To prepare for this lesson I taped a big sheet of bulletin board paper to the wall and drew this basic map:
I will add to it throughout the year to help students keep track of where things are happening in relation to each other as the story progresses. I opened with a brief description of what is happening in the story to keep everyone on track. Lehi has died, and the family has broken up. Nephi’s group is living apart “after the manner of happiness”.
I passed out a styrofoam plate and marker to each student for our lesson opener. On the computer (displayed on the TV) I typed “What is the secret to happiness?” They wrote their answers and flashed them to me.
I told the kids that Nephi says that his people lived after the manner of happiness. I used the Marlin K Jensen quote from the manual to encourage the kids to look for ideas from the text that will help us be happier:
“Certain unchanging principles and truths bring happiness to our lives. This subject has been of interest to me for many years because although I am richly blessed and have every reason to be happy, I sometimes struggle and do not always have the natural inclination toward happiness and a cheerful disposition that some people seem to enjoy. “For that reason, several years ago a Book of Mormon passage caught my attention. … Nephi established a society founded on gospel truths; and of that society he says, ‘And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness’ (2 Ne. 5:27). The passage deeply impressed me. … I wondered … what the individual elements of a truly happy society and life might be, and I began to search Nephi’s writings for clues. I … invite you to conduct your own personal search. It could be a lifelong and worthwhile pursuit. … “… The same patterns and elements of daily life that enabled Nephi and his people to be happy 560 years before Christ work equally well today” (“Living after the Manner of Happiness,” Ensign, Dec. 2002, 56, 61).
I used another activity from Teaching the Book of Mormon Part One to help students identify the pattern of happiness lived by the Nephites more easily. I listed the following verses on the board (before class)
6, 10, 11 & 17, 12,13,14,15,16,18,26,32
and asked a student to write the answers as students came up with them. We only had trouble with the last one, but my kids got it on their own: family history. I didn’t have the kids describe what they did and what we should do, because they were automatically listing what we should do.
Wrapped up early and gave kids time to work on devotionals.
Now, I had another activity planned, but it happened to be on the back side of my lesson plan and I forgot about it. I was goign to have students read vv20-25 and ask them to imagine they had a friend or family member who was concerned about what they read in these verses. How might they respond? I know this type of question might not work in some classes, but it definitely does in mine. Some of them have heard this type of question before, and they can respond without getting defensive. Others, not so much, but it’s just because they haven’t practiced. Maybe I’m a maverick, but I feel like teaching the kids to respond in love without becoming defensive to questions is a skill we can and should be teaching in Seminary. The problem this year is that I’ve got investigators in class. I thought about doing this at the beginning of class today, but I couldn’t decide if God had blocked it out of my mind so I wouldn’t cover it, or maybe it was a bad idea in the first place. I’m not usually so cowardly and I didn’t think I was being warned not to do it, like I do sometimes. Anyway, it didn’t seem to be a concern for the class, so I just moved on. I’ll probably never know if it was the best thing to do.
Today I explained to the students that Jacob has been assigned a talk — just like they get. This time he’s been assigned a scripture, not just any scripture, but Isaiah. I explained that vv 6-7 was a quote from Isaiah, and Jacob explained the quote starting in verse 8. I don’t think I explained this very well.
Anyway, I showed the video on Isaiah National Forest from John Bytheway here:
In retrospect, I might not use the video again, but I would definitely use the 4 Cs activity. That worked great. John BTW is more than a little goofy here. Distractingly goofy, in fact.
Anyway, I had students look over vv 8-18 and find examples of the 4 Cs (Christ, Covenants, Current Events, Coming events) in the text. They were easy to find, and I could sense that the kids were becoming confident in their ability to analyze Isaiah.
Next we read 1 Nephi 19:23–24. Next I had kids skim over chapters 7-8 and find the messages of hope in the text. My students did really well at this. Even my investigator found and shared an example. By the end they were saying they felt like it was easy to get bogged down in the strange imagery in Isaiah and miss the messages of hope and peace found in Isaiah. Win.