing against the textbook or a standard.

Life is not a multiple-choice lab of experiences. Learning comes in the form of self-discovery, not in guessing an instructor’s thoughts. Unlike math, which is a function of absolutes, except in academia, too often students are not tested on thinking capability but rather on getting the ‘so-called’ right answer.

Building Trust With Our Youth

Exaltation is a pathway of the Collective

Of the many explanations and definitions of Eternal Life, perhaps the most significant realization of recent memory is the lack of individualism in the Celestial Kingdom. The concepts of rugged individualism and complete independence are merely checkpoints along the celestial journey.

When Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son, they were accompanied by a myriad of angels. When a baby is blessed, it is a collective. I remember Ross Farr, while blessing his child, once invited all Melchizedek Priesthood holders in the ward to join him on the stand. Ross will always be part of a large and entertaining collective.


Young Amber was on her way home from her 1st Junior Olympics. As she settled in her seat, the Flight Attendant servicing her section noticed the Junior Olympics tee shirt Amber was wearing. She questioned Amber about the shirt and discovered that she had indeed been a participant in the recently completed World Junior Olympics.

What event did you compete in?” the Flight Attendant inquired.

The high jump”, Amber proudly replied.

How did you do?”

“I came in 14th place.”

“Oh! How many participants were there in the high jump?”